Monday, September 9, 2013

THE WRATH OF CON

The Baltimore Comic-Con keeps growing every year—and this year’s gathering was huge.  When my wife looked out of our hotel window Saturday morning and saw the lines snaking back and forth, back and forth, outside the convention center, I knew that the days when BCC was a small, intimate show were over.  

The good news is that means the creators get to meet, and talk to, even more fans—which, for me, is the primary reason for attending these events.  I spend a lot of time alone in a room, playing with my imaginary friends, and when I have an opportunity to hear from the people who have read, and been touched by, my work, it’s a delightful, and often moving, experience.  When someone tells me that one of my stories sailed out across the world, pierced his heart, made a difference in his life...well, to say that I’m incredibly grateful doesn’t come close to covering it.

Of course, along with the growing legion of fans at BCC, there’s an ever-growing legion of my fellow professionals—and I was lucky enough to spend time (sometimes just a fleeting hello, sometimes a lengthy conversation) with old friends and new, including Ray Fawkes, Bob Greenberger, Paul Kupperberg, Dean Haspiel, Mark Waid, Paul Kaminski, Ross Richie, Dan Didio, Ron Marz, Jack C. Harris, Jim Starlin, Kevin Maguire and some guy named Giffen, who insisted on sitting at the table next to mine for the entire weekend.    

The highlight of the convention, though, was a Sunday morning breakfast in honor of the man of the hour, the great Sal Buscema—who received a well-deserved life-achievement award Saturday night at the Harveys.  I hadn’t seen Sal since our days working on Spectacular Spider-Man together and it was wonderful to share a meal with Mr. and Mrs. B, along with two other exceptional Spider-artists—Mark Bagley (another collaborator I hadn’t seen for at least fifteen years) and Ron Frenz—and my old buddy, legendary writer/editor Tom DeFalco.


The word is that next year the Baltimore Convention is expanding to three days.  I think this comic book thing might finally be catching on! 

20 comments:

  1. If this keeps up they'll start making comic movies or something...

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  2. "TRINITY OF SIN: THE PHANTOM STRANGER #14
    Written by J.M. DeMATTEIS
    ***
    "But the Stranger has no intention of joining the new Justice League Dark—until Constantine opens a door into the Stranger's past, revealing secrets that make him question everything he's ever believed about himself…"

    I figured you'd be getting around to something like this. Thank you.

    Sorry I missed the chance to meet you, but I don't get to Baltimore very much.

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    1. It's what I've wanted to do all along. PS #14 is just the first hint of Things To Come.

      Another time, another convention...!

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  3. Eric L. (AgentCooper27)September 10, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    Baltimore Con sounds great. Are you planning to be at NY Comicon mayhaps?

    By the way, I opened up the DC solicitations for December 2013 and found no less than FOUR books written/scripted by you (Larfleeze, JL Dark, Phantom Stranger, and JL 3000). I've just gotta catch 'em all! I've pinged you on Twitter about this, but I'll say it again: Really loving your foray back into monthlies, so I can get a regular DeMatteis fix! And it's great to see DC giving you a lot of good high-profile work.

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    1. Thanks, Eric! The four monthlies just sort of happened. When you're a freelancer, you go where the work flows. Sometimes, for me, that means a lot of animation and a little bit of comics, or a novel, or a screenplay. Right now the comics flow is strong, so I'm grabbing my surfboard and riding the wave till the next shift. The good news is that every one of these projects is fun, so I've got no complaints!

      I'm also doing some work for Archie's Red Circle line—doing a SHIELD back-up for Mark Waid/Dean Haspiel's upcoming FOX series, among other things—and getting ready to launch my new project with Mike Ploog. So, yes, it's busy times in Comic Book World.

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    2. Eric L. (AgentCooper27)September 10, 2013 at 1:03 PM

      Oh, I didn't know about the SHIELD back-ups. Thanks for the heads-up. Looks like I'll be adding a fifth DeMatteis comic to my pull list! :)

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  4. I was thrilled to get to meet you once at the first NYCC a few years back - I'm not sure I was adequately able to put into words how much your work has meant to me, but it was great to finally meet you.

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    1. DEEP thanks, Drew. As I said in the post, meeting the folks who have read, and been touched by, my work means the world to me. Here's hoping we get to meet again at another convention.

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  5. I think I'll give JLA 3000 a try. I was always a fan of the old JLA. Since it's apparently based on the old series, I can't wait to see the new version of "Snapper" Carr, Daddy-o. Rick.

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    1. We've actually talked—half-jokingly—about brining a version of "Snapper" into the book. I doubt it will actually happen but, hey, you never know.

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    2. Kidding aside, I think the concept of a Snapper Carr makes some sense. I'm just not so sure it's still needed as it was in the early 1960's.

      Snapper was a normal human exposed to absurdly powerful people who were engaged in absurd activities (e.g., a Martian superhero growing tree roots). He could provide the "eyes" or gateway for kids to relate to the things in the comics by giving voice to their thoughts and letting them "help out" with their human abilities.

      Things have changed since the early 1960's. Kids grow up at a young age surrounded by absurd fiction, blasted on TV, the computer or their cellphones. They deal with absurd things in real life--like a conference call on a cellphone which even Dick Tracy didn't own. So, they don't really need someone like a Snapper Carr to perform his old function.

      But, there is still some sort of need to ground the reader in the fiction of a story. A sidekick can do it. So can an active observer, like Jimmy Olsen. And if my suspicions are correct, so can the spirit of a babysitter brought back to life from Heaven. Since you are a top writer, I suspect you already have this base covered. Rick

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    3. I can't really get into it—the details of JL 3000 are top-secret—but I agree with much of what you say here.

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    4. I understand. Disclosure has to be carefully coordinated and authorized. I only started reading books again recently, and I had stopped before the Internet Age. After going back, I was amazed to discover the involvement of the fan base on the Internet, together with its level of commentary, the debates, fan fiction, etc.

      Are there any particular topics you like to discuss here, other than the thread lead, of course? Rick

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    5. Once upon a time, Rick, I'd read the letters people wrote to the comics or the occasional article/review in a fanzine and that was it. With the internet, there's a constant, ongoing dialogue. There's an old Peter Townshend song that goes "Anyone can have an opinion, anyone can join in and jump." The internet has made that a reality! Sometimes that's great, sometimes not. All you have to do is look at the comments section on YouTube to see how quickly dialogue can devolve. Even with the most harmless videos, you'll often find two lunatics eviscerating each other, usually about topics that have nothing to do with the video subject at hand.

      What I enjoy about Creation Point and Twitter is that I get to talk to people about...well, just about anything. And the folks that contact me are almost universally enthusiastic and respectful. I thoroughly enjoy the connection. In terms of topics: I like to keep things wide open, as long as the tone is respectful (not just to me, but to other posters and other creators).

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    6. You're a good man. Have a great weekend. Rick

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  6. There are different ways to keep fantastic characters grounded. PS has an intrinsic discomfort with his own destiny, so he kind of does the job himself (much like Peter Parker).

    But there's definitely something to seeing virtual gods like the Justice League through a 'normal' person's eyes. Geoff Johns did that with Steve Trevor and David Graves in his first year on JUSTICE LEAGUE.

    --David

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    1. That's why I'd rather see, say, Alice go to Wonderland or Dorothy go to Oz as opposed to a fantasy land where there's no other "real" person to relate to. I think it helps to have that character who's our stand-in in the fantasy.

      Of course ideally, you want to make even the most fantastic characters relatable and believable. And that, I think, is what most of us who plow the fields of fantasy fiction strive for.

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