Comic Interview: Matthew J. Fletcher

I had the pleasure of talking to artist Matthew J. Fletcher at WizardWorld in Philadelphia. Below is the interview that I had with him.

Tell us a little about your artistic training.
I attended Southern Connecticut State University.  A state school that has a very good teaching program and not much else.  I originally was going to school to become a Special Education teacher.  I had worked with children with special needs all growing up, and had an affinity toward teaching, so it made sense to me.  Any 2nd thoughts I might have had about pursuing a career in art, or attending an art school instead were drowned out by the silence coming from my art teachers.  I had always thought that I was a decent enough artist, but as is typical of artists in general, especially at that age, I lacked the confidence to pursue my passion without some much needed support/direction.  Upon the completion of my sophomore year at Southern, I realized that I did not want to be a teacher and switched my major to Studio Art.  I could (should?) have transferred to art school at that point, but a combination of not wanting to lose credits, and lingering doubt about my ability to actually pull it off kept me at Southern.  However, it wasn’t all bad.  Southern is where Chris Uminga and I first met and became friends.  We took that art building over and really did our own thing with the art program there.

Which previous work of yours are you the most proud of?
Wow…well, I don’t know if there is any one piece that I am truly PROUD of.  I always see the flaws in my own work too clearly.  However, a few years ago, I was starting to get really bored with my work, and in an effort to reenergize my art and my style, I did a series of pieces just in ink and graphite, and out of that series spawned a great many things, including some original characters that I have been developing a story for.  It was a nice reminder that nothing bad ever comes from pushing your boundaries.

What work do you have upcoming?
I am currently working on a graphic novel titled 7th Voyage for Red Stylo Media.  The preview issue was just launched at SDCC and the first full book of 50+ pages will be coming out later this year.  It’s historical fiction, I suppose.  The backdrop for the story is 15th century China.  The Emperor is sending his most trusted admiral, the eunuch Zheng He, out on a most important voyage, which is where the story picks up.  It truly is a great story.  Action/Adventure/Love/Political Espionage…it’s got everything you could possibly want.

Who are your major influences in the industry?
I actually draw quite a bit of influence from outside the comic industry.  I think it’s important to be a well rounded artist, because it’s so easy to get locked into one “look” in comics.  Within the industry – I would say Humberto Ramos, Rafael Albuquerque and Eric Canete.  Outside the industry – I would have to say Francis Bacon and Caspar David Friedrich.  Then you have that group of artists that toe the line of where they “belong”…I just love their work – Ashley Wood, Jim Mahfood, Shepard Fairey,

Is there someone from the industry that you would like to work with?
This is always an impossible question to answer.  I’m an artist, so I look up to and am influenced by other artists.  Only problem is, as an artist in comics, you rarely get to work “with” another artist.  Passion is key.  If it’s a story that I am passionate about, and the writer/collaborator is also passionate about it, and you’re both moving inthe same direction, then chances are good that it’s going to be a great team.

What are your thoughts on the comic book industry these days?
Honestly, I don’t get to read that much anymore.  It’s extremely expensive, and so many of the books/ideas have been watered down.  There are books I collect because I love the characters, almost regardless of which creators are working on it (X-men, Uncanny, Wolverine), and then there are the books that I just love to read and look at (Hellboy, BPRD, Goon, American Vampire, PRJ).

Any last thoughts that you would like to leave your fans with?
Yes…THANK YOU!  Every single one of you.  It’s because of our fans that we get to do what we do.

Also, don’t forget to check out STATION! studios.  It’s an art group I’m in with Chris Uminga, Chrissie Zullo, Sara Richard, and Billy Fowler.  Tons of talent in this group.  We’re going to be doing big things.

Twitter: @fletcher720
7th Voyage: www.facebook. com/7thVoyage