10 Questions With Comics Brewmaster Joe Matt

It’s time for another round of 10 Questions! This time we “sit down” with Comics Brewmaster, Joe Matt!

Peepshow was one of the first small press comics I ever read back in the early 90’s and I remember Joe Matt’s uncompromising honesty being a real revelation to me, at that time. His comics, along with the work of Dan Clowes, The Hernandez Bros. and Seth really opened up my mind to what the medium was capable of: telling any story imaginable, real or made up, from the unique perspective of the artist.

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Joe Matt hasn’t released a new issue of Peepshow since 2006(his last collection Spent was in 2007), but he’s been getting busy of late, drawing new pages for his next book and diving into the scary new world of social media. We discuss all of this and more!(including Seinfeld and porn habits…)

So, grab a hard drink and a soft chair(or perhaps vice versa), and enjoy this enlightening conversation!

1. Bill Murray or Larry David?

It’s a meaningless question, but obviously I prefer Larry David, because he’s more than “just an actor”…in fact, I don’t even consider him an actor. Like Woody Allen, he’s primarily a writer who’s got a lot to say and also happens to be funny as hell. I own all eight seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm on DVD and I’ve watched them countless times — always with subtitles on, which is how I prefer to watch anything on TV. I also own and love Seinfeld on DVD, but then again who doesn’t love Seinfeld? The fact is though: I prefer Curb to Seinfeld, as well as Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee to Seinfeld.

I guess I simply prefer the non-traditional sit-com vehicles. Anyway, poor Bill Murray…I haven’t said two words about him yet. He’s great in both Groundhog Day and The Life Aquatic, and in some ways, being part of those two near-perfect films elevates him to a higher stature, in an “arty-sense”, to both Seinfeld and Larry David. But, I’d still rather meet and have dinner with Larry David. I love him unequivocally. And Larry? If you’re reading this, please send money.

2. Do you ever drink and draw? If not, any other vices(food/drink/drugs/other) you partake in while making art??

Never. I don’t even like alcohol…in any form. I dislike being impaired in any way. I mean–what’s the attraction? I’ve never understood drinking, smoking, or drugs at all. Ice cream, on the other hand, I get. Also, whether it’s writing, painting, or drawing—I find I prefer silence to facilitate concentration in almost all activities, including speaking on the phone with someone. In fact, one of my biggest pet peeves is trying to converse with people in their cars, while they have the damn radio on! God, I hate that…people thinking they’re creating a “festive atmosphere” in their stupid cars, with their shitty music.

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3. So, we get 16 pages of new material from you in the new giant-sized Drawn & Quarterly 25th Anniversary book. What took you so long, man?! Do you enjoy making your fans suffer?

Yes, I have 15 “new” pages of comics in Drawn & Quarterly’s 25th Anniversary book–and what took so long? Actually, the pages themselves don’t take as much time to produce as you might imagine. But…starting some new pages, envisioning an entire book and what I’d like to say in it? That’s the paralyzing thing. With those 15 pages, I soon realized I was heading down the wrong road and stopped.

At the time, I thought a “vignette approach” was what I wanted, but I soon changed my mind. Not only did I not want to sacrifice a panel for a title-card, every few pages, but I also realized just how committed I was to the notion of what I think a good book should be…and by that, I mean an engrossing, compelling, page-turning read. Vignettes suddenly seemed jarring and unfocused, and like “Maus”, or any good novel, movie, or TV show…I really wanted a single, focused story to pull the reader through. Hence, I abandoned those 15 pages and have been rethinking things ever since. Also, I’m lazy and I indulge in a million distractions…including answering your questions! HAHA.

4. What was the last good movie you’ve seen?

Hmmm…well, earlier tonight I watched an episode of The Rockford Files(Season Five) and a Little Rascals short entitled “Pups is Pups”(a real favorite of mine). I neither have(nor want) any cable TV service or the internet in my apartment. I’m limited solely to DVDs for my TV-watching and 90% of what I choose to watch is old TV shows, rather than films. But, you specifically asked, “what was the last good movie I’ve seen?” and my answer is: I don’t remember.

A few days ago, I rented Woody Allen’s recent film Magic in the Moonlight from the public library, and I watched the entire thing, with subtitles on…but I wouldn’t say it was good. It had a terrible, forced ending, as well as many other problems, including a genuine lack of humor. But…Woody remains one of the few directors that I always find interesting, even when he fails. He’s also at a disadvantage because he’s physically aged and no longer(or infrequently) casts himself in lead roles, thereby reducing the humor tremendously. I mean, imagine Larry David casting someone else to stand in for him on a new TV series, similar to Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’d just be heartbreaking and not the same…regardless of the fact that George Costanza was his stand-in character on Seinfeld. Larry David, Woody Allen…these guys are like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton…I don’t know if they even fully grasp how singular and irreplaceable they are on the screen. Anyway, my favorite Woody Allen is Zelig, so let’s just pretend that’s my answer.

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5. So speaking of the film industry, give us a porn update! Are you into a particular genre these days? Do you have a favorite porn star(new or old)??

A porn update? What particular genre or porn star am I currently into? Answer: Ugh, and aren’t you just a bit embarrassed for asking?

No shame here at the Comics Tavern! – AY

Well, I’ll say this–all the DVD stores that I used to rent and dub porn from have now closed. Everyone’s watching porn on the internet except me. Why? Because I don’t want to pay for the internet, nor be tempted to go on it every two seconds. Nor do I want to go shopping for a computer…or learn how to use the software necessary to download, edit, and store porn somewhere. It’s all too much for me! Plus, I’ve still got my 2,000+ hours of personally-edited porn on about 150 DVDs. So…in conclusion…someone send me some new porn! HAHA…just kidding.

As for my tastes…they’re pretty ordinary, as well as all over the place. I can watch almost anything, except for 3 major turnoffs: fat, old age, and torture. Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t enjoy watching people suffer, and conversely, the things I like to see are: youth, health, and a sense of enjoyment…all of which are hard to come by in an industry famous for exploiting the dumb, greedy, and innocent. But, I’m aware I’m complicit…I just choose to be selfish. It’s a lot like eating meat…we all know what’s behind it, but we choose to eat it anyway because it’s so delicious.(Well…most of us anyway.) But I will say this about porn: the best, most appealing aspect of any woman(if you ask me) is simply their face and eyes. A voice can either add to or diminish the appeal, and from what I’ve seen on other people’s computers, the trend in porn seems to constantly lean towards the extremes(of all sorts), and I for one don’t need that, nor did I request it! I’d rather watch a cute girl eat a banana, than see her hurt or humiliated. I just don’t get sadism, I guess.

6. How did you get started in comics? Was there a particular artist or comic that inspired you to make your own?

My start in comics? It’s a boring story to rehash, but basically Crumb, Pekar, and Spiegelman…all with their biographical comics…inspired me to get started, around the ripe age of 22 or 23 years old. And to this day, Spiegelman’s Maus has yet to be topped for how great, focused, and compelling a graphic novel can be. It’s so well-executed…so intimate…I never got over its impact on me.

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7. Describe your worst dating experience.

Nothing comes to mind. I’m not even sure what comprises ” a date”, or if I’ve even truly been on one. I’ve met girls, I’ve gotten to know girls, I’ve kissed girls, and I’ve gotten my advances rejected more than once. Throughout it all, my attitude was always, “I don’t care”. I’m a strange mass of contradictions. I’ve lusted and yearned for many girls, and yet if they didn’t feel the same way, I understood. I’ve probably been arrogant enough to even say, “Your loss baby”. So…no, there’s been no unpleasantness in the early stages of anything. The pain, the tears, the begging…they’ve always come much later down the line…long after any “dating” phase. Sorry–disappointing answer, I know!

No disappointment here! Your perspective is very interesting. -AY

8. I see that you just joined Instagram. Are you starting to embrace modern technology & social media more these days? I imagine that younger folks appreciate the raw honesty of Peepshow, since so many like to post every aspect of their lives on the internet.

It’s true–I recently joined Instagram(joepeepshowmatt), but my girlfriend created that account for me on her iphone, and not by my request. She merely got tired of me grabbing her phone and looking at pictures of cute and/or sexy girls on her Instagram account. She figured I might as well have my own account and that way her news-feed wouldn’t be clogged with pictures of scantily-dressed women.

She also taught me how to take and post my own pictures, which accounts for everything on my “wall”.(I know, I’m over-using the quotation marks!) Anyway, let the record show that I only have a single, landline telephone(whose monthly bill is only $12.50) and that(thanks to the public library’s computers), I’ve had(and deleted) accounts on Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook.(A year ago, I started my second Facebook account, which is currently still up.) What I’m trying to say is: no, I don’t care for, or willingly embrace social media. I don’t have a new book to promote, so really…my only logical reason for being on Facebook is to easily communicate(rather than phone) with friends and family. As for Instagram, I think I’m just using it to show off and get my ego fed. It’s all very shameful.

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9. Have you had any funny, or embarrassing moments being out in public at comics conventions/art shows/etc?

Yes, I’ve had interesting things happen to me at comic conventions, but I’m saving them for my next book…probably…maybe. Either way, I need the option and hence I’m unable to mention them here.

You tease! -AY

10. What’s the game plan, comics-wise, the rest of 2015? Any big announcements you’d like to make here??

I’m a bit…embroiled in something at the moment, that will eventually(hopefully) be a major topic in my next, soon-to-be-started book. Yes, I’m being intentionally cryptic, but that’s the way it goes. To talk about something diffuses its creative power. I hope you understand.

Okay, I guess I’m done! It’s been fun! Please, transcribe carefully! Thanks!

Well, that last answer was very mysterious, indeed. Now I’m really looking forward to your next book!

Thank you, Joe, for the thoughtful answers!

*Pictures of Joe Matt, and his comics borrowed from the intranets. Thx!

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