And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d better get back to work!
SEMI-REGULAR MUSINGS FROM THE SEMI-REGULAR MIND OF WRITER J.M. DeMATTEIS
Monday, March 17, 2014
THAT IS THE QUESTION
“So what are you working on?” is a question I get all the time and I thought I’d use Creation Point to answer it. At the moment, I’m as busy as I’ve ever been in my career and here are a few of the projects either out now or in the pipeline:
The Fox #5 is out from Archie Comics’ Red Circle imprint: It’s the concluding chapter of a mind-bending, and delightful, mini-series conceived by the uber-talented Dean Haspiel and scripted by the great Mark Waid. I wrote (and Mike Cavallaro illustrated) the Shield back-ups that ran through issues two, three and four—and this fifth issue brings the Fox and Shield together in a story written by yours truly and illustrated, and inspired, by Dean. It’s comics for the sheer fun of it.
Over at DC, I continue to work on Justice League Dark (where we’re coming to the end of the massive Forever Evil: Blight crossover), Phantom Stranger (also part of the Blight arc), Larfleeze and Justice League 3000 (the latter two co-written with the brilliant Keith Giffen). The fourth issue of JL3K—which features future-versions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern—came out just last week and it’s a real turning point for the characters. If you haven’t checked it out yet, now might be a good time to jump on. I’ve also got a Justice League Dark Annual in the works as well as a Secret Origins story that focuses on one of my favorite members of the JLD.
I’ve started work on my new project with Abadazad illustrator (and all-around Mad Genius) Mike Ploog. The book won’t be out till this time next year, so I can’t say much just yet. I will say that, if you’re a fan of Mike’s spookier works, you should enjoy this one. It’s filled to the brim with Things That Go Bump In The Night.
For those of you who enjoyed my 2013 creator-owned series The Adventures of Augusta Wind, I’m happy to announce that IDW will be bringing you more Augusta soon (well, soon is a relative concept in publishing. It will probably be some time in 2015). I’m very excited to rejoin my collaborator and co-creator, Vassilis Gogtzilas, as we bring Augusta’s all-ages tale to its epic conclusion.
Over in the world of animation, I’ve got a pair of projects in the works for... Well, I can’t tell you. But they feature... No, I can’t tell you that, either. All I can say is that they’re two of the most exciting animation projects I’ve ever been involved in and, as soon as I’m allowed, I’ll break the details here.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d better get back to work!
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d better get back to work!
Posted by J.M. DeMatteis at 12:41 PM
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Alright Dematteis, this off topic, and it involves praising an author who isn't you and I know how much that disgusts you.ReplyDelete
So, recently at my local comic store a fellow patron told me about how a young lady working in the field, was talking about how comics had a lack of women. However, it was not in the way of "hey wouldn't it be great if there were more women in comics." which I would not have a problem with. Instead it was implied that there was a misogynistic conspiracy afoot. This bothered me not because comics are a sacred cow, but for another reason. I feel like it is being somewhat insulting to female writers who have been ion comics. I loved Ann Nocenti's Daredevil (among other works of hers), and I feel like she gets sort of sidelined by this sort of stuff only because she didn't push the female button hard. Her run is not remembered as a good run for a female writer, it was just considered a really good run. It was creative, and personal while still being accessible. I don't know what was going on behind the scenes, but since she was sort of throwing some crap at fans, I want to say that I didn't recall there being any problem with her being a woman (letters about here being too liberal? Oh yeah). So I think it was just sort of a jerk move to overlook such work solely because it was looked at beyond just being a woman... is supposed to be thend goal of feminism, right?
Also, of all your pals in comics, what work of your friends would you recommend to others. I'm really trying to attack your ego today.
My ego doesn't feel attacked, Jack—but the real problem here is, if I start recommending work by one friend, I may forget another...and the last thing I want to do is leave bruised feelings in my wake. So I'm going to clam up on this subject!Delete
I've known Ann Nocenti since she started as an assistant editor at Marvel back in the 80's and watched her evolve into a very formidable writing force. (She was also a damn good editor.) You're right when you say Ann does't "push the female button," she just writes good stories. And she's still writing 'em for DC today.
Or look at my old and dear pal Karen Berger, who built the Vertigo brand. Vertigo wasn't geared to females or males, it was geared to a certain sensibility—that very much reflected Karen's own unique sensibility—and that's what made Vertigo great.
So many talented women have worked in comics—from Shelly Bond to Louise Simonson, Jo Duffy to Gail Simone—and, when I've worked with them or read their work, I didn't think of them coming from a "woman's perspective"—I was just impressed with their talent and skill.
Of course, men and women ARE different and come at things from different angles—and that's a very good thing, we need diverse views in our male-centric pop culture—but the best writers tend to follow the characters and let them lead. When you're immersed in a story, you're not thinking "men's perspective" or "women's issues": with a little luck, you're not really thinking at all, you're getting out of the way and channelling the fictional world.
I think you make a good point about recommending friends work. I just think that it is a shame I know it is just said to further your goal of no one else getting there comics read.Delete
As I said, I wouldn't have had any opinion if it was just, "It is a shame there aren't more women in comics." However, since it was taken a few steps further I got annoyed. And yes there have been quite a few talented women in the field. Some one once told me that those Simonson X-Factor's were some of the best X-books they had ever read. High praise considering how many there are. Really, that just adds to my irritation.
As nor Ms. Nocenti herself, I focused in on her for a good reason, I really like her work. When I first started reading Daredevil I started with back issues, and since that era was cheap I grabbed up quite a few. So in a very real way she is why I love the character so much. Those issues are also a standard of quality for me. So many great issues, and the only time I remember being aware that it was a woman writing while I was reading, was the Typhoid Mary story, and that was in a good way, as a comparison to the other female villains and how unique this one was. Jeez, I really need to fill i those missing issues. Any way, In my mind she is not that far behind the names Gerber, Dematteis, Englehart, Moench, and O'Neil.
As for the button, they are almost always a way to make a story bad. Pushing the woman button, and trying to prove that there are strong women is a trap many men a and women in the writing game have gotten lost in. Usually, it just leads to creating a too perfect-ish person, who is devoid of the character flaws that make them interesting. Of course this lead to your point about letting characters leading you, opposed to building them for a purpose.
Now for the important part, Nocenti is writing for DC? What? I know she was on Green Arrow, but she left that I while ago, right? What else has she done/doing? I goota pick those up?
Ann's been writing CATWOMAN and KATANA (although I think the latter may have been cancelled: I'm not sure).Delete
One other thing I really respect about Ann's work is that she came in with her own voice, right away. A unique perspective and tone that was hers alone. Not an easy thing to do.
Okay, I'm going to have to look into those issues. Catwoman for sure (easier to find I assume0.Delete
I don't think that the female thing played as big a role, more it was something else. I remember reading in an interview that she didn't know much about comics until she was an adult and mainstream superhero comics until she started working at Marvel. I think that played a lot into the unique tones. Also in the same interview, which I found here: http://www.manwithoutfear.com/daredevil-interviews/Nocenti she mentions that she assumed it would be hated so she just jumped right in and did what she wanted. Of course being an editor and seeing how writers do better as they do there own thing may have helped as well.
There is a great quote of hers about comics: "Comics are great because they're all things. Sometimes just plain fun, sometimes they have deadly intent. Anything goes."
I think that is every true fans sentiment.
But one of the best thing about her DD run is the letter pages in her early issues. Man, some people were not okay with her flexing her political muscles. And flash forward today were it has just gotten worse.
And so Women's history month was celebrated on the highly misogynistic J.M Dematteis's website.
P.S. that last part was a joke.
I know it was a joke, Jack! (But I'm glad you made sure I did!)Delete
I love that quote from Ann. Wonderful!
The quote takes everything sid on this site (and about comics in general since 1961) and boils it down to its purist form. No wonder she was the editor.Delete
Personally, I would love to see Ms. Nocenti write a Man-Thing story or two.
Also, you mentioned Vertigo. I have wondered for a while, Epic was more or less Vertigo before Vertigo. As someone who had books published by both (and one series itself published by both) why do you think that was. I do think Vertigo was always more focused.
Epic started when the creator-owned idea was just catching fire in American comics. With Archie Goodwin at the helm, they published some wonderful, groundbreaking books. Once Archie left things changed...actually, they were changing before he left. I think Marvel (the corporate entity) was never quite sure what to do with Epic. They were looking for ways to pull it in to the wider Marvel Universe. (Just my opinion, others may have a different take.)Delete
At Vertigo, Karen Berger was given all the room she needed to develop a unique group of books that stood outside the DCU and she did it with the company's full support. Karen, of course, stayed there for decades, so Vertigo's identity remained constant and consistent. That, I think, made all the difference.
That said, I had an amazing time working on MOONSHADOW and BLOOD for Epic: Archie, Laurie Sutton, Margaret Clark and Dan Chichester were always supportive of us and a delight to work with. I had similar experiences during the early days of Vertigo, working with Karen and Shelly Bond on MERCY, THE LAST ONE, SEEKERS and FAREWELL MOONSHADOW.
Those were the days!
I always thought that part of the success was due to Vertigo mixing up creator and corporate owned. Aside from just basic name recognition bringing in fans with say Swamp Thing or Doom Patrol it also allowed for ongoing projects to be more predictable. The only ongoing I remember from epic (other than the eponymous mag) was Dreadstar, and that went to First eventually if I remember.Delete
Of course that was just a theory.
Early Epic had a number of ongoing projects, but none that identified with the broader Marvel Universe. As for your point re: SWAMP THING and DOOM PATROL, it's a good one. That said, once those books went Vertigo, those characters were essentially deleted from the DCU. It was a big deal when, with the launch of the New 52, ST and Constantine were reintegrated into the DCU after decades away.Delete
True, but having that history to draw on and built in fan base certainly helped pull in readers, especially older audiences who may have remembered them and were interested in seeing a newer take on the characters. I think Marvel did hope to do something like that with the Silver Surfer story in Epic #1, Silver Surfer:Parable, and the Galactus story Byrne did that I know only by reputation.Delete
However technically Swamp Thing and Constantine were reintroduced before the New 52 in "Brightest Day" and "Return of Swamp Thing" respectively. Also both made some minor guest appearances over the years in mainstream books, though yes it was nothing really major by and large. I really hate myself for knowing that.
We who dwell in Comic Book World have our heads STUFFED with all manner of strange information!Delete
I know that I'm in the minority, but I liked that Lee-Buscema Silver Surfer story in Epic 1, by the way.Delete
Stan and John B on Silver Surfer? How can you go wrong?Delete
I don't know, but the story gets a lot of negative feedback. I don't know why.Delete
Also, I think Vertigo was aided by something else, in its earliest years there was a sort of bridge. DC was doing those sort of "10pm drama" mature audience books. Post crisis was also expanding the type of stories they were doing. Whereas Marvel was seemingly narrowing itself to more superheroes stories after a decade (the 70s) were they played mix and match to great success
Could be the case. In the end, I think the over-riding reason for Vertigo's success was Karen B's vision and her uncanny ability to recognize, and develop, talent. Without her I think the imprint could have faded in a few years. Actually, without her it wouldn't have existed in the first place.Delete
True enough, without a steady hand to guide most things are doomed to fail. However that doesn't mean "right place, right time" doesn't help keep the battle from being too uphill.Delete
Any plans to bring back the Jaguar? I always liked him, and his on again, off again moustache.ReplyDelete
I'd prefer the Fly, but Simon's estate apparently has that one locked up. Rick
I remember loving the Jaguar when I was a kid, Rick...although, for the life of me, I don't remember why.Delete
Don't know where the character stands re: the new Red Circle line, but I wouldn't be surprised if he made a reappearance.
What I liked about the Jaguar was that he was cool. Other superheroes sweated the circumstances too much or had too many personal problems. He dated like a real playboy; dealt with villains, like Cat-girl, in a cool manner, and had a lot of power whose use never fazed him. I could see him deal with a tough situation, and at the end (if they allowed it in the comics), just pour himself a martini and read a book as though it were just like any other day. What kid wouldn't want to be cool?Delete
Sounds like the James Bond of superheroes!Delete
More like a cross between Bond and Clark Gable in his 1930's roles, but without Gable's comic touch or Bond's killer instinct (and he did not treat women like dirt; he just played). Remember the pencil moustache? It appeared when he was in his civilian identity but vanished when he was the Jaguar. And people think Clark Kent's glasses are lame. If memory serves me, he was also blessed with the fact that the stories were only about 8 pages each. So, there wasn't much room for character development.Delete
Is there even room for a character-type like that in our liberated 21st century? Can it be done without turning into a parody?
I suspect he'd have to be played ala Tony Stark in the IRON MAN movies.Delete
Slightly sleazy, boozy, sarcastic womanizer on the outside...hero with a heart of gold on the inside.