INDIE SPOTLIGHT #1- LIBERATOR

INDIE SPOTLIGHT 
by Glenn Matchett
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LIBERATOR

Welcome all to the first in hopefully a long series which will highlight indie books to check out whether brand new or an older hidden gem.  We feel that many comic sites sadly don’t give much space to independent press.  It’s all about the latest event that will ‘change everything’, the latest rebootvamp or fed press releases from Marvel or DC.  Despite the mainstream success of Walking Dead and the rising sales of  Image, Oni, Boom, Dark Horse and more most comic fans think of comics as primarily superheroes.

In truth comics are more diverse now than ever before and offer as much variety as you would find in any bookstore.  This article will  highlight some fantastic comics that you may not have heard of but should definitely check out.

This week we’re talking about LIBERATOR which was released through ‘Black Mask’ comics by writer Matt Miner and artist Javier Aranda.

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This was a comic that, like so many other great small press books, benefited from the crowd funding site Kickstarter (as has GrayHaven over the years) .

LIBERATOR follows a young pair of vigilantes who are on a mission to avenge the torture of animals.  This is actually a subject I feel quite passionate about because I think abuse of any animal is inherently wrong.  People who have pets and mistreat them should have a special form of punishment dished out to them and this is what thebook promises to deliver.

What caught my eye first (as it does with good comics) is the cover art.  It’s very striking but at the same time mysterious so it gets your curiosity going.  I can see a lot of people maybe picking up the comic and flicking through it on the cover art alone.

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The cover art is by Chris Burnham who has done  lot of mainstream work for titles like Batman Inc and several other Batman titles over the years.

The writer Matt Miner,  made his debut with his work that got both attention from Bleeding Cool and superstar comic writer Scott Snyder who called the series a really cool, progressive story about young outcast crusaders.”

On art duties is Javier Aranda who also is new to the comic industry.  Javier’s interior art is crisp and top quality.  I don’t see any difference between the quality of his work between the top titles at Image or even Marvel or DC so the question is…why have I not heard of this guy?  It’s interesting how many talented people are out there that no one seems to be talking about. And that’s a problem.

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No one’s  dressing up as a bat, spider or devil but this title shows that heroes can come in many forms and LIBERATOR is well worth checking out.

You can read more about it at the official site here: http://blackmaskstudios.com/2014/03/04/liberator/.

And it’s the right time to check it out considering the follow up is being released soon and they will be seemingly packaged all together come April.

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10 QUESTIONS WITH MATT MINER
GH: Tell us more about yourself in general?  How did you come to be a comic writer or writer in general?

MATT: Okay, well I’m a dog rescuer and old punk.  I’ve always written but I gave up on being published after the millionth rejection when I was a whole lot younger.  More recently I got sober and decided to get back into writing – I’d had this idea for a comic series for a long time so I took a class taught by Scott Snyder because I figured if I was going to start writing comics I wanted to be sure to do it right.

GH: Tell us how LIBERATOR came about?  What inspired it?

MATT: Well, one night about 10 or 11 years ago I decided to do some googling and research what happens with animals we use in our everyday lives for food, clothes, etc.  The videos I found were beyond horrifying and they changed my life.

That night I also found video of people who put on masks in the middle of the night and do stuff like break animals out of testing labs and carry out property destruction against people who hurt animals as a means of destroying the profit motivation.  I thought these people were like real life superheroes and I knew it would make for a killer comic series.

GH: What were your experiences on running your successful Kickstarter last year?  Any tips for people wanting to Kickstart their own book?

Be prepared for a lot of work running any kickstarter project, unless you’re already well established in comics.  Liberator was my first comics project, so it meant I had to do a LOT of hustling for interviews and articles about the project, to get eyes on it.

Also make sure you lock down the shipping costs and aim to raise more than you actually think you’ll need because things will always come up that you didn’t initially account for.

GH: Javier seems like a great find, where did you meet him?

MATT: Javier Aranda has worked with the letterer and editor Vito Delsante on a short project in the past and Vito was kind enough to introduce me to Javier.  Javier’s a great guy and I’m psyched I got to work with him on this.

GH: What are your long plans for LIBERATOR?

MATT: The second miniseries, which is a team-up with legendary metalcore band Earth Crisis is running now – issue 2 will be in stores shortly.  After that there are more plans for the characters but we’re headed in a slightly different direction. Stay tuned, announcements coming soon!

GH: What advice would you give to someone who wants to write comics?

MATT: Write every day.  Really research the craft and don’t be afraid of critique, seek out people who will be honest with you in regards to your work.  Realize that it’s a LOT of work and it’s NOT going to be quick.  Even if your very first project is picked up it’s probably going to be a year, minimum, between starting the project and seeing your first issue on the shelves.

GH: Where can we buy LIBERATOR, both the first mini and the recent follow up?

MATT: Assuming your local comic shop ordered, you can find the books there.  Otherwise you can order from any of the major online comics retailers or direct from the publisher at blackmaskstudios.com.

The volume 1 collected trade paperback is on Amazon, too – over here:  http://amzn.to/1ggfTbl

It collects issues 1-4 of the first miniseries and adds 10 new stories by some of comics’ hottest talent like Tim Seeley, Alex de Campi, Ales Kot, Ed Brisson, Frank Barbiere, Fabian Rangel Jr, Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, Tess Fowler and many more.

GH: Is Black Mask your own company?  Do you find it difficult making room on the shelf for your books vs the big giants of the industry?

MATT: Black Mask is a new publisher founded by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion) and Matt Pizzolo (Godkiller).  I know Matt Pizzolo and I work very hard to build relationships with retailers and see what they need in order to make that shelf space and carry Black Mask books.  Brick and mortar retailers are what keep comics alive, so whatever I can do to help them out with moving my books I’ll do.

GH:  What’s next on your agenda?  What do you have coming up?

MATT: I have a few things, but unfortunately I can’t talk about any of it.  It’s all awesome and some of it’s even with a major. Stay tuned!

GH: Indie book that everyone should be reading?

MATT: There are so many people bringing new and cool ideas to comics right now that I could go on for days with this question.  I’m going to suggest BALLISTIC by Adam Egypt Mortimer and Darick Robertson – that’s a crazy freakin trip of a book.  Also DOC UNKNOWN by my pal Fabian Rangel, Jr. and FIVE GHOSTS by Frank Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham are both kickass books that pulp fans should be reading.

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Any suggestions or titles you think this article should tackle?  Hit me up at glenn_matchett@hotmail.com or on twitter @glenn_matchett.

 Next Week: We look at  Kevin LaPorte’s ROADKILL DU JOUR 

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