Spiderman has one. So does Wonder Woman. What about you?
I came to appreciate comics late in life — and mostly through big-budget film adaptations, which puts a big “dilettante” target on my back. Still, one of my favorite aspects of the genre is how characters, superheroes and supervillains alike, get to have a compelling, poignant origin story: a pivotal moment that made them who they are, and set them on their respective paths of altruism and destruction.
Real-life narratives are obviously far messier than the neat arcs of the latest Marvel release. (Also, luckily, far cheaper.) Yet we all, on some level, create and retell the story of our own becoming-who-we-are — including in our writing, art, music, or photography.
I thought about this as I was reading some of our latest Discover features. Here, for example, is illustrator Jesse Kanelos Weiner talking about her first steps on the road to becoming an artist:
Growing up in Chicago, my mom was an art teacher and my dad is a passionate musician. My childhood was equal parts jam session and art all-nighters.
And here’s the radically different story of Mica Angela Hendricks, which nonetheless led her on a similar path towards a life as a visual artist:
When I was younger, people didn’t really know who I was. We moved a lot, and instead of getting to know people in a school that I’d probably leave in a year, I dove into my sketchbook and spent all of my free time drawing.
I love how these anecdotes are at once simple and rich: how, almost like folk tales, they tell us everything we need to know, yet make us want to know more.
For this week’s challenge, tell us your own origin story, in whatever medium or genre you feel like. The scope can be as wide or as narrow as you see fit: the trip that made you forever love the outdoors. The day in the kitchen when, as a kid, you first realized how happy working with dough made you. Or an early episode of disappointment that somehow marked your future endeavors, for better and for worse. Feel free to get creative with your storytelling — or even to invent an origin story that explains who you are better than the boring, nonfiction version.
I look forward to digging into your stories!