Monday, April 16, 2018

GEEKING

Last week I appeared on the Geek To Me radio show, talking about the Usual Suspects (y'know, Spider-Man, Justice League, the Grateful Dead) and you can listen to the entire conversation below.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

AND STILL MORE CONSTANTINE

Came across another round of Constantine: City of Demons interviews from WonderCon—featuring me, Matt Ryan and the CW Seed's Peter Girardi.  Enjoy!  And remember:  There are seven more episodes (and a full-length DVD/Blu-ray with twenty extra minutes of story) still to come.

If you haven't seen the first five yet, you can view them right here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

THE ARRIVAL OF THE IMPOSSIBLE

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you've probably come across references to a developing project of mine called Impossible Incorporated.  My co-creator, the brilliant Mike Cavallaro, and I have been toying with this idea for years now and it's finally reached full manifestation with a five issue mini-series, coming in September from those fine folks at IDW.

Here's a wonderful teaser image that Mike put together to whet your appetite. Enjoy!  


©copyright 2018 J.M. DeMatteis & Mike Cavallaro

Monday, April 2, 2018

MORE CONSTANTINE

Just received a few more photos from our Constantine: City of Demons events at WonderCon.




And just found out that the first episode is available on YouTube.  I'm embedding it below.  (You can watch the rest by jumping over to the CW Seed website.)  Enjoy!

Monday, March 26, 2018

WONDERCONSTANTINE

Back from a short, exhausting—and very gratifying—two days at WonderCon, where we premiered the first five episodes of Constantine: City of Demons. Thanks to Team Constantine, and all the fans, for a memorable experience.
You can watch the first five episodes on CW Seed right here. But this is just the beginning: There are seven more episodes to come (and a DVD release with twenty more minutes of story).
Below are some photos of the panel I did with Matt Ryan and the CW Seed's Peter Girardi (I should have more later in the week) and the first of several video interviews.  Enjoy!



Friday, March 16, 2018

HERE'S JOHNNY!

The Constantine animated series—Constantine: City of Demons—is coming soon: March 24th on CW Seed! I'll be at WonderCon next weekend for the Constantine panel along with Warner Brothers Animation's Peter Girardi and Constantine himself, Matt Ryan, to debut the first few episodes. If you're at the convention, come to the panel (Saturday morning at 10 in Room 200A) and join us as we discuss All Things Constantine.  If not, I hope you check us out on CW Seed.

Update:  There will also be a Constantine signing at the DC Booth from 12:45 till 1:30.  (But I'm happy to sign any of my books while I'm there!)  

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

HARRY AND SAL


Spectacular Spider-Man #200—my favorite single issue out of all the Spider-Man stories I've written—was released twenty-five years ago this month.  The great Sal Buscema turned in a brilliant job on this story, which capped almost two years of work developing the Harry Osborn/Green Goblin storyline.
My plots were usually very tight—page by page, panel by panel, crammed with camera angles, psychological shading and rough-draft dialogue—but whatever was on the page, Sal was always able to take it to another level and do things that many other artists couldn’t. 

There was a sequence at the end of that story where Harry, realizing that he loved Peter Parker too much to let him die, saves a drugged, weak Spidey from a death-trap. Peter, his wife Mary Jane and Harry’s son, Norman, all stand by, shocked and heartbroken, as Harry then collapses, overcome by the toxic Goblin formula. 

On the final two pages, Spidey accompanies Harry into an ambulance, they drive off and Harry passes away, leaving Peter Parker to his grief and memories. When the ambulance arrives at the hospital, it falls to Spider-Man to tell Mary Jane and Norman that Harry’s gone. They react, we cut to a photo of Peter and Harry in happier days...and the story ends. The sequence was small, quiet, but, on an emotional level, it was massive. 
I did everything I could to communicate the power of those last pages to Sal in the plot—along with my thoughts on how the sequence would be handled in the final script. My intention was to verbally milk the pages for all they were worth, wringing out every last drop of emotion; going big and melodramatic via captions, inner monologues from Peter or dialogue between the characters. (Another benefit of "Marvel style": I didn't have to decide then, I could make up my mind when the art was done.)
Then Sal’s pages came in: It was one of his finest hours. The panel to panel flow was cinematic and crystal clear, the characters dramatic and achingly human. And those final two pages? Perfection! At first—locked into my original vision—I began writing captions and dialogue for the end-sequence, but it quickly became clear that everything I wanted to say had already been said, and better, by Sal. It was all there in the pictures. He had translated my plot so expertly that words would have capsized the sequence and destroyed the emotional power of the moment. So I shut my big mouth and let Harry Osborn die in silence, with his best friend by his side.
That, too, is part of a writer’s work—especially in comics: deciding when to speak and when to shut up. Deciding whether to go for a barrage of machine-gun dialogue, a series of powerful captions or to surrender to equally-powerful silence. Whether we’re working full-script of plot-first, we make those decisions on every panel of every page. 
And it certainly helps the process when you’ve got an artist like Sal Buscema bringing your story to life.

©copyright 2018 J.M. DeMatteis

Saturday, March 3, 2018

WHERE WE LIVE

Artist J.H. Williams III has put together an anthology comic book to benefit the survivors of the October, 2017 Las Vegas shooting.  I'm very grateful to be a part of this project, along with so many incredible writers and artists. My contribution, called "Remember," is illustrated by my friend, and frequent collaborator, Mike Cavallaro. 
WHERE WE LIVE is now in the PREVIEWSWORLD May 2018 Catalog. Diamond Order Number MAR180600. If you're interested in supporting the project, be sure and have your comic shop pre-order a copy for you. 
You can read more about the project here.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AVATAR MEHER BABA!



"I am the Divine Beloved who loves you more than you can ever love yourself"—Avatar Meher Baba

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

MARITAL BLISS

Someone on Twitter brought this page from my Spectacular Spider-Man run to my attention this morning. It's my favorite Peter-MJ scene out of the many I wrote, perhaps because the dialogue came straight from life with my amazing wife.  I even bought, and framed, the original Sal Buscema art.

By the way:  The song that's playing in the background is Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin"—performed, most famously, by Francis Albert Sinatra.  (I suspect it's Mary Jane, not Peter, who's the Sinatra fan.  I'll ask next time I see them!)

Friday, February 2, 2018

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, VERTIGO!

Way back in the Before Time, my friend Karen Berger was just out of college, clutching a newly-minted journalism degree, and looking for a job.  One day while I was up at DC (I was still fairly new to the business, just getting my feet wet writing stories for the horror and superhero anthology books), Paul Levitz, the man who bought my first comic book script, mentioned that he was looking for an assistant.  I told him about my smart, talented friend, he asked me to send her up for an interview and the rest is, quite literally, comic book history.
I can take credit for opening the door for KB, but it was her own brilliant creative instincts that made her one of the best editors in the business and, eventually, the architect of the ground-breaking Vertigo line of comics, which debuted in January 1993—twenty-five years ago this month.  (Okay, I'm off by a couple of days!)  I was happy to be part of that launch with the graphic novel Mercy, illustrated by the great Paul Johnson.  (Mercy came out recently in a new edition, from Dover Books, with lots of great extras. If you're interested, you can order it right here.)
So here we are an alarmingly-fast quarter century later and Karen is launching a new line—Berger Books—at Dark Horse.  Looking back, I wish Vertigo a very happy anniversary and, looking ahead, I wish Karen all the luck in the world with the new line.  Here's to more historic success!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

AMARTITHI 2018

“The book that I shall make people read
is the book of the heart,
which holds the key
to the mystery of life.” 
Avatar Meher Baba

Happy Amartithi to my Baba family around the world.

Friday, January 19, 2018

SLUGGING IT OUT


I’ve written more than my share of superhero slugfests (in both comics and animation) and thoroughly enjoyed doing it.  I adore these larger-than-life characters and there’s much to be said about the mythic qualities Superman, Spider-Man and their brethren bring to the page and screen and the resonance of the symbolic conflicts that play out in their battles.  But there’s an inherent flaw in the capes-and-masks genre that was underscored—and I suspect it was intentional—in the first episode of the CW’s Black Lightning (which got off to a terrific start this past Tuesday.  If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to check it out).  Early in the episode, lead character Jefferson Pierce—who, some years earlier, turned his back on his career as a costumed crime-fighter—says that he’s done more to change lives in his time as a high school principal than he ever did in his time as a superhero:  a valuable insight about the power of focused compassion, of individual effort by average human beings, to change the world.  But, by the end of the episode, Pierce is back in costume zapping “bad guys” left and right, leaving a trail of bodies, some of them dead, in his wake.  The message appears to be:  This is the way you really change the world.  Compassion and kindness ultimately don’t work.  Violence, in the end, is the most effective solution.  

I’m sure this wasn’t the message the producers intended.  BL is an extremely thoughtful show, grappling with serious issues, and I look forward to seeing where things go from here.  Perhaps a major part of the ongoing story will be an exploration of this contradiction, examining the massive crack in the foundation of the entire superhero genre:  No matter how much these characters talk about high ideals, non-violence or the power of love, in the end it often comes down to two people in costumes dropping buildings on each other’s heads.  (And the more street level, the more realistic, your story is, the more difficult those scenes become:  A space battle against aliens plays out very differently than, say, Batman beating the hell out of a common criminal.)

I’ve wrestled with the question of superhero violence throughout my career, trying to find new ways to circumvent it and addressing it very directly in stories like The Life and Times of Savior 28.  There will always be a wide-eyed kid inside me who gets a primal thrill watching self-sacrificing heroes and crazed villains knocking each other across the city:  it’s exhilarating, it’s cathartic, it’s fun.  But there’s another part of me that would love to see Jefferson Pierce, after a few seasons of hard lessons, realize that he truly can impact the world more positively as an educator.  That violence is never a viable answer.

And, perhaps, ultimately, that’s the story Black Lightning will unfold.



©copyright 2018 J.M. DeMatteis