Menton J. Matthews III isn’t a household name – yet. But with multiple comic books in the works, a passion to create, and a style that redefines the word unique, we here at PoP! can’t help but wonder…
PoP!: Should we know you, Menton J. Matthews III?
M3: I must answer that as honestly as I can, and say no. Then again, what ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ one do? I am overwhelmed with exhilaration to be able to work in comics at all, which by itself is very fulfilling , but I am not pursuing this for fame or fortune; rather I am trying to make art for an entirely different reason altogether. I am not saying if these things come along with it, that they would not be very welcomed, but they are in no way my main goal.
So in the end, you should know me just as much as I should know you.
PoP!: Actually, we’re pretty awesome. Everyone should know us. Waitaminute! I see what you did there…
Alright, assuming our readers DON’T know you (for shame!) let’s cover some of the basics. First and foremost, you work in oil paints and I understand you make your own brushes and paints – you DO know that you can buy just about anything on the Internet these days, right?
M3: Ha ha ! This is a topic I could almost write a very boring book on, so I will try to be short. First off I do not make all of my paints and brushes. In fact I have only made one brush, and I do buy a great deal of materials off the web. Now, that being said, I am not a big fan of most of the common place materials available for artists nowadays. What is offered for the most part today are cheap knockoff’s of what oil paint should and can be.
There is nothing like painting with something real such as true lapis pigment (editor’s note: that’s Lapis lazuli, don’t worry, I had to look it up too), once you see how each pigment is its own individual, applying in its unique way, blending in its own way, you quickly understand why paintings you see in great museums look so much different than modern paintings. And that is just the pigments , we can also go into the oil itself. Most modern oil paint only uses linseed oil IF you’re lucky; there are many other oils that can be used such as poppy or clove, and each oil changes how the pigment interacts with everything else – not to go into changing the drying time and a great deal of other aspects of painting. When making your own paint there are countless possibilities.
PoP!: You just gave me nerd wood for art supplies, which is a sentence I never thought I’d type. Now I really regret not having sought you out at C2E2. But I understand from friends who did that in person, you’re able to use the paints to create a great sense of depth and texture in your works, even when they’re ultimately going to end up relegated to two dimensions on a comic book page. Is it at all frustrating to see your art lose its third dimension before reaching mass consumption? If so, why take such an approach?
M3: I feel that at lest the imprint of most of the textures is still there in print. Don’t get me wrong, I do not feel that you can ever truly scan or print a painting, you’re always going to lose something, but it is not really something that bothers me too much.
PoP!: Good to know that there isn’t much that gets lost is translation.
Of course, before you can translate your paintings to the page, you first have to translate your ideas into paint. C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying that writing for him was like looking into another world and telling a story he was seeing unfold before him; that the hardest part about writing was explaining everything that happened in between the scenes he’d borne witness to. How does this equate to how you create your art?
M3: I think that is a perfect articulation of what some projects are like. Not to sound “New Age”-y, but I get a great deal of my ideas from meditating, so it really is not a matter of creating something as much as it is trying to paint what I ‘see’ or ‘saw’.
PoP!: So then, why comics as a means of expression? Your artistic style is such that I’m sure comic books are far from the only avenue open to you.
M3: Well, first and foremost, I love comics. When I was a kid, they were my friends, and I more or less lived in them. When I was a kid, making comics was my dream – I wanted nothing else but to make comics.
I do think comics get a bad rap, people thinking of them as “funny books” and whatnot. But when you think about it, what else is the Sistine Chapel but an amazing graphic novel painted all over the walls? I see comics as modern mythology and believe they can be a true expression of art. I mean, look at Bill Sienkiewicz, Ashley Wood, Phil Hale, and George Pratt to name a few. No one is going to be able to tell me that what they are doing is not true art.
In the “art gallery world,” one almost has to justify why you think you are “good” enough to be an artist. There are some really silly things I have seen go on in that world, among them being an overwhelming obligation to do something “original.” The way I see that is very close to how I see music, you’re never going to put two notes together that have not been put together before. But you can add your own voice to those notes. To me it is less about originality and more about, “Do you have anything to really say?”
The closest we get to a gallery show in the comic world are conventions, where people just want to see something cool. People there just want to see art that moves them. Which is my definition of art – does it move me? I will admit that comic art can fall into the world that I call illustration. To me, with an illustrator, you have all the lines in the right place and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what you’re looking at is an apple. With an artist, you feel the apple, regardless of whether all the lines are in the right place or not. But there are some amazing artists out there doing comics as well.
PoP!: Well I certainly think it’s evident from your body of work that you have something to say. So far, you’ve worked on Proof #25 for Image, Zombies vs. Robots for IDW, and your own self-published book, Ars Memoria. Can you give our readers a little background on some of what you’ve “said” here?
M3: Wow, this could be a long answer so I will try to keep it short.
I just did a pin up in the back of Proof #25; that was my first published work. I really am a big fan of that book by then-artist Riley Rossmo and the writer Alex Grecian. Me and Alex have been developing a project as well. It was a real honor to be in that book.
ZVR with Chris Ryall at IDW was – simply put – a dream come true. I really did not believe that was really going to happen till I paid for a copy of it at my local comic store in Chicago. Working with Ryall was an amazing experience; he is an exceptional writer and the best editor any artist could ask for. That was pure fun from beginning to end. But I do have to say that was my first real work in comics and I did not really know what I was doing fully (still don’t ha ha), so there are things I wish I could change about my work in that book but I learned a great deal.
Ars Memoria… well that book is a long, long story. More or less when I made the life changing choice to completely change my career and try to move into trying to make artwork and do comics, I did not want to just sit around and wait for a hand out, so I made the choice to self-publish my own comic. So I was not just talking about making comics, but I was doing it – if anyone cared or not. I will say if I could go back in time I would pick another story to do first due to the personal nature of that book. Making that book was the hardest thing I have yet to do in my life. If you have any kind of education in iconography at all I am pretty naked in that book. There will be sixteen books in that series and it is pretty much a life long endeavor and/or goal to complete that whole story and stay honest with it.
PoP!: Wow. Certainly seems an ambitious undertaking, especially as it’s not the only thing you’re working on, I’m sure. Anything on the horizon you might be able to tease? Anything in particular you’d love to work on in the future?
M3: Well, most of what I am working on right now is under non-disclosure agreements, so I can not really talk about any of that.
I can say I am doing a full book with IDW, which will be announced in the August issue of Previews. I will be doing all the artwork for that book, cover… etc. and I am extremely excited about the book as a whole. I love the story and the writer and can not wait for people to see the work we have done on this.
I’ve been doing a few other things at IDW as well – there is a super large crazy project I am working on right now with them, but it is a very different kind of project, and I have no idea when they will release any information about that project.
I have a pin up in the third issue of Wire Hangers, and I just did my first cover for IDW, but I can not say what it is as of yet.
PoP!: Menton J. Matthews III – international man of mystery! Okay, so maybe you’re no spy, but… on top of the insanely beautiful and beautifully insane work you do on a canvas, you also create music? Which do you find allows you to express yourself best?
M3: That is a really hard question to answer. To be honest, overall, I have to say that the last year of my life working in comics and making visual art have been the most fulfilling of my life. This was my dream as a kid, and living it is truly amazing.
PoP!: What more can one ask for than to live out their dream? Well, I mean, aside from being featured on PoP! of course.
So, if our readers walk away from reading this interview with one prevailing thought associated with the name Menton J. Matthews III, what would you want that to be?
PoP!: Hey, we’ve built a brand on pretentious and silly! Alright, it’s plug time – some members of the PoP!ulation met you at C2E2 in Chicago back in April… where else can our readers find you to experience your work firsthand?
M3: I will be at NYCC, the next Chicago con… forgot what they are calling that now – Wizard con? And I will be at DragonCon in Atlanta.
PoP!: So there you have it, PoP!ulation. For all your M3 needs, be sure to check out:
And of course, as always, for all your 3M needs, be sure to check out Staples. Should we know you? Do you know someone we should? Send us an e-mail at email@example.com.