With less than a week to go until the digital release of the Other Worlds anthology on ComiXology (Sept 18), we sit down with artist Matt Grisby to talk about his time working on OW and the many exciting projects he has coming up.
MATT: I think from an early age I always knew I wanted to do something artistic. My Dad used to run a construction business and I would always sit in the office and draw on reams of continuous paper with crayons and pencils, so I think the art gene has always been there. As I got older I started realizing how much I wanted to be a Marine Biologist, but that changed quickly when I realized it was mostly just testing PH levels of ocean water and not doing anything super fun or glamorous. In high school, my love of superheroes came rushing back in to my life, and I knew I had to get in to comics again. As a kid you mostly just looked at the drawings, but as I grew up and started maturing the stories became a big deal too. My best friends Stephanie and Jake told me about this comic shop up by Portland Community College (Sylvania) and we used to sneak away on our lunch breaks Junior and Senior year and go buy comics off of the dollar rack. There was a sweet woman who worked there named Karen, and she eventually left to open her own shop, Karen’s Comics, where I worked for 5+ years as the Wednesday morning shipment receiver. It wasn’t necessarily artistic, but Karen gave me the opportunity to study the retail side of comics for many years while I worked on comics projects. It was awesome.
AWBW: What were the first comics you ever read and/or which ones were the most influential to you growing up and becoming a creator yourself?
MATT: My gateway drug in to comics was Jim Lee’s X-Men run in the early 90’s when the team rocked blue spandex and bomber jackets. I was a little kid when Fox Kids aired the X-Men cartoon (with the most bad ass theme song ever) and that got me amped for X-Men so I fell in love with that universe early on. When I was a teenager actually reading comics I would also pick up McFarlane’s Spawn and Dark Horse’s gritty version of The Mask in addition to all things X-Men. My palette was limited, but man did I enjoy the hell out of that stuff.
MATT: I knew of Other Worlds for quite some time, as my friends Terry Blas and Grace Allison contributed pieces to the anthology in years past. The creator/writer, Justin Zimmerman and I both shop at Excalibur Comics on the East Side of Portland, and we’ve chatted several times about projects we had slated. Our friend Debbie, one of the owners of Excalibur, spoke with Justin about getting in touch with me to do a portion of his upcoming issue, and that’s where it began. Thanks Debbie! Haha.
AWBW: What was it like working with Justin Zimmerman on these stories, and did you find it to be different than the other comic projects you’ve worked on?
MATT: Well, any guy that takes you out for chicken and waffles before starting a project is already a winner in my book. Haha! Seriously though Justin was incredible. He is a man that NEVER stops working his ass off, whether that be in comics, film, editing, writing, designing etc… he just keeps grinding to achieve his goals. I was a little intimidated at first, because I knew this was on a reasonable yet strict deadline, but it ended up working out great. Any time I had questions about the script I’d get in touch with him and ask about things and he would always be helpful and flexible with it. I think his mentality of “team effort” over “I’m the writer telling you to draw it this way” really made a big difference in delivering a solid product. Justin is a guy who is incredibly supportive of his artists and treats them with the utmost respect and professionalism, which really meant a lot. If you know Justin, he can also be pretty damn hilarious and fun, so this project went fantastic.
AWBW: What was your favorite part of working on your Other Worlds stories?
MATT: Well, Justin described the story as “Man’s car breaks down, he walks to the nearest diner, receives an envelope of money from a guy who then immediately drives off a cliff.” I just kinda sat there and thought “damn, that’s dark.” Only after discussing it did I realize that it was more of a Twilight Zone style story with a dark sense of humor, so I was totally on board. Justin knew I had experience with doing ink washes with traditional media, so I think I was most excited about that. I LOVE ink washing techniques. Given the content of the story and the stylistic choice to the art, I think my favorite part was all of it (and probably drawing Randy, the friendly old mechanic in the pick up truck).
MATT: I’m actually pretty busy already! I’m currently working on issue #1 of a comic called Extra/Ordinary, which was written and created by Mikey Nielson and drawn by me. I’m also slated to work on a future volume of The Legend of Bold Riley by Leia Weathington and also do some work on an existing title for Monkey Brain, Masks & Mobsters, with a friend of mine, Joshua Williamson. I’m also expanding my artistic endeavors into character design and concept art for games and animation. I am really excited to see where these projects take me.
AWBW: In 5 years from now, what do you see yourself working on, or what do you hope to be doing?
MATT: In five years I want to be an established professional working for some major studios on some big titles. If I ever got the chance to work on an X-Men book of ANY kind, I could cross that off my bucket list. I would also love to be a part of the video game industry or the voice acting community so I feel like the possibilities are endless. I just want to live comfortably doing what I love most, and I hope in five years that’s right where I’ll be.
To see more of Matt’s work, visit his website or his tumblr page. And you’ll be able to read his Other Worlds story when the anthology makes its debut on ComiXology next week, Sept 18, or you can pick up a print copy at our shop or at Rose City Comic Con on Sept 21 &22.