Comic Creator Interview
with Matt Chic
Name: Matt Chic
Comics: Night Light Comics, Egyptian Shumba
Websites: nightlightcomics.com, twitter.com/iammattchic
QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?
Matt – However old I was in 1st grade, like right when Ninja Turtles were blowing up in the late 80s. I remember going to the comic shop once a month with my dad & picking up the new issue. I assume that’s where it started. & then the 90s X-Men cartoon got me into the whole Marvel Universe & everything else through that. Always read pretty regularly, but there was a year or two right around the end of high school where I bailed for whatever reason.
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Matt – Probably a Turtles book, but I don’t remember for sure.
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Matt – Night Light Comics #1 came out in 2004, I was 22 then.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Matt – Most of the stuff I absorbed growing up was from the 90s - which has some decent highs, but some pretty sad lows. I’ll just go on a limb & say the 60s since that’s when a lot of my favorite classics like Spidey & X-men were making their debuts.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Matt – I’m a neurotic control freak, & if I’m gonna work on something, I’ve gotta have total control over how & when it happens. That way, whether it’s awesome or it sucks, there’s only one person to blame & it’s me. Plus, making comics is kinda therapeutic. I can exercise my artistic skills in the drawings & also get out whatever ideas I got floating in my head through the story or whatever.
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
Matt – Both. There’s definitely a community-vibe to the mini comics scene & I love it & always will. But one of the biggest things I’ve learned over the years - not surprisingly - is that minis are often overlooked by a lotta people as not being legit or something. The DIY aesthetic is what gives them their charm, but one of the reasons I wanted to do a graphic novel was to have something at my table that looks a little more “professional” looking (AKA marketable). Early on, I didn’t really care about how big my fan base was or whatever, but as I get older I feel like doing something bigger than a mini might be necessary if I want to really get noticed or really “show off” what I can do. But maybe my stuff just sucks, I dunno.
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
Matt – When I first started I did 200, but now I’ll usually do about 50 at a time. I get all my minis printed at a local place, so I don’t ever have to over do it. I pretty much just make sure I have enough if I got a show coming up or whatever.
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
Matt – Sometimes I feel bad asking $5 for a 36 page mini, but then I think about how the big guns are doing $4 for a 24 page book with ads. I put a lotta work into my comics, & I charge what I think is fair to the reader, while also turning some profit so I can keep NLC moving forward.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Matt – I used to do a couple each year at least, but things are different now that I just finished Egyptian Shumba, my new graphic novel. It obviously took a lot more time to put that together, & costs a lot more money to print than a mini, so I might not have anything new for a while. I’m always working on stuff though.
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
Matt – I still like going to the shop just to grab a single issue here & there - whatever catches my eye. There’s something comforting about that to me. But there’s no denying that reading things in trade allows you to get into the story a lot easier than having a month break in between chapters.
QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?
Matt – Strips are hard as hell. I’m doing a monthly strip now for a local magazine & coming up with a quick set-up & punchline is tough. There’s kinda no room for error cuz you only have a couple panels to work with. So as much as I like the challenge, I prefer regular comics where I got more room to breathe.
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
Matt – Really all depends on what I’m working on. My minis usually consist of shorter comics, along with poster art & whatever else I’d been doing since the release of the previous issue. Egyptian Shumba, which is 216 pages, took me about two years to write & draw all together. I had to take off work a lot & I didn’t party as much, but it was worth it.
QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
Matt – Drawing girls. I always think back to the first appearance of one of my characters, Kim, & how she looks like a frog. I remember starting NLC with intention of forcing myself to learn how to draw a decent looking girl. But that all came with me developing my style overtime anyways.
QRD – Do you do thumbnails?
Matt – Sometimes. Nothing elaborate though. Usually just to figure out how to properly break up dialogue for pacing purposes.
QRD – At what size do you draw?
Matt – 11x17.
QRD – What kind of pens do you use?
Matt – Microns & Uni-balls.
QRD – What does your workstation look like?
Matt – I got pictures of Andrew WK, Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), & Tina Fey above my drawing table for inspiration.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Matt – Started using my own font for Egyptian Shumba, so the lettering, I guess. I’ll use color for the covers & for poster art, but my Photoshop skills are pretty limited. I know the paint bucket, but that’s about it.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Matt – Slowly coming around to digital comics actually. I feel like it takes me longer to read a comic this way, but it’s actually a good thing. The whole panel to panel format makes you appreciate & focus on the art a little more. I don’t like reading on the computer, but I love reading them on my phone. Whatever.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Matt – For comics, black & white. Color is fun though, so I’m not opposed to it.
QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?
Matt – Whatever works, really. I mean it really all depends on the book & the talent & ideas involved. I will say though - & this is definitely more of a problem in mainstream books - that there should only be one inker.
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
Matt – No idea. I haven’t really sought any out. I’ve done a couple splits, & there’s a few people who if they had a cool idea, I’d probably be down to collaborate with them. But again, I usually like doing stuff myself. So far, at least.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
Matt – Different for each writer & artist team. If I had someone writing for me though, I’d want them to include any specifics that they feel are absolutely crucial, but allow me a little room to do my thing - from a creative standpoint.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Matt – I get Jim Mahfood comparisons every now & then & I can see that. He definitely had an influence on me when I was getting started. I remember in high school getting that Generation X one-shot he did. I thought his art was the shit, & it really stuck with me.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Matt – My parents love them; but they’re my parents, so I could take a dump on some paper & they’d probably still love it. My friends dig it too & they’re really supportive. They were my initial audience back when I started NLC. I’d bring my comics to house shows to sell & trade with bands for merch & stuff.
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
Matt – I’m fine with them. It’s the stuff I love to read when I need some escapism.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Matt – Marvel all the way. Never got into any DC, probably never will. Except Batman. But the second you take him off the streets of Gotham, & put him in outer space fighting giant alien monsters or something, you lost me. I know it’s a ridiculous argument, but Marvel’s characters always seemed more grounded & plausible to me. & cooler.
QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?
Matt – I’d love to do a Spidey, or X-Men, or Avengers book. & that’s, of course, unlikely as hell, but those were the characters that really got me into comics. I’ve been drawing them my whole life basically, so it’d be fun. & I’d love to draw some Madman stuff. I’m a huge Allred fan.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Matt – “Ideally” yeah. But that would mean I’m making enough money to sustain a comfortable living, while also having enough time to work on & publish everything I’d want to - & I don’t see that happening. Self-publishing minis is cool, but as I get older I just feel like I’m only gonna be able to get so far with them. I’m self-publishing the graphic novel right now & I pride myself on the whole DIY thing, but I’m really hoping to find a publisher for Egyptian Shumba just cuz of the costs & everything.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Matt – Usually just Midwest ones since I’m in the area. I did APE in my second year & it was cool, but I wasn’t ready for it. I’m gonna be moving to NY this summer, so I should be hitting east coast cons soon.
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Matt – The usual internet stuff - Twitter, Facebook, my website, etc. Locally, I’ll just put out flyers wherever & just try to spread the word whenever I’m out & about. I actually really suck at this part though. It might be the thing I hate most about doing it all myself - the whole promoting element.
QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?
Matt – They definitely should be in comic shops, but my stuff’s also for people who may not be into comics. I got my characters in superhero costumes, but they don’t have any super powers or anything. They just hang out & get drunk & go see bands play & talk shit. It’s slice-of-life stuff with a little quirk. I’ll put stuff in records stores & coffee shops, so long as they’ll take it.
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
Matt – Everything. If someone wants to do that with my stuff, I’m open to it. Yo, Hollywood - get it at me!
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Matt – More of a reader now. When I buy stuff, I don’t buy it for the value or potential value. New issues usually get rolled up & put in my pocket right after I pay for it. I just wanna enjoy it. & if it’s got a favorite artist of mine I’ll hold onto it, otherwise I’ll just give it away when I’m done.
QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
Matt – Digital for sure. My only hope is that things like Comixology are able to work out a deal with comics shops where I can “buy” digital stuff through my local dealer. Like, some of the books now come with a download code & that’s cool. But some books don’t & there’s times now where I just wanna get the digital version, but then my shop will lose out on a sale & that could end up really hurting them if it becomes a pattern for people.
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Matt – As long as people are being creative & doing what they think is their best work possible, then that’s it.
QRD – Anything else?
Matt – If you’re curious about Egyptian Shumba, you can read the first eight chapters free, & order a copy at egyptian-shumba.com.