SEMI-REGULAR MUSINGS FROM THE SEMI-REGULAR MIND OF WRITER J.M. DeMATTEIS
Had a great time talking to Professor Terence Dollard for his PBS show Comic Culture and you can watch it below.
Hey Dematteis, remember that time this...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqcJ2dFHNWMJack
It is unfortunate that it only seems to count if it is live action and on the big screen, in the world of comic adaptions.Now, I do not think Eisner thought that necessarily, or even the majority of creatives...at least consciously. However, the business side often does.Comics and animation are both mediums that have a lot of respect in other countries, but still lag behind in America. It is improving, but neither is really as reputable.For creators with very connected stories, especially for writer artists, I think animation makes more sense. The arty is part of the story.That clip shows The Spirit, but it is true for all of Eisner's work. For works like A Contract With God, or A Life Force would just be two other dramas. Good ones? Probably, but missing something.The way Eisner drew water and created atmosphere is hard to recreate, and that almost classic Disney way of drawing people stirs .people. Even the Spirit, as seen in the clip, Eisner's art style gives it an umph that even CGI could not.The Fourth World is Skinny's Magnum Opus, yet always seem to be forced to be bit players to other characters. Could this era give them a live action movie?Maybe, but as soon as someone says "boom tube," it becomes a joke. We know this. Just look at Guardians of the Galaxy, a movie series I liked (though I have not seen vol. 3), but let us not pretend it did not turn cosmic Marvel into a series of jokes.But, we are talking about DC...well, Orion's helmet is pretty cool drawn, but would look goofy in real life. It is not so different from Peacemaker's what did DC do with that character again?There was talk of Dreadstar TV show at one point. I would rather See it on Adult Swim than on AMC, HBO, Amazon Prime or whatever. Again Starlin's style helps create an atmosphere, especially his designing of aliens. Thanos in the MCU, did not quite look like a starlin creation, and much of that is in how distinct Starlin's faces are. It is hard to convincingly CGI something like that, and still make it look natural.Make no Mistake, Dreadstar would need a lot of CGI and effects, which means a lot of work smoothing into a singular world. Unlike...say..animation.continued...
I KNOW, you are about to bring up the DCAU and Harley Quinn. Maybe the DC animated movies...which you yourself have worked on.I have only sen a bit of Harley Quinn, but it seems to be more typical adult animated series with DC dressing.More to the point, all the others are proven quantities. Batman is going to sell, no matter what. Yes, the DC animated movies occasionally go off in lesser known directions, but usually still connected to a known franchise in some way.It also seems to be marketed to people already, at least somewhat, immersed in the those worlds.I am talking about the way to use animation as the way to introduce or push a larger understanding of a comic through well done animated movies or series.A lot of it for indie books, but not only. MAN-Thing, Swamp Thing, Marvel's Tales of the Zombie, Savage Sword of Conan, Deathlok, Starlin;s Warlock saga, the JLI, Denny O'Neil's Question and Grell's Gren Arrow, KIllraven, the 60s Guardians of the Galaxy, DC's (kind of) Forgotten Realms, the JSA (could be a great family animated film). I actually think Sandman would have been better animated than Netflix live action.An anthology based on Creepy and Eerie comics!The most frustrating thing...it has already been proven to work. Samurai Jack was partially inspired by Frank Miller's Ronin. He also made Primal for Adult Swim, which I did not see, but looked to be inspired by Devil Dinosaur.MAybe the Creature Commandos animated movie will change this... if it comes out.However, if it is turned into a comedy, like Guardians of the Galaxy was, it could still be enjoyable...like Guardians of the Galaxy...but it is not what I am talking about. It is still having to twist it and take a meta look to make it fit, opposed to believing it can be accepted immersed in the same style it was originally, because of the unique medium of animation.Jack
I love that list of potential animated movies, Jack. I'd watch them all. Heck, I'd write them all!Also...I know this is coming through as Anonymous, but it's me. Site is glitching a little!
Movies, or TV shows. The key is people who want to make something true to the source, and of the highest quality possible.It is a shame animation is in a weird limbo, where is is kind of beloved and respected (your Simpsons, your Pixar) and partially still in the gutter.Kind of like how comics movies seem to make bank, but if you say the comic was better you may get a look different than if you say the same about the book.The two mediums really should have gone hand in hand more often.Jack
FINE! To answer your question, I DID see Across the Spider-Verse the other night.I enjoyed it...well, the movie, did not care for the theater experience...and thought it was good, but not better than Into the Spider-Verse.However, it did lead me to some things about this animation. I will not spoil anything from the movieOne thing impressive about Into the Spider-verse was that it was able to capture the idea of a Marvel New York, in a way the MCU can't. Even Marvel COMICS have not been able to capture it in a while.I think it also lends a lot to the idea that animation doing things that are harder in live action. I saw far from home on TV, and after having seen Into the SPider-Verse, it seemed like they had to do a lot more to juggle things with multiverses, and still tell a grounded story. However, in the animated movie there was a lot more shorthand, because it seemed more accessible to off-the-wall stuff.I also think that animation of Into the Spider-verse allowed us to get to know the Peter who Miles replaces fast and how the universe feels about him much quicker than live action, and for us to know and accept Miles as the main character faster than live action would have.Whatever Miles was in that movie is how Miles is viewed by the public. I know he is for me. Is that accurate to the comics? I am not sure, I have only read a handful of comics with him in it, but he is new and this movie was big. No matter what the character was before, this is him now,continued...
Which brings me to why animation may be a more important move than I realized before.Like I said, animation can take crazier risks, and get things done faster. For off the wall characters or less popular characters at Marvel and DC animation might be a necessity. For more than just the accuracy, it could be the best way to preserve the essence of the character.Let us not pretend like changing things in comics to match other media is new. It is not. Batman got an all black suit after Batman '89, the X-Men got leather costumes after their first movie. The biggest change however, may have to do with animation itself, John Stewart.Until the Justice League cartoon, John was a secondary Lantern, and it is what made him an interesting character. Len Wein and Englehart clearly wanted to move away from the tradition DC hero mold when they wrote him as the main lantern in the 80s. He ended up doing things they would NEVER let Hal do, like deepening his character by dealing with the guilt of allowing a planet to blow up. Or become the Lantern-philosopher.However, he was never a military man until the cartoon. The character of John Stewart was very different in the cartoon than the comics. His personality was a like more like Hal's. Before to long, in the comics he had been a marine, and it was one of the most important experiences of his life... that he did not talk about for the first 30 years of his existence.Now, fortunately, Geoff Johns wrote Green Lantern around that time and was able to pretty easily meld the two personalities. But it is an example of how a movie or TV show turning a character into an icon forever changes how the source material proceeds.While I think it funny that all those guys who used write letters to harass Ron Marz, and said DC needs Hal because he is the iconic Green Lantern, now have to deal with the iconic green lantern not being Hal, I worry about the day John Stewart completely loses the thoughtful, skeptical of authority, and deep thinking traits I liked about him. Seriously, there was NO iconic green lantern before 2001. no one outside of comics knew much about him. Since he was largely a backup lantern, they felt they could without much uproar.I think that is even more likely now, with the movies and Disney and Warner Brothers seeing all there characters as potential long term cash cows.They had an event at Marvel to change the color of the infinity stones to match the ones in the movies. Something I am pretty sure no one noticed was different. Iron Man and Dr. Strange have both become far snarkier to match there movie equivalents. Thanos has pretty much ditched the worshiping death nihilism...despite that probably being a pretty good villain for the 21st century.. And you already have politicians and pundits referencing the MCU version to make political points...which makes me sad in many ways.Disney is a master of brand management.So, utilizing animation for crazier elements may be the best way to keep those classic elements alive, without becoming jokes. Because of what they can do, and how much more people are willing to let pass in animation.It could be the best way to preserve the original ideas, depending on the type of animation and the voice talent, it could be cheaper too.Jack.P.S. sorry about you having to live through Blade Runner, and like every other sci-fi dystopia of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I know you are addicted to oxygen, you are Italian after all, but you may want to stick to the "stash" in your home for a little while.
Haven't seen SPIDERVERSE yet, but I'm hearing amazing things about it.And you don't have to convince me about the power of animation. Just as one example. JUSTICE LEAGUE/UNLIMITED remains one of the finest versions of the JL ever done. A pure, powerful distillation of everything that makes the League great. And, yes, that show made John Stewart into a character of the first rank.
As I said, I enjoyed the film, but I do think the first Spider-Verse film more. Though, I will admit much of that likely comes from personal preference, and I will admit somethings in the new movie were done better.It is like...Into the Spider-Verse was Jaws or Star Wars, and Across the Spider-Verse is Raiders of the Lost Ark.The latter may be more technically proficient and polished. The writer and director more present of what needs to be done, but in the earlier ones you fan feel the passion. Pushing based on the knowledge that it has to work against long odds.Yes, yes Lord and Miler have quite a bit of experience, but Into the SPider-Verse was a new type of animation style, the intro of Miles to a wide audience, balancing a lot of characters, and an idea as kooky as multiple versions. All on 90 million dollars, which sounds like a lot...because to me it is... but both Across the Spider-Verse and most Pixar movies cost about 200 million to produce. Hopefully that makes some kind of sense.Plus it has Scarlet Spider and India...kind of. It is a cross between Mumbai and Manhattan. But it is pretty clear Mubhattan is in India. Perfect for Dematteis.Yes, John is now THE Green Lantern, which is cool. However, I do wish the JLU had been a little more like the comicHowever, on the side that proves my point in a ggod way. With shows like Smallville and Arrow doing altered versions of the character, JLU...with its well deserved accolades... may be the think keeping the classic version of Green Arrow preserved. It did not stop the other versions from being made, but it keeps the original preserved and remembered. And recently DC has been moving back towards the more classic take on the character after years of a more Smallville.Arrow take. Given the success of those shows, something it may not have been tempted to do if the Arrow version was the only popular version.Jack
Dematteis, I picked up Storm #1, your old acquaintance, Ann Nocenti. It was pretty good... though, I can't say it was shocking shock.It takes place around the same time as your Magneto book will, and I still think there may have been some coordination, if if you can't remember..Will this be some kind of oxygen fueled tome? Because I would be willing to put down money she was taking in oxygen at least a little while writing Storm.Any way, I have some theories about the mindset she was in when writing, and since you two are friends I have to ask... Dematteis, are sucking oxygen when you are writing these issues?I know, In know, but spare me your addict talk about how you couldn't even be writing it without the occasional oxygen hitting your lungs.It may be producing good comics, but still, at the cost of being the stereotypical oxygen addicted Italian.I will buy the comics, but I will also feel guilty for helping reinforce the stereotype.JackP.S. I am sure you are getting sick of being asked this, but in our Captain America $750 story, are we to expect a Bernie Rosenthal appearance?I won't lie, I am a little curious about that presidential run of hers in 2016.
It's a very short story—four pages—but you will get a single panel of Bernie. So take heart!
Wait...what?Oh...OH. I get it. It is one panel, but it will have a caption that says to check out the upcoming 13th issue max-series, where we learn about the fate of her presidential campaign...honestly, I saw so many signs for her... and how ultimately Cap was supposed to stump for her, but got caught up fighting BAtroc.Of course, The Red Skull, or Zemo would have been understandable, but it being BAtroc leads to a Seinfeldian tale,I get it.Jack
Hi mr. DeMatteisSorry to send a message here, but I couldn't find a contact. My name is Cassiano Pinheiro, founder and host of the Brazilian youtube channel "Mundo Gonzo". In every episode, we talk about comics, reviews and do interviews with many talented editors and all kinds of artists.Mundo Gonzo has already received some widely known Brazilian artists such as Mike Deodato, Ivan Reis... and our audience is very friendly.I have interviewed mr. Todd McFarlane, Mr. Erik Larsen, mr. Al Gordon, mr. Eduardo Risso, mr. Peter Milligan, mr. Axel Alonso, mr. Terry Moore, mrs. Laura Braga, mr. John Ostrander, mr. Javier Fernandez and mr. Ramon Rosanas this month and, of course, it would be a great honor to receive you, when it's a convenient date on your side.I would like to send an email with an invitation. What would be the best way to contact you?As always, I thank you for your time and attention.Best regards!Cass Pinheiro
Hi, Cass. Go to the Story Consultation section of the website and use that email address.
Thanks, mr. DeMatteis!!
Hey Dematteis, your a hippie, which by law means you have to enjoy modern folk songs, whether you like it or not.You may be a member of the striking guild, here is a song about union organizers...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ7K4avbB6AJack
Well, Dematteis I hop that last post was enlightening and you learned a bit, BUT there was some phrasing in there I did in haste that I don't like, so I would like to ask you not to post.I feel it was just bad with I would have phrased better, and I don't like it, It is one sentence, but it is stuck in my head, Maybe two.Maybe you noticed, maybe you saw no issue at all, it does not matter, I would be more comfortably with it not being up.I DO stand by Bennett being a real life supervillain.I still hope you learned something and enjoyed it, than you for your time and consider consideration.But... more interesting than Hoffa though, right?Jack
I will honor you request, Jack. And thanks for the history lesson!
Maybe one must talk about those Superman comics. Hopefully the others went through, or this won;t make any sense.You may remember a story where Superman tears down slums so the government will have to build a better place to live.Pushing aside the depressing fact that in 1938, a guy who made funny books could tell the negative social effect poor housing had, and we still have not done much to fix it...seems like a weird thing for Superman to take on, right? Housing. Hell, Denny O'Neil was Johnny coal crusading superheroes, and he did not think to do that. He danced around it in his first Green Lantern/Green Arrow, but never directly addressed it.Well, in 1933 Cleveland there was a push back against mass against the mass evictions of working class families since 1931. This was a clash between people and police, some called a riot. There was absolutely no sympathy.In action Comics #3, Superman goes after employees who were abusing their workers.The Battle of the Over pass was about a year before. Six months before that in Chicago was the Police attacking and even killing union protestors in teh Memorial day massacre.Also making national News was teh Flint Sut down strike which involved tear gas and and guns, only to have the cops being used as anrm of GM to be pelted with raw material.IN Ohio itself there was the "law and order league" which aided in busting strikers...violently. IN 1932, also making national news, was the Ford Hunger March/massacre, where HArry Bennett and the Dearborn police both fired retreating protestors, an orderly retreat, after they were pelted with tear gas.PLenty of similar things were happening in CLeveland,I am just less well-versed.Action COmics #1 had superman participating in three feats.1, saving a wrongfully convicted woman from the electric chair. Which mean the police were either corrupt or incompetent.2.Stopping a a wife-beater, which was called into the Daily Star. Weird thing to call a paper about.These show a clear lack of trust in police institutions. Which kind of makes sense, Even excluding what we talked about with Striker, for most of Siegels; life at the at point, Cleveland was a haven for mobsters,m because of its location between Chicago, Detroit, and New York, as well as relative closeness to Kentucky moonshiners.Eliot Ness came in and kind of cleaned up the city. Gowever, he got caught up chasing the Torso Killer, which he never actually did.However, in the process, he did invade people's search and seizure rights by pairing cops with fire marshals and having fake fire code checks. Also he raided and burned down a homeless camp. Kind of hurts trust in the cops.This is not about just what inspired stories.These cases all involved or inspired people to stand up against them. The great Depression brought out the best and worst in people.It is what helped bring the Nazis to powerA lot of institutions saw it as a way to consolidate power. And a lot of people were inspired to stand up to them and fight for their rights and respect..Walter Reuther was not squeaky clean because he was inhuman, It was because he was a naturally good guy, help your buddy out and don;t cheat on your wife type, who had a set of principles. He also knew if he wanted to expand them he could not do things that would have the powers at be hold anything against him.He was not unique in this, thee were people across the country doing this doing the same thing. Just decent people who pushed back.Superman was not some mythical being,he was a reflection of the type of people Siegel and Shuster knew or saw in the news, and admired.However, because so many of those people don't get the spots in the history books they deserve, we attempt to mythologize We say no one could be that good, because the real life examples became lost.for a modern example...continued...
Hopefully that last one went through , or this will make no sense. Hopefully the two before went through, or this will make no sense,Especially since the LeGuardia stuff I think might help drive this home, So, the semi-modern stuff...One of teh common questions among comic readers these days is,"why would anyone want to live in Gotham?"So...why Dematteis? You lived there?I mean, Frank MIller was pretty clear DKR and Batman: Year One's Gotham was him drawing from what he saw around him in the streets of New York.NYC was pretty rough back in the day, why did people live there,While deigns of the city have changed, it has mostly kept that vibe ever since.I once read a comic writer comment on the famous meeting of Geen LAntern and the old Black tenet in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76. saying 'I would have just told him I every time I saved teh world I was saving you too."Overlooking the point that this was, intentionally or not, remincest of what many Black Americans thought about Cold War fear mongering. That they were telling them it was to protect an AMerican dream, they often felt excluded from.I won;t give the writers name, but you know him. And he has written some socially conscious stories, so it was clearly just a mind gap caused by the love of Hal Jordan, not bigotry.Or Archie Bunker. I think many now will see him as a a cartoon of a racist. A straw man.Meanwhile, many baby boomers have said they knew people like him. People who cared about their family and friends, in many way decent people, but because of when they were born said really wrongheaded thing...not always realizing it. After All, Archie thought he was Lionel Jefferson;s mentor.While these and others exist, it seems like they are more easily alleviated of these misconceptions. People are more ready to see historic context and understand. However, the pre-war people, many who continued the fight afterwards, seem like people can;t accept it.While fiction influenced by post-war ideas seems ready to be accepted a from someplace, the pre-war characters seem like they must be pure wish fulfillment. So what is the point here? There are a lot of interesting historical events and people who are overlooked for one reason or another.That ignoring them has jaded us from when we could be inspiredThat post-war America was a little too wrapped up in itself to believe seek some out (and I include now as post-war)That many of the same people who complain about America being ignorant of other countries may be right, but also likely lack knowledge of tehir own.Pick one, they are all equally valid. Just make sure, as I stated in my previous post that mentioned LeGuardia and and a little more, if there are interesting people or events in history share them. Unless they are lost forever.Jack
Well, we've come a long way from a post about a podcast, Jack. But thanks, as always, for sharing your thoughts!