It is almost impossible to catalogue or quantify the force that drives storytellers to pursue their craft, but memory sometimes allows them to pause and reflect on the little moments that shaped them into tireless raconteurs. My earliest memory of having been deeply captivated by a story reaches back as far as the tender age of four (the furthest age a majority of people claim to be able to remember). I can recall little else from this period of my life, but with an almost shocking certainty I can clearly remember someone bringing me the first comic book I had ever seen in my entire life. Not a cartoon, or comic strip, but a bonafide comic book with impressive splash-page illustrations and pulse-pounding action. The hero’s name was Rahan, a kind of visual facsimile to the legendary Tarzan and Conan (both whom I would come to adore later), but a character that was, is, and will be in many ways far superior to all of the aforementioned ones. Rahan is still a bit of a mystery to me; he was a blond-haired caveman that sought adventure in a pseudo-prehistoric world of bloodthirsty dinosaurs and evil pygmy shamans, but every challenge he encountered Rahan would try to solve using his intellect, and even very rudimentary science. He was equal-parts detective, warrior, scientist, and philosopher, and I still don’t think I have ever since read or seen such a wonderfully strange combination of elements in one character or story. The plots were absolutely compelling, never stale, never over-reliant on cliches or tiresome morality plays. Rahan would overcome incredible challenges and obstacles often by avoiding violence and using his head, but if the situation was desperate, he could more than hold his own in any conflict. The art was also shockingly ahead of its time, superbly rendered by a French artist most people have never heard of (Andre Cheret). There was nudity but never inappropriate or gratuitous. It was sometimes violent and graphic but never made me feel hostile or alienated. In short, Rahan was magnificent, and still is even after all these years.
Obscure or forgotten works like Rahan can not only be instrumental in our evolution as artists, but in some cases they may have triggered the very instinct or desire to pursue storytelling. Sometimes going back to a source or to any material that filled us with so much amazement as children can really open up the mind to fascinating introspection, and perhaps even provide clues to the style and form that still characterizes our works in the present. The key is not only to remember where you came from, but to go back there often and revel in those precious moments that first set your mind on fire.