“I hate naming things… comics titles, characters…sound effects…testicles…” Matt Garvey on why he called his new comic, Untitled Generic Space Comedy
For his follow up to the award-wining Red Rocket Comet, Matt Garvey has blasted into space for a tale of two slackers space truckers who find out their intergalactic dream isn’t quite what the movies led them to believe. We catch up with Matt to find out more about what makes him laugh, and why he couldn’t be bothered to come up with a proper title.
Your new book Untitled Generic Space Comedy is about to be released, can you tell us a bit about it? And could you not be bothered to come up with a proper title for it?
Matt Garvey: Yeah, sure… it’s set in the not too distant future, when the Earth has been invited to join the federation of planets and given warp technology. So, two average Joes (neither actually called Joe…Scott and Jim) head off into space to live the adventure of a lifetime. We catch up with them about six months in when they realise space isn’t as much fun as they thought it would be… in fact it’s just as mundane as life on Earth was. That’s the premise in a nutshell without giving too much away!
As for the title… I hate naming things… comics titles, characters…sound effects…testicles…
The title was actually my “hold title” I used while writing until I could think of something better… I liked it because it was so stupid it made me chuckle… but I didn’t think it was THAT funny and I was positive no one else would find it funny either.
But when I sent the script to John (McFarlane) he insisted we keep it because it WAS funny…then when I started posting teasers on twitter loads of people started demanding thats what the title must be. So it turns out I am actually good at naming stuff!
The book feels like a real step up in terms of ambition, is this part of a plan for world domination?
MG: Does it?! I just thought it was a funny idea for a comic…
When John and I decided we want to make a comic together he said he wanted to draw cockpits… that was his ONLY stipulation and if I’m honest…he had me at cock.
So, I just started coming up with ideas for a comedy in space… I haven’t written comedy since Chunks and I wanted to see if I could write another funny comedy that just didn’t feel like ‘CHUNKS iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin space’.
As for world domination… you know me, I’m just happy making the comics I would want to buy… I have no delusions of grandeur about what I want out of comics. I just wanna tell stories…plus I get to work with amazing artists like John and Allison…which is awesome!
How important is humour for your work, and what are the challenges to writing an out and out comedy, compared to just adding a few gags along the way – this feels more like Chunks than your other books?
MG: Oh, incredibly…I love comedy. I’m sure I’ve said this before…my two favourite things are comics (the paper kind) and Comics (the stand-up kind). I’ve always wanted to try stand up, but I can’t tell jokes… I can write them… but I’m useless and telling them because my timing…
is really bad.
I love writing jokes and getting to do an out and out comedy comic…its soooo much fun.
The biggest challenge is… it has to be funny… which i know is obvious… but how many times have you watched a film that is meant to be a comedy and you haven’t laughed once?
Humour is very subjective and you need to know your audience… same with stand up… I saw an interview with Larry David once and he said some nights he’d walk on stage look at the audience and just go “Nah…you won’t get it” and walk off.
So, writing an out and out comic is tough…how many jokes is enough…if I put too many in does it feel like i am trying too hard, just cramming crap jokes in for cheap yuks. It’s finding that balance.
What I try to do is (the same as I did with CHUNKS)… I’ll try to make the reader laugh every four pages…. that way you get to tell a story too. The problem is, I might only have one or two jokes prepped before hand… so I have to hope the comedy will flow naturally as i write and more jokes will come.
It’s another reason why I letter my own comics… I sometimes think of better gags after the fact.
Case in point, there is a shape of water joke in there which I wrote as I was lettering.
You have a cover by the fantastic Rob Guillory, can you tell us a bit about how that came about – and why him? Are you a big fan of Chew and Farmhand or was his style just the right fit for the book?
MG: Oooooooooh i loved CHEW….that comic was awesome. How the cover came about was, i was asked to give a talk at Staffordshire Uni to the students doing their comic making course students and i wanted to show that just having a talented artist on your comic isn’t enough…it has to be the RIGHT artist to match the style.
So, I compared CHEW to Wytches…both Jock and Rob are amazing artists, but if they did each other’s books, i don’t think they would work. Yes, they both look cool…but would it match the style of the story…nope (in my opinion)
So, i contracted them both and asked if i could use some images from their books in my talk and they both said yes. Then I had this idea… I thought well it won’t hurt to ask. I asked Rob if he would be interested in doing a cover for a comic, he said yes…told me how much it would be and i paid him.
BUT…that comic wasn’t Untitled Generic Space Comedy!
It was another comic I was working on that sadly didn’t happen (but hopefully soon), so Rob being the legend that is kindly let me “bank” that money with him and when I had a comic that I thought his style would match to contact him again… then the other month i mentioned UGSC and it was done!
And how did you meet up with artist John McFarlane – what was it about his work which you thought would be the right fit for UGSC?
MG: The strange thing is, i kinda met John via his other half Tara O’Connor, who is also an amazing artist (go check her comic ROOTS its cool). I was following her on twitter… and she kindly followed back and one day for some reason we were talking about giant spiders that lived in our houses on twitter… and then John joined the conversation and I took an instant liking to him. He is lovely.
It’s not a Bromance…i swear!
From time to time he’d ask my opinion on his art and one day we both said we should work together… then i said HELL YEAH because he is a fantastic artist. But I had nothing in my pool of scripts that I thought would match, but I really wanted to work with him, so I asked him what he wanted to draw and as I said before he wanted to draw cock…..pits…so i wrote UGSC with him in mind
What kind of books and films inspired Untitled Generic Space Comedy – I can see elements of things like Spaceballs as well as a bit of Clerks maybe?
MG: I Love SPACEBALLS! People always say to me…StarWars or Star Trek? And my standard answer is neither…SPACEBALLS… every time.
In fact at the beginning of the comic Jim is wearing a Spaceballs t-shirt.
I’m a huge Mel Brooks fan… because his films are just silly… I’m silly too… I think. Never really thought of the clerks connection… but I am a huge fan of Kevin Smith’s work… so, I am incredibly flattered…thank you! 😄
The characters are kinda… ever so slightly… loosely based on me and my best friend who i met at uni… and despite having a slightly similar look…Scott’s personality isn’t based on me. I was more like Jim when i was at Uni and my buddy “Scott” was always the life and soul of the party and helped bring me out of my shell…so you can all blame him.
I know you are always keen to avoid books which have a similar tone (you said you avoided Criminal when writing white NOIR), so are there any books you are avoiding for this one?
MG: NOPE…I’m not aware of any comics that are out and out comedies…if so point me in their direction because I want to read them.
MG: You won’t be seeing more Red Rocket, but I am working on an equal…not a sequel called Glass Hood. Grayham is back again with me on that one, along with an amazing Italian artist called Stefano Pavan doing the flashback stuff. Again its about a hero and his old nemesis meeting… but is a VERY different story… a real gut punch… I cried writing it… I don’t want to spoil it so i’ll say no more. But there are more twists in that one too.
I’ve also got loads of other new comics coming out soon. I got the first two issues of a comic called PREY FOR US with J Francis Totti on art…it’s basically JAWS in the jungle!
I have my supervillain prison comic THE CAGE with Dean Kotza, Lucky Me with Jess Taylor, And all ages horror (yep…me…all ages) comic called Camp Bleth with Rosie Hague and a Western I’ve just finished coming soon…
All those with hopefully some follow up issues of my existing titles…so i am a very busy boy!
You can purchase Untitled Generic Space Comedy #1 along with all of Matt’s other titles at mattgarvey.bigcartel.com