Music deserves it's own post so I'll just stick with the top five books and comics that shaped my gaming first.
- Beowulf - Hard not to mention this one given it's provenance as one of the first English stories. Monsters with corrosive blood, a mother who is twice as bad as her child, boasting and court rivalry, fatal showdowns with a dragon and matter-of-fact heroism. Does any of this sound familiar...?
- From Hell - Alan Moore's take on Jack the Ripper shows obsessive research and while the end is unconventional (what did you expect?) it is a powerful story set in a horrific metropolis where people are driven by forces beyond their control. Good Victoriana/urban noir fuel.
- Ramayana - Epic battles, gods reincarnated as heroes, invulnerable demon kings, kidnappings, magical weapons, nonhuman and more. Told and retold across Asia, this is a model for epic games and dynastic intrigues as well as a demonstration of virtues.
- Shakespeare's Tragedies - Shakespeare does dark spectacularly well - those needing grim and gritty can take a look at King Lear, Macbeth or Titus Andronicus. For intrigue, Othello and Julius Caesar and when it comes to doomed romance, what better than Romeo and Juliet?
- Slaine - Pat Mills and 2000A.D. have a lot to answer for. Before the d20 and RuneQuest settings by Mongoose, there were drune lords, flying ships, gae bolga, magical cauldrons, otherworldly weapons, malevolent shapeshifters disguised as helpless maidens, towers of glass and plenty besides.