Not Quite 20 Questions With…Matt O’Keefe

I met Matt, like most of our initial Gathering creators, on Jinxworld. He had tried to get into the earlier volumes a few times but always seemed to just miss the submission deadlines, a result of working more on his comics than posting and knowing the close out dates. Unlike a lot of the first timers we’ve had, Matt was no stranger to making comics. He’s taken a very aggressive approach to getting his name out there by actively pursing artists to illustrate his work. He doesn’t just talk about making comics, he goes out there and gets it done. I’ve been impressed by the discipline he shows in focusing on the work and using the internet not just to socialize and kill time but to actually advance his career.  Ever After was a completed work he did with artist Lee Giles that needed a home and since we were in no position to publish such an ambitious story within The Gathering anthology we decided to do the book as a self contained mini series instead. Matt is a creator who is always looking forward to what he can do next and how he can do it better whether it’s approaching me with a mini series idea or digitally distributing his work or being pro active as to the next artist he can work with, and he’s got the talent to match his ambition.

 

 

When did you first start reading comic books?

The first comic I can remember reading was one of the black and white Essential Spider-Man editions.  I actually grew up almost entirely on Lee, Kirby, Ditko, and the rest of the 1960s Marvel gang.  

When did you first realize that you wanted to create your own comics?

When I saw Roy Thomas’ name on Avengers and realized that people without the name Stan Lee were allowed to write them.

Do you remember the first character or comic book you created?

I think it was some terrible Marvel team-up fan fiction.  I remember I had the Human Torch transform into “The Human Lightbulb.

What was the worst job you’ve ever had?

Cart pusher at Cub Foods grocery.  But I actually wrote the first four pages of Ever After on the clock there, hiding behind a car so the store’s camera couldn’t see me, so it wasn’t all bad!  

 

You are doing short stories in The Gathering and also have your own book, Ever After being published. What appealed to you about doing small press projects like this?

The chance to work with artists you wouldn’t find in the mainstream.  For example, you probably wouldn’t see Blake Sims doing a monthly at Marvel or DC, but I LOVE his style.  We’re talking about working together on a non-Gathering project in the new year, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
 
 
What can you tell people about Ever After?
 
Well first off, I came up with it BEFORE Once Upon a Time and Grimm were developed (laughs).  It really has little in common with those or Fables other than having a few characters with the same names.  Ever After is a story about stories.  I don’t want to say too much more, because Issue #1 was really only the beginning, but thematically I think this isn’t something you’ve seen before. 
 
 
What’s a typical day like for you? How do you balance writing and marketing your book with life and trying to make a living?
 
It’s not easy.  Thankfully I have a part-time job where I can get a little writing done, but between work and being a full-time student at a university it’s all about squeezing out whatever time you can.
 
How important is social media for you as a creator both in trying to get work and then promoting that work?
 
It’s huge.  I got started with GrayHaven through being a member of the Jinxworld forums, I find almost all my artists online, and have cultivated most of my audience through Twitter and my website, MattWritesStuff.com.
 
What do you think the most important thing a new writer should do to become successful at their craft?
 
Write. Plain and simple.
 
You’re a big proponent of the digital format. What is it about digital comics that appeals to you more than print?
 
I believe in an importance of being mobile. I love that today, all you need is a suitcase to live in comfort.  Instead of my massive library (four shelves and in need of more) in a couple years I’ll have all of my hundreds (thousands?) of comics all stored on my iPad.
 
What are some of your favorite comics right now?
 
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman, Morning Glories by Nick Spencer, Action Comics by Grant Morrison,  Lil’ Depressed Boy… man, too many to count.  But if a comic is being published by Image, I probably love it.  They’re really knocking it out of the park quality-wise.
 
 
 
What would your dream project be?
 
I’m doing it now!  Writing a comic that is purely the vision of myself and my artist, with no negative editorial interference, only constructive feedback, is a dream come true.  But if we’re talking about something that hasn’t happened it’d have to be working with some favorite artists of mine like Skottie Young, Mark Buckingham, or Mike Norton.
 
What’s the funniest joke you know?
 
Not the funniest but here’s a morbid one me and my buddy Nate Anderson came up with:
Q: Why didn’t the computer nerd apply at Apple?
A: No more Jobs.   
  (R.I.P.)
 
You can see more of Matt’s work every Wednesday here in the Horror Con webcomic or visit him at www.mattwritesstuff.com where you can also purchase the first issue of Ever After for only 1 dollar.
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