Saturday, December 22, 2012

A CHRISTMAS TRADITION—EXTRA!

My friend and collaborator Vassilis Gogtzilas—illustrator of The Adventures of Augusta Wind—read my story, "The Truth About Santa Claus," today and whipped up the following illustrations to accompany the text.  The fact that he did it so quickly is some kind of Christmas miracle.  Enjoy!  (All artwork ©copyright 2012 Vassilis Gogtztilas.)








A CHRISTMAS TRADITION—2012 EDITION


On television they’re trotting out Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, It's a Wonderful Life and seemingly-infinite variations on A Christmas Carol.  

Here at Creation Point we have our own Yuletide tradition.  A few years ago—born out of my inordinate love for this heart-filling, soul-transforming, sacred and transcendent season—I wrote a short Christmas tale called The Truth About Santa Claus.  Since then, I’ve been offering it annually as a kind of cyber Christmas present:  my way of wishing all of you who visit this site the happiest of holidays and the most magical of Christmases.  I offer it again this year.  So grab a plate of Christmas cookies, pull a chair up close to the fireplace and enjoy.  See you all in 2013.

THE TRUTH ABOUT
SANTA CLAUS

“THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUS!”

He’d been thinking about it for days—ever since he heard Big Mouth Jenny Rizzo announce it on the school bus—and he didn’t believe a word of it, not one word.  (Well, maybe ONE.)  But Cody had to be sure, absolutely, positively sure—

—and that’s why he was hiding behind the couch at midnight on Christmas Eve.

His mother was there, asleep in his dad’s old easy chair, the reds and blues of the Christmas tree lights making her look peaceful and happy and impossibly young.

The tree, by the way, had not ONE SINGLE PRESENT underneath it.

That didn’t make sense.  If there WAS no Santa Claus, if his mother was the one who bought the presents, wrapped the presents, stacked them under the tree, then how come she hadn’t done it?  How come she wasn’t awake RIGHT NOW arranging them all?

He got scared.  Maybe there wasn’t going to BE a Christmas this year.  Maybe Mom had lost her job and they didn’t have any money and so she COULDN’T buy him any presents and—

And then Cody glanced over at the windows and noticed that it was snowing.

Or was it?

If that was snow, it was the WHITEST snow he’d ever seen.  It was snow as bright as moonbeams, as bright as sunlight, as bright as...

Stardust.

Quickly, but quietly (he didn’t want to wake his mother), he scurried to the window and looked out.

It was coming down and coming down and COMING DOWN all across town, whirling and whipping, spinning and gyrating, out of the night sky.  Glowing so brightly that it almost hurt his eyes to look at it.  And Cody saw that it certainly wasn’t snow, and it absolutely wasn’t rain, it wasn’t ANYTHING he’d ever seen before.  But each drop, no...each flake, no... each BALL of glowing WHATEVER IT WAS, seemed to pulse and spin, soar and vibrate, as if it were alive.

And the stuff, the magical WHATEVER IT WAS (and he knew now that it was magic.  He just KNEW), wasn’t collecting on the streets, wasn’t piling up on the rooftops.  It was MELTING INTO (that’s the only way he could put it:  MELTING INTO) every house (no matter how small) and apartment building (no matter how big).

EVERY house and apartment building.

EVERY.

He looked up.

And there it was:  coming RIGHT THROUGH THE CEILING of Apartment 3F, HIS apartment, swirling, like a tornado of light, around the chandelier and then down, down, down—

—STRAIGHT FOR HIS MOTHER.

At first he almost yelled out a warning, “Mom!  Wake up!  MOM!”  But something made him stop.

Instead of yelling he ducked back behind the couch and watched, eyes peering over the top.

Watched as the light-tornado wheeled around his mother, so fast, so bright, that he could hardly even SEE her.  But he COULD see her.  Most of her, anyway.

And what he SAW...

The light poured in through the top of her head, through her eyes, through her chest, through her toes.  It lifted her up—still sleeping!—and carried her out of her chair and across the room.  And as she floated—

—she started to change:

Her hair became white, her nose became red, her belly ballooned like the most pregnant woman in the history of the world.  Her feet grew boots, her head grew a hat, her nightgown grew fur.  An overstuffed sack sprouted, like a lumpy angel’s wing, from her shoulder.  And then—

AndthenandthenandTHEN, it wasn’t his mother there at all, it was him, it was SANTA CLAUS!  STANDING RIGHT THERE IN CODY’S LIVING ROOM!  Santa Claus who, with a laugh (exactly like the laugh Cody always knew he had, only better) and a twinkle in his eyes (exactly like the twinkle he’d always imagined, ONLY BETTER) reached into his sack and pulled out package after package, present after present, and placed them, carefully, like some  Great Artist contemplating his masterpiece, under the tree.

When he was done, Santa Claus stood there, grinning and shaking his head, as if he couldn’t BELIEVE what a beautiful tree this was, how wonderful the presents looked beneath it.  As if this moment was the greatest moment in the history of Christmas, as if this apartment was the only place in all the universes that such a Christmas could ever POSSIBLY happen.

And then the MOST amazing thing happened:

Santa Claus turned.

He turned slowly.  So slowly Cody couldn’t even tell at first that he was moving at all.  And—slowly, SLOWLY—those twinkling eyes, that Smile of smiles, fixed itself on the two boy-eyes peering, in wonder, over the top of the couch.

And what Cody felt then he could never really say:  only that it was better than any present anyone could ever get.  Only that it made his heart so warm it melted like magical WHATEVER IT WAS, trickling down through his whole body.  Only that it made him want to reach out his arms and hug Santa Claus, hug his mother, hug his father (and FORGIVE him too, for running out on them) and his aunts and uncles and cousins (even his Cousin Erskine who was SUCH a pain) and Big Mouth Jenny Rizzo (who really wasn’t so bad most of the time) and all his  friends and teachers and the kid in his karate class who always smelled SO BAD and, embarrassing as it sounds, it made him want to hug everyone and everything in the whole world including rabbits and snakes and trees and lizards and grass and lions and mountains and, yes, the EARTH HERSELF.

Cody wanted to hold that gaze, to keep his eyes locked on Santa’s, forever. (Or longer, if he could.)  Wanted to swim in that incredible feeling, drown in it, till GOD HIMSELF came down to say:  “Enough!”

Except that he blinked.  Just once.  But in that wink of an eye, Santa was gone.  Cody’s mother was asleep in the chair again and, for one terrible moment, the boy thought that the whole thing must have been a dream.

Except, under the tree:  THERE WERE THE PRESENTS.

Except, out the window:  THERE WAS THE SNOW, the rain, the magical WHATEVER IT WAS, shooting up, like a blizzard in reverse, from every house, every apartment building.  Shooting up into the heavens, gathering together like a fireball, like a white-hot comet—

—and fading away into the night:  going, going...

Gone.

Without so much as a tinkling sleigh-bell or a “Ho-ho-ho.”

Not that it mattered.

Cody looked at his mom.

Cody kissed her.

“I love you,” he said.  And he was crying.  Happy tears.  Christmas tears.  Like moonbeams, like sunlight.  Like stardust.

Mom stirred in the chair, smiled the softest sweetest smile Cody had ever seen. “I love you, too,” she said.

And then she drifted back to sleep.

Cody sat at her feet, warming himself, warming his SOUL, by the lights of the tree.

And soon, he, too, was drifting off to sleep.  And as he drifted, a wonderful thought rose up, like a balloon, inside him.  Rose, then POPPED—spreading the thought to every corner of his mind.  Giving him great comfort.  Great delight:

“One day,” the thought whispered, “when you’re all grown-up, when you have children of your own.  ONE DAY,” the thought went on...

“It will be YOUR TURN.”

Merry Christmas.

©copyright 2012 J.M. DeMatteis

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

END OF A WORLD—TAKE TWO

With the "Mayan Apocalypse" just days away, I thought I'd share some thoughts about these Doomsdays that seem to come upon us with alarming regularity. Then I realized I'd already written about the subject, right here at Creation Point, back in 2011, when a man named Harold Camping set the internet ablaze with his End Of The World scenario.  Rather than rehash, I thought I'd re-post. Most of what I said then about Camping and Company applies to the more feverish interpretations of the end of the Mayan Calendar.  


***

Contrary to Harold Camping’s prediction, the world didn’t end today.  That, of course, didn’t stop the media from covering this alleged story ad nauseam, nor did it stop the internet from spreading it like a particularly virulent disease (to be fair, a good percentage of the net-chatter was mockery, but we often mock that which we fear).  

We’re all, it seems, obsessed with Doomsday.  Just turn on your TV and watch Nostradamus predict the end of the world on the History Channel while the Weather Channel does its best to terrify us by predicting disasters that “could happen tomorrow.”

The news broadcasts—from NBC to CNN, NPR to Fox—are all about throwing mountains of coal into our collective furnace of fear.  Disaster looms around every corner, from the recalled headache pills in our medicine chests to the terrorists swarming our shores to annihilate us.  Some of these fears are rooted in reality, of course, but our mass media loves to put it all under a magnifying glass till these events are hideously distorted:  the better to scare you into raising their ratings.  Abandon hope, all ye who watch this channel.    



Our pop culture has become fear culture:  the action movie blockbuster has, more and more, become a gruesome parade of endless wreckage and loss of life, often on a global, if not a galactic, scale.  End of the world scenarios play out with such regularity in films and video games and, yes, comic books (my hands are far from clean:  I’ve destroyed my share of universes over the years) and it’s no wonder that, when some operatic preacher begins predicting that we’re all going down in a ball of fire (well, some of us:  the lucky few will be lifted up to Heaven by a God who apparently enjoys playing favorites), everyone stops and takes notice.   

But what if Camping was right?  What if the world did end today and some of us just didn’t notice?  (A moment while you scratch your head and wonder if my last brain cells have parachuted out on a suicide mission.) 

I’ve written before about the idea—explored, in differing fashions, by both mystics and scientists—that the universe is just dreamstuff:  an infinite ocean of primal energy that’s only given form by our perceptions.  In other words, it’s all an illusion, tailored to, created by, the individual consciousness:  every one projecting our  dream-universes into the Void.  From my perspective, I’m manifesting the entire Creation, including you; from your perspective, you’re manifesting it all, including me.  (Which means, essentially, that right now you’re reading your own words, not mine.)  And with each choice we make, each mental step we take, each thought we send vibrating out into that ocean of energy, we birth new universes, an infinite stream of shimmering bubbles blown through the wand of our minds.  (Of course, in the end, it's all God dreaming through us and as us, but that's another essay for another time.)

So imagine Camping and his followers, all profoundly invested in this idea of Judgment Day and the Rapture, focusing their collective will and imagination (just like our old friend Green Lantern) on that ocean of energy and manifesting it.  Today, this very morning, they all found themselves raised up by the hand of God, soaring off into the Heaven they’ve always longed for.  Because that’s the dream they chose to manifest.

For those of us who didn’t buy into this dream, well—we’re still here, and we’ve dreamed up a Harold Camping who’s a failed prophet.  (I don't think this invalidates the faith of Camping and his followers—but it is further proof that God is far bigger than any one belief system.)  But where do we go from here?  Perhaps Camping has done us a valuable service.  Perhaps this mass focus on the End Times is a reminder for all of us to step back and ask a fundamental question:  What kind of world are we dreaming into being?  A world of suffering, where war never ends, where famine and disease and natural disasters dog us till it all really does “happen tomorrow”?  Or will we dream something better:  a world, a time, when peace and abundance, cooperation and compassion, flower across the planet? 

The Golden Age, it’s been called.

Yes, doomsday scenarios have been around for as long as the human race has existed—they echo through all religions and spiritual paths—but they’re usually connected to paradise scenarios:  humanity reborn, either on Earth or in Heaven, into a new and glorious order.  From suffering comes redemption, from the ashes the Phoenix rises.  My problem is I've never had much faith in a God whose method of redeeming us is through annihilating us.  Why destroy the planet just to raise it up again?  Why inflict all that suffering?   



Back in the mid-eighties I wrote a Doctor Strange graphic novel—co-plotted and illustrated by my old friend Dan Green—called Into Shamballa that explored that question.  In it, Doctor Strange is ordered, by a group of spiritual sages called the Lords of Shamballa, to weave a spell that will obliterate three-fourths of mankind and usher in a new Golden Age.  “A cataclysm beyond imagining,” they tell Strange, “will leave the world a ravaged wasteland, burying the Old Humanity and birthing the New.”  Doc is resistant but, at first, simply assumes that these Cosmic Sages know more than he does; so he travels the globe assembling the multi-part spell.  In the end, though, he can’t do it; he refuses to do it—until he has an inner realization (prompted, he believes, by the inner voice of his guru, the Ancient One) that transforms his perspective completely.  The spell is completed and, to the astonishment of the Shamballese Lords, the world remains intact.  No Apocalypse, just another morning on Planet Earth.  “I saw,” Strange tells the bewildered Lords, “that your ultimate cataclysm will take place, not without...but within.  The purge you foretold will occur in every heart.  The fires you foresaw will burn in every soul.  The Golden Age you predicted will come to each man in his own time. 

An interpretation that made far more sense to me.  But something still didn’t sit right:  Why, I eventually came to wonder, is this inner purge even necessary?  Why does every soul have to burn in fire, even if it’s only an internal one?  I saw how attached I’d been to the old model, the old belief that we’ve got to pay the price if we want to get the glory; but the universe (via the inner voice my own master, Meher Baba, who, strangely, was known as the Ancient One long before Dr. Strange creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko coined the name) finally dragged me, kicking and screaming, toward a more positive view; a perspective that said we can unfold through joy as easily as we can grow through suffering.  More easily.  (I don't claim to have mastered this path—not by a long shot—but just walking it has been transformative.)
  
 
Ten or so years ago I read a book by Gregg Braden, The Isaiah Effect, that explored a similar idea.  What if, Braden wrote—and I’m totally paraphrasing here (and, I hope, not distorting his point)—the ancient prophecies weren’t talking about a sequence of events (destruction, then rebirth; End of Days, then New Beginning)?  What if they were talking about a choice?  An opportunity to step over Harold Camping’s Apocalypse and walk straight through the gates of the Golden Age?  Braden talked about the power of our collective consciousness to initiate global transformation—a valid and valuable goal—but I think it goes even further than that.  If this world is literally a dream (and I believe, to the core of my being that it is), then isn’t it up to each of us to become lucid dreamers and choose the most beautiful dream we can?  To manifest the Golden Age—not in some distant future, not in some faraway Heaven, but here and now?

In concert with God (in whatever form you see Him, Her or It), we make a choice, every hour, every minute, every instant, about which cosmos we want to dream into being.  And each choice spins out a chain of events, a new world, a virgin universe.

Which means that today actually is Judgment Day.  



So what’s it going to be:  the Apocalypse or the Golden Age?  Heaven-on-Earth or endless Hell?  Which newscast are you going to anchor, what story are you going to tell, what movie are you going to direct?  Judgement Day is in your hands.  You can take everything I've written literally or metaphorically, but, either way, it's up to you to make your choice, create your cosmos, dream your dream.  I’ll go off and dream mine and, with a little luck and grace, perhaps our dreams will intertwine and manifest an even larger dream, a greater dream than we can individually imagine.  

As Into Shamballa's narrator observed at the end of Doctor Strange's adventure:  “Remember:  the Golden Age is now.  Remember:  We are all, each and every one of us, the Lords of Shamballa.”


©copyright 2012 J.M. DeMatteis   

Sunday, December 16, 2012

FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART

I'm a total sucker for Christmas:  I still believe in Santa Claus—in fact, I believe more deeply than I did as a kid.  I still cry every time I watch It's A Wonderful Life (my favorite movie of all time) and the sublime 1951 version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol (perhaps the most perfect story ever written).  Opening the doors of our home to family and friends on Christmas Day, gathering together in the glow of the Christmas tree, I feel a sense of profound faith and world-transforming belief that transcends any one religion or spiritual path and fills my soul with hope—for myself and for everyone on the planet.

From the bottom of my heart I wish you all the merriest of Christmases, the happiest of holidays.  May the year ahead bring you magic, miracles, abundance, prosperity, health, joy, peace...and love above all.

“And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!"


©copyright 2012  J.M. DeMatteis

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A NIGHT IN DECEMBER

On the night of December 8, 1980 my son, eight months old at the time, was asleep in his crib, my wife—now ex-wife—was out with a friend and I was...well, I don't recall what I was doing.  Maybe working on a script (I don't write much at night these days, but in '80 all-nighters were still commonplace) or just puttering around the apartment.  What I do remember is the phone ringing, some time after ten o'clock:  It was my old friend Karen Berger (yes, we've known each other so long she was an old friend even then) calling to tell me that John Lennon had been shot.  "Is he okay?" I asked.  "He's dead," she replied—and it was clear from her tone that she knew it was true, but couldn't digest that awful reality.

I got off the phone, switched on the television—and the global mourning ritual soon began.  At first I was taken aback by the public displays of grief.  Strange as it sounds, my connection to John Lennon—to his extraordinary life and music—ran so deep that his death felt profoundly personal.  It was as if I'd lost one of my dearest friends.  I couldn't quite wrap my head around the fact that millions of people around the world had lost one of their dearest friends, as well.

Perhaps it wasn't so strange at all.  Lennon lived his life openly, nakedly; raw emotion poured equally into songs and interviews.  This was a man who, almost compulsively, shared the deeps of his heart—the highest qualities and the lowest—seemingly without reservation.  I'm sure that quality was hard for some people to take, but that's what drew me to Lennon, almost instinctively, from the first time I saw John, Paul, George and Ringo perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.  I crave honesty, the raw core of the soul, in art —and John Lennon delivered that in spades, first as a member of the Beatles and then, with even more soul-baring honesty, in his solo career.  A career I'd expected to follow for many more years.

"He's dead."  Those words still resonate in my mind and heart.  Thirty-two years ago?  It feels like thirty-two minutes.


©copyright 2012 J.M. DeMatteis

Friday, November 30, 2012

SECOND WIND

How's this for a short post?  Click here for a preview of the second issue of The Adventures of Augusta Wind, out this coming Wednesday, December 5th—courtesy of IDW Publishing.  Okay, you can go enjoy your weekend now.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

EXPOSED

A few years back—it may have been 2009—I was interviewed (along with Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Stan Lee and a host of others) for a Canadian documentary called Ink:  Alter Egos Exposed.  The show aired on IFC Canada but never made it to the U.S.—which is a shame, because it was a smart, multi-episode, in-depth look at the world of comic books.

I recently came across a YouTube clip that reflects the tone and feel of the series and I've embedded it below.  Who knows?  Maybe one of these days Ink will finally sneak across the border and onto a U.S. network.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

HERE COMES AUGUSTA

Just a short one to remind one and all that tomorrow, Wednesday, the first issue of The Adventures of Augusta Wind hits the stores, courtesy of those fine folks at IDW Publishing.  You can read a short preview of the book right here.  After all these months of talking about Augusta as a work-in-progress, I'm amazed and delighted that we've moved from the realm of imagination to the realm of manifestation.

I also want to wish everyone who follows Creation Point an incredibly Happy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy your family, your friends, be sure to eat a little too much—and have a wonderful day of gratitude.  Yes, life can be bumpy sometimes, and the world can seem a scary place, but I suspect we've all got a lot to be grateful for.  I know that I do.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

TOUCHING LOVE




I got married for the second time in 1993 (lucky for me I got it right that time and it’s been a long, happy union):  Diane and I were deep in a cloud of love-intoxication, celebrating our marriage every chance we could get.  We didn’t go off on one honeymoon that year, we went on three.  The first was the classic:  Niagara Falls.  Spending July 4th in a park while glorious fireworks exploded just over our heads was like something out of a Bradbury story.  The third honeymoon took us to Hawaii for an enchanted two weeks.  But it’s the second honeymoon that concerns me here, the one that took us to India, to the ashram of Avatar Meher Baba.

My son, Cody—who was thirteen at the time—came along with us.  I’d taken him to Meherabad—the name of Meher Baba’s Ahmednagar compound—in 1988, when he was eight (despite his age, Cody handled things like a seasoned traveler), and I’d taken Diane in 1990 for a journey that included a memorable visit to the Taj Mahal; but this was the first time the three of us went on pilgrimage together, a beautiful opportunity for our new family to bond.

Our three weeks at Meherabad were perfection.  We encountered old friends and new, there was family time and precious time alone with God, sitting in Meher Baba’s Tomb (for me, the spiritual nexus of the universe), drinking in the deeps of His Silence.  Love is the core of Meher Baba’s message and love was the core of that ’93 trip:  love that came pouring through in both familiar and astonishing ways.  Most astonishing of all was the love I encountered in the form of a hunched-over old man named Mohammed Mast.  

Masts, according to Meher Baba, are men and women who, to the objective eye, may appear mad:  in rags, living on the streets, perhaps in filth, confused, angry, incomprehensible; but to the eye of the Avatar, the masts aren’t mad at all.  They are, as Baba explained, God intoxicated.  Souls that have ascended the inner planes of consciousness; many of them getting stuck there, needing a push from the Master to move them along to the next destination in their journey back to the God we all are. 

Meher Baba spent many years, traversing thousands of mile, in search of authentic masts; giving each one an inner push along the path and using their spiritual power in His work for humanity.  (Much of this is documented in William Donkin’s 1948 book The Wayfarers.)  No mast spent more time in Meher Baba’s orbit than Mohammed. To quote Donkin:  “Mohammed is by birth a Hindu, a potter by caste...and his real name is said to be Tukharam Chawan.  He seems to have had a wife and two children and when he became a mast, he left his home...and went to Bombay. It was in Bombay that he came to be called Mohammed, by Muslims who held him in respect.”  He spent several years wandering in Bombay before coming into Meher Baba’s orbit—brought to His ashram in Rahuri—in 1936.  Mohammed was eventually moved to Meherabad, where he spent the rest of his days.  

According to Baba, Mohammed was established on the fifth plane of consciousness, the mental plane, and he continuously experienced the presence of God.  I was once told that Mo could see into every mind on Earth, that, among his other abilities, he was able to exist in two places at once; but a mast’s powers are just window dressing.  What mattered about Mo was his heart—not that I (often dense beyond belief) realized it at first.

On my previous trips to Meherabad (the ’93 pilgrimage was my sixth), this ancient hunchback with the fiery eyes and unpredictable temperament had, frankly, terrified me.  I didn’t like the idea of anyone peering into my head (too many shadows lurking there, I suppose) and so I did my best to avoid Mohammed at all costs, scooting by his quarters in Old Mandali Hall as fast as I could.  Oh, I’d mutter “Jai Baba, Mohammed” if I passed him sitting on the porch, but I kept moving—the better to keep Mo from gazing into my soul and finding me wanting.  (In retrospect, these thoughts had nothing to do with Mo, everything to do with my own childhood programs of unworthiness.)  I remember being in India in ‘88  and walking into Mandali Hall with a close friend.  It didn’t take long for Mohammed to start shouting at us (in Hindi.  I had no idea what he said; for all I know it could have been a blessing) and it took even less time for the two of us to get our asses out of there.    

But 1993 was a very different kind of encounter and it wouldn’t have happened without a wonderful man named Eric Nadel—friends called him Erico—who was Mohammed’s caretaker.  Erico had come from the States years earlier to live in Meherabad and he’d been with Mo for so long that some thought he was becoming something of a mast himself.  All I know is that Erico had an extraordinary intellect and a huge heart; always warm, welcoming and utterly genuine.  

One day Cody and I were walking through the compound and encountered Erico and Mo.  Erico asked Mohammed to bless Cody, which the old mast did by slapping a large hand on Cody’s head.  “Come by tomorrow morning,” Erico told us, “and help me feed Mohammed breakfast.”  Despite my trepidations about Mo—and perhaps urged on by the glow of honeymoon love—I agreed.  I also thought this would be an experience for my son to remember.  How many opportunities does one have to share breakfast with a God-intoxicated mast?

We arrived on the porch of Old Mandali Hall, father and son together, and, as we settled in, Erico asked me to wash Mohammed’s face.  Wait, wait, I thought, I’m supposed to touch this guy?  Will he even let me?  What if he starts yelling at me again?  I wrestled down my panic and took a deep breath; walked over to the sink and began to gently wash Mo as instructed—not with a cloth, but with my hands.

And the most extraordinary thing happened, one of the most profound, inexplicable and sacred experiences of my life. 

When my palm brushed Mohammed’s cheek I understood instantly who and what this man was—and how wrong I’d been to fear him for so many years—because what I touched wasn’t flesh:  it was love.  No, make that Love with a capital L.  This mast, this man, whose soul was focused, with one-pointed intensity, on Meher Baba, was composed of Love.  Please understand that I don’t mean this metaphorically.  Every iota of Mohammed’s being was literally composed of love.  He breathed love.  His heart beat love.  His blood flowed love.  But to talk about hearts and blood is to limit the infinite.  In that moment it seemed to me as if if Mohammed’s body wasn’t even there.  He wasn’t physical at all, he was energy:  dancing atoms of love that vibrated beneath my hands, flowing from Mo to me, bringing me to state of quiet ecstasy.  This was Meher Baba’s Love in as pure a form as I’ve ever encountered, radiating in, through, and as Mohammed.  And yet there was nothing dramatic in the experience, nothing overwhelming:  it was gentle, natural and pure.

When I finished—and, really, I could have stayed there all day—Cody sat down at a table beside Mo and, following Erico’s example, fed the old mast, slowly and gently.  I, meanwhile, sat off to the side like a love-struck schoolgirl, staring at Mohammed, hoping for a glance, a momentary look, in my direction.  Every time he did, it was all I could do not to sigh.  I had touched embodied love and I was smitten:  more than that, Mo and I were bonded forever.  (I eventually came to understand, in ways I can’t explain here, that Mohammed and I had known each other inwardly for many years, probably through many lives.  Today, nine years after his death, he walks beside me still.)

When we were done, Erico told me something that touched my already-pierced heart even more.  Many fathers and sons, he said, had come to visit Mo over the years and some had been chased away by the old mast, no doubt in his inimitable fiery fashion.  It could very well be that in rejecting them, Mo was actually blessing them—I have no way of knowing—but the feeling I had that morning was that, in accepting us, in allowing me to wash him, Cody to feed him, Mohammed had gazed deep into the core of our father-son relationship and smiled his approval.     

When we were done, Cody and I wandered back to the Pilgrim Center where my new bride was waiting for us.  “Diane,” I said, “I have something to tell you.”  “Yes?”  “I’m in love with Mohammed.”  Many wives, especially those on their honeymoon, wouldn’t know how to react to this information, but Diane understood instantly, smiled and said, “That’s good.”   

What a perfect honeymoon gift, to be shown love is such a pure form, radiating from another human being; and I see now that that Mohammed’s love—or should I say Meher Baba’s Love shining through him—wasn’t just a gift to me, it was a gift to my new marriage, to my relationship with Cody, to the daughter who would be born a little over a year later.  Perhaps the greatest gift Mohammed gave me was an unforgettable reminder that, when we strip away the illusions of our individual identities, we’re all composed of love, all God under the skin.

Mohammed Mast died in 2003, but, to this day, all I have to do is recall the feeling of his face beneath my palm, the vibrating, cosmic force that he was, and I’m back on that porch in India.

Touching love.


©copyright 2012 J.M. DeMatteis   

Saturday, November 10, 2012

RETURN TO PODLAND

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of talking to John Siuntres, Lord and High Master of the Word Balloon podcast.  John's one of the best—and most thoroughly professional—podcasters out there (the fact that he's got twenty years experience in the broadcasting business no doubt helps) and it's always a treat to be interviewed by him.  We talked about The Adventures of Augusta Wind, my upcoming Amazing Spider-Man story, working in animation and, of course, my favorite subject:  the wonders of the creative process.  Jeff Lemire, Jason Aarons and others are also on this WB episode and you can stream or download it right here.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A LITTLE MORE WIND

A (very) quick one to bring your attention to two interviews that ran this week spotlighting my soon-to-be released IDW series The Adventures of Augusta Wind.  The first is with Comic Book Resources, the second with Newsarama.  I'm very happy with the way both pieces turned out.  Give them a read if you're so inclined.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled Sunday.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

SHELTER FROM THE STORM

Watching the images of New York City on television last night and this morning, it all seemed like something out of a post-apocalyptic science-fiction movie:  subways flooded, tunnels filled with rushing water, cars submerged on 14th Street, half of Manhattan in darkness.  But it’s not a movie, it’s all-too real, all-too heartbreaking.  As I'm sure you know, NYC is just one piece of the jigsaw puzzle, the devastation Sandy left in her wake is widespread.  (We were lucky here in my neck of upstate New York:  there was rain and some seriously spooky wind, but no major damage.  We didn’t even lose power.  And for that I am profoundly grateful.)

Here’s a link to the Red Cross site for those of you able to donate something to help with disaster relief.  If you can’t afford it—and in these tough economic times, that’s understandable—there’s always the power of a heartfelt prayer.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

POD PEOPLE

Did an interview this morning with a new podcast called The V-Spot.  Despite some heavy sibilance in the phone lines, we had a great time talking about storytelling, the creative process and the joys of comic book collaboration. We also took a nostalgic tour through my work on Spider-Man and Captain America. If you're interested in listening, I've embedded the interview below.


Listen to internet radio with The V Spot Featuring Neil on Blog Talk Radio

Monday, October 22, 2012

MORE WIND

As soon as I saw this amazing cover—art by Vassilis Gogtzilas, color by Carlos Badilla—for The Adventures of Augusta Wind #4, I knew I had to post it here and share it with you.  Vassilis and Carlos have been doing an incredible job on every issue, but this cover is my favorite so far.



The fourth issue finds Augusta and her companions seeking refuge in the underwater world of Lake Innermost and coming face-to-face with an enigmatic cosmic being called The Sleeper On The Ocean Of Story.  (One of the things I've enjoyed most about working on Augusta Wind is the world-building, creating entire fantasy universes—and the story encompasses quite a few of them—from the ground up.)

The Adventures of Augusta Wind #1—as my relentless drum beating has, I'm sure, made clear by now—comes out in November, which is getting closer all the time. And, yes, I'm as excited about this project as I seem.  I hope you have half as good a time reading Augusta as Vassilis and I have had creating the book.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

NYCC UPDATE

A brief reminder that I'll be at the New York Comic Con tomorrow, October 13th, participating in the IDW panel at 12:30 (in room 1A21).  I've also added a signing from 2 to 3 at the Comic News Insider booth (3350).  Well, due to a last minute mix-up I'll actually be a couple of tables down from CNI, but stop by their table and they'll point you in the right direction.  Please come by, say hello and bring books for me to sign.  As many of you know, I don't attend these mind-bogglingly massive events very often, so it's a treat for me to meet, and chat with, the folks who read and enjoy my work.  See you there, I hope!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

HYPE AND WIND

Here's IDW's press release for my upcoming mini-series, The Adventures of Augusta Wind.  The book will be out in November and I hope you'll pick it up.

***

IDW FLIES HIGH ON THE AUGUSTA WIND!

Adventure is King in J.M. DeMatteis and Vassilis Gogtzilas' New Miniseries!



San Diego, CA (October 8, 2012) – IDW Publishing is happy to announce THE ADVENTURES OF AUGUSTA WIND, a brand-new, creator-owned miniseries from the incredible imaginations of veteran writer J.M. DeMatteis (Brooklyn Dreams, Abadazad) and astonishing artist Vassilis Gogtzilas!

“I’ve long loved J.M. DeMatteis’ writing,” said Chris Ryall, IDW’s Chief Creative Officer/Editor-in-Chief, “and his ability to tell a captivating, action-filled, and heartfelt story is something he does better than just about anyone. It’s great to be doing a book like Augusta Wind that plays to all these strengths in a story that will appeal to audiences young and old. And Vassilis’ visuals perfectly complement the story’s tone and deliver nicely upon the bizarre and charming characters and environments that appear in this story.”
In this thrillingly imaginative, all-ages miniseries, we follow the title character, young heroine Augusta Wind, across five issues of eye-popping, otherworldly realms as she uncovers and chases down her destiny. Visited out-of-the-blue by the Snabbit, a half-snake/half-rabbit, Augusta must leave all she knows behind to leap through colorful, magically envisioned worlds full of unbelievable creatures, high adventure, and heroic mystery!
“Writing The Adventures of Augusta Wind has been a genuinely magical experience, as I’ve watched the story lead me on to unexpected places and grow into a cosmic quest that spans multiple worlds and realities,” said series writer and co-creator J.M. DeMatteis. “Vassilis Gogtzilas’ astonishing visual imagination has challenged me to continually dig deeper and push farther into the rich mythology we’re creating. With luck, Augusta’s adventures will go on for years.”
Each issue will also feature a variety of full-color pin-ups by Vassilis Gogtzilas to keep your mind aloft long after reading!
Carrollian in scope and spirit, THE ADVENTURES OF AUGUSTA WIND is a fairytale for a new generation, where nothing is quite what it seems, and a rollicking caper lies around every corner!
The Adventures of Augusta Wind #1 (of 5) is full-color, 32 pages, and will be in stores in November. Diamond code: SEP 120285.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

IT'S JOHN LENNON'S BIRTHDAY

Let's celebrate with one of his greatest songs, performed live for a global audience in 1967.  The message remains timeless and true.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

THE SANDBOX OF DREAMS

This morning I was sitting at the computer when, suddenly, the Waking World and the Dreaming World merged for, perhaps, five seconds.  It’s happened to me before, several times over the years.  It’s as if the brain misfires and secretes a chemical that’s normally only released when we’re asleep, deep in our dreaming states, and, for a few precious moments, the world in front of us—the one we’re conditioned to believe is real—feels exactly like a dream.  The first time this happened it was disorienting, but as the experience has repeated, I’ve come to welcome it.  This morning I breathed into the feeling, rode it like a wave, let it fill me, exhilarate me.  As I said, this lasted for, perhaps, five seconds and, if it was just a hiccuping neuron or a confused chemical, it really wouldn’t matter and it certainly wouldn’t be worth writing about; but if you’ve been reading my work for any length of time, you know that I’m obsessed with the idea that life really is a dream.  No, for me it’s far more than an idea:  it’s a truth that’s echoed through the corridors of my soul, gaining more power the older I get.

In the early 1980’s someone sent me an audio cassette of a 1956 gathering in Los Angeles:  Avatar Meher Baba—the spiritual master who’s been at the center of my dreams, both waking and sleeping, since I was nineteen—was visiting the U.S. and addressing a group of spiritual seekers.  (Meher Baba didn’t speak:  he took a vow of silence in 1925 and, by the 50’s, was communicating via a unique series of hand gestures.  The gestures were then interpreted by one of his disciples, usually a wise and wonderful man named Eruch Jessawalla.)  Here’s what Baba, through Eruch, had to say: 

All this is nothing but a dream. When you are asleep, you find yourself talking, enjoying, sometimes you weep, sometimes you are happy; but when you are awake, you realize the pain and joy that you felt in the dream were nothing but a dream.
Even this is a dream—your sitting with me. The noise of the buses and street cars, this place, the whole city, all of this is nothing but a dream.
Suppose tonight in a dream, you see Baba sitting beside you and explaining, "Do not get entangled in all of this, it is nothing but a dream," then you would question me, saying, "Baba how could it be a dream? I have so many joys and sorrows. I see so many people around me. I see you. How could it be a dream?" The next day, you wake up and you realize that Baba appeared to you in a dream and said it was but a dream.
Even now, at this moment, I tell you that you are dreaming.
The first time I heard those words they bypassed my mind and went straight to the deeps of my heart.  Till then, despite whatever small glimpses of the inner reality I’d been blessed with, the notion that “life is but a dream”—what the Hindus call Maya—was nothing more than a fascinating intellectual concept.  But the recording of that Los Angeles event seemed to carry the authority of Meher Baba’s presence and power.  “Even now, at this moment, I tell you that you are dreaming.”  And I knew it was true.

Years later, I was on retreat at the Meher Spiritual Center in South Carolina and that truth unexpectedly deepened.  For an entire week it felt as if several layers of the Veil of Illusion had been stripped away; the people around me seemed no more substantial than heat trails on a highway or shadows flickering on a wall:  it was all I could do not to put my hand through them.  I remember talking to a friend (who’d spent many years in Meher Baba’s orbit) about this and she said—and I’m paraphrasing—that, yes, it’s all a dream, but the thing that
dignifies the dream is God’s presence in it.  It made perfect sense to me.  If I’ve learned nothing else in my life, I’ve learned this:  The oldest cliche in the world is true.  God is Love.  Pure, unadulterated, non-judgmental Love, both awe-inspringly cosmic and deeply personal.  And that Love is what underlies and, as my friend said, dignifies this dream we call life.

I know that, for many people, this all sounds like metaphysical nonsense; but let’s—for a moment at least—imagine that it’s true.  What, if anything, do we do with this view of the universe?  Turn our backs on the dream—as some spiritual paths suggest—diving exclusively inward in hopes of transcending the illusion and becoming one with the Love that underlies it?  Or do we embrace the illusion, exulting in it, dreaming bigger than ever; always striving to remember—and share—the Love at the dream’s core.   

I choose the latter.  The goal to me—and I’m sure I’ve said this before—is to become a lucid dreamer; to find union—or at least a conscious partnership—with God
within the illusion, molding and shaping it until it’s become the most beautiful dream ever dreamed.    
Taped to a bookcase in my office is a message that came to me last year in a dream (I wrote about it here).  Printed in bold, colorful letters, it reads:
This is a dream.  I’m dreaming.  And I can do anything.  I can fly. 
Even if it was just the result of a random, misbehaving neuron, the five seconds of overlap I experienced this morning brought that truth back to me in a sweet and powerful way.  It was a reminder to fly high and far.  To play in this Sandbox of Dreams with the innocence of a child—and fill it with as much love as I possibly can.

©copyright 2012 J.M. DeMatteis

The transcript of Meher Baba’s 1956 gathering in Los Angeles comes from Bhau Kalchuri’s Lord Meher, Volume 14.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

CON JOB

Wanted to let you know that I'll be at the ever-growing New York Comic Con for one day only—Saturday, October 13th—taking part in the IDW panel to promote my upcoming mini-series The Adventures of Augusta Wind.  I won't have a table at the convention—I'll just be wandering the floor in goggle-eyed wonder like everyone else—but if you catch me after the panel I'll be happy to say hello and sign any books you've got.  (Within reason, of course!)  I haven't been to NYCC for three or four years and I hear that it's mushroomed to near-San Diego proportions. Should be a madhouse (especially to a somewhat crowd-phobic soul like me)...and a lot of fun.

If you're looking for a more intimate convention experience, you might try the Albany Comic Book Show on November 11th.  It's a one-day affair, packed with fans and pros, but nowhere near the numbers you'll find at NYCC or SDCC.  The Albany Con allows for a fun, intimate give-and-take between those of us who write and draw comics and the folks who read and appreciate our work.  I'll be taking part in a panel there, too:  a discussion of fantasy world-building with Ron Marz and David Rodriguez.  The rest of the time I'll be at my table, signing comics and chatting with anyone who's in the mood.  It's a terrific day and, if you're within driving distance of Albany, one I suspect you'll enjoy.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

LET ME TAKE YOU DOWN

I came across this YouTube gem yesterday:  a blow-by-blow account of the making of one of the Beatles' true masterpieces, "Strawberry Fields Forever."  The video begins with John Lennon's first attempts at the song—as he gropes with the melody, toys with the words, molding and shaping it with each new attempt—and then moves into the Abbey Road studios where Lennon and the Beatles run through several different arrangements before transforming "Strawberry Fields" into the song we all know.  (Each of these versions could have been released and become a classic in its own right.)  It's a fascinating look into the mind of Lennon as a composer as well as a window into the workings of the Beatles as a band, deep into their most creative and adventurous period in the studio. 



On another front:  You may have noticed that things have been relatively quiet here at Creation Point this summer.  Life has provided many distractions, not the least of which was sending my daughter off to college.  (I'm still not sure how my little girl—wasn't she a toddler just five minutes ago?—morphed into the beautiful and elegant young woman we deposited on campus.  "Time," as Mr. Dylan observed, "is a jet plane.  It moves too fast.")

As the temperature starts to drop and the first breath of autumn blows in, I'd like to get back to regular blogging. There are many things on my mind that I'd like to share with you, so keep your eyes peeled for more frequent posts.  If they don't appear, feel free to (ever-so gently) berate me in the comments section.  

Be back soon, I hope. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

IT'S STAR TREK'S BIRTHDAY

Let's celebrate with the greatest Captain Kirk speech ever:  the essence of Star Trek, in one memorable, perfectly-delivered monologue.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

PUPPETS, MICE, MERMAIDS AND MONSTERS

Last week my wife, daughter and I popped some popcorn on the stove and watched Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride.  We hadn’t seen it since it came out in 2005, but I remembered the film as a gem of a move, a perfect little work of art.  I was happy to discover that, more than five years later, the movie held up:  a truly haunting blend of horror and heart, disturbing and moving in equal parts.  The design, the lighting, the one-of-a-kind textures created by stop motion photography—and, of course, the wonderful characters and story—all merge to create one of Burton’s best films.

This got me thinking about my all-time animated favorites (and, yes, they’re all Disney or Pixar.  Doesn’t mean I haven’t embraced others—as Corpse Bride proves—just that Disney’s universe grabbed me at a young age and never let go)—and thus this list, beginning with the masterpiece every other animated film must be measured against:    

Pinocchio
Snow White brilliantly set the stage, but Pinocchio was where Disney really proved his artistry.  Few other movies—animated or otherwise—have transported me the way Pinocchio has.  From Jiminy Cricket singing “When You Wish Upon A Star”—one of the greatest songs ever written—to the wonders of Gepetto’s workshop, the nightmares of Pleasure Island, the sublime beauty of the Blue Fairy and the jaw-dropping terror of Monstro the whale, every frame, every word, is perfection.  Gorgeous design, memorable characters, a fantasy both deeply intimate and deeply epic.  In the end, it’s the metaphor that makes it:  We’re all Pinocchio—wooden puppets, desperate to be free of our strings and become truly, fully human.  There are so many wonderful films from the era when Walt Disney was at the helm of his company and the truth is I could add almost any of them to this list and the choice would be justified—but Pinocchio is in a class by itself.

Cinderella
After spending some years in the wilderness, Disney animation came roaring back with this letter-perfect adaptation of the classic fairy tale.  Once again, the central metaphor is what sells it—we think we’re small and powerless, but our dreams can lead us to transcend our limitations—but it’s the artistry of Disney and his animators that creates the magic.  Cinderella herself may seem a little too passive and submissive to contemporary audiences—and she is—but she’s also genuinely compassionate and loving, decent and honest almost to a fault.  In the character of the wicked stepmother —voiced by Eleanor Audley, who also voiced Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent—Cinderella has one of the most frightening villains in movies:  Lady Tremaine isn’t some spell-chanting witch with supernatural powers, she’s a frightening example of all-too believable human cruelty.  My daughter had a friend who could watch just about any movie—no matter how dark or violently graphic—without batting an eye, but Cinderella’s stepmother terrified him to the bottom of his soul.  With good reason.

Peter Pan
If I had to pick my two or three favorite scenes in movie history, the scene of Peter, Wendy, Michael and John flying over London en route to Neverland in the first section of Disney’s Peter Pan would absolutely be one of them:  It’s a dizzying, breathtaking sequence.  The magic of the Pan story is that this grinning figure of myth can appear at your window, any time, anywhere—and carry you off to a world, equal parts magic and danger, that transcends this one.  Peter is the personification of the urge in all of us to go flying out the inner window and seek the transcendent.  (“Second star to the right and straight on till morning” is my destination every time I sit down to write.)  When you add the inimitable Hans Conreid as Captain Hook and a pirate ship, covered in pixie dust, sailing like a UFO across the skies...well, it doesn’t get much better than that.  (If only the heartbreaking final scenes of the Mary Martin Pan—done for television in the 1950’s—could have been grafted on to this. The moment when Peter returns to find Wendy grown old, “ever so more than twenty” shocked and moved me as a child and still does today.)  Pan isn’t perfect:  as with every other version of the story, Neverland never quite lives up to its hype (in some ways, it’s more fun to set out on the journey than to actually arrive at the destination) and the portrayal of the Indians leans too heavily on racial caricature—but the heart of the story beats louder than its limitations and makes Disney’s Pan a genuine classic.  (If you’ve never seen the sequel, Return to Neverland, you’re missing out on a charming little film.)


Little Mermaid
Aladdin
Beauty and the Beast
Disney animation had been in the doldrums for years—and then Jeffrey Katzenberg and Company delivered up the back-to-back-to-back wonderment of these three films and completely rejuvenated the Mouse House.  If you weren’t around in 1989, you may not be able to understand just how thrilling it was to watch Disney return to form with Little Mermaid—the elegant animation, the memorable characters, the wonderful songs:  Walt Redux.  Then they followed that with the Broadway majesty of Beauty and the Beast and added some Bugs Bunny-style mayhem with Robin Williams’ genie in Aladdin.  An astonishing triple play:   three classics in a row.  People claim that The Lion King is the masterpiece of 90’s Disney, but, for all the skill that went into it, that movie never implanted in my heart the way this magical trilogy did.  

Toy Story Trilogy
And then came Pixar.  The original Toy Story was as revolutionary as Al Jolson’s
“You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” in
The Jazz Singer:  it changed the game for animated films—and all films, really—by ushering in the digital revolution.  But the shift from 2D to computer animation wouldn’t have meant anything if the story hadn’t worked—and what a story it is.  Buzz, Woody, and Company remain as unforgettable (and, I suspect, they’ll be as lasting) as Peter Pan, Dorothy Gale, Winnie-the-Pooh, Alice and other great characters from children’s literature.  Each subsequent film in the franchise has been of equal excellence—with the final installment being, perhaps, the best.  When Toy Story 3 came out in 2010, I was sitting in a South Carolina movie theater, crying my eyes out as Andy went off to college and the toys began their new life with Bonnie.  Somewhere, I suspect Walt Disney was crying, too.  And smiling through his tears.

Monsters, Inc.
The Toy Story movies are the gold standard for Pixar films, but Monsters, Inc. is the Pixar I love most.  Love?  I adore it.  Why?  Could be the memorable characters (Mike and Sully are one of the screen’s great comedy teams), the underlying mythology of intersecting universes, the fully realized world of Monstropolis itself—or that extraordinary sequence at the end, where Sully and Mike, pursued by the malevolent Randall, leap from door to door to door (Charlie Chaplain couldn’t have engineered a better slapstick chase).  Most of all it’s the heart, embodied by Sully’s dedication to Boo and his willingness to risk everything for a human child.  Or maybe it’s that indefinable...Something that escapes analysis.  After all, love (whether for a person or a movie) can’t really be explained.  There’s a Monsters, Inc. prequel in the works:  a part of me wants them to leave well enough alone; another part wants them to create a follow-up equal to, or better, than the first.

Up 
In Steven Spielberg’s underrated
Amistad, there’s a sequence that follows a group of slaves from their capture in Africa, through their tortured journey across the ocean and on to their arrival in America:  it’s one of the most brilliant, horrifying sequences I’ve ever seen in a movie and it’s enough to raise Amistad (which is otherwise a little bumpy in its storytelling) up to the level of unforgettable art.  The opening sequence of Up, which follows Carl and Ellie Fredricksen through their lives together, from childhood to marriage to old age and, ultimately, Ellie’s passing, is equally unforgettable.  You could have cut out everything that followed and still had a classic.  Lucky for us, the rest of the movie—an old man’s fanciful journey from despair to a heart-expanding reaffirmation of life—is almost as good.  Add in two wonderful voice performances from Edward Asner and Christopher Plummer and a memorable score from Michael Giacchino (one of the best composers working in film and television today) and Pixar adds another classic to the ranks.

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”
No, it’s not a feature in and of itself, but I couldn’t complete this list without Mickey, the mouse who single-handedly built the Disney empire.  Back in the 30’s, when he made his debut (okay, technically it was 1929), Mickey Mouse was a pop-culture phenomenon:  the animated equivalent of Sinatra, Elvis or the Beatles.  By the 1950’s, the Mouse had become more staid, less rebellious, but that can’t take away from the explosive creative energy of the early Mickey shorts.  I’m especially fond of Thru the Mirror, The Brave Little Tailor and “Mickey and the Beanstalk” from 1947’s Fun and Fancy Free—but my absolute favorite Mickey is the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment from 1940’s Fantasia, an admirable film that, frankly, never appealed to me:  it’s the one Disney movie that takes itself too seriously.  “The Sorcerer's Apprentice,” happily, doesn’t suffer from that disease:  it’s a celebration, a volcanic eruption, of unbridled imagination.  And that, to me, is what Mickey Mouse has always stood for:  he’s the avatar of imagination, an ancient god of dreams, creativity and joy descended from the astral in the form of a cartoon mouse.  Now if someone—hello, Pixar...?–would please come up with The Great Mickey Cartoon of the twenty-first century, I’d be a very happy man.

Before I end, I have to mention a movie that delighted me from first frame to last, 2010’s Tangled:  a reinvention of the Rapunzel fairy tale and the best non-Pixar Disney film since Aladdin.  Not quite sure if it’s ready to be dubbed an all-time classic, but I have a suspicion that, if I update this list in a few years, Tangled will be on it. 

©copyright 2012 J.M. DeMatteis