By Alasdair Stuart
Matt Miner is the brain behind Liberator, one of my favorite comics of the last couple of years. Matt's a tireless creator, hard at work on the second Liberator series, Earth Crisis, as well as Toe Tag Riot, the story of a zombie punk band battling the Westboro Baptist Church. The creative team have gone one step further and successfully tricked the bile-ridden WBC into actively endorsing the book.
The book which is full of gay zombies.
I talked to Matt about zombies, WBC, undead sexuality and more.
Alasdair Stuart: Let's talk Toe Tag Riot. What's the basis behind the series?
Matt Miner: A struggling streetpunk band of the mid 2000's is cursed with temporary recurring zombification that takes hold whenever they play their music. This was meant to destroy their careers but hey, punks love zombies and their new monster punk look just makes them more popular than ever.
Being the ethical sometimes-zombies that they are, they only feast on the flesh of real degenerates and scumbags, leaving decent people alone. The book takes place as they realize that the transformation back into regular dirty punks is taking longer and longer, so they go on one final cross-country tour in search of a cure and tear it up zombie punk style.
AS:What sort of tone are we looking at? Horror? Comedy? Rock? All of the above?
MM: It's comedy-horror in the vein of a GWAR live show. Tons of blood and guts and ridiculously over the top violent scenes, told with a smile and a laugh. This is not a serious book – it's satire, it's a gorefest and it's super fun.
AS: The punk movement is historically massively connected with both vibrant creativity and social justice. How easy it to navigate the space between those two extremes?
MM: Being an old punk, I sort of feel like I was born in a circle pit. I really don't know how to answer your question, because I'm just writing a book about the kinds of people I've known in my life doing the kinds of things they'd do if they were blessed with zombie superpowers.
AS: Why WBC? Other than that they richly deserve every scintilla of mockery that can be fired at them?
MM: Well, we're also taking on racist skinheads, the homophobes and wanna-be comic book censors of One Million Moms and sexist dudebros, as well as WBC. Think of it like a video game – Million Moms are a mini boss and Westboro Baptist is like Bowser, but a way stupider and more evil Bowser.
I consider Westboro Baptist Church to be largely irrelevant losers who are only good as cartoon villains and zombie food. I think they were put on this Earth to mock and laugh at and that's just what we're doing here.
AS: How does the book take them down? Is there any element of it tailored towards that?
MM: Hey, our heroes are zombies, so you can bet there's gonna be some carnage, but we're having a lot of fun dreaming up fun and interesting ways to make this happen. Sean Von Gorman is a master of physical comedy in comic books, so his art is really bringing in that comedic flair that this concept needs. We're both having such a good time on this book, dreaming up the most brutal and hilarious ways to kill off these jerks.
AS: What do you think they'll hate the most?
MM: Well, I've read the expose/autobiography by Lauren Drain (ex-WBC member), so I know how much Toe Tag Riot is bothering the cult, even if they're pretending to go along with it.
What I think they'll hate the most?
Well I guess I'd like to use this interview to announce that our zombie punks aren't all straight. The 2 women are a lesbian couple and Paulie, the guitar player, is bisexual. Westboro already sent their snarky tweets endorsing the book because their horrible signs are visible in one image, not knowing they just promoted a book that's a big ole gay-positive message.
So, suck it, WBC. We screencapped those tweets of yours and they're the best pull quotes we could have asked for.
AS: What do you like the most?
MM: I like most that we anticipated their arrogant "This is awesome, we love any attention" response, so we held back the info that the story is headed by gay and bisexual folks, and we got their stamp of approval on a book full of the people they profess to hate.
Like Hannibal on The A-Team used to say, "I love it when a plan comes together."
AS:How's the Kickstarter going?
MM:Good! We've seen a ton of support on the Kickstarter but there's a long way to go and a lot of work to do. I hope the folks reading this will check out the previews, the art and hit up the Kickstarter. We need your pledges and tweets and Facebook shares to make the project happen, because with a price tag of about $4000 per issue, making this book ain't cheap.
MM:I've got another series about to be announced with Black Mask Studios, and then I have some larger publisher things in the works as well. Nothing I can talk about yet, unfortunately, but it's gonna be awesome!
Thanks for talking to me, Matt. Toe Tag Riot is funding now and looks to be huge, thoroughly unpleasant fun. Go check it out.
Alasdair Stuart is a freelance writer and journalist who is shortly off on holiday. He's about to visit Vegas for the first time. 'Who Are You?' by The Who is on his phone, waiting…Find his bloggery at www.alasdairstuart.com