Moonshadow: The Definitive Edition hits comic book shops tomorrow, courtesy of Dark Horse and our devoted editor, Philip Simon. The book is a beautiful hardcover, with lots of extras that showcase the development of the series. I also wrote a new introduction for the collection and you can read it below. Enjoy!
In my early years in comics I blundered along, trying desperately to find my own voice as a writer and ending up sounding like a damaged clone, created from the mixed DNA of Stan Lee, Steve Gerber, Len Wein, Roy Thomas and half-a-dozen other comic book writers I admired. It’s not that my work was bad—I poured heart and soul into those stories and I’m gratified that my runs on Defenders and Captain America are still held in high regard—it’s just that I hadn’t found the way to fully express myself in the form. Looking back, I think I was trapped by the super-hero genre itself; unconsciously—and sometimes consciously—parroting stories and styles I’d been absorbing all my life.
Moonshadow changed that—and changed the course of my creative life in the process.
Someone (and for the life of me, I can’t remember who!) once said that whatever story you’re working on should be written as if it’s the only one you’ll ever tell: pouring all your thoughts, feelings, ideas, ideals, passions, philosophies, hopes and dreams—every iota of Who You Are—into it. That’s what I did with Moonshadow. It allowed me to step outside the Marvel-DC mindset and discover my own voice. Over the course of those twelve issues I stopped being a “comic book writer” and became a writer.
Of course it didn’t hurt that I was working with Jon J Muth, as brilliant an artist as the medium has ever seen. The magic of our collaboration became evident to me at our first face-to-face meeting. A mutual friend had given Jon a copy of my original Moonshadow proposal and the two of us met to discuss the project. He arrived at my house with some preliminary sketches based on what he’d read and, as I looked them over, profoundly impressed, I observed: “These are very Dickensian.” “Well,” Jon responded, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, “that’s what you wrote.” And, of course, it was—but the truth is that, despite the many Dickens-like touches in my outline, I never consciously realized the influence until Jon pointed it out! (Moon evolved into a series that allowed me to pay tribute to just about all of my literary heroes—from Dickens to Vonnegut, J.D. Salinger to William Blake, Dostoyevsky to Bradbury to L. Frank Baum. They were all standing over my shoulder as I wrote, encouraging me to find my own unique way of telling a story.)
Muth and I worked very closely: I have warm memories of going out to breakfast at a local diner, discussing the outline I’d just written; Jon doing layouts as we spoke, sometimes on napkins! We worked in a variety of ways over the next two years—Moonshadow was an untraditional story that required an untraditional approach—but always with a mutual respect, and mutual enthusiasm, that I think suffused the project. Jon’s painted pages—which ranged from brooding romanticism to delightful whimsy and back again—always challenged me, dared me to reach beyond my comfort zone and be better than I’d ever been. I hope my scripts did the same for him.
Some necessary acknowledgements: Jon and I had three wonderful editors watching our backs on the original Epic Comics series—Laurie Sutton, Margaret Clark and the late, great Archie Goodwin—all of whom allowed us to tell our story in exactly the way we wanted, providing tremendous support and encouragement throughout our entire run. (And let’s not forget Marvel Comics’ then editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter, who gave my oddball pitch his approval, then sent me over to Archie G.) We also have to tip our hats to our extraordinary letterer, Kevin Nowlan, and two equally-extraordinary artists, Kent Williams and George Pratt, who pitched in to help Jon on the original series when deadlines got tight.
When, a decade later, we jumped ship to my old friend Karen Berger’s DC imprint, Vertigo, we worked with incomparable editor Shelly Bond on our sequel story, Farewell, Moonshadow: a challenging blend of comics and prose—we didn’t want to go back to the same well and tell our story in the same way—that featured some of the most breathtaking art of Jon’s career.
The first issue of Moonshadow came out in January of 1985, which means that Moon, “Sunflower,” Ira, Frodo, the G’l-Doses, the Unkshuss family and all the rest are nearly thirty-five years old now. I thank them, the amazing Mr. Muth and all the readers who took that magical journey with us. Moonshadow transformed me as a writer, changing the course of my career, opening new doors of opportunity, and I am forever grateful.
Pop! Poof! Ping!
©copyright 2019 J.M. DeMatteis
I still say the best review for Moonshadow was what an associate of mine said when I lent him my copy... "like Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, except way more poetic, and a more vulgar."ReplyDelete
A great line...although I wouldn't go along with the vulgar part. (Although I get what he means!)Delete
I purchased a copy today at my smallish LCS, and I've felt guilty ever since. It was the last one on the shelf, and I can't stop thinking of the people this week who won't get a chance to pick it up and look at it as a result of *my* action. Would the world have been better off had I passed on it and waited for a copy to arrive via another channel? Perhaps. Is there any way in reality I could have resisted buying it? Nope!ReplyDelete
Release you guilt, Bill, and hope the shop re-orders! : )Delete
You know Dematteis, there is a certain irony that you believe that you were trapped in he superhero genre, when the inspirations you mentioned )Stan Lee, Steve Gerber, and Len Wein) were not.ReplyDelete
Unfortunately, some bald guy with a bushy beard, sitting at a table at a comic show wrote all over the cover.
I tell you... no respect.
Interestingly, despite owning the original trade, I purchased a copy of issue #1 of the original Moonhadow mini series.
Even their superhero work was not very superheroey much of the time (especially Gerber and Stan Lee).
I wonder why that happened.
Interestingly, despite owning the trade, I bought issue #1 of the original Epic mini series.
Unfortunately, some bald guy with a bushy beard, and a wild-eyed hippie stare, sitting at a table at a comic show wrote all over it.
I tell you, no respect for a man's property.
At lot (not all) of that superhero trap was in my own head. I needed to step outside those universes in order to shake off those limitations, self-imposed and otherwise.Delete
Who is this nasty bald man you speak of, who writes all over your comic books without regard?
I don't know the bald man's name, but he also wrote on my Kraven's Last Hunt trade, first issue of JLI, Dr. Strange: Shamballa, and some others.Delete
Now that copy of Moonshadow is between a a Ghost Rider first appearance reprinting where some guy named Gary scribbled on to, and a copy of X-Men God Loves, Man Kills where some former actor doodled some words.
We need to watch those weirdos who walk in and act like they are special guests. I don't barge into their hobbieds and write on them.
Of course, I haven;t seen any in a while, like they HAVE been band from comic shows. It all seems so hollow, and pointless now. Almost like the point odf comic show is dissolving from them.
That may just be how insidious they were all along.
P.S. if you see teat wild-eyed bald hippie at some convention you are attending sock him right in the face for destroying other people's comics.
Must we keep repeating the word "bald"? Can't we just say "inordinately handsome"?Delete
One of my first truly favorite series. Looking forward to picking up this wonderful looking edition.ReplyDelete
(Girl in the Bay was great by the way - while I'm here!)
Glad you liked GIRL IN THE BAY: I'm hoping we get to do more. And I hope you enjoy the "definitive" edition of MOON. I'm so happy to see the book out in the world again...and in such a beautiful edition!Delete
And on the PKD tip...ReplyDelete
Having just read VALIS for the first time, this is on point.Delete
By the way, Jack: I was about to post the two follow-up comment of yours and then they disappeared. Perhaps UBIK is up to its old tricks!Delete
You ask me, it was probably that bal... wild-eyed hippe from the show... with no hair on top of his head.Delete
He had a look of malcontent on his face. IF you saw it, you'd know.
Seriously, how have you not read VALIS until now? I read it when I was 19, it it was over a quarter of a century old then.
Did you at least not hate it? Plans to read teh rest of the trilogy.
Linda Fox maybe the only thing that can save us from the forces of that Bald-comic-show-attending-hippie evil-doer.
What of Angel's quest for peace between Howard the Duck issues, and dealing with Lennon's death? How will you ever discern if she came for the sandwich?
I read the rest of the trilogy many years ago. I started VALIS way back when but just didn't connect. Reading it this time I found it to be...well. not a great book, by any means, but an interesting one and, as a PKD fan, well worth reading.Delete
So... CAN Linda Fox save us from this bald malcontent. Perhaps this should be among the last times we mention him, otherwise he materialize.Delete
But I tell you, he is up to no good.
Where DO the other parts of the trilogy rate?
Also, there is this new movie called Yesterday, I have absolutely zero interest in seeing it. However, it does pose an interesting question.
Would J.M, Dematteis rather live in a world without the works of the Beatles or Stan Lee.
Now you may say Stan, since you work in THAT media, but put that out of your mind.
First, we will assume all inspirations remain intact. So, you still have a job.
Second, it is only your personal loss. Hypothetically, think you write novels or sitcoms if it helps separate you. Maybe even a used car dealer.
Third, you can not say it is equal
Which loss would hit you harder, as a man?
It's an impossible choice. Life without Stan/Marvel and life without the Beatles would be sad indeed. pretty much inconceivable That said, if I HAD to choose... I'd live in a Stan-free world.Delete
But I don't want to! : )
Man, "Octopus Garden" over "with Great Power Comes Great Responsibility."Delete
Instead of Captain America questioning if he should have battled less and questioned more, you get
Gone, Gone in an instant is The Fantastic Four's dysfunctional family psycho-drama, with the classic Stan Lee banter. What remains? "I am the egg man."
Silver SUrfer's philosophical musing replaced by a limey who was just trying to build a persona by saying similar things.
Your old friend Peter Parker (your words mind you) blinked out of existence, all for Norwegian Wood.
<Maybe is Stan had lived in The Dakota, instead of Long ISland...
I mean, there is no wrong answer, and I appreciate the honesty, but I'm not sure I can look at this site or your words the same way again.
DON'T WORRY STAN('s spirit), I WOULD ALWAYS CHOOSE YOU OVER THOSE ENGLISH FAD-CHASINH HONKEY'S/
I mean, it isn't like it was the Rolling stones. Or the Yardbirds. Or Bob Dylan. Or MC5. or Husker Du. Or Lisa Marr. Or They Might BE Giants. Or Chuck Berry. Or Buddy Holly. Or those dogs thjat bark Christmas carols. Or...
Let's just hope you never have to make that call... for all of our sake. wink/smirk.
By the way, did you know Jonathan Frakes worked for Marvel in the 70s?Delete
He just can't escape this nerd crap.
I'd heard that years ago, but I'd forgotten. Just looked it up:Delete
I haven't seen YESTERDAY yet, but it looks really promising. I'm hearing great things.Delete
The concept of a civilization's memory of art being lost but the inspirations being intact is fascinating, and plays into some philosophical questions that probably won't be addressed in a rom-com. But it begs the question if, say, the Beatles could be theoretically removed from the public memory but their influence still felt (because music would be radically different today if the truly didn't exist) then does it make the case that they ALWAYS existed in the public consciousness (even, say, in the days before their music manifested)? And the manifestation is about recognizing and articulating what was always actually there, and that's why there's such a strong response?
On another note, I really love what DARK HORSE did with THE DEFINITIVE MOONSHADOW. The book is really well done (I mean the format, was already sold on the content).
That's a fascinating idea, David, and one I subscribe to, in the sense that I think all the things creators reflect in their art is not just Out There in the public consciousenss, but inside us. My feeling is that, when we respond powerfiully to a work of art, it's because it reconfirms an inner knowing, an inner wisdom, and expresses it to our conscious minds in a way that illuminates our hearts and souls.Delete
For instance, I think the reason I responded to THE TWILIGHT ZONE as a kid was because it touched the part of me where I believed in the show's view of the universe as something conscious and alive that interacts with us in our everyday lives.
Did that make sense?
Glad you like the new MOON edition. Dark Horse—specifically our passionate editor Philip Simon—did a fantastic job.
It makes perfect sense to me.Delete
Been enjoying leafing through the new book, hoping to make time for a proper rereading soon (actually, I think I may need to get reading glasses first, my vision's been getting spottier of late, and it's harder for me to focus on text for an extended period).ReplyDelete
I noticed only a few of the text pieces from the inside covers seem to be included. With room for 30+ pages of extras I assume that was deliberate, and most of the missing ones seem to be the story summary ones that interrupt the flow in a non-serialized version. One I was surprised I can't seem to find was the second excerpt from "Waiting For Moonshadow".
By the way, with MOONSHADOW, THE GIRL IN THE BAY and the end of the Vertigo imprint all on my mind in the past little while, I ended up going off at too great a length about the various facets of your career over here (http://fourrealities.blogspot.com/2019/07/moonshadow-dematteis-and-other-topics.html). There might be more later, I definitely plan to do a lot of re-reading of your work, and tracking down a few new-to-me things I've heard good things about, in the near future.
That's a lovely piece on your blog , Bob. Thank you for the kind words. Deeply appreciated.ReplyDelete
Glad you're enjoying the new edition of MOONSHADOW. I'm over the moon about it (so to speak).
Re: GIRL IN THE BAY. I would have loved five or six issues to spread the story's wings a little more, but four is what we were given. I hope we get a chance to do more with Kathy and Company.
Thanks again for sharing your blog post!
Hi J.M, I had just come back from visiting my parents and I knew I had something waiting for me. I had pre-ordered the hardcover of Moonshadow as soon as Amazon Brazilian store had it popped at my recommendation screen back in February. I went to talk to the building trustee and asked he had any package for me.ReplyDelete
Lately, I have been remembering the time I read Moonshadow for the first of my 10 readings: it was back in the early 90s ( when it was firstly issued here in Brazil ). At that time I would never in my life thought I would one day talk to the author of my all-time favorite Graphic Novel.
I had made lists of questions I wanted to make, but today I am still puzzled by the relationship between Moonshadow the human that after the whom the Captain is named and the G'L Dose that actually fathered our captain.
In the back cover of the issue, I see Moonshadow was praised by Bradbury and Michael Moorcock, which is a "wow" at the 10th power.
I took a picture of my package just as I opened it as eagerly as a kid on Christmas morning.
Thanks for the story a mega-gazillion times.
Tried the photo link, Daniel, and it didn't work. But THANK YOU for the kind words. I'm so happy the new edition of MOONSHADOW has made it to Brazil!Delete
All the best to you and all the Brazilian fans!
Thanks for the answer! I have bought the American Dark Horse reissue, but I think Panini Brazil will soon publish here. I actually still have my original 12 issues published in Brazil.Delete
I believe it will be published by Pipoca & Nanquim. They recently did a version of BLOOD: A TALE, as well.Delete
WOW, very good news!Delete
Yes, it is!Delete
Hey just one more comment: Farewell Moonshadow is included. Ahh, I didn't know about this story until now. Shame on me.ReplyDelete
Hope you enjoy it, Daniel!Delete
SO here is my point...ReplyDelete
You mentioned when the Life and Times of Savior 28 came out, that you loved Silver Surfer by Stan Lee, but you thought it was frustrating that the Surfer would talk about the problems with violence, and then begin blasting things.
But what if that is the point. The Surfer talks about peace. He loves peace. SO do a lot of us. Still, even the best of us sometimes devolve into some form of violence or cruelty.
In those cases of the best, usually as a form of retaliation for or attempt to prevent more.
There is a true cycle. What if there is a larger point in Lee's writing. That you can have all teh best intentions in the world, but human nature has its dark sides that need to be overcome.
Exploration of the cycle and painfully human nature in both heroes and villains.
What if that were the point? Did Lee plan that? If not, does he still deserve credit for the creation of the tales that show it? Does it show it? Is this your new head-cannon? AM I talking out of my ass? Was the belief that Italian immigrants carried the vamprirc germ REALLY a 19th century stereotype?
Interesting! The problem with the Surfer comic was that the things you're talking about became a formula. After six or so glorious issues, we got the same basic thing over and over and over. I think that's one of the reasons for the book's ultimate failure.Delete
Stan clearly didn't know what to do. That's why he was going to change it to the "savage Silver Surfer"—which would have been a real violation of the character.
But, man, those first half a dozen issues were incredible. Among my favorite mainstream comics of all time.
It became formulaic... almost like a cycle? Like the cycles that humans have to break? The kind that often bring out the darker side of our natures and keep them hanging around.Delete
Especially under frustrating or demoralizing times... like being stuck on a world that seems to be insane, brutish, and dislikes you.
Not all brilliant human revelations are intentional.
KA-BLAMOW!!! Demateeis' new meat head cannon. You are welcome.
Although, it is hard to rival the brilliance of Silver Surfer #5... and #3... and #6... and #4 (speaking of which, how did he go from getting his clock cleaned by Thor to giving God a run for his money? I want answers).
Vertigo of the Silver Age I say!
Oh... Vertigo and Stan are both dead... I made myself sad.
Anyway, those comics became so sacred that the Surfer became Place you brought your A-game.
Stan, Englehart, Starlin, Marz (although events got in the way at times), Lackey, Pak, Dematteis. This was hallowed ground for all of them... or at least seemed to be.
Even with stuff like the 2003 series and Perez, which didn't win A LOT of fans, was at least daring.
And the first issue of the new mini series, Silver Surfer: Black was the best book of the week... maybe last month.
I feel like I lost my original point.
Still, if Marvel ever did wan a Vertigo like brand, it seems the Surfer (and Dr. Strange) could lead that charge.
Well, Marvel tried to do Vertigo with the STRANGE TALES line back in the 90s. It went south very quickly. That said, Doc and Surfer would make a good foundation for an older-skewing line.Delete
SILVER SURFER is a complicated book. There's a lot to unpack in the promise of the first issue. It's interesting that Lee essentially begins with the idea that achieving the pinnacle of civilization seems like a bad thing to Norrin Radd, who envies the struggles of his ancestors. So there's this idea that our violent tendencies are, in some strange way, tied to our best qualities, our passion for discovery.Delete
Norrin's heroism and his tragedy are rolled into one in such grand and beautiful fashion. He's the only one who has the initiative to seek out Galactus and save his planet because of his romantic ideals...but he ultimately gets his wish to live in a world not unlike the past he romanticized and it turns out to be a burden.
And then the Watcher origin story in the back of SS#1 puts a different spin on Zenn-La's tragedy. The Watchers achieve near-perfection, too, but unlike Zenn-La's people, they're not pacificed by their achievements but compelled to over-reach.
If Stan Lee had felt free to close out those threads, what might have he concluded, if anything? It's not entirely clear from the book's beginnings, at least not to me. Could PARABLE be considered a clearer statement? Probably--but I don't know that's it's where he was headed originally.
As Mr. Spock would say, David: "Fascinating!" That "paradise isn't all it's cracked up to be" was a part of STAR TREK, too. This idea that we were born to struggle and sweat and strain to achieve anything of value. It makes for great drama, but I don't really agree with it. I think it's an old model, both for storytellers and humanity as a whole. Why can't we achieve through ease, joy, delight in the universe and in our compassionate connection to each other?Delete
I'm 100% agreed with you. Funny thing is leisure is often depicted in those stories as lacking substance, but I find that's not the case at all. Leisure has real meaning. Who doesn't feel like they could benefit from a few more walks in the park, or taking the time to enjoy a great book or album? If you re-frame Norrin's story a bit, you can see the holes in his argument. If he were, say, a 20th century man upset because refrigerators were invented and he no longer has to hunt for his food everyday like his ancestors, he'd come across as a bit ridiculous.Delete
And I don't subscribe to the theory that we'd run out of things to explore. There is no cap on the Infinite, after all. So really we'd just be freed to discover more, not less!
So re-reading SS#1 and then the Lee/Byrne one-shot from the early 80s, I wonder, is Norrin Radd a reliable narrator?Delete
In the 80s one-shot, plotted and drawn by Byrne and scripted by Lee, Surfer's recollection of his origin story has a different focus. He's not concerned with decadence but rather Zenn-La's lack of military defenses. (In the original tale, they notably had a powerful weapon that destroyed neighboring planets and devastated Zenn-La, but had no effect whatsoever on Galactus. So Stan Lee never implied that if they only had more powerful weapons they would have prevailed.)
Also, there's more focus on Shalla-Bal and Norrin's love for her. In the 60s take, Norrin doesn't seem to think love is worth all that much compared to the struggle of his ancestors.
All of which begs the question, was Zenn-La ever as decadent as Norrin implied or was it a character flaw that made him see it that way (comparable to, say, Peter Parker's isolationism before the burglar killed Uncle Ben).
At any rate, I think people are inclined toward meaningful work, and if we overcame the problems of poverty, war and disease, it doesn't inevitably follow that we'd reach a point where we'd forget how to walk or anything. It would simply free everyone to find their most meaningful work.
So maybe Norrin's remembrance is best summed up by the Will Rogers' quote, "Things ain't what they used to be--and probably never was!" Which, if memory serves, was a running theme of your Surfer work!
As for my own idea of how Norrin's dilemma might be resolved, I think it's simple enough: a society like Zenn-La would have a place for interactive stories that allowed Norrin to indulge his romantic fantasies about the past but also to recognize them as just that. STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION had the right idea with the holodeck (even if it was always doomed to malfunction and threaten its participants with death!).
Interesting stuff, David. There's an old saying that "motivation affects perception"—so, if Norrin Radd was essentially a restless spirit who always would have been more at home in the stars than on Zenn-La, he would have found problems with his society, and a reason to leave, one way or another.Delete
He sacrificed a lot to become the Surfer, saving his world in the process, but there was always a part of him that was happy to be surfing the spaceways. And one thing doesn't have to contradict the other. We're all a mass of contradictory impulses.
And just like that, you've changed the way I see Surfer's origin.Delete
Not surprising, I guess, since you are something of an expert on the character...
BTW, I'm unfamiliar with Lee's plans for a 'savage' Silver Surfer. The idea brings to mind the story you wrote where Surfer's clay double went on a rampage, but didn't have the heart to really hurt anyone.
I think the "savage" Surfer would have been a big mistake. And I'm glad Stan didn't go forward with it.Delete
A quote from above: "We're all a mass of contradictory impulses." Something tells me that the closer this idea is to the center of a person's understanding of the world, the greater that person's compassion is for their fellow human beings. What's more, I've learned that having this kind of compassion goes a long way towards enjoying other people and being happy.Delete
I completely agree, Bill. But you knew I would! : )Delete
Mr. DeMatteis, is there any chance of contacting you with the intention of publishing this work here in Brazil?ReplyDelete
Thanks for asking. There's already a deal in place for Brazil. Sorry!Delete
That's great news! Thank you so much for the answer. Have a nice weekend.Delete