Christopher Matusiak is the writer of “Breaking Point,” a short comic in our third comics anthology with art by Andre Short and lettering by Nikki Powers. “Breaking Point” chronicles the slide from tragedy to depression to suspicion to paranaoia…to murder, all in deep space. We talked to Christopher about his inspirations, his obsessions, and more!
Why and how did you start writing comics?
About a year and a half ago while writing the first draft for an All-Ages book, I found myself having trouble conveying some of the more slapstick elements of the story. I realized that a lot of the jokes that I was seeing in my head would only come across funny if seen visually, as opposed to as descriptive prose. Because of that, I rewrote it from scratch in comic script format and very quickly discovered there were a lot of things that could be done far easier in a visual medium than in prose.
How did you end up placing your work with Oneshi Press?
Most of the stories I write begin solely as me writing them for myself. “Breaking Point” was no different. I had originally written a twelve page version of the story, which was then edited down to eight in order to fit the submission guidelines for a different publisher. I was incredibly fortunate to connect with my two collaborators on the story, Andre Short and Nikki Powers, who busted their butts to finish the story on time… only to have the anthology fall through. There was absolutely no way I was going to let them have done that much work and not bust my own butt finding a place for the story. Luckily I stumbled across Oneshi Press, which did an amazing job transferring the final product to print.
Who are your comics heroes? Writers, artists, or others who inspire you?
When I was ten, my mother introduced me to an independent comic series titled ElfQuest – which just concluded a forty year run this year. It was the first non-super-hero comic I’d ever read, and it was told in a long-term format I had never seen done before. So I’d have to say my biggest ‘heroes’ in the comic industry would be Wendy and Richard Pini, the husband/wife duo who created that series.
Far more recently, I have become a huge fan of Cullen Bunn, who seems to flawlessly be able to write in any genre and for any age group with the same high quality.
What’s your favorite comic-book-based movie and/or TV series?
My favorite movie, comic-related or otherwise, is the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The one featuring old-school puppeteering from the Jim Henson workshop; not that horribly produced Michael Bay version. As to my favorite TV series… I’d have to say the all too short lived Teen Titans animated series. The serious one; not the terrible Teen Titans Go! version that’s on now.
Who’s your favorite comic book hero? Villain? Morally ambiguous anti-hero?
Favorite hero? Guy Gardner. I love the mythos of the Green Lantern Corps as a whole, but for my buck there’s never been anyone as entertaining as Guy. Favorite anti-hero? Ghost Rider. This is the character who immersed me in super-hero comics to begin with. Favorite villain? Skinner Sweet from American Vampire. This is the only comic I’ve ever read where I rout for the bad guy to win.
We published your piece, “Breaking Point” in our third anthology. That story dealt with paranoia, space travel, and the far reaches of human endurance. Are these themes that you ponder often?
Paranoia? Why you asking? Of course I’m not… oh, I think I misread the question.
I tend to write in a number of different genres, but regardless of the other all story or the events therein, I think it’s important to have ‘real’ characters. They don’t have to be good, they don’t have to be bad, but there needs to be at least one character with whom the reader can sympathize. To that end, human endurance does tend to play out through a lot of my stories.
What’s important to you in a comic book, as a reader? As a writer?
As a reader, I want to get my money’s worth. I hate, hate, hate the mentality that has seeped into comics that says you have to stretch out every story arc to fit the page count of a graphic novel. This tends to lead to some lazy storytelling and far too many splash pages. (Splash pages are meant to be vibrant and exciting, not to fill in empty space.) If it take me less than a minute per dollar spent to read a comic, it’s not worth it.
As a writer? Seeing good writers have success. Most of the best writing in comics today is being done independently, where the more constrictive format of a traditional super-hero comic doesn’t need to be obeyed. So when someone takes a risk and comes up with something amazing (the aforementioned American Vampire, Locke & Keye, East of West) it makes me excited for what comes next.
Any new projects in the works?
In addition to “Breaking Point,” I have four other anthology stories that should see print this year; and as long as I have stories to tell that I find interesting and that I believe would look good visually, I’ll keep writing them.
On a broader scope, I’m currently working on two on-going series for small independent publishers and co-writing a web series, all of which will hopefully be released sometime toward the end of the summer.
Where can readers find you online?
At the moment, unfortunately, not really much of anywhere. I’m hoping by the end of the year to have enough of a portfolio built up that I can begin building more of an on-line presence.
You can check out “Breaking Point” by Christopher Matusiak in Oneshi Press Anthology #03, available at the Oneshi Press Store!