SEMI-REGULAR MUSINGS FROM THE SEMI-REGULAR MIND OF WRITER J.M. DeMATTEIS
Monday, August 23, 2010
Today I had the pleasure of visiting Albany, New York's legendary public radio station, WAMC, and being interviewed by Joe Donahue—host of the daily talk show, The Roundtable—about Imaginalis and life in the comic book biz. TRT is one of the smartest shows on radio (I'm not just saying that because I was on it. I've been a listener for years) and it was a genuine pleasure visiting with Joe and producer Sarah LaDuke. You can listen to the interview here. I'm not sure how long it will be up, so, if you're interested, you should click on over sooner than later.
Posted by J.M. DeMatteis at 7:50 PM
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That was really great! So glad I had a chance to catch it while it's online. It's great that your reputation is such that editors give you a certain amount of freedom with "their" characters when you're picked for a project. There are very few writers in comics whose voice is defined to that degree. Peter David and Mark Waid are a couple of others, I'd guess. I hear some writers from the 70s complain that it's not like it was back then- that everything goes through a committee and isn't fun to produce. I know you had experiences like that on Silver Surfer and Adventures of Superman, but I'm glad that isn't always the case. It seems that there's a lot to be said for doing things out of the context of a regular series(at Marvel), though you seem to have lots of room to play in your Booster Gold gig (at DC). Oh, how I blather! Have a great week!ReplyDelete
Listening to the interview right now, posted link on Twitter...laughing about the importance of continuity discussion...as you say, a good story is a good story...thanks for the link, see you in a few weeks in NYC!ReplyDelete
Glad you enjoyed the interview, Jeff.ReplyDelete
The level of freedom has definitely shifted from the 80's to now. These days there IS more of a "top down" attitude, with things fitting into pre-drilled holes. That said, there are still opportunities to express a distinctive voice...and plenty of writers doing it.
I've found, over the years, that you can't wait for those opportunities. You have to make them happen. And the best way to do that is to be sure that you HAVE a distinctive voice. Then you know that, when people hire you, that's what they're looking for. You may lose some gigs, too, for the same reason...but that's the way the game works.
You're coming to NYCC, Ken? Great! I won't have a table in Artist's Alley (I was too late and they were all gobbled up), but I will be hanging around the Ardden Entertainment booth. I'll be sure to post hours here at the blog. See you soon.ReplyDelete
And thanks for the Twitter-linking!
Thanks for the link, I enjoyed the interview very much. I think the interviewer did a great job with his questions, the 16 minute interview seemed to pass by in 3 minutes.ReplyDelete
Very glad you enjoyed it, Quigue. I agree that the questions were smart and that time flew by. Now here's hoping that the listeners all ran out and bought copies of IMAGINALIS!ReplyDelete
It actually got me to read the sample pages today. I hadn't read them even though I planned to, but after the interview I had to read them. I liked the first chapter a lot. Now I am having to decide between purchasing the book or the Kindle version of the book. On the one hand, I like reading in the Kindle as it is easy to have in hand anywhere, I also like that it is cheaper. On the other hand, I love having a book in hand and being able to lend it to friends. Also, I think my wife would enjoy the book, it seems like the kind of story she would love.ReplyDelete
Do you know if a paperback version of the book will come out?
It's too early to know if there'll be a paperback version of IMAGINALIS, Quique (although, God knows, I hope there will be!).ReplyDelete
I don't own an e-reader, but I certainly see their appeal. (Earlier in the summer I was reading a massive book that collected an entire fantasy series, ten novels, in one volume; I certainly could have benefited from an electronic version.) Still, there's something wonderful about a good-old fashioned book: the ineffable magic of print and paper. Makes me think about the scene in STAR TREK II when Spock gives Kirk a book for his birthday. "I know," he says, "of your fondness for antiques."
I prefer having the print text whenever possible, but I've got to say, I'm loving Marvel's Digital Comics subscription service. It gives me an opportunity to read a lot of things that I wouldn't normally shell out the extra cash for an affordable yearly rate. Lots of good stuff there, including Tom DeFalco's ENTIRE Spider-Girl run! And I started from the beginning on Journey Into Mystery, JMD. I'm an obsessive-compulsive completist, and I wanted some history behind Thor by the time I got to your recommendation.ReplyDelete
The idea of having an entire run of Spider-Man or Thor on an e-reader, to be dipped into whenever one gets the whim, is certainly one of the selling points of the digital world, David.ReplyDelete
I suspect that, as these readers get more sophisticated and more and more books, magazines and comics become available, print as we know it will vanish into the mists of time. Or at least become, like vinyl records, a cult-item collectible.
I suspect you're right, JMD.ReplyDelete
The prospect of having all that available at my fingertips makes me say with Erasmus, "Immortal God! What a century do I see beginning! If only it were possible to be young again!":)
With all its strangeness and stresses, it really is an amazing world we're living in. Pure science-fiction!ReplyDelete
You mentioned in the review about how some people might get interested in comics through other forms of media and that's how I discovered your writing in the first place.ReplyDelete
I used to watch the Spider-Man animated series, which led me to picking up a random Spider-Man issue off the stands. It was part of the Maximum Carnage crossover (I don't remember the exact issue) and it featured Black Cat, Spider-Man and Venom escaping from a burning building.
From then on I became a fan of your work but due to lack of information (The internet didn't really exist back then) I could only pick up various Spider-Man issues at random and hope that you had a credit in writing them.
Those issues you wrote meant a lot to me because they proved that you could have a superhero comic that valued substance over style.
That's exactly what I was talking about. I always thought the success of the X-Men and Spider-Man movies had more to do with the animated series than the comics. A whole generation of kids grew up learning about those characters via the cartoons. It's actually amazing that you made the jump to comics. And I'm glad you did!ReplyDelete
And, as always, thanks for your kind words about my work. Very deeply appreciated!
I decided to get the printed version. The great cover, the nice lettering and the fact that it would be nice to have kid friendly books around the house for the near future (it is almost time for my wife and I to start trying to have kids) were the main reasons.ReplyDelete
I'll let you know my thoughts of the book when I finish it, I'm looking forward to it. I really liked the first chapter.
Thanks for the purchase, Quique, and, yes, please check back in after you've read it and give me your review!ReplyDelete
The cartoons do reach a much broader audience these days, so I'm interested to see how various comic franchise reboots will change public perceptions. I'd venture, for instance, that much of the viewing public would be surprised to learn that Peter had ever had a main love interest other than Mary Jane Watson.ReplyDelete
One appeal of the cartoons and the movies, from my perspective, is the possibility of closing out a story (and starting over again). I thought the Justice League Unlimited series gave some nice closure to Bruce Wayne's story with "Epilogue," for instance.
Another random thought. Perhaps as digital distribution makes comics an "impulse buy" again, we'll see more carryover from the films.
It will be interesting to see how digital distribution impacts the industry, David. And I think you're right about impulse buying. There will be people just downloading random issues of Spider-Man or Batman. My question is: How will they react when they discover that they're not getting a stand-alone story? That they've just been dropped into the middle of a multi-part epic?ReplyDelete
Interesting question. It's possible that modern television is training audiences to EXPECT sprawling multi-part epics. AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER (the cartoon) and LOST are two examples from across the demographic spectrum. I think the bigger obstacle would be when audiences feel like they're reading the SAME story.ReplyDelete
I hope we'll see 'smart' media-comic link-ups ala the way NETFLIX recommends movies based on personal preferences. It might refer a person who likes a Captain America movie or comic to SAVIOR 28, for instance, or someone who likes Spider-Man to INVINCIBLE. The key is making it EASY for potential readers.
I think you're right on the money, David. Ease and intuitiveness are the keys.ReplyDelete
Technology changes so swiftly -- and we seem to adjust to those changes with mind-boggling ease -- that I think the entire experience of "reading a comic book" might be completely transformed in a few short years.
Marvel could easily start using something like Netflix in terms of recommendations, they already have something that resembles Netflix. Their digital comcis subscription. For about $5 a month you get access to over 7000 comics, including the early issues of Spider-man, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, etc. It also has recent issues (essentially anything from a year ago going backwards). You can read Bendis complete run on Daredevil, Miller's run on Daredevil, Kraven the Last Hunt, etc. It is a wonderful thing, not expensive and the digital reader is excellent. I think Marvel could really exploit this.ReplyDelete
I think we'll begin to see something like that, Quigue. It would be even better if there was some clearing house, a real comic book Netflix, where you could go for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, independents, the whole works: pay a flat monthly fee and go to town. Imagine if you paid twenty or thirty dollars a month and were able to read all the comics you wanted? Now there's the revolution!ReplyDelete
Yes, I was thinking about that. Other publishers could follow Marvel's lead and do it on their own too. If it is only $5 a month like Marvel does it, then if DC, Dark Horse, Image and IDW do it, then you're up to $30 a month. If the indies get together and do their own for $10, then you're still getting a lot for only $40 and if you're a bigger fan of a particular one, you can just get those. I think getting all of them together as you suggest would be optimal, but maybe each doing their own thing is more realistic.ReplyDelete
That would be glorious!ReplyDelete
And I think readers would still buy print editions of their favorite works. Comics are a visual medium, and there's just something about an oversized hardcover that trumps every other format.
I saw a TV ad for the music-sharing site Rhapsody yesterday, Quique, and they've got a flat fee that allows you to stream all the music you want on yur computer AND download to iPod and iPhone. It may take some time, but I suspect we'll see something like this for digital comics. What it will take is an equitable plan for paying creators...and some courage on the part of publishers.ReplyDelete
This really is the model for the future.
Totally agree, David. And I think the "over-sized hardcover" angle is a smart one. Just as 3D gets people away from streaming movies and DVDs, a really classy presentation, that will allow the reader to drink in the art and story in new ways, would be a way to keep people buying three-dimensional books.ReplyDelete
I always hoped Hyperion would do a giant hardcover of ABADAZAD, so folks could really drink in Mike Ploog's incredible illustrations.
It's amazing how the over-sized format gives you a new appreciation for what artists do. I'm a verbal kind of guy, so it's only been in the last few years that I've really tried to slow down and take it ALL in. Not surprisingly, BROOKLYN DREAMS is a work that helped me to understand how dynamic that text/art relationship can be. (And it's especially relevant in a text about duality, among other things!) Wouldn't mind seeing that in OS at all.ReplyDelete
I'd love to see Over-Sized become the standard. And yes, an OS of ABADAZAD would be good, too, especially since it was a smaller format to begin with.
I'm still waiting for my over-sized hardcover of your SSM work with Sal, too. (And excited that Walt Simonson's Thor will be collected in an 1162 page omnibus next year also). These thing tend to be timed around the movies now, so maybe you'll get a Lee/Kirby Omnibus, too!
A Lee-Kirby THOR Omnibus would he amazing, David.ReplyDelete
Glenn Barr and I recently got the rights to BROOKLYN DREAMS back from DC and we're searching for another publisher. Maybe we can shift the format if -- hopefully WHEN -- we get a new edition out.
And I would LOVE to see my Spider-Man collaboration with Sal collected together. I think it's some of my best super-hero work ever. Very proud of that run.
Well, whaddya know:ReplyDelete
Collects up to JIM 120.
There's also a King Kirby Cap Omnibus, collecting his "Madbomb" arc:
Ask and it shall be given!ReplyDelete
I do know about Rhapsody, however the music industry got hit harder by illegal downloads than comics. Music players are easier to come by than comic book readers. However, technology moves fast, so soon enough the comic book industry might need to do something like that. I guess they are in their first steps in that direction.ReplyDelete
Yes, Quique, the music industry was hit hard by illegal downloading...but that was compounded by the fact that the record companies were so resitant to new meida. iTunes proved that there was plenty of money to be made from LEGAL downloading. And I think the same will prove true of comics, with the right delivery system.ReplyDelete
I agree completely. Comics have the advantage of seeing how big the music industry failed on this. They can also see how successful iTunes, Netflix, Rhapsody and other similar products are.ReplyDelete
One things for sure, Quique: the next few years are going to be VERY interesting for comics...and all media. We're in the middle of an amazing revolution.ReplyDelete