I was fortunate enough to meet Michael Matthes by chance while working at the Bohemian Biergarten. A co-worker of mine would always go off about how great of friends we could be since Matthes and I both loved nerdy things and anime. Well wouldn’t you know it, one day I came in wearing a t-shirt with a Rattata (it’s a Pokemon, google it) firing an AK when he was working and it has been nerd love ever since. Love at first t-shirt I guess you could say? From that point on the two of us would always make a point to chat each other up about all things gaming and comic related in order to pass the time at work. The Biergarten was always a shit show, so there was always a way to squeeze in a good bit of down time.
In these moments, at least whenever he wasn’t trying to convince me of my future career in erotic anime fan-fiction, I got to engage with Matthes’ immense creativity. The guy definitely knows his way around a pen and a pad of paper. I still to this day watch in awe as his pen glides across blank white pages creating all manner of bizarre characters and rich landscapes as he spoke about his favorite animations and how he hopes to one day break out into the field.
Michael is honestly one of the best illustrators that I have had the pleasure of knowing. He and I recently have come together to work on a post-apocalyptic steampunk western comic that we hope to begin releasing by the end of this year/beginning of next year. I’ve been working diligently with the story for a few months while he has pumped out page after page of concept art. When we started talking about the comic we dove into a vast variety of weird and potential locales and characters. We would sit, smoke, and just begin tossing out ideas for the story every time we got together and all the while Matthes would draw out page after page of character designs. We feel in love with the idea of doing a comic book series almost immediately.
Originally the comic was going to contain outer rim worlds, lizard people, robots, talking monkey hallucinations, steampunk horses, and more oddities than either of us were capable of handling story-wise. We settled on doing a cool western with a kick-ass bounty hunter protagonist and a talking kangaroo with a British accent (it will all make so much sense when you read the comic, I swear). The first issue has been progressing slowly, but it has been a pleasure to work with him every step of the way. The opportunity to blend words and art with this man has been one of the more exciting ventures for me.
I think the one thing that stands out about Matthes the most to me is his flexibility and versatility as an artist and creator. Not only is he a phenomenal illustrator, he is also an experienced and talented musician whom Bouldering Poets will have the pleasure of featuring this month. Similar to his illustration and animation pursuits, Matthes likes to explore and get his hands on any genre of music he can.
He is a pretty exceptional guitar player and I often have the pleasure of hearing him play rifts on the guitar in between story boarding sessions. Michael also likes to dabble in rap and hip-hop and one day wants to branch out into “nerdcore” with his good friend Miles. This Sunday, however, at 303 Vodka he will be performing his first show with new found band Launch Octopus! The band consists of Matthes himself along with guitarist David Bridges and bassist Taylor Tuke. As Matthes would describe it, the band was “forged in the digital flames of 8-bit technology.” I can only imagine the funky and retro tunes they have in store for us this weekend!
I encourage anyone who is looking for a local artist to do some graphic work, an amazing guitarist to jam, or just a good friend to geek out with to speak to this man. I took the opportunity a year ago and I haven’t regretted it since. Michael Matthes is a nerd down to the marrow, an incredible artist, and a friend I hope to keep well into the future.
Michael Matthes will be the musical feature at this months’ Bouldering Poets, Sunday November 9th at 303 Vodka (2500 47th st)