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Sandbox Spotlight: MATTHEW ERMAN, Comic Creator / Writer

THE CONVENTION COLLECTIVE: Thank you for joining us in the Spotlight, Matthew!

TCC: What was the first work you completed, where you stepped back and thought, “Yes, y’know what, I can do this for a living!”?

Matthew Erman: Hey thank you so much for asking to do this, I love talking about myself. It certainly wasn’t Long Lost, which was my first comic that I had out on shelves. The entire release for that in 2018 was so stress inducing and I was working a day job and kind of wondering if this was a viable path towards self-sufficiency, or specifically not having a goddamn boss that times your lunch breaks. I needed out, so a lot of stress after Long Lost was trying to find work, and trying to find publishers that were interested in my stories. I’m still doing that, it’s really important! Anyway, I think it was honestly at the end of 2019 when I realized I was getting enough work to sustain me for a while, and my day job was cutting into my creative and emotional currency, I needed to spend that on comics. So I got fired and I haven’t looked back since.

TCC: Which writers/creators inspire you? And they don’t have to be in the medium you work in, either…

Matthew: I think individuality inspires me the most, when I see writers doing something that is inimitable — in that it is unique and theirs. I really enjoy getting perspectives and ideas and art from a sincere, real place. I aspire for my stories do that. Besides visual mediums and storytelling, I’m most frequently inspired by music. It is so adjacent to my writing. I mean all types of music as well, I really do listen to everything I can get my hands on, I think it’s one of those things you can be so open minded about and it really can be a gateway into really great art you’d otherwise never find. 

Because of Montreal, I learned about Georges Bataille, and that interest for that kind of art led me to things like Suehiro Maruo and Ultra Gash Inferno. It can all be very connective and seeking out those little moments of interest can be very rewarding. If you actually do it which I feel guilty about pretty often. It’s a practice of discovery I think. 

TCC: Can you tell us your greatest fan moment, interacting with a personal hero of yours where you may have gone a little weak at the knees?

Matthew: One time I bumped into Henry Winkler as he was rushing through the entrance to convention here in Columbus and he was so obviously Henry Winkler, I looked him like, “What the hell?” And he looked back and nodded like, “Yup, I know.” It was a great moment. 

TCC: What is your favorite fandom? Who is your favorite comic book character/movie/tv character?

Matthew: My friends and family will tell you that I am very excitable and I am very optimistic when it comes to rollercoaster pop media, it’s all very fun and I like being entertained. Because of having had written for some different franchises like Dark Crystal, Power Rangers and Care Bears — I try not to fixate on any one specific type of show or something because you never know, I might get approached to write something and their direction is different from where I would have went as a hardcore fan or something. I don’t know! I like Ghost Adventures, 90 Day Fiancé and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. I’ve also been watching a lot of Below Deck, which is a show about yachts and the people who rent them out and the crew that has to clean up after these kajillionaires. Everyone is a mess. It’s great. 

TCC: Outside of the ones you create for a living, what characters/stories/genres do you like writing?

Matthew: I’m very lucky that I get to write the stories and genres that I like to write. I do enjoy writing poetry and I always have — I did short stories before comics and found some happiness there but ultimately comics were allows me to do everything I like doing — telling stories, working with artists to create the visual language and getting opportunities to experiment with language and form. Comics lets me do all of those things, so while I still like writing poetry — I can often find ways to incorporate that into the books I write, which is a really great thing about being creative and finding art in what you do. I like to twist and play with those things and see what comes out. Sometimes its weird and not so good, but that’s okay, because you never know what it may become later on.

TCC: What’s your working routine? Do you work regular set hours and days, keeping certain days free for personal time, or do you find you create any time the muse takes you?

Matthew: Lately, I work Monday through Friday, in that I’m generally available and ready to work — in that time I try to get the writing I need to do done, emails, social media — the “work”, and sometimes the work is cleaning the house or other life responsibilities that I’ve neglected or something. I share an office with my wife, Lisa, and her schedule is so much rigid, that I need to keep mine open to be flexible with a lot of stuff. 

TCC: When you’re creating, what do you use for background noise? Some creators use music or podcasts, some use a TV show that they just can listen to in the background. What do you use?

Matthew: I almost exclusively listen to music when I’m writing. Sometimes it will be playlists, radios, or more noise/soundscapes music. Sometimes it’s spoken word ambient. It really depends on what I’m writing and where I’m at creatively.

TCC: What was the first comic con that you remember attending? And, indeed, what was the last?

Matthew: It was either SPACE which is a very well known small publisher/zine show here in Columbus. I also went to a zine show in Pittsburgh like… over a decade ago and I was selling some comics I’d made with Pat Kain, a very talented animator. Matt Furie came up to our table and said some nice things which was very rad and I think he bought a copy of our book. I don’t remember but I also went to a Philadelphia Comic Con, but I can’t remember the year. I was working for someone and selling their books. It was a bad experience. The last show I went to was Thought Bubble in 2019 in November. Right before everything really started getting bad. I’m very lucky that I got to be there.

TCC: What’s your favourite element of a comic convention? And which bits could you easily leave behind?

Matthew: I like seeing people who are genuinely interested in what I’m making and what my wife is making. It’s really rewarding and exciting to get so many opportunities to share what you make and see people light up because they’ve finally found this thing that they never knew existed and it’s just for them or something. That’s a really cool moment, meeting people with whatever small interest that connect can us. Long Lost and tabling for that was so cool, and I always had such an incredible time. I also get to see a lot of my friends that I only get to see at these conventions. Other creators and artists that I’ve worked with or chat with in the various emails or whatever. It’s cool to just meet everyone and see everyone. For comic creators, it is our place of work it really feels like, some people hate it, some people are way into it, but it’s ours as creators, which is nice. It’s a place I feel very comfortable. 

I also can leave behind the 20 foot tall poster walls in artist alley. Shows have gotten a lot better about that, but it’s just not cool.

TCC: At a convention, when you’re not behind your table or doing the things you have to do at a con, which corner of the show would we find you in?

Matthew: Where ever Liana Kangas’ table is located is usually where we ALL gather.

TCC: A lot of creatives are also taking to crowdfunding – such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo – to generate income from their work. What’re your thoughts on that?

Matthew: I don’t really have any thoughts on it. It seems like a lot of work and if you’re capable of doing it, that’s really great. They’re platforms that give creators more options to put their thing into the world. That’s generally good.

TCC: What projects have you recently finished? What are you working on at the moment, what projects are coming up that you can talk about? 

Matthew: Well, Terminal Punks is done and out. I’m very, very proud of that book and the work Shelby, Micah and I did on it. It’s all very unique and cool and I love putting out things that don’t look like anything else on the shelf. Terminal Punks is really unique and singular and I’m happy about that. That makes it very successful to me. I learned a lot about writing stories and how you can do it with Terminal Punks.

Witchblood is coming out March 31st, and I’m about currently still working on it. It’s maybe the most fun I’ve ever had writing something. I get to work with my wife again on something which is always a privilege. I hope everyone who enjoyed Terminal Punks, grabs Witchblood as well. Same with people who’ve enjoyed my other stuff like Dark Crystal or Power Rangers. Even Care Bears. That was nearly three years ago so maybe they can start reading some more adult books. Who knows. Witchblood is for everyone I think.

Other projects, well, I’m working on a secret thing with BOOM! Studios, which I’m very excited about. I have a book that is written for ONI, as well as a graphic novel with Vault called BONDING that I did with Emily Pearson and Kaylee Pinecone, that is due out sometime in the future. I am also working with Mad Cave Studios again on a really cool project with Liana Kangas.  

Finally I’ve got somethings in the works with some other publishers and Sam Beck that I can’t blab about yet but I’m very lucky and very grateful for all the kindness that has been shown to me by editors and those that have read my work. It’s all very strange and weird stuff, which is exciting.

TCC: How do you stay connected with fans? Do you use a mailing list or newsletters, are you active on social media?

Matthew: I’m pretty active on Twitter (@matthewerman) and I just started a mailing list that you can sign up to, if you find it. 

TCC: Where can people find out more about you and your projects?

Matthew: www.twitter.com/matthewerman or www.matthewerman.com

TCC:Thanks, Matthew, for your time! 

Matthew: Thank you for the questions! Take care dude!

We at The Convention Collective want to showcase the very best in creative talent. Are you a creator who would like to be featured in our weekly Sandbox Spotlight? Leave a comment here, or reach out to us at admin@TheConventionCollective.com

Dan Berry
Dan Berry
Dan Berry is a man of mystery, an enigma that flits from convention to convention like a spectre, like a spirit. His interests range far and wide: he cannot be determined, he cannot be defined, he cannot be contained. He's like the wind. He also is a Sagittarius and enjoys a nice Italian.

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