SEMI-REGULAR MUSINGS FROM THE SEMI-REGULAR MIND OF WRITER J.M. DeMATTEIS
Monday, May 6, 2013
I had a fantastic time at WonderCon this year—but, for all the fun I had meeting fans, participating in panels and hanging out with fellow professionals, the highlight of the convention was unquestionably the Spotlight Panel I did on Easter Sunday. Having a chance to spend an hour with my son, Cody (who, come to think of it, was born on Easter Sunday, 1980), discussing the highlights of my career, delighted me beyond words. Here, for your listening and dancing pleasure, is the full audio of the panel (minus a minute or so at the top). Thanks again to Cody for making the audio available—and for being both a superb interviewer and a great guy.
Posted by J.M. DeMatteis at 2:09 PM
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Great stuff, JMD! Posting from phone btw. Brevity is the soul of texting...ReplyDelete
Thanks, David. As you can tell from listening to my lengthy answers, brevity isn't always my strong point!Delete
35 words per panel__ha!Delete
Well, I did it back then!Delete
And did it well! I think that compression served you well when you found your voice. And I like verbosity, especially yours, which tends to flow like poetry.Delete
I'd like that in writing, David, so I can show it to my editors! : )Delete
It might help smooth things over with your letterer too!ReplyDelete
I'm sure I've driven a few of them over the edge!Delete
There's your next epic! Your letterer turns villain and you end on a silent issue.ReplyDelete
Or the words just VANISH halfway through a long Giffen-DeMatteis dialogue exchange.Delete
Brilliant! And a special no prize for any reader who can infer what was said.ReplyDelete
Oh, and ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #4 was (no surprise) fantastic.ReplyDelete
Any special significance to the name Eli Carter?
Glad you enjoyed it, David. Had a blast writing it...and what an art team!Delete
It's been a while—I wrote it back in February—but I think Eli came from Elias, which is Walt Disney's middle name. As for Carter, I think there may have been some significance there, too, but I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember!
Cool. President Carter, maybe? Great job and hope to see more AoS from you soon. And yes, super art!ReplyDelete
Definitely not Jimmy Carter. Oh, well...it's gone now. If I ever remember, I'll let you know!Delete
And, yes, I'd love to do more.
Really insightful, JM. Apparently we have the musician thing in common; the guitarist in my old band was waaayyyy naturally talented but the singer, not so much. But he worked at it. And over time, he still sucked as a singer but as an entertaining frontman he had no equal. Ah, memories.ReplyDelete
But I just wanted to poke my head in the door and say I got my Occupy Comics #1 today and read your entry. Excellent all the way-- pretty different from what everyone else tossed into the hat, a ballsy move considering the subject matter (dig the Vonnegut line...and your "Norman McCay meets the Watcher" type narrative.) I think anger's fine; it can be a positive emotion that can cause positive change, whether socially or internally, but hate...such an easy go-to reaction, emotion without conscience. Eh, I could go on and on but space is limited and the words aren't under the fingers today, I guess. In closing: for what it's worth, a dual thumbs-up from me:)
Thank you, Brian. I'm very happy with the way that story turned out. The narrative was really a continuation of the technique I used in BROOKLYN DREAMS, where I, essentially, stepped in to guide the reader through the story. And my buddy, Mike Cavallaro, knocked it out of the part with the art.Delete
Re: anger. I've learned, over the years, that anger can be a good thing or a bad thing: it all depends on how we use it. Used wisely, it can be harnessed to get things done. Used unwisely, unleashed without control, it can be disastrous. But even there, the key (for me) is compassion. You can express your anger and STILL have compassion for the person you're expressing it to. No need to make them the enemy.
I don't claim to be an expert at this, by the way; but it's a truth that guides me.
Re: the guitarist and the singer. I think I'm going to write a post about how important will is in the creative life. I don't think it's talked about enough. I just taught a writing workshop and I spent a lot of time stressing that point.
Thanks for checking in! Best -- JMD
Will is SO important. You go through seemingly infinite stretches where you're beating your head against the wall trying to hammer out a few sentences...and then something clicks from the other side and you're busting out pages by the minute. But if you don't tough it out then it's like the receiver's off the hook when the call comes in. Or, you know, your cell phone battery's not charged...I hate to date myself with that first metaphor!ReplyDelete
Question on a different note, JMD: who do you think was the last musician to make an almost universal American impact when there were fewer outlets and bigger audiences? And the same with a television show?
Agreed, David. And the same will that gets you through your work has to be focused on getting that work out into the world. Not always easy...but the rewards are incalculable.Delete
As for universal impact: In many ways, the Beatles were the last to hit the scene in that way. When they appeared, radio stations played everything—Sinatra, Motown, Beach Boys, girl groups, you name it—so that one act could reach that mass audience and transform it via that very broad pipeline.
Even by the time someone like Michael Jackson had come along—and he certainly had a huge reach—he couldn't reach the entire pop audience in one shot. Things had already fragmented enough that you could listen to stations that rarely, if ever, played a Jackson tune.
As for TV shows...that's a good question. MASH? Cheers? Perhaps SEINFELD was the last gasp—although I don't think it ever had MASH-level ratings, because the fragmenting had already begun and cable was part of the scene. That said, if you look at the ratings of today's "hits," SEINFELD was probably double that. Or more.
For that matter, the ratings STAR TREK had when it was cancelled in 1968 would no doubt make it THE monster hit of today.
That's funny, I probably would have said Michael Jackson for music and MASH or THE COSBY SHOW for television.ReplyDelete
But then, I'm a child of the 80s, and Michael Jackson felt pretty inescapable at the time! I can't think of anyone comparable.
If memory serves, MASH still holds the highest ratings for a television show because of the finale, exceeded only by the Super Bowl. There was actually a bit on PINKY AND THE BRAIN about it. Pinky hatched a plot to air a television show that would get big ratings because he wanted every American toilet to flush simultaneously during the commercial break!
SEINFELD is interesting because it's a ratings smash but I don't think it had the universal appeal of MASH. You either 'got' the humor or you didn't, and those who didn't needn't ever bother with SEINFELD again.
I also wonder if STAR TREK would have become such a phenomenon if there hadn't been such a huge buildup between its cancellation and syndication. There's something to the idea of cultural currency, and a fanbase is more passionate when it occurs to them that a show really could disappear from the airwaves forever. Now that idea is virtually inconceivable since everything hits DVD and Blu-Ray.
For my own part, I remember when comics were the same way. If memory serves, I took my parents hunting for a few issues of KLH because it was selling out in several stores. And it wasn't like I could just sit back and wait six months for a trade paperback!
Interesting point about STAR TREK. It really was syndication—the fact that so many of us were tuning in every single night at 6 to watch the show—that made TREK a pop culture phenomenon. That, in turn, begat the frenzy to bring back the show. That said, I've read, in several places, that if demographics as we know them today were around in '69 (not '68 as I said in my previous answer), NBC would have left STAR TREK on the air. But those demographics didn't come into common use for another year or two after the show's cancellation.Delete
As for comics—once upon a time, every neighborhood had several, easily accessible stores that carried them. I only had to walk a couple of blocks to my local candy store to pick up every Marvel and DC I needed. I wonder how that breakdown impacted sales?
Comics shops are great, but they're not universal. (The closest one to where I live is a half hour drive.) Perhaps, once digital comics become the norm, we'll get back to that: every computer will serve as the local candy store. Although there's something to be said for taking that walk and standing in front of the rack making the Big Decisions about which titles to buy today.
Media, as Cody said in the WonderCon interview, has become "granulated." In many ways it's a great thing, in others not-so great.
Sad to say I haven't had much time to see your site lately, but I'm glad to see Cody got the audio of the WonderCon panel! I've already heard it once...when I was there...but I'll gladly play this on the iPhone when I'm at work soon to listen again, and perhaps catch something I missed the first time around!ReplyDelete
Hope all goes well with you. :)
All is indeed well, Ken. Hope you're doing well, too!Delete