Matt Miner is the New York based writer behind Liberator, the Black Mask Studios comic miniseries about a pair of heroes avenging animal torture. Liberator had been funded via a successful Kickstarter campaign, and now Miner is running a Kickstarter campaign for Toe Tag Riot, a new comic miniseries that mixes the punk scene and elements of horror comics. We spoke with Miner via email about his new series, managing a Kickstarter campaign with a large goal, and why he chose to target specific groups as the victims of his horror campaign.
Christian Hoffer: For readers who missed the Kickstarter's launch yesterday, what's your basic pitch for Toe Tag Riot? What were your inspirations and influences for writing the book?
Matt Miner: Toe Tag Riot is a gay-friendly and super awesome comedy-horror about a mid-2000s streetpunk band who are cursed with temporary, recurring zombification that takes hold whenever they play their music. They end up going on tour, chasing the cure to their affliction, and along the way they resist the urge to murder just any old fleshbag, only killing the worst scum that litters this Earth: Racist skinheads, sexist dudebros, the homophobes of One Million Moms... all culminating in a final showdown with the hatemongers of the Westboro Baptist Church.
Think of it as a mix of stuff like Night of the Living Dead and a live GWAR concert.
Hoffer: Do you feel that the punk scene and the zombie genre are a natural fit together? And do you think that Toe Tag Riot will appeal to more than just members of the punk scene or zombie aficionados?
Miner: Punks love zombies - I think it's because we both smell the same? Kidding, kidding. I shower. Sometimes. This book is for anyone who loves FUN comics and hates racists and bigots like Westboro Baptist Church.
Besides, this isn't your typical zombie book. There's no outbreak, no staggering corpses going "unnngh", no bands of survivors, none of that stuff. Our guys, well, they're not really "undead" per se, they're suffering from a curse - and they're not always zombies. The curse that turns them only takes over while they're playing their music, but the transformation back into regular dirty punks is taking longer and longer with each time.
Hoffer: With zombies being all the rage in Hollywood and other forms of entertainment right now, how does Toe Tag Riot stand out from the crowd? Do you play to or avoid some of the more popular tropes of zombie fiction?
Miner: Our guys are using their affliction to better the world: by slaughtering and playing in the guts of the worst garbage people on the planet. We skip the tropes and stick to the gore and the comedy. The gore-edy?
Hoffer: One of the unique and hilariously subversive aspects of Toe Tag Riot is that you're targeting specific groups of people such as Westboro Baptist Church as the victims of zombie attacks. How did you pick out the victims of Toe Tag Riot and why do you feel that they should face death by zombies?
Miner: Hey look, Westboro Baptist Church are basically irrelevant clowns with an axe to grind against gay people for some weird reason. You know what they say about the loudest homophobes, right? Anyways... I can't really see much use for these nobodies except as cartoon villains and zombie food, so there ya go.
They've caused a lot of hurt over the years and I think it's time we started laughing at their ridiculousness rather than getting outraged and angry. They're worthless bags of flesh for zombie consumption.
Hoffer: Were there any groups or people that you originally were going to have Toe Tag Riot attack, but decided to pass on? Was there a long list of potential victims?
Miner: There are so many awful people in this world - our little punkers could go after any of them. Volume 1 our heroes snack on Nazi skinheads (those are still a THING, can you believe it?), sexist dudebros (watch out forum troll comic d00dz), One Million Moms (how dare you try to censor Kevin Keller?) and Westboro Baptist.
Maybe Toe Tag Riot volume 2 will have our band on a WORLD TOUR and we'll have 'em go say hi to Vladimir Putin... Knock, knock comrade: It's ZOMBIE JUSTICE at the door!
Hoffer: Do you feel that having Toe Tag Riot eat these people/groups to be an effective means of social commentary? Do you think that any these folks will pick up your comic and think "Holy crap, these zombies are eating me because I'm a bad person. Maybe I shouldn't be such a douche?"
Miner: Nah, I don't know or care what they think. These people are such d-bags they're probably beyond help. Sean and I didn't make this book to "stick it to Westboro" or anything, we did this book for ourselves, so we could see what Shirley Phelps' guts looked like all over the floor.
Hoffer: Conversely, are you worried that someone is going to pick this comic up and say "Wow, Matt Miner actually wants _____________ to die via disembowelment by zombies? He's an awful person for wanting such a thing?" Do you think that anyone is going to accuse you of wishing or wanting violence against these folks?
Miner: Nobody gets all uppity when the Punisher machine-guns drug dealers, guy.
Hoffer: Sean Von Gorman, one of your collaborators on Occupy Comics, is providing artwork for the series. How did the two of you come to work on the project together?
Miner: Sean and I started off as mortal enemies through an epic Twitter battle but soon found common ground, forgiveness, and friendship. We've been working together on small projects here and there for a year or two, and we seem to click and make pictures and words happen harmoniously.
Hoffer: I noticed that a lot of Von Gorman's other projects have a subversive element that seems well-fitted to Toe Tag Riot. Has he added any sort of satire or subversive elements to Toe Tag Riot that you were originally anticipating?
Miner: Sean's a friggin' master with adding a whole other range of physical comedy into the art. He's injecting humor and good times into every page like a champ - whenever I get new art from him I have at least a few chuckles and often a for-real LOL. His art and personality is perfectly suited to this totally ridiculous and over-the-top violent book and without him and his wackiness this amazing book would probably suck.
Hoffer: What is the collaboration between you and Von Gorman like? Do you provide him with detailed panel by panel instructions in the scripts for Toe Tag Riot, or do you just give him the story beats and let him go wild?
Miner: I get Sean detailed scripts and then Sean goes wild anyways and does what he wants, which is, honestly, the best outcome. I trust Sean to take my scripts as a starting point, and then we collaborate and Sean brings the story to the next level. I consider myself extremely lucky to have paired up with him on this book.
Hoffer: What will the funds for the Kickstarter campaign be used for?
Miner: The funds are being used to pay the creative team and pay for the rewards, packing material and shipping.
Hoffer: While some Kickstarters are only used to produce a single issue of a comic series, I noticed that Toe Tag Riot's Kickstarter is being used to fund the entire four issue miniseries. Do you feel there are any additional risks or benefits to running a "multi-issue" Kickstarter as opposed to funding individual issues?
Miner: Nah, I ran a Kickstarter for my series LIBERATOR, which just finished volume 2 and was published through Black Mask. I fundraised for the first 4 issues because I see folks raise 4k for a single issue and then a couple months later they're running ANOTHER kickstarter for issue 2. Running a Kickstarter is super hard work, so I'd rather raise it all in one lump and be done with it - then I can focus on writing more stories and not in promoting and managing a Kickstarter campaign.
Hoffer: Do you feel there's a risk that your supporters could experience "sticker shock" when looking at the $19,000 end goal?
Miner: Maybe? I don't know - the cost just for the creative team is about $4,000 per issue of Toe Tag Riot. That's $16,000 for a 4 issue series and the other $3,000 is to pay for making rewards (T-shirts, stickers, postcards, etc), shipping, and the small stuff you don't think of (like shipping supplies, font licenses, bags and boards and the like).
Hoffer: After Toe Tag Riot is (hopefully) funded, do you have any future projects lined up?
Miner: Yep. I have a series that should be announced here any day now... It's gonna be awesome and I'm super stoked on it! Doesn't it sound awesome based on my description alone!?
Also I have some other things happening, too! Being vague is great, right? Sorry. :(
The Kickstarter page for Toe Tag Riot can be found here. Miner's website can be found here, and Von Gorman's website can be found here. A larger version of Shawn Daley's pinup for Toe Tag Riot can be found below.