Interview with Matthew Hardy (Writer and Owner of Mad Robot Comics)
From priests battling killer cars to a stranger murder spree in a quiet English village, Matt Hardy has written some weird and wonderful stories. After reading Vehi-kill I decided to catch up with him.
Interview By David Jenkins
MM: Hi Matt, thanks for agreeing to the interview.
Matt: Thanks for asking.
MM: After all the insanity of the last 18 months comic cons are starting again, and you went Meanwhile in Coventry a few weeks back. How has the con experience changed?
Matt: Meanwhile in Coventry was a well organised but brand new con in a new location – so maybe not the best test of how cons have changed. I was really pleased that Meanwhile provided creators with plenty of room around their tables, but with the artist alley being held in a mostly open marquee, mask wearing soon disappeared. I’ve got MCM London in a few weeks and Thought Bubble next month – those will both be true tests of how conventions have adapted to the new normal – and if visitors are ready to return in large numbers to big scale communal settings.
MM: I’ve just read one of your later books- Vehi-kill and it’s crazy, gripping and action packed. What inspired you to write it?
Matt: I wanted to write a sort of crazy, fun Saturday morning cartoon type tale that I grew up with – a team of experts out to battle the monster of the week. But when I started to incorporate ideas of hell, demons and media perception – I wanted to consider organised religion as well. So it became a fusion of social exploration and crazy killer car set pieces. And a few bad puns (not just limited to the books title).
MM: The Evil Dead TV series was one of my favourites and they had an episode with a possessed car killing people in wacky and wonderful ways. In Vehi-kill there’s cool deaths too, what type of deaths can we expect in the rest of the series.
Matt: In issues 2 & 3 we kill a member of the main cast. Brutally. And then we emotionally rip apart the rest of the team. Then we introduce a new team who well…..yeah more deaths. You can’t have a book about killer cars without killing. The books artist team Norrie Millar and Faye Stacey do such an amazing job of making the cars and the action look so kinetic and violent, that I did have fun writing some of the action and death scenes. Issue 3 opens on a freeway filled with hundreds of cars – that was fun. But it’s a 4 issue story (for now) – and we do get revenge and redemption at the end.
MM: Many of your works have grisly but inventive deaths, perhaps none more than Murder most mundane which you wrote with Ash Deadman. How did the collaboration work? Which parts of the story where yours and which were Ash’s?
Matt: I genuinely don’t set out to write gruesome deaths (but now I think about it – yeah I do have a high body count in my work). Ash came up with the idea for MMM, we co-plotted the book up and then we both choose different sections to write, then we both reworked each others work. Sounds like a nightmare but worked really well. I can still pick out clearly my work and Ash’s – but some bits (especially the end) are such a collaborative effort that I can’t distinguish who wrote what any more. Then Clark Bint bought it to beautiful life – that book would be nothing without Clark.
MM: Murder Most Mundane reminded me of Hot Fuzz until the twist near the end. Did you always know the story was going to go sci fi?
Matt: I said Ash and I co-plotted the book, and then at 4am one morning I woke up screaming with the realisation for one of the central concepts we’d ripped off Hot Fuzz (actually Hot Fuzz is police drama parody and ours is a murder mystery/sci parody – so I hope Simon and Edgar won’t be suing. Please don’t sue us). It was always going to have a sci-fi-ish twist – although we did expand on the big reveal when we decided it was really, really fun.
MM: Speaking of sci fi. Perhaps your most known series is Cadavers and in the earlier stories (collected in World Gone To Hell and reviewed here) there was a lot of different genres involved. As the book was an anthology how much control did you have over each story?
Matt: I asked for pitches from creators – I did shoot down some ideas that didn’t fit the series mythology, and provide a few jumping off ideas – but generally once I approved an idea – I sat back and let the creative team do their thing. That’s always how you get the best work.
MM: The creatures involved were all interesting and varied with Blob Detective, Poltergeist and Sully being my favourites. How does the comics series of Cadavers continue after World Gone to Hell?
Matt: The script to the final issue 4 is completed, but I’m reluctant to finish it without Cadavers co-creator Edward Bentley’s involvement. Watch this space is a horrid answer – but the only one I have to give at present.
MM: Lastly, what comics are you working on now?
Matt: <Deep Breath> I’ve got a War of the Worlds book I’m co-writing with Rob Jones with art by Kevin Castaniero – that will hit Kickstarter next year. MMM artist Clark Bint is finishing off the last few pages of our sequel to Cyberarchy (published in Heavy Metal Magazine), Issue 4 of VEHI—KILL from Markosia is done and off for lettering – then its the collection of that off to print. My superhero book Occulus for Broadcast comics is out shortly and I have a bunch of stores in the Tales from the Quarantine anthology, I launch the Kickstarter for my new series Sickness & Sorrow in a few weeks
Plus I’m the editor on a ton of Mad Robot books like Bete Noir, Saxon’s Second-hand Books and Explosion High.
I have new books about nursery rhymes(!) and escaping from heaven in early stages AND I’ve got a big project I’m under NDA and can’t discuss, but it’s a real fusion of concepts (that’s a hint). Phew. Sleep is something that happens to other people right?