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Painting a Dark World with Two Colors - An Interview with MATT BATTAGLIA

Matt Battaglia heads to the Yeti Cave to talk about his upcoming release, House on Fire, his previous works as well as a deep dive into his process of creation! With under a week to go before House on Fire releases, let's take a moment to learn more about its creator!

 

COMIC BOOK YETI: Hello and welcome to the Yeti Cave, Matt! I appreciate you swinging by to chat about House on Fire, which is currently up for pre-order until March 28th! This is for our Cryptid-Bits segment in which we ask questions about yourself and your upcoming release. Feel free to pull a chair up and have a seat, how are you today?

MATT BATTAGLIA: I’m doing great today - the book’s out in comic shops, Amazon’s breaking street date and already delivering orders, book stores seem to be holding fast to that 28th, but it’s been really exciting to see early reactions to House on Fire.

CBY: Thank you so much for an Advance Reader Copy. House on Fire was a riveting experience not only written by you but also illustrated. But this isn’t your first foray into comics, can you tell us about some of your previous works?

MB: Thanks! Previously I wrote and drew Ghosts of the Carousel which is still available through Dauntless Stories and I think that it pairs well with House on Fire. I’ve done a few mini-comics of my own before then (you can find them on my substack: https://mattjbatt.substack.com/) and drew and colored Leap M for Doug Wood (which we kickstarted a print edition of, it was initially released digitally through Action Labs). I also once had a short-lived stint as a comics colorist a number of years ago.

CBY: I really enjoyed your work in Task & Purpose, And Gods Made War, and Leap M! Your pencils and style are visually striking, even more so in House on Fire where you are in full control. The two-color brushwork felt so impactful, can you give us a bit about your history with illustration?

MB: I’ve been drawing basically my whole life? So drawing and illustration have always been a part of me. I was lucky to have grown up right near the Kubert School and would go to Saturday Sketch class there - so comics especially were always around me. When I got out of college I worked in graphic design and would always find ways to do some drawing as part of it.


With regards to the two-color brushwork - I really like having a grey tone in the mix, for Ghosts of the Carousel I used zip-a-tone, but I really didn’t feel like cutting all those zips again for House on Fire, and I think the story needed that hot tone to emphasize the stress of the narrative.

CBY: Now that we painted a good picture of who you are, let's dive back into House on Fire. This story was such a dark and gripping experience, told with minimal dialogue and exposition, instead allowing your art to tell most of it. What was your reasoning for this direction?


MB: I think it comes down to my process. I do a lot of writing about themes and ideas alongside sketches of scenes. Once I’ve figured out the story I’m telling I just do a bullet point list of the scenes and then I’ll do layouts. So far I’ve never written a formal script - and the dialogue all was written and put in last. I want people to be able to fully understand the book without having to read a word of dialogue.

CBY: This gritty tale in which our nameless Protagonist cares for his sick wife is set in a dystopian future that gives off a somewhat familiar feeling from what we experienced just a few years ago. It feels so real, did you draw from your own experiences during the 2020 pandemic when creating this world? What exactly is ravaging the world that caused the lockdown in House on Fire?


MB: Hah, yeah it’s definitely borne of the past few years, and there are certainly things that were inspired by personal experiences and things that were happening around me, but my hope was to make a somewhat universal book. As for what is ravaging the world, I’ll leave that up to the reader to decide. I left breadcrumbs in there for people to decide my mindset - but I think it’s best for people to read it and come to their own conclusions. Too frequently artists make super definitive statements about meaning and intent and I’d let the reader choose what they want to take away.

CBY: The bleak and desolate feelings you invoked felt right at home, what influences did you draw from when crafting a world in the grips of what felt like an authoritarian takeover?

MB: I was just drawing from life, really. I unfortunately don’t think the world of House on Fire is particularly far-fetched, and so I look at it as a kind of cautionary tale, which is what I think sci-fi and genre fiction can do really well. I tried to keep the story and the characters sparse so that the reader can hopefully sub in their own experiences and thoughts and maybe be able to reflect on current life. Or just enjoy it as a road thriller. It can be as deep or shallow as you’d like it.

CBY: Outside of House on Fire what other titles are slated for you in 2023? Anything, in particular, we should look out for? MB: I’m slowly chipping away at And Gods Made War so that should be out in 2023. Other than that I’m always kicking around new story ideas in my head, we’ll see, I kind of want to mess with a western (Renton Hawkey of Ronin Digital Express is a bad influence!).


CBY: What social media platforms would you like to promote to our readers? Do you have a storefront we can direct them to for your other works as well?

MB: I’m on Twitter and Instagram and my website is where people can find links to my available books and buy original art too.

CBY: Thank you so much for swinging by once again, Matt, I appreciate you taking the time to break down your latest release and we wish you a strong launch on the day it drops!

MB: Thanks for having me, appreciate all that the Yetis do for comics!


 


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