Saturday, April 22, 2017

STORYCRAFT

Had a really wonderful conversation with Kraig Rasmussen of the Storycraft Podcast: one of the most interesting interviews I've ever done—covering the art of writing, and of life, from a variety of illuminating angles.  Click here if you'd like to give it a listen.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

PALOOZATALK

A lengthy interview, which was conducted at Houston's Comicpalooza convention back in 2015, just made its way online.  I'd forgotten all about it, so it was like having a piece of the past magically reappear.  You can listen to it right here.

I'll be back at Comicpalooza in May.  It's a great convention and I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

HEART AND SOUL

There’s been a lot of talk about diversity in comics lately. My feeling is, the more diversity the better. How best to do that is the question. An excellent example is the Berlanti/DCTV universe, which has done a superb job of bringing a broader cultural lens to these characters.

I think the key is remaining true to the essence of the the characters. Spider-Man could be black, white, Asian, Latino, as long as he's that same working class kid from Queens we’ve come to know and love. (As current Spider-writer Dan Slott once observed: "There's nothing inherently white about Peter Parker.") Superman could be any race (I mean, the guy’s an alien. Why can’t Kryptonians be black?) as long as he embodies the spirit—that magical balance of otherworldy power and simple human decency—that Kal-El has come to stand for.

In the end, it’s the heart and soul of the characters that matters. And heart and soul belong to all people, of all races. So, yes: The more diversity, the better.


©copyright 2017 J.M. DeMatteis

Friday, April 7, 2017

WAR AND PEACE


Last night's missile attack on Syria, and the horrific actions that precipitated it, got me thinking about war and peace and our collective vision for humanity's future, which in turn led me to this post I wrote back in 2009, provoked by Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in which he said that that peace should always be the ultimate goal, but that war is sometimes not just “necessary” but “morally justified.”


***

“Necessary”  “Morally justified”?  When I listen to the president—when I listen to any political leader—talk about “just” and “necessary” wars, my hackles go up.  To me, this thinking reflects an incredibly limited mind-set; one locked in the past.  “We must begin,” Obama stated, “by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes.”  Hard to argue with that when you view life through the lens of what I call the CNN Reality.  If we focus exclusively on the way things have always been, if we lock ourselves into the vision of a world where hideous violence is an acceptable form of problem solving, then that’s the world we’re going to get.  But experience has shown me that there is a deeper, a truer, reality beneath the skin of the world.  One that has the potential to transform both the individual soul and the entire planet. 

Looking through the lens of that Deeper Reality has shown me that the universe begins inside our own heads, hearts and souls; that we’re all living in a dream, projected from both the personal and collective unconscious.  (In the end, I don’t think there’s any difference between the personal and the collective, but that’s another discussion for another time.)  The microcosm, as they say, is the macrocosm:  The smallest acts of kindness and compassion can act as a bridge between those inner and outer universes, rippling out and transforming the world.  The old model—the one that clings to the concept of war as just and necessary—can collapse in the time it takes us to change our minds.  To change our dreams.

Compassion, it seems to  me, is the key:  seeing people—however despicable their actions may be—not as “enemies” or “evil,” but as flawed human beings, worthy, at the very least, of an attempt to understand what made them that way.  “Make no mistake,” the president explained, “evil does exist in the world.”  But evil, as we all know, is in the eye of the beholder.  To Muslim extremists, we’re evil.  George W. Bush saw the Iraqis, the Koreans and the Iranians as an “axis of evil.”  When we (and when I say “we,” I mean humanity as a whole, not just the United States) define our opponents as one-dimensional villains out of a 1940's comic book, we transform them into caricatures that can be obliterated without guilt or shame.  If we continue to paint them as evil, war as just and necessary, then those opponents will continue do the same—and the cycle of violence will go on and on, till the end of the world.

“The nonviolence practiced by men like Gandhi and King,” the president stated, “may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached—their faith in human progress—must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.”  But how can anyone follow the North Star of King and Gandhi while justifying conflicts that brutalize and demean humanity?  I wonder how many men told Gandhi that violence was “just” in the name of a free India, how many urged King on to “necessary” violence in the name of civil rights for African Americans.   “A nonviolent movement,” Obama went on, “could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida’s leaders to lay down their arms.”  No, but who’s to say what acts of wisdom and compassion could have prevented Hitler’s rise to power or transformed the twisted, fundamentalist rage of men who thought blowing up innocents—and themselves with them—was some kind of doorway to Heaven?

Look:  I’m not a politician or a diplomat whose job is to deal with the so-called harsh realities of life.  I am, by trade and nature, a dreamer, and it’s my job to ask:  Why do we have to accept the Harsh Reality?  Why can’t we manifest a new, a better, one?  We can keep regurgitating the old models—from a thousand years ago, seven decades ago or the recent past—and hold them up as examples of the way things have always been, the way things have to be, or we can refuse to buy into those myths.  December 13, 2009 isn’t December 7, 1941, it isn’t September 11, 2001, it isn’t even yesterday:  it’s a new world right now.

Maybe our political leaders will never embrace the idea that peace is possible, that war isn’t a viable option—maybe, given the harrowing issues they have to deal with on a daily basis, they simply can’t—but we can dream that dream into being today.  You can call this unrealistic—starry-eyed idealism or crackpot mysticism—and, viewed from the realist’s perspective, it absolutely is.  But why not aim for the stars?  Why not project—and believe, to the bottom of our souls—that peace, both personal and global, is possible this very moment?

And if I’m wrong?  If I really am nothing but a starry-eyed, crackpot dreamer?  Well, I still think my life, and the lives of those around me, will be better for having chosen to believe.



©copyright 2017  J.M. DeMatteis

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

ANNIVERSARY PARTIES

At the end of this month, I'll be appearing at the East Coast Comic Con where, along with signing comics and meeting fans, I'll be taking part in two very special panels.  

For the first—celebrating 30 years of Justice League International—I'll be joined by those Kings of Comedy, those Monarchs of Mirth, Keith Giffen and Kevin Maguire. 


For the second, celebrating the 30th birthday of Kraven's Last Hunt (my, how our little boy has grown), I'll be joined by one of the greatest superhero artists in the history of comics, Mike Zeck, inker extraordinaire Bob McLeod and editor, and all-around swell guy, Jim Salicrup.



It's going to be a great weekend and I hope to see some of you there.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

SHATNERDAY

Happy 86th birthday to the great William Shatner. In celebration, here's a classic Denny Crane scene from Boston Legal (a show I still miss).
And if you're in the mood, you can jump back a year and read my list of all-time favorite Shatner performances.
Live longer and continue to prosper, Captain.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

VIVA MEXICO

Got back very late last night from La Mole Comic Con, exhausted but grateful for a wonderful experience. 

Thanks to everyone at the convention for taking such good care of us, for treating us with tremendous warmth, affection and respect. What a wonderful group of people working at the show and what an amazing group of fans.

Viva Mexico!

I think I signed more comics in a single day
than I have at other cons in an entire weekend.

"Going Sane" was a story that came across my table again and again.
That's Jorge, one of the convention organizers, along with
a sweet little fan who'd just finished chemo.
(The good news:  he's doing fine.) 
Irais was a superb translator who was with us all through the con,
seeing to our every need with grace and humor.

In the age of the cell phone, I posed for pictures almost as often a
s I signed comics.

Kraven's Last Hunt was everywhere...

...in a variety of editions.

I repeat:  Viva Mexico!