Friday, December 20, 2013


Long-time readers of this blog know that the two Christmas stories I love and cherish above all others are Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (especially the extraordinary 1951 movie version starring Alastair Sim) and Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life (which may be my favorite movie of all time).  But I was recently reminded—thanks, Jack!—of another Christmas tale near and dear to my heart: the classic Twilight Zone episode, "Night of the Meek"—which features an honest and magical Rod Serling script, matched by an equally-honest and magical lead performance by the great Art Carney.  Since this is the time of giving, I present it here in its entirety.  No need to wait until December 25th—you can unwrap it right now.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 16, 2013


On television they’re trotting out Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, It's a Wonderful Life and seemingly-infinite variations on A Christmas Carol.  

Here at Creation Point we have our own Yuletide tradition.  A few years ago—born out of my inordinate love for this heart-filling, soul-transforming, sacred and transcendent season—I wrote a short Christmas tale called The Truth About Santa Claus.  Since then, I’ve been offering it annually as a kind of cyber Christmas present:  my way of wishing all of you who visit this site the happiest of holidays and the most magical of Christmases.  I offer it again this year—along with a trio of illustrations whipped up last year by my friend and collaborator Vassilis Gogtzilas.  So grab a plate of Christmas cookies, pull a chair up close to the fireplace and enjoy.



He’d been thinking about it for days—ever since he heard Big Mouth Jenny Rizzo announce it on the school bus—and he didn’t believe a word of it, not one word.  (Well, maybe ONE.)  But Cody had to be sure, absolutely, positively sure—

—and that’s why he was hiding behind the couch at midnight on Christmas Eve.

His mother was there, asleep in his dad’s old easy chair, the reds and blues of the Christmas tree lights making her look peaceful and happy and impossibly young.

The tree, by the way, had not ONE SINGLE PRESENT underneath it.

That didn’t make sense.  If there WAS no Santa Claus, if his mother was the one who bought the presents, wrapped the presents, stacked them under the tree, then how come she hadn’t done it?  How come she wasn’t awake RIGHT NOW arranging them all?

He got scared.  Maybe there wasn’t going to BE a Christmas this year.  Maybe Mom had lost her job and they didn’t have any money and so she COULDN’T buy him any presents and—

And then Cody glanced over at the windows and noticed that it was snowing.

Or was it?

If that was snow, it was the WHITEST snow he’d ever seen.  It was snow as bright as moonbeams, as bright as sunlight, as bright as...


Quickly, but quietly (he didn’t want to wake his mother), he scurried to the window and looked out.

It was coming down and coming down and COMING DOWN all across town, whirling and whipping, spinning and gyrating, out of the night sky.  Glowing so brightly that it almost hurt his eyes to look at it.  And Cody saw that it certainly wasn’t snow, and it absolutely wasn’t rain, it wasn’t ANYTHING he’d ever seen before.  But each drop, no...each flake, no... each BALL of glowing WHATEVER IT WAS, seemed to pulse and spin, soar and vibrate, as if it were alive.

And the stuff, the magical WHATEVER IT WAS (and he knew now that it was magic.  He just KNEW), wasn’t collecting on the streets, wasn’t piling up on the rooftops.  It was MELTING INTO (that’s the only way he could put it:  MELTING INTO) every house (no matter how small) and apartment building (no matter how big).

EVERY house and apartment building.


He looked up.

And there it was:  coming RIGHT THROUGH THE CEILING of Apartment 3F, HIS apartment, swirling, like a tornado of light, around the chandelier and then down, down, down—


At first he almost yelled out a warning, “Mom!  Wake up!  MOM!”  But something made him stop.

Instead of yelling he ducked back behind the couch and watched, eyes peering over the top.

Watched as the light-tornado wheeled around his mother, so fast, so bright, that he could hardly even SEE her.  But he COULD see her.  Most of her, anyway.

And what he SAW...

The light poured in through the top of her head, through her eyes, through her chest, through her toes.  It lifted her up—still sleeping!—and carried her out of her chair and across the room.  And as she floated—

—she started to change:

Her hair became white, her nose became red, her belly ballooned like the most pregnant woman in the history of the world.  Her feet grew boots, her head grew a hat, her nightgown grew fur.  An overstuffed sack sprouted, like a lumpy angel’s wing, from her shoulder.  And then—

AndthenandthenandTHEN, it wasn’t his mother there at all, it was him, it was SANTA CLAUS!  STANDING RIGHT THERE IN CODY’S LIVING ROOM!  Santa Claus who, with a laugh (exactly like the laugh Cody always knew he had, only better) and a twinkle in his eyes (exactly like the twinkle he’d always imagined, ONLY BETTER) reached into his sack and pulled out package after package, present after present, and placed them, carefully, like some  Great Artist contemplating his masterpiece, under the tree.

When he was done, Santa Claus stood there, grinning and shaking his head, as if he couldn’t BELIEVE what a beautiful tree this was, how wonderful the presents looked beneath it.  As if this moment was the greatest moment in the history of Christmas, as if this apartment was the only place in all the universes that such a Christmas could ever POSSIBLY happen.

And then the MOST amazing thing happened:

Santa Claus turned.

He turned slowly.  So slowly Cody couldn’t even tell at first that he was moving at all.  And—slowly, SLOWLY—those twinkling eyes, that Smile of smiles, fixed itself on the two boy-eyes peering, in wonder, over the top of the couch.

And what Cody felt then he could never really say:  only that it was better than any present anyone could ever get.  Only that it made his heart so warm it melted like magical WHATEVER IT WAS, trickling down through his whole body.  Only that it made him want to reach out his arms and hug Santa Claus, hug his mother, hug his father (and FORGIVE him too, for running out on them) and his aunts and uncles and cousins (even his Cousin Erskine who was SUCH a pain) and Big Mouth Jenny Rizzo (who really wasn’t so bad most of the time) and all his  friends and teachers and the kid in his karate class who always smelled SO BAD and, embarrassing as it sounds, it made him want to hug everyone and everything in the whole world including rabbits and snakes and trees and lizards and grass and lions and mountains and, yes, the EARTH HERSELF.

Cody wanted to hold that gaze, to keep his eyes locked on Santa’s, forever. (Or longer, if he could.)  Wanted to swim in that incredible feeling, drown in it, till GOD HIMSELF came down to say:  “Enough!”

Except that he blinked.  Just once.  But in that wink of an eye, Santa was gone.  Cody’s mother was asleep in the chair again and, for one terrible moment, the boy thought that the whole thing must have been a dream.

Except, under the tree:  THERE WERE THE PRESENTS.

Except, out the window:  THERE WAS THE SNOW, the rain, the magical WHATEVER IT WAS, shooting up, like a blizzard in reverse, from every house, every apartment building.  Shooting up into the heavens, gathering together like a fireball, like a white-hot comet—

—and fading away into the night:  going, going...


Without so much as a tinkling sleigh-bell or a “Ho-ho-ho.”

Not that it mattered.

Cody looked at his mom.

Cody kissed her.

“I love you,” he said.  And he was crying.  Happy tears.  Christmas tears.  Like moonbeams, like sunlight.  Like stardust.

Mom stirred in the chair, smiled the softest sweetest smile Cody had ever seen. “I love you, too,” she said.

And then she drifted back to sleep.

Cody sat at her feet, warming himself, warming his SOUL, by the lights of the tree.

And soon, he, too, was drifting off to sleep.  And as he drifted, a wonderful thought rose up, like a balloon, inside him.  Rose, then POPPED—spreading the thought to every corner of his mind.  Giving him great comfort.  Great delight:

“One day,” the thought whispered, “when you’re all grown-up, when you have children of your own.  ONE DAY,” the thought went on...

“It will be YOUR TURN.”

Merry Christmas.

Story ©copyright 2013 J.M. DeMatteis
Art ©copyright 2013 Vassilis Gogtzilas

Thursday, December 12, 2013


I've written about my love of All Things Sinatra here before, but there's nothing I could say that this wonderful television special, from the mid-1960's, doesn't say far more eloquently.  The magic is in the Voice.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I recently had the honor, and pleasure, of writing the introduction to the newest Mice Templar hardcover collection—the Harvey Award winning epic fantasy from the talented team of Bryan J.L. Glass, Michael Avon Oeming and Victor Santos—and I'd like to share it with you.  If, after reading my essay, you feel an irresistible urge to order the book, just click here:  I don't think you'll regret it.  Onward!


Worlds Within Worlds

I was a teenager when I discovered Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I’d been a fan of fantasy and science-fiction, and a comic book obsessive, as far back as I could remember (blame Dr. Seuss, Rod Serling and Superman)—but I’d never encountered anything quite like The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and Return of the King.  Working my way—slowly, deliciously—through those three massive volumes, I encountered a fictional world that was not only utterly different than the world around me, but, in so many ways, more real.  More true.  All fiction is make-believe, of course—J.D. Salinger is as much a fantasist as Ray Bradbury, they just come at the work from different angles—but Tolkien’s achievement was, to my young eyes, unparalleled:  He created an entire world—a rich, fertile universe filled with multiple races and cultures, a detailed history, unforgettable characters—from the ground up.  I remember being stretched out on the living room couch, stunned and heartbroken as I turned the final page.  The experience was such a unique and memorable one that I haven’t returned to the trilogy since:  I don’t think any rereading could possibly match the magic of that first journey.

I had a similar experience, years later, reading the Narnia series—written by Tolkien’s friend and fellow Oxford professor,  C.S. Lewis—aloud to my son.  When we reached the end—after a memorable voyage through seven books—there was absolute silence in the room.  After a few moments I asked Cody, “Are you sad that it’s over?”  He could hardly answer, just nodded his head.  “I am, too,” I replied.  And I was.  

That’s the power of great fantasy (whether it’s Baum’s Oz or Zelazny’s Amber, Bradbury’s Mars or Serling’s Twilight Zone):  it transports you, alters your consciousness, peels apart the (so-called) reality we know and—most important—reassembles it in a form that serves not just as an escape, but as a way to see our own world with new, and more wonder-filled, eyes.  I’ve long maintained that writing fantasy (and, yes, that’s a broad term, covering a wide range of stories) is, perhaps, the best way to capture the truth about the universe around us.  In my experience, once you peel back the Skin of the World and look, really look, you’ll see that we’re all living in a universe as filled with magic and miracles as any found within the pages of a book.  Our lives are fantasy—of the highest order.

Of course creating the world-building kind of fantasy that Tolkien specialized in isn’t easy.  The bookstore shelves are filled with attempts that, however enthusiastic their creators may have been, just don’t convince.  We may be initially intrigued, but we’re not transported; the alternate reality just doesn’t stick, doesn’t take root in the heart.  I’ve tried my hand at it on several occasions and I’ll leave it up to my readers whether I’ve succeeded or not.  What I do know is that there are few pleasures in the writing life more exhilarating, more intoxicating, than unlocking that door in the unconscious that connects to worlds undreamed of, voices unheard, stories untold.  When I was writing the children’s fantasy Abadazad, it felt to me (no, it didn’t just feel that way, I absolutely believed it) that ‘Zad was a very real place, located on the far side of Forever, and that its inhabitants had somehow chosen me to tell their tale.  I imagined someone hunched over a kind of magical teletype machine, click-clacking away, transmitting the details of the story across time and space into my head.

I imagine that Bryan J.L. Glass feels that way when he’s working on Mice Templar, because the tales he’s woven over the past ten years—abetted by fellow dreamers Michael Avon Oeming (who received the first transmissions from Karic’s world and set this spectacular story in motion) and Victor Santos—don’t feel “created.”  You don’t get the sense of a writer sitting at his computer trying to fit together pieces of a puzzle, figuring out clever bits for this character or that, wracking his brain for a twist in the plot or a surprise ending.  When you read Bryan’s stories it feels as if you’ve had a veil between dimensions pulled back, as if you’ve been yanked, body and soul, into a world that—like Tolkien’s—becomes somehow more real than the one around us.  Bryan’s not a writer:  he’s a channeler.

When I first encountered Mice Templar, several years ago, I had my reservations.  Talking mice?  Hey, I love Mickey Mouse as much as the next person—maybe more—but a fantasy story about heroic, sword-wielding rodents wasn’t a concept that got my heart beating or excited my imagination.  Which just goes to prove the fruitlessness of approaching art, and life, with preconceived notions.  To my surprise, Mice Templar wasn’t some fairy tale romp through magical forests—although you will find your share of magical forests in these pages—it’s a complex and fascinating epic about complex and fascinating characters, battling their way through a richly-imagined, and utterly convincing, universe.  Strangely, the fact that we’re immersing ourselves in the adventures of talking animals doesn’t pull us out of the story, it somehow pulls us in deeper, makes it all-the-more believable.  (I can’t explain that, but it’s true.)  Of course, channeling a story is one thing—but taking the raw material teletyped across Creation and crafting it into a coherent and engaging tale is quite another.  To successfully mold a fantasy world as powerful and persuasive as the one in Mice Templar, you need to be both a dreamer and a craftsman.  Page after page, Bryan proves himself an expert at both.

But this is comics, after all, and words can only take us so far.  Someone has to sit down and translate visions into images.  Someone has to take a world that exists in the ethers and give it life on the printed page.  Michael Oeming was the first to do that—and he did it brilliantly.  The volume you hold in your hands was brought into being by the astonishingly-gifted Victor Santos (aided and abetted by the vibrant color work of the equally gifted Serena Guerra).  Drawing comic books is fun, no doubt, but it’s also a difficult and challenging profession.  Just being able to draw isn’t enough.  (I’m sure we’ve all read comics that were beautiful to look at but utterly confusing.  Worse:  they were lifeless.  Pretty pictures, I’m sorry to say, just aren’t enough.)  An artist needs, first and foremost, to tell a visual story, to move the eye (and heart!) fluidly, effortlessly, from panel to panel, creating the perfect gesture, the ideal expression—eliciting awe and wonder in the big moments and a range of complex emotions in the quieter ones.  Victor does all that and so much more.  In the end, prose and pictures, Glass and Santos, fuse into one, creating something unique that neither could have achieved alone.  And that is the magic of the best comic books.   

That is the magic of Mice Templar.

©copyright 2013 J.M. DeMatteis 

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Last year I wrote about my memories of December 8, 1980, the night John Lennon died—and, as that dark anniversary approaches again, I don’t see any need to repeat myself.  Instead, let’s remember Lennon, and welcome the Christmas season, in the best possible way:  by listening to, and celebrating, the man's extraordinary music.

Back in 1971, John and his wife, Yoko Ono, took the bare bones of a traditional folk song called "Stewball" and transformed it into a Christmas classic.  "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" is a heartfelt mix of clear-eyed Lennon honesty and starry-eyed Lennon idealism.  It's also—in my hyperbolic opinion—one of the greatest Christmas songs ever written. 

Friday, November 22, 2013


I was in the fifth grade when John Kennedy was murdered.  It's not history to me, it's memory:  as strange, frightening and sad now as it was then.  The assassination wasn’t announced in school that day, but I remember someone telling me that they’d seen the Principal crying (which, when you’re nine years old, is a staggering thing to hear); someone else mentioning that the school flag was at half mast (I knew that had some military meaning, but wasn’t sure what). 

On the way home several people informed me the President had been shot, but no one had any details.  Had it really happened or was it just the kind of crazy rumor children routinely passed around?  If it was true, was he badly hurt?  Was he even alive?  When I walked into our apartment and saw my father and sister sitting, stunned, in front of the television set, a photo of JFK, with the words May 29, 1917—November 22, 1963 emblazoned below it, filling the screen, the sickening truth was confirmed.

The world stopped then—and we all stayed home, for days, glued to our TVs.  (It was the first 24 hour news event and, looking back, we were blessed to have men like Walter Cronkite and Chet Huntley sifting through the details, instead of the bellowing, bloviating talking heads we have today.)  I didn’t see Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald on November 24, but my best friend, Bob Izzo, did—and a group of us gathered around as he described television’s first live murder.  The universe had clearly tipped into madness—but the truth is, this wasn’t news to me.  That madness had been revealed, in all its lunatic horror, the year before when the Cuban Missile Crisis brought us to the edge of nuclear devastation.  The world almost ended then—that’s not hyperbole, that’s fact—but somehow we survived, thanks, in no small part, to a President who refused to listen to war-hungry advisors.  Now, a little more than a year later, that President was dead and it seemed as if the world really was ending.    

Kennedy was the first President I was ever aware of—I was six when he was elected—and, as a result, he loomed large, like some handsome American demigod, in my young consciousness.  We all know now, of course, that he was was far from Deity Status:  his many flaws have been repeatedly, and often luridly, catalogued in the years since his death; but JFK was also man of intelligence and wit, passion and wisdom.  It’s the tension between the flaws and ideals, the “what was” and the “might have been,” that makes him such an intriguing figure.  I’ve read more-than my share of Kennedy books over the years, digested innumerable documentaries, and the fascination continues.  How could it not?  

The Kennedy assassination remains one of the defining world events of my childhood.  It echoes on in my mind and heart to this day.  To some, perhaps many, people born after the Kennedy era, all the attention focused on today’s fiftieth anniversary might seem excessive; but those of us who lived through those years will never stop reliving the experience. 

©copyright 2013 J.M. DeMatteis

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I'm often asked about script formats for comic books.  (I remember it being an unfathomable mystery to me before I entered the business.)  The answer is that—although there are general rules to adhere to—there are as many formats as there are writers and the template is evolving all the time.  When I started in the business at DC Comics, my first editor—the always wise and insightful Paul Levitz—handed me a sample script, explaining the way the page should be broken down:  I've pretty much followed that template ever since.   

In the end, it's easier to show than tell, so here are the first three story pages of one of my all-time favorite projects, The Life and Times of Savior 28.  (I pondered including the entire script, but it runs to nearly seventy pages, which seemed excessive.) Keep in mind that this is how I do it.  Other writers approach the script in different ways—but everyone is breaking the story down by page, panel, captions and dialogue. 

What you see below is called Full Script.  There's also the so-called Marvel Method, where the writer presents the artist with a detailed plot outline.  The artist then draws from the plot, the art goes back to the writer who then provides the dialogue and captions.  I'll post a few pages of plot soon and discuss that method in more detail.

The advantage of Full Script is that the writer is in complete control of the materials: the visuals and pacing, the flow and rhythm, of the story are in his hands.  But the truth is, however specific your script may be, ten different artists will turn that script into ten different reading experiences.  Some will raise your story up to heights you never dreamed of, others will drag it down and kick it in the head for good measure. A few will magically pull the pictures directly out of your head and draw them exactly as you imagined them.   There's nothing more exciting for a comic book writer than that moment when the art arrives and you see your story exploding across the page. (Savior 28 was illustrated by Mike Cavallaro, one of my favorite collaborators.  If you pick up the series, you'll see how brilliantly he brought this sequence to life.) 

Give the script a read and, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section.  

The Life and Times of Savior 28 is ©copyright 2013 J.M. DeMatteis & Mike Cavallaro 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


My next Teen Titans Go! episode—"No Power"—airs tonight, at 7:30 pm Eastern, on Cartoon Network.  I've embedded a preview below.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Today is the 86th birthday of one of most influential artists in the history of comics, Steve Ditko:  the visionary creator who pushed, some might say shattered, the boundaries of 60's mainstream comics with his work on Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.  I can't think of another artist of the era—aside from the King of all boundary-shatterers, Jack Kirby—whose work was more revolutionary and influential.

Ditko illustrated a couple of my early stories—including a Legion of Super Heroes issue that's considered one of the worst Legion tales of all time (my fault, not Steve's!)—back when I was starting out at DC Comics, and one day, when I wandered into the office of editor Jack C. Harris, there he was, the legend himself: an unassuming middle-aged man, dropping off his latest batch of pages.  Ditko is notoriously reclusive, the J.D. Salinger of comic books, so I was delighted—and perhaps a bit awed—to be standing in the same room with him, making (very) small talk.

Now imagine my excitement when I discovered that Ditko was leaving the office at the same time I was.  We hopped in the elevator, walked out of the building together, and headed off, side-by-side, in the same direction.  We talked a little (perhaps about the story we'd just worked on, I can't say for sure) and the twelve year old inside me was doing cartwheels.  Me and Steve Ditko, strolling down the avenue and chatting?  By the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, I was in Comic Book Heaven.

I didn't stay there long.

We'd gone, perhaps, half a block, when I said something to the effect of, " you ever think you'll go back and draw Spider-Man again?"  In my defense, I don't think I realized that the subject of Spidey, of Ditko's Marvel work in general, was verboten—but I found out soon enough:  Within seconds of opening my ignorant mouth, Ditko wished me a good day, crossed the street and vanished into the crowd.  I felt like an idiot, but a lucky one:  I'd had my moment, however brief, with the elusive legend.  And, all these years later, I still treasure it.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Ditko—and thanks for all the brilliant work. 

©copyright 2013 J.M. DeMatteis

Monday, October 14, 2013


Comic book writer, and all around good guy, Steve Niles (perhaps best known as the creator of 30 Days of Night) and his wife, singer-songwriter Monica Richards, lost just about everything a few days ago when flood waters overran their Texas home.  (You can read more about it here.)  It’s the kind of nightmare scenario that you don’t even want to contemplate, but Steve and Monica are living it right now.  The good news is they’re both fine, but they need help to rebuild their lives.  If you can find it in your hearts, and your wallets (I know these are tough times for a lot of people), please send a contribution, via PayPal, to  Steve and Monica will appreciate it...and so will I.

UPDATE:  Writer Mike Miner has organized an online auction to benefit Steve and Monica.  You'll find original art, script reviews by the likes of Ron Marz and Scott Snyder and signed books—including a 1989 hardcover edition of Kraven's Last Hunt, signed by yours truly.  Click on over to the auction site and check it out.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I've been talking and talking lately—mostly about Justice League Dark and Phantom Stranger—to the fine folks at Comic Vine, Newsarama and Comic Book Resources.  Follow those highlighted links and you'll find out everything you need to know, and possibly more, about what's coming up in those two books.  And if you still haven't had enough of my blathering, you can read this interview with Comicosity that I did (along with some kid named Giffen, who's desperately trying to break into the business) last month at the Baltimore Comic Con.  

And yada yada yada.


In honor of what would have been John Lennon's 73rd birthday, here's a 1972 John and Yoko appearance on The Dick Cavett Show.  This is the episode in its entirety, which gives a real sense of time and place.  It also includes a superb live version of one of Lennon's most controversial songs, "Woman is the Nigger of the World." Enjoy.  And Happy Birthday, John...wherever you are.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Back in 2010 I told you about a book of essays I contributed to called Hey Kids, Comics!:  True Life Tales from the Spinner RackHey Kids—which finally made its debut last month—is a true labor of love from illustrator and blogger Rob Kelly, who collected stories about growing up comics-obsessed from an interesting collection of folks, including novelist and television writer Alan Brennert, legendary comics creator Steve Englehart and IDW editor-in-chief Chris Ryall.  It’s a wonderful book and if, like me, you spent a good part of your childhood sprawled out on the living room floor, immersed in superhero universes that often seemed far more real than this one, I suspect you’ll enjoy it.  Click on over to Amazon and read more about it.  You can also read an excerpt from my essay right here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Just this morning I came across a quote, from a 2002 interview with Kurt Vonnegut, that beautifully illuminates the previous post's discussion of Bleak Chic and the role art plays in our lives:  "You know," Vonnegut said, "the arts are supposed to ideally make people like life better than they had before."

Vonnegut could hardly be accused of having a rosy worldview, but his best stories and essays were marked by profound compassion and a belief in the power of simple human kindness.  My favorite of his books—one of my favorite novels by anyone, actually—God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, bears testament to the great beating heart at the center of Vonnegut's work.  

"The arts are supposed to ideally make people like life better than they had before."  To which I can only say, amen.  And thanks, Kurt.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


There’s a lot of utterly brilliant writing out there that’s just too damn bleak for me.  I watch certain television shows, read certain books, and I’m left with both awe-struck admiration for the artists behind the work and a deep desire to run, screaming, for the hills.  When I think of the books I’ve cherished most—Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, to name two—they left my heart full, my soul quickened.  They cracked opened my consciousness and connected me to something bigger, and truer, than myself.  

I read a quote, years ago, from Avatar Meher Baba that said the “truth is that which uplifts.”  I feel the same way about art.  It should look life’s struggles and sufferings square in the eye without flinching, then look farther, deeper, raise our eyes to the heavens and point the way there (a path that, in my experience, leads us straight back to our own hearts).  I don’t mind a crawl through the darkness—I think we’ve all done our share of midnight-wrestling with demons, of sinking, neck-deep, in the quagmire of despair—but, in the end, I need a story to bring me to the light, to remind me that life has meaning, purpose, value; that the universe is, ultimately, a positive, loving place.  That there’s hope.  

I had a conversation with a friend the other night about the 1960’s and what it was like growing up in the Nuclear Shadow.  I’m old enough to recall, with traumatic clarity, the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962—most notably President Kennedy’s speech to the nation that, stripped of its Oval Office patina and translated by my eight year old brain, said, “Head for the shelters, kids.  The missiles will be flying and our asses are cooked.”  The instant that speech was over I flew into my bedroom, dropped to my knees and prayed to God, with every iota of my being, begging Him to spare us from the coming holocaust.  (I don’t recall praying much, or ever, before that:  Perhaps that moment was the beginning of my own spiritual search.)  I also remember walking to school the next day—I was in the fourth grade—and the conversation with my friends as we discussed the imminent end of the world.  Understand, this wasn’t a “could be” or “maybe,” we really thought the End Was Nigh.  The next year, when JFK was assassinated, it seemed that the very fabric of reality was unravelling, that the center would not, could not possibly, hold.

And yet, as the 60’s progressed, as the generation that grew up in the shadow of armageddon grew older, the popular and political culture of the time was defined, above all, by a sense of hope, of limitless possibility, of the belief that this world that tottered on the brink of destruction could be changed for the better.  In many ways the Beatles, who appeared on American television just months after the Kennedy assassination, became the embodiment of that optimism.  “All You Need is Love,” they sang.  “It’s getting better all the time.”  “Don’t y’know it’s gonna be all right.”   And many of us believed it.  I certainly did.  And still do. 

Perhaps the unpredictable nature of a world where terrorist bombs could explode anywhere, any time, where global warming threatens to upend the natural balance and blot out the future, has given rise to the current wave of Bleak Chic.  But is the current reality any more harrowing or hopeless than the reality I faced at eight years old, the one where a sudden flash of light, a deafening roar, could have left the human race on its knees in a nuclear ruin?  I don’t think so.  Which is why I’d love to see more optimism, more awe, more joy and wonder, in the arts—and, yes, in our social and political discourse.  
I’m not trying to tell anyone else how to approach their art:  If you honestly believe that life is a chaos-ride to hell, rot and ruin, then you owe it to yourself to present that in your stories (or songs or paintings)—and do it with honesty and passion.  If you do it well enough, there’s a good chance I will watch, or read, or listen—and applaud your effort.  But I doubt I will cherish your work or hold it in the deeps of my heart.

I often return to a quote from the science-fiction writer David Gerrold (who, among many other achievements, wrote the “Trouble with Tribbles” episode of the original Star Trek—a show rooted optimism and idealism).  I tore it out of a science-fiction magazine back in the mid-1970’s, tacked it to a corkboard and it’s travelled with me ever since.  I think Gerrold’s words about writing apply not just to all art—but to all of life:

"A good story is about pain and hope and the transition from one to the other. Most important, it is about what we learn in the process of that transition.  The essential quality is hope."

©copyright 2013 J.M. DeMatteis

Friday, September 13, 2013


While I was at the Baltimore Comic-Con, I had a lengthy and (I hope!) interesting conversation with Tiffany from Little House Online.  I've embedded the interview below for your listening and dancing pleasure.  Thanks to Tiffany and Little House head honcho Sal Crivelli for the thoughtful questions.  It was a pleasure.

Monday, September 9, 2013


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! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Just came across this video—that features the words of the late writer and philosopher, Alan Watts—and had to share it with you.  It resonates with beauty, magic and truth.


Saturday, August 31, 2013


This time next week I’ll be at the Baltimore Comic-Con, one of the most enjoyable conventions I’ve ever attended.  There are no movie stars, no wrestlers, no porn stars, no video game companies, just comic book fans and creators gathering to celebrate the medium we all love.  The guests this year include Keith Giffen, Ray Fawkes, Sal Buscema, Tom DeFalco, Dan Didio, Mike Carey, Kevin Maguire, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Paul Levitz, Ron Marz, Mark Waid, George Perez and Dean Haspiel.  (Click here to see the complete, mind-boggling list of creators.)  If you’re within shouting distance of Baltimore next weekend, come by my table, say hello, and, if you’re so inclined, bring a stack of books to be signed. 

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


The first of my Teen Titans Go! episodes airs this Tuesday night at 7:30 pm on Cartoon Network.  I've embedded a preview clip below.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


As I write this I’m sitting on the porch of a cabin, in the heart of a five hundred acre spiritual retreat, gazing through the trees, out at a magical lake that’s home to fish and alligators and, I suspect, water spirits and angels.  I’ve been coming here for most of my adult life—and this place has always nurtured me, renewed my spirit, expanded my consciousness.  Filled my heart with a profound and inexplicable love.  No internet here, no television.  No CNN Reality screaming for my time and attention.  This is the deeper, truer reality that lies beneath the skin of the world.  The line between conscious and unconscious, God and man, thins and vanishes in these woods.  Synchronicities, miracles, abound—and the living presence of my spiritual master, Avatar Meher Baba, is everywhere. 

I’ve been here for over a week now—which explains the radio silence at Creation Point.  When I get home, I’ll go through the comments that have been piling up and, with a little luck, return to regular blogging.  (This has been a busy and creative summer—many new projects, many pressing deadlines—and I haven’t posted nearly as much as I’d like to.)  Till then, I’ll continue to enjoy the peace and stillness, the magic and the miracles.  The trick, of course, is to bring it all home with me.  To remember that the face of God isn’t just hidden away on these five hundred acres, it’s everywhere.

I’ll post this the next time I have an internet connection.  Hope you’re all having a wonderful August.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I did an interview with USA Today about the Phantom Stranger and his role in the Trinity War.  You can read it here...and enjoy a preview of PS #11 via the link below. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I've mentioned Ink—Alter Egos Exposed (a Canadian documentary series I took part in a few years back) before here at Creation Point.  Ink was a well-crafted, in-depth show about comic books that, unfortunately, never played on a U.S. television station.  I just came across several episodes on YouTube, including this one—"Villains"—which concludes with a lengthy discussion of Kraven's Last Hunt.  Enjoy!

Update:  Here's another full episode I found—"Gender and Relationships."  I'm in it briefly, discussing the Peter Parker-Mary Jane Watson marriage.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


"You have had enough of words, I have had enough of words.  It is not through words that I give what I have to give.  In the silence of your perfect surrender, My love, which is always silent, can flow to you - to be yours always to keep and to share with those who seek Me.  When the Word of My Love breaks out of its silence and speaks in your hearts, telling you who I really am, then you will know that that is the Real Word you have been always longing to hear."
Avatar Meher Baba

Saturday, June 29, 2013


I want to offer a belated thank you to Nasser Rodriguez, his amazing wife, Alicia, and all the folks at the Texas Comicon for taking such good care of us last weekend:  Nasser and Alicia were the perfect hosts—kindly, and generously, seeing to our every need.

My wife and I flew in a few days early to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary and see the sights in San Antonio (a wonderful city; and, yes, I made it to the Alamo, pleasing the ten year old in my soul beyond words), after which it was three full days of comics, comics and more comics.  

It was a pleasure spending quality time with my fellow pros:  finally encountering Steve Niles face-to-face (after a couple of years as Twitter buddies), hanging out with Hulk legend Herb Trimpe, seeing Bernie Wrightson for the first time in what seems like centuries, getting reacquainted with Sean McKeever and having some wonderful conversations with novelist/comics scripter David Liss (I'm currently devouring his book The Twelfth Enchantment).

And the fans!  What a warm, heartfelt and deeply appreciative group.  Since I spend most of my time alone in a room playing with my imaginary friends, it’s always a profoundly touching experience when I meet the people who have read, and been moved by, my work.  Deep thanks to everyone who stopped by the table to talk and have their comics signed.

Let’s all do it again some time.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


This past weekend, at the Texas Comicon, I had a conversation with Steve Niles about the work of the great writer, Richard Matheson.  We talked about the man’s incredible range and the Matheson stories that meant the most to us.  (Steve, a passionate Matheson fan, adapted his classic novel I Am Legend into comic book form.)  On the flight home from San Antonio, I found myself at a window seat, looking out on the wing of the plane and wondering if, perhaps, there was something...strange out there.  This was, of course, a reference to one of Matheson’s most memorable stories—and one of the all-time great episodes of The Twilight Zone—”Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”  If you were born on Mars and have never seen it, “Nightmare” features William Shatner, in a career-defining performance, as a passenger fighting for both his life and his sanity on an airplane:  an unforgettable tale of personal horror and personal triumph.    

When I got home, I turned on my computer and saw the news that Richard Matheson passed away.  I’d say that reading this after referencing Matheson not once but twice in the preceding days was an eerie coincidence right out of the Zone—but there was nothing eerie about it.  Matheson’s work is part of the fabric of not just my consciousness, but the collective consciousness.  I’m sure I reference his stories regularly without even thinking about it.  There’s a good chance you do, too.  Maybe it’s the image of The Incredible Shrinking Man fighting for his life against a towering spider...or the transcendent afterlife adventures of What Dreams May Come? (my favorite Matheson novel).  Maybe you’ve been forever touched by the time-travel romance, Bid Time Return (adapted for film as Somewhere In Time) or forever scarred by the naked horror of Karen Black being hunted by a Zuni fetish doll in the TV movie Trilogy of Terror.  And who can forget the cynical newspaper reporter, Carl Kolchak, in the TV movie The Night Stalker, face wide with amazement as he says, “This nut thinks he’s a vampire!”  (And, of course, he is.) 

These are just a few of the dreams, both dark and light, that Richard Matheson has shared with us over the decades (when you have a moment, head over to his Wikipedia page and be astonished by the man's incredible body of work).  Matheson’s worlds—peopled by recognizable human beings who’ve stepped inadvertently into magic, miracle and nightmare—spread across television, film and the printed page; but I’d argue that no work of his has had a wider impact than his contributions to The Twilight Zone.

Just a few weeks ago my daughter and I decided to have a Zone mini-marathon and the first episode I wanted to see was a Matheson gem, “A World of Difference”:  one of the very best of the Zones that question both personal identity and the nature of reality.  Howard Duff is perfectly cast as a man trying desperately to escape an existence he believes is a lie and return to a life that everyone else claims is a madman’s delusion.  The moment when Duff is sitting in his office at work and an offscreen voice yells, "Cut!"—revealing the world we've been watching to be a movie set—is one of the most thrilling and disturbing in the series.

In all, Matheson contributed fourteen episodes to the show, including “Little Girl Lost” (when I was a kid, I’d often feel the wall beside my bed to make sure it was solid.  I had no intention of ending up like the girl in the story and rolling into another dimension)...the hour-long ”Death Ship”:  a science fiction/horror mashup that sends a chill down your spine and pierces your heart at the same time...”The Invaders,” in which Agnes Moorehead gives a brilliant, wordless performance as an old woman battling small-but-deadly aliens...“A World of His Own,” where Keenan Wynn plays a writer whose imagination literally brings his characters to life...and Matheson's first collaboration with William Shatner, “Nick of Time”:  a tale that delicately, and brilliantly, walks a fine line between the supernatural and the psychological.  (And who could forget that bobbing devil-head?)  

I bow to no one in my respect for Rod Serling—he’s a god in my writers’ firmament, a force of nature who influenced, astounded and inspired me as a child and continues to do the same today—but it takes nothing away from Serling’s achievement to say that Matheson was an essential part of The Twilight Zone’s success.  If Serling was the captain of the ship, Richard Matheson was the first officer.  Together they sailed through uncharted waters of the imagination and changed our lives in the process.   

We've lost a wonderful writer, one of the greats in his field—but that astonishing body of work echoes on and will, I suspect, continue to echo long after we’re gone. 

My heartfelt sympathies to Richard Matheson’s family and friends.

©copyright 2013 J.M. DeMatteis

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Word is out about the new monthly I'm doing with my frequent collaborators Keith Giffen and Kevin Maguire.  It's called Justice League 3000 and you can read an interview with Mr. Giffen and myself, where we discuss the book (without actually saying anything specific!), right here.  There'll be more details as we get closer to the October release date, but for now all I'll say is that if our excitement levels are any indication, this is going to be a terrific book.  But we won't really know till you read it, will we?  (Check out a couple of the initial character designs, done by Howard Porter, below.)

Speaking of interviews:  here's one, focusing on my Phantom Stranger series, that I did with Comicvine.  If you haven't been reading the PS series, the current issue—#9 (and wouldn't John Lennon love that?)—is a great jumping on point.  

And now, time to finish packing:  tomorrow we hop on our horses and head for San Antonio.

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.