Monday, August 13, 2018

THE SUNSHINE BOYS

Here's a short clip from the recent Raleigh Supercon panel where I talk about how I came to work on Justice League International.  

Oh, yeah: some guy named Keith Giffen was sitting next to me and I still have no clue who he is!  (But he seems absolutely thrilled to be up there with me, doesn't he?)



Update:  And here are the Sunshine Boys again, talking about their, shall we say, unique collaborative process.

CONSTANTINE IS COMING

While I was away, WB released the trailer for the full-length Constantine: City of Demons movie, which will be available on October 9th (the birthday of another famous Liverpudlian).  The 90 minute film features all the episodes of the CW Seed series, including those that haven't aired yet, plus exclusive story material that can't be found anywhere else.  

You can view the trailer below:

BACK

Just returned from a vacation in the South Carolina quietude, reconnecting with What's Important.  Lots of reading (Dickens, James Hilton, Richard Matheson, China Mieville). Lots of writing, too (deadlines never stop).  A deep and valuable time away.  

And now...back to so-called reality! 


Sunday, July 22, 2018

SUPERCONNING

Next weekend is the Raleigh Supercon and I’ll be there all three days, at Booth SG4, talking to the fans, signing books, tap dancing and singing opera (well, I lied about those last two).  I’ve also got three panels that I’m very much looking forward to, especially the two with someone named Keith Giffen.  I’ve never met the guy, but I hear he’s an interesting fellow.

Friday
Comic Writing Across Multiple Universes
JMD, Keith Giffen, Peter David
4:30  Room 305B

Saturday
Justice League to Scooby Apocalypse: The Giffen-DeMatteis Q & A
Noon Room 305A

Sunday
Writing Comic Books
JMD, Peter David, Larry Hama, Tini Howard, Michael Kingston
1 pm 305B


Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

SILENCE DAY 2018

"When the Word of my love breaks out of its silence and speaks in your hearts, telling you who I really am, you will know that that is the Real Word you have been always longing to hear."  
Avatar Meher Baba
                                              

Saturday, July 7, 2018

APOLOGIES

Just discovered that I haven't been receiving email notifications about comments for quite some time, so if you've posted a comment to the blog and haven't received a reply, it's because I wasn't aware of the comment.

I'm going to dig in and try to find and answer as many comments as I can in the coming week.  Please be patient and accept my apologies.  I love interacting with the folks that post here and do my best to answer every comment posted.

Stay tuned!

REMEMBERING DITKO

The comic book world is reeling from the news that Steve Ditko—genius, visionary, giant of the industry—has passed away.  What Ditko, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created in the 1960s was the foundation not just of the Marvel Universe but of a good part of our current popular culture.  And of course Ditko’s contributions to DC Comics—Hawk and Dove, Shade The Changing Man and the Creeper, to name three—still have vitality and importance today.

I worked with Ditko twice in my early days at DC, the first time on the short story “The Dimensions of Greed,” which appeared in the science-fiction anthology Time Warp. (Could a writer new to comics ask for anything more? I knew I was lucky then, I know it more now.)  I’ve often wondered where the surreal visual language Ditko created—on display in the “Greed” page below and at its peak during his extraordinary run on the Doctor Strange feature in Strange Tales—came from. Comics had never seen anything like it and we’ve all been echoing that work ever since.  (One of the most overused words in my scripts is “Ditkoesque.”  The other, unsurprisingly, is “Kirbyesque.”)  It’s no wonder folks in the 60s thought Stan and Steve were dropping acid!



Without Steve Ditko there would be no Ted Kord, which means no Blue Beetle and Booster Gold anchoring JLI.  Without Steve Ditko there would be no Kraven the Hunter, which means no Kraven’s Last Hunt.

We build our careers on the backs of giants.  

Rest well, Mr. Ditko.


Addendum:  I’ve shared this before, but here’s the story of the one and only time I met Steve Ditko:

Steve Ditko was 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, "So...ah...do 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.


©copyright 2018 J.M. DeMatteis


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

STARS AND STRIPES

When I think of July Fourth I think of James Cagney, dancing like a manic marionette in this 1942 classic.  Watched it every year when I was a kid and it never gets old.

Happy Fourth everyone!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

REMEMBERING ELLISON

Very sorry to hear that Harlan Ellison has passed away.  Not just a wonderful writer of science fiction and fantasy, but a wonderful writer.  Period.

When I was in my early 20s devouring Ellison books, I was always impressed by the fact that Harlan's introductions to his short stories were as engaging as the stories themselves.  Sometimes more!  The man seemed to pour the entirety of himself into everything he wrote.

My favorite Ellison quote?  "Writing is a holy chore.”  It is indeed.

Sincere condolences to Harlan Ellison's friends and family.


Monday, June 18, 2018

IMPOSSIBLE AT LAST!

Here's the story on the long-gestating project I've got coming from IDW.  Click the link below for details!

Exclusive: DeMatteis and Cavallaro Bring 'Impossible, Incorporated' to IDW:

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

MORE ITALIA

Still in a jet lagged haze so, in lieu of writing, here are a few video clips from my panels at the Etna Comics Festival.  The first discusses truth, lies and Brooklyn Dreams, the second talks about the importance of following your passion, and the third is about chemistry between writers and artists.

I'll be back when my brain cells are revived and I can make some sense!





Monday, June 11, 2018

ITALIA!

Just got back from an amazing trip to Italy, starting with our time at the Etna Comics Festival in Sicily, then moving on to Calabria (home of my Italian grandparents and quite a few current-day DeMatteises) and then the extraordinary city of Rome.  

Because I'm still jet lagged, it's a little difficult to put together coherent sentences at the moment:  I'll have more to say about our incredible journey in another post.  For now, I'll share some photos from Etna.  Enjoy!









Friday, May 25, 2018

RETURN TO WILLWORLD

Here's a thoughtful and fun analysis of one of my favorite DC projects, Green Lantern: Willworld.  And I wholeheartedly agree with everything said about the late, great Seth Fisher.  No matter what I asked Seth for in my script, he gave it to me—times ten.  No, times twenty.  A brilliant artist with a truly extraordinary imagination.

Monday, May 21, 2018

LIVING WITH GUN VIOLENCE

Where We Live, the comic book anthology benefitting the victims of the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting, goes on sale May 30th.  There's a huge roster of talent contributing to the book and I'm very grateful that my story "Remember," beautifully illustrated by my friend (and Savior 28 collaborator) Mike Cavallaro, is part of the collection.

The Hollywood Reporter is running an in-depth interview with artist J.H. Williams III and his wife Wendy Wright-Williams in which they talk about how they conceived Where We Live and brought it into being.  You can read it right here.



I hope you'll support this incredibly worthy project.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

AND EVEN MORE CONSTANTINE

Another interview—one of my favorites—from Wondercon, discussing the animated Constantine: City of Demons (now streaming on CW Seed).

Monday, May 14, 2018

THE LAST PATROL

It was announced today that The Doom Patrol will be getting their own live-action series on DC's new streaming service, DC Universe.  But that won't be the Patrol's first appearance on television:  A few years back I wrote an episode—one of the darkest of the entire series—of Batman: The Brave & The Bold that focused on the DCU's most tormented super-team.  And here it is:

TALKING THE TALK

A (very) short post to share links to two recent interviews I've done:  One with The Reading Lists and one with Innovation & Tech Today.  Both, I think (hope!), are interesting and a little different.  Enjoy!

Friday, April 27, 2018

RETURN TO SHAMBALLA

Stumbled across this fan-made motion comic of the Doctor Strange: Into Shamballa graphic novel I did way back when with my friend Dan Green and it's very impressive.  This is part one, but it should easily link you to the rest.

Now if only our friends at Marvel will get this book (one of my all-time favorite Marvel projects) back in print!

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!)  

.  

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