SEMI-REGULAR MUSINGS FROM THE SEMI-REGULAR MIND OF WRITER J.M. DeMATTEIS
Here's an interview I did with the fine folks at Radio of Horror. We covered a lot of ground, from all across my career. Hope you enjoy it.
Really great interview..I would like to interview Mr. DeMatties fro a podcast for our latin american audience.
Hop on over to the "workshops" page and use that email address. Maybe we can set something up for December or early in the new year.
That werewolf cover the Gerry Conway story from before you started on the book. Just in case you thought you were losing your memory.I am curious about one thing. So we all Know Karen Berger wanted you at DC because Captain America politely turned down her offer for a date... that goes without saying. However, I am curious, why did she have an issue with the story point being in Swamp Thing, but not Dr. Fate? Obviously, different characters have different concerns, but I am curious as to why here.Also, I think the next decade of fiction MAY be found in one movie.Jack
As I recall, I wanted to kill off Abby, and that was the sticking point for Karen. At least as I remember it all these years later.
Ah, back in the far off days when comic companies didn't want to disrupt marriages.I figured it had to be some thing with status quo. It is hard to believe there was ever a story idea too weird for Karen Berger to okay... and that is why she was one of the best!What are the odds that you (J.M. Dematteis) would pitch a Swamp Thing story at some point in the future?Anyway, my theory.... hope...70% hope/30% theory is that the next decade of of fiction may be pushed by localized region filtered stories.I'll explain. In this interview you (J.M. Dematteis)talked about how each different person will write a different story, even if given the same bare bones to work off.This actually goes into something I had been thinking about recently.I don't know if you watch the Late Show on CBS, but Stephen Colbert will often talk with his band leader about his music outside the show. John (the band leader) talks about how he had a natural love of music, and also about how growing up in New Orleans influenced him.John is a Jazz musician out of the show. Since New Orleans is one if the few places Jazz is still a major scene, I couldn't help but wonder, if his parents had moved someplace else when he was young, would another genre grabbed his attention?Also, just before Halloween, I saw the movie "It Follows" on TV. It came out a few years ago, but I only recently saw it.It took place in Metro-Detroit, was written and directed by someone FROM Metro-Detroit, and was shot in Metro-Detroit. Yes, I noticed a few locations, but there was more. While only a part of the total experience, there was an ineffable quality that seemed authentic.Usually movies will just add some flavor to drive the idea home, it they do anything at all. Usually this type of authenticity is some indie film about why farmers in Nebraska are depressed and losing their farms... or some such thing.This was a horror movie. And that isn't wholly new ground. Stephen King really does make you feel like you know what it is to live in a Maine town. He really gives you that atmosphere.There is also a phenomenon going on right now where as companies get bigger people seek out smaller options when they can. This has lead to a rise in small businesses in many cities over the past 15 years.There is often a frequent hunt for authenticity in location.Not to mention creative types that due to economic issues over the past decade didn't move to New York or L.A. (not to mention Hollywood's uncertain future).This could all come together with the next phase of story fad being tapping into the ineffable qualities that make an are unique.Think about a remake of Dracula. A classic story if ever there was one. If you adapted it in different parts of teh U.S. different things would emerge.We already know what New England might look like (Salem's lot), but other place easily be...-New York could easily become about the Upper West Side and blending into old money and teh Wall street set to feed instead of a castle.-Arizona or New Mexico would cast Van Helsing as alone hero come to save the day, with the western idea hard to shake.-New Orleans would focus on the sexiness of the novel.-The South likely the Gothic influence-Kansas or Nebraska casting Drac as a dangerous outsider disrupting a tranquil life.-Chicago would see a more horror saturated with brutality and random acts of death.-Detroit would probably focus on a working or Middle class group, have a self -reflective streak, and a Noirish vibe.-The Pacific Northwest would be atmospheric and even claustrophobic in its horror.How interesting would that be, storytelling breaking from the corporate machine and becoming as reflective of the nation as music had been in the 60s and 70s?Just a hope/theory.Jack
Interesting! I think that where we come from profoundly impacts our view on life, the universe, and everything. And even if we've shaken off the dust of our home towns years ago, the ghosts of that place (good and bad) continue to haunt us and to inform our work. I may be writing about, say, Mars, but in some way I'm still writing about Brooklyn. I don't think that's the whole picture, but it certainly informs the picture.
If you look beyond just geographical markers you can certainly see elements. Tolkien was a clear devotee of the "Merry Old England" idea. Likely because of his life away from the city... if memory serves.It is interesting you mention Mars, as there have been a lot of looks at space colonization. There has been glimmering cities of hope, frontier towns, working class hubs, lawless lands, and burned out husks forgotten by Earth.Obviously, if you have a certain type of story you want to tell it plays a part. However, where you come from, and the sociological and economic realities you know may push your assumptions.I think an interesting experiment would be to have creative teams from different parts of the country all re-imagine some classic story, and see what they look like.It only makes sense that our first environments would effect us, it is where we first learned to interact with people and institutions.I do think there can be an inherent problem when the filtering is false or done poorly.For instance, the Great Lakes Avengers. Almost everyone in those six states hate them. It is a one note joke about how they would never need real heroes. Conveniently forgetting Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland are there.The more they try to play it up the worse it gets, because they don;t know anything about the area.Then there is that team out of Texas Marvel has, where they are just a normal superhero team... but like half are dressed like cowboys. Nothing to do with anything, no real personality change... just cowboys.I would argue that s the opposite of the Great Lakes Avengers. They DO want to give a bit of local flavor, but don't want the characters to seem like worn stereotypes. Just a guess.Of course it can happen even with a city like New York. There was a Marvel Comic where the idea of New York filtering was just to make reference to then popular things in the city. Which came off as a distractingOf course there is no NEED to do said filtering. A neutral take on a location is just fine, so long as it is given life. Despite many people's claims to the opposite, I don't think there was anything uniquely New York about Stan Lee's Spider-man.Sure, there were references with names of neighborhoods, but the way it was written made it feel like it could be any city. Just happened to be NYC.They say that reading breeds empathy, and movies have been called empathy machines. With an increasingly segmented country, being able to see how others experience the fundamental realities of life... outside of just why things are bad or base stereotypes... could make some interesting strides.Jack
What you say about reading breeding empathy, Jack, also applies (for me, at least) to foreign films. I love movies that depict other cultures—sometimes cultures that the West has demonized or made strange and "other"—and seeing the shared humanity, the common pains and joys and dreams, that we all share. And of course that applies within our own culture as well; because in some ways, each group within the larger group becomes its own country, its own world, and it's so important to realize how much alike we all are, while, simultaneously, celebrating the unique joys of those individual worlds—whether that "world" is ten blocks away, across the country, or across the planet.
I'm not so sure. I mean not the part about understanding how similar we are being a good thing. I am on board for that.Rather, if that happens as much in country to country. I feel something often becomes lost in translation.American culture is the most pervasive in the world. France has resented that since the end of WWII, Kin Jung Il notoriously loved our movies and fantasized about blowing us up, and we make movies with China in mind and it has not uncomplicated our relationship by any means.Then there is the reverse. Americans who experience media from other cultures can sometimes have a... bizarre reaction.Sometimes it is almost a fetishization. Other times, it gives them a false impression based on only a niche aspect, or does not allow them to see the whole picture, believing negative aspects do not exist there.While not a unique phenomenon to any specific time or country, I think Japan in recent years is probably the best example. Of course in the era between the wars it was France. England a bit in the he 60s etc. etc. etc.Some young folk with this pension don't believe the very real atrocities of the country in WWII.I think it has to do with having a better B.S. detector when it is your own country. Another region of your country still has similar internal structures.I think that is also why stories of immigrants from other nations, no matter how foreign, seem to strike a more accurate connection than media straight out of another nation.That is not to say I do not enjoy media from other cultures (Les Diabolique out Hitchcocked Hitchcock)... just that I think manipulations every piece of creative expression uses are not apparent.Jack
Another fascinating essay for the Official Jack Blog, which I've been waiting for for years!
You know Demattteis, at some point you may have to put your money where your mouth is and actuallly read/hear my loose-brained nonsense. Be careful what you wish for.However, if you want to see a more close to home view of how foreign cultural views can be warped, just look at food.Americans have a pretty diverse pallet, odds are you regularly, at home, eat some food that is neither of you ancestral backgrounds or strictly America I know I do.It is obviously because of the large amounts of immigration. You can probably even line up foods wiht countries.Italy - spaghettiPoland - PierogiSweden - meatballsGermany - sausage.etc., etc., etc.That is the cuisine of those countries... except it isn't. Oh, it certainly is from all those countries (although often with some American tweaks), but it is hardly the things they boast about.It is all food eaten historically by the poor of the country. Because that is who emigrated here. I know my ancestors certainly where.In fact, as recently as the 30s, "Spaghetti eater," was a derogatory comment in Italy. Mussolini even used it... wonder if that is why it died out, Or did it? I guess I don't knowMy dad went to Germany once for work, and after living near German immigrants as a youth, was shocked that sausage wasn't on the menu ever.There are even alleged stories of diplomats being offended when offered food in America that in their country was considered low class, but it was what their American cousins ate all the time. OF course because of what is common to us, and technically accurate, we assume it is the norm.Hell, in many cases we exported the misconception.Jack
OH MY GOD DEMATTEIS! LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU!!!Made you look. So gullible. Any way, that was supposed to be "ancestors were," not where.Jack
Speaking as someone who's never been to NYC, there's something about the Big Apple as depicted in Marvel Comics in the 70s and to a lesser extent the early 80s that really stands out in terms of its distinctive character. Of course I have no idea how much is drawn from the reality of what NYC really was at that particular time. It just really jumps off the page for me, personally. On another note, YOUNG SHELDON is a pretty decent depiction of life in a rural Texas town in the late 80s. --David
I really like YOUNG SHELDON a lot. It's funny and human and very sweet.
I am very gullible.