Press Officer Nicoal R. Sheen interviews Matt Miner, writer and project manager to the new and very much anticipated animal liberation comic Liberator — a story of two dedicated yet everyday people who take up the mask and the dark to liberate animals and shut down the industries that exploit them. Support this unique and vital project at Liberator‘s Kickstarter page by pledging a donation and receiving generous gifts in return for your support.
How long have you been an activist? Explain what you do.
I’ve been vegan almost a decade and early on I worked on a few campaigns here and there (like Ringling’s and stuff like that) until moving to New York where I got really active in the regular HLS and anti-fur protests. I worked on those campaigns and a few others for years but in the last couple years I’ve been focused on animal rescue. It’s more satisfying for me to actually see and meet the animals that I’m helping. There’s a great feeling when you’re with an animal every step of the way from rescue to rehabilitation to placement in a loving forever home where they’ll live out their lives loved and happy.
Throughout this time I’ve also been a pretty constant prisoner supporter. Writing a card or a letter takes very little time for me to do and it means a lot to the folks doing time for the animals.
Where did the idea for Liberator come from?
Hah, well, from real life of course. I learned about the animal liberation underground almost right away after going vegan. I saw the ALF videos online and thought to myself “holy shit, these people are like masked superheroes – like Batman – but for animals!” I was so inspired right then and there that this idea formed to do a comic book that accurately portrays these activists as heroes and not the “T” word and has been growing in the back of my mind for almost a decade. It’s about time that these nonviolent direct action heroes are given some positive mainstream portrayals.
The name “Liberator” is a direct nod to the old ALF Support Group ‘zine and the savvy activist will likely spot a ton of hidden “easter eggs” within the pages.
Tell us more about your work in animal rescue. Has such work played any part in bringing this project to life?
Well like I said I’ve been focused on rescue lately and since Hurricane Sandy it’s been even more of a priority in our lives out here in the Rockaways. There are a lot of displaced animals out here – people ditched their dogs and cats when they evacuated, so in some neighborhoods you have all these wandering house cats and stray dogs in an area where it’s pretty common to find animals beaten to death or set on fire. It’s really nonstop out here – just today we rescued an emaciated and mangled pit bull puppy who was chained behind a building and abandoned for five days before anyone bothered to let us know. Just heinous stuff.
The opening sequence of issue one deals with one of our heroes taking direct action against a dog fighting compound and my recent rescue work has definitely played a part in my inspiration there.
How long have you been working on this project?
From the time I decided to start writing the script to today it’s been a little over a year. I’ve wanted to do the book for almost a decade and when I decided to actually do it I didn’t want to rush anything, so I took my time, saved money and found a professional art team (which is very expensive) and went back to school to hone my craft. I studied under one of the most accomplished modern comics writers and that instruction really helped me bring the project to the next level. People are going to be happy with the story that’s in store for them.
Explain the work involved in making a comic? What is your primary job?
I’m the writer, so my job is in plotting and writing the series. It’s a lot like writing a screenplay, in fact the format’s very similar, but you have to really visualize every panel in your mind and write it visually. Then you have to trust your artist and collaborate with them to make the story better – something you never could have accomplished on your own. The things that the art team have brought to Liberator, the storytelling elements, even the color palette choices from the colorist – all enhance and really bring to life this incredible story of these two activists.
Since this is a creator-owned book (which just means I own the property) I’m also in essence the project manager who has to work to make sure all the pieces fit together. This is all behind the scenes stuff but this part is a whole lot more work than the writing. I wish I was only writing because I’d have a lot more free time and a lot less frustration while managing a thousand moving pieces.
Without giving too much of the story away, tell us how the plot unfolds.
Roughly, the book follows the adventures of two heroes, one is an Hispanic mid 20s slacker barista who finds his calling in life behind a mask while reeking of gasoline. The other is a shy and introverted college student who got a look at what was going on in her university’s laboratory and it rocked her worldview. Both are driven by separate but equally disturbing past traumas and they meet up and work together on targets abusing and exploiting animals, with volume one focusing on shutting down a fur farm outside of their town.
The imagery you have already released for Liberator has us begging for more. How and where did you find these astounding artists?
Social networking is an amazing thing for some purposes. Twitter is fantastic for meeting folks in the comics industry. My tip is to talk to comic creators like normal folks and not like gushy overexcited fans. Act like a professional and you’ll be treated like one in return.
When can readers expect to get their hands on a copy of Liberator?
Well the Kickstarter to fund the rest of the art is running now. Liberator has found a publisher who wants to bring the book to the mainstream market, but as is the case with all creator-owned properties, I have to fund the art myself. I’ve already spent 10k of my own money to get this far and now that I’m tapped out I absolutely have to raise the rest through crowdfunding. If the Kickstarter doesn’t reach funding then the book won’t be made. If it does reach the funding goals you can expect the first issue in stores in April of 2013.
If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, what you do is you pledge money to a project that you want to see happen and in return you get sent rewards once the project is completed. So it’s kind of like a pre-order system where you buy the book now and that money raised is used to finish the book.
Something unique about our Kickstarter project is that we’ve partnered and collaborated with tons of likeminded organizations, activist groups, filmmakers, bands and the like. So where a “normal” comic book Kickstarter campaign may have prints and limited edition versions of the comics, we have all that stuff AND kickass swag from tons of folks including SHAC, Because We Must, Bad Religion, Propagandhi, Beagle Freedom Project and you all.
There’s way too much good stuff to list here, so I ask anyone who sees the potential outreach in comic books and graphic novels whose heroes take action to defend abused animals to please hit the Kickstarter up before Feb 1 and pledge to see it happen. You’ll help make the book a reality and you’ll get some awesome stuff in return.
Your card isn’t charged until the end of the campaign on the first of February.
Any idea of how many volumes readers should expect?
The first volume is four issues, but I have stories already for several volumes. I’ll keep making Liberator comics as long as I can.
What audience are you targeting? Why and how?
Liberator is written in a way that isn’t preaching to the converted. I’m writing this in a way that stays true to the hell that animals endure, portrays the activists as heroes and saviors, but first and foremost Liberator is an adventure that anybody regardless of their worldview can pick up and enjoy for what it is. If the reader learns a thing or two along the way that’s great. If the reader sticks around after the comic pages and reads the extra articles and interviews we’re packing in to the book then hey, even better.
I want non-activist folks to know they won’t feel lectured, but I want activists to know that I’m doing this story right. It’s a story that needs telling and it’s too important to be fucking around and doing it half-assed.
Support the Liberator by pledging today! Visit: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mattminer/liberator-4-issue-comic-series-by-matt-miner-and-j