Exclusive Interview with MATT GARVEY
YDRC: Hey Matt, could you delve into the archives a little and give us an origins story on you and your history with writing and comic books?
MG: My origin? Well, I was born in East London and grew up in Dagenham in the glorious 80s. As a kid I used to watch repeats (reruns) of the classic Batman TV series (on Wacaday a kids tv show). I loved it. It was full colourful, over the top crazy characters, it was eye candy. (Sadly, writing this I have just found out that Adam West has passed way, which has broken my heart. God bless that amazing man for all the joy he brought to me as a child). I’d never seen anything like it, I was hooked on superheroes. So much so, when the Burton movie came out my mum let me have the bat symbol shaved into the back of my head even though I was too young to even go and see it! It was the first movie in the UK to be given a 12 certificate and I was only 8 so I had to wait until my dad borrowed a pirate copy from a mate in the pub!
Which leads me nicely into how I bought my first comic because I didn’t really know comics existed until I was around 10. At the weekends, my dad used to babysit my brother and me at while my mum was at work. I use the term “babysit” loosely, because it involved my dad going to the pub and my brother and I playing with the other forgotten children that were supposedly spending quality times with their fathers while they drank. For some reason kids weren’t allowed in pubs in them days. I’m guessing it has something to do with us making us easier to snatch if we were outside. Anyway, I digress, next to the pub was a sweet shop where we used to buy our cans of fizzy pop and when I was in there I saw my first ever comic, it was a Daredevil #305 and I was just blown away by the cover art. Spider-man is about to be stabbed by a lady and Daredevil is leaping to the rescue. I didn’t even know who Daredevil was! But, I knew if spider-man needed this man to save him, I NEEDED to know why. I wanted that comic soooooo much, but my dad wouldn’t let me buy it. So, the next morning, I woke up early before my family and walked back round to the shop and bought it with the money from my piggy bank. It all started from there.
Making my own comics? Well, it wasn’t until I was in my mid to late twenties that I REALLY wanted to write a comic. I had this idea in my head that I thought would make a cool comic. But, I had no idea how to do it so I googled the crap out of it and read loads of articles, which were helpful but there was no definitive way to do it and I think this is why so many people give up before they have even tried. How do you write a comic script, how do you find an artist to help make it? I read that you could write a comic as if it was a movies script, so I started with that and I wrote my first ten-page script, Mulligan. But, I needed to find an artist. I had read that there were a few “forums” you could go to try and find artists. One of the forums recommended in this article was MillarWorld, which I am still an active member on. But, the problem that most writers will find is, trying to find an amazing artist to work for free is near impossible and is a HUGE ask. So, I saved up my money and paid an artist to draw it. For a 1st attempt it weren’t that bad. I mean I was over the moon with it because I made a comic, but in all honestly it weren’t great. However, I posted it on MW and people liked it, said it was funny and REALLY encouraged me to keep writing, so I did. Stared with short 3-4 page scripts and worked my way up to full 24 page comics. Then I got the idea for CHUNKS, my first proper comic. Which I wrote in Westfield food court in Stratford, while I was skiving off work and I haven’t looked back since… I just keep making them.
YDRC: The Ether was a fantastic read, where did the idea come from and how did it develop?
MG: This is a strange one, because most people who see the front cover just assume that I am a HUGE watchmen fan and just ripped off Rorschach. But those who have read it know that isn’t the case, so I’m gonna try to avoid spoilers here. In all honestly, I have only ever read Watchmen once and that was because I found out that they were making a movie, so wanted to read it before it came out. I REALLY liked it. It is a tough read, rewarding, but it is not a dip in, dip out comic. The Story is really complex on soooooo many levels. You have to be really committed to reading that book and I have no idea how people were able to read one issue, wait a month to read the next one…for twelve months! It’s like a novel, you have to read it in big chunks…to me anyway.
Anyway, The Ether...well, below the office of my day job is a shirt retailer and on my first day I walked past it and I looked in the window, as you do. I saw this mannequin, dressed in a grey Saville Row Suit, shirt, tie, but the head was just a map of London and as comic fan, my first thought was “now, that would be a kick arse comic character!” if you were a bad guy and that THAT came out of the darkness, I thought it would be terrifying. But, the first thing I though was “crap, most people are just gonna think I ripped of Rorschach or more recently the Moon Knight reboot” and I didn’t wanna be that guy who just copies what comes before and tries to pass it off as his own. So, I took a photo of it and I waited… every bloody morning and night for two years walking passed it, trying to think of a unique twist…something different. Then out of the blue I came up with my twist and started writing.
YDRC: Could you give us an overview of what the future of Matt Garvey is for comic books?
MG: If I am honest, I’ll write until it stops being fun. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur about writing comics. I write them because I enjoy it and I have stories I want to tell. Don’t get me wrong, if a major publisher knocked on my door, I’m not gonna say no. But, if it doesn’t, I am still gonna just keep making them. It’s my hobby. Some people spend thousands of pounds on season tickets to support their favourite team or play golf…me, I make comics.
With that in mind, I got a lot of stuff hopefully coming out in the next 6-12 months… some old, some new. Before Diz gets cracking on #2 The Ether she is working on issue one of a new series we are putting together called white NOIR. I wrote it with her in mind, because I thought it was right in her wheel house. I got another new comic called LUCKY ME, that will hopefully be ready by then end of July, which I am really excited about. My artist collaborator Wayne Lowden, who is amazing, isn’t a huge fan of doing covers. So, I have managed to lock down an Eisner award winning artist, who I am a HUGE fan of to do it and I cannot wait to see what he comes up with. Also, I am working with a fantastic artist called John McFarlane on a Sci-fi comedy called: Untitled Generic Space Comedy. I was using that as the working title, it made me laugh, but when John read it he asked if we could use it as the actual title because he thought it was really funny…so we are. Apart from that, we are finally gonna get to see #3 of CHUNKS, #2 of TRANSFER, a Cordelia Swift one shotaaaaaaaaaaaaaand my first ever script Mulligan is getting a new lease of life (reboot) from my friend Tally Burtum. It was my first ever comic, so we worked on the ten-page story and made it into a full comic which is shaping up nicely. So, there is a lot of stuff happening which is great and I’m really excited.
YDRC: What is on your pull list currently?
MG: Daredevil, always is and will forever be my favourite character. Batman. Was never really into Batman until about ten years ago, now I cannot get enough of the dark knight. Apart from that there is a lot of Image stuff. Southern Bastards, which is amazingly grim joyous read. I hate Fairyland, which just cracks me up. Also, Donny Cates’ God Country, which is a must read.
YDRC: How did you end up working with Dizevez?
MG: I met Diz on MillarWorld. She was posting these great digital painted portraits and I jokingly posted in her thread “if you ever wanna do a cover, let me know”. Bless her she came straight back to me and said YES. I sent her #1 of Transfer and she sent me back the most breathtakingly beautiful cover I have EVER seen… then she sent me another… then another. She asked me how many issues the comic actually was, I told her four, to which she replied, “I’ve planned 12!”.
Our friendship kinda started from there and when I finished the first draft of The Ether, she was perfect for it. Same with white Noir, I wrote it with her in mind, because she can bring that realism that the story needs. She is amazing and I love her loads!
YDRC: What artist would you love to work with in a perfect world?
MG: Gonna sound really cheesy, but it kinda depends on the story I am writing. For me, it is about the right art style for the comic, not with who I would love to work with. CHUNKS is a great example, when I was looking for an artist, I wanted a CHEW-esque style to it, because if the art is a cartoony style, I can get away with much more saucier jokes. If it looks like cartoon, its fine to have a naughty dick joke and swearing…like South Park. If I am honest, I am flattered when ANY artist wants to work with me, regardless of status and right now I am working with some of the most amazing undiscovered talent that there is, so I am a very lucky man.
YDRC: If you could write a run for any character who would it be and why?
MG: I like the obscure characters that no one really thinks of. My wife literally asked me the same question two weeks before the first Guardians movie dropped and I said, “Howard the Duck!” and she looked at me blankly… “who?!” then he gets a resurgence. Right now, I’d like to write a Plastic man or old school Lobo comic, because I don’t think those characters get enough love.
YDRC: Who do you look up to in writing in terms of comic books or in literature in general?
MG: For comics, I don’t really follow creators, I just like good comics. When great writing and amazing art fit perfectly together there is nothing better. It is like capturing lightning in a bottle. That’s why I don’t get annoyed when someone like DC decides they are gonna do something crazy like mix Batman with Watchmen. They are trying something new, mixing it up a bit and if audiences don’t like it, you know what, they’ll be another comic along in a minute that you might like more. I mean, I think that people forget that at one point Superman fought Muhammad Ali for heaven’s sake. So, who cares if you throw Bats in with the Comedian?! It might be cool.
Outside comics, I don’t read as much as I should or as I would like. I am one of those people who when on holiday will read two or three books. I hate reading in 30 min chunks on the train, that’s why I like comics. When I read, I want to sit there for hours immersing myself in the story. I do wish I was more widely read and I only have myself to blame. One author who I follow religiously is Chuck Palahniuk. Fight Club is my favourite book and movie, so I have read ALL his novels. They are just mental and each book is way different from the last. That is something that I have tried to do in my comics. CHUNKS is different from Cordelia Swift, which is different from Transfer, which is worlds away from The Ether.
I remember reading Palahniuk’s Choke at uni and thought it was fantastic. I loved the way he wrote, so started picking up ALL his books, Survivor I read in one night! The sod had me hooked at the beginning because it starts on page 300 and the page numbering counted down as the protagonist tells his story to the black box of a plane as it is about to crash. The logic is genius, why would you stop reading?!
YDRC: What do you do for fun outside of writing?
MG: I get to spend time with my amazing wife, who I love more than anything on this planet…including comics. Seriously, she is so encouraging, it is unbelievable and I am punching waaaaaay above my weight class. I am a very lucky man. We love going to the cinema and since meeting Mrs Garvey I am rather partial to going for a fancy cream team! Seriously, cream first, then jam….no other way…I’ve tried both…my way works.😉
YDRC: Anything you would like to finish on?
MG: If you are reading this, you either love comics or wanna make comics. So, if you want to make them, just do it. I sound like a broken bloody record, but I mean this from the bottom of my heart. “If I can do it, seriously, ANYONE can!”. The only thing stopping you, is you! It is a cliché, I know, but it is true. We have all been in the comic shop where, people moan about the industry and claim that we can do it better! Well, do it! Write a comic. If you like it, take it a step further and find and artist and make it. See if it brings you joy and if it does, keep doing it.
From all of us here at YDRC, we would like to thank Matt Garvey for his time and words of wisdom.
To check out ‘Chunks’, ‘The Ether’ & more check out the following sources:
@MattGarvey1981 on Twitter
For more articles & reviews be sure to check out the rest of the YDRC content.