Friday, October 31, 2014

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, PARDNERS!

Be safe, have fun, eat too much candy, ride a horse, catch an outlaw, kiss a ghost, dance with a mummy and then eat some more candy!

Monday, October 27, 2014

WHEELS OF FIRE

I was fourteen years old when I attended my first rock and roll concert, journeying, with my best friend Bob Izzo, from the wilds of Brooklyn into The City (which is what we called Manhattan:  no other name was needed), making our way up from the subway, out onto the streets and straight for the mammoth New York citadel called Madison Square Garden.  There were other bands on the bill that November night, but we were there to see three men whose music had set our souls on fire:  Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton, collectively known as Cream (not the Cream, as many people mistakenly called them).  In 1968, Bruce, Baker and Clapton weren’t quite the gods that the Beatles were—who was?—but they were close, and seeing them live, on their farewell tour, was a thrill I haven’t forgotten.

My Teenage Self was enthralled by the long solos—Baker’s drum solo on “Toad” went on for something like twenty minutes—but, to be honest, if I had to sit through those lengthy jams now, I think I’d jump out the nearest window.  All these years later, it’s the songs—brought to life by three of the finest musicians of the era—that endure.  Jack Bruce (usually joined by lyricist Pete Brown) was Cream’s primary songwriter and his unique and soulful voice gave life to many of those memorable tracks.  Bruce was also as inventive, and exuberant, a bass player as rock has ever seen.

Jack Bruce died yesterday and a piece of rock and roll history died with him.  Let’s celebrate the man by listening to some his finest music:  first Cream’s classic album, Disraeli Gears


…and then Jack’s first solo album, an underrated gem called Songs For a Tailor.


Heartfelt condolences to Jack Bruce’s family and friends—and heartfelt thanks for the amazing body of work.

© copyright 2014 J.M. DeMatteis

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

NEW YORK, NEW YORK

I'll be heading into New York City this week to participate in Marvel's 75th Anniversary celebration at the New York Comic Con.  For those of you who'll be attending, my schedule is below.

Friday

Marvel 75th Anniversary:
Crafting the Marvel Event
Time: 12:00 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. EDT
Room: 1A18
Sit down with Executive Editor Tom Brevoort for an inside look into how a major Marvel event is constructed, from the perspective of writers, artists, and editors. Hear first-hand accounts about the creative collaborations that brought you Marvel’s biggest stories! Panelists include Brian Michael Bendis (ALL-NEW X-MEN), Kurt Busiek (AVENGERS), Tom DeFalco (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN), J.M. DeMatteis (CAPTAIN AMERICA), Al Milgrom (WEST COAST AVENGERS), Fabian Nicieza (X-MEN), and Jim Starlin (INFINITY GAUNTLET).

Marvel 75th Anniversary:
Friendly Neighborhood Marvel
Time: 3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. EDT
Room: 1A18
Join Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada as he sits down with creators of past and present to shine the spotlight on Marvel’s street-level characters. This panel will include Spider-Man and Daredevil creators, as well as writers and artists who have contributed to the mythos of heroes like Spider-Man, Daredevil, Moon Knight, Luke Cage, and more! Panelists include Mark Bagley (ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN), Gerry Conway (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN), Tom DeFalco (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN), J.M. DeMatteis (SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN), Ralph Macchio (DAREDEVIL), Doug Moench (MOON KNIGHT), and Ann Nocenti (DAREDEVIL).

From 4:00 pm—5:30 pm I'll be part of the Marvel 75th Anniversary Signing in the Galleria of the Javits Center.  It's a cornucopia of Marvel creators, past and present, including Mark Bagley, Brian Bendis, Kurt Busiek, Chris Claremont, Gerry Conway, Peter David, Danny Fingeroth, Ron Garney, Klaus Janson, Ralph Macchio, Todd McFarlane, Doug Moench, Don McGregor, Ann Nocenti, Grek Pak, Jimmy Palmiotti, Dan Slott, Len Wein and many more.

Saturday

Signing at the Marvel Booth (booth #1354) from 3-4pm


And that's it.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

THROUGH A CHILD'S EYES

A while back, someone here at Creation Point (I’m looking at you, Jack) asked me how I would define “kid-friendly” entertainment.  Considering my passion for creating stories—especially comic books—for children, I thought it was a wonderful question.  So let’s move on to the answer... 

“If the book will be too difficult for grown-ups,” Madeleine L’Engle, author of the classic Wrinkle in Time series, once said, “then you write it for children.”  When I set out to write an “all ages” comic book like Abadazad or The Adventures of Augusta Wind—or a prose novel like ImaginalisI want to stimulate the imagination and explore deep themes, creating a story that a parent and child can enjoy together without fear of the content overwhelming or seriously disturbing the child.  I say seriously because a little bit of nightmare is good for the soul:  the Wicked Witch of the West and Monstro the Whale terrified my younger self, but it was an exhilarating kind of terror.  (It could be—as some have argued—that exorcising our demons through stories is, in the long run, psychically and emotionally therapeutic—but that’s another post for another time.)      
Of course there’s no such thing as a Generic Child:  they all react differently to the stories they encounter.  I remember a friend’s daughter who could watch all manner of violent movies—absorbing images far too unsettling for my own kids—yet the stepmother in Disney's Cinderella paralyzed her with fear.  Then there’s the age factor:  What's suitable for an eight or nine year old could traumatize a four or five year old.  There's a big leap from Winnie The Pooh and Doctor Seuss to the later Harry Potter books and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. 

When my daughter was little, she would often come to us, without prompting, book in hand (a book we’d screened and declared acceptable) and announce, “This is not appropriate for me!”  We’d put the book away and Katie would try it again in six months or a year.  My son, on the other hand, would sometimes push for entertainment that crossed the border into edgier territory we didn’t think he was emotionally prepared for.  Sometimes we drew an uncrossable line in the sand, but, when we acquiesced and set Cody free to explore, his judgement was often correct.  We continued to carefully monitor our kids’ choices, but we also learned to have faith in their instincts—and to regularly question our own.  
All of which makes it seem like my answer to the question of what constitutes child-friendly entertainment comes down to Justice Stewart’s infamous definition of obscenity—"I know it when I see it"—and, in some ways, it does:  The line between Young Readers and Middle Grade, Middle Grade and Young Adult is fuzzy at best.  As parents, it’s our job to be constantly vigilant:  We don’t want our kids to grow up too fast, but we certainly don’t want to shut down their minds and imaginations.  Still, I think there’s one essential quality that defines all the best children’s literature:  innocence.  Not a juvenile point-of-view or some cultural/societal conception of innocence, but an innocence of the soul:  a primal sense of wonder, too-often discarded when we leave childhood behind, that allows us to view the world through eyes unclouded by cynicism or despair and see the miracles of creation that are all around us—if we would only look.  
The best children’s stories (some of which come to us disguised as stories for adults) expand and challenge the mind, heart and spirit but keep that innocence intact.  As a creator, I want the experience of writing these stories to keep my innocence intact, as well.  To remind me of who I truly am, and what reality is, beneath the sound and fury of the (so-called) adult world.
©copyright 2014 J.M. DeMatteis

Monday, September 22, 2014

HOPE

In an age that sometimes seems lost to violence and hatred, this short, profoundly moving, TED talk gets beneath the skin of the world, beyond the CNN Reality, and offers hope.  I urge you to watch it.

As Buddha said:  "That which is most needed is a loving heart."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

SHORTEST POST EVER?

After a long respite, my  IMAGINATION 201 writing workshop is coming to Kingston, New York in October.  Details are here.  Told you this was short!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

RECHARGING IN PROGRESS

If things have been quiet here at Creation Point lately it's because I've been quiet. It's good to periodically put work and the world behind and remember that Who We Are and What We Do aren't the same thing...and that's exactly what I've been up to. Once I'm fully recharged and revitalized, I'll be back and posting away.

Hope you're all enjoying these final days of summer.