Monday, October 26, 2009


The rest of my story about the demise of Abadazad and the birth of Imaginalis will have to wait until next week because I’m busy finishing up an animation script for a new series created by Samurai Jack’s Genndy Tartakovsky.  While you’re waiting—or even if you’re not—here’s something I think you’ll enjoy.

In 1937, Orson Welles—then a twenty-two year old force of nature who was transforming the American theater—adapted and directed a brilliant seven part radio version of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.  I think Les Miz is one of the most magnificent stories ever created:  a profound, deeply moving, tale of life, death, sin, redemption, war, revolution, true love and the majesty of God expressed through the humility of man.  The combination of Welles—if you’ve been reading The Life and Times of Savior 28, you know I’m a major Welles fanatic—and Hugo is something to be savored. And here’s the good news:  you can download all seven episodes for free—and, yes, it’s legal—right here at one of the internet’s most rewarding sites,

If you decide to give Orson and Victor a listen, take my advice:  Wait till you’re alone, preferably at night, stretch out on your bed or couch, shut off the lights, open your mind and just listen.  Radio drama was a unique and powerful art form that, for a few magnificent decades, dominated the American landscape—and Orson Welles was one of its absolute masters.  If you love having your imagination actively engaged by a wonderful story (and I suspect most of the people reading this fall into that category), you’re in for a great ride.

©copyright 2009  J.M. DeMatteis



  1. I had Welles' Les Mis on tape a long time ago, and listened to the whole thing on a long drive. Brilliant stuff.

    I can't understand why all the Mercury Theatre programs haven't been collected in some sort of boxed set. He did War of the Worlds, Dracula, Shakespeare--popular stuff!

  2. Let me know what you think, Nicholas!

  3. The good news, Rob, is that you can find tons of Welles radio material at places like and, even better, the Museum of Orson Welles:

    Check it out. You'll be in Orson Heaven!

  4. Dear JM,
    I’m Gabriele Perlini and I am a big italian fan of yours! I have wrote your bibliography, plus a second one about your works published in Italy.
    They are both in italian, but I think everybody can understand it. You may have some problems only on the notes at the end of the file...
    You can find the bibliographies at the following link:

    What do you think? I hope you like it! (and I also hope I didn’t make too many orthographic mistakes in this message!)
    Thank you very much for your attention!


    ps: I just finished reading Brooklyn Dreams and I think it's one of the best story I have ever read!
    (well, I’ve never read "Moonshadow", "Blood: A Tale" and "Abadazad" because unfortunately they are still unpublished in Italy...)

  5. Thanks so much for checking in, Gabriele...and thanks for all your hard work on those bibliographies. They look great.

    Very glad you enjoyed BROOKLYN DREAMS: it's one of my favorite literary children. I have vague memories of MOONSHADOW being serialized in Italy back in the 80's...but I may be misremembering. Hope it makes its way over there.

    Thanks again for all your hard work. Please keep in touch. All the best -- JMD

  6. My first memory of Orson Welles is actually a cameo appearance on "I Love Lucy." He seemed so friendly, it was hard for me to believe he once spooked an entire nation. That's the power of radio!

    Speaking of spooks, I recently discovered you wrote an episode of "The Real Ghosbusters"!

    My way of saying, "Happy Halloween!"

  7. That "Lucy" episode was filmed around the same time Welles was directing a pilot for Desilu, a terrific piece called "The Fountain of Youth." It's up on Youtube. Check it out:

    The "Ghostbusters" episode was the second television script I ever sold. And the show's story editor was none other than J. Michael Straczynski, who's gone on to great fame in comics, TV and film. The episode, called "The Devil in the Deep," is up on You Tube, as well. I'd love to tell you it's a genius piece of animation, but, really, it's just a fun little romp:

  8. Thank You very much for your appreciation!

    You're right, Moonshadow is not totally unpublished: the first 2 episodes have been printed, splitted in 8-page parts each, on 5 numbers of an italian magazine in the late '80s.
    The reason for this choise was easy: the difficulty to merge the italian lyrics with Muth illustrations. This operation took an awful lot of time, so the editor choose to divide each story into several parts.
    Of course this is not what such a great work deserved, in fact that magazine closed with number 5, leaving all the other episodes unpublished.
    I hope in a future the "Complete Moonshadow" italian edition, otherways I will buy the original version!

    Anyway, I would like to ask you a few questions about my bibliography, I have some doubts about a bunch of those stories which might not be written by you.. but maybe this is not the right place.
    If you could help me, please find my e-mail address on the first page of the bibliography, right below the title.

    Thanks for your caring!

  9. I will definitely be in touch, Gabriele.

  10. Hi J.M.!

    You're absolutely right about that last paragraph. What you may not know is that there are producers still doing audio drama today, using modern technology, better SFX, trained actors, and great scripts. Tom Lopez and the ZBS Foundation have been doing the Jack Fladers and Ruby series going on what...30 years, now? And Yuri Rasovsky's Hollywood Theater of the Ear just released "The Maltese Falcon" as a radio drama on CD through Blackstone Audio (with Michael Madsen as Sam Spade - hey, you gave a great recommendation, you deserve one in return).

    And apparently, there's now a company devoted to doing indie comics as full-cast audio drama! I found out about them through an interview with Elaine Lee on Comic Book Resources. Did you know about these guys? They're going to do Lee and Kaluta's "Starstruck" as a series of radio plays!

    Anyway, I checked out their blog (AudioComics is the company) and I saw an entry detailing their "wish list" of other projects they want to do:

    J.M.: look through the list. One of the titles they're interested in may just catch your eye...

  11. I'm very much aware of ZBS, David...but I hadn't hard about AudioComics. Glad to see that Moonshadow's on their list.

    Being such a major Radio Nerd, I've sometimes thought about Moonshadow as a radio play. I think it would be a perfect fit for the medium. For that matter, so would Abadazad, Stardust Kid and several other projects of mine.

    I'm sure you know about the great work the BBC has done over the years (most notably the astonishing radio versions of LORD OF THE RINGS, the NARNIA series and the HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE series). And one of my all-time favorite radio series was done on NPR back in the 80's: BRADBURY 13. Wonderful adaptations of Ray Bradbury short stories (there are a few duds in there, but the good ones are so good you don't mind). The shows are available for download at:

    The same site has some terrific -- and a few not-so terrific -- radio adaptations of TWILIGHT ZONE episodes.

    And of course my favorite radio show of all time is probably the Jack Benny Show. Some of the smartest, laugh-out-loud funniest comedy ever. In fact, I love it so much I may have to devote an entire blog entry to it.

    Theater of the mind! You just can't beat it!

  12. Thanks for checking in, Lance. I'm delighted to know that there are people like you out there, passionately dedicated to this extraordinary art form. As we both know, there's nothing like it.

    I'll check out the contact form on your site and send you an email. I'd love to talk to you toward year's end about MOONSHADOW...or anything else. All the best -- JMD