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Jonathan Maberry, Pen of Steel

CLASS OF 1976, an update

New York Times best-seller, five-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, anthology editor, comic book writer, executive producer, magazine feature writer, playwright, and writing teacher/lecturer.


"The introduction of the Black Panther character into The Fantastic Four comic books changed the course of my life."

Jonathan Maberry photo.jpeg

I write about people who fight monsters. People who are up against what seems to be unbeatable odds and through knowledge and cooperation, they find they can fight for themselves and rise to the challenge.

I use the darkness of my childhood as a launchpad to both entertain and maybe do some good.

My father was in the KKK. nfortunately Pensylvania has more KKK groups than any other states. Anything between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia is called Pennsyl-tuckey. Unfortunately, in Philadelphia that was a big factor growing up in the city. I grew up in Kennsington.

The thing that began my split away from my father was the introduction of the character, The Black Panter in the Fantastic Four Comics that came out in the mid-sixties. The Fantastic Four were my faorite comics.

My Life Changed in Seventh Grade

I attended Conwell, so one day I showed that comic to the librarian there and I said, my father hates this comic because of this character and I need to understand why he hates it so much. It was causing a problem between my father and I.  


She said, well...this particular issue is about Apartheid, and I said: What's that?


Librarian: Let me ask you some quewstions. Have you heard of the

Jim Crow laws?


Jonathan: No.

Librarian: You ever heard of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Jonathan: Yeah. he was a bad guy. My father had a party for him when

he was killed.

She sat me down and explained the facts of life to me.


Fast Forward to 2008

I was doing a radio interview  when I had first started working for Marel. I was writing some Wolverine and Punisher stuff for arel. So, in the radio interview. Italked about the impact comics had on my life. I mentioned my personal story about the Black Panther. 

One of the listeners was Reginald Hudlin. He was writing a Black Panther comic at the time. We knew each other, so he reached to the  editor in chief chief. He said, "I know we've been jsing only Black writers on the Blace Panther books, so why don't we inbiye him to work on the Panther Books. 

The main story about his sister, Shuri becoming a Pather, I wrote that story. When his run was done, I took over as the regular writer of Black Panther. I was the one who put her in the Panter armor. The stuff I did on my run was partly the basis for the new Black Panther: Wakanda 

I put Shuri up against Namar for the first time. I created the Midnight Angels. I created the character Mica. About 40% of the movie was based on my comics. It's awesome! My son and I got to go to the world premiere in Hollywood. I met the entire cast. It was wonderful seeing under Special Thanks, my name up there.

That all happened because the Black Panther appeared in the Fantastic Four comics--my favorite omics as a kid. It changed the course of my life. I wish my father had lived long enough to see me write the Blak Panther. That would've killed him. He died as a racist--unrepented

 to the end.

My great great grandfather represented the typical Southern gentry during the slavery days. My father called my great grandfather a traitor. I finally found out that he (John B. Maberry left the South to fight for the North. This is where the story gets wild. In the Battle of Gettysburg, he captured the Southern flag bearer. The Southern flag bearer was my wife's great grandfather. My great grandfather was a good guy. My father, grandfather and great great grandfather were not. 

I broke away from all of that and became the Black Sheep of the family. My view on tolerance and intolerance had completely changed. A lot of writers I know are very inclusive. My crowd at Frankford was racially mixed and of different gender orientations. It wasn't spoken out loud. 

People like my father defended their actions by saying that was the time. That's no excuse.

A Shift in Weird Tales When I Came on Board

I ran into that with Weird Tales--an American fantasy and horror fiction ppulp magazine founded y J.C. Henneberger and J.M. Lansinger in the late 1922. The first issue dated March 1923, appeared on newstands on Feb. 18. When I took over the magazine, I had to change that racist, homophobic image it had. The magazine is now very inclusive and diverse.


There are brilliant other voices. They're going to tell stories I don't see coming. I get to be frightened by things that are outside my experience.


White writers tend to stick to the monsters Western Europeans have been writing for the last few centuries.


The Writing Process 

I was being trained to think like a writer. You look at something like a bird. you do'nt say, that's a bird in a tree. You ask questions: What is that bird looking at? Why is he there, what does he want? You start imposing questions as and start fishing for entry to write a story about  it. 

His first novel, Ghost Road Blues, won the 2007 Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. That book was the first of the Pine Deep Trilogy and was followed by Dead Man's Song (2007) and Bad Moon Rising (2008), all from Pinnacle Books.

Maberry is also a freelance comic book writer, first for Marvel and later for Dark Horse and IDW Publishing.


His first story, "Wolverine: Ghosts", was published as a backup story in Wolverine: Anniversary, April 2009. In August 2009 he became the regular writer for Marvel's Black Panther series, starting on the 7th issue,[5] and he wrote Marvel Zombies Return: Wolverine.[6] In 2010, he wrote Doom War[7] and Marvel Universe Vs The Punisher,[8] Marvel Universe Vs Wolverine, Marvel Universe Vs The Avengers; Klaws of the Panther, and Captain America: Hail Hydra. He moved to Dark Horse Comics and produced a single miniseries, Bad Blood, with artist Tyler Crook, which went on to win the Bram Stoker Award for Best Graphic Novel. His work for IDW Publishing includes two collections of V-Wars, a five-issue standalone series Rot & Ruin: Warrior Smart, and his latest series Pandemic.


His bestselling work was the novelization of the 2010 film The Wolfman which starred Benicio del ToroAnthony HopkinsEmily Blunt, and Hugo Weaving. In March 2010, the novel reached #35 on the mass-market paperback section of The New York Times Best Seller List. It was nominated for and won the Scribe Award for Best Film Adaptation, issued by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.[9]


In 2010 Maberry began writing young adult post-apocalyptic zombie stories. His first prestigious award was for his first young adult novel, Rot & Ruin (2010, Simon & Schuster). It won the 2010 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel, was named in Booklist's Ten Best Horror Novels for Young Adults, an American Library Association Top Pick, a Bram Stoker and Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading winner; winner of several state Teen Book Awards including the Cricket, Nutmeg and MASL; winner of the Cybils Award, the Eva Perry Mock Printz medal, Dead Letter Best Novel Award, and four Melinda Awards.


It became the first of a new series of post-apocalyptic zombie thrillers such as Dust & Decay (winner of a 2011 Bram Stoker Award[10]) Flesh & Bone (winner of a 2012 Bram Stoker Award[11]), Fire & Ash, a collection of short stories, Bits and Pieces, Broken Lands, and Lost Roads, which was released on August 25, 2020.

The series for which Maberry is best known is the Joe Ledger Series, in which a Baltimore police detective is recruited into a Special Ops unit attached to the mysterious Department of Military Sciences, which is run by enigmatic Mr. Church. Each of the books in the series pits Ledger and his team against a different kind of extreme science threat. In the first novel, Patient Zero, the threat is a pathogen that turns people into zombies. In the second book, The Dragon Factory, the villains are geneticists using cutting-edge science to restart the Nazi master race eugenics program.







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