Sunday, October 31, 2010


I’d been under-the-weather earlier in the week—so much so that I had to cancel a trip to the Ottawa International Writer’s Festival—and was just starting to feel better.  My wife and I were out taking an afternoon walk, enjoying the fall weather, when I felt the beginnings of an allergic reaction:  face itching, red bumps forming on my face.  Well, I’ve got a host of food and environmental sensitivities that often seem to kick in without warning, so this wasn’t all-that surprising.  What did surprise me was the speed with which the reaction spread across my entire body.  By the time I’d reached my front steps, I was itching violently, covered in hives, the universe was spinning way too quickly and my vision was blurring.  Shortly after I staggered inside, I passed out (apparently my blood pressure had taken a precipitous dive):  I remember looking at my wife just before I descended into the Twilight Zone and she appeared to be standing at the wrong end of a telescope.  With her usual skill and determination, Diane managed to bring me around and, before I knew it, a band of angels, in the form of EMTs, had arrived to rescue me from the demonic depths:  I soon found myself on a stretcher, hooked up to an IV, taking my first-ever ride in an ambulance.  I ended up in the hospital overnight, body pumped full of Benadryl and steroids, the whole thing feeling like a Halloween hallucination of the first order.

I’ve been home for a few days now, still not quite right (for someone like me, ultra-sensitive to medications, the cure can sometimes be as bad as the disease), but certainly feeling better.  The strangest part of it all is that I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what caused the reaction:  I hadn’t eaten anything I’m allergic to, so my best guess is that there was some mutated mold lurking in a pile of autumn leaves, waiting to spring on the first biologically-vulnerable writer to pass by.  Either that or it was a genuine Halloween ghoul, arrived early to the party, ready for mischief.

In any case, the doorbell’s ringing, and a far friendlier class of spirit is on my porch.  I’m happy they’re here.  That other ghoul can stay away forever:  


Happy Halloween to one and all.

©copyright 2010  J.M. DeMatteis 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I was going through some old files and came across my copy of an interview I did...well, I’m not sure when.  (At least five years ago, I’d guess.)  I’m also not sure who asked the questions.  And I’m almost certain that the interview never saw print.  The only thing I am sure about is that the interview related to my work on Spider-Man.  Rather than leave it gathering (cyber) dust on my computer, I thought I’d share it here.  And so—for your listening and dancing pleasure—here’s the Lost Spider-Man Interview...

Briefly, could you give me a rundown of your Spider-Man writing credits?

I started with Spider-Man way back in the early 80’s, doing a long run on Marvel Team-Up with two terrific artists:  Herb Trimpe and Kerry Gammill.  Not exactly a classic run on my part, but, hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere.

A few years later, I came back to Spider-Man for the six-part Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline.  I followed that up with the one-shot sequel, Soul Of The Hunter.  Then, in the early 90’s, I did a two-year run on Spectacular Spider-Man, followed by a lengthy run on Amazing Spider-Man, and then back for another couple of years on Spectacular.  Along the way, I did lots of mini-series, fill-ins and back-up stories.  Too many to mention here. 

What is it about the character that appealed to you as a writer? What made you stick around through various editors and titles?

I was always amazed at the way Spider-Man kept pulling me back.  I’d quit one book, thinking I never wanted to write another Spidey story again, then an offer would come along and I’d jump at it.  Why?  Because I missed Peter Parker.  He’s a wonderful character:  deep, interesting, funny, intelligent, decent, and wonderfully conflicted.  And that’s without the costume on!

Who was your favorite Spidey villain to write? Least favorite?

Finding new psychological wrinkles in the villains was one of my favorite things to do.  Kraven stands out, of course.  He was a character that was pretty much written off as a joke before Kraven’s Last Hunt—so it was terrific to develop him into a truly memorable bad guy...and then kill him off.  I also enjoyed probing into the psyches of the Vulture, Electro, Mysterio and, my absolute favorite, the Harry Osborn Green Goblin.  The relationship between Peter and Harry (both in and out of costume) fascinated me.  I think that the story in Spectacular Spider-Man #200,  in which Harry dies, is the best Spider-Man story I ever did.  We’d been building to that story for nearly two years...and I’m very proud of it.

What were your thoughts on Spider-Man’s supporting cast? Do you think it needs reinvigorating, fine as is? Which characters did you enjoy dealing with?

I think the character I enjoyed most was (believe it or not) Aunt May.  At the time I was writing Spider-Man, many writers and readers weren’t that interested in her.  She seemed to be a bland old worrywart; but from the first time I wrote her, I found May to be a woman of incredible intelligence, passion and, most of all, strength.  The story in Amazing Spider-Man #400, where Aunt May died in Peter’s arms (hey, I’m beginning to see a pattern here), is another of my all-time favorites.  But I wrote a number of Aunt May stories where I got to explore her from new and interesting angles.

Is there anything you would change in your previous Spidey work if given the chance?

Well, maybe I’d go back and rewrite a bunch of those Marvel Team-Up stories.  And I’d like to see the Clone Saga rewritten to reflect our original intentions.  But, no, I wouldn’t even do that.  For good or ill, all those stories were the very best I could do at the time.  As for the rest of it, there was an occasional turkey among the bunch, but, overall, I’m extremely proud of my work on the various Spider-Man titles.  I think it’s some of my very best.  

If you got another crack at writing the webslinger, what would you like to do with him?

I’ve written so many Spider-Man stories that I don’t know if there’s anything I could do with him!  I think I did everything I wanted to do.  Doesn’t mean I won’t wake up tomorrow morning with a fantastic idea... but right now, I certainly don’t have one.

What were some of your favorite story arcs that you worked on? Any particular artist that you were paired with that you felt a strong connection with?

As noted, Kraven’s Last Hunt, Spectacular Spider-Man #200 and Amazing Spider-Man #400 are real favorites.  It didn’t hurt that I was working with Mike Zeck, Mark Bagley and Sal Buscema, three of the top super-hero artists in the field.  I pretty much loved my entire two year run with Sal on Spectacular.  (Not long after that, the Spidey books started crossing over all the time...and I got awfully tired of writing chapter two of a four part story.)

Other stories that come to mind are the Lost Years mini-series I did with John Romita, Jr.  (I loved Ben Reilly and Kaine...they were great characters...and I’m still sorry they're gone.)  And one of the highlights of my entire career was a story called “The Kiss” that I wrote as a back-up in the first issue of the short-lived Webslingers book.  It was illustrated by one of the giants of our industry, John Romita, Sr., at the very top of his game.  Romita was the artist on so many of my all-time favorite Spider-Man stories...and working with him was not just a thrill but a genuine honor.

There you have it.  If the person who interviewed me is out there reading this, please post a comment and let me know when we did this...and what publication it was intended for.  I’d love to solve this mystery. 

Monday, October 11, 2010


After a couple of very enjoyable years as editor-in-chief of Ardden Entertainment—working on Flash Gordon, Casper and the Spectrals and the recently-announced Atlas Comics revival—I’ve decided to take my leave.  It’s been a great ride building this new company with Ardden co-publishers Brendan Deneen and Rich Emms—both of whom, I hasten to add, are terrific guys—but, as we’ve all worked together to prep the Atlas material, co-creating the new versions of Grim Ghost, Phoenix and Wulf the Barbarian, it’s become clear that we have different visions of how to proceed.  After pondering long and hard, I decided the best thing would be to put on my parachute and exit the Ardden Tower, leaving the Atlas revival in Brendan and Rich’s very capable hands.  It was fun flexing my editorial muscles, seeing the comics world from the other side of the desk, and I may do it again one of these days.

I wish Brendan, Rich and Jason Goodman’s Atlas team great good luck with the new books.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


And, to mark the occasion, here's one of the greatest Lennon tracks of all.  "We all shine on," indeed.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


A few weeks back I shared the tale of the one and only Star Wars comic book I ever wrote—and the way my story of a born-again pacifist named Cody Sunn-Childe was changed (maybe defaced would be a better word) by George Lucas's licensing lords.  Well, the estimable Brian Cronin—whose column at Comic Book Resources inspired my reminiscence—has actually tracked down the original ending of the story.  (You can find out how right here.)  Turns out that the unaltered version of the story—with my name in the credits and the ending intact—appeared in England, as part of a black and white star Star Wars magazine.  And now, thanks to Brian and one of his sharp-eyed readers, here's the pivotal last page:

Believe it or not, I have never seen this before.  So thanks to Brian, the man called Matchstick and the magic of the internet for providing the perfect afterword to the saga of Cody Sunn-Childe and Wally Lombego.

Monday, October 4, 2010


This Friday, October 8th, kicks off the 2010 New York Comic Con.  I was hoping to be there, but plans have changed.  That said, NYCC is a big, noisy, wonderful convention (not yet as big and noisy as San Diego and far more comic book-centric), so if you’re in the New York area, and you love comics, you owe it to yourself to go. 


Friday the 8th is also the day my next episode of Batman:  The Brave and the Bold airs.  This one features the Doom Patrol and
I'm incredibly pleased with the way it turned out.  A word of warning:  The story skews a little darker than the average B & B episode.   As they say:  parental discretion is advised.  You can catch the show on Cartoon Network, Friday night at 7 pm.


October 9th is John Lennon’s birthday—my one true rock and roll hero would have been seventy—and this seems like the perfect opportunity to post the second part of my “Meeting Lennon” story.  (You can read part one here.)  I can’t promise I’ll make it by Saturday, but I’m aiming to post the story within a week of the big day.  If I blow that deadline, feel free to harass me about it.


I saw The Social Network over the weekend and thought it was terrific:  a strong, smart script (by Aaron Sorkin), incredibly well-acted, surprisingly moving—and director David Fincher kept the whole thing moving like a shot.  The reviews aren’t exaggerations:  TSN really is one of the best films of the year.   That said... 

A number of critics—and the film makers themselves—have called the story of Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook a modern-day Citizen Kane.   Here’s the big difference I see:  although Welles based elements of CK on the life of William Randolph Heart, he didn’t pretend to be presenting a factual account of Hearst’s life.  And he certainly didn’t call his character W.R. Hearst.  By giving us an account of Zuckerberg’s life that is presented as a work of rigorously-researched non-fiction—Sorkin, in particular, is promoting it this way, despite many people pointing out the gap between movie-reality and the true story—the whole thing feels just a little...creepy.  Whatever the facts, this film will define Zuckerberg in the public mind for years to come.  However much I enjoyed The Social Network, I think I would have preferred a film about Charles Foster Zuck.

My previous post about Kraven’s Last Hunt—and the Russian origins of Sergei Kravinov—brought a flurry of comments about my literary idol, Dostoyevsky, whose work inspired my interpretation of Kraven the Hunter.  This, in turn, reminded me of a 1940’s radio adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment that I heard a few months back:  a wonderful—if wildly-truncated—version of the story that appeared on a show called Mystery In The Air.  It starred Peter Lorre (who also starred in the 1935 film version) and you can download it, for free (and, yes, it’s perfectly legal), right here


The other day I got into an email discussion with a friend about the nature of time; specifically the idea, which I wholeheartedly subscribe to, that time isn’t linear.  “All moments are simultaneous,” I wrote him.  “Among other things, that means time-travel is more a problem of perception.  No time machine needed, just the mind aimed at a different moment.”  He, in turn, told me about an experiment done by a Harvard professor, Dr. Ellen Langer, that...  Well, here, I’ll let the Boston Globe explain:

The study...took place in 1979 and was, in its way, a feat of canny stagecraft. In an old monastery in Peterborough, N.H., Langer and her students set up an elaborate time capsule of the world 20 years earlier, then sent two separate groups of men in their late 70s and early 80s to spend a week there. Each group spent the week immersed in the year 1959, discussing Castro’s advances in Cuba and the Colts’ victory in the NFL championship, listening to Perry Como and Nat King Cole, watching “North by Northwest” and “Some Like it Hot.” The only difference between the two groups was that one talked about the year in the present tense - they were pretending it was 1959 - and the other group referred to it in the past.

Before and after, the men in both groups were given a battery of cognitive and physical tests. What Langer found was that the men in both groups seemed to have reversed many of the declines associated with aging - they were stronger and more flexible, their memories and their performance on intelligence tests improved. But the men who had acted as if it really was 1959 had improved significantly more. By mentally living as younger men for a week, they seemed actually to have turned back the clock.
Time travel indeed.  Something for all of us to think about and, if you’re inclined, discuss right here at Creation Point.

© copyright 2010 J.M. DeMatteis