Matt Garvey

Posted on February 4th, 2016

Matt Garvey is a British comic book writer based in Essex. His debut series CHUNKS follows the exploits of a British punk band as they try to conquer the USA. This week, Tom spoke with Matt about writing humour comics, his inspirations in comedy, and his plans for 2016.

T: I know you’re passionate about your humour, and the adventures line up the gags brilliantly, how do you go about putting it all together? For example, do you come up with a joke then attribute it to a character or do the character’s personalities and actions spark the jokes?

M: Too kind, fella. Thank you. It all starts with a punchline to a joke or funny incident I think of that makes me chuckle. Then I try to mould a story around that concept, working in the characters and other gags. I try to write at least four REALLY funny jokes per issue minimum. In my head, any less will bore the readers because this isn’t a heavy drama it’s anarchy. That initial joke or concept is usually revolved around a specific character because they were the inspiration for it… sometimes.

But I don’t tend to plan jokes per character, they just crop up as I write. It took me ages to write #3, I only had two good jokes for it and it was driving me mad. Over a couple of months, I must have written the first page at least half a dozen times and just gave up because if I don’t have two more gags the issue is a waste. So, I just thought “sod it” I’m just gonna write it anyway, just to get it out of my system and if it still doesn’t work, I’ll come up with a new premise and maybe I can still use those two good jokes. But as I wrote it, the jokes just came and I think they work better than the good ones I already had. Inspiration is a bastard like that.

garvey_interview_0T: What kinds of influences are driving you?

M: As kid growing up I was obsessed by sitcoms like The Young Ones and Bottom and I think it shows, those “wrong-coms” weren’t afraid to gross you out while making you laugh. That’s the reason I named the CHUNK’s Bass player Rik, after my comedy hero, Rik Mayall.
Also, I LOVE stand-up comedy and I think that influences my writing a lot too. I like the wrong comedians like Frankie Boyle and Jimmy Carr, who don’t give a monkey’s toss who they offend while on stage, it’s part of their charm and persona.

I listen to stand-up all the time and I’ve even had people literally laugh at me on the train as I sit there listening to a Louis CK album, giggling like a child. At the end of the day, I just wanna make people laugh too and I’m pretty sure that even though my sense of humour isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I think there are enough of us out there that love a good old dick joke.

T: Although it’s currently two issues, there’s a few more lined up isn’t there? What are the plans for it all, can you give us a hint at what we have to look forward to?

M: As long as I can keep thinking of jokes, I would write CHUNKS forever. However, because I pay Cris [Canfailla, CHUNKS artist] out of my own pocket, it does come down to what I can afford. But saying that, I am committed to making a minimum of four issues, which will tell the first arc. I do have twelve issues planned, to tell the entire story that I originally set out to write, but I’ve got ideas for other stories that would fit nicely within the series to fill in the ‘blanks’. Plus that’s the fantastic thing about comics, you can have a non-linear narrative structure. I can go anywhere like before the first issue or the two-week period between #1 & #2! What can I tell you about #3? Well, you’ll see that John McClane has nothing on Bo!

T: Stepping away from CHUNKS, but still maintaining a nice use of characters, we have Cordelia Swift which is a steam punk adventure. How did that come about?

garvey_interview_1M: I had six completed pages of a Sci-fi comic called Infraction I was pitching around. One of the editors that got back to me said it wasn’t for him, but told me to keep in touch. I asked him if there was anything in particular he was looking for, because I didn’t want to waste his time pitching something that I know he doesn’t want. He came back to me and said he was looking for a steampunk story. I said I had one… I didn’t.

I kinda had a five-page script I was working on, but it was nowhere near complete. He asked me to pitch it, I did (made it all up), he liked it, and so I wrote it. Then the editor left the company and he told me that the company doesn’t want it any more. So, I sat on it… for two years. Then I started to get some praise for my writing on CHUNKS, which was incredibly humbling and it got me thinking that maybe I can string a sentence together. I decided to do what I did with CHUNKS and just pay an artist to draw it. I got the first issue made, gave it away as I always do and people seem to be liking it.

T: The draft for a second issue of Cordelia Swift is now on the finalising end of prep, where are you looking to take the series? Is this a four issue wrap-up or something more extensive? It certainly has a serial quality, there’s some nice thread laying that a reader can’t help but wonder about. I guess the follow-on important question is, when and where will it be available?

M: I do like a four issue arc to tell a story and Cordelia is no exception, but yeah I have more stories to tell. I have two more arcs plotted as well as a spin off planned for Chase (Cordelia’s brother) who appears briefly in issue one and will be a major player in the third story arc. But, if people like the character, I’ll keep writing her because I really enjoy writing a strong female lead who isn’t a damsel in distress or flying around in skin-tight lycra with her boobs hanging out.

T: I guess the important concluding question is, when and where will it all be available?

M: That is a very good question… I’m planning to do a very small print run of CHUNKS and Cordelia #1 & #2 early next year and they will go up on my site shop, so people will be able to buy them there. Also, I’m hoping to do my first comic con in May 2016, if I can get a table at MCM London. That way people can find me, buy a physical copy and tell me how much CHUNKS has changed/ruined their lives.

But if people wanna read any of my comics, I do have a tendency to give them away from free to my friends and followers on Twitter, so if you wanna read CHUNKS for free, track me down, DM me your email and I’ll Drop Box it to you. No point having a comic if no one is reading it!

Thanks as always to Tom and Matt for this week’s interview. Make sure to check out Matt’s online store for copies of CHUNKS and Cordelia Swift, and follow him on Twitter @mattgarvey1981