We had a chance to chat with Matthew Erman of Witchblood recently - thanks Matthew for your time! We covered family inspiration, bringing on stellar co-creators (and conspirators, really) and what it takes to find some happiness in a grim world.
Christa Harader: First off, thank you for your time! How’re you and the family doing right now?
Matthew Erman: Thank you so much for asking. I’m doing really well. There are a lot of things that feel great right now. I’m excited for the next year and getting back to hopefully seeing my friends in comics. Other than that, I’m taking some great medication and that feels good. Depression and anxiety are killers, and when things are going right it’s nice to appreciate that, I suppose. My dog is doing great. I just had a great time in Kentucky with my family, and most of the people I know and love are through with their vaccination shots.
Professionally, I feel like right now I’ve been given an unprecedented amount of creative freedom and I’ve gotten the opportunity to craft stories with some of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever met. I get to work on a comic with my wife that nearly everyone likes, that is paying our mortgage. It’s great. I literally can’t ask for anything else, and I’m very lucky.
But yeah, thank you for asking. Things are great.
CH: You and Lisa [Sterle] put out Long Lost to many accolades. Is Witchblood something you’ve been working on together for a long time, or was it a more recent idea? ME: Yeah, it was a later development. Lisa and I have been together for over ten years now, so there’s always a lot of ideas floating around. We just sometimes need to sit down and find them and talk about the good ones and the bad ones. Witchblood was a really good one, and it was pretty immediately interesting to both of us. Lisa was like, “Witches!” and I was like “Motorcycles!” and she was like “Texas!” and I was like “V A M P I R E S !” and then we got to work. That was maybe a little over two years ago?
CH: Gab [Contreras] brings that colorful and dusty Southwestern palette to Witchblood but amps up some of the neons for playful effect. How’d you end up working together?
ME: Lisa and I met Gab at a thing where hibachi was involved. She was very nice and we kept in touch through various circles and when we were looking for colorists, Gab was there and her work was gorgeous already — Lisa brought the general palette to Gab and she took it and really opened it up in cool ways. It’s been super organic and she’s incredible. Gab is so creative and cool.
CH: Jim [Campbell] is one of the best letterers working - how’d he come onto this project? ME: Through Vault! Jim is awesome and I always love working with him! After the second issue, AndWorld [Design] will be coming in and picking up the rest of the issues! Jim is very much in demand, and we’re thrilled we worked with him for the first two issues. It felt like he was breaking the bottle on the ship’s first voyage or something.
CH: Witchblood blends some serious violence and good comedy, and found a great home at Vault Comics. Can you tell me a bit about working with Damian, Adrian and the team over there? ME: They are sweet men with lovely beards. They treated me once to a taco dinner and we laughed about horses. Real nice fellas. Anyway, I pitched them the idea and Adrian loved it. I worked with him on Bonding (to be released) with Emily Pearson and I knew he would get the idea better than anyone. What the story isn’t and what it actually is and how we can hide things in plain sight and keep it interesting without being ridiculous. He helped us walk a very thin line. I’m very proud of what we’ve done with this, I think it’s really cool.
Lisa and I have been together for over ten years now, so there’s always a lot of ideas floating around. We just sometimes need to sit down and find them and talk about the good ones and the bad ones. Witchblood was a really good one, and it was pretty immediately interesting to both of us. Lisa was like, “Witches!” and I was like “Motorcycles!” and she was like “Texas!” and I was like “V A M P I R E S !” and then we got to work.
CH: The Terminal Punks TBP drops in June, and that book was such a fun ride. Are the characters based on your personal punk rock experiences? ME: Haha, I’d say they were amalgamations of certain ideals and people that I’d known. Thanks for the kind words on that, it was a lot of fun ideas that were really accepted with open arms. Chris Sanchez, our editor on the book, was so game for basically anything I threw at him as far as the story and what it was doing or trying to be.
I’m excited to say I’m working with him again on a new project that I think is also going to be similarly wild and fun.
CH: How’d you end up working with Shelby [Criswell] on this book?
ME: Shelby and I share the same agent, and through very serendipitous things they were available in a very short time to hop on this book with me. I loved Shelby’s art, and I think I’d been following them on Twitter for a while. We had some mutual connections and I believe we worked on an anthology Mark Bouchard did called Everything is Going Wrong on different stories. I highly recommend that book, I felt it should have been nominated for things. It’s just a beautiful book. Highly recommend it.
CH: You bring such a good blend of zany horror and serious emotional growth to a lot of your work. How do you balance your natural comedy flair with darker storytelling?
ME: Thank you for saying that, it’s nice to hear. I think I’m very upfront with the things that I write, I hope they mean deeper things or speak to the human condition. I think all writers want to do that, to say something vital to their being (or something). Anyway, I think being aware of what I'm making helps me understand the expectations, and comedy, or being funny — at least to me — is about subverting the expectation in a sort of "Matthew Erman Way.”
I know what that means, unfortunately. Explaining it is hard, so it’s just my special sauce! And as far as the dark stuff goes, it’s everywhere, so it’s hard for it not to find its way into the things we make.
CH: What are you most enjoying out in the world right now? Books, music, media, things to do, etc.
ME: As long as I’ve got my health, and my wife and my dog and my gold house and my rocket car, I don’t need anything else.
CH: What advice do you have for writers and/or artists who’re trying to incorporate comedy into their work?
ME: Good luck! I hope you’re funny!
CH: Anything else you want to plug or add?