For Your Consideration: BOOM! Studios’ The Stardust Kid

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

Some writers can be easily catalogued – super-hero writer, comedy writer, horror writer, etc. Then there are a rare handful who defy pigeonholing and have enjoyed a career filled with variety. J.M. DeMatteis is certainly among the best known of that latter group, veering from his hysterical collaborations with Keith Giffen to deeply personal works such as Moonshadow and Brooklyn Dreams.

The Stardust Kid

The Stardust Kid


He’s also got two all-ages projects that come directly from the heart: the not-yet-completed Abadazad and The Stardust Kid. The former was begun with artist Mike Ploog for CrossGen comics and briefly continued after their assets were purchased by Disney but then fell into limbo. The latter arrived in 2005 and garnered some acclaim but has been unavailable for a time. Archaia/BOOM! corrects that this fall with a complete collection of The Stardust Kid.

“The concept goes all the way back to the early 1980s,” DeMatteis told me in July. “The original idea was for a children’s book, with the main character inspired by my son, who was just a toddler then.”

So, if Cody DiMarco is his son, who is Paul Brightfield, the other pivotal character? “In my original story, way back when, Paul, in his human form, was an old man—loosely based on a neighbor of ours. But, as the story evolved, Paul became Cody’s contemporary. The kid from up the block that your parents really don’t want you playing with. So I guess he hearkens back to childhood friends.”

The Stardust Kid #1

The Stardust Kid #1


What began as a kid’s prose book evolved over time, first as a screenplay and then a comic. “I actually sold it to DC in (I think) 1987 or so, right after I finished work on Moonshadow. I was really hungry to do a kid-friendly comic book, but one with the same high quality as the best children’s literature; taking the lessons I’d learned writing Moon and applying them to all-ages comics. I finally realized that the market at the time wouldn’t support a book like that and bought it back from DC. I continued to tinker with the story for years. Along the way Mike Ploog and I got together on Abadazad (a book that shared the same aspirations as SDK) and it was one of the most magical collaborations of my entire career. Mike and I just clicked instantly, on many levels, both creative and personal.

“When CrossGen crashed and burned and it looked like we might lose Abadazad (this is before Disney bought it), I suggested we get to work on something new as a way to relieve that stress. I sent Mike the most recent version of The Stardust Kid, he had some wonderful insights and ideas on how to move the story forward, and we were off!”

The Stardust Kid #3

The Stardust Kid #3


While aiming the book for sentiments of all ages, DeMatteis didn’t feel any struggle with writing “kid friendly material”. “I’m not adjusting my style, not trying to ‘write younger.’ My favorite children’s books—from Wrinkle in Time to Narnia, Mary Poppins to Harry Potter—are all beautifully crafted. The authors aren’t writing down in any way. If anything, they’re writing up. You can deal with wonderful themes, big ideas, authentic emotions. You’re certainly not going to skew in a (so-called) ‘adult’ direction, but that doesn’t mean you can’t deal with genuinely mature concepts. Mature in the sense of something that’s deep and true and real.”

For DeMatteis, this is a personal favorite because, “It’s just one of those stories I poured heart and soul into, in sometimes deeply personal ways, starting with the connection to my son and moving out to other aspects of my life. There’s also the fact that I lived with the story for so many years, the joy of the collaboration with The Great Ploog and my deep love of the children’s fantasy genre. All that, woven together, makes SDK one of my favorite literary ‘children’.”

The Stardust Kid #5

The Stardust Kid #5


When announced back in 2005, the project arrived from Desperado and then was completed by BOOM! after mergers and acquisitions. This new edition, DeMatteis claims, will be “a gorgeous hardcover, a kind of ‘ultimate’ edition with many extras: among other things you’ll get excerpts from the scripts, lots of heretofore unseen Ploog artwork (from Mike’s character designs to his gorgeous finished pencils) and a new introduction from yours truly. It’s going to be a fantastic package and I’m very excited about it.”

And after the book comes out, is that it for the character? Not if DeMatteis has a say. “Rereading the story as we put the finishing touches on the new collection has reignited my interest in Cody DiMarco and his world. So I’ll let that simmer in my subconscious and see what comes of it.

“As for other projects in a similar vein: I recently finished the second Adventures of Augusta Wind series—called Augusta Wind: The Last Story—for IDW. There are two hardcover collections out there and I think fans of Abadazad and SDK will enjoy the story. The art alone, by the amazing Vassilis Gogtzilas, is worth the price of admission.”

Purchase

The Stardust Kid

Classic covers from the Grand Comics Database.

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