Over the past five years, the number of exclusive creators signing with either DC Comics or Marvel has increased exponentially. Practically at every comics convention held across the country at least one exclusive ends up announced, with Peter David‘s announcement two weeks back at WonderCon being one of the most recent. And we’ll probably hear an exclusive announcement or two at this upcoming weekend’s New York Comic-Con. At times the sheer volume of exclusive announcements can take on an almost comedic tone, but the exclusive announcement we’re talking about right now is a very serious one indeed: Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis are taking the Bwah-Ha-Ha exclusively to Boom! Studios.
Wait, did I say serious? And the next question has to be, am I serious?
Well, yes, I am. CBR News learned earlier this week that Giffen & DeMatteis were going to announce their Bwah-Ha-Ha brand of writing will be moving exclusively to Boom! Studios. We followed up with J.M. DeMatteis and Boom! Publisher Ross Richie, who were happy to spill the beans early.
To clarify, what this means is the patented “Bwah-Ha-Ha” style of comics, invented by Giffen & DeMatteis on “Justice League International” at DC in the ’80s, will move to Boom! exclusively. This doesn’t mean that Giffen or DeMatteis is exclusive to Boom! Giffen will still be doing “52” at DC, “Annihilation” at Marvel as well as a load of other books. And this also doesn’t mean DeMatteis is exclusive to the company either. He’s continuing his work on “Abadazad” with Mike Ploog at Hyperion Books and has plenty of work outside comics to deal with. Simply, what it means is if you’re a fan of these two guys working together as a team in their “Bwah-Ha-Ha” style, then Boom! is the place for you.
“Right now, Keith is the busiest man in comics, writing, it seems, everything for everybody,” DeMatteis told CBR News. “I suspect he’s even writing under assumed names. (I can’t swear to it, but I think Brian Bendis, Warren Ellis and Geoff Johns are all really Keith. I mean, have you ever seen them all in the same place at the same time? And, even if you have, can you swear that Bendis, Ellis and Johns aren’t androids? I know for a fact that Keith builds androids.)
“As for me, I’m totally immersed in the ‘Abadazad’ books and other projects outside of comics and the time I’ve got left for comic books has become very precious,” continued DeMatteis. “So, if I’m gonna do comics, I want to have fun. (In fact, the only reason Keith and I continue to write together is because it’s fun.) And working on ‘Hero Squared’ and ‘Planetary Brigade’ is the most fun we’ve ever had– creating our own characters, building our own little Giffen-DeMatteis universe. It’s the first time, in all our years working together, that we’ve done that. And now that we’ve started we can’t stop. And that’s why we’ve decided to focus on these books and these books alone.”
When DeMatteis first approached Giffen with the idea, he said no. “In fact, he threatened to send one of his android servants to attack me,” explained DeMatteis. “But, after we talked it over, he realized what a brilliant idea it was. Especially when he saw the check from Ross Richie. I don’t know where Ross gets all that money, but as long as he keeps paying, we’ll keep writing. The new car was nice, too. Thanks, Ross!”
“I’m sitting here, sweating ship dates and trying to get books out, when the phone rings and the Bwah-ha-ha boys give me a ring and let me know what they’ve got planned,” Richie told CBR News. “At the end of a conversation last week, DeMatteis said to me, ‘Y’know what this means, right Ross?’ Being right on top of my game, I said to DeMatteis, ‘Uh, no. What?’ He replied, ‘The only place the two of us will function as a writing partnership will be at Boom!’
“I think my reply was, ‘Hot damn!’ And that was that!”
DeMatteis added, “What this means for me is that I can continue working with one of my all-time favorite collaborators and, together, we get to let our warped imaginations soar. And, best of all, we own everything we create!”
So, in the coming months you can expect to see increased output from Giffen & DeMatteis at Boom!, both together and separate. “DeMatteis and Mike Ploog will be finishing off ‘Stardust Kid’ at Boom! Issue #4 will be out in May, followed by an extra-sized #5 to wrap it up,” said Richie. “We have scores of other things we discuss, including the oft-discussed collections of ‘Seekers Into The Mystery,’ ‘Mercy’ and ‘The Last One.'”
“As for Keith, we’ve got ‘Tag’ in the catalog right now, a three-issue horror mini-series, and ‘Jeremiah Harm’ #1 (Keith writing with Alan Grant) has turned into a massive hit for us — we’re going back to press for a second printing! We’ve got a slew of more projects we’re not ready to divulge.
“Together, they’re of course doing ‘Hero Squared’ as an ongoing and we’re prepping a sequel to ‘Planetary Brigade,'” continued Richie.
For fans of these two creators, you won’t want to miss the New York Comic-Con this weekend. The show will mark the first time ever that Giffen & DeMatteis will appear at a convention together. “Well, once I did a signing with an android that claimed to be Keith, but I wasn’t fooled,” joked DeMatteis. “We’re really looking forward to it. Friday, we’ll be in artist’s alley, meeting the fans (if we have any left). Saturday, we’ve got a panel together as well as a signing at the Midtown Comics booth. (I’ll also be on Danny Fingeroth’s Writing For Comics panel…as well as an ‘Abadazad’ panel with Hyperion Books editor-in-chief Brenda Bowen.)”
But wait a minute, does the “Bwah-Ha-Ha” Exclusive mean that the guys can only be funny while writing for Boom? DeMatteis clarified, “Our contract with Ross states that we can be mildly amusing when dealing with the press and other publishers, but genuine hilarity is exclusive to Boom!”
One final question for DeMatteis. When writing together, they’ve traditionally been listed as Giffen & DeMatteis, but of course D comes before G, so shouldn’t it be DeMatteis & Giffen? Maybe it’s one of those things where they can switch who goes first annually? DeMatteis said that Giffen & DeMatteis just works better. “I tried it the other way around once and the next thing I knew some damn android came crashing into my bedroom shooting lasers from his fingertips. Believe me, I learned my lesson. (I could have made that funnier, but Ross wouldn’t let me.)”
Let’s hope Giffen leaves his androids at home during the convention this weekend.