Friday, June 14, 2013


This Sunday, June 16th, I'll be appearing at the Albany Comic Con—a wonderful one-day show that's as far from the crowds and madness of SDCC and other comics mega-shows as you can imagine.  (Not knocking those shows at all: there's something to be said for crowds and madness.)  It's an intimate day where fans and creators can mingle and talk about...well, just about anything they'd like.  I'll be doing a panel in the afternoon—along with Ron Marz and David Rodriguez—called "The Art of Story"; but mostly I'll be hanging out at my table talking to fans.  If you're in the area, come join us. Admission is—take a deep breath, please—$5.00.  If that's not a bargain, I don't know what is!

Next weekend (June 21st—23rd), I'll be in San Antonio for Texas Comicon—along with Steve Niles, Bernie Wrightson, Herb Trimpe, Geoff Darrow and many others—for another three days of signing, chatting and celebrating the medium we all love. The folks at TC have been incredibly warm and welcoming and I'm looking forward to attending a Texas convention for the first time since the 1980's.  (Which was only five or ten minutes ago, right?)  I'm also looking forward to visiting the Alamo, a place that loomed large in my mind when I was a cowboy-worshippin' young 'un, wandering the plains of Brooklyn.  (I must have read this book at least six times when I was a kid.)  If you live in or near San Antonio, please come by—and bring lots of books for me to sign.

Before I go, a quick reminder that next week also brings the release (in comics shops, Amazon gets it a little later) of the Adventures of Augusta Wind collected edition, a beautiful hardcover from those fine folks at IDW Publishing.  I'm very proud of this story and the more people know about it, and buy the collection, the better the chance that we'll be back with another series next year.


  1. You know Dematteis, none of these comic shows are in the Detroit area, or close enough to Detroit to drive.

    Speaking of this corner of the world, there is something I would like to run by a member of the comic book world:

    So, I love the Golden Age Superman, but the silver age and beyond... well, the stories I liked were rare. Superman in the Silver years were too powerful, and too much of a boyscout, and I believe there is a very real reason for why. Something that involves a comic company cover up...

    So, once I heard someone say that Superman was showing that anyone could land somewhere and be raised with traditional midwestern values, and be, well that.

    No problem with that. It also isn't surprising either Siegel and Shuster were mid-western boys. Superman originally even operated out of Cleveland. And they wrote the man of steel accordingly. The Superman of the golden age acts much like a mid-westerner raised with superpowers to be. The Civil and social responsibilities seem right on par, as well as distrust for certain figures the Man of Tomorrow ran into in those early years.

    In the Silver Age however, the Man of Steel reads more like a character of a midwesterner. Instead of setting his sights on moral justice it becomes do-goodery. He becomes more naive, and and wide-eyed. Even his dealings with Lois LAne seem too wholesome. It is like someone from the Northeast saw the words Kansas and dusted off the old "country mouse" stereotype.

    It seems strange that people often mention Batman operating in New York before Gotham, but few recall, Cleveland being Clark and Lois's pre-Metropolis home. All the talk of Jerry's Jewish background, and being the son of an immigrant come into play as inspiration. His pulp-geek teenage years are recalled, but no one ever wonders how being from the midwest affected him.

    It is worth noting the Man of Steel starts to go soft and loose his edge about the time that Siegel is fired from the strip. I don't think it was malice, but I do think this is an interesting point for discussion.

    Sorry if I am wrong.

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

    1. Oh, wait. I just did a little research and discovered that the original intent was to set Superman's stories in Cleveland, then it was changed to Metropolis by the time he made his debut. And apparently in Supes's second adventure, they mistakenly referred to Kent's newspaper as the Cleveland Evening News. Fascinating!

  2. I love a lot of the Silver Age Superman stories, Jack—the late fifties/early sixties era—because of their combination of innocence and imagination. That's the era when Superman's mythology was really fleshed out and so many of the elements we've come to love flowered. There may not have been much characterization, as we're used to it today, but there were enough concepts in an 11 page Superman story to fill out a six issue mini series using the current methods. AND they were kid-friendly, low on violence and FUN. I'm also inordinately fond of Wayne Boring and Curt Swan.

    When was Superman operating out of Cleveland? I've never heard that!

    1. My experience with the Silver Age Superman was second hand: my mom recounted her favorite stories and of course the Donner films channeled the wonder, innocence and joy that wasn't really present in the Golden Age.

      I remember my mom telling me stories like the one where Superman is destined to be saved by "LL"--but Lois Lane, Lana Lang and even Lex Luthor are nowhere to be found! Turns out he's saved by a Little Leaguer. Maybe the story seems silly by modern standards, but the concept strikes me as clever and fun even today.

      I feel like the key ingredient to the Superman mythos is joy. That doesn't mean a lack of drama. Donner's Superman had as many reasons to be anxious as Peter Parker, after all. But at the end of the day, Donner's Superman was the kind of guy who could be happy for YOU even if he didn't quite get the life he dreamed of with Lois. That's what it said to me when he would wink and fly into space. And he loved life even when it didn't go his way, just like he loved people even when he couldn't understand them.

      I like the challenge that Superman's powers present because the story has to be about something other than hitting stuff. And I say that as a guy who loves it when he hits stuff! The Superman/Zod fight is one of the highlights of my film experiences of all time. But it's characterized not just by the action but Superman's wit ("Care to step into my office, Zod?") and his deep concern for everyone.

      I like the Golden Age characterization, too, but it kind of pales in comparison to the innocence and joy of the Silver Age. There's something much deeper about Silver Age Superman than he gets credit for. He's not naive, not by a long shot. He knows who Luthor is and accepts it. At the same time, it never really stops surprising him that someone could waste their potential like that and hurt other people. (Although also worth noting that the SA gave us several 'imaginary' Luthors who weren't evil.)

      I think I like the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN digital so much because it's the Silver Age Superman filtered through modern storytelling sensibilities.

      But just so you know, Jack, I really dig Golden Age Supes, too! Just not as much as Silver Age, I suppose: or the Silver Age as seen through modern eyes.

      Then again, I really love the DC animated version, and I guess in some ways he's a nice blend of Gold and Silver. He starts off kind of Golden Age and then his adventures get more fantastic in JUSTICE LEAGUE and JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED.

      When it comes to a hero seen through a Golden Age lens, I really loved Burton's Batman, which was more inspired by his pulp days than anything O'Neil was doing at the time.

    2. Just to sum up my thoughts:

      Is someone asked, "Would you go back and time and kill baby Hitler?" then I think Golden Age Superman says yes, Modern Age Superman points out the danger to the timestream, and Silver Age Superman asks the obvious question: "Why not alter history to make him a better person?"

    3. Well said, as always, David. Innocence, magic, hope. It was all there. And Christopher Reeve certainly embodied those elements. (And so did George Reeves: he, like Christopher, knew that Superman's greatest powers were his charm and decency.)

      I have a real soft spot in my heart for Silver Age Supes, but I have to say that, when I discovered the early stories, I was blown away by them. The one where Superman gets the army after him so they'll blow up the Metropolis slums and rebuild them is one of the best Superman stories ever.

    4. "Why not make him a better person"? Brilliant!

    5. Thanks, JMD. As many times as sci-fi vehicles have covered "baby Hitler," I can't think of anyone who's come at it from that angle...

      Sounds like I need some good TPB recommendations for Golden and Silver Age Supes from you and Jack!

    6. Here's a list of DC's SHOWCASE PRESENTS collections, broken down by year. Pick up one of the Superman collections from the late fifties/early sixties era and I think you'll do fine:

  3. OH NO! DAvid, it seems we have one of our rare disagreements. But not a spiteful one... not by a long shot, so it is okay.

    it's funny that you mention mothers. My mother was born at the perfect time to see Superman in the Silver age... a time when many people say it was at its best.

    My earliest memories of Superman are reruns of the George Reeves show and the Max Fleisher cartons. And I loved them! That's right admitted not of a fan of Superman for the most part loved them. They are probably the reason I liked comic books in the first place, even though it was Marvel I first started reading, but the ideas of Superman started here.

    However I eventually left him behind. Sure the later TImm/Dini stuff drew my attention when I saw it, but it never grabbed me like Batman: TAS (However my first introduction to the Dark Knight was the Adam West film, so don't think I can't appreciate the lighter side). It wasn't until later I got the book "Men of Tomorrow: Geeks Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book" as a gift. The book was pretty good, but while it did give an overview of comics, it was also largely a biography of Jerry Seigel at times. This got me interested in Superman. Not long afterward I picked up a few books reprinting the Golden age Superman. And loved it!

    So because of that I looked at the Silver age Superman. I mean if my mother loved them, couldn't I? NO! I wanted, I did. I even appreciated the pure imagination. It was breathtaking at times, but the actual Man of Steel? Nope, I just couldn't do it.

    Too be continued...


  4. Now if I may, I would like to explain why the Silver Age of the man of Steel falls flatter than the previous incarnation.

    The fact is the George Reeves Superman had a little bit more of an edge to him than the Silver Age Superman, was he up to par with the Man of Tomorrow? no, but he was sort of a transitional point.

    It is in someways unfair. Most non-Marvel superheroes lacked personality. But by God, the Golden Age Superman had it. He had a reason for what he did. The Golden Age Superman reacted to injustices, the Silver Age one... it was more of a protector. Keeper of the status quo. Fine. Times change. I get that. The 30s were a time when injustice seemed come from everywhere, the 50s were at least seemingly controlled. But that whole big blue boyscout thing seems to be more of a lack of personality, than a trait of his. Captain America is pure and good, but I love reading abut him because of his depth.

    Superman of the Silver Age also seems to be more defined by his romantic life. I remember Defalco saying in an interview it seemed all he ever seemed to do was keep his ID a secret from Lois Lane.

    The term that really describes it is kid friendly though, as you said Dematteis. The fact is I hate that phrase, because it means nothing. Sure it does to the person saying it, but there is no REAL overall view of it. The fact is Superman became a victim of the idea. Around 1950 the view of what kids could take was radically changed. Not only do comics show this, but think, weren't Grimm's fairy tales meant for kids? Those are a lot darker than a lot of Adult fantasy these days. The Hobbit was originally a story told to Tolkien's kids. The fact is the Baby boomers were the largest step up in living ever! From a world gripped by Depression and war, where crime and sickness ran rampant to one where the war was cold, vaccines had taken care of many formerly common diseases, Pay was good and crime levels dropped off quite a bit. Kids were kids. So things changed to reflect this new idea, hy? well that is for debate.

    The comic industry turned Superman into something else to fit this. And later on the Wertham affair, only served to put the fear of God into creators for putting darker tones in. Even tones that may not be considered really that dark.

    Kids can take dark ideas. In fact my guess is for most people the darker elements of their childhood entertainment are what the remember most. The drama depends on it. Now I don't mean just horrible murders, but certainly a fearful threat. How many kids listened to the Shadow radio drama? I have always been a bit vague on what age Pulps were targeted for, they always seemed adolescent and adult, but certainly the radio show was heard by kids

    However, you mentioned violence, okay Stan Lee talked about the difference between action and violence. Great I buy it, I love action and hate violence, but what about emotional violence? There is something very dysfunctional about that triangle of Superman, Lois and LAna. Lana is always runner up, Superman can't trust either fully because of the lengths they go to to unravel his ID, and Lois is a bitch. There I said it Lois Lane is a bitch and has been since word one in '38. No one could ever want that in their life full time. This is a bit emotionally violent. And not in a looking back way, I mean they always wind up alone. After seeing just amount of covers one after another you can't help but go, "that's so sad."

    Mow I don't think you meant this, but "kid friendly" is often code for watered down, especially in stakes of threat and lacking in character. And that is what the Silver AGe Superman became. His personality was eroded, and while the stories were very imaginative, the stakes were never there, partly because he was just too powerful.

    And to clarify I meant naive, more as a wide-eyed innocent, not lacking in belief of evil.

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


  5. Te fact is Super man of the Golden era showed he could be even thought provoking, and have a personality you like. The Silver age one was more of a blank slate so the readers could imagine themselves doing what he did. But the way they portrayed that seem too much like a stereotype of what many people on the Coats think what lies between must be like. And before you think I am just taking offense, I am not sure how many people really think of Detroit when they here midwest, and few probably think of us as wide-eyed innocents, though we have our own stereotypes to face...we also aren't all criminals who live within 10 miles of the Motor City. It is just a poor character that comes from stereotypes, the same is true for the stereotypical New Yorker or L.A. native. you wouldn't want to read about such a flat character, with so little defining them.

    The fact is a nice guy who is nice because he believes it is how people should be treated is great and interesting, a guy who is nice just because he is, is dull. It is a fine line description, but it is also as wide as a valley.

    I think I have more, but I need to get to bed.

    As always this little triune of interweb chat was fun

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

    1. All interesting points, Jack...and I'll leave it to others to debate them, if they so choose. (Really, it's not about right or wrong, it's just about different perspectives.)

      One thing I will say, as a father of two: the words "kid friendly" are not meaningless. They're incredibly important—especially in a culture that, more and more, markets in-your-face, over-the-top, often violent entertainment as appropriate for children. And, to tie it all in to the Silver Age...

      About ten years ago, I was looking around for comics I could share with my daughter, who was eight at the time. There was nothing on the contemporary scene that I could find, so I plucked a collection of late 50's/early 60's Supergirl stories off the shelf and gave them to her. She DEVOURED them; read them over and over. Now she was, and remains, a very sophisticated reader. I actually thought those stories would be too bland or old-fashioned for her; but the imagination, the creative spirit, the innocence and joy of those tales got through. And, as a parent, I didn't have to worry about what she was reading. "Kid friendly."

      When you're looking though the lens of a child's eyes, "kid friendly" is incredibly meaningful.

    2. As I stated, Kid friendly is not meaningless because it has no meaning, but rather because there are too many. It's a sliding scale. It seems few people have the same definition of what certain elements deem as okay for kids.

      Yes, it is important, but that doesn't mean that everyone thinks the same things are important.

      But I think the real question, is when was she introduced the glory that is and was Lee-kirby. That is, in my opinion, the truest milestone of a comic reader.

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

    3. She's never read them, Jack. When she was younger, she really wanted girl-centric entertainment and now she may be too old...

    4. Whoa, whoa, whoa Dematteis, lets slow down here.

      Is she too old for Dickens or Shakespeare? For Bradbury or PKD? Hell, forget that, is she too old to enjoy a sunny day, to lick an ice cream cone, too old for a pleasant stroll or to receive a kind smile? Is she too old for life? You're never too old for Lee and Kirby.

      As a person who was always a reader, and probably in the realm of sophistication at least when I was a teenager (probably sooner) I loved them. That's right I didn't get a chance to read those classic stories until I was a teenager. Back issues were expensive, I had to wait for book reprints. Remember those are the issues that created the adult fanbase for comics. Why college kids in the 60s started collecting in larger numbers.

      If she doesn't like them, that's fine I would never advise anyone to pressure anyone into liking anyone. But too old, lets not say things we might regret later.

      Now, back to discussing kid friendly, Superman, or comic shows...

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

    5. I get your point, Jack. It's just that, knowing her taste, this might not be the right material for her. I could always try her out on the Galactus Trilogy... If she doesn't like that, nothing will work!

    6. Like I said, if its not her taste that's fine. Let's just remember that it isn't an age thing. 60s Marvel knows no age

      And while I know it isn't Kirby, Silver Surfer would probably sync with the 18 year old mind better than Galactus, but ...whatever!

      Quick question (actually on topic), there is a second comic show in the Detroit area (Dearborn technically)in October. While only a few years old it is a more comic oriented show. They are looking for guest recommendations. If they asked would you attend this year. Just wondering who I should put on my request email.

      thanks for your time.

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

    7. The Lee-Buscema Surfers are among my favorite comics of all time, Jack. Especially the first six issues. Brilliant.

      Re: the convention. I'm already booked for a con in Orlando in October. Otherwise I'd seriously consider it.

    8. GRRR. But understandable. One day i will be at a show you attend Dematteis.

      Personally I think the Silver age Silver Surfer are among the best issues ever. And the highlight of the Silver Age. Issue 5 "... and who shall mourn him?" is my favorite. The book was Vertigo before there was a Vertigo. Even the Lee-Buscema story in Epic 1 was classic. I remember I actually got a collection of those swinging 60s stories for my 18th birthday.

      Does the young lass read comics of any kind? Just curious.

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

    9. She hasn't read many...not even of mine: BROOKLYN DREAMS, KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT, HERO SQUARED. I think MOONSHADOW is next on her list.

    10. I notice the seminal one-shot where Cap gets drunk is conspicuously absent from her list...must be an oversight on your part!

      (I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I know that you're not a fan of that one, but honest to God, I find no fault whatsoever with it. Not as good as what was to come, but it really embodies Steve Rogers as a guy capable of hanging out with his friends, and I don't think any writer has ever captured that as well as you. Or even attempted it really!)

      Jack, I get what you're saying about stereotypes. I think I overstated my case on Golden Age Supes. To be honest, I've liked almost every incarnation of the character I've ever read or seen. The Fleischer cartoons, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE and SUPERMAN II, SUPERBOY, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF LOIS AND CLARK, SMALLVILLE...I've loved it all.

      DC has a new omnibus that collects the first two years of Superman stories for $45 and I'm thinking about picking it up based on the strength of your recommendation for that era. I'll get back to you on that.

      And also the SHOWCASE PRESENTS for Silver Age material, JMD. I notice the SUPERMAN IN THE FIFTIES and SUPERMAN IN THE SIXTIES collections are in color. Are you familiar with those and if so what do you think of the selections?

      Now a note on my personal reading experience. My first real encounter with Superman as a comic book was DEATH OF SUPERMAN. I read the books consistently from around 1992 up until 2000. I really enjoyed them, but I did notice something odd.

      The writers were always flirting with Silver Age concepts but sort of half-heartedly. I mean you get a dog and his name is Krypto but he can't fly and he's not from Krypton so why bother? That kind of stuff. And that made me realize how much I wanted to see those concepts realized.

      We did get that for a while, I think. EMPEROR JOKER's high concept strikes me as very much in keeping with the Silver Age: "What if Joker got Mxypltzik's powers for a day?"

      But I also very much liked the animated series, with an edgier Superman who once threatened Darkseid, "I'm not going to leave here until you're nothing but a greasy smear on my fist..."

      Ultimately--and I'm trying to choose my words cautiously--I prefer that Superman be the joyous character that winks or waves at you at the end of the story. Maybe not literally (though I love that, too) but at least in spirit. But I don't necessarily think he should be limited to that, because I loved me some S:TAS and JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED.

      The character is certainly too big to be held hostage to any one interpretation, but that's never stopped me from going online and listing my demands...:)

    11. I think the SHOWCASE volumes might be better, David, because you'll get sequential runs, as opposed to random issues from the era.

      Glad you mentioned SUPERBOY—because everyone seems to forget that show. I had a great experience writing for the series.

      All this talk about Silver Age Supes makes me want to finally read ALL STAR SUPERMAN. By all accounts it's a beautiful fusion of the Silver and Modern Age.

      And now...gotta go back for San Antonio!