Sunday, December 17, 2023


On television they’re trotting out Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, It's a Wonderful Life, and seemingly-infinite variations on A Christmas Carol. Here at Creation Point we have our own Yuletide tradition. Back in 2009—born out of my inordinate love for this heart-filling, soul-transforming, sacred and transcendent season—I wrote a short Christmas tale called The Truth About Santa Claus. Since then, I’ve been offering it annually as a kind of cyber Christmas present: my way of wishing all of you who visit this site the happiest of holidays and the most magical of Christmases. I offer it again this year—along with a trio of illustrations provided by my friend and collaborator Vassilis Gogtzilas. So grab a plate of Christmas cookies, pull a chair up close to the fireplace and enjoy.



He’d been thinking about it for days—ever since he heard Big Mouth Jenny Rizzo announce it on the school bus—and he didn’t believe a word of it, not one word.  (Well, maybe ONE.)  But Cody had to be sure, absolutely, positively sure—

—and that’s why he was hiding behind the couch at midnight on Christmas Eve.

His mother was there, asleep in his dad’s old easy chair, the reds and blues of the Christmas tree lights making her look peaceful and happy and impossibly young.

The tree, by the way, had not ONE SINGLE PRESENT underneath it.

That didn’t make sense.  If there WAS no Santa Claus, if his mother was the one who bought the presents, wrapped the presents, stacked them under the tree, then how come she hadn’t done it?  How come she wasn’t awake RIGHT NOW arranging them all?

He got scared.  Maybe there wasn’t going to BE a Christmas this year.  Maybe Mom had lost her job and they didn’t have any money and so she COULDN’T buy him any presents and—

And then Cody glanced over at the windows and noticed that it was snowing.

Or was it?

If that was snow, it was the WHITEST snow he’d ever seen.  It was snow as bright as moonbeams, as bright as sunlight, as bright as...


Quickly, but quietly (he didn’t want to wake his mother), he scurried to the window and looked out.

It was coming down and coming down and COMING DOWN all across town, whirling and whipping, spinning and gyrating, out of the night sky.  Glowing so brightly that it almost hurt his eyes to look at it.  And Cody saw that it certainly wasn’t snow, and it absolutely wasn’t rain, it wasn’t ANYTHING he’d ever seen before.  But each drop, no...each flake, no... each BALL of glowing WHATEVER IT WAS, seemed to pulse and spin, soar and vibrate, as if it were alive.

And the stuff, the magical WHATEVER IT WAS (and he knew now that it was magic.  He just KNEW), wasn’t collecting on the streets, wasn’t piling up on the rooftops.  It was MELTING INTO (that’s the only way he could put it:  MELTING INTO) every house (no matter how small) and apartment building (no matter how big).

EVERY house and apartment building.


He looked up.

And there it was:  coming RIGHT THROUGH THE CEILING of Apartment 3F, HIS apartment, swirling, like a tornado of light, around the chandelier and then down, down, down—


At first he almost yelled out a warning, “Mom!  Wake up!  MOM!”  But something made him stop.

Instead of yelling he ducked back behind the couch and watched, eyes peering over the top.

Watched as the light-tornado wheeled around his mother, so fast, so bright, that he could hardly even SEE her.  But he COULD see her.  Most of her, anyway.

And what he SAW...

The light poured in through the top of her head, through her eyes, through her chest, through her toes.  It lifted her up—still sleeping!—and carried her out of her chair and across the room.  And as she floated—

—she started to change:

Her hair became white, her nose became red, her belly ballooned like the most pregnant woman in the history of the world.  Her feet grew boots, her head grew a hat, her nightgown grew fur.  An overstuffed sack sprouted, like a lumpy angel’s wing, from her shoulder.  And then—

AndthenandthenandTHEN, it wasn’t his mother there at all, it was him, it was SANTA CLAUS!  STANDING RIGHT THERE IN CODY’S LIVING ROOM!  Santa Claus who, with a laugh (exactly like the laugh Cody always knew he had, only better) and a twinkle in his eyes (exactly like the twinkle he’d always imagined, ONLY BETTER) reached into his sack and pulled out package after package, present after present, and placed them, carefully, like some  Great Artist contemplating his masterpiece, under the tree.

When he was done, Santa Claus stood there, grinning and shaking his head, as if he couldn’t BELIEVE what a beautiful tree this was, how wonderful the presents looked beneath it.  As if this moment was the greatest moment in the history of Christmas, as if this apartment was the only place in all the universes that such a Christmas could ever POSSIBLY happen.

And then the MOST amazing thing happened:

Santa Claus turned.

He turned slowly.  So slowly Cody couldn’t even tell at first that he was moving at all.  And—slowly, SLOWLY—those twinkling eyes, that Smile of smiles, fixed itself on the two boy-eyes peering, in wonder, over the top of the couch.

And what Cody felt then he could never really say:  only that it was better than any present anyone could ever get.  Only that it made his heart so warm it melted like magical WHATEVER IT WAS, trickling down through his whole body.  Only that it made him want to reach out his arms and hug Santa Claus, hug his mother, hug his father (and FORGIVE him too, for running out on them) and his aunts and uncles and cousins (even his Cousin Erskine who was SUCH a pain) and Big Mouth Jenny Rizzo (who really wasn’t so bad most of the time) and all his  friends and teachers and the kid in his karate class who always smelled SO BAD and, embarrassing as it sounds, it made him want to hug everyone and everything in the whole world including rabbits and snakes and trees and lizards and grass and lions and mountains and, yes, the EARTH HERSELF.

Cody wanted to hold that gaze, to keep his eyes locked on Santa’s, forever. (Or longer, if he could.)  Wanted to swim in that incredible feeling, drown in it, till GOD HIMSELF came down to say:  “Enough!”

Except that he blinked.  Just once.  But in that wink of an eye, Santa was gone.  Cody’s mother was asleep in the chair again and, for one terrible moment, the boy thought that the whole thing must have been a dream.

Except, under the tree:  THERE WERE THE PRESENTS.

Except, out the window:  THERE WAS THE SNOW, the rain, the magical WHATEVER IT WAS, shooting up, like a blizzard in reverse, from every house, every apartment building.  Shooting up into the heavens, gathering together like a fireball, like a white-hot comet—

—and fading away into the night:  going, going...


Without so much as a tinkling sleigh-bell or a “Ho-ho-ho.”

Not that it mattered.

Cody looked at his mom.

Cody kissed her.

“I love you,” he said.  And he was crying.  Happy tears.  Christmas tears.  Like moonbeams, like sunlight.  Like stardust.

Mom stirred in the chair, smiled the softest sweetest smile Cody had ever seen. “I love you, too,” she said.

And then she drifted back to sleep.

Cody sat at her feet, warming himself, warming his SOUL, by the lights of the tree.

And soon, he, too, was drifting off to sleep.  And as he drifted, a wonderful thought rose up, like a balloon, inside him.  Rose, then POPPED—spreading the thought to every corner of his mind.  Giving him great comfort.  Great delight:

“One day,” the thought whispered, “when you’re all grown-up, when you have children of your own.  ONE DAY,” the thought went on...

“It will be YOUR TURN.”

Merry Christmas.

Story ©copyright 2023 J.M. DeMatteis

Art ©copyright 2023 Vassilis Gogtzilas 

Friday, December 8, 2023


This is John Lennon's final interview, recorded on the afternoon of December 8, 1980. A few hours later, he would be gone. Still heartbreaking, all these years later.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023


December is a momentous month in my house: first comes my wife's birthday, then mine, then Christmas. But there's one more seismic event I celebrate every December:

Way back in 1977, in the last years of the twentieth century (to paraphrase H.G. Wells), I sold my first comic book script
I told the tale of that first sale in a 2011 post. You can read an edited, updated version of the story below. Hope you enjoy this self-indulgent celebration.


Comic books were a passion that grabbed me at a very early age (I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I don’t recall a time when I didn’t read comics) and never let go. Sure, I moved on to Dostoyevsky, Bradbury, Hesse, and Vonnegut but I never abandoned Lee, Kirby, Broome, Kane, and the other comic book masters who inspired and nurtured me growing up.

I was always creative, obsessed with drawing, playing guitar, writing stories and songs. In many ways, these things weren’t just my passions, they were what defined me. They were me. Which meant I didn't just want to read comics, I wanted to write them—as desperately as I wanted to be a rock and roll star. (I’ll spare you the story of my many musical adventures, but if anyone’s interested in hearing some of my songs, feel free to click here to check out my l997 CD, How Many Lifetimes?)

I made several aborted attempts to enter the comic book business before my success with the legendary Paul Levitz (who was, I think, all of twenty at the time. He’d been working at DC since high school and would eventually, and unsurprisingly, rise to become president of the company): Five years earlier, I’d written a script sample and sent it to Marvel Comics. I had no clue what a comic book script looked like and I’m sure that what I submitted was less-than brilliant. The assistant editor who read my sample thought so, too, and told me just that, in no uncertain terms. (I’ve learned, over the years, that it’s important to encourage new talent regardless of the face value of their work. Even if the samples you’re evaluating are abysmal, you have to find something encouraging to say. Humans—especially the sensitive, neurotic, artistic variety—desperately need encouragement. The smallest crumb of kindness becomes a mountain of hope. I suspect that nameless assistant editor was overwhelmed, having a rough day, and he simply couldn’t bear to plow through yet another wretched submission. But he could have made my day much brighter by simply saying, “You’re not there yet, kid, but keep at it. Don’t give up.”)

A year or two later, DC began a short-lived apprentice program: a rare opportunity for novices to be trained by seasoned pros in the craft of writing for comics. Aspiring writers were encouraged to submit their work and those with the best submissions would be chosen for the program. (David Michelinie—a wonderful writer who went on to script Spider-Man, Iron Man, Avengers, Superman and many other titles—got his start as a DC apprentice). I decided to write a Justice League script, a fact I now find hilarious: Team books are difficult for even the most experienced writer—it's still a form I approach with caution—but there I was, nineteen years old and ready to give it my all.

I didn’t make it into the program—frankly, I didn’t deserve to—but I received some extremely helpful feedback from a woman on the DC staff named Val Eades. It was the first time I was encouraged by a professional and it meant the world to me. Understand: I was just some kid from Brooklyn who grew up in a lower middle class family. My father worked for the New York City Parks Department, raking leaves and shoveling snow in a local park. My mother was a switchboard operator. Growing up, I’d never encountered anyone even vaguely resembling a professional writer or artist. (My best friend’s older brother was a working musician, part of a Las Vegas lounge act: that was the closest I ever came to hobnobbing with the rich and famous.) Making it as a writer seemed about as easy as scaling the Monolith from Kubrick’s 2001. Which is why that small encouragement from Val Eades was so important to me. (Ms. Eades, if you’re out there, God bless you!)

A few years later, a fellow student, and comic book fanatic, at Brooklyn College—his name was Warren Reece—actually made it over the Monolith: he got a job at Marvel, working in the production department. Warren very kindly submitted some of my material to the folks at Marvel Editorial, but I never received a response (which, in some ways, was worse than being rejected). Warren then encouraged me to submit some samples to Crazy magazine (Marvel’s attempt at a Mad-style humor publication...although I don’t think Mad was worried). Truth is, I had no interest in writing for Crazy—I possessed zero skills in that arena—but, miraculously, editor Paul Laikin bought one of my pitches and, even more miraculously, I got a check in the mail with Spider-Man’s picture on it. (So blessings to Mr. Laikin and Mr. Reece both.) I’d hoped that selling something to Crazy would get me an “in” with the comic book side of Marvel, but it didn’t. Still, it allowed me to say that I was a (kinda/sorta/maybe/but not really) professional.

Not long after that, I sent another batch of samples to DC. (I still have them filed away in my office: a Superman script, a Plastic Man script, and an original piece called Stardust—which was a very raw prototype for what would, seven or eight years later, evolve into Moonshadow.) I got a letter back from Somebody's Assistant saying, "We're not going to buy Superman scripts from a writer we've never heard of, but Paul Levitz is looking for material for House of Mystery and Weird War Tales." These were two of the many anthology comics that DC was publishing then. I'd never read those titles, hardly knew they existed, but you can bet I ran out and bought a stack of them, devoured them, and quickly (perhaps too quickly) developed some story ideas that I mailed off to Paul.

Paul’s reply, dated August 22, 1977 (yep, that's still in the files, too), very politely, succinctly—and accurately—tore my stories to shreds. The last line was a classic: "You’re welcome to submit more ideas in the future, but I suggest you use a professional typing service or type more slowly. The physical presentation of your manuscripts leaves something to be desired.” He was right: This was the troglodytic era before computers and, in my hunger and enthusiasm, I had crossed things out, scrawled in the margins, written up and down the sides of the paper.

Paul’s criticism didn’t bother me (the fact that he actually took the time to read my work spoke volumes about the man). The only thing that mattered was that wondrous phrase, “You’re welcome to submit more ideas in the future.” Which is what I immediately did: submitted again (and again) until, finally—this must have been late November of that year—I made an appointment to go up to the DC offices (a thrill in itself) and meet with Paul. I remember sitting across the desk from him, nervous and intimidated, pitching ideas. When Paul actually liked one of my stories and asked me to work up a draft, I had a moment of dizzying, euphoric confusion: Wait a minute...WAIT a minute! Is he saying he actually wants me to WRITE THIS?!

The story in question—which eventually saw print in House of Mystery—was called (brace yourselves) "The Lady Killer Craves Blood." (I warned you.) It was based on the Son of Sam killings that had traumatized New York the previous summer. In my version, the Sam-like maniac murders a woman, not knowing that her husband is a (what a brilliant twist!) vampire. The vampire then hunts down the serial killer and, still mourning his lost love, submits himself to the obliterating rays of the morning sun. All in eight pages!

A week or so later, back to DC I went, script in hand, ready for Paul's dissection of my work. "No more than five panels per page," he wrote, on a piece of yellow lined paper (I've got that in the files, too), "no more than thirty-five words per panel, no more than two sentences per caption, clear transitional captions, don't forget your splash panel." I raced home, wrote another draft, incorporating Paul’s suggestions (well, as far as I was concerned, they were orders. My philosophy in those early days was simple: the editor is always right. I didn’t want to argue, I wanted to learn) and then, to my astonishment and delight, the next time we met, he bought it. What came next was one of the greatest moments of my professional life: Paul shook my hand, looked me square in the eye and said, "Welcome to the business."

I didn't need the D Train. I could have floated back to Brooklyn.

So here I sit, more than four decades on, looking back on a career that has allowed me to write most of Marvel and DC’s iconic characters (from Spider-Man to the Justice League) and birth original visions from the deepest, truest parts of my soul (from Moonshadow to The DeMultiverse). Just as important, my work in comics has opened magical doors into the worlds of television, film and prose. The journey hasn’t always been easy—some of it has been incredibly difficult—but I’m grateful for every bit of it. All of which, I suppose, is my long-winded way of reiterating advice I've offered before (and I'll no doubt offer again):

Don’t get sidetracked by practicality. You’re a writer. If you were practical you’d be doing something else. Let your passions carry you forward and don’t listen to the Naysayers and the Practical People who are always around to tell you exactly why your dreams can never be realized. I’m here to tell you that your dreams CAN be realized, if you pursue them with all your heart. FOLLOW YOUR BLISS.

If it worked for this clueless kid from Brooklyn, it’ll work for anyone.

©copyright 2023 J.M. DeMatteis

Friday, December 1, 2023


Another podcast interview—this time with Dan Kelley of the Code-X Comic Station podcast. Some familiar tales (Kraven, JLI), some new ground (the birth of Vertigo, The Spectre) and more. You can listen below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Had a lovely conversation with Rafael of the HQ podcast, talking about many things—starting with memories of working with the inimitable Keith Giffen.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Dan Green's daughter Galen has put together a beautiful gallery show of her dad's work, highlighting his extraordinary paintings, his inking work, and his earliest comic book art. My wife and I had a sweet, sad visit with her today, taking in the power and beauty of Dan's art and keeping the candle of remembrance burning.

We miss you, Dan.

Thursday, November 23, 2023


The DC Comics website has posted a tribute to Keith Giffen, featuring thoughts and remembrances from many of us who worked with him. You can read it hereThat Kevin Maguire art alone is bound to bring tears to your eyes.  

We really miss you, Keith. 

Sunday, November 19, 2023


As the Artist Formerly Known As Twitter continues to sink into a swamp of its owner's making, I'll be dialing down my participation over there and focusing more on alternative sites like BlueskyThreads, and Instagram

And, of course, folks can always find me over on Facebook—and here, at my original internet home, Creation Point.  I'd love to see more people coming over to CP, so spread the word!

And—while I have your attention—I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Here's to a world where peace and compassion win the day.

Monday, October 30, 2023


The final issue of Magneto—our grand finale, brought to brilliant visual life by artist Todd Nauck and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg—is on sale Wednesday. As a huge fan of the original X-Men, it's been a challenge and a delight (perhaps a dark delight) revisiting some of the earliest X-tales through the lens of Erik Lehnsherr's tortured psyche—as well as getting to know the New Mutants (characters I wasn't overly familiar with) and introducing our new villain Irae and her Sisterhood of Evil Mutants. I'd love to do more with all these characters. Time will tell.

Here's the hype from Marvel:

IS HE EVIL MUTANT, OR IS HE HERO…OR IS HE BOTH? MAGNETO must come to grips with his past as the Head of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, as well as his present as the Headmaster of the Xavier School’s NEW MUTANTS! What is the TRUE destiny of Erik Lehnsherr? How can these two aspects co-exist in the same man? Don’t miss the astounding final chapter of the character-defining saga by J.M. DeMatteis (PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA) and Todd Nauck (X-MEN LEGENDS, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN)!

Written by: J. M. DeMatteis
Art by: Todd Nauck, Rachelle Rosenberg
Cover by: Todd Nauck, Rachelle Rosenberg
Page Count: 28 Pages
Release Date: November 1, 2023

Some preview pages below.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 22, 2023


Had a wonderful conversation with John of the John's Longbox podcast, talking about (among other things) Greenberg, the Vampire, Brooklyn, egg creams, Moonshadow, the DeMultiverse and my departed friends Dan Green and Keith Giffen.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023


Came across this clip, from 2018, of Giffen and me discussing the origins of JLI.  Bittersweet, to say the least.

Thursday, October 12, 2023


My old friend and collaborator Keith Giffen has passed away. Keith has had his share of health issues in recent years, but he was such a feisty, tenacious guy I was sure he’d outlive us all. “Some day,” I once told him, “the Earth will be an apocalyptic hellhole, all of humanity will be gone, but you’ll still be here, sitting in the rubble, smoking a cigarette.”

Keith, as anyone who worked with him can attest, was one of the most brilliantly creative humans ever to work in comics, the Jack Kirby of my generation of creators. He was a curmudgeon with a heart of gold. An extraordinarily generous collaborator. And, as my wife observed, “He was like a character out of a Keith Giffen story.”

The curmudgeon part was half-real/half-performance art. (He could launch into cynical and hilarious monologues about the state of the world that were as good as anything you could find on an HBO comedy special.) The heart of gold was evidenced by his generosity to his friends and collaborators in the business: Keith was the kind of guy who—if he heard you were hurting for work—would pick up the phone, call DC Comics and say, “Hey! Why aren’t you using so-and-so? What’s your problem? Give ‘em work!”

We were thrown together as collaborators on our original Justice League run (and thanks to our brilliant editor Andy Helfer for doing the throwing) and, despite the fact that the book and its many spin-offs were a huge success, I don’t think any of us—including the inimitable Kevin Maguire, whose art was so important to JL’s initial success—realized just how special that collaboration was. It was another job—a fun job, but a job nonetheless—and, when our League ran out of steam after five years, we moved on and didn’t look back.

It wasn’t until ten years later—when Keith, Kevin, and I reunited for our Eisner-winning Formerly Known As The Justice League series—that we all went, “Hey…we’ve got something special here.” The three of us did more Justice League together, as well as a short Metal Men run I’m extremely fond of, and a Defenders mini-series for Marvel. Keith and I made sure to keep working together with regularity after that, right through to our Scooby Apocalypse series that ended in 2019. (Along with projects like Justice League 3000, Booster Gold, and Larfleeze, we produced my favorite Giffen-DeMatteis collaboration, our creator-owned series Hero Squared.)

There was no ego involved when Keith and I worked together. The basic plots, the rock-solid building blocks of our stories, were all Giffen—but I had the freedom to bend and twist those stories any way I chose. Someone else might have taken offense—“How dare you alter my brilliant creative vision?!”—but Keith always encouraged me to follow my muse, adding new plot-lines and character bits via the narration and dialogue. He, in turn, would build on what I’d done, always surprising me with his extraordinary leaps of imagination. It was, as I’ve often said, like a game of tennis: We’d hit the ball back and forth, and, as we played, the stories evolved into something more than either of us could have ever achieved on our own.

And along the way a funny thing happened: This guy who was a favorite collaborator became more than that. He became a friend. Sure, we’d get on the phone every week or so to discuss the stories we were working on, but we’d also talk about our families, politics, the ups and downs (and ups and downs and ups and downs) of the freelance life. (In recent years, I saw Keith regularly at conventions, often sitting next to him, passing JLI issues back and forth between us for signing, and chatting away.)

The truth is, if Keith and I had met out in the so-called Real World, I don’t think we would have ever become friends—we were very different people—but coming together creatively opened the door for us to come together as human beings. And I’m so very grateful for that. (Thanks, Andy.)

When people ask me what it was like to work with Giffen, one story always comes to mind. I’ve told it before—apologies if you’ve heard it—but it really defines the man.

It’s was the late 1980’s. We were standing in the halls of DC Comics on a Friday afternoon, Keith telling me his idea for a new story: the secret origin of one of our most ridiculous characters, the brain-dead Green Lantern named G’nort. Keith spent five or ten minutes spinning the entire tale, in detail. You could see he was excited. He liked this wonderfully goofy story and he wanted to do it—just the way he’d envisioned it.

The problem was, I didn’t like it. And I told him I didn’t.

Did Keith get angry? Did he tell me I was a talentless jackass who had no right passing judgment on his incandescent genius? No. He just looked at me for a second, took a breath, shrugged—and then launched into an entirely new origin of G’nort, which he created on the spot. And it was perfect. I can’t think of many people who could switch creative gears like that, but Keith had more raw creativity than just about anyone I’ve ever known: a tsunami of stories and characters and odd, brilliant notions. A one-of-a-kind mad genius whose seismic impact on the comic book industry will be felt for years to come.

Safe travels, Mr. Giffen. You will be missed.

©copyright 2023 J.M. DeMatteis

Wednesday, October 11, 2023


Magneto #3 is out today!  This is my favorite issue so far as we reveal Irae's explosive origin and literally descend into the depths of Erik Lehnsherr's dark and troubled psyche.  Here's the Marvel hype:

"MAGNETO FALLS TO THE SISTERHOOD OF EVIL MUTANTS! Meet the ALL-NEW SISTERHOOD OF EVIL MUTANTS, as MAGNETO must wrestle with the sins of his past! What is the true source of IRAE’s obsession with the Master of Magnetism, and how does it figure into X-MEN history?"

Story by yours truly, art by Todd Nauck, color by Rochelle Rosenberg, and letters by Travis Lanham.  Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, October 9, 2023


Your powerful voice, your unique perspective, your deep wisdom and, yes, unbridled madness, are still sorely missed.    

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Wednesday, September 20, 2023


It's Steve Gerber's birthday. As I've said here before, I wouldn't be the writer I am today if I'd never encountered Gerber's work. Every Gerber story I read—the ones that soared and the ones that went down in flames—was evidence that mainstream comics could be so much more than I’d ever imagined. That there was no creative door that couldn’t be kicked in, no creative wall that couldn’t be torn down.

His voice is sorely missed.

Saturday, September 16, 2023


In honor of Batman Day (yes, there is such a thing), here’s an edited and updated version of a piece I posted a few years back, looking back at my history, both personal and professional, with the Dark Knight…

I’ve loved Batman since I was a kid.  One of my primal memories is being six or seven years old, sprawled out on the living room floor with crayons and a stack of drawing paper, trying to replicate a Dick Sprang era Batman cover line for line.  In many ways, that square-jawed, slightly goofy (okay, more than slightly) version of Bats is the one I cherish more than any other.  I also remember the fangasms I had when, in the seventh grade, Batman came to television:  it may have been campy to the grown-ups, but to naive, overweight, just-turned-twelve year old me this was serious stuff:  comic books come to glorious life in a way they never had before.    

So, yes, JMD the fan has a long-standing, deep connection to Bats but I honestly didn’t think JMD the writer had much of a history with the character—after all, I’ve never written a Batman solo series—until I took a look back at my career and discovered that I've written more Batman tales than I ever realized.  Many more.  And it started with, of all things, a coloring book.

“The Mystery of the Million Dollar Joke” is the first superhero story I was paid to write.  And, yes, there’s a genuine kid-friendly story in there, waiting for you to bring it to life with your Crayolas.  Paul Levitz offered me the gig when I was first starting out at DC and I stayed up all night, hunched over the typewriter (remember those?), banging out the script.  If memory serves, I was paid a few hundred dollars for my efforts—which was just fine in 1979—and I still have a copy of the book tucked away on a shelf in my office.

The first comic book superhero story (y’know, the ones with the colors already provided) of mine that ever saw print was also a Batman adventure, in Detective Comics #489.  “Creatures of the Night”—also edited by Mr. Levitz—had Batman hunting vampires, mainly because most of my work in those days was for the DC horror anthologies and vampire stories were my stock-in-trade.  I don’t remember much about the script beyond the fact that it was illustrated by a Batman artist I admired, Irv Novick, who had nice things to say about it when I encountered him in Paul’s office one day.  Those kind words meant the world to a newbie writer.

My first full-length superhero story was also edited by Paul and also featured Batman:  Brave and the Bold #164, “The Mystery of the Mobile Museum,” teamed Bats and Hawkman (a character whose solo feature I wrote for a short time in World’s Finest) and the story was hardly classic.  What was classic was the artwork, by the great  Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.  He took my script and raised it up to another level entirely.

I didn’t encounter Batman again for another seven years, when he joined the ranks of the Giffen-DeMatteis Justice League—but he was an integral part of that series throughout its five year run.  Of course our Batman was a little different from the grim ‘n’ gritty avenger that the brilliant Frank Miller unleashed on the world the year before JLI debuted.  Our Bats had a sense of humor—incredibly understated, true, but it was there—and, though he’d deny it to his dying day, he enjoyed the idiotic escapades of Beetle, Booster and the rest of our quirky, and wonderfully obnoxious, cast.

In 1993, I came at the Bat sideways, via the Superman mythos, for an Elseworlds story called Speeding Bullets (art by the hugely-talented, and sorely-missed, Eduardo Barretto).  SB posited a universe where the rocket from Krypton was found not by the Kansas Kents but by the Gotham Waynes.  The baby was christened Bruce and, after being traumatized by his parents‘ murder, the boy grew up to be a flying, super-powered—and extremely angry—Batman.  And, if Kal-El was Batman, how could Lex Luthor not be the Joker? 

A few years later—tied to the release of the third Batman movie, Batman Forever—came Batman/Two Face:  Crime and Punishment:  a serious exploration of Harvey Dent’s split personality (building on a wonderful story written, a year or two previously, by Andy Helfer), featuring dynamic, emotional art by Scott McDaniel, and that was followed, in 1994, by a four-issue Legends of the Dark Knight arc, brilliantly brought to life by Joe Staton, that may be my absolute favorite of all the mainstream superhero stories I’ve written.  “Going Sane” featured a Joker who believes that he’s killed Batman.  With his mortal enemy gone he has no reason left to live—and his mind snaps.  Now, if we snap we go crazy—but if the Joker snaps...he goes sane.  What came next was a tender love story—a tragedy, really—about a gentle man who doesn’t know he was once a homicidal maniac with a permanent grin on his face.  At least he doesn’t until Batman returns to Gotham and all hell breaks loose.  The story also focused on Bruce Wayne’s relationship with the doctor who brought him back from the brink of death and, I hope, revealed a Batman whose greatest weapon was his compassion.

The next year, the amazing Mark Bagley and I had the pleasure of teaming up Batman with my old pal Peter Parker in Marvel’s Spider-Man/Batman:  Disordered Minds.  This was followed, two years later, by DC’S Batman/Spider-Man:  New Age Dawning (beautifully illustrated by Graham Nolan).  To say that it was a kick teaming up two of my all-time favorite characters—and doing it for both Marvel and DC—may be the Geek Understatement of the Century.

I didn’t return to Gotham until 2002, when I scripted another Legends of the Dark Knight arc—a Robin-centric tale, with art by the terrific Trevor Von Eden, called “Grimm”—and wrote my first Batman graphic novel, Absolution (with rich, painted art by Brian Ashmore):  a gritty story of justice and redemption that found Batman traveling to India in search of a holy woman...who just might be the terrorist Bruce Wayne has been hunting for over a decade.

Around the same time, Bats appeared in an issue of Justice League that I wrote, during Grant Morrison’s run, along with an issue of The Spectre and the 2003 Justice League/Spectre mini-series Soul War. Batman later guest-starred in an issue of Phantom Stranger and Keith Giffen and I sent Batman’s DNA into the far future in our Justice League 3000/3001 serieswhich imagined a Batman very different from the one we all know.  This is a Bruce Wayne who wasn't traumatized by the death of his parents—in fact he can't remember their murder at all—and that lack of a motivating tragedy has altered him in fundamental ways.

In 2021, I joined with Justice League Unlimited producer (and all-around great guy) James Tucker to write the Justice League Infinity mini-series, which built on and continued that classic television series.  Batman, of course, was a pivotal part of the story.

I’ve also had the pleasure of writing Batman in animated form—first with multiple episodes of the aforementioned Justice League Unlimited and then with eight episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.  I’m genuinely honored to have been a part of both those wonderful shows, but I got a special kick out of writing for B & B because it was so reminiscent of the square-jawed, over-the-top Batman I adored as a kid.

2015 saw the release of the direct-to-video animated movie Batman vs. Robin—which explored Bruce Wayne’s relationship with his son, Damian—and the following year brought the sequel, Batman: Bad Blood, which shined a spotlight on the entire Bat family.  

Given my more than forty year history with the character, I suspect my dance with the Dark Knight isn't over yet—and I hope we keep dancing for years to come.

©copyright 2023 J.M. DeMatteis
Batman and his pals ©copyright 2023 DC Entertainment

Thursday, September 7, 2023


A gentle reminder that Magneto #2 is on sale now. Here's Marvel's hype:

ENTER: THE QUEEN OF WRATH! Years ago, MAGNETO battled the X-MEN on the island-nation of Santo Marco. Now, as Magneto attempts to turn over a new leaf, he will feel the wrath of IRAE! But what secret does that battle hide for Irae, and what shocking revelation is in store for the Master of Magnetism? Continuing the all-new adventure set during Magneto’s days as Headmaster of the NEW MUTANTS, and unearthing never-before-revealed aspects of his past and future!

Tuesday, September 5, 2023


My new novella—a supernatural thriller called The Witness—is on sale today, courtesy of the fine folks at Neotext Publishing

Featuring a cover and ten extraordinary illustrations by the brilliant J.H. Williams III, The Witness is the story of Jonah Blake, who finds the world literally crashing down on him when a 757 drops out of the sky. The subsequent explosion rips through Jonah's life in multiple ways, and opens the door to a terrifying, and perhaps soul-transforming, paranormal experience.

This is a story I've been living with for more than twenty years and I'm thrilled to finally see it in the world.  You can read a preview at the Neotext site and purchase the book (in either ebook or print form) at Amazon.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023


Yesterday was Jack Kirby's birthday. Kirby's extraordinary work only gets better with time and my gratitude for his impact on our popular culture, and my life, can't be fully expressed in words. Jack was, and will always remain, the King.

My favorite Kirby work (probably my favorite comics ever) is his interlocking Fourth World saga and I recently took part in a celebration of those classic books. You can watch it below.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023


Dan Green has passed away.  Dan was one of our finest inkers, as well as a brilliant illustrator in his own right, as evidenced by his work on our Doctor Strange graphic novel, Into Shamballa.  Dan was also an old friend—his daughter, Galen, and my son, Cody, grew up together and remain friends to this day—and he will be profoundly missed by all of us who knew him.  

Back in 2018 I was interviewed about working with Dan on Shamballa.  Here’s what I said about that unique collaboration.

Keep in mind it’s been decades and memories are fragile things, so take everything that follows with the proverbial grain of salt.  That said, Dan saved my outlines and scripts and many of his layouts and notes, so, using that as a kind of archaeological guide, I’ve tried to reconstruct the way we created Into Shamballa.  

Since Dan and I lived in the same town and we saw each other regularly, that allowed us to work very closely every step of the way, bouncing things back and forth, building the story together, brick by brick.
  After we talked the story through and came up with a framework that excited us, we pitched it to Jim Shooter, who was editor-in-chief of Marvel at the time, and he had some very valuable insights that helped bring our story into deeper focus.  I then wrote up a five page story outline for our editor, Carl Potts, that we also shared with Roger Stern, who was writing the Strange monthly at the time.  We wanted to make sure that we weren’t stepping on Roger’s toes and that our story didn’t overlap with anything he was doing.

From there Dan and I worked out more details of the story, discussed layouts, tone, etc.
  Then, based on our conversations, I wrote up another outline, breaking the story down, which Dan used as a jumping off point, laying out the entire graphic novel and, I’m sure, adding new details along the way.

I wrote my script from Dan’s layouts, but I was free to change things, make shifts, as I went along.
  Dan recently unearthed lots of material that he’d saved and found some of my own layouts—and I use the term loosely!—that I’d do if, in the writing, my script deviated from what Dan had already done.  This way he had a sense of what I was seeing in my head as I was writing.  I also added some art notes to the script itself, something I’d forgotten until Dan showed me the old pages.

I’m sure Dan had feedback about the script that I then incorporated into a another draft and, with that in front of him, Dan worked out the final layouts.  I suspect we discussed that, making sure we were both happy, after which he went on to the finished art—which, all these years later, still stands as some of the most beautiful art I’ve ever seen in a comic book or graphic novel.

This kind of back and forth is
not the way the average comic book is done!  The fact that were were able to do so much work face to face, and that we had the extended deadline that graphic novels afford, allowed us to really collaborate in a way writers and artists in comics working on monthly comics just can’t.  It was a magical collaboration as befits such a magical character. 

Safe travels, Dan.  Say hello to the Lords of Shamballa for me.

Saturday, August 12, 2023


My new novella, a supernatural thriller called The Witness, with a cover and ten illustrations by the brilliant J.H. Williams III, will be out September 5th in ebook form, courtesy of the fine folks at Neotext Publishing. (A print edition will soon be available, as well.)

What’s it about?

On a sleepless night, Jonah Blake goes for a drive—and finds the world literally crashing down on him when a 757 drops out of the sky, exploding in the nearby woods.

Jonah, the lone witness to the event, soon finds himself engulfed in a maelstrom of voices and visions. Are these truly the souls of the 215 people who lost their lives aboard Flight 77—or is Jonah Blake losing his mind?

And if these are the spirits of the dead crying out to him—what do they want?

More info to come!  (And while you're waiting for The Witness, feel free to check out my 2022 Neotext novella, The Excavator.)