I’ll also be taking part in five panels—one of them with my son, Cody—all hosted by my old friend, the lovely and talented Danny Fingeroth. Details are below.
75 years ago, as fateful events that would lead to the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 were coming together in Europe, the U.S.A. was experiencing an explosion of popular culture. In 1939, Batman debuted in Detective Comics #27; Timely (later Marvel) Comics released Marvel Comics #1, showcasing the first Marvel superheroes, Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch; and Hollywood produced classic films including The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind and Stagecoach. Discussing historical and cultural factors that made that year so important is a panel including J.M. DeMatteis (Spider-Man; Justice League,) pop culture expert Aaron Sagers and Danny Fingeroth (Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero.) (A314)
SATURDAY MAY 31:
Accomplished comics writers J. M. DeMatteis (Spider-Man; Moonshadow,) Justin Jordan (Superman; Green Lantern,) Nathan Edmonson (Ultimate iron Man; Black Widow,) and Danny Fingeroth (Deadly Foes of Spider-Man; How to Create Comics from Script to Print) show and tell you how to write comics and graphic novels, going from initial idea to outline to script to finished story. Plus, the panelists will answer your questions about both the creative and business sides of the comics writing profession, including how to find an artist to work with (hint: a comics convention is the number one place!) and how to write exciting dialogue! (A314)
J.M. DeMatteis is one of the most admired names in comics writing with long stints on Spider-Man and Justice League, as well as acclaimed work on his creator-owned projects, including Moonshadow and Brooklyn Dreams. His son, Cody DeMatteis, is a creative force in his own right, including working on Adult Swim’s Off the Air! Today, father and son discuss the ups and downs of the creative life with each other and with comics writer and editor Danny Fingeroth (The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels.) (A314)
[Note: Bagley is appearing only at this panel, not on the convention floor.]
With the recent blockbuster release of the Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie, and the concurrent return of Peter Parker in Spider-Man’s comics, the world is, more than ever, Spider-Man crazy. As if that’s not reason enough to celebrate all things arachnid, 2014 is the 30th anniversary of the debut of Spider-Man’s alien costume (which would become Venom) and the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the controversial Clone Saga! Join legendary Spider-Man comics creators Mark Bagley (Ultimate Spider-Man; Thunderbolts,) J.M. DeMatteis (Amazing Spider-Man; Kraven’s Last Hunt,) and Danny Fingeroth (former Spider-Man group Editor and writer of Deadly Foes of Spider-Man) for a freewheeling discussion of the life and times of Peter Parker’s wall-crawling alter ego! (A315)
SUNDAY JUNE 1:
With movies adapting comics at what seems a record-breaking pace—with everything from Amazing Spider-Man, Superman, Batman and The X-Men to American Splendor and Art School Confidential—some top creators who have worked both sides of the fence talk about the creative process and the business side of working on characters and properties that exist in comics, as well as in movies and on TV. J. M. DeMatteis (Spider-Man; Teen Titans Go!,) Bob Layton (Iron Man; The Helix) and Aaron Sagers (Entertainment Weekly) talk about their experiences with comics and screened media. Danny Fingeroth (The Stan Lee Universe) moderates. (A314)
I hope you are enjoying Atlanta, it's no Metro-Detroit, but they do their best. I just hope you you don't try any of their delicacies , after shunning Michigan's that would be hurtful. Seriously though, that panel about comic becoming film forgot the biggest one, "Road to Perdition. which was an early Oscar contender.. if not winner.ReplyDelete
I do hope you mentioned that Batman was a ripoff of the Shadow in that Bat-panel.
Just accept Atlanta as it is, don't compare it to Detroit, it really isn't fair to them. They have their own charms. Keep an open mind.
Finally, I hate to do this, but when you came to Motor City, a buddy of mine named James Spray, took the day off to come and see you, however I recently found out that he got caught up helping someone and missed the whole show. He is also the person who coined the review of Moonshadow you so enjoyed that can be found at the very bottom of this page:http://www.jmdematteis.com/2013/02/imagination-rising.html if you could give a quick shout out to him that would be great. I hate to do this, especially while you are at a show, but he was looking forward to it for a while and circumstance just got in the way.
P.S. hope you enjoyed the article you contributed to.here in Motown
Atlanta is a great city...especially because my son lives here. And we've actually had some fantastic meals, including one of the best Indian meals I've had in years. (Although, to be fair. I had a pretty terrific Indian meal in Michigan, too.)ReplyDelete
Of course I can't compare Atlanta to Detroit, since I didn't see ANY PART of Detroit! (Aside from the airport.)
It's late and I'm tired so remind me: Which article are you talking about? The one you wrote? Did I see it?
Sorry your pal James couldn't make it to the show so...HELLO, JAMES! SEE YOU NEXT TIME?
And now I must go to bed. I'm exhausted!
Technically, Detroit Metro (which I assume is the airport you landed in) is in Romulus, and since you don't travel through the city to get to Novi, you have seen none of Detroit. Sorry that you can't brag to your hipster friends.Delete
I am glad you enjoyed the Indian food here. And speaking of Indians, thanks for the quick "shout out" as the kids say to Mr. Spray. I appreciate it, quite a bit.
As for the article, yes it is the one I interviewed you for. I did give you my business card, um I guess I could put up a link if you wanted, if not that's fine too. Writing is really more my department... I guess I could make an exception if you want, though.
I wouldn't call Batman a ripoff of The Shadow, Jack...especially not if he's in the room!ReplyDelete
(But then, I'm not Detroit's ever-mysterious superhero, either!)
Yes, I'd love a link to your article, Jack.ReplyDelete
And maybe one day I'll actually see at least a small part of Detroit!
And you had Indian food in Atlanta, JMD? I pictured something more...Southern. Like bacon, eggs, sausage, grits and biscuits topped with your bodweight in gravy. Or if you're looking for something more healthy, maybe some veggies like green tomatoes, okra and corn...all fried, naturally. My parents are from Alabama...ReplyDelete
Nope. We actually had Indian food TWICE...and some organic burgers...and some Mexican!Delete
I live in a rural area, so my options are limited when it comes to Indian. As in I've never tried it and we don't have an Indian restaurant in the area. But it sounds like it could be good!Delete
Love Mexican, both the authentic and "Tex-Mex" variety.
And of course burgers are the best!
Did you record any of the comic con stuff this time around? You posted a link to your son moderating a panel with you a few years ago and it was awesome.
Well, if you ever get to one of my workshops, David (and if I get around to doing another one!), I'll have to take you out for Indian food,Delete
No recording this time, as far as I know. We almost recorded the panel I did with my son, but I don't think we actually did. (Forgive me: I'm a little loopy from traveling. Flew out of Atlanta this morning.)
Of course Dematteis didn't have ay traditional southern food, after snubbing Detroit's local cuisine that could start a war between the regions.Delete
Which reminds me, you may want to experience Detroit, but you cam e here for three days and ingested no Faygo, asparagus, black cherries, Superman Ice Cream or Coney Dogs... I'm not sure you'll be allowed back.
DAVID: batman was such a rip off, that his first appearance in Detective comics was actually lifted head to toe from a Shadow pulp.
As for the article, it was broken into two pieces, and I'm not sure were the break was, so here is both:
It's a deal, JMD!--DavidDelete
Strangely, Jack, I came across that article without realizing it was yours1Delete
David: It's been documented that there are many Shadow rip-offs in the first Batman story. What's so fascinating is how the character grew into something utterly unique that eclipsed the pulp heroes that inspired Bats'
Well, the changes aren't really that strange, a fear of lawsuit can do that. When the original Wonderman was cause for a lawsuit by DC, Kane and Finger wondered if they might be next.Delete
So did you read both halves or just the one you were in? I suppose the real question is if you enjoyed it, or they I suppose.
Wait, how did you stumble upon it.
Well, I've read both parts now...but, before, I came across the "me" part via Google. And, yes, I enjoyed it. Only thing I was confused about was me saying my relationship with Kevin Maguire was "just there." I don't even know what that means!Delete
Re: Batman/Shadow. I don't know if fear of a lawsuit factored into it. So much of early comics/pulp was rip-off piled on rip-off. I think the character just evolved under Bill Finger's watchful eye and creative brain.Delete
And David...here's a piece about the Shadow-Batman connection:
Well, that's an arrow to the heart. the "just there" part had to do with you talking about chemistry between writers and artists. How it was "just there."Delete
So how did part two stack up?
Ah...that didn't really come across. That said, both parts read very nicely.Delete
I enjoyed 'em both.
I look forward to our next interview!
I wouldn't be surprised if Finger was responsible for the turn around. Kane was widely known as a scam artist, and prick. Even mart Nodell, who never said a bad thing about anyone, and was just about the nicest guy you'd want to meet, had a few choice tales.
There's a big movement afoot to get Finger "official" recognition as Batman's co-creator. (Did I hear that at Motor City? Did YOU tell me?)Delete
I'm totally behind that.
As for Kane: I didn't know the man and I don't feel comfortable judging him by the stories told by others. Stan Lee, for one, seemed to really like Kane. And I really like Stan, so...!
I have heard that too, and it is long past time. You didn't hear it from me though.Delete
As for Bob... well, where as most conflicts arise over two sides arguing, Kane was directly responsible for Finger not getting credit. He put through the paperwork putting in copyrighting it before it even hit the stands. So the reason Finger is not credited is legal... and not DC Comics doing.
Though, I do think Stan gets the shaft in a lot of circles unfairly. So I don't always go down the blame road.
Re: THE SHADOW. That's very interesting. Thanks for posting the article. It seems as though the most blatant plaigarism is where the criminal plot is concerned. Batman's visual is still entirely different from The Shadow (even if lifted from descriptions of the The Shadow as 'batlike'). Maybe the 'secret crimefighter masquerading as a playboy' concept wasn't as prevalent then. Still, even going by that article, I'd hardly call Batman a 'rip-off,' and be more likely to say Batman almost immediately transcended any comparisons beyond the basic storyline.
Finger's story is very tragic, and I hate that his contributions were only fully recognized after his death. I remember reading there were some disputes as to who created what in a book about Tim Burton's BATMAN, but they were played up more as questions of memory, not a blatant attempt to keep Finger's hand out of the merchandising pie.
I would hate to see our country erupt in a controversial culinary conflict, suffice to say you get can great food pretty much everywhere in America!
And I enjoyed your articles on comic-con. Did not know Ernie Hudson was from Detroit area.
Read the latest issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK last night and it was pretty much flawless. I'm convinced you are now the undisputed king of supernatural books! Everything just flows beautifully in a larger than life adventure. There's not even much else I can say except that it's brilliant and you make it look easier than it must have been. And your artist (forgive me I don't have the name onhand) is wonderful, couldn't ask for better.
Forgive my ignorance, but did you create Nightmare Nurse or reinvent her for the New 52? There are so many magical DC characters waiting for a revival that I can never tell! At any rate, I suspect we've only scratched the surface of her story so far, and what a story it is!
Thanks for the kind words re: JLD, David. I'm loving the book. (The artist, by the way, is Andres Guinaldo.) Nightmare Nurse first appeared in PHANTOM STRANGER (by yours truly and Dan Didio, who cooked up the basics that I'm having so much fun expanding on) so she is new to the New 52. Which is why she's so much fun. I'm having a blast creating her back story. This arc answers questions, but I'm leaving more questions dangling for the future...ReplyDelete
The secret crimefighter/playboy thing goes back at LEAST to the Scarlet Pimpernel and then Zorro—so it had been around for quite a while before the Shadow and Batman made their appearance. The Shadow was building on those characters (and I'm sure there were others!).
Ah, yes, of course, Zorro! I remember sitting up late with my dad when I was young watching a marathon of Zorro reruns. Loved it! And he was definitely having more fun than 1980s Batman.Delete
I still need to watch Alec Baldwin's take on THE SHADOW one of these days!
And Andres Guinaldo...there's an artist to watch! But hey, pretty much everyone they've paired you up with at DC lately has been wonderful. Lots of talent.
I'm also a big fan of the first of the 90's ZORRO movies. Pretty much a perfect superhero movie. And, yes, I consider Zorro a superhero: he's got the cape, the mask, the secret identity. If there IS a proto-Batman, he's it.Delete
Thanks for the kind words visa vie the article. I did know that Hudson was from the Detroit area. I thought I mentioned it in the story... but I did write it a bit ago and between both me and my editor having to trim it up I can't remember.
As for the Shadow...
Yes there are some similarities to Zorro. Bob Kane even mentioned him, however Bill Finger cited the Shadow as the main influence, and I believe Jerry Robinson mentioned him as well.
I think looking at the rich Playboy angel as the proto-batman aspect is a bit shallow. The big concept behind the Shadow was that he was a hero that acted as a villain. That was the idea that the creator cited. The Shadow acts like a villain even if his motives move more towards justice. What is more he operates more out of a hate for crime than a love for justice. All similar to Batman.
While the batman of the 50s and 60s may have been more Zorro, but even after the addition of Robin Batman still acted in a dark manor. even after he ditched the guns and killing he still acted in a way more closely in design to a criminal.
What is more, the nature of the identity is closer to the Shadow. Zorro and the Scarlet Pimpernel both chose to become masked adventurers in adulthood, if I remember my lore correctly. While this is true for the Shadow, Lamont Cranston wasn't even his real identity, the idle playboy millionaire was more a concoction for him than anyone... he even ditched for his true self aviator Kent Allard midway through the 30s. While like Zorro the Bruce Wayne persona is his real name, the adult version is pure fiction... not an exaggeration. It goes beyond an act into being a disguise, more akin to the Shadow.
As for him moving forward, well that isn't entirely accurate. As I pointed out, even as the outer trappings changed the core of the Shadow still existed for almost a decade, until the industry started imposing morality decisions down on the characters, at which point, yes it looked more like Zorro.
However, when Denny O'Neil took over he became far more like the Shadow than he had been in years. He was not nice in costume. Crime was once again the order of the day and he was an outsider again. This was most likely due to Denny being a fan of the Shadow. He did keep the character very distinct from his gun-toting predecessor, even if he did have similarities. However in the 80s with DKR released and the Batman movie coming out and with the new Millennium bringing a Miller influence to the comics and the Nolan films, Batman looks more and more like the Shadow. Fans brought in by the films or DKR even complain/ed about Batman not killing saying that they wish he would.
All this being said, I don't want Batman to be the Shadow, I love the Shadow, and he is the only one I want to be the Shadow. Unlike Kent Bruce can be human... something I think is often forgotten and should be brought back in. I just think that it is important to remember the origin and give credit where due.
As for Finger's story, sadly it isn't the only sad one from the Golden Age. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were fired from there own creation, Bill Everett was an alcoholic (which is both why he died so young and the perfect explanation for Namor's behavior), Jack Cole committed suicide, as did Wally Wood (albeit in the 70s), Jerry Robinson was screwed over by Bob Kane too, and don't forget all the writers and artists who lost there jobs and even became homeless in some cases because of the 50s witch hunts.
It is somewhat ironic that Stan Lee is accused of stealing credit (which a believe to be hyperbolic to say the least) since he actually chanced the game and prevented that from happening. By creating cults of personalities around writers and artists it made it harder to marginalize them and take advantage
I'll leave the Batman-Shadow debate to more knowledgeable heads...but I suspect we all agree that Batman long ago transcended his Shadow roots and became something unique, and unforgettable, in the pop culture landscape.Delete
Re: the Golden Age artists and writers: It's never been easy being a freelancer—still isn't, believe me!—and it was even harder in the days before healthy page rates, royalties and a world where comic books are dominant in movies and television.
Interesting, and very valid, point about Stan and "cults of personality" around artists and writers. That said, being "the King" didn't help Jack Kirby in the sixties. It's only in recent years that the general public has begun to realize what a genius we had in our midst and how massive his contribution was to Marvel, DC and all of popular culture.
Over all pop-culture shouldn't b e included in the conversation since it is only in recent years that comic books haven't been considered a dirty word (Hell it still is) Fans however lined up adored to see Kirby at shows and did anyone in the field ever doubt he had chops? In 1970 (largely because of that cult) DC allowed him to edit the Fourth World himself. He SELF EDITED. That is something no publisher would allow, because, regardless of whether you do or don't think it was good or bad for Kirby, allowing a writer to self edit is a bad idea over all. And going back to the point of this, does the average person outside of comic readers even know who Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Siegel, or Joe Shuster are? No. of course not. And in the end that is probably a good thing. Don';t see my point? Who wrote Jaws? Movie or book. What about E.T.? My guess is that you have to look it up. Most people who have seen Blade Runner probably have no idea who Philip K. Dick is. Does the Average Godfather fan reciting Mario Puzo scripts? But none of these things are secret, you can find them out if you want to, just like who created Howard the Duck and who Satn Lee's co-creator was on Fantastic Four. The problem comes from the history of not acknowledging at all who it involvedDelete
Of course my point was simply that Stan Lee's boasts about creators made it clear who was involved on record. It is hard for say MArvel to claim that John Romita had nothing to do with the Rhino when Lee is going on about him. he made it record.
As for the nature of the Golden Age...there are a few more things to remember. National, which would become DC, was run criminals. Literally it was backed by the Mob. This led to some murky dealings. Everyone else was pretty far behind them, and it wasn't exactly alone in dark backings.
What's more you have to remember for you writing comics is a dream job, that wasn't the case for a lot of these guys.
Also keep in mind being a slum medium brought in some... interesting people. I love Bill Everett and I think that he deserves far more credit than he gets for the current state of comics, but he was an alcoholic long before he worked in comics. IN fact that might be why he was freelance.
And Jack Cole killed himself while he had a steady gig at Playboy, but that is an outside story.
Now to calm your heals, enjoy this tidbit from Canada:
We'll have to agree to disagree about this, Jack. In the meantime, I'm watching your Canadian comedy as we "speak"...Delete
I'm not sure what part we are disagreeing on (once again I was all over the place) but okay.Delete
Hope you enjoy hiccups. I think Brent' Butt's character is a comic reference to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.He is a well known comic fan. Which came out more in his previous shoe "Corner Gas."
Don't forget to give a critique, pro or con, when your done watching, yo (its how the kids talk).Delete
I may have to try again another day. I'm a little distracted today and the show didn't grab me. But neither did SEINFELD when I first watched it!Delete
Maybe its the wrong day, maybe its because first episodes are somewhat different to help draw people in, or maybe it just isn't for you. Not everyone can like everything, and that's okay Dematteis. It is.Delete
The best way to describe it is that Millie is pure Id, that separation from anger issues comes in later. If that sounds interesting, then yes I would recommend giving it another try some day. If not then whatever, no big dea.
Have a nice day,
You, too, Jack!Delete
That's a really great point about Stan Lee's 'cult of personality,' Jack.Delete
I think JMD was only suggesting that even though Kirby was clearly credited on record, he still struggling to make money off his creations.
So if I'm reading this right, JMD is 100% agreed on the content of your post, just not the timing.
In other words, Stan Lee got the ball rolling and made a huge contribution to creator rights, but that didn't necessarily make it any easier for guys like Kirby to support their families at the time. Credit is nice, but a man's got to eat, too.
Well said, David. I highly recommend Mark Evanier's book on Kirby, where you really get a sense of the extraordinarily hard-working man—struggling to feed his family and pay his bills—behind the legend. It's a wonderful book.Delete
I'll have to check it out, JMD. If I keep up with my usual schedule, I'll get to it around the summer of 2024. By the way, I'm almost done with Season 1 of SHERLOCK on Netflix, which you recommended a while back! I'm on the Moriarty season finale, so I assume things pick up in a big way from here on out. Enjoyed the first two eps, though things tend to get sluggish in the middle, like they could have made each one an hour instead. But I've heard that's not the case with Season Two and Three.Delete
I didn't find it sluggish, David, but that's what makes horse racing.Delete
Season Two is very strong—and the Season Two finale is one of the best things I've ever seen on television. Great stuff!
I might have come across a bit harsher than I intended. I enjoyed "A Study in Pink" and "The Blind Banker," but the middle acts sagged ever so slightly.Delete
Look forward to Season Two! With any luck I'll watch all the way through this weekend.