Comic Creator Interview with Matthew D. Smith
City: Hixson, TN
Comics: The Adventurers of Liberty City, Wichita Gravy, Suggestion Box, & many more cool things coming out this year!!
QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?
Matthew – I first got into comics when I was around 6 years old & I’ve been a fan ever since... so that’s 26 years & counting!
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Matthew – The first comic I ever remember getting was Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew #3... they fought Frogzilla!
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Matthew – I was 28, so a relative late bloomer, I guess you could say.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Matthew – I’m really partial to the 80s, because that’s when I started reading & collecting comics. As I hit my teen years, I took on a whole new level of appreciation for comics of the 70s though, as well as the old EC comics reprints from the 50s.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Matthew – I’m a lifelong comic fan! I’ve been wanting to do this for as long as I can remember! Comics mixes the best of both worlds... amazing stories with fantastic art.
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
Matthew – I can see (& have seen) both of these variations pave the path for people. I love seeing people just get up & finally do something. So many “wait” for something to happen... those of us out there making the indie comics & mini comics are taking the initiative to make it happen!
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
Matthew – Our initial print run was 100 I believe... we were just very excited to get that first issue actually printed!!
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
Matthew – Our standard comics are $2.50 & I think that’s a decent cost... that covers our printing cost & allows us a few extra cents to pocket. But I’ve been known to go as low as $2 & sometimes just give them away... I’m a sucker.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Matthew – Well, the amount per year depends on so many factors... what’s going on in my daily life from month to month, monetary restrictions, the availability of my collaborators, etc. Last year (2010) was an extremely productive year for me, though... I put out 5 standard issues, 3 mini comics, & 2 graphic novel collections! If I can put out 6 a year (either minis, graphic novels, or regular issues), I’m ecstatic!
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
Matthew – It all depends on the story, honestly. My comic, The Adventurers of Liberty City, is a serialized superhero comic. However, I’m working on some horror graphic novels that are definitely self-contained complete books.
QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?
Matthew – While I love comic strips, I do prefer comic books. Putting it into relatable terms, comic strips are like telling a joke... comic books are like telling a funny anecdote or even a full stand-up routine.
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
Matthew – Again, it all depends on several factors... everything from how long it may be to how many people are working on it to what’s going on in our everyday lives.
QRD – What do you better with your comics now than when you first started?
Matthew – I think I’ve grown as an artist & a writer all around. I’ve learned what works, what looks good on the finished product... it’s a constant learning process.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Matthew – I don’t start doing anything digitally with the comics until I’m ready to letter &/or color. I prefer pencil & ink the old fashioned way honestly.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Matthew – I think they are great & seem to be working wonders for some people. Are they for me? Not especially. You just can’t beat the feel & smell of a comic book in your hands.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Matthew – Ha-ha, well, I prefer black & white, because my coloring skills suck frankly!
QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?
Matthew – That’s up to the person working on the comic. With “The Adventurers of Liberty City”, there are 3 of us (David, Brad, & myself): we all plot, David scripts, Brad & I share art duties. With all of my other projects, I’m usually collaborating with one other person in some capacity. I love bouncing my ideas off others & getting their take... everyone I have worked with has brought fresh ideas to the table & made me see an idea in a different light.
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
Matthew – Nearly everyone I’ve found to work with has been met at conventions. We were near each other & just clicked. As for the others, they are either family or really good friends that share a similar passion.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
Matthew – I’m not one to “make” an artist strictly follow my script. I’m all for looking at it in a different way, breaking the panel sequence, changing some dialogue if it makes sense. I value my collaborators input & think they will help make the book better!
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Matthew – Wow, I can’t even begin to think of myself on the same level as anyone I really admire, ha-ha. I’m a huge huge fan of a mixed bag of people, like Terry Moore, Mike Allred, Jim Rugg, Steve Niles, Alex Robinson, Craig Thompson, Jeff Smith, Becky Cloonan, Brian Wood, Ryan Kelly, Andy Runton, Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, & Nick Spencer. If I could reach any level of awesomeness that they have, I will be a pleased individual.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Matthew – Well, some of my family members work on my comics, ha-ha (David Simonton & Brad Jaskula are my brother-in-law & brother, respectively), but they all love them & really hype them up to others.
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
Matthew – I love them! They got me into comics & I still read them.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Matthew – Make mine Marvel!
QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?
Matthew – I came up with a pretty decent idea for a new Defenders series a few years ago... I think it really captured the vibe of the original series in the 70s. Part of me has always wanted to really bring back West Coast Avengers, too, ha-ha. The cartoon fan in me would love to do a Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends comic or bring back Pirates of Darkwater! I could go on & on though.…
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Matthew – I enjoy doing it a lot... it’s very fulfilling. It would help to have someone else publish at times though, ha-ha.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Matthew – I used to attend the Roanoke Valley ComiCon in Salem, VA & the VA ComiCon in Richmond twice a year because it was a cool little show that was close to home. But since moving to TN, I’m reevaluating where I can travel. However, I think SPX in Bethesda, MD & Fanaticon in Asheville, NC are at the top of my favorite list! There’s such a great vibe at both of those shows... very fun, lots of cool creators & fans.
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Matthew – Do as many conventions as I can... promote my blog as much as I can... plaster my comic stuff on Facebook, ha-ha.
QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?
Matthew – My books are in some shops in GA & VA, but honestly, they sell better at conventions. Maybe it has to do with me really talking about the book to people, but I think it has to do with the fact that people are coming to cons to find new stuff a lot of the time. Most people I know (at least) going to comic stores are going to pick up their normal pull box stuff (the Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image titles).
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
Matthew – Some of the upcoming horror stuff I am working on, like “Bee Sting” & “The Curse of Stranglehold” would be GREAT movies. Another upcoming comic I have, a slice-of-life book called “Simon Says,” would make a really good teen comedy/drama TV series, along the lines of “Freaks & Geeks.” The kid in me would LOVE to see “The Adventurers of Liberty City” as a cartoon with a line of action figures!!
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Matthew – Definitely both & I always will be!
QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
Matthew – I love going to comic shops & even when I order my books from a company, I still love to browse (& usually purchase) new things from them. I think comic cons are a great way, & will still be a great way in the future, for getting the books out there. It’s cool seeing comics return to shelves in bookstores, gas stations, & grocery stores, though. I’d like to see some of the bigger companies return to some newsprint type paper maybe to lower the cost & put those comics on a spinner rack in those type of stores at a lower price. That’s how my friends & I got our comics back in the day... it’d be nice to see my sons & their friends doing the same thing!
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Matthew – That’s a rough question to answer, because I think there are so many creators out there doing so many great things in comics these days. There is literally something for everyone in every genre! I’m constantly impressed by the stuff Top Shelf puts out; Brett Warnock & Chris Staros really know something good when they see it & they give it to the people. The type of real, poignant, & powerful storytelling coming from that company is something we should all strive to do.
QRD – Anything else?
Matthew – Check out my blog (mdsmithcomics.blogspot.com)
& read some of my books! :)