Interview With Lab Raider’s Matt Miner
Matt Miner took time out of his busy schedule at Emerald City Comic Con to discuss his newest book from Black Mask Studios, Lab Raider. We also talked about his book, Poser, which recently wrapped up and about additional work he has coming up. As this interview originally was conducted between the dates of March 14th to the 17th, it may reference items or events that may have happened.
JR: Lab Raider is your latest book and it is one that continues the stories from Liberator and Critical Hit. What can you say about this book?
MM: Lab Raider goes down a darker horror, sci-fi direction. The girls have given up on their mission of non-violence and it gets really bloody. They are infiltrating this lab, trying to get the animals out and they run across these weird test animals that have been genetically modified, cybernetic implants and they are hybrids of two different animals each. The story revolves around what the hell are these animals and are they friendly or are they not? What’s going on here? It’s going to get real dicey as the girls take down thiS Llab.
JR: With Lab Raider, there’s a bit of a change in the direction and almost a sci-fi feel. Why the departure in tone?
MM: The previous series have all been grounded in reality, like you said, and kinda based on the real people who do this kind of thing. And you know they put on masks, break shit and free animals and it was always kind of a love letter to that movement but I wanted to tell a different story. I wanted to tell something that broke some boundaries, got violent and finally got crazy and one outside the norms of reality so we took it in a different direction this time. I think it’s really fun.
JR: The characters seem to be a bit more aggressive in their approach.
MM: I think we make it clear that they understand they’re not doing the right thing. They know they’re crossing the line and they have this internal struggle but at the same time they see all this injustice going on around them and they feel like they have to do something. They take it too far. It’s bloody and it’s fun and it’s amazing and the new artist on the series has been doing such an amazing job. This kids going to be huge in no time flat.
JR: Do you see this universe as something you can come back to from time-to-time?
MM: I hope so. I’ll keep telling stories in this world as long as people want to keep reading them. It’s something very personal to me as a dog rescuer and I’ve worked for animals for decades and it’s something that I’m very passionate about so I’m gonna keep doing that as long as people want to read them.
JR: The stories set in this universe deal with subject matter not found anywhere else, like animal rights/liberation. With these topics not being so mainstream, is it hard to sell someone on the book?
MM: We’re really careful, you know. I write the books in a way that its approachable to everybody. Nobody likes seeing dogs kicked in the face or fighting dogs or animals tortured alive needlessly so these are all things that I think can get behind. It’s not, you know, that these books are telling people to go vegan. What I tell people is it’s about these two women. It’s a vigilante story where instead of fighting dudes in capes and tights, they’re taking on dog fighters and animal abusers. And that’s really what it’s about. It’s not about trying to preach a message. It’s just about telling these cool stories in a different kind of hero story.
JR: With Lab Raider, you have a special variant that is set up to benefit Redemption Rescues. Can you tell me about it?
MM: My wife and I teamed with a rescue partner and we we started Redemption Rescues, which the New York City-based 501c3 non-profit rescue organization. Black Mask has a history of doing these charity variant covers and and I asked Matt Pizzolo, “Why haven’t we done one for ours?” It just never occurred to me I could do one for Redemption Rescues so we did that this time and the money’s going back into the rescue. It’s not gonna make a fortune but it’s enough to get a couple dogs fixed or if someone needs a little surgery. It’ll help. It’ll buy several bags of food. It’s good publicity for the rescue. We’re at RedemptionRescues.org and we’re not a huge rescue. We do everything as foster-based and we don’t have a big shelter but I think we do good work.
JR: Switching gears, I saw that Poser had just wrapped up and with releasing through Waxwork, there was a vinyl release for each of the issues. Where did the vinyl idea come from?
MM: That was just Waxworks mission or goal, that they wanted to do original scored soundtracks for every comic that they put out. They do comic store versions, too, that don’t come with the record but the ones through the Waxwork Records website have these records. It’s just a really cool thing and actually issue four is not out in the record version. People that are collecting that haven’t seen the end of the story yet.
JR: Poser seems like the perfect throwback to the 1970s-80 slasher genre film. What are the ones you like or that might have helped inspire Poser?
MM: Everything from Friday The 13th and Texas Chainsaw and Halloween to really grindhouse stuff , bananas stuff like Pieces and Blood-Splattered Bride and The Prowler and really anything that’s just ridiculous and bloody and violent and goofy is what I really love.
JR: I know with Poser’s covers that they sequence a story-of-sorts where the killer starts on the first cover in the back of the crowd and as the issues go, he moves his way through the covers and by the last issue, he’s made his way to the stage. I was curious if this was a direction you put the art team in or if they came up with this?
MM: That was Clay McCormack’s decision to have the the cover itself tell this little story and and I’m impressed that you picked up on that. Poser starts out like back with all the flyers , just coming into the club and then it progresses to the crowd, killing people and ends up killing the band on stage and piles of dead bodies. I thought it was a really smart, artistic move on clay’s part. It really worked out well.
JR: I notice your work has a really strong DIY, Indie feel. You don’t really do mainstream stuff. You are mostly creator-owned.
MM: I did the Gwar book.
JR: But with that said, do you feel like creator-owned is the way you prefer to go?
MM: Don’t get me wrong. I would do big 2 stuff in a minute because there are characters in the big 2 world, mostly being C-list characters, that I think can be really cool if they were given their own offshoot book so I have ideas but mostly, the stuff that I want to tell is creator-owned. I want to own and I want to be able to control it. Yeah, I’d definitely love to play in some other sandboxes, too. It’ll happen, eventually.
JR: You mentioned GWAR. Is there more of that happening?
MM: We’re working on the second GWAR book now. It’s available to pre-order from the publisher, if you go to gwarcomic.com you can get free stuff just for pre-ordering.
JR: To wrap this up, what’s left for fans to look for?
MM: Not announced yet but I don’t think it’s a big deal. We have a Kickstarter coming up for the new Toe Tag Riot. That’s not happening through Black Mask but through a different publisher and then I have Lab Raider. I have the new Gwar book. I just got a green light from someone else but I can’t talk about yet. An anthology at the end of the year put together with Eric Palicki. And other stuff I’m forgetting and Eric would remind me if we were at my table. Find me on Twitter at @MattMinerXVX.