Wednesday, March 25, 2015

FAREWELL TO THE DARK

The final issue of Justice League Dark is on sale today and I can’t let it vanish into the mists of comic book history without noting what a joy it was playing in the supernatural corners of the DC Universe.  

One of the reasons I eagerly accepted the JLD assignment was because I wanted to work with the brilliant Mikel Janin, one of the very best artists working in the business today:  his collaboration with my predecessors on the book, Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes (my co-conspirator on the Forever Evil arc), was what made me a JLD fan in the first place.  Mikel eventually left the series, but his replacement, Andres Guinaldo, was every bit as good.  It was a genuine pleasure watching Andres’ work—usually embellished by the equally-superb Walden Wong—evolve from issue to issue. 

My editors—Brian Cunningham, Frank Pittarese and Chris Conroy—were always there to watch my back and they gave me all the room I needed, and more, to tell the kinds of stories I wanted to tell, in exactly the way I wanted to tell them.  Add in our expert colorists—Chris Sotomayor and Jeromy Cox—and letterers—chief among them Rob Leigh, Taylor Esposito and Travis Lanham—and we had a book I’m very proud of.  (If I’ve forgotten anyone, please forgive me!)

In some ways, the deepest connection a writer makes is with the characters—and the Justice League Dark crew featured some of the best characters in the entire DCU.  Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, Nightmare Nurse, Swamp Thing and the rest are all rich, multi-layered creations, each one adding immeasurably to the stories.  (It was a special kick getting to reunite with Andrew Bennett, the star of I…Vampire—a series I created at the very beginning of my career.)  Over time, they stopped being “characters” and started being friends. 

With JLD (and its sister book, Trinity of Sin) gone, what’s next for me?  Well, there’s the ongoing (and slightly retitled) Justice League 3001 with Keith Giffen and Howard Porter, a new (and top-secret) DC project that I’m very excited about, the return of Augusta Wind at IDW, another (top secret) project for new kid on the block Lion Forge Comics, several animation projects (including multiple episodes of the upcoming Be Cool, Scooby Doo and another DC-related direct-to-video project, following up next month’s Batman vs. Robin), the script for a live-action television pilot—and more.  So things are busy and life is good.

But I’m sure going to miss flying across the universe in the House of Mystery.



  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

SHATNERDAY

Today is William Shatner's 84th birthday.  (If you want to know why I love the guy, read this.)  With the recent passing of Leonard Nimoy, Shatner seems more of a national treasure than ever (well, considering he's Canadian, I guess he's an international treasure).

Captain Kirk has been a part of the pop cultural zeitgeist for nearly fifty years now, but, for me, Shatner's greatest performance, and most memorable character, is Boston Legal's Denny Crane.  But why do we have to choose?

Here's a terrific tribute to Denny Crane:



And here's one of Captain Kirk's greatest moments:



One of these days I'll do a full-out Shatner Top Ten (which would undoubtedly include extraordinary performances in The Andersonville Trial, The Intruder and The Twilight Zone), but for now, let's end with Shatner and Ben Folds performing a fantastic track from their 2004 collaboration, Has Been: 



Happy birthday, Mr. S:  Here's to many more.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

REMEMBERING NIMOY

For me, the original Star Trek is the science-fiction equivalent of the Beatles and William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy are the Lennon/McCartney of the franchise. (Does that Make DeForest Kelley the Enterprise's George Harrison?)  Leonard Nimoy's passing has reminded me just how much Trek has meant to me since I first encountered it (in glorious black and white.  We didn't make the jump to a color set for a few more years) during its original run and what an incredible impact it's had on so many lives.    

Of course Nimoy was far more than a pointy-eared Vulcan.  He performed a wide variety of roles over the years:  I remember seeing him on Broadway, back in the 70's, playing Doctor Dysart in Equus and, more recently, being delighted by his appearances on Fringe as the mysterious William Bell.  Nimoy was also a poet, a photographer, a political activist, patron of the arts and, by most accounts, a man of heart and integrity.  

The internet is filled with tributes but (for me, at least) there's nothing anyone can say that would be more heartfelt and eloquent than Doctor McCoy's words—written, I suspect, by the great Nicholas Meyer—at the end of Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan:  "He's not really dead as long as we remember him."

Heartfelt condolences to Leonard Nimoy's friends and family.  



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AVATAR MEHER BABA!


"I was Rama, I was Krishna, I was this One, I was that One, and now I am Meher Baba...  I am the Ancient One."

Avatar Meher Baba

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A BRIEF CLARIFICATION

Yesterday, DC Comics announced a new slate of books:  Justice League 3000 wasn't among them and I started receiving heartfelt, and deeply-appreciated, tweets and emails from fans bemoaning the loss of the book.  I had to assure them all that JL 3000 isn’t dead, it’s just evolved into Justice League 3001—which launches in June.  That, I hoped, would resolve the issue.  Unfortunately, whoever put together this official announcement about the updated DC line managed to leave my name out of the Justice League 3001 credits—and so I began to get other tweets and emails asking why I was no longer co-writing the book with Keith Giffen.  Let me assure you that I am.  In fact, the creative team on 3001 is exactly the same as it was on 3000. There’s lots more 31st Century strangeness ahead and I hope you join me, Keith G and the amazing Howard Porter for the journey.

Hope that clears things up.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

AMARTITHI 2015

Today is Amartithi:  the anniversary of the day my spiritual master, my inner guide and dearest friend, Avatar Meher Baba, dropped His physical form.  If you have any interest in Meher Baba—and/or my connection to Him—you might want to read this post I wrote in 2013.  Or you could just spend some time in the Silence of His Love. 






"God does not read what your pen writes. He hears what your heart sings."
 Avatar Meher Baba

Thursday, January 29, 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOONSHADOW



In my early years in comics I blundered along, trying desperately to find my own voice as a writer and ending up sounding like a damaged clone, created from the badly-mixed DNA of Stan Lee, Steve Gerber, Len Wein, Roy Thomas and half-a-dozen other comic book writers I admired.  It’s not that my work was bad—well, actually, some of it was fairly horrendous—it’s just that I hadn’t found the way to fully express myself in the form.  Looking back, I think I was trapped by the super-hero genre itself.  As long as I was writing about the Defenders or Captain America, I would, in some way, be parroting stories, and styles, I’d been absorbing all my life.

Moonshadow changed that—and changed the course of my creative life in the process.

Someone (and for the life of me, I can’t remember who!) once said that whatever story you’re working on should be written as if it’s the only one you’ll ever tell—pouring all your thoughts, feelings, ideas, ideals, passions, philosophies, hopes and dreams...every iota of Who You Are...into it.  That’s what I did with Moonshadow.  It allowed me to step outside the Marvel-DC mindset and discover my own voice:  over the course of those twelve issues I stopped being a “comic book writer” and become a writer.

Of course it didn’t hurt that I was working with Jon J Muth, as brilliant an artist—and wonderful a collaborator—as the medium has ever seen.  His work always challenged me,  dared me to reach beyond my comfort zone and be better than I’d ever been.  I hope I did the same for him.  Jon J and I had three wonderful editors watching our backs—Laurie Sutton, Margaret Clark and 
the late, great Archie Goodwin—all of whom allowed us to tell our story in exactly the way we wanted, providing tremendous support and encouragement throughout our entire run. 

I also have to tip my hat to our extraordinary letterer, Kevin Nowlan, and two equally-extraordinary artists, Kent Williams and George Pratt, who pitched in  to help Jon J when deadlines got tight.  And let’s not forget Marvel’s then editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter, who gave my oddball pitch his approval, then sent me over to Archie G.  “This is an Epic comic,” Jim said.  And he was right.

According to this post, the first issue of Moonshadow came out on Janurary 29, 1985—which means that Moon, “Sunflower,” Ira, Frodo, the G’l-Doses, the Unkshuss family and all the rest are thirty years old today.  I wish them—and everyone who took that life-changing journey with me—a very happy birthday. 

Pop!  Poof!  Ping!




©copyright 2015 J.M. DeMatteis