Sunday, January 29, 2012


"The book that I shall make people read is the book of the heart, which holds the key to the mystery of life."
Avatar Meher Baba

Monday, January 23, 2012


Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor young writers:  sharing my knowledge and experience, teaching them about the vital basics of craft and encouraging them to grow beyond their comfort zones and embrace the art of story.  There’s no joy greater than creating your own tale, surrendering to the mysteries and metaphysics of storytelling; but there’s a unique pleasure to be found in helping others do the same:  to see someone’s personal vision take shape, to watch their creative selves transform and grow.  

In recent years I’ve continued this mentoring in new forms, first as editor-in-chief of Ardden Entertainment, then as a freelance editor and, most recently, through the launching of my Imagination 101 writing workshops.  Teaching the workshops has been a genuine delight.  You can’t beat sitting in a conference room for an entire weekend, working intimately with aspiring writers:  answering their questions, dissecting their ideas, enjoying the electric atmosphere generated by a group of enthusiastic, creative people.  

The workshops will continue—my next one is in Massachusetts in April and I’ve got more planned for upstate New York and New York City later in 2012—but I’ve also seen a need for a one-on-one mentoring program.  Toward that end, I’ve joined with two partners to launch Creation Point Story Consultation.  CPSC will provide anyone who’s interested with a chance to get feedback, analysis, hands-on editing and sincere encouragement as they build their imaginary worlds from the ground up.  Perhaps you’ve got an idea for a comic book that you’ve been wanting to develop for years, or a half-written graphic novel, a first draft screenplay, even The Great American Novel.  Creation Point Story offers you a chance to work with skilled mentors who will help you bring that work to the next level.  

Joining me in this endeavor are Derek Ivan Webster and Cody DeMatteis.  I first met Derek about a decade back when he was head of the story department at the Los Angeles based Acme Talent and Literary.  His job was to work with the screenwriters that the agency represented, dissecting their scripts and offering insights and analysis to help the writer’s vision manifest with more clarity and impact.  I was impressed with Derek from the start:  his understanding of the elements that make a great story was, and remains, powerful and impressive.  Derek and I have collaborated on several projects over the years—we’re working on a novel at the moment—and we hatched the CPSC concept together as a way to extend that collaboration.  I first met Cody when he was born.  Yes, he’s my son (and, as such, you could say he was my first writing student), but he’s also a highly skilled editor who’s worked in the trenches at both Boom! Studios and Devil’s Due, shepherding story and art through the entire creative process.  (As a result, Cody knows more about the day-to-day mechanics of producing comic books than I do.)  These days he works in the television business, on staff at Cartoon Network’s hugely successful spinoff, Adult Swim.  Cody’s got the kind of mind that’s always working outside the box.  His insights into story, and life, are funny, deep, unique and unexpected.  I’d want him as a partner even if we weren’t related.

We're working a few kinks out of the CPSC site—so, for now, if you're interested in our services, send an email to:

Maybe we’ll find ourselves working together soon.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


With all the talk about SOPA lighting up the internet (this post was inspired by a spirited discussion on Twitter last night), digital piracy is on everyone’s mind.  I’m far from an expert on the subject, but it’s clear, in our burgeoning Download Age, that this problem will be with us for the long haul. 

We’re in a time of shifting models and the entertainment conglomerates are tap-dancing on quicksand, trying to figure out how to deal with those shifts, how to adjust to the new templates, before they sink and disappear.  They’re not just worried about piracy:  they’re worried about a dizzying new world where the line between creator and audience is growing thinner and thinner.  Where a band can record, market and sell their material without the need of a label; where filmmakers and authors can jettison movie studios and publishers and do the same.  Given all that, the conglomerates’ terror and confusion is understandable; but bringing down a legal hammer so broad that you don’t just smash the bad guy but crush the skulls of everyone in sight means you really need to rewrite your law. 

There’s always been some kind of piracy around entertainment.  When I was a teenager, I’d borrow albums from friends and tape-record them.  It was a way to get familiar with an artist and his work.  If I liked that artist, I’d go out and buy his music, so the “free sample” worked to the artist’s advantage in the end.  I think the same is true now.  A certain amount of free sampling is inevitable and, up to a point, a valuable tool for building an audience.  I'm certainly not advocating piracy, it's money out of my pocket (as Ron Marz has pointed out, that loss is magnified on creator-owned comics where most writers and artists are working for free, hoping for payback down the line), but there are always shades of gray, especially when dealing with a thorny, complex topic like this: 
not everyone who downloads an album or comic book is a felon   

The bottom line—my bottom line, anyway—is this:  If you’re enthusiastic about a particular creator, buy his or her work and then let others know about it.  If you spread the word via file-sharing, it’s not much different than loaning a friend one of your books or CDs.  Just as I once became an obsessive fan after taping my friends’ vinyl albums, many of your friends will become fans who’ll spend their hard-earned money on actively supporting that creator’s work.

I believe, to the core of my being, in the decency of human beings and I don’t think the average person expects, or wants, to get content for free if it means depriving artists of their livelihoods.  People understand that writers, illustrators, filmmakers and musicians make their living, feed their families, with their songs and stories and movies.  As others have pointed out, iTunes has demonstrated brilliantly that consumers will happily pay for the thing they were getting for free.  If the experience is simple, intuitive and attractive and the price is reasonable, people will be banging down your (cyber) door.  As the iPad, Kindle and devices like them become more common, and as more and more work becomes available in easily-accessed digital forms, I think we’ll see less piracy.  But the sad truth is, the people who think they never have to pay for anything—who in some warped way believe they deserve free content—will always be with us.  These voracious gobblers are the real problem, deserving of a well-targeted legal hammer.  

So, yes, let’s get some excellent anti-piracy legislation out there.  But let’s do it wisely and well.

©copyright 2012 J.M. DeMatteis

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Sometimes the universe knows exactly what it’s doing.  Well, I believe the universe always knows exactly what it’s doing, but it only becomes evident to me on those ineffable occasions when the scales fall from my eyes and I see the cosmic magic at work all around me.  Case in point:

I've been developing an idea for an all-ages fantasy for a while now.  Unlike most stories, which grow from a plot nugget or a particular character, this one developed from a name, which dropped into my head one morning while I was sitting on the back porch with my wife.  (I’m keeping that name under wraps for now, so let’s call her “Jane Smith.”)  The instant the name appeared, I knew I was on to something—or perhaps I should say that something was on to me—but I had no idea what.  I decided to tuck the name (and a very intriguing name it was:  odd and evocative) away in the kitchen of my unconscious, turn on the psychic stove and see what cooked up.

As time passed, no story evolved, but “Jane Smith” didn’t go away; she was always reminding me that she was nearby and that, when the time was right, her tale would emerge.  I waited patiently but, instead of a story, what emerged were more names:  a list of wonderful—and wonderfully peculiar—names for characters that, just like my main character, I knew absolutely nothing about.  Where was the story?  When would it arrive?  (I felt like an expectant mother, frustrated by a pregnancy of undetermined length.)  Still, after so many years of interacting with the delightful, and sometimes elusive, entities from the Land of Story, I knew better than to force things; so, once again, I tucked the names away on the back burner of the psychic stove, turned on the heat and waited patiently for the kitchen timer to ring.  (Let’s dump this kitchen metaphor here:  it’s wearing thin.)  

In recent months, details of the story began pounding on the door of my unconscious.  I started to get a sense of who my main character and her cohorts were (among other things, I learned that "Jane" has the ability to ride the wind
and lives in the ruins of an old castle) and what their adventures were about; not enough to start writing, but certainly enough to keep me excited and intrigued.  In recent weeks, the pressure in the back of my head (which is where I actually feel new stories gestating) started building and that door began to buckle inward.  More details manifested, images began to form, plot elements crawled under the door, rose up and did a little dance across my mind.  If I was pregnant with story, it was now time to call the doctor and head for the hospital.  But, on the way there, something truly magical happened.

There’s an artist I know—he lives in Greece—named Vassilis Gogtzilas.  We met through my son, back when Cody was an editor at Devil’s Due, and I immediately responded to the energy and imagination of Vassilis’ work:  in some ways it reminded me of the work of my brilliant Brooklyn Dreams collaborator, Glenn Barr; but Vassilis’ art had a life, and an identity, all its own.  Since 2008, we’ve had an ongoing correspondence and Vassilis has been kind enough to share the evolution of his art with me.  We’ve talked, very vaguely, about doing a project together, but the stars never quite aligned.

Until the other day.

I went to the mailbox and found a sketchbook Vassilis published called Splat!  Leafing through it, I was impressed, as always, by Vassilis' work, but especially intrigued by a particular drawing of a young girl holding an umbrella, a castle far in the background.  There was a tone, a feeling, a gentle magic, in that picture that seemed different from Vassilis’ usual work.  More than any other illustration in Splat!, that one burrowed into my head and took up lodging there.  I was sitting by the piano at the time and, very spontaneously, almost entranced, started to play and sing a song about my lead character, “Jane Smith.”  As I was singing, I was gazing at the drawing of the umbrella-girl.  Somewhere in the middle of the song I stopped, my head practically splitting open, as I realized, with astonishment and delight, that the girl in the picture was “Jane Smith.”  Vassilis had sketched her, brought her to life, without even realizing it.  

I ran to my wife, showed her the drawing—“That’s her!  That’s ‘Jane’!”—then ran to the computer, sending Vassilis an email, telling him about the piano-side miracle he’d manifested and asking if he’d collaborate with me on this new story, bringing it to visual life.  A few minutes later a resounding “Yes!” arrived from Greece—and we were off.

Inspired by Vassilis’ drawing of the girl with the umbrella, I wrote an outline; and, as I wrote, all the elements that had been growing larger and larger in my pregnant consciousness—and quite a few that seemed to supernaturally appear as I typed—pushed out through the birth canal of my imagination.  New twists, new turns, new characters.  With a robust cry, a massive all-ages fantasy epic was born, one that has me as excited as any idea I’ve had in years.  At the moment, I’m writing character descriptions, Vassilis is designing those characters and their world and we’re both caught in the grip of our story; a story that would still be floating in the womb if Vassilis hadn’t (literally) drawn our main character down from the Land of Story and inspired me in such a magical, and transformative, way. 

When things like this happen—when creative miracles manifest before my widening  eyes—being a writer is the best job in the world. 

No, in all the worlds.

The umbrella-girl and one of her dearest friends

©copyright 2012  J.M. DeMatteis/artwork ©copyright 2012 Vassilis Gogtzilas

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


There will be three Imagination writing workshops in the first half of 2012 and I’m delighted to announce the first one, which is happening in conjunction with a wonderful Massachusetts comics shop called Modern Myths...


writing for comic books, graphic novels and animation
with J.M. DeMatteis

 Friday April 13th, 7 pm to 9 pm
              Saturday April 14th, 10 am to 5 pm (90 minute break for lunch)
              Sunday April 15th, 9 am to 1 pm

Modern Myths
             34 Bridge Street #4
             Northampton, MA. 01060

Join master storyteller J.M. DeMatteis for a weekend exploring the realms of imagination, from the metaphysical to the practical.  We’ll ponder the big questions...

~ Where do ideas come from?
~ What part does will play in the creative process? 
~ Is the best writing actually an act of channeling?
~ Do we create the story or does the story create us?

...and tackle the day-to-day realities of a career writing superhero sagas, fantasy epics and animation:

~ What’s the difference between “Marvel style” and “full script”?
~ What’s the value of editors?
~ Are agents necessary?
~ How do you handle rejection without jumping out the nearest window?

ome prepared to listen—as JMD shares stories and insights gleaned from more than thirty years writing comics, television, film and novels—but be prepared to work:  you’ll pitch ideas, dialogue artwork and help create a story from the ground up.

Bring all your questions, too:  this won’t be a brief, two hour seminar.  You’ll have an entire weekend, in an intimate setting, to explore your own creativity with J.M. DeMatteis as your guide.

Cost $415.00
Class size is limited.  To guarantee your place, register now.

To register and for more more information about lodging and transportation:

And look for JMD’s four-day, writing-intensive Imagination 201 (open only to those who have taken Imagination 101), coming to Kingston, New York in May of 2012!

Monday, January 9, 2012


I've wanted to stream some of my music here at Creation Point for some time now, but haven't been able to figure out how.  Truth is, I'm still figuring it out—but, in the meantime, I came across a site that was streaming one of my songs, complete with a code for embedding it elsewhere.  So here, for your listening and dancing pleasure, is a selection—from my CD How Many Lifetimes?—called "Baba Rain."  I hope you'll enjoy it.  (And, with a little luck, I'll stream more music in the coming months.)

J.M. DeMatteis - BABA Rain




Found at BABA Rain on

Friday, January 6, 2012


“Another year over and a new one just begun,” as the song says.  But this, of course, isn’t just any year, this is 2012.  This is the year when, some say (many of them blaming the Maya for their own Apocalyptic hunger), the world will come to a horrible end.  When doom and disaster engulf us and Time Itself reaches its conclusion, sinking Creation  into a sea of Infinite Nothing.

To which I say—if that’s the world you want, go for it.  I’ve written before about the idea that the universe is just dreamstuff:  an eternal 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.  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.  (With God, of course, as the Dreamer of dreamers; but let’s save that metaphysical digression for another post.)

So if you’re looking for your own very personal Apocalypse—if that’s where you’re investing your time and consciousness—I believe that’s what you’ll get.  In your universe, in your dream.  I choose not to invest my mind and heart in doomsday scenarios:  I’m focusing my consciousness on bringing forth a Golden Age.  In making 2012 as positive, as magical and miraculous, a year as we’ve ever seen.  I suspect that many—make that most—of you reading this feel the same way.  So let's raise a toast to a year of positive transformation, of peace and abundance, joy, health and unfettered creativity.

Happy Dreaming to you all.  And a very Happy New Year. 

©copyright 2012 J.M. DeMatteis