DE: Here's a blast from the past. What happened to Time
Travel, the Rip Van Winkle-type movie?
JD: That was a movie I wrote for Chris Columbus
[director of the Harry Potter films and Mrs.
Doubtfire]. The title of the story was never Time
Travel but Variety wrote it up that way. No one
who was working on the movie called it that. It was
called Straight On Till Morning. Over the years
Iíve done a bunch of stuff for film and TV. Like
most things in Hollywood, I wrote it, worked with nice
people, got paid very nicely and it never got
I also worked on the Daredevil movie with
Chris Columbusís production company. Iím very
curious to see Daredevil when it comes out to
see if any of our ideas made it in. The fun and
frustrating thing about Hollywood is that you never
know, next week someone could dust off Straight On
Till Morning and make it.
DE: You wrote for a few TV and cartoon shows.
JD: I wrote for Tthe Real Ghostbusters, the
live action Superboy, and Earth: Final
DE: How did that work come to you?
JD: Well, the first thing I did was an episode of The
Twilight Zone [in 1985, the episode was called ďThe
Girl That I MarriedĒ] and that was just me knocking
on doors. I was lucky enough to connect with Alan
Brennert [later to be a producer/writer on L.A. Law].
Then you get an agent and it goes from there. I got to
Chris Columbusís company, 1492, because I had done
an animated feature for Disney, which, of course, didnít
get made. So when I was in town I had a meeting with a
guy named Jim Mulay at 1492. I pitched him that story
and he liked it, so then I pitched it to Chris over
the phone and they bought it.
One of my favorite things that I ever worked on was a
science-fiction series for CBS called The Osiris
Chronicles; Caleb Carr [author of The Alienist
and The Lessons of Terror] developed it. It was
like being in on the ground floor of Star Trek.
An all-new universe. So I wrote my episode and I was
looking forward to that series getting picked up. It
Itís a weird business, Hollywood. I know guys who
are Academy Award nominated screenwriters and 90
percent of what they write never gets made. One of the
really wonderful things about comic books is that you
write it and itís out there and sometimes when the
deadlines are really screwed up you write it and itís
out there 2-3 weeks later. People read it, and then
they write you letters.
I liked that as a kid, as a reader, the immediacy
of comics and now as a professional. I think all of us
in comics are spoiled because we do our stuff and it
gets printed, every month. Iíve had hundreds and
hundreds of stories printed. Itís a great thing for
a writer, there arenít many places for writers to go
and get published regularly. Plus to have an audience
that appreciates what you do. As much as I can get
jaded about the business, there are many of wonderful
things about it, even in its current strange shape.
DE: Iíd also like to talk about Avatar Meher
JD: Youíre poking around everywhere, huh?
DE: Itís something that people donít really
know about you.
JD: Some people attribute it to me too much and
they think that everything I write is some sort of
spiritual proselytizing, even if itís a Spider-Man
Itís hard to talk about my spirituality without
it sounding like something other than what it is. Itís
so deeply personal. My spiritual connection is the
center of my life from which everything springs out,
my family, my career, my entire approach to life.
Meher Baba is the face that I put on that center.
Brooklyn Dreams was as autobiographical as
anything Iíve ever written but the reason I didnít
want the character to have my name is because I wanted
the freedom to lie a little bit to get at the truth. I
think if you try too hard to be historically accurate
you end up focusing on details and lose sight of
other, far more important truths. But that story is
about me being 17, waking up and thinking that
something is off; that thereís a piece of the puzzle
That was the beginning on my spiritual quest --
which ended (or perhaps began) with me having an
experience which, for lack for a better phrase, I
could only call mystical, and that changed my life. It
opened me up to many paths to God from many cultures
and in the course of that I encountered Meher Baba and
I knew very quickly this he was the doorway for me. He
was the One. Itís been nearly thirty years now.
DE: So all through your work...
JD: Yes, itís something that has only deepened
and deepened with time. Iím at a point in my writing
life now where I realize that there are other things I
want to do. I still want to continue to work in the
film business, but in the past year I feel like Iíve
been wanting to put out more of the spiritual aspect
of myself in a direct form as opposed to having to
hide it behind the Spectreís cowl. As much as some
people think Iím hitting them over the head, Iím
very much keeping things in service to the story. To
write a book that directly speaks to what I think and
feel about that level of reality is very
Iíve been noodling around with something for a
couple of years now and weíll see if it manifests
into something real or just something for myself. I
feel drawn towards writing material like that and
writing childrenís books. Iím interested in seeing
if a year from now Iím still in comics at all. I
really donít know if I will -- but Iíve said that
many times over the years and then I get offered
something that sparks my imagination and off we go. If
I could get some good kids comics going that would
re-ignite my fire a little bit.
DE: Why is it a hard thing to get comics for young
kids out there?
JD: They donít think thereís money in kidsí
comics. Kids books are in a major boom. Harry
Potter proved that kids want to read wonderful
fantasy stories. You would think that comic book
publishers out of everyone else in the world would
want to do these kinds of books. Thatís not the
response that I get, though. The wonderful artist
Michael Lark and I are developing a kids project, or
an all-ages project as people want to call it. God
forbid you should mention children and comic books in
the same breath.
The point being is that I donít think comic book
companies get it. I pitched a whole line of these
books to one company; they said it was a great idea
but that theyíd have to spend too much money to
promote it. Well, yeah, you would have to spend money
to promote it but the rewards if you do it correctly
would be enormous. Imagine poetically written, lushly
comics like the Harry Potter and Narnia
DE: When you name Harry Potter and Narnia
together, I get really upset.
JD: Because the Narnia books are so much
better, you mean?
DE: I canít really say anything bad because I
havenít read Harry Potter but the Narnia
JD: I read the Harry Potter books and the Narnia
books are much better but Harry Potter is a lot
of fun. Rowling is a fantastic storyteller. I feel the
same way about Narnia as you do -- theyíre in
a class by themselves -- but Iíve got a seven
year-old daughter who is a Harry Potter fanatic
and sheís got all the books and the audiotapes. Sheíll
sit there and listen to all the books through over and
over...just constantly listening to Harry Potter.
We read plenty of other stuff too...all the Oz
books...Mary Poppins...weíre now into Roald
Dahl [author of James and the Giant Peach and Charlie
and the Chocolate Factory].
DE: Another genius.
JD: Talk about amazing writers. These so-called
childrenís book writers are as good as any writers
you can think of -- and better than most. It takes a
real skill and a love of the language.
DE: Well then, Marc, you have a good chance of
doing those books then. Thanks a lot.
JD: Later, Dan.
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