Friday, January 25, 2013

THE VALUE OF SILENCE

There are two basic ways that comic books are written.  The first is full script (that’s where the writer lays out the whole story page by page, panel by panel, including camera-angles, captions and dialogue) and the other is plot-first (the writer creates a detailed plot outline which then goes to the artist.  When the writer gets the pencilled pages back, he then adds the dialogue and captions).  Both approaches have their strengths and I enjoy working either way.  The challenge of a full script is that every element of the story is in your hands. You're in full control of the material.  The challenge of plot-first, of course, is that you’re often surprised by what your artist does—and your scripting is directly influenced by it.  Sometimes that’s a wonderful thing, sometimes not.  There are some artists who can draw very well but have yet to master the art of visual storytelling—and it can be difficult (to say the least) trying to make up for their shortcomings via dialogue and captions.  But when “Marvel style”—another popular name for the plot-first method—works, it’s magical.  

One of the most magical experiences I had was back in the 90’s when I was collaborating with the great Sal Buscema on Spectacular Spider-Man.  Sal and I hit it off from the first panel of our first story and my admiration for him remains boundless.  He can draw beautifully, he’s an impeccable visual storyteller and a total professional.  Add to that the fact that Sal is a truly good person—I’d go so far as to use an old-fashioned word and call him a gentleman—and you can understand why I loved working with him.

My plots were usually very tight—page by page, panel by panel, crammed with camera angles, psychological shading and rough-draft dialogue—but whatever was on the page, Sal was always able to take it to another level and do things that many other artists couldn’t.  Case in point:  Spectacular Spider-Man #200, which featured the death of Harry Osborn (who was then making no end of trouble as the Green Goblin). 

There was a sequence at the end of that story (perhaps my favorite out of all the Spider-Man tales I’ve written) where Harry, realizing that he loved Peter Parker too much to let him die, saves a drugged, weak Spidey from a death-trap.  Peter, his wife Mary Jane and Harry’s son, Norman, all stand by, shocked and heartbroken, as Harry then collapses, overcome by the toxic Goblin formula.  

On the final two pages, Spidey accompanies Harry into an ambulance, they drive off and Harry passes away, leaving Peter Parker to his grief and memories.  When the ambulance arrives at the hospital, it falls to Spider-Man to tell Mary Jane and Norman that Harry’s gone.  They react, we cut to a photo of Peter and Harry in happier days...and the story ends. The sequence was small, quiet, but, on an emotional level, it was massive.  

I did everything I could to communicate the power of those last pages to Sal in the plot—along with my thoughts on how the sequence would be handled in the final script.  My intention was to verbally milk the pages for all they were worth, wringing out every last drop of emotion; going big and melodramatic via captions, inner monologues from Peter or dialogue between the characters. (Another benefit of "Marvel style":  I didn't have to decide then, I could make up my mind when the art was done.)

Then Sal’s pages came in:  It was one of his finest hours.  The panel to panel flow was cinematic and crystal clear, the characters dramatic and achingly human. And those final two pages?  Perfection!  At first—locked into my original vision—I began writing captions and dialogue for the end-sequence, but it quickly became clear that everything I wanted to say had already been said, and better, by Sal.  It was all there in the pictures.  He had translated my plot so expertly that words would have capsized the sequence and destroyed the emotional power of the moment.  So I shut my big mouth and let Harry Osborn die in silence, with his best friend by his side.

That, too, is part of a writer’s work—especially in comics:  deciding when to speak and when to shut up.  Deciding whether to go for a barrage of machine-gun dialogue, a series of powerful captions or to surrender to equally-powerful silence.  Whether we’re working full-script of plot-first, we make those decisions on every panel of every page.  

And it certainly helps the process when you’ve got an artist like Sal Buscema bringing your story to life.  Take a look at the images below and you'll see what I mean.







©copyright 2013 J.M. DeMatteis
Spider-Man ©copyright 2013 Marvel Entertainment

99 comments:

  1. Those silent pages still give me chills! Some of the best work ever done in the medium, no question.

    Some other images that come to mind:

    Ben Reilly watching from outside the window as Aunt May dies. All while Peter completes her sentence, "--and straight on till morning."

    And Ben Reilly in the rainy alleyway, having just realized he's the clone. They used that as the cover when your Reilly were repackaged as LOST YEARS #0.

    --David

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    1. Thanks, David. The other two stories you mention are (as I think you know) favorites of mine. Bagley and Romita, Jr. are supeb storytellers.

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  2. Thanks for sharing this! Your run on Spectacular was definitely my favorite Spider-Man when I was growing up. Sal Buscema is one of my favorite Spidey artists. I don't have much love for a lot of the comics of my youth, but you and Buscema did stuff that really affected me when I was a kid and I still treasure.

    I just wish I didn't let my mom give away my old comic book collection... Now I'm spending my adult years trying to track down all of these comics I used to have! A couple years ago I managed to track down this issue and the one with the hologram cover - both of which are two of my favorite Spider-Man stories.

    Think we'll ever get to a point where your entire run will be collected in TPBs? How many rain dances do I have to do for that to happen?!

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    1. If you're doing a rain dance, Dru, I'll join you because I'd LOVE to see that run collected. A few of the stories have been collected individually, but not the whole two year saga.

      Re: throwing out comics. I remember being very young and my mother pressuring me to get rid of the many comics under my bed, so I took a box downstairs and tossed 'em in the trash. In that box? AVENGERS #1!

      (bangs head against wall repeatedly)

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    2. It could be worse...I mean, it's not like you traded X-MEN 1 for a pair of boots...

      --David

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    3. I told you that story?! Yeah, that's another one that could pay the mortgage!

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    4. My story is much the opposite. I bought some polybagged comics in the 90s that were destined to pay for my college. And if things went right, I could skip school altogether!

      Turns out A LOT of people had the same idea.

      --David

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    5. "It's going to be very valuable! I mean, they only printed a MILLION COPIES!" Those were the days, eh, David?

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    6. LOL! Good times. And if 999,999 copies of X-FORCE 1 mysteriously vanish, I'll be a millionaire yet!

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    7. Ha! Sounds like we'll have to do a whole LOT of rain dancing!

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  3. Dear Mr. DeMatteis, those pages you had printed are from one of the BEST stories ever told, and of course, one of my favourites. I'm really interested in contacting you by e-mail for explaining something, can you send me an e-mail to info@zonanegativa.com

    Thanks a lot for the GREAT moments I have spent reading your stories!

    Raul Lopez

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    1. You're incredibly welcome, Raul. I just sent you an email. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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  4. Sal Buscema & J.M. DeMatteis -- such a perfect combination! That run of yours remains a highlight in two long and distinguished careers. It's good to know some of the behind-the-scenes story that made this particular story so memorable.

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    1. Deep thanks, John. It was a pleasure, and an honor, working with Sal and those two years on SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN remain very dear to my heart.

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  5. J.M.,

    I clearly remember this issue. And the effectiveness of the last two pages really gave that story it's heart. Harry died a dignified death in the end, despite all his troubles as the Goblin. The photo of Peter and Harry as kids speaks volumes, without saying a word.

    Thanks for your great run on that title, and thanks for sharing your thoughts about it here.

    Now let's get that collection we're all rooting for!

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    1. You're VERY welcome, Javier. And, yes, let's get that collection!

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  6. I feel that the previous conversation on this site may have contributed to this topic, but Hell, what do I know?

    It's perfect for many reasons, yes it does seem that there is nothing more to say, but also we see the world through Peter's eyes, and it seems like he should have nothing to say, and that he probably wouldn't be able to take in anything.

    It is powerful. How powerful? I don't know... very?

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

    In keeping with the Simpsons attachments from recent posts, it reminds of the scene where after his mother leaves again Homer sits and watches the road she drove out on and at the starry sky. When something is known for being wordy, the lack of them stuns and can't help but cause reflection. This probably should have been above my sign off huh?

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    1. "When someone is known for being wordy, the lack of them stuns"? WAIT a minute! Are you saying that I'm wordy?!

      Well, actually, all you have to do is look at an issue of JLI to see that I am! : )

      (Or are you saying I'm just like Homer SImpson?!)

      I actually want to write a follow-up post about how the story itself shows the writer how to handle these sequences. Sometimes words, sometimes silence, sometimes a combination. In comics, the combinations, and the possibilities, are infinite.

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    2. You say wordy like it was a bad thing, I wish some comics were more wordy.

      Also, what's wrong with being Homer Simpson, you can beloved FOR bad parenting. Here is a link to the scene I meant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU3VuhQW1vs its in spanish, but I think the point still comes across nicely... especially if you hae already seen the episode.

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

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    3. That's a lovely scene, Jack. I remember it.

      As for being wordy, I take great pride in my wordiness, as anyone who's ever read my work can attest!

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    4. As you should take pride in it. God knows I love it. I just thought that you were full of self-loathing about it. That after you sent in each script you collapsed into a sobbing ball, cursing the heavens for making you this way all while being reminded that you are no longer in the same style as the young guns. All of course fueling a very powerful opium habit, that of course being the only thing that can hold back the dark feelings and make life seem worth living. Good to kn ow that isn't the case.

      As for the Simpsons scene, I think that scene (especially when in English) shows why that show is one of the absolute two greatest television shows ever produces, humor thought and heart.

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

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    5. Who says it isn't the case? : )

      I remember watching THE SIMPSONS when it first came on the air, years before my daughter was born. She's in college now. How many other TV shows have been so long-lasting and had such a huge pop-cultural impact?

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    6. Speaking of The Simpsons and verbosity, there's a game for the Playstation 2 called ROAD RAGE. You can play as different Simpsons characters and the goal is to taxi others across the city. There's some funny lines. Whenever a character tells Homer where they want to go, he says, "Okay, already! I didn't ask for your life story!"

      And when you fail to get Homer where he needs to go, he says, "You drive like I think....................................................................................................................................................................................................................slow."

      Funny to think THE SIMPSONS are in about the same place as Spider-Man was when I was kid: a little over twenty years old, and you don't even need to have watched the show to get a sense of the characters because they're all over pop culture.

      --David

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    7. The downside of that kind of pop-culture absorption for comic book characters, David, is that you've got a generation of kids out there who can spend hours every day with a character like Spider-Man...playing video games, watching animated shows, the multiple movies...and never feel compelled to pick up a comic.

      In a weird way it's like Mickey Mouse. EVERYONE knows Mickey, but when's the last time anyone sat down and watched a MM cartoon? When's the last time Disney even MADE a MM cartoon? He exists in our collective consciousness and. for many people, that's enough.

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    8. You're absolutely right, JMD. We've reached the point where the culture has absorbed Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and other pioneers, but it's passed through so many hands and mediums that fewer people could say where the influence came from.

      It's a weird place for me as a fan, because I always saw films as a way for comics to gain a kind of 'legitimacy' they lacked among my friends. I remember when Tim Burton's BATMAN came about it was the first time people treated my comic knowledge like it was cool....but that faded pretty quickly. There were other movies, after all.

      I'm glad the movies are doing well, but a little saddened that comics are selling less and less. Be careful what you ask for, right?

      --David

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    9. I keep thinking that, as digital comics gain prominence, and it's easier for the "non-fan" to access the material, that folks who absorb comics through the mainstream might be more inclined to return to the characters in their true, original form. But I don't know if that will really be the case.

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    10. I don't know, either. Certain factors would need to be in play, and even they'd be no guarantee. But prices definitely need to be more inviting. You don't win people over to a medium by charging them like they're already invested.

      --David

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    11. I feel like the three of us already had this discussion not so very long ago. Ah well, what are you going to do.

      As far as your self loathing goes, I am certainly not saying it is or isn't there. As someone often consumed by it I understand the strength. You just keep on what you have to.

      Simpsons: And you even said to your wife as she went into labor"SHHHH, not now, I have to see what happens with Bart, i mean Krabapel can't really be falling for a photo of Gordy Howe. I SAID, NOT NOW DEAR! HOLD HER in for at least another 10 minu... wait double episode? Sorry honey, this could take a little while longer."

      Seriously though, the Simpsons is an amazing program, that has been in my life longer than it hasn't. It's sort of weird when you think back on all of the attacks it got in its early days, and all those who said it was filth and a flash in the pan. I even love the new episodes, not as much as older ones, but still a lot. it is one of the absolute two best TV series ever in my book. One of only two that legitimately add the culture at large. I believe Joe Mantegna (Fat Tony himself) put it best, (paraphrase ahead), "saying you don't like the Simpsons is like saying you don't like dogs. People look at you and ask what the hell is wrong with you." again that was a paraphrase.

      (continued)

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    12. Comics and the Conscious at large: All too true, but I do worry that may become a problem. I actually just saw something on PBS that talked about Superheroes on TV, it ended by saying the actors created some of the most beloved characters of all time. That is great, but with the exception of Greatest American Hero, no they didn't All those shows were made because they had already been so popular in comics. The fact is, no matter what comics do Superheroes better. That is just a fact. No matter what you think the best adaption is, Dark KNight, or my favorite Batman Movie Mask of the phantasm which was a launch from Batman the animated series which I believe was the best, or the Superman TV show from the 50's or what, comics always do it better. No budget restrictions for effects, and the serialized nature and long history make them more complex and lovable than any TV show or movie franchise could hope. Most of all though, is the ability to internalize on a page. The thought balloons, captions, and still images can really get you into a characters head better than the best filmmakers could hope. I can't help but think about other writers who have had movies made off of their works. How many people have read a Flemming James Bond book? or even know who Ian Flemming is? Frankenstein and Mary Shelly? Mario Puzo wrote the book what movie was based off of? PKD's work has been adapted, how many movie goers would care? I mean me, but that is different. And, while this is sad, it is not as problematic. After all there are plenty of other prose books right? Superheroes and comics have a unique relationship. The two are almost symbiotic, both kept the other going. When comics where so big in the 50's and almost all superheroes where gone except the big three and even they whee chasing fads, comics where still looked at as as the superhero medium. As much as i would love more diversity in the medium, Superheroes will always be the supporting pillar.

      (continued)

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    13. As far as digitization goes, I believe I made a good portion of my views known when last we chatted about this, but I do have some more.

      I doubt whether digital will help, or if it won't. I sometimes feel like people (not you two) feel that, "hey kids love digital things" and that is enough. The fact is the internet also has a lot of info on history and an alarming number of High School seniors don't know who America fought in WWII, not the majority, but it is in double digits.. The people still have to go the sites, and that is the tricky part. Technology doesn't equal all out use. Whats more there is a whole hell of a lot of internet. At a Library or bookstore you could happen upon it, definitely at a newsstand. The world wide web shrinks those possibilities a bit.

      I think the future of new readers, and I do believe it is possible. Is exactly what Stan Lee said, Trade paperbacks in bookstores. However, this also has to be combined with fans doing there part. I think trades need to act like DVDs. so many people watch TV shows on DVD now, why can't comics follow a similar style? The Trades can be used as a springboard. If people like the stuff they can pick up the trades, or start picking up individual issues. Just like how people will watch shows on DVD and continue like that, or watch it on TV when they are caught up. Of coursefans are needed to,. We have to be more proactive in getting these into peoples hands. We just do, no matter what that is just a fact. There is a comic for everyone, there just is. That too is a fact. The hard part is getting it into there hands, despite how popular the movies, comics still have not REALLY been legitimized in most of the public's eyes (and maybe they shouldn't be) we have to do more.
      Yes though, no matter what price is key.

      (this is continued from two other posts)

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

      Marge:(looking at carousel horse) Oh No some one carve swastikas into your eyes!
      Homer: I'm sure it was just some guy, who was filled with hate.

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    14. While I'd agree that the comics have something unique to offer, I don't know that they inevitably do superheroes better.

      To be honest, it's been a long time since I've enjoyed a mainstream superhero comic book as much as BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, JUSTICE LEAGUE and JLU or BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD. And I don't think I've ever enjoyed an Iron Man or Avengers comic as much as the films!

      At the same time, I tend to be the most critical whenever the media adapations miss my favorite beats. I can't help but compare SPIDER-MAN 3 to your SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN run, JMD!

      And while I loved Dennis Leary as Captain Stacy, I wish they'd taken more inspiration from Lee/Romita: the detective who knows a lot more than he says. I wanted to scream, 'No, it's TAKE CARE OF GWEN' when he made Pete promise to stay away.

      So I guess the lesson is that I bring more baggage with the characters I've followed for over twenty years in comics.

      Well, that, and the only person who can ever compete with JMD is JMD. So if they do a KLH adapation, they better hire you as screenwriter.

      --David

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    15. I hear you, David. JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED was one of the best iterations of the League ever: smart, fun and accessible. Same for BRAVE AND THE BOLD which managed to find that perfect balance that made it work for kids and their parents, something not many superhero comics do any more. I'm also a big fan of the current GREEN LANTERN
      series, which has renewed my love of the character. As for the movies, the first IRON MAN was the first time I'd ever gone to a superhero movie and liked it better than the comic.

      All that said, there's a magic to the printed page and the world that can be created in a comic book that is utterly unique. When done right, it's unbeatable. The problem is, with so much super-heroing available on TV and movies and in video games, how do we get new readers to pick up a comic book?

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    16. I've gotta back you on this one JMD, the printed page is magic. Especially when you have it sequential, and dealing with the fantastic. Even more to with different identities. Internalization is powerful. Movies and TV who want to show inner thoughts have to rely on voice overs, which in turn can overpower the film if used too much. Comics don't have that issue, they are meant to be read. Dual identities are fascinating, but you really need to get in the head of the character. This allows you to really push a character, but still show them as being sane. How many great superhero moments have been a saved because we knew the thoughts of Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne? Moments where otherwise they would have looked crazy. Also when dealing with amazing things it can bring everything home. This is why I have trouble with a lot of Sci-fi movies, while still loving the written genre. They often lack humanity when dealing with the fantastic. An inability to truly capture the thoughts of an average man dealing with the unbelievable. That being said thee still are a lot of great sci-fi films that accomplish this just with more effort.
      Another strength lies on this very page, look at little Normie when Harry explains why he saved Pete. Yes you could do that in a movie, but a still image soaks up the emotion since it doesn't HAVE to jump to the next scene.
      Yes JLU was great and blew me away. I too love it more than any JLA story, but to be fair I was never really a fan of DC teams so I'll move to Batman. Batman:TAS was amazing, and while I do think it is lesser than comic adaptions, it is a razor edge, and would take a long time and a lot of space, so I'll move on. Look at the recently finished bat-trilogy, which I did like, but still find it flawed in comparison to source material. Batman Begind is the best in my mind, but as much as I did like Batman in the end of the movie, I just didn't love him. I couldn't grasp onto the character, despite how truly great Bale was. Dark Knight could have been an even better film if we got batman's thoughts, he definitely could not have seemed like a second banana to the Joker. Rises, I liked the movie, but hated an ending, I feel an internal thought to explain his choice would have vastly improved it. It just seemed so out of character, quitting 2 times I mean, even in the context of just the movies. The fact is dialouge to explain all this with enough deal to truly make sense would have been clunky.

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

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    17. As far as new readers go, I still back my trade as DVDs idea. I can't help thinking about something David said about them being most read when they where disposable, this is true. They where also most popular when they where not seen remotely considered accepted as an adult medium. The fact is they still aren't, but the industry seems to think they are, or at least close. I say turn away from that. Stop trying to make the world outside see he worth. In reality Sci-fi and Horror are not viewed the way comics think they should be. No nitch market really is. Keep making quality stories, just try to get the comics into the hands of those who will go along with it. Stop rewriting history and renumbering, the fact is the history that existed before you picked it up is part of what makes it interesting. Some people will get that, but I'm not sure how many are turned off by it, I really don't know. I will say that I didn't start at number one for almost any comic and I guess few out there these days can claim there first batman issue was even in the double digits.

      Also, I finally got my Phantom Stranger yesterday. Any chance you'll start plotting too?

      And, I conversation sparked at the store when I bough t that and a Captain America back issue that you may know the answer to, what is Mike Zeck going these days?

      Thank you for your time.

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

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    18. More food for thought, Jack. Thanks, as always, for your wonderful perspective on things.

      Re: Phantom Stranger. I had lunch with Dan Didio and editor Wil Moss yesterday. We're talking about me taking over full scripting of the book at some point, but nothing has been determined yet. That said, we bounced around some terrific ideas and I'm excited about what's coming up in the book.

      Re: Mike Zeck. Mike has apparently been very happy doing commissions. cover re-creations, etc. Check out his website: http://mikezeck.com/. I'd love to see Mike do more comics...and I'd love to work with him again. A wonderful guy and an extraordinary artist.

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    19. I do agree there's something unique and wonderful about comic books, and you've articulated that magic better than I ever could, Jack.

      I also think comics would be better off if they made a dramatic push to target kids as the primary audience.

      I was just thinking to myself the other day that I'm now carrying quite a bit of baggage when it comes to my comic book preferences. When I was six, I took everything Marvel published for the gospel. I never thought to myself, "Spider-Man would never do that!" If it was on the page it was true.

      It occurs to me that I've reached a point where it's easier to accept a narrative's faults than story beats that run against my personal preferences. And being all too human, I'm sometimes inclined to call everything that runs contrary to my preference a fault!

      Naturally, the best cure for this is to have a child around who's forming their own opinions. And when your ten year old son tells you that Christopher Nolan has a better take on Batman than Tim Burton, you tell him he's crazy. (As Keaton's Bruce Wayne says, "You wanna get nuts?! Let's get nuts!")

      --David

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    20. The best part about targeting kids, David, is that, if you do it right, you bring the adults along, too. Just ask J.K. Rowling and Dr. Seuss!

      I have enjoyed the Nolan Batman films but felt they could have used a nice infusion of Burton's sense of weirdness and, more important, playfulness. Somewhere theres a perfect balance between both approaches...and I'd love to see it on the screen.

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    21. At first I thought that was the direction Nolan was going. I assumed BATMAN BEGINS was his YEAR ONE, and Batman's world would get progressively weirder (and indeed more playful) with future installments. At the very least, I'd hoped he'd leave his world open-ended so others could build it on with a different take.

      (In my mind, the trilogy should have ended with Bruce Wayne attending Haley's Circus...thus opening the door for Robin and other fantastic elements.)

      And yes, great children's stories always bring adults along for the ride!

      --David

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    22. Well, I'm sure Batman will be back in a couple of years with a new take. Since we've gpne as far down the grim 'n' gritty rabbit hole as we can, I'm hoping a little playful lunacy will be injected into the next incarnation.

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    23. The problem with targeting kids, and I mean in all mediums, is that it seems that for the past 10-15 years people have been underestimating kids. The assumption is that things for kids have to be "kiddy" if that makes any sense. I remember always liking stuff with a bit of a darker edge, even as a kid. i think most kids do, the idea is that instead of taking out thing that like sex, the idea is to take a basic idea and water it down. look at Grimm's fairy tales, all of which are fairly dark. It didn't matter, no one thouht twice about reading them to their kids, but now you couldn't get away with it. The better idea, which i think is what you two where saying, is to make something good that kids can enjoy. which really isn't that hard, because even as an adult (perhaps especially because) I find the excess slaughter and sexuality in comics these days tiresome. Not offensive, tiresome... and superfluous.

      Also, I think you just helped me out with my point about comics being the superior place for superheroes. It seems that no matter what you do, as long as you keeo in mind what character you are working on, it is hard to go to big. A printed page just makes it easier to believe (animation too) than a live person doing it. Can you se a live action Mr. Mxyzptlx? Probably not, but the animated one from Superman:TAS is great and believable, fun and light but, believable. So, the fantastic is probably more restrained. I mean I like Robin in the comics, but on screen? This day in age I think even if it was a teenager around 16 or 17, I would find it a stretch. The other big issue with movies is that they don't really like the James Bond approach. The trend is going to be starting over, not recasting. Though I do think the Avengers movies may flip the trend. I would love a superhero movie that doesn't start at the origin, and give the character a back story. That is the real reason I couldn't bring myself to see Amazing Spider-man, as different as the origin may be, I just am sick of origin movies at this point. Can't we do a movie where the guy has been doing it for a few years and has become the who he is? I mean most of these origins they spend half a movie on where 6-10 pages. I got a bit off topic there, sorry.

      As far as Phantom Stranger goes, I hope that pans out. I would enjoy it.

      And thanks for the Zeck info.

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

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    24. I don't know, Jack: the "kiddie approach" may be true for mainstream kids' comics, but if you look at the best children's literature, it's always written UP not down, on a high literary level. You can say the same for the best of the Pixar and Disney movies: they enchant adults and children equally by not insulting anyone's intelligence and speaking to the hearts of everyone. Not an easy thing to do. But I do agree that in mainstream comics it's often "Let's do 'kiddie' versions of our characters!" or "Let's adapt that cartoon as a comic!"

      I've been on a crusade to do smart, literate kids comics for decades. ABADAZAD, STARDUST KID (which I originally sold to DC back in the 80's, then bought back because I saw that the market wouldn't support it), THE ADVENTURES OF AUGUSTA WIND are all (I hope!) examples of kid-friendly comics that appeal to adults, as well.

      I agree with you about not needing to start over with every reborn superhero franchise. I think the recent Spider-Man movie would have been helped by just retelling the origin in a couple of minutes and then jumping into the story.

      Enjoy the weekend!

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    25. True about children's literature. I tried to elude to that with my Grimm thoughts. However the mention of movies, admittedly I don't have kids so I don't see very many kid's movies unless they are ono TV opn a snowy day when I have nothing else to do, but it does seem that in the realm of movies and TV they are the exception to the rule. Honestly there are a few cartoons I will watch if I notice they are on(Avatar the Last Airbender, Young Justice, Korra) and as rare as that is, the advertisements during for other kids properties,which also pop up during non-kid oriented programming, it all seems... well largely, seems watered down.

      As far as reboots go, what does it say about our society that we there is a constant need, real or imagined, to reboot everything? The same is true in comics with the NEW 52. Some of it was good, a lot merely okay, some bad, but the need for a complete seems off, why not jut identify what you want to do and fix it instead of creating yet another new reality? In movies people claimed that kids who where born the year the first Spider-man movie came out where now ten and needed their own movie. Why? isn't that part of the fun of comics? why not transfer that. More than that James Bond took over 40 years before he needed a reboot. And besides, in the age of DVDs and cable buying movies, is that really a valid argument? I just have a minor felling that this is a minor symptom of a problem in our society and the lack of respect we have for history. Granted its pop culture history, but I did say a MINOR symptom.


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

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    26. Your thoughts about reboots are interesting and insightful, Jack. I think part of it comes from, as you said, a certain disrespect for history but, also, good old-fashioned marketing. If something is heralded as a "new" take, then (the thinking goes), the people who spent the previous decade spending their hard earned money going to see The Adventures of The Astonishing Leotard Man will dig into their pockets and come to see the rebooted one, too, because it's totally different. (Even if it's not.)

      Of course the reboots work sometimes. The Bond reboot being a prime example. But, as you point out, they waited forty years for that. I also understand, from a purely business POV, the need to clear the decks an get people excited again. If your franchise isn't making money, then your franchise will die. Of course, I'm a great believer in the idea that the surest way to make that money is simply to tell a GOOD STORY. But I may just be a starry-eyed idealist!

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    27. Re: origins. I'm a BIG fan of the way Tim Burton's BATMAN handled it. Open on action, with the hero already established. Cover the origin in a short flashback. I think the great thing about comic book origins is the simplicity. Everyone can tap into why Batman and Spider-Man and Superman are who they are.

      There's a dreamlike quality to a superhero origin. It isn't going from Point A to B to C. It's less about specifics than imagery: Martha Wayne's pearls falling to the ground, Bruce kneeling before the smoking corpses of his parents in a back alley, Peter Parker's realization that the burglar is the very man he let escape.

      These are moments that tap into our universal dream consciousness, plucked from the dark night we fear and the light we hope to become.

      The more specific the events leading up to the big emotional beats, the less powerful they are. It's like the 'skin' of the universe that you talk about in BROOKLYN DREAMS, JMD. The Bible talks about the 'shadow' and 'image' of God's law as opposed to the substance. In story as in life, the sooner we can dispense with the skin or the copy and get to the core experience, the better off we'll all be.

      --David

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    28. As far as reboots go, I've always had high hopes that we'd see a Spider-Man franchise that would follow the beats of his life with a different cast every few years. It would be a unique experiment, but I think it would be fun to break down different eras into trilogies with a changing cast: high school, the college days, grad school, and the marriage years.

      --David

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    29. Beautifully said, David. Have you ever considered a career as a writer? : )

      Delete
    30. Re: the reboots and watching Peter move through his life. That is a FANTASTIC idea!

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    31. Your views on the beats of a superheroes lives, I think is what I always figured would be the best idea, after all the new cast idea worked for 40 years with James bond. If you include the idea of shooting movies at the same time like Superman /Superman II and Lord of the Rings they could actually start adapting stories really well. After all, so many of the stories are dependent on a long history of a character.


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

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    32. It just so happens I'm working on that writing career, JMD!:)

      As far as Spider-Man goes, I've never felt you could get the full experience without seeing him grow through the years. A trilogy seems about right for every 'era,' asthat's when creative teams tend to tire of a franchise anyway. Then Hollywood could have its cake and eat it, too. Each trilogy would have the advantages of a reboot (new cast, creative team and direction for Peter) while benefitting from our investment in his continuing story.

      And I would certainly not object if they capped it off with a SPIDER-GIRL franchise!

      --David

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  7. Those pages are still breath taking. As you know, in Italy we have an old collected version of The Child Within and I love every single page.
    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. My pleasure. Yes, I recall the Italian collection of THE CHILD WITHIN. If only we had it here! Sigh...

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    2. I asked to an italian publisher why they don't reprint it in Italy too and it seems there are no digital sources to do it. I suppose that's the problem :(

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    3. Well, maybe Marvel will finally do it and create some digital files that Italy can use.

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  8. Funny story about SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #200: Shortly before the issue hit the stands, I got a make-ready of the issue (the unstapled printed pages, with no cover attached) and read it at home.

    The next day, I walked into the editor's office--I believe it was Rob Tokar--and I said to him, "I read SPECTACULAR #200 and I thought it was great, incredibly powerful. If I have any criticism, it's that it felt a little disjointed in places--some things happened a bit abruptly, without explanation, and there were some emotional beats that I felt were missing."

    Rob asked me to elaborate, so I did. And then he looked really confused. "All of that's in there," he told me. "No, it's not," I replied. "It's all fresh in my mind, I just read it last night." Then he handed me the final printed copy of the issue and told me to flip through it. So I did. And I saw a bunch of pages that I hadn't seen before.

    Rob and I figured out that the make-ready I had gotten was incomplete.

    Now think about this for a second--there were A BUNCH OF PAGES MISSING from the story, and it still packed a wallop.

    J.M. DeMatteis, ladies and gentlemen!

    P.S. After I read the complete issue, I stuck my head back into Rob's office and simply said, "Fantastic."

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    1. I've never heard that story, Glenn: thanks for sharing it. You made my Sunday!

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  9. this is a list from my comic shops website (though I did not do it) any works look familiar?


    http://www.backtothepast.tv/i-will-tell-you-74-top-5-forgotten-spider-man-stories/


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

    ReplyDelete
  10. well, not mine... the one I go to. I don't own it.

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  11. Thanks for posting this wonderful advice! After literally about 10 years of researching, note taking, and twiddling my thumbs, I finally started writing my comic book script a little while ago. I recently finished the first chapter, but there was something not quite right about it. My friend, who is also the artist I'm collaborating with, linked me to this article, and I've since gone back and started the whole thing again, going for a mix of "full script" and "Marvel Style". By dropping the dialogue and narration, I'm able to focus more on describing the mentality and emotion of the characters, hopefully letting the artwork speak for itself, and I feel that I have a far richer and more natural script as a result. Incidentally, 'Spectacular Spider-Man' #200 has remained possibly my favourite single issue of all time in any superhero comic, and I often revisit the death scene when I'm looking for inspiration. Now I can see what made that scene so powerful.

    Robert McKee, in his excellent screenwriting book, 'Story', makes a similar point to what you're making here. From the top of my head, he describes how most screenplay writers write their scripts with dialogue straight away, but that excellent screenplay writers don't add the dialogue until after the scene is strong enough to convey what it intends without dialogue at all. Obviously, this advice is just as relevant to comic book writers as it is to screenplay writers.

    Thanks again! And I just want to add that I'm living in perpetual hope waiting for "The Spectacular Spider-Man by J.M. DeMatteis" Omnibus! How is it possible that that run (not to mention everything else that you wrote for Spider-Man) hasn't been reprinted in its entirety yet?

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    1. Very glad the post was helpful to you, Myopicalan. Going wordless is, of course, just ONE way of doing things; I want to write a follow-up post exploring the many other options available. The great thing about comics is that they're not done one way or another, they can be done in EVERY way.

      Thanks for the kind words about my SPEC SPIDEY run. As I've said before, I would very much like to see it collected. One of these days, I hope...and the sooner the better, right?

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  12. Sorry for returning, but given the nature of your newer posts I didn't want go off topic.

    I have a quick question, every once in a while Marvel and DC talk bout diversifying their characters. Far out! However it is always racial, gander, or sexual orientation. That too is groovy. But, given the nature of our society, those things are becoming less divisive. Granted, they still exist, but it seems the growing concept is in thought. Ideas seem to be less represented, it seems to break down into just severity in how they believe justice should be handled. Why? Do comic company's or writers think that by having a character express an certain view point they could be thought to be endorsing it? For that matter, Marvel still bases the vast majority of new characters in New York, sure there are some exceptions, but what about region diversity? If you take someone from Chicago and someone from NYC with the same race, sexual orientaion, religion, and even political stance, they will still see thing differently. Doesn't it seem like a company that claims to be more "real world like" understand that superpowers probably wouldn't be centralized to one city? Sorry to put you oin the spot.

    Also, the new Phantom Stranger was interesting. I don'y know what was Didio and what was Dematteis, but it was odd seeing Spectre like that. I loved Ostrander's run, where Corrigan was certainly a bastard from time to time...or more, but this one seems almost nuts. It isn't bad, just will take some getting used too. I hope he is fleshed out more. Sad thing is, this Character seems like he is a perfect example for some classic heady, trippy, Dematteis plots. I hope to see only your name on it soon. Although, rumor has it that the last issue is proof that P.S. will be folding into Justice League Dark. I will say that I did like the Stranger questioning himself at the end. Is it just me or did this seem a tad rambley?

    As always, than you for your time.

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

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    1. Interesting point about regional diversity, Jack. It really applies to Marvel, but DC, of course, is filled with a variety of fictional cities. In fact, one of the nice things about the DCU is that all the heroes aren't stuffed into the same place. (That said, one of the fun things about the Marvel U is that they are!)

      Re: the Spectre. I wrote the Spectre series in the early 2000s—back when he was Hal Jordan—and it was a very different kind of Spectre: not the classic "god of vengeance" at all. I'll bet you could find those issues in back issue bins for a buck each.

      I'm having a great time working with Dan Didio on PHANTOM STRANGER—he's created a rich, deep mythos for the character. As for me taking the book over down the line, that's certainly been discussed.

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    2. Interesting thoughts on diversity, Jack. I think the superhero narrative just lends itself more naturally to ongoing dialogues about justice than, say, which sports teams the superheroes root for, or what their favorite local beer is. The action should be tied as closely to thematic concerns as possible. That's why Peter is buried alive on the same day he's worried about his mortality, and the distinction between him and Kraven is that of starting a new life with Mary Jane and suicide.

      I do think it's great when authors add a local flavor to a character or their setting. It was fun that Salt Lake City didn't look like New York, and Detective Raven was a Mormon and not a Catholic. But while those are all nice touches, they're not as integral to the narrative as THE CONFLICT. And if we're talking people who pummel supervillains on a daily basis, their disagreements will probably boil down to how far they're willing to take that fight.

      To put it another way, a character's vegetarianism would be a bigger plot point in a story about chefs than superheroes.

      I apologize that I haven't read PHANTOM STRANGER 5 yet, JMD. I couldn't pull up comixology this morning! Oh, well. I'll get to it soon I hope.

      As to Spectre's character, I'll admit I like both the 'spirit of redemption' and the 'spirit of vengeance' angle. I'm a sucker for a good revenge narrative, and even though I wouldn't make a steady diet of it I enjoy seeing villains get their comeuppance. So I'm fine if the Spectre occassionally wants to turn a mobster into a baseball and bat him to the moon.

      Ideally, justice is as much about freeing the offender from their guilt and setting them on a loving path as anything. I don't think God is angry, but love can certainly seem brutal depending on what angle you're seeing it from! From God's perspective, Bonnie and Clyde getting killed in a shootout might be the same as grounding a teenager for a week. I certainly don't mean to minimize death and violence so much as to embrace everyone's cosmic journey, and the many twists and turns we all take in our relationship with God.

      At any rate, it can be quite catharctic to see villains suffer in a fictional setting. Emphasis on fictional. I've never gotten any deep satisfaction out of hearing about a vile human who suffered and died, even when I felt it was necessary. It's good that we can work through these kinds of things in a fantastic setting.

      In short, the 'spirit of vengeance' vs. the 'spirit of redemption' seems to reflect my own conflicted feelings. I bet a lot of people feel the same, which is why it resonates so well.

      At any rate, I'm VERY excited to read the Spectre/PS throwdown, and I'll check back when I do!

      --David

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    3. Wise and insightful words as always, David. And it's so important to make a distinction between fictional vengeance and real-world vengeance. There's a reason they call it fantasy. That said, I could never have written the old incarnation of the Spectre if he'd been the spirit of vengeance; what I enjoyed was Hal Jordan's redemption journey and his transformation into a being of cosmic compassion.

      There are similar themes working their way through PHANTOM STRANGER and I hope to see them come to the fore n the coming months.

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    4. JMD: I could also find the Hal Jordan Spectres... in my home. I have made the point several times that I enjoyed your run not only for its own merit, but because of their own merit, built also because of Ostranders great run. The two work great together. Ostrander put so much work into making it a smart philosophical/theological read that no one could follow it. The nature of vengeance itself was highly discussed as well as how that did and did not relate to God, and what kind of person would be chosen for this role. In fact, the run was so well done and so beloved, that is why Corrigan was retired at the end, so no one would have to try follow. So they could do their own thing. I think making him the spirit of redemption was a better angle than just choosing someone new. I think the new out look complemented the old well. Also, the type of stories where both similar and very different in atmosphere and realm. I would recommend most people pick up both.

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

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    5. Sorry if I've forgotten our discussions of my SPECTRE run, Jack—and glad they're still there in your house!

      John Ostrander is an excellent writer: thoughtful, intelligent, imaginative. I'd like to see him doing some work for the new DCU.

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    6. Now I know that in a world of superheroes regional diversity and ideological variation isn't that big. But, I do think that it is in a serialized medium. Is Oliver Queen being a liberal that important? Hawkman a conservative? Batman raised wealthy apposed to Matt Murdock? How about Peter Parker being raised by his Aunt and uncle instead of his actual parents? In the context of the battle, often times no, but for the rest of the book, and for the internal monologues, for the interpersonal relationships? Yeah. For team books especially. I think it is a step toward really fleshing things out. It doesn't hel that both Marvel and C gloss over non-NYC type locals as often resorting to stereotypes. When ever somone who isn't from Southeast Michigan writes/draws a comic anywhere near Detroit I groan a little. Even in DC where they tend to vary things sometimes hit a regional stereotype for cities of major heroes (like a midwest city being more close minded than an coast city). Now to some extent this is fine, a story in the Detroit area probably will have a few people involved with the auto industry. A city in Kansas will be more conservative than New York or Boston. That doesn't mean every thing in the Motor City has to lioe up to that name (and certainly doesn't mean everyone is a criminal within 10 miles of the city), or that the people of Kansas all have to be taught that hating what is different than you is wrong (I remember a team book where one of the flashes was a bit close minded and gave his midwest upbringing as an example). Above all though, I really just think it is a lot of wasted potential. I don't think it is typical New York looking down on everyone as some might think. I just think it could really give more depth.

      However, I was also getting at a lack of nuance in ideology. A liberal is a liberal and a conservative is a conservative. A catholic is a catholic. why can't more characters have conflicting views? That happens all the time. For that matter, Marvel comics constantly says Mutants are hated by large groups of people, so why have no Avengers ever felt uncomfortable around them? Why does every liberal in a conservative writers work just have to be foolish? Why do conservatives written by liberals have to be monsters? obviously this is not always, but enough to take notice, and of course great writers side step a lot of this. But I do think if there are mandates by companies to diversify this should be taken into account. that is all.

      Also, Ostrander's run on Spectre really questioned the nature of vengeance well. As both concept and execution. One story that really pops into mind i one where Spectre kills, but not in his usual showy way, a gay-basher turned murderer. The boyfriend of the dead man then starts accusing Spectre of not doing more. This leads to the realization that Jim feels slightly uncomfortable around gay people. This is why he takes it easier. After all is said and done Jim goes on a journey of self discovery, and still feels uncomfortable about it, but not to the point he was. The point is though that the nature vengeance from person to person is examined. Also there are several that look at vengeance vs. wrath.

      Is i just me or am I really in a rambling state today?

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

      P.S. I really surreal thing is reading the letters page a few issues after the aforementioned Spectre issue that talks about it. Half of them are complementary for taking on a then untouched topic, and the opther half are just so angry. I can't help but wonder if Denny O'neil got letters like that for his GL/GA run's first issue or if Stan Lee did for the Falcon?

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    7. Or Marvel for that matter. He was also a very nice man when I met him a couple of years back.

      His Spectre run is highly recomended. Also I have a soft spot for Suicide Squad.

      And of course no need to be sorry. As far as I know I have never mentioned them here, though I may have, but god knows I'm not going back and checking. The point is I read them and they are great.

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

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

      Delete
    8. Yes, you're in a rambling state today, Jack, but it's a GOOD ramble!

      And I suspect that David might have more to say on this subject.

      I'm working on a short Superman story right now and I've got to get back to it: up. up and away!

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    9. Hey, Jack! You're right about the serial nature of comics. That's why characters who've been around longer have more human qualities. Over the years, writers toss in some fun throwaway line and it sticks. That's how we know Peter Parker can't hold his liquor, is a Mets fan, and his and MJ's song is "Kung Fu Fighting."

      It's also how we know that Steve Rogers has an immunity to liquor. Well, everyone but some upstart writer in the 80s who thought it would be cute to make Steve a little tipsy! Whatever happened to that guy? Probably had to spend the next thirty years writing literary masterpieces just to live down the shame! :)

      --David


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    10. Shhh. David, if he knows that's why he's writing them he may stop. Mum's the word. We can't disturb his delicate mental balance. For all we know that was subconscious.

      Also, Ostrader is great with westerns. I know he did one for marvel and one for DC. I wish he would do one for Dark Horse or something.


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

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  13. I wouldn't even know what to make of a JMD who wanted to shred villains in a cosmic cheese grater on a monthly basis!:)

    I'm very glad your interests and talents lie elsewhere.

    Look forward to kicking Stranger's redemption into full gear.

    --David

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    1. Just read PS5.

      WOW.

      It's everything a supernatural comic should be and more! Big on action, drama and humor.

      And I love that the cutest little manifestation of God that's ever been seen is being referred to online as the 'Holy Terrier'!

      Quick question: is Jim Corrigan still from the 30s or is his origin now set in the present day?

      Anyway, JMD, GREAT JOB! It's the kind of comic I'm proud to share with my son: thoughtful, humane, funny, and action-packed!

      Did I mention that I LOVE THIS COMIC?!

      Yeah, I probably covered that already.

      Oh, and Jack, put me down as someone who really appreciates your 'rants.' Now that we've both read PS5, we can talk about, wait for it- -

      HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS COMIC!

      Or, you know, other stuff.

      Best!

      David

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    2. SO glad you liked it, David. Re: Corrigan. I think he's a modern day Corrigan, not a Corrigan who's been around since the 30's. But, honestly, I can't swear to it!

      Hope you enjoy what's coming up as much as this issue.

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    3. Yes Corrigan is a modern one not the 30's which i personally think make him miss something, but we all have to adjust with the new 52 right? But personally I always liked Corrigan seeming like a refugee from a 30's pulp or 40's/50's film noir. It was sort of a reverse Captain America in personality, but similar in idea.

      Also thanks for the kind words. It's good to someone appreciates them. But I prefer the term ramble to rant... it makes me sound slightly less like I should be in an asylum. THE MEN IN WHITE WITH BUTTERFLY NETS WILL NEVER CATCH ME I SAY!!


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

      Also, JMD, another recommendation for comics is surprisingly, "Before Watchmen: Minutemen." Just wrapped up a couple of weeks ago an was actually very well done.



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    4. I've heard good things about the BEFORE WATCHMEN books, Jack. Who's the creative team?

      No more "rant," only "ramble" from here on! Everyone got that clear? : )

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    5. Minutemen: Darwyn Cooke.
      Silk Spectre: Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner
      Comedian: Brian Azzarello and J.G. Jones
      Nite Owl: J. Michael Straczynski and Andy Kubert
      Ozymandias: Len Wein and Jae Lee
      Rorshach:Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo
      Doctor Manhattan: J. Michael Straczynski and Adam Hughes
      Moloch: J. Michael Straczynski and Eduardo Risso
      Dollar Bill: Len Wein and Steve Rude

      Minutemen is by far the best in my eyes. To be fair thought the characters where less used in the original stoy so there is more leeway. I saw the ending coming three issues early, but it was still very good. Nite owl, Silhouette, and Mothman are done very well and have me literally wanting more.

      Silk Spectre: Also very good exploration into the second Silk Spectres life. Also, full of hippie fun. Great character work.

      Comedian is some what of a wash. 2 issues remain and it has yet to grab me. It is strange. They are trying to humanize a character by explaining how h went bad. But, he tried to rape a woman 20 years earlier than the story opens up. IN my eyes not really good nor bad. It just is.

      Nite Owl was the biggest disappointment. Partially because he was my favorite character in the original series. I feel like they decided to throw in a lot of things that they felt a Watchmen character needed, but this one didn't. More than that though is the fact Rorscach is in it and takes up far too much of the story.It has concluded

      Ozymandias so far is just showing a history that was largely explained in the original comic. It really doesn't feel like it needed to be. 2 issues remain

      Rorschach is actually pretty good and has a very 70's seedy filthy, gritty crime movie feel 1 issue remains

      Dr. Manhattan is interesting so far. One issue is left and after a slow start in issue two it becomes far more interesting.

      Moloch was more or less half a story that had been yold in a million comics before and half kinda needless.

      Dollar Bill could have been great, but as interesting as Len Wein made his origins. The book was still basically just his origins and bit more.

      Halfway through I reread the original to see if my memories held true for the history Moore set down. They did. To be fair though, I have fairly complex views on Watchmen. And of course these are just my opinions (except for the creative teams, those are fact)I cannot say they will hold true for everyone. Just thought I would try to give a bit more as the kids say.

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

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    6. Thanks for filling me in, Jack. VERY much appreciated: you're a good man!

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  14. I tend to agree about the Spectre, Jack. I love the idea that he lived and died at the height of the Untouchables era, which naturally shaped his idea of justice. It's an interesting commentary on how our society has changed. But at the end of the day, it's not like a modern day cop can't view the world in a similar vein. The Phantom Stranger/ Spectre throwdown certainly didn't suffer for the difference!

    You know, it's weird, but I've only read WATCHMEN once and I never felt the urge to read it again. When it comes to 1986-87, give me KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT, BATMAN: YEAR ONE, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS or BORN AGAIN any day of the week! And I find "What Do You Get For the Man Who Has Everything?" a much richer concept. Though I'll admit I haven't read the original comic, but the JLU episode has me in tears every time!

    --David

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    1. Agreed, it is a minor plot point, and it didn't run the story at all. It's just one of those things that gets rewritten that you miss.

      Honestly, I never reread Watchmen again until that. I just wanted to re-familiarize myself for the sake of the new min series. Although technically I cheated. You see, I mistyped. Actually I just watched the motion comic online. Partially because as unpopular a thought as this is, I'm not really a raving lunatic about the series some are. Sure, I appreciate it for what it is, but i also have some problems with it as a story. I don't so much have a problem with quality, but rather with voice. I think given what the story was people sometimes are not willing to look at it objectively as a story. Some of the characterization isn't so much bad as not really my cup of tea. And some just straight up irk me. In the end i find the 40+ years of back story Moore did more impressive than the story. For all the talk about it being a departure from "adolescence Power fantasy,"
      I found it to be the most clear example of it. I think of Watchmen as the comic you write in your head when your 15 years old, sitting bored in English class, and you hate the world... just done very well. And of course there is nothing wrong with that. Nor is anyone having a different opinion than me on this.Sorry, I don't any one will come after me for this, but it has happened in real life for having this opinion and i do not want JMD's blog turning into a fire fight. Gotta cover my bases


      Conversely, I have read "Kraven's Last Hunt" multiple times, and have really been meaning to reread Daredevil Born Again. Meanwhile a couple of guys at the comic shop I frequent reread Watchmen every year. I don't get it either, but hey, that's their thing and that's cool... except when they jump down my throught.

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

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    2. The thing to remember about WATCHMAN, Jack, is that it was the storyTELLING as much as, and perhaps more than, the story itself that people found revolutionary at the time.

      KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT? Sounds familiar. Is that a good one? : )

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    3. Jack,

      Don't get me wrong. I'm much more fond of Jim Corrigan being a 30s cop. Although the idea that he's 'always' been the Spectre could be a back door. No reason why it couldn't eventually be revealed that he's been reincarnated a time or two! That might be cool. Maybe the New 52 trapped him in this seemingly unwinnable cycle, and on some level he knows he was supposed to find peace like he did when Ostrander's run wrapped up. Spectre's always been aware of stuff like CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, right? I

      As far as WATCHMEN goes, I tend to agree with your analysis. I guess I wasn't especially fond of the tone. I'm not opposed to it, either, it just felt a bit cynical by comparison to stories like "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" or "What Do You Get For the Man Who Has Everything?" or even his Swamp Thing run, stories which had some of the fire and anger of WATCHMEN but with more love, hope and humanity. That's just my opinion.

      And JMD, I can easily see how the storytelling would be revolutionary. Moore's use of panel space (especially the nine panel page) is very cool. I don't know if you were directly inspired by Moore, but I remember some powerful sequences like that in your SSM run, as well as in SAVIOR 28 (I'm thinking the scene where Jimmy goes into the White House for a private meeting). Great stuff.

      And KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT? I don't know. I heard it borrowed pretty shamelessly from FEARFUL SYMMETRY! :)

      --David

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    4. Believe it or not, David, one of my inspirations for the panel repetition motif wasn't Moore but Harvey Pekar, who would often use repeated, static, talking head images (sometimes with minute changes of expression) in AMERICAN SPLENDOR. It got me thinking about the power of repeating an image...and I took it in my own direction from there.

      FEARFUL SYMMETRY? Wasn't that a William Blake graphic novel?

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    5. Ah! Cool. I'm not real familiar with Pekar.

      And I think you're confused. FEARFUL SYMMETRY was actually written by a former Monty Python troupe member, the same guy that got Captain America drunk. And it was originally a comedic romp titled, IT'S JUST A FLESH WOUND!

      --David

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  15. J.M. --

    I spent 16 years in television news, and I can't help but wonder now how much of what I did in my craft was subconsciously inspired by those comics I read. Some of my best work as a reporter sprang from minimalism. I let the videographer do what they do to the best of their ability, and then stitch around the transitions that needed it -- or brush through, looking for areas where a central theme might be reinforced.

    So much of today's news is driven by reporters trying to be seen as Amazing Reporters and Wordsmiths! instead of serving the story by the lightest of touch, and fading into the background.

    Thanks for sharing your craft, and know that your words apply to far more than entertainment and pulp. You speak of universal truths.

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    1. You're very welcome, Ike. Soon as I have some time I want to do a follow-up post that continues to explore this aspect of the craft.

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  16. On a different note, SAVIOR 28 and BROOKLYN DREAMS are now up on comixology for $8 and $10 respectively. Don't know how long they've been up, but I just noticed last night.

    --David

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    1. Been out of town for a week, David, and just saw this. Thanks for the info!

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  17. Hello, Mr. DeMatteis! I have been a fan of yours for many years. One of the very first comic books I read as a kid was Captain America #278.

    I am also a huge fan of Sal Buscema. And I agree, he did some of the finest work of his career on Spectacular Spider-Man in the late 1980s to early 90s, especially when you were writing the title. I think your plots must have really inspired Sal. He is such an underrated artist. When I want to point out to people just how good he really is, one of the examples I cite is his collaboration with you.

    Oh, yes, by the way, I just did a write-up on "Kraven's Last Hunt" on my blog. At some point I hope I have an opportunity to do follow-up pieces on "Soul of the Hunter" and your excellent run on Spectacular with Sal.

    http://benjaminherman.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/comic-book-reviews-spider-man-kravens-last-hunt/

    Thank you very much for your time, sir!

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    1. Thanks for checking in, Ben. I have TREMENDOUS respect and admiration for Sal Buscema and I'll take any opportunity to sing his praises. What a talent—and what a nice man. I'm glad that you, too, are a major Sal-fan.

      I keep hoping that the Spidey stories Sal and I did together will be collected in a big fat omnibus edition.

      I'll zap on over and read your KLH piece right now.

      Feel free to check back in any time. One of the things I love about this site is that it gives me the chance to really communicate with my readers.

      All the best -- JMD

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  18. This is slightly off topic but I thought I'ld ask it anyway since it's been on my mind for quite a while. When Marvel reprints a writer's/artist's past work in graphic novel format (Such as the Marvel Classic GNs) do they get any sort of royalties?
    The reason I ask is because my brother and I grew up treasuring the work that Don Rosa did at Disney. We would buy (whenever we could find it) his graphic novels brand new. Then I recently found out that writer/artist Don Rosa has never received any money from his work once it's been reprinted.
    Can you tell me what Marvel's policy on payments for reprints are? If I buy those do I actually support the people who worked on the book?

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    1. Hi, Eve: nice to hear from you. In answer to your question, both Marvel and DC pay us royalties on all collected editions. And a good thing, too! : )

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  19. Beautiful sequence and one of my all time favorite runs of Spidey. Through a representative, I invited Mr. Buscema to TX Comicon but it seems he no longer does conventions. Maybe I'll ask again next year. :-)

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    1. It would be great if you could get him, Nasser. He's an wonderful, and very interesting, guy who'd make a (pun intended) spectacular guest.

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  20. Hello!

    I was actually searching for the original art pages of this issue when I stumbled on to here.
    This is hands down my Favourite Spidey Story ever! I recall my preteen self reading this and thinking this was the first comic to ever make me cry.

    Thank you for writing this story and the insight to its creation...now if you can point me to the pages that would be fantastic! lol

    Cheers
    Dat

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    1. DEEP thanks for the kind words, Dat. I'm delighted that people still remember this story after all these years.

      As for the pages—I have no idea if Sal still has them or if they were sold long ago. Sorry.

      Thanks for checking in at Creation Point! JMD

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