Do You Believe in Magic(k)?

For that matter, do I?

I don’t know.

But I do seem to have some sort of affinity for it, one that I’ve pretty much ignored since my *Man-Thing*/*Son of Satan*/*Tales of the Zombie* days at Marvel in the early ’70s.

No more.

Research for my new DC project is leading me back into the realm of spells, incantations, talismans, cults, angels, demons, arcane symbology, elder gods, arrogant young punk gods, enchantment, disenchantment, and the metaphysics thereof.

I’d forgotten how much fun this stuff can be.

You people are *really* going to like the new book.

(No, I still can’t tell you exactly what it is, but — soon, very soon, I hope.)

19 Responses to “Do You Believe in Magic(k)?”

  1. Richard Bensam Says:

    I’d always wondered about your obvious affinity for writing about the mystical and metaphysical. In addition to the examples you cite, I also remember the way you handled Stephen Strange in The Defenders and the surreal journey of Superman and Charlie in The Phantom Zone — it may have had a pseudoscientific rationale within the story, but it was clearly spiritual in nature — all the way up to the backstory of Hard Time.

    There are some comics writers who profess literal belief in mysticism and try to communicate their subjective personal experiences through their stories (like Englehart, Moore, and Morrison) while you come from a much more materialist perspective. I wonder if your strength in that kind of magical story is precisely that you’re not a believer, so you work a little harder at making it all seem believable and logical and internally consistent? To put it another way, in order to persuade readers to believe in the fiction you’re creating, you first have to convince yourself of it…whereas Moore in Promethea and Morrison in The Invisibles are already persuaded of the “reality” of their stories so it makes perfect sense to them.

    (I don’t say that as a value judgement, BTW — I enjoyed both those comics a lot too.)

  2. Tom Walker Says:

    I agree with this workman-like way that Steve builds his tales quite thoroughly until they have a layered almost, myth like, quality to them. There seems to be a philosophical logic to the progression of plotlines and characters, even when we’re in very strange territory indeed, like the headmen saga.

    I also think that when on a roll, Steve can make every issue memorable, with some rabbit or other being satisfyingly pulled out of the hat. That led to great rereadability and collectability.

    I think that “magic” works whenever a writer gets the sense of “myth” right.

    Good Strong characters matter too, though, as these can be the most memorable thing about a piece of work.

  3. Craig Taylor Says:

    Looking fwd to this new project of yours, Steve.

    Best with it.

  4. Steve Gerber Says:

    For the record: I’m completely in awe of the way Moore and Morrison (to say nothing of Gaiman) write about magic.

    Also for the record: I’m *not* a non-believer; I’m just not entirely convinced. (For the better part of thirty years, Mary has been trying to heighten my awareness of what she calls “the unseen world”. She claims I exert a fairly powerful presence upon it — powerful but clumsy, I should say, since I apparently don’t look where I’m stepping or pay much attention to what I’m doing.)

    I do, however, believe in synchronicity:

    Two days ago I came upon those old handwritten journals from decades past. Skimmed through them. Had my little emotional reaction to the events and people described. Had my little moment of revulsion at my penmanship now versus then. Wondered if practice might improve my handwriting and whether it might not be an interesting idea to keep a journal again.

    Went back to my research on the new DC project. *Two* of the books I’m reading on magic suggested performing a certain occult “warm-up” exercise — yes, the same exercise — and then writing down the result as the initial entry in what, over time, should become a journal of all magical activity.

    I may be slow, but once in a while I *do* notice when the universe hits me over the head with a cosmic skillet.

    I bought a couple of blank books the other night — one for magic, one for me. If either generates anything interesting, I’ll write about it here, too, of course.

  5. A.L. Baroza Says:

    I enjoy the magickal writings of Moore, Morrison and Gaiman. I usually perceive a bit of the showoff/know-it-all underlying their works, though. Maybe it’s the magician’s personality, bigger than life and uber-confident. No biggie, really. But I’ve always better appreciated your take on these matters. Your magical protagonists–from Jennifer Kale back in the early days all the way up to Ethan Harrow–always felt like they were perhaps two steps away from drowning under magical forces they were barely in control of, if they were even cognizant of them at all. They were very human, very relatable, and I appreciated that. They seemed like fellow travelers instead of textbook primers or mythical embodiments.

    And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the metaphysics you dropped at the end of the MAX HTD mini was very humble, yet very, very moving.

    Looking forward to the new project.

  6. Spence Says:

    Ah, this is going to be fun!

  7. Richard Bensam Says:

    Apologies if I jumped to a mistaken conclusion about your personal views based on your work…and really, the former is nobody else’s business, while the latter is going to vary with the individual reader. Apart from that, I have to second everything A.L. said above, especially the praise for the ending of the HTD miniseries.

  8. Matt Butcher Says:

    I’m on pins and needles here, pal!

  9. J. Alexander Says:

    I just hope that whatever you are writing sees print soon. Magic, huh. Perhaps you are writing the new Dr. Fate? Great if you are since it might receive some promotion from DC. Still, I will pick up whatever you write.

  10. Steve Gerber Says:

    Richard: “Apologies if I jumped to a mistaken conclusion about your personal views based on your work…”

    No apologies necessary. I was just trying to provide some clarification.

    A.L.: “Your magical protagonists–from Jennifer Kale back in the early days all the way up to Ethan Harrow–always felt like they were perhaps two steps away from drowning under magical forces they were barely in control of, if they were even cognizant of them at all.”

    True enough. I have an affinity for characters who get themselves in too deep.

  11. Micah Says:

    I like the new banner. Made me smile.

  12. Bart Lidofsky Says:

    Magic and comics! Definitely a good combination!

    There are quite a few other comics writers who know their stuff; Rachel Pollack, for example, is a MUCH better occultist than she is a comic book writer.

  13. Brian Spence Says:

    I’m not really thrilled with the new banner. I don’t know, I can’t really make out what it is. I liked the old one better. Yes, I’m a whiney baby.

    Two, I thought your HTD Max book was pretty magical in itself. I think good stories on magic tend to come up with an alternate explanation for how all of reality works. If done right, it’s supposed to blow your mind.

    I think Moore’s Promethea hit a high water mark in that regard. He took the tarot, astrology, theology, and so many other disciplines and tied everything together. He practically ditched the main narrative of the story and did this sideline research paper on the workings of the universe in the middle of it. I found it really great, despite the fact that I’m an agnostic. It seemed to me that it’s as viable an alternative to explaining the universe as the Bible or whatever other religious text you want to put in there. Of course, we haven’t spent two thousand years trying to debunk it, either.

  14. Jim Brocius Says:

    new banner better

  15. Steve Gerber Says:

    Brian: “I’m not really thrilled with the new banner. I don’t know, I can’t really make out what it is.”

    Hint: It’s neither bird nor plane.

  16. Micah Says:

    The nice thing about your writing when dealing with magic is the sense of humour.

    I’d say you have more in common with Douglas Adams than Gaiman or any comic book writers. A well thought out view of the universe with some laughs.

  17. Tom Walker Says:

    I think Steve is good at creating the “plausible implausible” – the only illustration of this concept is TV’s Invasion, say, where character and script (and satire) keeps one focussed onto the Reality of the unreal scenario unfolding before your eyes..

    I also think Steve, like Gaiman, is a great concoctor of “fairy tales” for mature children of all ages.. It is generally told with passion and great relish, and you just know you’ve had a unique ride – for some that is pure “magic” in itself.

    Steve also strikes me as a good dramatist. The pacing of Hard Time, though constrained by the number of pages each month is very similar to watching filmic drama. As I’ve said before, comic can and should be able to present the reader with imagery and ideas beyond that of contemporary movies and TV. HTD MAX was a fine example of this art!

  18. Bart Lidofsky Says:

    Steve: Hint: It’s neither bird nor plane.

    It’s a frog!

  19. haven o'terrorism Says:

    Hey, yeah, why does magic work so well in comics? Now the universe is hitting *me* over the head with a skillet…wow, something I’ve been reading and enjoying for thirty years, that introduced me to all my favourite writers, and I never made the connection that it was *there* before…