An Interview With
A few months ago,
the office of Fanboy Planet received an e-mail touting a brand-new comic
publisher. We'd never heard of the people involved, but writer Myatt Murphy
at least caught our interest with his resume. At some point, we reasoned,
we must have read his work in one of the myriad legitimate magazines he'd
cited, including the beloved Maxim. (Curiously, not a single credit for
Children's Highlights. Oh, well.)
Then another e-mail
came, trumpeting that Second 2 Some Studios debut mini-series would
not actually be solicited until it was completely finished. What was
this? A publisher determined NOT to miss deadlines? Were these people
And then Myatt
started sending us actual comics. That debut mini-series, Two Over Ten,
is a dark, dense tale of people awakening to abilities humanity was
not meant to have, save for the one young girl selected by fate to keep
them from activating. And if that made our brains hurt, the back-up
series, Far From Saints, was pretty funny and offered a surprising scenario
for the end of the world.
Myatt agreed to
an interview months ago. But frankly, the necessity of earning actual
money kept me from taking the time to sit down and pepper him with questions.
In the meantime, Second 2 Some took the next cool step of actually offering
their next series, Fade From Blue, at 1980's prices. And they sent us
an early preview copy of the first issue, which will be covered here
This week, however,
the proverbial bullet was bit, and Myatt and I exchanged a few words
(all nice and friendly). So ladies and gentlemen (at least, he hopes
there are some ladies reading this), the Fanboy Planet interview with
How'd you go from writer for Maxim and Men's Health (among others) to
comic book writer?
Well, I still do both. Writing features for magazines is still my 9
to 5 job, while writing for Second 2 Some Studios has become everything
in between. I think the only similarities are the schedules and the
opinions. Writing for magazines taught me to make deadlines and take
criticism, but the two are so completely different from one another.
I met Chris Rhoads
(The artist on Two Over Ten #1-3) when I was working for Men's
Health. During lunch breaks, we would bang out story plots and began
developing an 8-page story about Shang-Chi (Marvel's Master of Kung
Fu). It was a bizarre story that had Shang brooding in a hospital
room where a very sick Fu Manchu (Shang's father and main rival) was
laid up dying of pancreatic cancer. Realizing his demise, Fu had staged
the ultimate stroke against Shang to destroy his reputation before he
was too weak to think, a plan that obviously worked because Shang is
describing it in flashback panels as he yells angrily at Fu.
The plot is too
convoluted to describe here, but in the end, you realize that Fu never
set up this elaborate scheme to get in the last stroke at Shang before
he died…he did it because he didn't want to die in a way that wasn't
befitting of his greatness. So he does something he knows will finally
cause Shang to snap and take his life. It was tragic, it was brutal…and
then we realized, it was someone else's characters!!! That's when we
decided to focus on something we could actually print. Two Over Ten
was born right after that
attracted you to comics? Why not short stories, novels, or even screenplays?
MM: I think
I got into writing comics for the exact same reason every other writer
and artist has. It definitely taps that childhood obsession every reader
has with making their own comic and telling their own story. However,
I also enjoy the "storyboard storytelling" element, which lets YOU tell
YOUR story EXACTLY as you want it to be told.
I read a lot of
novels by authors who amaze me with their ability to weave incredible
stories, but I've also thought that the full impact any book can have
on a reader is limited to how far the reader's imagination will take
them. I could have written these stories as screenplays, but the chance
of anyone else ever seeing them would be dependent on getting a break
Comic books essentially
ARE screenplays with all the storyboards already done. It's all the
controlled visualization of the movies without needing a big break or
a bigger budget. That's why I believe that comics will never die. There
are too many creators that rely on the forum for getting their message
out there, even if the audience isn't as large as it once was.
independents start up and have a heck of a time getting attention. I've
talked to a couple that had to fight for even limited distribution.
But you seem to have hit a good stride out of the gate, even getting
house ads from Comicraft and Image. What did you do to gain immediate
notice from distributors and other companies within the industry?
not too proud to beg, bribe or wash (Diamond Distribution's President
Steve) Geppi's car. Actually, we had all five issues of Two Over
Ten completely finished before we ever approached Diamond. I had
read somewhere that the one of the biggest problems Diamond has with
new unknown publishers is being able to trust they can deliver what
they promise. And I don't blame them. If many of the bigger publishers
have a hard time meeting their deadlines, then how can you believe someone
that claims they have a great product that Diamond must absolutely stand
behind. We didn't want Diamond to discount us based on that, so we worked
hard to have Two Over Ten done before we made contact. I would
encourage any publisher to do the same if it's possible.
doing your best to participate in Free Comics Day with the $1 first
issue of Fade From Blue. Is Second 2 Some on a track to bring
new readership into comics, or content with a percentage of the existing
MM: I believe
there's a certain section of the already existent comic book fans that
we'll pull in, but we definitely hope to pull in some new readers as
well. Fade From Blue is a story that should attract both male,
and more importantly, female readers alike. One person that reviewed
the comic called it the "comic to get your girlfriend into comics",
which I thought was pretty fitting.
As for offering
the first issue for $1, we wished we could offer readers something free
on that day, especially because Fade From Blue #1 is scheduled
to be released on the same week. That's why we thought giving the comic
a lower, friendlier cover price may help retailers in a different way.
If Free Comics
Day works as we hope it does, many new customers will be milling around.
That means the comics on sale that week are going to be their first
experience with how powerful comic books are as a story-telling medium.
The Spider-Man movie and free merchandise may make a lot of curious
readers stop by, but if the current issues ON the shelves that month
aren't also doing their part to peak interest and be instantly accessible
to new readers, the full effects of Free Comics Day may never be realized.
Lowering our price
may cause us to lose money, but if it helps retailers catch the attention
of the cost-considerate consumer, then it's done its job. Hopefully,
other smaller publishers that can't afford to supply copies nationwide
but still want to make a national impact may consider the same cost-cutting
approach next year.
else are you trying to catch new readers' attention?
the consistent lower cover price and having a story angle that should
attract as many female readers for its subject matter as it does male
readers for its sarcasm, each issue of Fade From Blue will also
feature something no other comic has tried before, a two-page column
called Christa's Corner.
One of the characters
in Fade is a freelance relationship writer named Christa, a sarcastic,
bitter young woman who can verbally hand you your ass without a second
thought. What we decided to do is show the type of articles she writes
by giving the reader a taste of her column. Each issue will feature
some of Christa's witty prose, articles that will actually be ghost
written by some of the nation's leading relationship writers for Cosmo,
Glamour and Maxim.
The last positive
step is hope to make a retailer's job easier. It's not fair to expect
retailers to take a risk on every book they order without knowing if
they have a customer for it. Several completed pages from each new issue
of Fade From Blue will be accessible on our
website two months before actually hitting the stands, allowing
a retailer and the reader to see what they are about to order from the
catalog (while giving them the peace of mind that it's well enough along
to come out on time).
do you think should be done to revitalize the comics industry - or do
you think it already has been?
MM: I think
we have to expand the market by offering more and more diversity, plain
and simple. Right now, it caters to certain segments of the population
and doesn't offer enough to other types of readers.
I think the other
area that could use some work is the pricing. Almost every other industry
will lower prices when things are bad to get more people to experience
their product. I don't think our industry does that enough. As a comic
book fan, I've always wished that the prices were lower so that I could
buy and read more titles. As a publisher, it's hard to still hold onto
that view if you're not at least doing something about it. That's why
we decided to stay true to offering Fade From Blue #2 and beyond
for just $1.50, half of the industry standard for indies.
has the reception for Two Over Ten been?
response has been really surprising and very positive. The one mistake
we made was not giving readers catching the series in the middle some
sort of primer. But anyone that has read all five issues has really
enjoyed the books. We've had editors from different publishers contact
us to say they really like it, which is flattering and great to hear.
We've also gotten
a lot of reorders from our distributors now that all five issues are
out, so we decided to take the last remaining first prints of the books
and reissue the entire series in a limited set of 500 copies in June
2002, with each set signed by myself and both artists on the book, Chris
Rhoads and Scott Dalrymple. To stay true with our lower price policy,
we're offering all five issues at cover price. I believe the total is
$15. Once they're gone, we don't plan on a second printing. Instead,
we will be re-launching the entire series as a trade paperback, which
will also be cheaper than most trades out there.
around in my old e-mails, I found an announcement of your undercover
research, before I had any clue what was going on with you guys. So
what can you tell me about that experience? Any particularly intense
moments involved with that research? How did that end up shaping your
MM: As a
magazine writer, I've had the chance to do some pretty silly stuff,
from being thrown into a mock POW camp to hanging with drug agents.
These experiences gave me the chance to talk to officers, soldiers and
such about tools and tricks in their professions. A couple of those
elements are described in the comics, but not as many as we originally
thought we would use.
In issue #2 of
Two Over Ten, a few crime lords are discussing how to smuggle
money into the country using wire bras, which apparently make money
look like fabric when laid over bills that are placed on their sides.
Many people probably don't realize that if you're caught smuggling money
into the country, you can simply disavow knowing about it and simply
walk away without being arrested. Minus the money, of course.
I learned this
from an undercover officer I met that works in immigration airport security.
There are a few more of those things in our books, but it doesn't shape
the storyline too much. We don't want it to read like something The
History Channel would produce; we just wanted to add a few realistic
details to the plot.
series ends on an open note. Are you planning to revisit it, or will
Second 2 Some just keep jumping around concepts?
love to do Two Over Ten again, but not right away. I ended the
series with a definite finality yet an opportunity to keep going in
a very X-Files/Quantum Leap-esque way. The main threat of the
story was the child, and even though his threat is subdued for now,
he's still very much alive and so is what makes him dangerous to all
of us. At the end of the book, the main hero (Brenden Wynne) sets off
to help Casey, but he's really using her to save his son. If she finds
out what he's doing, he's probably going to die, either by her hand
or the other mysterious woman anyone that's read the series knows about.
Either way, he's screwed and it's a race against time. One day, we'll
revisit it, because there are an infinite amount of stories that can
be told thanks to the way we ended it.
chance of Far From Saints (the back-up story in Two Over Ten)
getting its own series?
I'd love that too. The series received a lot of praise, even by the
few reviewers that thought Two Over Ten was too complex. It's
the story of a jerk that decides to pack it in and drive halfway across
the country after losing his job and girlfriend. When he arrives at
a copy store in the middle of the desert, he grabs a soda, only to find
out he supposedly a co-owner of the joint. What he soon finds out is
that he's just arrived as his new job…as God.
As it stands right
now, we will be compiling all five back-up stories (which make up one
30-page tale) and offering a Far From Saints One-Shot in August
2002 to test the waters. Scott Dalrymple and I had a lot of fun on that
story, so it would be great to go back to that one as well. That's why
we ended it just like Two Over Ten, with the option to continue
it down the road.
series is pretty wise-assed; how does it tie in with your own beliefs?
are definitely a few snippets of my own religious theories, but hey,
before your readers think Far From Saints is one of those pamphlets
bald guys in robes hand out at airports, it's definitely not too religious.
I personally believe in all religions, so long as whichever one you
choose helps you get to that same spiritual place. That's why I wrote
the series, which has the reader discover that God, Buddha, etc decided
he/she was sick of taking the blame from Mankind and places a bunch
of losers at the helm in his/her place. Dorian, the main character,
is the king of the losers but even though he's not very lovable, he
does end up saving Mankind in the end.
Two Over Ten started with the girl Casey, but it really felt like
you were more comfortable writing Brenden, and the series shifted to
reflect that. So with Fade From Blue, why do a series about four
that's a really interesting observation that I hadn't really thought
about before, but now that I look at it, I think the shift to Brenden
was unconsciously intentional. Casey was written with more depth in
the beginning, issues #1 and #2, because I wanted the reader to feel
sympathy for her character and for what she had to do, which was to
destroy the child causing all the chaos. Then I shifted the focus on
Brenden, the father, so the reader could start to feel sympathy for
him in issues #3 and #4. The last issue went back and forth between
the two, which hopefully put the reader at odds with themselves over
who they thought was doing the right thing. It's really a tragic story
for all the characters involved.
Fade From Blue
was created out of the fact that I wanted to write something that wasn't
rooted in science fiction, like Two Over Ten, or historical fantasy,
like Far From Saints.
Fade from Blue
#1 is the story of four half-sisters who share the same missing
polygamist father. Brought together by the tragic deaths of each of
their mothers, the four form a family of their own while waiting for
their Daddy to return. Nine years later, the truth of what really happened
in the past threatens to unravel the existence they've created for themselves
in the future. And expose the lies they've been keeping from each other
all this time.
I wanted to simply
write a reality-based story that both men and women readers alike would
enjoy. I think women have a harder time finding themselves in what's
offered in comics today, so we chose our next project to be something
that would at least add one more option for them besides storylines
that are ONLY geared for women. Men and women watch Friends,
men and women watch Survivor, so we thought a comic book that
had something to offer both sexes was sorely needed.
got some anonymous "relationship" writers contributing Christa's columns.
How much are they influencing you in writing the actual series?
MM: To get
those writers onboard, they were each shown previews of the first issue.
Each definitely had their points to add about the characters and a lot
of those ideas, from clothing suggestions to their slang, were definitely
considered and added. But the plot and story are definitely still all
DM: So what
does Second 2 Some have planned for beyond this?
we have already pencilled and written the first eight issues of Fade
From Blue at this point, so the main focus is staying on target
and producing the series on a bi-monthly basis. In between issues, we'll
be reintroducing Two Over Ten and Far From Saints as I
mentioned, but we're anxious to stay the course on a regular book and
work on building a fan base, listening to what the readers think and
trying to give them what they haven't seen before.
you be collecting these into trade paperbacks?
the first ten issues of Fade From Blue take place in the span
of just one week. Once they're out, we would like to see them all collected
in trade form to make it easier to introduce new readers that are more
trade-savvy to the story.
now you're writing everything, with a couple of artists. Do you intend
to expand Second 2 Some? When do you become a McFarlane or Silvestri?
MM: I have
a lot of ideas but definitely not enough time to do them all. Some I
would love to have others run with the ball to see how they could develop
them. Others were born out of experiences that wouldn't feel right having
anyone else write them but me. But right now, Fade From Blue
is definitely our primary focus and we really want to stay dedicated
you planning to sell out to Hollywood?
would I, but not for the reason that you may think. It would be fantastic
to see the stories inside Two Over Ten and Fade From Blue
shown in a different forum.
I know some people
look at having their properties transformed into movies as copping out,
but I think Hollywood has become one of the most effective tools for
comic book readers to use in proving just how powerful our medium is.
I love being able to silence people that think they wouldn't be into
comic books by telling them the movies they like (Men In Black, Blade,
From Hell, etc.) were comic books before they ever saw the big screen.
more comic books we can get on the big screen, the more people we'll
be able to get into comics. I think we as an industry, and that includes
the fans, need to stick behind each other and not look at each attempt
on the big screen as a cop-out, but as a chance to prove to the rest
of the world that we're in tune to a medium that's always been and always
will be on the cutting edge of creativity.
phone rings. It's one of the Big Publishers. In the back of your mind,
whose toys do you really want to play with?
most definitely DC Vertigo. Most of the ideas I have stored away lean
more towards realistic fantasy, so being able to get any of those ideas
to see the light of day would be a thrill. Before Fade From Blue,
Dalrymple and I were about to work on a twisted project that was perfect
for their line of books, then 100 Bullets came out. The story
idea we had wasn't exactly the same, but dealt with a limited amount
of bodies instead of bullets, so we scrapped it.
last words of encouragement, wisdom, or self-aggrandizement?
this is a comic book reader. That means that everyone reading this has
the same dream of doing their own comic. If you have a story to tell
and can't find anyone to publish it, do it yourself. The comic book
industry is one that needs new, fresh ideas and chances are, you're
the one with the idea they need most…but they'll never know what they've
been missing unless they see it first.
Definitely check out the Second2Some site and tell 'em Fanboy Planet sent you.