Gotham Stories on IMDb

Read the review on IMDb HERE

Another Monday brings another awesome installment of Gotham Stories. The latest episode, which is titled “Can Gordon and Bullock Help Penguin?,” could very well be the most important viewing of these motion comics to date.

Featuring the voice talents of Robin Lord Taylor (Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin), Camren Bicondova (Selina Kyle/Cat), Nathan Darrow (Victor Fries), Ben McKenzie (Jim Gordon) and Donal Logue (Harvey Bullock), this is the fourth of five motion comics intending to bridge the gap between the first half of Gotham’s second season, “Rise of the Villains,” and its second half, “Wrath of the Villains.”

As fans of the TV series are well aware, Jim Gordon and Oswald Cobblepot have had a storied friendship. Or would “shaky alliance” be a more apt description? Either way you slice it, it would seem their relationship has now concluded as Gordon has no choice but to slap a pair of handcuffs on Gotham City’s biggest crime lord. Hey, I did say this was a rather important episode, did I not?

Considering that initial promo videos for “Wrath of the Villains” show Penguin taking up residence in Arkham Asylum, we can only assume that this is where the first domino fell. The fact that Fox was willing to place such a major plot development in one of these motion comics is indeed a risky move and I applaud them for it. Still, I would not rule out the possibility that this scene – or some variation of it – was shot on film with the intention of including it in the mid-season premiere.

Gotham returns with new episodes next Monday, February 29 at 8:00 pm EST on Fox, and you can expect to see the likes of Mr. Freeze, Dr. Hugo Strange, Matches Malone, and a host of other villains as this season races toward its conclusion.

– Eric Joseph

Paste Magazine: Comics We’re Excited About

Read the full list of Paste Magazine HERE

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Wonder Woman ’77 Special #1
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artists: Drew Johnson, Matt Haley
Publisher: DC Comics

How can you look at that gorgeous Nicola Scott cover and not immediately begin humming the television theme song to yourself? While DC’s primary offerings are increasingly divisive for longtime fans, the digital-first editorial team has consistently put out some of the publisher’s strongest titles, from surprisingly long-lasting tie-in hit Injustice: Gods Among Us to the nostalgia-tinged charm of Batman ‘66. Lynda Carter’s live-action adventures may not spin into an ongoing comic like the campy stylings of Adam West and Burt Ward, but this fun throwback is the perfect antidote for anyone weary of arm blades and super boyfriends. Steve Foxe

Career Spotlight: What I Do as a Comic Book Artist

Read the full interview for Life Hacker HERE

So many of today’s popular movies began humbly on the printed page—not in novels, but in comic books. There’s a distinct appeal to the illustrated format’s ability to tell both large, complex stories without compromising the intimacy of the narrative. And capturing those moments requires a skilled illustrator. What it’s like to face the blank page every day?

To learn more about what the average career of a comic book illustrator is like, we spoke with Matt Haley. Matt’s been illustrating comics professionally for over twenty years with DC, Marvel, and more, and told us about how he packed his life into a truck for a chance to get into comics.

Tell us a little about yourself and your experience.

I’m Matt Haley. I’ve been a full-time professional comic book illustrator since 1991. Right now, I’m illustrating Wonder Woman ’77 for DC Comics Digital. I’m probably known in comics circles for my work on Superman Returns, Tangent: Joker, Elseworld’s Finest: Supergirl and Batgirl, and numerous others for DC,Ghost for Dark Horse, and The Order for Marvel. In the last few years I’ve also been providing art direction and illustration on numerous media projects with comics icon Stan Lee, like Who Wants To Be A Superhero and Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope with Morgan Spurlock. I’m also the director of the viral internet hit Blackstar Warrior.

What drove you to choose your career path?

There was never a question—I grew up on Neal Adams’ Batman comics and Steve Ditko’s Shade The Changing Man, and announced to my folks at the tender age of four that I was “going to be a comic book artist.” So, I pretty much trained myself to do it by staying in my room and drawing all day, every day, often to the detriment of my homework!

How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?

Career Spotlight: What I Do as a Comic Book Artist

In 1990, I was in college in New Mexico and read a copy of the Comics’ Buyers Guide profiling the San Diego Comic-Con occurring that summer. It mentioned that editors from all the various comic companies would be there reviewing portfolios of aspiring comic artists, so my college roommate Tom Simmons and I decided to do some sample art to show to them. The 1989 Batman movie was still everywhere so I reasoned that since everybody and their grandmother was probably submitting Batman art samples, I should pick a title nobody would consider doing, so I chose Star Trek:The Next Generation. I was a lousy inker so Tommy took on that role and did a masterful job while I did the actual drawings. We did a set of sample art and quit our jobs, piled into his truck, and drove to San Diego. We didn’t even have a place to stay or a place to go back to, we just sort of dove off the deep end! We got some good feedback at the show and did a second set of samples, which got me my first gig penciling the Star Trek:The Next Generation Annual #2 for DC (reprinted in “The Best Of Star Trek: The Next Generation” trade paperback). 54 pages—I was thrilled and terrified at the same time.

Did you need any licenses or certifications?

Just a strong portfolio, that’s really all they care about—whether you can you draw well, and consistently well. A good editor can spot professional work even if the actual art style is unusual, and consistency is the key.

What kinds of things do you do beyond what average people see? What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?

Avoiding distraction. Drawing (and lately for me, writing) is enormously time-consuming work and I need to cut off the world to focus. I recently disconnected internet access to the computer I generate my art on and my productivity doubled. The majority of my time is spent sitting and drawing and bobbing my head to extremely loud music on my headphones. There’s some emailing back and forth with my editor and various other clients, but mostly just drawing until it’s time for yoga class!

Career Spotlight: What I Do as a Comic Book Artist

What misconceptions do people often have about your job?

Oh, there’s a lot of “Wow, you work at home, that must be so cool” and “You work with Stan Lee, you must be famous.” I’ve been a freelance artist my entire career, so I don’t really have a conception of what a “regular office job” is like. I was the one who saw Office Space and didn’t get the jokes. That said, I am probably very spoiled and wouldn’t last five minutes in a more traditional profession.

People seem to think comic artists are rich; this could not be further from the truth! Hand-to-mouth, usually, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Artists are extremely lucky and have a lot of freedom, and it’s nice to not have to wake up to an alarm every morning! My commute is about fifteen feet, and I can work in my robe.

What are your average work hours?

It used to be “work until I dropped, every day” but as I get older I have worked hard to work less hard, if that makes any sense. I work for about twelve hours a day but that’s not all drawing. Some of it is writing on the various projects I have cooking. It’s important to work on ones’ own creations or you can become terribly dull artistically. I work six days a week and try to take one day off. Daily yoga really helps to keep me sane and saves the back.

Career Spotlight: What I Do as a Comic Book Artist

What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?

Going digital. I started working in Photoshop and Illustrator back in 1999, but I try to keep a hand in traditional art materials so I don’t lose that facility. Learning to run my business like a business has helped immeasurably, and being realistic about the time it can take to generate a piece of art so I don’t bust the deadline. Also, just trusting myself more, trusting that I have the knowledge and experience to successfully complete the piece of art, even if I have no idea how I’ll approach it at the beginning!

What’s the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?

The lack of regular paychecks. A lot of artists try to have multiple income streams, selling t-shirts ( like this fun Sherlock/Star Trek mashup I did that Wil Wheaton reblogged) and sketches at conventions, (like this poster I was invited to create for the iam8bit Gallery in Los Angeles) taking on private commissions, etc., but I won’t lie—it’s rough.

Additionally, resisting the urge to snack, since one can crave stimulation while working. I stick to nuts and dried fruits and tea, but there’s the occasional Ritter Sport bar. Mmmm, Ritter Sport.

What’s the most enjoyable part of the job?

The actual drawing. Uninterrupted hours and hours of creation. Watching any movie I want while working. Staring at a finished page or piece and knowing you nailed it. I used to refer to having difficulty with a piece as “wrestling with the angel,” but these days the art seems to flow pretty smoothly.

Do you have any advice for people who need to enlist your services?

Career Spotlight: What I Do as a Comic Book Artist

Yes, they can visit my site and send me a message through the contact form! I’ve been doing this long enough that I can usually figure out what a prospective client is looking for during the initial consult. You’d be surprised how many people would love to commission an artist but think it’s complicated or the artist will be flighty or hard to deal with, and truth is, we’re just regular folks who can draw well.

I’d add that most people have no idea what goes into creating art and may not understand that it is how we earn our living. Too many times people will get in touch and ask an artist to draw something for free, with lines like “You love to draw, you should do this for the exposure” or “you can bang it out over the weekend, can’t you?” to which I’ll usually ask them if they ask their lawyer or plumber to work for free as well. People are well-meaning, I think they just may not know how to respect the craft because it’s a fairly specialized field.

What kind of money can one expect to make at your job?

There’s no standard. I have rates that I quote based on my experience and my past client list, but there’s no starting salary per se; it’s whatever the market will bear, you know? A comic artist working for the Big Two (Marvel and DC) can expect to make $100-$200 or more per penciled page, and around $75-150 for inks, the smaller publishers tend to pay around half that or so. These are just general figures. If one can bang out a page or two per day, you can probably make $40,000 to 50,000 a year, just generating art. The real money lies in creating intellectual properties that can earn money for you but that’s kind of like playing the lottery, in a way. Many artists have spouses who may support their endeavors, and it’s probably pretty difficult to support a family solely on one’s art, depending on where you’re at in your career. I have no kids so it’s a little easier for me to keep doing art for a living.

How do you move up in your field?

That’s the big question, isn’t it? Nobody knows. Especially in comics, one is at the whim of the editor hiring you, the marketing department selling you, the buying public (hopefully) liking what you do and buying more of it. A lot of “name” artists today got in the business around the same time I did and benefited from the comics speculators market before it crashed, and thus are known quantities from those days. These days in comics it’s very much about the writer; the artist can be seen as interchangeable to some marketing folks perhaps, I don’t know. Me, I just kept doing it and diversified into art direction for television, creating comic-styled art for enterprise (a big part of my business these days), storyboards for games, poster illustration, etc. The great thing about starting ones’ artistic training as a comic artist is that it’s the perfect training ground for almost every other artistic discipline. “Moving up” can largely be about luck. I think it’s more about “not giving up.”

What do your clients under/over value?

Clients tend to overvalue their own artistic and creative knowledge and undervalue the artist’s. They don’t mean to, but art isn’t really valued in our culture like playing pro sports or flying an airplane. Everybody thinks they can draw and write well so there have been times when a prospective client tries to micromanage the process, and there are ways of dealing with that so the client gets what they need and I don’t get a migraine!

What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?

Career Spotlight: What I Do as a Comic Book Artist

Don’t give up, but realize you may make a lot of life sacrifices to do this. It’s not for everyone. I’d tell prospective comic artists to start their own online comic and grow an audience from there. Too many artists think they can walk in and start drawing Spider-Man but there are only so many comics that need drawing. It’s a ridiculously competitive field, and it’s not always a meritocracy. Submit your work to smaller publishers, knock ’em dead there and see if the larger companies take notice of you. Creator-owned comics are big these days and people can make a decent living doing their own. Something I may finally do in the near future, we’ll see. But really, don’t give up, no matter how rough it gets. For the right person being a professional artist can be incredibly rewarding!

Interview for Twin Peaks Archive

Read the original interview HERE

Exclusive Matt Haley interview!

Recently it was revealed that the upcoming Twin Peaks ‘Complete Mystery’ dvd box set was to have included a third season graphic novel illustrated by acclaimed artist Matt Haley and written by Twin Peaks producer and story editor Bob Engels. The project got dropped. Why? We asked Matt…

Twin Peaks Archive: When did you first get into Twin Peaks?

Matt Haley: When it first aired, I can’t recall if I saw the first broadcast episode, but it was definitely the 2nd or 3rd.

Twin Peaks Archive: Were you a fan of David Lynch before Twin Peaks?

Matt Haley: I was looking for something unusual, and I think I had already seen DUNE, so I knew of Lynch’s works, though I didn’t see ERASERHEAD until much, much later. It just grabbed me in a visceral place, I can’t describe the appeal. Something about the genuine quality of the actors he cast and the characters they were portraying, especially Ray Wise and Michael Ontkean, I just got sucked into watching Twin Peaks religiously, and was a bit crushed when the show ended without resolving the storyline.

Twin Peaks Archive: When did you first get the idea to do a graphic novel/season 3 story?

Matt Haley: Round about the time the first season DVD set came out, I rightly surmised they would be creating a boxed set of the entire show. I kept thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if somebody did a ‘3rd season” graphic novel to coincide with the DVD set, which became “Well, why don’t I do it?”, so last September or so I started calling and e-mailing people I knew, asking idly if they knew what the rights situation was. I wasn’t really taking it seriously, it was just kind of a fun intellectual exercise that grew out of control. I finally got in touch with the right people at CBS/Paramount, specifically Paula Block, whom it turned out I had worked with on my very first comic project, “Star Trek” for DC Comics. She found out that they did indeed have the rights to do a Twin Peaks comic, but warned me up front that there was a ‘trail of broken hearts’ where Twin Peaks licensed products was concerned. Once I realized there was a chance of actually doing this, I understood I couldn’t do a Twin Peaks comic and just write it and put my name on it, as fans would want one written by somebody connected with the show, and Bob Engels (co-producer and executive story editor of the series) seemed a logical choice to write it, so I contacted him and he said if I could secure Lynch and Frost’s blessing, he would write the graphic novel.

From there, I got in touch with various people involved with the tv series, including Angelo Badalamenti and Sheryl Lee, and finally Mark Frost, and they all seemed to think it was a good idea. Mark in particular told me Lynch probably wouldn’t go for it, but that he had my blessing to proceed. Apparently, when they sold Twin Peaks to ABC, they were given unprecedented creative control over the series, so while they do not technically own Twin Peaks, they both have veto power over any projects related to it. Then, I secured an agreement from Top Shelf to print the book, and then Paramount Home Entertainment, including Ryan Adams who is the actual DVD producer, to agree to package the book with the set. So really, everything was sort of magically falling into place, and it seemed that suddenly I had this project that was bringing itself to life.

Twin Peaks Archive: Did you have any thoughts or wishes about where the storyline would have gone? Or, were you interested more in the visual side of things? Can you tell us anything about what may have been written by Bob or yourself or considered about the proposed season 3?

Matt Haley: Bob and I had a number of discussions about what the story would be, I was keen to use whatever notes they had for the proposed third season, I really wanted this to be a literal ‘3rd season’ of the show. Bob told me they really wanted to get away from the high school setting, so after the resolution of the Cooper-BOB-possession plot point, they would have cut to something like “Ten Years Later”, and then shown us a Twin Peaks where Cooper had quit the FBI and had become the town pharmacist, Sheriff Truman had become a recluse, etc. He also mentioned they were going to have Sheryl Lee come back yet again, this time as a redhead, and probably have her character killed by BOB again. There were also some vague ideas about BOB and Mike being from a planet made of creamed corn, something about Truman driving Mike backwards through the portal into the Black Lodge (which I think would have been a really nice cinematic scene).

Twin Peaks Archive: Why did the project fall through?

Matt Haley: Honestly, I sent the proposal and the art to Lynch’s assistant Jay, and when Jay showed it to David, I was told “While David respects the artwork and the effort put into this project, he just does not want to continue the story of Twin Peaks in any way.” That’s it, and again, I was warned. I don’t hold it against Lynch, I mean, I was playing with his toys, but I was kind of hoping that if I had all my ducks in a row he might just say “go ahead”. So really, it was just Lynch deciding not to continue the story and I have to respect that, as an artist. I think he probably likes the idea of not resolving the story, and I have to admit, so do I.

Twin Peaks Archive: Is the project completely dead? Many fans have wished for a graphic novel continuation of the Twin Peaks storyline. Based on your artwork, you seem to be the perfect choice for such a project…

Matt Haley: That’s very kind, but I don’t know if there’s a real point to going after it, as it made financial sense to include the book with the DVD set, we would have had at least 100,000 copies in print. To try to convince Lynch would only make him more reticent, and I’m leery of pushing it. It’s his and Frost’s creation, I can’t just come along and horn in on their baby, you know? I would love to meet Lynch face-to-face and maybe mention it, but… it’s hard to know how to proceed. If anybody has any ideas…! I’d still dearly love to do it, and Bob seems interested as well, so who knows?

Twin Peaks Archive: What’s next for you?

Matt Haley: Well, I’m back doing the art for Stan Lee’s “Who Wants To Be A Superhero”, we just started our second season on the SciFi Channel, Thursdays at 9pm, and we have 8 episodes. I create the comic panels for the show, whenever our contestants first appear, or get their new costumes, or when we cut to commercial, etc. I’m also back creating new issues of “G.I. SPY” with “Eureka” tv series creator Andy Cosby for BOOM! Studios, as well as doing a how-to draw manga aimed at girls which will be out from Cico Books UK fall of 2008. I also designed all the characters for an XBOX 360 game called “Codename: Liberty Rocket” which I think will be out this winter. There’s some other fun stuff on the horizon, but right now I’m thankful to be so busy!

TPA cannot thank Matt enough for taking time out of his very busy schedule to talk to us!