Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Illustrator and Comic Book Blogmeister Rob Kelly—Lord of The Aquaman Shrine and other wonderful, geek-friendly sites—is putting together a book called Hey Kids, Comics!: True-Life Tales From The Spinner Rack.  In Rob’s words, it’s “a book collecting stories from people of all walks of life, all of whom have fond memories of reading, collecting, and/or obsessing over comic books.”  I recently finished an essay for Hey, Kids and thought it would be fun to post an excerpt here at Creation Point.  Enjoy!

I've said this before and it's true:  I don't remember ever not reading comic books.  I can’t say for sure who first exposed me to them, but I do recall a married couple that lived in my apartment building (the kind of adults you’d expect to be reading comics in the late 50's and early 60's:  smiley, rotund, slightly odd people) and they had a treasure trove of comics—stacks and stacks of them—they’d often share with me.  I also remember a cousin giving me what must have been twenty or so comics (to my young eyes, they seemed more like twenty thousand).  There was something deeply satisfying in spreading them all out on the floor—like a four-color carpet—not to be read, but to be stared at, studied, absorbed to the deeps of my soul.  I enjoyed comic book covers as much as I enjoyed reading the stories.  I could sit there, in a quasi-hypnotic state, and study the illustrations for hours:  they were like cosmic portals, opening up doorways to other dimensions; colorful parallel universes far preferable to the one I inhabited. 

The best covers communicated an entire story in one image and my mind would wander off and run the story in my head like a movie (which was often far different from the one that unfolded inside the books:  sometimes it was better).  Drawing was one of my great obsessions as a kid and I could spend an entire afternoon on the living room floor, with pencil and paper, studying a Batman cover—I’m talking about the Dick Sprang-era, square-jawed, fun-loving Bats, not the ultra-serious Dark Knight of today—and trying to replicate it, line-for-line, freehand.  (Tracing, of course, was verboten.) 

My family didn’t have much money—we were lower middle class, my father worked for the New York City Parks Department (he was the guy who raked the leaves and shoveled the snow) and my mother was a switchboard operator for the New York State Parole Board—but I never felt materially deprived.  My parents were always incredibly generous.  And they generously indulged my passion for comics.   

I have very vivid memories of being six, seven years old and taking walks with my father on summer evenings after dinner:  We'd head for the local candy store, which—in Brooklyn, at least—was its own magic world, with a long soda fountain inevitably presided over by an elderly Jewish wizard who could magically conjure egg creams (if you’ve never had one, you have my sincere condolences); more comics, newspapers and magazines than you could count; every gloriously trashy candy bar in existence; and an odd assortment of toys, from Duncan Yo-Yos to that lost ancient artifact, the Pensy Pinky.  My father would buy a newspaper for himself and a comic book for me.   A comic was ten cents in those days—which was probably more than my dad’s New York Daily News cost—but it was still a bargain.  (When my best friend, Bob Izzo, was going to the hospital for minor surgery—I think he was having a mole removed—his mother gave him an entire dollar and he bought ten comic books.  I was paralyzed with envy.)

I was seven when, after three decades, the price jumped from ten to twelve cents:  I walked into the candy store with my mother one afternoon and Eva—the not-to-be-trifled-with wife of the egg cream making wizard—was in shock, ranting about this outrageous price hike.  My mother was equally irate.  “Twelve cents,” she gasped, “for a comic book?”  

To my immense relief, the extra two cents didn’t dissuade my parents from buying me comics—and I continued to consume them.  It didn’t matter what the comic book was, I read everything—from Hot Stuff and Casper to Sad Sack and Bob Hope (given the current comic book market, it’s astonishing to realize that the Hope series ran for eighteen years.  The Adventures of Jerry Lewis lasted even longer).  Today the super hero dominates the mainstream market, but, back then, the variety of comic books—all of them kid-friendly—was astounding.  Still, to a boy raised on George Reeves flying across his black and white television screen, the DC super hero comics were the Holy Grail.

We took it for granted that every male under the age of twelve worshipped Superman and Batman—and most of them did—but each of us had our special favorites.  Mine were Justice League and Green Lantern.  GL was the perfect vehicle to capture the mind of a child.  The concept was as elegant as it was simple:  the hero just thought of something—brought his will and imagination to bear—and he manifested it.  (Even as an adult the concept still works:  I think it’s a perfect metaphor for the way we should all live our lives.)   John Broome’s wonderful stories spanned the galaxies—his place in Comic Book Heaven is secure—but, for me, the the primal enchantment came from Gil Kane's extraordinary artwork.  Before I discovered the force of nature that was Jack Kirby, Kane was the artist whose work meant the most to me:  a mixture of elegance, power and crystal clear storytelling.  As noted, drawing was my childhood obsession and one of my absolute favorite things to draw was Kane’s flying figure of Green Lantern, ring-hand confidently outthrust, one leg cocked back (almost as if it was amputated).

When I was in Junior High School, I underwent a religious conversion.  No, I didn’t suddenly become a Hindu or a Born-Again Christian:  I converted from DC to Marvel. 


I'll end the excerpt there.  If you want to read the rest, along with reminiscences by Steve Englehart,  Alan Brennert, Mike Carlin, Jonathan Lethem and many more, you'll have to buy Rob's book.  I'll be sure to let you know when Hey Kids, Comics! is ready to enter the world.

© copyright 2010 J.M. DeMatteis


  1. Thanks JMD!

    Your essay is truly wonderful, with some amazing moments that could only come from a truly comics-obsessed kid. I can't wait to see it all between two covers!

  2. Comics ARE magic. Engaging the imagination, the intelligence, one's sense of awe and wonder... I live (so to speak) for those moments in comics where things are building up, then reach a crescendo as I turn the page and what I see sends a tingling sensation, that is accompanied with a youthful giddiness and excitement, across my body.

    A sort of feel good moment when, no matter how terrible a state Earth is in, no matter how big or bad the villain is, you KNOW Superman (or Spider-Man, Batman, or whoever) will save the day.

    Of course, intellectually you already know they're going to, of course, but it's HOW they do it... how it's presented... that sends an emotional high resonating throughout my being.

    More than any medium I've come across yet, the comic book is the only one capable of giving me such wonderful sensations regularly.

  3. I can't wait to see the WHOLE BOOK, Rob!

  4. Well said, as usual, Kyle!

    I invite anyone reading this to pop in with their thoughts, feelings and memories about the limitless comic book universes that have inspired so many of us.

  5. Thanks for the excerpt, JM. A very nostalgic read for me, too. I've been a reader/collector on a regular basis for almost 40 years now (ouch, I'm gettin' old). For most of those years I collected and read mostly Marvel, with a few DC. Lately, it's been changing to the reverse over the last 5 years or so. Now, one regular Marvel and a number of DC. I've really become disenchanted with Marvel--raising the price of the books I was getting by $1 was a betrayal to me. DC, who also raised a few of their books $1, didn't affect me because it wasn't on any of the books I was getting--though I still resented their price jump for those fans who were getting those books. I know that's supposed to change in January when they lower the prices again, but for me the damage is done and I am saying good bye--at least for now--to Marvel once Chaos War is over (I am getting Chaos War: Thor of course; couldn't miss out on that). To me, as well, the Marvel Universe if fragmented and out of control--very confusing. When I go into the comic book store each week and look at the Marvel shelf, it's (pardon the pun) chaos. And I fervently miss the days when there was one Marvel universe that I could follow. Don't get me wrong, I love Marvel characters and always will. Spider-Man, Wolverine, Thor, FF, Hulk, Moon Knight, Avengers, etc ... are all my childhood favourites. And some of the books Marvel is still doing look really good--but too pricey to justify buying on a regular basis. And I do have a 'sour taste in my mouth' when I think about Marvel these days. DC, who are not perfect either, has consistently produced more enjoyable books for me with none of the universal confusion that Marvel has (though 'Final Crisis' was a headache to me). Green Lantern and GL Corp are my favourite DC titles, as well as Secret Six and Birds of Prey and Brightest Day. I guess I have to admit those 'magical' days that super hero comic books brought to me as a kid has changed for me. Whether for the better or not ... probably closer to the not. But I have hope that will one day change and I will be in love with the Marvel again. Still, I do love the comic book medium--as well as the super hero genre, too. Kyle is right about the medium. It's arguably the best in delivering 'wonderful sensations regularly.' And that is magical in itself! Phew ... there's my little rant over Marvel and DC (if somewhat self-edited).

  6. I'm not getting into a Marvel vs. DC debate, A. Jaye (for obvious reasons), but thanks for sharing your thoughts, which will, no doubt, engage other posters here at CP.

    And thanks for keeping CHAOS WAR: THOR on your buy list! MUCH appreciated!

  7. Ha. Nor should you, my friend. This is just my personal experience and feelings. Not a right or wrong thing necessarily. I still 'follow' Marvel and see what's coming up, with the hopes that they'll hook me again. No matter what happens down the road, I'll always love Marvel and DC.
    As well, finished reading "Imaginalis." A quick and smooth as silk read. Flowed very nicely. Love the characters and the world you created. I can see the 'Oz' and 'Narnia' influence, yet still very uniquely original. A big thumbs up and a recommendation from me.

  8. Thanks, A. Jaye. So very glad you enjoyed IMAGINALIS. If you (or anyone else out there) feel so inclined, please post a review -- short, long or anything in between -- at Every little bit helps!

  9. Sounds like a great book, so I look forward to its release.

    I don't remember ever not reading comics, either. My dad was a huge Marvel fan during the Lee/Ditko era of Spider-Man, and his first issue was ASM 15. (I've yet to tell him my favorite Spider-Man writer killed off Kraven years ago...)

    My grandfather worked a smalltown grocery/convenience store in Alabama, and my dad was at the complete mercy of whatever comics they chose to deliver that month. He got ASM 39, the issue where the Green Goblin discovered Spidey's secret ID and kidnapped him, but he never got the second part! So needless to say, he backed off comics a bit when they went to larger arcs.

    My mom was first exposed to comics when she was about 12 and was diagnosed with juvenille diabetes. Her grandmother bought her a huge stack of comics, among them the debut of Batgirl. I actually scored a cheap copy of that issue for her birthday a few years back. Not in great condition, mind you, but very sentimental.

    Neither of my parents were still reading comics when I was born, but I guess my Dad wanted to pass that legacy on. I can't say with any certainty what my first issue was. It was probably a Stern/Romita Jr. issue of ASM, so not a bad time to be born into the habit!

    I have vivid memories of the Hobgoblin's debut, my Dad trying to find a copy of Secret Wars #8 because it was the premiere of the alien costume, as well as the issue where Spidey fought the Puma and MJ told Pete she knew. So my earliest conception of comics was pretty much formed by Stern/Romita Jr. and DeFalco/Frenz.

    In hindsight, I didn't have a chance of not getting hooked...and then, to make matters worse, some guy named DeMatteis came along and "killed" Spider-Man for half a summer!:)

  10. Thanks for sharing the memories, David. Funny that your dad never got the second part of the Green Goblin saga, because part two was the first issue of SPIDER-MAN I ever bought.

    Stern/Romita, Jr. and DeFalco/Frenz sounds like a great way to start your love affair with the character. I've sung DeFalco's praises several times here (he's a terrific writer and an equally-terrific guy). Stern is one of the unsung heroes of 80's Marvel. He was -- and remains -- a writer who can make just about any character interesting and any series worth reading. I don't know him well -- and haven't seen him in many years -- but, in my early days at Marvel, when he was still on staff, Roger always went out of his way to be welcoming to "the new guy" -- and that's something I've never forgotten.

    Someday I'll tell the tale of how I (innocently, but stupidly) capsized a story of Roger's: a blunder that still embarrasses me today.

  11. I love David's Spider-Man story. There was a sense of urgency in comic reading in the days before comic shops--once a book was gone, it was GONE.

    As the editor/creator of the Hey Kids! book, I can attest to how good JMD's story is--I can't wait to foist Hey Kids, Comics! on the world!

  12. There was a local used book store that was a couple of miles from my house, Rob, and that was the only place I could track down back issues. They had a big glass case filled with ancient -- to me, anyway, they were only four or five years old -- early Marvels. It was a thrill to stand there and hold them in my hands and imagine I could afford to buy one of them. (The first back issue I ever bought was via mail order: three bucks for a copy of X-MEN #1. And, no, I don't still own it.)

    As for HEY, KIDS: foist away!

  13. Lovely essay! I can't wait to read the rest. To me, the importance of comics and, more specifically, the comic store to my development is apparent in hindsight, though, at the time I didn't really know it was happening.

    I grew up in a small, fairly conservative suburb. Don't get me wrong; I really liked it there! But for an incessant daydreamer like myself, there wasn't really anything to feed my desire for more artistic enterprises. There was no such thing as community art galleries or theater or anything like that, and I think it frustrated me at time.

    I discovered (rather late) in high school, one of our local comic shops, and everything changed. It became a sort of beacon of culture for me. At first, I would spend excessive amounts of time going through all the titles they had to offer. And the clerks expected that, too, which was great. But I realized that I could search through all those books and find one that was incredibly specific to my interests and desires, both on a fantastic level as well as a realistic level. To learn that that did exist, and it was available in my home town was a game changer.

    By the way, I used to be a terrible critical reader. After I discovered comics, that all changed. I am considerably better at making connections and questioning things than I ever was.

    I am excited to pick up this book and learn what some of the other talents have to say about their early experiences with comics! Thanks for telling us about it, and thanks for sharing this excerpt!

  14. I don't remember if it was my first comic ever, but I do recall it was the one that really hooked me into the world of comics was Uncanny X-Men #282, the first appearance of Bishop. My uncle bought it for me out of the blue. I think because of it being my first (or at least first memorable) comic that it is the main reason I still love the Bishop character.

    I started with Marvel, my parents soon after getting me a subscription to Amazing Spider-Man (do the companies themselves even do mail-order subscriptions any more?) as well as letting me get the occasional comic from the grocery store.

    At this point in time, I really didn't know comic stores even existed (and boy was that mind blowing when I went to my first one), so I rarely had a full run of any story, much less any one series.

    Actually, I used to walk or ride my back to a Stop N Go to check out their new comics frequently... comics made me exercise!

    And then something happened that blew my mind wide open. I read the Green Lantern / Silver Surfer one shot written by Ron Marz. The book ended with a cardboard box emitting light. Ok. Neat.

    A short while later I'm at a grocery store and beg my mom to let me get the first two issues of Marvel vs. DC (a four or five dollar comic? CRAZY TALK). Well, she relented, I got them, I read them. And what do I see? The same cardboard box from the GL/SS book. Cross-Title Continuity jumped into my life and blew my mind. I was ridiculously giddy... over a picture of a cardboard box of all things!

    Even to this day, while I don't care for company wide crossovers where you have to read every tie in to get the whole story, I do still enjoy a story crossover between two to three titles. It's the thrill of the hunt, I feel.

    Speaking of, though, in trying to complete some of my collections (most notably, currently, the Peter David-started Aquaman series, the Ostrander Spectre series, and the fifteen or so issues I need to own the entire Ultraverse) I've come to realize that while the Internet makes completion so much easier it's at a cost.

    The thrill of the hunt is gone.

    In past comments I've mentioned that I've stopped getting single issues (of current books, at any rate), and this is still the case. But I'm starting to notice that I feel like something is missing... It's funny at how much something as simple as picking up a few comics a week can brighten that week.

    I may have to go and restart my pull box now...

  15. What happened to your X-Men #1, JMD? My dad's mother took the liberty of throwing all that "junk" away for him! Who knew, right?


    Thanks for the kind words. I think this is a fantastic concept for a book, and I look forward to it.

    To me, comics have always been about legacy. My father's stories about reading the early days of Marvel were fascinating, and I felt like I was blessed to be a part of that continuing saga.

    I remember the editorial blurbs that pointed readers toward old comics where something relevant happened, and what a joy it was to try and track those gems down. Everything was connected so beautifully!

  16. You're very welcome, Josh -- and thank YOU for sharing your story.

    Spending "excessive amounts of time going through all the titles" is exactly what I used to do at my local candy store. The decision seemed monumental. I remember the woman who owned the store saying to my mother (and this isn't exact, but it's close enough): "I spend less time picking out a new car than he does picking out a comic book."

  17. Kyle, your journey to the Stop N Go reminds me of my long journeys to the used book store -- some miles from my house -- where I could track down back issues, in those primeval days before comic book shops.

    When I was in Junior High I would, on occasion, cut school in the afternoon (if you're in Junior High and reading this: DON'T FOLLOW MY EXAMPLE) and walk -- and it was REALLY far from my school -- to the book store, just to have the thrill of going through those early (and, to me, ancient) FF, SPIDER-MAN and X-MEN stories. I distinctly remember taking that long walk from school in the pouring rain. I didn't care. It was like a pilgrimage. The struggle against the elements made the reward at the end all the sweeter.

  18. As I recall, David, when I was in the ninth grade, I desperately wanted a pair of Frye boots -- big heels, pointy toes, black leather, Beatle-cool -- and, in order to get the money, I sold a bunch of comics...including that X-MEN #1! Can you believe it? What a dummy!

  19. Well, who could have predicted Chris Claremont and Patrick Stewart, right?

  20. True, David, but it was those early, original X-Men that I really loved. Since it wasn't a popular Marvel title like F.F. or SPIDER-MAN, it felt like it was mine, if you know what I mean. Which makes it all the dumber that I sold off that issue. Still, I really loved those boots and they gave me great pleasure.

    Anybody know what X-MEN #1 is worth these days?

  21. According to a quick internet search, a good copy went for $101,000 in November 2009. Lesser copies can go as low as $2,000 on ebay.

    And I do know what you mean. The real treasure is in your mind. Being there for that is a part of who you are, and it's written in giant letters across your soul for all eternity. At least, that's how I feel about that kind of thing.

    Did you ever write X-Men, JMD? I hope you'll pardon my ignorance. I know you wrote the originals to my liking in the SSM guest appearance.

  22. Boy, David, you can buy a lot of Frye boots for a hundred grand!

    Never wrote X-MEN -- but I did write X-FACTOR for a short period...and I plotted an X-MEN ANNUAL, dialogued by Ralph Macchio, somewhere in the 90's.

    Despite my love of the original Lee-Kirby/Thomas- Roth X-MEN, I never quite clicked with the later incarnations of the characters when I wrote them (which is why I always gravitated to the originals). There was some indefinable element I could never quite get...which is why I think my work on X-FACTOR -- although well-crafted and enjoyable -- was nothing special.

  23. "Since it wasn't a popular Marvel title like F.F. or SPIDER-MAN, it felt like it was mine, if you know what I mean."

    I totally get it. Most comic fans either laugh or have no idea what I'm talking about when I mention my love for lesser known/popular books from the Ultraverse, Crossgen, or Virgin imprints.

    Maybe it's because I'm able to get in on the ground floor, or maybe it's because it's just some new risks being taken by creative minds... I'm not sure what it is about it exactly... but I really connect with the newer, lesser known imprints much more than with the Marvel and DC titles.

    I think, just now having thought it, some of it may have to do with the companies being less afraind to make real changes to their characters and titles since they don't have 60 years of history and followers to keep things fairly status quo for.

  24. I agree, Kyle. I also think that, when we come across something that isn't hugely popular and we emotionally respond to it, we take it into our hearts in a very deep way. It becomes more personal, because there aren't crowds of other people sharing our passion.

    When you find an obscure author whose work resonates with you, or a band whose music hits you in a powerful way, it's different than responding to The Big Thing.

    That's not to say that there aren't massively popular works that touch us in deeply personal ways. In fact, that's a key to that kind of popularity: no matter how many people read that book or listen to that music, they somehow think it was meant JUST FOR THEM.

  25. Oh, and Kyle, companies do still have mail subscription services. Marvel offers a discount if you buy more than one title at a time.

    One thing I've learned, though, is that there's anything from a few weeks to a month's difference between when comics hit stands and your mailbox. Maybe it's always been that way, but the internet makes it more apparent than it ever was to me when I was a kid. Still, you get close to 50% off on some titles. Not bad if you don't mind the wait.

    I started up X-Men not long after you, during "Fatal Attractions," and I loved Bishop and the whole "X-Traitor" storyline. I even thought the big reveal that kicked off the Onslaught Saga was cool. The 90s were a great time to be an X-fan. I can see why that issue hooked you!

  26. That's good to know, David. Can't say that I have any plans to set up a mail order subscription with them, but I like knowing that it is still a possibility.

    I didn't really start reading X-Men with the Bishop issue. I began following the X-Universe with regularity with the Legion Quest/Age of Apocalypse stories. From there I followed a good number of X-Titles (and X-Related titles) until about 2005 or so. After Morrison left I hung around for a little bit, dropping all X-Books after Whedon's Astonishing run.

    I started reading comics regularly in the 90s, so a lot of people's almost raging hatred for anything 90s is totally lost on me (especially in regards to anything that originated at Image... Wildstorm has come a loooooong way since then but gets treated like it hasn't).

    Oh, and as for the thrill of the hunt I mentioned earlier, JMD, I've been reading your Silver Surfer run (just need the '97 Annual to finish it) and due to a particular issue (don't remember the number) I just tracked down Strange Tales: Dark Corners at my lcs.

    This leads me to a question; does the Gargoyle's quest continue anywhere else that you can recall or did it end with the Silver Surfer appearance?

  27. No, the Gargoyle's quest didn't continue, Kyle. I'm very fond of the character -- I created him early in my DEFENDERS run -- and would still love a chance to write him; but that storyline petered out then and there. It didn't help that that particular issue of SURFER was, in my opinion, the worst of my run. All my fault: the story just didn't come together.

    That said, I very much enjoyed working on SILVER SURFER with a wonderful collection of artists. My biggest frustration, as I think I've said elsewhere, was that several times I'd come up with an Exciting Big Idea that the editor approved...and then the Powers That Be would shoot it down.

    One of the things I really wanted to do was the death of Galactus. I was told I couldn't; then, not long after, they did a death of Galactus story. (And just to be clear: the writer of that story had no idea I'd planned something similar.)

    Such is life!

  28. I actually really enjoyed the issue. The big softy in me loved seeing Norrin and Alicia doing things all "normal" and lovey. He deserves some bliss.

    I've read the last issue of the series, #146 I think... it's pretty lack luster in my opinion. It really feels like they should have ended the series on your run. It would have been a much better ending to end the book with (unless they weren't aware that it was going to be THE END with #146 before they sent it to the printer or some such goings on).

    I have to say that you and J. Michael Straczynski (Silver Surfer: Requiem) are by and far my two favorite writers of the Surfer.

    I haven't been following the Marvel Cosmic books since Annihilation: Conquest, but I felt his re-heralding really hurt the character over all. Felt more like "We don't know what to do with this guy so let's just put a leash on him again."

  29. Just goes to show you, Kyle, that the guy writing the story isn't always the best judge of its quality!

    Glad you enjoyed my run. Surfer remains one of my all-time favorite characters, and issue #3 of Stan Lee's original Surfer run -- the one that introduced Mephisto to the Marvel Universe -- is one of my all-time favorite stories. And you just can't beat that amazing John Buscema artwork.

  30. A friend loaned me a copy of MARVEL VISIONARIES: JACK KIRBY VOLUME 2, JMD, and I read X-MEN 9. It's really odd, but in a very enjoyable way. I love the kids following Prof. X with unquestioning allegiance, and the fact that no one objects when he calls them "my X-Men."

    This volume also has the story where Doctor Doom steals the Power Cosmic, which is way cool. I like the Lee/Kirby stuff better than Kirby working individually.

  31. Doctor Doom stealing the Surfer's power: now there's a great story. But the Lee-Kirby run on F.F. -- from about 1966 (when they were hitting their creative stride) through 1968 (Kirby seemed to really lose interest around '69) -- was pretty much all absolutely brilliant. Some of the best comics EVER.

    Don't know how much of Kirby's NEW GODS/MR. MIRACLE/FOREVER PEOPLE/JIMMY OLSEN material you've read, David -- but the DC collections run them all chronologically and it's absolutely the way to read the material. Kirby alone is -- as I've said here before -- awkward, odder, more idiosyncratic; but the sheer creative exuberance of those stories -- the passion and vision that went into every page -- makes them, to my eyes, the equal of anything Jack did with Stan and, sometimes, even better.

  32. I'm honestly not sure I've read any of his FOURTH WORLD stuff, JMD. It might be one of those things where it's been filtered through other sources that were channeling Kirby. I remember Darkseid from my youth, but it was probably from the 80s cartoon. I think--I can't be positive--I've seen some of it in reprint. I only read the odd DC comic up until around '88, so it's all a blur.

    BTW, here's a link to the CBR "Top 50" master list:

    They're up to 36 now.

  33. Anyone who loves comics, David, OWES it to themselves to read the Fourth World material. Start with the first collection and allow yourself to submit to Kirby's unique vision. I don't think you'll regret it!

  34. I'll have to give it a shot sometime soon. You're probably right--it's been on my periphery, but something else always comes along that grabs my attention. I wish DC had a Digital Comics subscription archive like Marvel! (You're three different people on there now--who knew initials were so confusing?)

  35. Let me guess: J.M. DeMatteis, John Marc DeMatteis and J. Marc DeMatteis. Correct?

  36. Nope! But I just checked, and you're up to FOUR names:

    John DeMatteis
    Marc DeMatteis
    J. DeMatteis
    J.m DeMatteis (the 'm' is lowercase)

    I go by my middle name, incidentally, and I've found that this kind of confusion comes in handy. If someone asks for "James," I know they don't know me personally.

    Doesn't appear to be so useful when it comes to comics archiving.

    I'm eagerly waiting for "JM DeMatteis," "JMD," and "Wally Lombego" to be added. :)

  37. Yep, around here when people call asking for "John," it's usually a phone solicitor!

    What? The Marvel database has no mention of "Michael Ellis" -- the pseudonym I used for CAPTAIN AMERICA #300? For shame!

  38. Nope, but that's only because CAP 300 hasn't been digitally archived there yet.

    I can't help but envision a Spider-Man esque check-cashing pitfall:

    "But I AM Micheal Ellis!"

  39. December 8 came and went and I didn't get to gently remind you or anything-- to hold everyone over, Mark Evanier has a "meeting Lennon story" of his own on his blog:

    Comix are cool...

  40. I almost put something up yesterday to commemorate the day, Jeff, but decided to wait while I finish up MEETING LENNON, PART TWO. I'm working on it, really! And it's coming soon. Not soon enough, I know...but soon!

    I'll check out Mark's story ASAP.

  41. You're officially #29 in the CBR vote for the Top 50 Writers & Artists:

    And you should get a kick out of this: you're right next to Jack Kirby, who weighed in at #30.


  42. Thanks, David. Much as I'm happy to be near Jack, there's no way I should be ahead of him on the list. In fact, he should be in the top ten. Even as a writer, Kirby's impact on comics is incalculable.

  43. " also think that, when we come across something that isn't hugely popular and we emotionally respond to it, we take it into our hearts in a very deep way. It becomes more personal, because there aren't crowds of other people sharing our passion. "

    I think that is why I enjoy the minor charaters so much. Gargoyle is a very good example of this. Ragman, Catman (even before Secret Six), The Spot from Spider-Man, and a dozen others. It is always the minot characters that grab my interest.

    Of course the king of them was, for me, Ted Kord. I loved the "everyman" quality of the character...nothing special about him. But he still thought he could be a hero. DC broke my heart a little bit when they killed him off and promised that he would be the one character never to come back. Killed some of the magic for me as well.

  44. Speaking of Gargoyle: Way back when I was writing THE DEFENDERS, the thing I loved most was that the book had a tradition of using minor, obscure characters. I loved playing with guys like Devil Slayer and Son of Satan (to name two that I have an inordinate fondness for). Unlike the big guns -- which have strong, definitive templates that you can't break -- these characters had room for real growth and change. I was able to make them mine.

    You could say the same about the Giffen-DeMatteis JUSTICE LEAGUE. If we'd been using the classic JL roster, we could never have done the crazy things we did with Beetle, Booster, Fire, Ice and the rest.

    So God bless the minor characters...who, when you get down to it, really aren't minor at all.

  45. Well, JMD, you are talking to the guy who put you first on his list of writers. You might be right about that Kirby placement, but then again, maybe not...hard to say, but certainly fun to discuss!

  46. Absolutely fun to discuss. I've actually been thinking about my own favorite writers and artists (focusing on the comics I read BEFORE I became a pro) and I'll try to post that before Christmas.

    First priority is finishing my "Meeting Lennon" saga. It's taking me so long it's embarrassing.

  47. Look forward to it.

    BTW, this is offtopic, but do you like The Doors? Give your love for William Blake I would think they'd be pretty high on your list of musical influences, but I've never heard you speak of them.

  48. I certainly enjoyed my share of Doors music back in the day, David -- "Light My Fire," "The End," "Soft Parade" -- but they're not favorites of mine.
    They never connected to me on a deep personal level.

  49. The Doors were actually my first experience with 60s rock music. I bought the double-disc "Best Of" collection when I was about sixteen. I can't even say why that cd spoke to me--but somehow it did, and still does! I find "Break on Through" and "The Crystal Ship" conducive to getting the writing process going!

  50. "The Crystal Ship"! Haven't thought about that song in years, David. Yes, very moody and atmospheric. I can see why it helps unlock the imagination.

  51. I remember moving to a new town and being overjoyed at being able to buy a comic. (It was Sonic the Hedgehog #8 by Archie and it featured parodies of current superheroes) It gave me something to do since all of other playthings were still packed into boxes. I read and re-read that issue over and over.
    What was even better then that though was reading the issue out loud to my brother. I was merely trying to entertain him. Later I found out that by reading the various Sonic issues to him, it was helping him to learn how to read.