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QRD #60 - Indie Comic Creators Part V
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Indie Comic Creator Interviews:
Mike Dawson
Floyd Lewis
A.P. Fuchs
Darin Shuler
Trevor Denham
Jules Rivera
John Steventon
Lorenzo Ross
John Allison
Michael San Giacomo
Matt Chic
Jackie Crofts
Don W. Seven
Derek Baxter

Interview Series Updates:
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Jason Dube
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Matt Chic
Matt Chic
Matt Chic
Matt Chic
Matt Chic
Matt Chic
Matt Chic
Matt Chic
Matt Chic
Indie Comic Creator Interview with Matt Chic
April 2013
Matt Chic
Name: Matt Chic
City: Milwaukee
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.