Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The third book in my Abadazad series, The Puppet, The Professor and the Prophet, only came out in England—which frustrated me for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that it was unquestionably the best of the bunch.  (Sad to say, P, P and P is incredibly hard to find and when you can track a copy down—as the above link clearly shows—it's hugely expensive.)  With two books under our belts, the creative team had made the adjustment from comic books to the hybrid prose-comics form and we were really firing on all thrusters.  The story was coming together the way I'd always hoped it would and our extraordinary art team—the mad genius Mike Ploog and the equally-brilliant colorist Nick Bell—were topping themselves with every page they turned in.  As proof, here are a few amazing illustrations that most of you have never seen before.  Enjoy!  (And let's not forget that Abadazad is © copyright 2011 Disney Publishing.)



  1. Wow. What a shame you guys can't get the rights back. But at least we now get to see some of what we missed.

  2. From the very beginning, John, ABADAZAD has had a life of its own: I really believe it will be back, some way, some day... Sooner than later, I hope!

  3. Well, now that Disney owns Marvel ... you never know. Thanks for sharing. Ploog and Bell are geniuses!! Gorgeous work! Loved the Abadazad comic book. Hope this one comes to North America still!

  4. It's true, A. Jaye: the Marvel connection opens new possibilities. Time (and the grace of Queen Ija) will tell.

  5. While it's well known that Disney bought Crossgen to get Abadazad, it's still secret that Ben Reilly was their motivation for buying Marvel!

  6. Well, it's not a secret any more, Jeff. Now I can finally tell the world that all the Spider-Man titles are being canceled and replaced with Ben Reilly books. Yes, it's a Brand New Day for Reilly fans! :)

  7. Something else to love Disney for!:)

    And those are stunning pics, JMD. Top notch.

  8. They certainly are, David. It was a real honor...and a real joy...working with Mike and Nick.

  9. It's rare that my inner geek is happy it lives in England rather than America ... But this is one of those rare occassions. I have the third book on my shelves, keeping the other two company.

    I've loved your work for ... well, however many years it is since Moonshadow - which is *still* my favourite expression of the graphic novel as a mature art-form.

    And I've loved Mr Ploog's work since seeing his work in Wizards ... So, to see you working together was more than this mortal man could resist.

    I look forward to seeing your collaboration develop, in whatever form it may take.


  10. Thanks right back at you, Cellulord. And very glad to hear that you actually own the third ABADAZAD book. As I noted in the post, it's my favorite of the trio we did for Hyperion.

    I'm hoping that, one way or another, Ploog and I will work on a new project before too long. Our collaboration, on both ABADAZAD and STARDUST KID, was one that clicked from the first moment we spoke on the phone. It was creative joy every step of the way.

  11. Ever think when you were admiring his Man-Thing with Gerber that you'd end up in collaboration with him? Not to mention your early-career stories drawn by Kane, Buscema, Sutton, Ditko and Infantino. Ploog definitely captures something wonderous in your creations that very few artists would be able to "get". Can't wait to see what's next from the two of you!

  12. Not in a million years would I have imagined it, Jeff. And that's one of the great gifts of my career: getting to collaborate with people whose work I so admire.

  13. Speaking of the Disney/Marvel connection, I'd love to see a Marvel animated film by Pixar Studios with you handling the screenplay...

    I know, I know. Probably not in a million years...but wait, I see you have that objection covered. :)

    And now that I think about it, a Pixar ABADAZAD film would be aces, too.

  14. With or without me, David, a Pixar-Marvel collaboration would be an amazing thing. Imagine Thor or Sub-Mariner or the F.F. given the Pixar touch!

    As for a Pixar ABADAZAD...well, you'll get no arguments from me. There's no one in the film business who can create old-fashioned movie magic like the Pixar crew. They're in a class by themselves.

    And just to turn things around: what are you favorite Pixar films? Mine are the TOY STORY trilogy, UP and MONSTERS, INC.

  15. I think a Thor or FF movie done in a Kirby-esque style with the Pixar touch would be awesome.

    I'd say my favorite PIXAR films are the TOY STORY trilogy, the INCREDIBLES, and CARS.

    TOY STORY is one of the first films I watched with the woman who would be my wife, so the journey from the first to the third film is surreal on several levels. And it's just sheer excellence.

    The INCREDIBLES is as close as we've come yet to a Marvel/Pixar movie, and I still find it to be one of the best superhero films to date. Mr. Incredible's struggle to balance his passion for justice with family life is especially poignant, and Craig T. Nelson is superb.

    CARS is the funniest of the films, and who can resist the charms of TOW MATER?

  16. I think there are lots of INCREDIBLES fans out there, David. In many ways, it was a far better movie translation of the super hero world than many live action interpretations.

    I know we often agree on things, but we're going to have to diverge on CARS. I didn't care for it. I know I'm in the minority, but -- to me -- it felt like a half hour short stretched out wayyy too long. I'd say it's my least-favorite Pixar movie...but that honor belongs to A BUG'S LIFE.

    Another one I really enjoyed -- and that you don't hear much about -- is RATATOUILLE. Now if they could just do a Mickey Mouse/Remy the Rat team-up!

    I think if I had to pick one out of my "favorites" list from the previous comment, it would be MONSTERS, INC. But saying that I prefer MONSTERS, INC. over UP or TOY STORY 3 is like saying I prefer PINOCCHIO over PETER PAN. Classic is classic.

    And I'm sure you feel the same way about CARS!

  17. RATATOUILLE is a fantastic film, but one that doesn't come to mind as often as the others for reasons unknown.

    I haven't seen A BUG'S LIFE. I know what you mean about CARS, though, just because I never connected with WALL-E like so many did. I recongize that it's excellent filmmaking, but it still fell flat for me.

    And yeah, choosing between PIXAR films is a lot like picking a favorite Stan Lee run. It probably depends on what day of the week it is.

  18. Favorite Stan Lee run, eh, David? For me it's either the Lee-Kirby THOR, the Lee-Kirby FF or the first six issues of the Lee-Buscema SILVER SURFER.
    My mind says FANTASTIC FOUR...but my heart says SILVER SURFER. My soul, of course, picks all of them -- and includes the first year of the Lee-Romita SPIDER-MAN, too!

  19. I don't know if Spider-Man was Stan's best work, but he's certainly my favorite creation. I feel as though if I went with anything else I'd be doing my heart, mind and soul a disservice!

    I have read that SILVER SURFER was Stan Lee's favorite creation, and it broke his heart when he had to cancel the series.

    From what I've read of Lee's Silver Surfer, it's an interesting book where the philosophizing ranges from poignant and heartbreaking to cumbersome.

    I'm inclined to think that Kirby was right, though, that Surfer would have been more interesting if he had been a true alien who learned emotion from humanity rather than a human who sacrificed himself for his home planet. Be interesting to see just how different comics history would be if Kirby had written the Surfer's origin his way in FF.

  20. In theory, David, I totally agree with Kirby. (During my SURFER run, we had a number of issues where SS reverted to that icy, alien mode and it was great fun.) In practice, though, I'm with Stan: those first six or so issues of his SS series are pure gold. In fact, SILVER SURFER #3 is one of my two or three all-time favorite Marvel Comics. Stan's clearly poured heart and soul into those stories -- they were very unusual for their time -- and Buscema was at the top of his game. Great, great stuff.

    That said, the SS series ran out of steam because it seemed Stan was reluctant -- perhaps because sales on the book weren't what he expected? -- to keep pushing the envelope and break out of the classic Marvel template. He soon found himself repeating the same basic story. (Perhaps that's further proof that Kirby was right...?)

    It would have been something to see if Stan had kept pushing, using the Surfer to tell a new kind of story within the framework of the Marvel universe.

    That said, you owe it to yourself to read those first half-dozen stories.

  21. I'll read them over and get back to you on that.

    Mephisto was wicked cool before he was a glorified divorce attorney for amnesiac newlyweds with buyers remorse!:)

  22. That first Mephisto story may be my single favorite Marvel tale ever.

  23. You kow if you became a a super villian you could call yourself DOOM-atteis, just don't get a doctorate or we're in lawsuit territory.

    And the new PKD movie is :"The adjustment Bureau," which is based on a short story, and next year Disney is releasing "king of the Elves," and surprisingly I've read neither. And my guess is that since inception was so big, as was the over rated Avatar we can expect even more PKD movies in... the future. Did you get chills right there?

    In the end When it comes to Auldt themes, I'll just have to say that it is ironically like what is said about pornography, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." And in the end that any good story will have some elements of maturity, but a truly adult story will take it as the lead in telling tale. But I also think thet the search my be meaningless because our minds seen to be clouded against it, always repelling each possible idea, and looking for a flaw in our reasoning.

    And finally, as far as responses go, You'll get no argument from me that Stan and Jack are on the top. I just think that some other people had to clear the way to make room for them. I think that Eisner's Spirit and certainly the oft forgotten Bill Everett's, then groundbreaking work made a path, perhaps even the courage to push it even further. If you look at it the Lee-kirby stuff is the obvious successor to Everett's tales, even if it was by leaps and bounds. I'm sure that editing Bill's stories of this complex, broken, sort of hero-sort of villain stuck in Lee's head. After all why do you think Namor returned in issue #4 of F.F., that's love and respect man. Come on Dematteis, credit where credit is due.

    Wishing you nothing, but goodwill and hipness from here to the stars,

  24. I only found out the other day, Jack, that THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU was based on a Dick short. Makes me want to see it all the more. Bigger and better news than that, though, is the fact that Michel Gondry, who directed ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, is going to direct UBIK (my favorite PKD novel...and, perhaps, the greatest science fiction/metaphysical novels ever). A perfect union of director and material. I'd buy my ticket NOW if I could.

    You're right: Bill Everett pretty much created the Marvel anti-hero with his 1940's Namor tales. And I was also a big fan of the Sub-Mariner work he did in the 70's. The writing was a little retro -- but pleasantly so -- and the art was absolutely gorgeous. His inking was deliciously rich and textured.

  25. I read the first issue of SILVER SURFER again today, JMD, and here's my thoughts:

    I enjoyed Norrin Radd's origin immensely. There's a real poetry to a man in a society that has achieved everything conceivable, longing for adventure but not understanding the price he'll pay for that wish. It makes the Surfer's frustration with humanity a double-edged sword, since he always wanted to live in a world that was still striving.

    And good grief, that John Buscema art is stunning space opera at its finest.

    I love that John Jameson gets a cameo as the guy the Surfer saves. That dude burns through billion dollar equipment faster than his father goes through a box of cigars!

    Thinking over the question of whether Surfer works better as a true alien discovering humanity, or a former human rediscovering it, I see what you mean about 'in practice.' I think it comes down to the question of whether you prefer the Surfer as a supporting character or a lead.

    The Kirby concept makes the Surfer a character akin to Spock or Data, both of whom need to constantly bounce off a fully human cast to make their journey meaningful. But if STAR TREK had become a show where Spock or Data were the sole focus, there would be more pressure to move their story forward faster.

    Looking back at your SS run, I seem to recall losing interest when Norrin discovered why he'd lost his emotions. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to see the arc resolved. But once that happened, it was like the story was over. Perhaps the same kind of difficulty would have emerged with Kirby's concept. Once the Surfer fully embraced humanity, then what?

    With Stan's version, there's a core loss that's akin to Peter Parker. With Kirby's, the Surfer only stands to gain--and that's not always good for serial storytelling.

    At any rate, I look forward to reading more.

  26. Wow, beautiful stuff. DeMatteis and Ploog, yo!

  27. Insightful analysis, always. Thanks.

    Now go re-read SS #3...and you'd better LOVE it! :)

  28. Glad you enjoyed it, Rob. Now if we can just see some BRAND NEW Ploog/Bell ABADAZAD artwork in the world, we'll all be the better for it!

  29. Ahh....Abadazad number 3: The Holy Grail of my JMD collection. I'm still on the hunt for a copy that won't cost my first born. I may never forgive you for teasing me a couple years back at the Baltimore Comiccon. Your casual mention that it was still available on sent me scurrying home only to see the insane prices people were asking. Sigh.....

  30. There was a while there, Jamie, when the prices weren't so sky-high. But those days, sadly, are long gone. That said, you never know when a copy will show up at a reasonable price. I'd love to have a few more copies myself!

  31. Gondry + "Ubik?" Be still my heart! :)

    I still have a special fondness for that novel, because it's the first of PKD's books that I ever read ... and it blew my little teenaged mind, let me tell ya! (I also have a special fondness for "The Cosmic Puppets" & "Galactic Pot-Healer" because of the heavily Jungian material, handled as only PKD could.)

    Meanwhile, I eagerly await the return of Abadazad in some form or another ... it's bound to happen, I'm sure of it.

  32. COSMIC PUPPETS is one I've read several times, Tim. It's deceptively simple...almost like a TWILIGHT ZONE episode...and yet rich with PKD madness and wisdom. It remains a favorite of mine.

    But UBIK sits at the top of my list.

    Thanks for checking in, Tim. Always great to hear from you.

  33. "Now go re-read SS #3...and you'd better LOVE it!:)"

    Done and done.

    BTW, JMD, I'm curious--what were your long-term plans for the SILVER SURFER...or is is something we might eventually see if circumstances permit?

    Sounds like you might have some ideas about how to break the mold and take him to the next level.

  34. My first big SURFER arc, David, had to do with the death of Galactus: it was a kind of cosmic version of DEAD MAN WALKING, with Galactus seeking the Surfer's forgiveness before he died. (There was more to it than that, of course, but most of it has been lost in the nether ranges of my consciousness.) My editor approved the arc, I started working on it and then the Powers That Be pulled the plug...and things never quite recovered from there.

  35. I remember writing the initial outline for the story, David, and feeling totally inspired. Then when the Powers That Be pulled the plug, all the air went out of the balloon. That said, I still enjoyed my SURFER run, especially the issues I did with Ron Garney and Jon J Muth.

  36. That first arc was the most excited I've ever been about the Silver Surfer. Garney was a perfect fit. I'll have to revisit the Muth issues. They seemed a little too 'out there' at the time, but I've broadened my horizons since then.

  37. The Muth issues were a little "out there," but I suspect it's an "out there" you'd appreciate now. And, yes, Garney did an amazing job: he was perfect for the character.

  38. BTW, JMD, how'd you feel about the news that Shatner wants in on the Abrams Trek sequel? Not sure how they'd fit him in now, but I suppose the Nexxus is ripe with potential. I'm sure you already know this, but Abrams had written a cameo for Shatner in the form of a hologram recording that Kirk Prime gave Spock Prime for his birthday before the events of GENERATIONS.

    It occurs to me that if Shatner does this film, it will be his something like his fifth "goodbye" to the franchise, since TREKs II, V, VI and GENERATIONS were all presumably his last at the time!

    It also looks as though BLEEP! MY DAD SAYS agreed with your thoughts on giving Ed a love interest. Not quite Candice Bergen level adversary, but she's worked well for the show.

  39. From what I've read, Shatner's attitude is, "I'd love to do it, but given my age and Kirk's death in GENERATIONS, I can't see how." You're right about the Nexxus, though: very ripe. Shatner could also play a Mirror Universe Kirk or even Kirk's grandfather. Many possibilities. (Actually, it would be great to have him NOT play Kirk and make him so crazy alien villain.)

    I don't think WRATH OF KHAN and FINAL FRONTIER were ever viewed as "goodbyes" to the franchise, but the others certainly were.

    Yes, Jean Smart did a terrific job on BLEEP. It's amazing how the focus shifted in those final episodes...pushing Henry to the periphery. And, with the cliff-hanger season finale, if I was the actor playing Henry, I'd be very, very worried.

  40. Shatner as villain? That could be cool.

    BTW, here's the link to the original cameo scene Abrams wrote for Shatner in the first film:

    Abrams said that Shatner rejected the scene because he wanted a bigger role, so it will be interesting to see where things go from here.

    I remember reading somewhere that WRATH OF KHAN was originally perceived as a sendoff, given the lackluster response to the first film, which is why Nimoy wanted Spock to die. But things clicked so well on set that Nimoy pushed for a loophole that could bring him back. That could just be hearsay, as I don't have a source!

    As for FINAL FRONTIER, maybe I'm just reading too much into the title, or the fact that it FELT like a franchise-killer!

    And yeah, I think BLEEP! might look very different next season. Go with what works, right?

  41. Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

    Re: KHAN. I believe Nimoy wanted it to be his send-off, but that didn't apply to TREK or the rest of the cast. They were looking to reboot the franchise...and, boy, did they!

    Despite its many flaws, there's lots to love in FINAL FRONTIER. "What does God need with a starship?"

  42. That makes sense. I don't guess one goes to Hollywood and says, "We don't think this film will make a dime, but we want to give fans the sendoff they deserve."

    And yes, that was a great line!

  43. I also loved McCoy's scene with his dying father. It was one of the best scenes DeForest Kelley had in all of TREK.

  44. Any other thoughts on where I can get the third book?
    I heard the fourth was completed too...never published?

  45. All I can suggest, Adam, is periodically scouring the net looking for used copies.

    As for the fourth book: yes, I turned in the completed manuscript but -- beyond some preliminary sketches -- Mike P never really got to work on it because that was when ABADAZAD was put on hold.