Matthew Dow Smith is a talented comic book artist and writer. He has worked on many different books including X-Files, Doctor Who and his own title October Girl. Matthew talks about breaking into the business, what it was like working with Alan Moore and being the artist on the upcoming Beasts of The Black Hand. This exciting story blends history and fantasy and is being written by Ron Marz and is the interesting idea of sculptor Paul Harding.
Jeff: You are a double threat. You are not only a comic book write but you're a comic book artist. For people who are in the comic book industry, one of my favorite questions is always why did you get into this industry? I mean that in the most romantic sense of the word. When you were younger, what drew you to comic books?
Matthew: That's a really good question. I mean, the smart-alic answer is just cause I'm an idiot. I'm sure you get that answer a lot. I've been doing this almost 25 years now. So every year you feel like slightly more of an idiot. But no, it was ... I grew up sort of in the late '70s and early '80s and comics were still ... You were still going to the corner store and it was just kind of a thing.
Dustin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Matthew: You went and you got a comic book and you bought a piece of candy. That was just kind of what you did for fun. But mainly it was I was a big Star Wars fan because I'm old enough to have actually seen Star Wars when it originally was in the theater and everything.
Matthew: Then my mom saw one of the big Star Wars treasuries in ... One of the big Star Wars Marvel treasuries in the grocery store and bought it for me because she knew I liked Star Wars. So it wasn't the first one, it was the second one. So it was the second half of the movie, if you know those Marvel treasuries.
Matthew: I took it home, and just it's like how do you not instantly fall in love with it. Sort of as a corollary story is that Howard Shaken drew that.
Matthew: Many years later, we briefly shared a studio in L.A., and I'd been working out of the studio there for a while. Eventually worked up the courage to say, "You know, Howard, you drew the first comic I ever read, Star Wars." He just looks at me and totally dead pan goes, "Don't blame me."
Jeff: That's great.
Matthew: And walks off. But yeah, but that was it. I mean, there was just something about that sort of mixture of words. I was always a big reader as a kid. I was always sort of drawing a lot when I was a kid. Something about that mixture of words and pictures just sort of sparked something in my head. I've been a comic fan pretty much ever since. So slowly growing my interest from superheroes and the sort of stuff that was going on in comics when I was a kid to then things like John Sable, Freelance, if you've seen that, which was a hugely influential book. But the big one for me was Keith Giffen's run. Keith Giffen and Paul Levitz run on Legion of Super Heroes. I think once the Great Darkness Saga came out and I just happened to pick up an issue of it when I was a kid. I was basically like, "Oh my God. This is so cool."
Dustin: That's awesome.
Matthew: That's everything that I wanted out of a comic.
Jeff: So what came first for you professionally pursuing, I guess? Was it the writing aspect or was the artistic aspect?
Matthew: The intention was always in college I was going to be a writer. I wanted to write comics. But I was going to school in the middle of nowhere in Ohio College of Wooster, which is a nice school, but you're surrounded literally by cows. Yeah, there's a little comic shop in town, which is great little shop. But I wasn't really ... There weren't a lot of other people into comics at the college. There's really only one other guy who really kind of drew, but he was really superhero oriented and I kind of was interested in doing more like Moon Shadow. Sandman has just started and Dave McKing and Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum had come out. That was just an explosion in my head. So I wanted to do these very sort of serious, pretentious, artsy comics. I could kind of draw it. I'd always drawn since I was a kid copying Keith Giffen drawings from the Legion of Superheroes, which one of these days, I'm actually ... He's going to find out about that and just beat me up. So I just started drawing them myself. When you're in comics or you're trying to break into comics, it's a lot easier to say, "Here's my picture of Batman. If I draw Batman, it will look like this." Than it is to say, "Hey, I got a great idea for a Batman story. Can I tell it to you?" Because one, they don't want to hear it, and it's a lot easier to sell yourself as an artist. I always feel a little strange about the fact that I consider myself a writer first, but I'm mostly known for being an artist, which is absolutely awesome and I do not complain in any way, shape, or form. I've gotten to draw so much cool stuff. I never in a million years would've imagined I'd get to draw and just drew another thing that I can't talk about yet.
Jeff: Oh, yeah.
Dustin: Ah, teasing.
Matthew: Well, it's just kind of like, "Wait, you want me to do what? Okay. I mean, I'd be happy to do it."
Jeff: That's awesome.
Matthew: But yeah, so it's weird because I've kind of gone through the last almost 25 years now with this weird sort of chip on my shoulder of like, "I can write too. Let me write."
Dustin: Speaking of really cool stuff, you've done some awesome things like X Files and Doctor Who. Were you a big fan of those lines, those stories before you started drawing and writing for that?
Matthew: On my shelf you can see the two shelves of Doctor Who stuff. I had a lot more of it before I moved into a much smaller apartment in another state. No, I'm a huge Doctor Who fan. I've been a Doctor Who fan since about 1977. I've been just ... We often talk about my generation of creative people being ... We're sort of the Star Wars generation. We all grew up with Star Wars. It's really influential on how we think, but I had sort of the added influence of Doctor Who the entire time. Doctor Who is really my special jam. It influencing everything I do. All of my creative interests are into it. X Files, I like the X Files a lot. Then I watched it pretty religiously when it was the first few seasons when it was on, and then I was working at Disney and the lead artist on the game I was working on, because I worked at the Disney Interactive division, the lead artist was doing X Files cards. He asked me to come in and do the under drawing and then he would kind of paint. So I spent a weekend with a stack of VHS tapes and I had to watch every single episode ...
Jeff: Oh, no.
Matthew: ... of like two seasons in the course of just a few days, and pick an image from each one to draw.
Dustin: Oh my gosh.
Matthew: Yeah. I didn't watch a lot of X Files after that weekend.
Jeff: I bet. Is it weird working on a project like that as opposed to something that's and we're going to get into what you're working on now with the Bees of the Black Hand. Where it's something that is completely born from somebody's head, but you're working on whether it's Doctor Who or it's X Files, you're working on characters that everybody knows what they look like, everybody knows what they sound like, everybody expects a specific thing from these characters. Is there a different approach to that as an artist or as a writer?
Matthew: Honestly, as an artist, I was terrible at doing likenesses and doing sort of driving actor's faces.
Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Matthew: You'd think I'd be better at it considering I've drawn the Doctor ever since ...
Jeff: A lot.
Matthew: Yeah, ever since I was six years old. But I was never really good at it. I had gotten ... Frankly, I had kind of always avoided licensed comics because they were sort of a stigma attached to them. A lot of people kind of see them as sort of bastard childs of this sort of cool comics like Superman.
Matthew: But I just really needed a job and my friend Ben Abernathy, who was then at Wild Storm, put me on Supernatural. It was a learning process of like, "Okay, how do I draw real people and not just what's in my head?" So it was interesting process, and I sort of over the course of like Doctor Who, I was starting to figure out. Then I think by the time X Files came along, I finally felt like I had a style and look and approach to doing it. I'm really pleased with it. I'm a big film nerd too. So I study every episode. I study how they set up the shots, how cut everything, so that I can try to recreate that stuff visually in the comics, which is fun. I love doing that sort of stuff. But then sort of as a writer, I mean, I mostly ... Gosh, the stuff that I've written that isn't my own stuff has been Doctor Who and some X Files stuff. It is interesting. You sort of pick apart sort of what makes each episodes of the show work and then you try to kind of ... It's like a jigsaw puzzle. You sort of figure out how to make what you want to do sort of fit within that mold. I make it sound like a math problem, and in a lot of ways it kind of is. But on the other hand, it's ... When I was doing Doctor Who, I just sat down and thought, "What would be a really awesome Doctor Who episode that I'd love to watch?"
Dustin: Oh, that's cool.
Matthew: Then write it. Then be told my your editor, "Uh, actually, yeah. Could you make it fit in 10 pages." You go, "Yes. Okay. I'll find a way to make it work."
Dustin: That's funny.
Matthew: But I'm one of those guys where I see ... When you're working on Superman or you're working on X-Men or Batman, you're not doing your own thing. It's just like a licensed comic of another media property from TV or movies. You don't own it. You don't create it. We certainly put our own spins on those characters when we work on them, but at the same time, you're following in the footsteps and you're following the rules that were established by other people. You do not have control over that stuff.
Jeff: That's true.
Matthew: And during X Files and Doctor Who is exactly like that, only the potential audience for that materials a lot bigger. Yes, they will tell you if you get Molder's chin wrong.
Jeff: Yeah. Oh, I'm sure. I'm sure with the X Files you're dealing with, it's the same two main characters predominately. Molder and Sculley, which is ... I loved your run on that.
Matthew: Thank you.
Jeff: Thought it was really good, but with Doctor Who ... I mean, for those of our listeners who might not be fans of that show, that character changes constantly. I know you did a seminal run with the 10th Doctor, which is played on television by David Tenent. But did you get to do any other stories with any of the other Doctors?
Matthew: Well, I did, oddly enough, a lot of Matt Smith stuff.
Jeff: I was going to say did you ever have to ... Because, again, for our listeners who might not know the 11th Doctor's name in real life, the actor, is Matt Smith.
Dustin: Matthew Wad Smith.
Matthew: BBC thought that was hilarious.
Dustin: I'm sure they did in all their British humor.
Matthew: I did a bunch of the Matt Smith stuff. IDW had sort of passed on the license by the time it become Capaldi, which I think is too bad because I think Capaldi was the first Doctor who was geared to what I draw. I was always being told, "Oh, you put too many lines on that face." Like, "Well, yeah, Capaldi I could've gotten away with it."
Jeff: You could've gotten away ...
Matthew: Not to insult Peter Capaldi.
Jeff: No, he's just a little bit older that's all.
Matthew: He's a delightful human being, but he's got a look. If you've ever seen my creator on comic The October Girl, I mean, there's a character who basically looks like a young version of him.
Matthew: Created long before he was the Doctor, but in a very similar look. So it's just a look I like. But yeah, it was fun. I got to write a couple of Matt's stories.
Jeff: That's cool.
Matthew: Which was an awful lot of fun as well. But yeah, so I've drawn other Doctor stuff. I haven't gone back and done ... I know Titan has done some sort of older Doctor material, and I haven't done that. I did get to draw ... My very last Doctor thing I drew for IDW there was one panel where I got to drawn every Doctor.
Jeff: Awesome. I think I remember that panel.
Dustin: That's really cool.
Matthew: Then there's this, and I keep telling this story publicly, I really should not admit to this.
Jeff: Go on.
Matthew: There's a big double page spread at the end of the issue. This is Prisoner's of Time Number 11, which was the Matthew Smith Doctor issue. So of course they got me to draw it. There's a double page spread where the instructions in the script were just, "Draw any companion you want."
Matthew: But you had they're all in these tubes because they've been captured by the bad guy. So you had to do a wall that's as many as you wanted to do, whichever ones you wanted to do, and fit them into those two pages. So I drew ... I think it had to of been something like 40, maybe less. Maybe like 30 Doctor Who companions in specific outfits from specific episodes entirely from memory.
Dustin: That's intense.
Matthew: I'm a damn Doctor Who nerd.
Jeff: No, that's awesome. I'm sure all the other nerds were super stoked about the attention to detail. Again, for our listenership who might not be and you too, Dustin, who might not be ...
Dustin: Oh, call me out in front of Matthew Smith.
Jeff: So into Doctor who, not only does the Doctor change, but his companions ... He always has a companion, sometimes two.
Dustin: I know this.
Jeff: But yeah, they change periodically too. So yeah, there must be 100 companions throughout the years.
Matthew: I don't know the actual number, but it certainly feels like there have been at least 50, if not 100.
Jeff: Has there ever been a real world meeting of the Matt Smiths?
Matthew: I've never met the Matt Smith.
Jeff: Ah, got to make that happen.
Matthew: May happen at some point. I think the universe might collapse if it happens.
Jeff: It would be very fun collapse. I really want that photographic evidence to happen for sure.
Matthew: My ongoing joke is I need to get Matt Smith who drew Barbarian Lord in Lake of Fire, which he's a fantastic artist. Get him, get Matt Smith who edited 2000 A.D. for years, and the actor Matt Smith together.
Matthew: It'll be like the four Doctor's special.
Jeff: That'd be amazing. I would pay to see that.
Matthew: I do think the space time continuum would collapse.
Dustin: One could only hope.
Matthew: Why not?
Dustin: So earlier you were saying that drawing likenesses maybe might not your strong suit, but I'm curious as to forcing yourself out of your comfort zone, did that make you a better artist?
Matthew: I would like to think so. I try to do ... My approach to any job I get has been to ... I always try to pick one thing about that job that I'm going to really, really try something new with and try to focus on something new.
Matthew: I did a Mirror's Edge comic, if you know the game Mirror's Edge.
Matthew: At Wild Storm with Rhianna Pratchett, who was one of the writers on the game, if not the writer on the game. So she wrote it and I drew it. I'm not very good at drawing buildings or doing perspective. So I went into that and said, "I'm going to just use this to learn as much perspective as possible." I literally pulled my How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way off the shelf. It's got like a great description on how to do perspectives and stuff, and that's what I did. So there's something like that for every project because if you don't do something like that and you've been doing this this long, you'd go bonkers.
Dustin: Plus it's really healthy to humble yourself a little bit and kind of go back to the basics.
Matthew: Well, keep in mind, I think of myself as a writer first. So I tend to think I'm an okay artist for a writer. So I do not have a completely overblown confidence in my own art. I think I can draw, but when your friends with .. Gosh, I was having dinner with Ron Marz and I'm sitting next to Rick Leonardi. We hang out with Jim Sterling. You hang out with just these amazing artists and you're like, "Yeah, I'm just like a four year old with a crayon compared to these guys." I try to approach it as a craft, not as an art, and let other people judge the artistic merit of something that I'm doing. I just want to learn how to draw better and have fun.
Jeff: I think that's really good to have that with any kind of career is to always want to be looking to learn that next thing. You never think you're the upper echelon.
Dustin: Well, I image Jim Sterling himself thinks the same way. If he thought he was the end all be all and the shit, he probably wouldn't be as good as he really is.
Jeff: That's true. You're always bettering yourself. Speaking of projects that you get to work on, one thing that we're really excited to hear ...
Dustin: Super excited.
Jeff: Super excited is Beast of the Black Hand, and we got to talk with Paul Harding, who is a friend of all of ours obviously, and also were this story was born inside that brain basically. We know that Ron Mars is writing it, and you're the artist.
Matthew: I'm the artist.
Jeff: I kind of want to talk a little bit about how did you get involved with this project and what has it been like working on this project?
Matthew: Well, I've known Ron and Paul for years, as you go know. I've known Ron for 15 years, and I've known Paul for probably about 10. It really is like three brothers working on a project, only with less fighting.
Jeff: That's awesome.
Matthew: Yeah, it's really cool. Well, I was in Seattle for Emerald City, and Ron and I were sharing a room. One night he just kind of goes, "Oh," ... X Files was coming to an end and I was like, "I'm not sure what I'm going to do next." Ron just goes, "Hey, I have an idea. There's this thing Paul and I have been talking about it. Would you have an interest in working on something like that?" He kind of gave me a very quick run down. My first question was like, "I don't have to draw horses do I?" Because I hate drawing horses. They're very hard.
Jeff: Yeah. They are.
Matthew: No, but he kind of hit the high points. "It's going to be a period piece and it's going to be a lot of people in suits. It's going to be sort of some steam punky, diesel punky kind of technology. There's going to be big monster." I'm basically like, "Yeah. Okay. Cool. I'm in."
Matthew: Ron and I work so well together, and I love Paul to death. He's just the nicest guy, just a really talented guy in his own right. So how do you say no. It's like, "Hey, two of your best friends want to do a thing."
Matthew: How are you going to say no?
Jeff: And the story sounds so much fun. It's great because as someone like me whose just a fan of the genre, it's great that you guys are not only friends but that you run in that same circle that it can all just kind of fit like this because a story like this created by Paul, I think ... I can't picture anybody else than you drawing this.
Matthew: Oh, thanks.
Jeff: Especially from a lot of the art that we've seen. Congratulations on the Kickstarter. You guys did a very successful Kickstarter that both D-man and myself backed. So we're very excited to get ...
Matthew: Yeah. I was going to say it was quite some help from you guys. So thank you very much.
Jeff: We're really excited about that. You guys are hitting the ground running. The first volume of the graphic novels coming out this year. Because you guys raised so much, we're actually getting a sneak peek of the second volume from you.
Matthew: Indeed, you are. There are no horses in that one yet.
Matthew: We'll see if that's true. Yeah, no. I finished the black and white art right before Christmas and started in on the preview pages, which are really exciting. How often do you get to do that?
Matthew: Get a little jump start on the next book. It's going to be crazy.
Jeff: That is so exciting.
Matthew: The first eight pages are crazy in and of themselves.
Jeff: The thing about something like this, like you were saying, is it gets to be fun because it's like three brothers kind of just being able to work on a project together.
Jeff: In a normal setting, because you are a double threat, because you have a writing background and an artistic background, when you work as an artist with a writer or conversely as a writer with an artist, do you find it that it's easier for you because you kind of speak both languages?
Matthew: It can be. Really it depends on the writer. Ron and I have a really great short hand, and there are certain things he just sort of leaves to me.
Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Matthew: He isn't afraid to just say, "Hey, if you can come up with a better solution for how this works, go for it. I don't care." That certainly helps. I've written with some writers who are very, very like, "Nope, just do what I say. I don't want to hear what your opinion is."
Matthew: Yeah, which is okay. I mean, I've worked with Alan Moore and James Robinson, who I think are two of the best writers to have sort of taken on comics, and they have both have very specific visions of what they want on a page and how they want that action to play out. As an artist, you just go, "Okay."
Matthew: You do what they tell you.
Jeff: What did you work on with each of those guys?
Matthew: Well, my very first project at DC was Starman Number 11, which is insane because that was my favorite comic at the time. I still think it's one of the best superhero comics ever made. I think you could re-release it now and it would still work. So yeah, that was my first one. Alan and I did a couple of issues of Supreme together at Rob Liefeld's awesome studio, press, or whatever it was called.
Jeff: What it was called at the time, yeah, yeah. That's awesome.
Matthew: Yeah. It was a lot of fun. You get to say, "I worked with Alan Moore."
Dustin: Yeah. That must of been ... What was that like working with Alan Moore?
Matthew: It was great. Someone sent me a script and I drew it.
Matthew: Then somebody sent me a check.
Matthew: Not bad.
Jeff: That's always the best part.
Matthew: Yeah. It's fun. I mean, there is a part when you're a writer and an artist, there's a part of you that has a tendency to say, "Oh, I could've totally done that better, or I would've done this instead of that." You sort of insert your own sensibilities as a writer. For the most part, the writers that I've worked with I've never really done that. I mean, Alan and Ron and James. I did the Batman 66 Steven Peel crossover with Ian Edington, who is another Cross Gen guy from when Ron and I were there at Cross Gen. Those guys I remember because I think I had an idea I wanted to pitch for that crossover, and they called me up and said, "Hey, can you draw it?" I'm like, "Well, sure." Then I got Ian's script and was like, "Yep, this isn't what I would've done at all. It's better."
Dustin: That's nice.
Matthew: Which is really nice, but Ian, I don't understand Ian. Ian should be a freaking giant in this industry, in that he always turns in solid stories. They're really thoughtful. They're really clever. Yeah, he just never caught on, which isn't to say that he doesn't amazing stuff and doesn't have a great career. But it's kind of like, "Dude, why isn't your name on everybody's lips?" Because I'm reading this script and I'm like, "What an insane concept." Batman 66 and Steven Peel. To get to draw some stuff that's crazy and fun, it's like bees that are robots attacking people. It sounds stupid, but it totally works.
Jeff: That's awesome.
Matthew: It's weird because I would love to write more. Whenever I get an opportunity to write, I just wrote a Swamp Thing story for DC Digital. I love being able to do it, yet at the same time, I love being able to go and draw a script for a friend of mine or another talented writer and just get to do that. It's weird though. It's like there's always the danger that you start thinking, "Oh, I could've done this so much better." It's not usually true.
Jeff: The comic book industry, we've gotten to talk to some people in the industry now on this show a couple times. One thing that is interesting is how much this industry has changed over the years. I was wondering if you could speak a little bit on what it was like when you broke into comics as to kind of how you see the industry today. Do you think it's changed for the better or for the worse?
Matthew: I mean, back in comics, when I started in comics during the Civil War, it's changed a lot. Really the driving force, unsurprisingly, has been technology in different forms. I mean, when I started in comics, we were drawing on boards and we were sending them to the publisher in big FedEx boxes. There was a spider's web of FedEx boxes traveling all over the country and the world as you get these books together. Then it became you had to scan it and send it in. Then coloring was being done on the computer instead of with markers and things. So the artistic process has changed a lot just with the introduction with digital tools, but also, man, digital comics, that's changing a lot of stuff. The question I get all the time other than would you ever do more Doctor Who stuff, which I get asked all the time. Is how do I break into comics? It's like, don't ask me. I'm not going to tell you. But the truth is make a comic and you can publish it now.
Matthew: If you can finish a comic, you can put it out there and people can read it. Whether they will read it, whether you can make money off them reading it, is a whole other story, which is interesting and worrying.
Matthew: So that's changed a lot, but also just like within this last year. I mean, I think we're really struggling as an industry to figure out how to sell stuff.
Matthew: Not that people don't want it. I'm not a gloom and doomer. I'm not saying that the industry is going to go away. It'll never really go away. But we're seeing stores having a hard time with the amount of stuff that's out there and getting it all on the shelves and getting the kinds of sales they need to keep comics going. I mean, I've been thinking about this a lot, obviously, because I'm a nerd and I think about this stuff while I'm drawing for 16 hours in a day.
Matthew: But yeah. Right now is a very interesting time because I think we're wrestling with the fact that our audience is a lot more diverse than we were playing to before.
Matthew: Comics basically have always been for me.
Matthew: Ever since I was a little kid, they've always been targeted to me. As I got older, the comic books got more mature. I am their ideal reader. I'm the person who has the extra money to spend on comics, but to be honest, I like the more diverse stuff. I don't know who the audience for this is, its just really good and it's really weird. I love that we're starting to see that stuff now. But it's also very hard on the industry because you have a lot of material and you have a really limited amount of shelf space in direct market comic book shelves.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, I remember being a kid collecting comics in the '80s. I mean, it was ... The only conversation was are you going to buy Marvel or are you going to buy DC. I remember when Image became Image and these rogues artists and writers broke away and started their own company.
Dustin: It was awesome.
Jeff: It was awesome. Literally it turned this industry kind of a little bit of a corner, and people were like, "Oh, well I can maybe read something that's not a Superman or an X-man kind of comic." But, like you said, now you walk into a comic shop and you can find a comic not only about anything but pretty much published by anyone or anybody, which isn't terrible thing, but I personally watch a lot of the industry talk too. It does seem scary from time to time.
Dustin: Well, you got to think with the growth of technology and like you were saying, Matt, with everything being easier to make without having to go through all these steps to create a masterpiece. Same goes for the music industry, where now it's actually starting to ... I don't want to say watered down, but maybe that's the best word for it. Where it's hard to make a sound in a room full of noise, you know?
Matthew: Yeah. Exactly. Well, we always talk about particularly ... Because I write pros too because it means free time. Don't even get to talking about the music side because I do music too. When Amazon first started the Kindle and you started to see sort of the explosion of the e-books thing. I'm sure you guys know this, but for the audience. They were talking about who's going to be the gate keepers. There's so much stuff out there. You can just publish something on Amazon with the click of a button, and I've done it myself with certain things that I've written. I'm just like, "Ah, I'll just put it up on there and kind of see if anyone wants to read it." There was a sense that there was this dilution of attention because there's just so damn much stuff.
Jeff: There is.
Matthew: Like how do you do what to read? How do you know what's good? You have to rely on word of mouth and these weird algorithms. Every once in a while there's one thing I put up there that every once in a while just get a random couple of sales from. It's like, who found that? How did you ... Couple besides that, I don't push that stuff out. It's just kind of on there. If you're searching my name, you come across it. So it's very strange that people find it. I know the music industry because I've been talking to some music industry people about that too. It's great. On my Mac, I can ... Got my instruments behind me. I can sit down and record a fairly professional sounding track on my freaking laptop.
Dustin: Yeah. Which is awesome, but it's ...
Jeff: You can put it on iTunes.
Dustin: It's awesome.
Matthew: You can put it on iTunes.
Dustin: Which is a great thing to be able to do, but it's a double sided coin where everybody, every jerk is making tracks for everybody else to listen to. Now we're stuck in a perpetual Netflix whole. Media's just this whole thing that we're just scrolling through, and we don't even know what to watch because it's just overloaded with choices pretty much.
Matthew: Yeah. Oh God, yeah, that whole thing where I just did that the other day where I was just staring at Netflix. There's so much stuff. I just closed it. I couldn't decide on anything.
Dustin: That's how I feel ...
Matthew: Honestly, comics is going to become that.
Matthew: We got to come to terms with that.
Dustin: That's how I feel with Spotify too. You open up Spotify and you're like, "Man, I have everything at my fingertips. I don't know what to listen to."
Dustin: It's too much.
Matthew: And I think I find myself going back, whether it's film or TV or music or comics. I find myself going back to the stuff that I read before everything was digital.
Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Matthew: I go back to the stuff that I loved when I was younger. Just because I know I'm going to like it.
Matthew: It's just sort of weird, and I feel bad because how often do I discover new music. Me personally very rarely.
Matthew: Do I discover new artists. I mean, my wife got me into Mountain Goats, and I'd never heard of Mountain Goats. I just never have been exposed to Mountain Goats.
Jeff: I like that band.
Dustin: The animal or the band?
Jeff: The band.
Matthew: I'm just mountain goats are pretty nice. I like the band too. I've seen them a couple times here in D.C., but it's like I'm going back and I'm listening to XDC because it's like, "Oh, I have access to every single thing XDC ever put on tape ever."
Matthew: A push of a button. Really between XDC and Elvis Costello and Crowded House. Yeah, yeah. I'm a nerd and I'm very, very white. I grew up in a very different period of time. But at the same time, Foo Fighters. I was exposed to Foo Fighters and I love Foo Fighters because I was playing in a band with Joe Casey.
Matthew: Yeah. Joe Casey, the legendary writer now, was not so legendary back then. I was his bass player in a band called The Sellouts.
Jeff: Can I look you guys up anywhere?
Dustin: It's happening.
Matthew: There is a band called The Sellouts. I don't think it's use. There's a band you can find. Joe Casey, I know, has talked about it old interviews.
Dustin: We'll find it.
Jeff: We'll find it.
Matthew: Oh gosh. But yeah, I was exposed to new music because Joe had a van and we would drive in the van to the rehearsal space. He would just something in.
Jeff: Oh yeah.
Matthew: But now we're also isolated. I'm sitting at home. The only music I really listen to is the stuff that i seek out myself, but it is awesome because if I hear about something or if someone tells me about something, I can push a few buttons and listen to it.
Jeff: That's very true.
Matthew: Kind of cool. But do these artists make money?
Jeff: Yeah. Exactly. That translates to the comic industry again. It's like so many people putting out so much stuff. It's like whose actually making money in the industry.
Matthew: And that's the benefit of the Kickstarter stuff.
Jeff: For sure.
Matthew: We had talked about that before we started recording. I always feel a little bit strange about Kickstarter because you're going out directly to your fans and your fan base and saying, "Please, give me money so I can do this thing."
Matthew: And creative people are suddenly having to become marketers and sort of managers. We're idiots. We should not be in charge of anything. Put us in a corner and let us kind of go wild. But it's an interesting kind of way of doing this. It has its upsides and its downsides. Obviously the upside is that we got a Beast in the Black hand financed. I get to keep doing more of it.
Jeff: That's coming out on Ominous Press, but that doesn't mean that that's just a small press that you can only get from the Kickstarter. For our listeners out there, thy can go to their local comic book shop and ask for this graphic novel when it comes out.
Matthew: Yeah. I'm not sure what the print plan is. Ron and Sean Husvar, whose sort of the head of Ominous. He knows the plan. I'm just waiting on more script pages from Ron.
Jeff: Well, I know as a comic collector and as an avid frequent customer of a local comic shop is that is exactly how stuff gets down. If all of our listeners will go out to their own local comic shops and request this book, then it'll be everywhere. It's the same thing with music. If you call your local radio station and request that one song, then it starts to get played everywhere.
Matthew: That's never changed.
Jeff: That's never changed.
Matthew: And will never change.
Jeff: Yep. One thing that we always come to at this show, and it's an interesting question I think for you because you've even touched upon this, right before you started with Beast and the Black Hand, you were finishing up your run on X Files. Didn't really know where you were going to go for your next job. But you said you're a writer, you're an artist, you even dabble in pros and music. What fuels you to keep going out there and finding these projects that you want to be passionate about working on?
Matthew: Well, I mean, the obvious answer is coffee. Lots of coffee.
Matthew: Boo. Yeah, we all hate coffee. It's just what I do. It's how I'm wired. It's great. I went to a writing workshop with David Morrell and if you don't know who David Morrell is, he's the guy who created Rambo. He wrote the novel First Blood, but he also teaches writing. So he gives this sort of talk. He says, "Congratulations on being here, making it into this program. Here's the question, why do you write?" So it's a whole room of writers. We all have the same answer, which is cause we have to. David because David is a good writer and a very smart man goes, "Okay. Of course, but why do you have to write? If you can answer the question why do you have to write or why do you have to make music, why do you have to draw, then you have a much better idea of what it is you should be doing, and what it is that you're going to do." So I look at every project as an opportunity to do something interesting, do something new. I agree to the projects that excite me and working on the projects is sort of a long, slow process of figuring out what it is about it that excites me. Then adding that to my list of things that I want to do more of.
Matthew: I know that's a weird answer.
Jeff: No, I think it's a great ...
Dustin: No, I think it's a good answer.
Jeff: ... outlook. I mean, that translates to anything. Those are questions you should ask yourself in all aspects of life, I think. I think that's very poignant.
Matthew: My answer is that the world doesn't work that I want it to. So I write stories that deal with that.
Jeff: That's awesome.
Matthew: I tend to draw stories that deal with a world that works in a different way. Beast and the Black Hand, not keep sort of ...
Dustin: No, talk about it all day long.
Matthew: That's another one of those projects. It's a fun little side step. It's what if things were just slightly different. That's a lot of fun. Obviously we get to play with history. Paul, Ron, and I are just massive history nerds. I'm more of a UK nerd. I've read way too many books about Scottish history, which are just all about just death. Every page. Everybody died. They know their U.S. history even better than me. Every sort of project is an opportunity to just kind of have fun and play around with some interesting ideas. Hopefully the audience will respond to that. If we're lucky they do, we get to do more stuff like this.
Jeff: That's awesome. I mean, you got Beast and the Black Hand, which is coming out this year. That first volume of the graphic novel. You mentioned that you just finished up working on a Swamp Thing for DC Digital, which is exciting.
Matthew: It's issue four of Batman and Harley Quinn that ties into the Batman, Harley Quinn movie. I also did Harley Quinn and Batman. So I can't remember which series.
Matthew: That's one of them and I think it's issue number four.
Jeff: That's awesome. Is there anything else that is coming out that you can talk about because I know in the industry there's lots of things that you're working on that are secret at this moment.
Matthew: There are several things on my plate right now that are secret. I've been off and on for the last few years, it's more than just a few years. Off and on for the last five or six years, I've been doing a book called The October Girl, which is a digital only book put out through Monkey Brain Comics and Comicsology.
Matthew: There are four issues out because it's not like I make a lot of money doing it.
Matthew: But I've got four more issues of that are actually in the can and are coming out this year.
Matthew: Which I'm excited about. There are some other secret things involved with that project that I'm not allowed to talk about.
Matthew: Yeah. I'm trying to think. It's like I do so much. I'm basically just am just constantly racing from project to project. It's a rough life, you know?
Jeff: Yeah, no. It's good to be busy though.
Jeff: Do you think ... Not to push the timeline too much, but the success of the Kickstarter with Beast and the Black Hand volume one coming out. You're giving a preview of volume two. Do you think we'll see volume two in this year?
Matthew: I mean, will I get in trouble for saying any of this? I think if the cards are right, we will.
Jeff: That's excellent. That's exciting.
Matthew: I think we will. I'm very excited. They told me what the story was. It's just insane.
Jeff: Awesome. That makes me very excited.
Dustin: Do you think you'll launch another Kickstarter for that as well?
Matthew: I don't know. I mean, these smaller outings like this, you almost have to now at this point. Just to have the financing to keep the production costs up where you will. I mean, obviously in a perfect world we wouldn't have to do that. That we could jut on the back of the sales of book one and we'd all be living in our mansions, driving our Porsche's around. Even though I would not have a Porsche, I would have a Morgan.
Matthew: I would have a Lotus Super Seven like Number Six from the Prison. Sorry.
Matthew: Sorry. That's the nerd. I mean, yeah, it'd be great if we could ... If the sales on book one, paid for us to put together book two. But honestly, it's not how it works anymore. Especially the kind of quality that we're going for with hardcovers and really nice paper and things like that. We'll probably have to do something like that when we do it. When that is announced, I don't know. I'm just the artist on this one, which is great.
Jeff: That's great.
Dustin: Well, I got to say as a fan of the project and if you were to do another Kickstarter, I would be happy for it.
Matthew: Ah, thank you.
Dustin: I love being a part of these cool ideas at the base level. I feel like me, as a fan, now I get to help create a thing that I'm such a fan of.
Dustin: Which is like the coolest thing about Kickstarter. So if you do do another Kickstarter, let us know.
Jeff: Death Wish Coffee will be there. We'll also be there.
Dustin: We'll be your hype man.
Dustin: We'll whoop it up.
Jeff: For sure.
Matthew: Awesome. I really appreciate that. I appreciate the support. These things are tricky to do, especially when you're doing something different like Beast and the Black Hand because there's no superheroes, there are no capes.
Matthew: There's so really nerdy history stuff in it. It's awesome that people are excited about and supporting it.
Jeff: That's awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking time to talk to us today, Matt. It as absolute pleasure to talk to you. I know we will be talking again, especially on the heels of even more Beast and the Blank Hand. We've now had you, Paul, and Ron.
Jeff: Now all we got to do is talk to Sean, and we have the whole trifecta, or the quadruple.
Jeff: Quadrology. I don't know. You're the writer.
Matthew: That involves math.
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah.
Matthew: I'm a creative person. I don't do the math stuff.
Jeff: Awesome. Well, thanks again. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the day.
Matthew: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me, and same to you guys. I appreciate the support.