Mad Cave Studios’ marketing manager, Maya Lopez, sat down with Matt Emmons, author and illustrator of Mad Cave Studios’ newest fantasy adventure miniseries, Crusader! Read on to find out about Matt’s inspirations, his creative process, helpful advice on surviving The Beastlands, and more!
Q: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Matt! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Matt Emmons! A cartoonist currently based in Philadelphia. I grew up in the North Shore of Massachusetts and really fell in love with the more overgrown and natural places there. That combined with a love of monster movies and fantasy books was the catalyst for me to get into making my own stories by drawing as often as I could.
Q: What is your biggest inspiration when it comes to writing comics?
This one’s tough, because I never really consider myself much of a writer of comics. Typically, if I’m writing it’s more of drawing things out and building from there. Crusader is the first book where I’ve written a script before drawing any of it funny enough.
When I do think about the writing side, I go for less is more. I don’t like overexplaining, so even if I know details about the world and its lore, if it doesn’t feel like it would come up in the story then it doesn’t make it in.
Q: In Crusader, we follow along with the nameless Templar, Crusader, as he pursues his holy quest and is transported to the mysterious Beastlands. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this story?
I wanted to make a story where the “hero” wasn’t much of a hero at the start, and make more of a goon than anything. A Templar felt like a good vehicle for that, and throwing him somewhere where he couldn’t fall back on his order felt like a good way to help define him as an individual while keeping him entirely hidden behind his helmet.
Q: What got you into creating comics?
Growing up my favorite type of creativity was always storytelling and drawing, so I thought animation would be a perfect path to explore that. I went to college for animation, but realized pretty quickly it wasn’t for me. I didn’t pick up comics, even to read, until 2015 when I was a junior in college, but then I did I knew that was it. Comics felt like all the things I loved about animation, but in a format I could do on my own even if all I had was a few sheets of paper and a pencil. It was instantly accessible, and here I am now still drawing them!
Q: Which character in Crusader do you personally connect with the most? (We’ve personally got a pretty soft spot for Grimbel.)
I tend to like my villains more than anything, so I’d have to say Pilgrim. I don’t think I necessarily relate to him because I’m not quite that evil, but I really click with thinking about what a single-minded character is like.
Q: What do you hope for people to take away from reading Crusader?
I hope it’s a fun read!
I try to do something different with every book, so this is more action-oriented than anything else I’ve done. I really want it to feel like a pulpy fun story that’s reminiscent of what makes all those 80s fantasy movies so enjoyable.
Q: In Crusader, you’re credited as both the author and the illustrator! Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process?
Funny enough it’s been coming up more often that I “write” and draw all of my own work. Mostly that came about because I didn’t have any other way to do it
Q: What’s your best advice for someone hoping to survive a day in the Beastlands?
Don’t go! It’s dangerous, even if you have a good sword.
Q: Who/what are your biggest influences as a creator?
When I was first starting out it was definitely Mike Mignola and Moebius, but that continues to branch out more and more to others like Guy Davis, Linnea Sterte, Simon Roy. I don’t know that it’s something that shows in any of my work, but I especially can’t get enough of Mick McMahon’s work.
I’ve always loved what artists can do with really graphic shapes combined with very unique storytelling voices.
Q: What are your favorite stories/artists/genres?
I could add more but I think the artists I mentioned earlier sum up my favorite comics, but as far as genres I’m always looking at sci-fi and fantasy. The weirder, the better!
Q: Any upcoming projects we should know about?
I’m aiming to have a new graphic novel done by next year that’s a loose follow up to The Council of Frogs, as well as diving into making my first ttrpg next summer as well!
Q: Any cons you’ll be attending in the near future?
I’ll definitely be at Fan Expo Canada, Baltimore Comic Con, and Memphis Comic Expo this year, as well as possibly a few others if the schedule allows!
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Thank you so much for having me! I’m so excited to see what people think of Crusader, and to dip my proverbial toe into working on a series for the first time.
About Matt Emmons
Matt Emmons is a cartoonist based in Philadelphia. Raised on a healthy diet of 80s monster movies, he now spends his time making comics about creatures and robots of his own.
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