Greetings, folks. Ambush Bug here with another interview I conducted at the San Diego Comic Con. Special thanks to AICN’s unsung hero, Muldoon, for transcribing all of these back and forthings. Expect a ton of interviews to be released daily until my interview well is dry (and believe me, it’s going to be a while after this con). Here we have an interview with a guy I’m sure everyone will know come this time next year. Menton 3 is an extremely talented painter who is on the verge of an explosion with his hot new miniseries MONOCYTE (which he both wrote and painted) coming out from IDW Publishing, plus he’s got a few miniseries coming out later in the year with horror-meister Steve Niles. Menton had a chance to sit down and talk about these project, his unique name, and his artistic process. The interview started off a little ominously with it being the 13th interview I did at the con. Here’s what happened…
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): All right, we are. Interview Lucky Number 13 here at Comic Con.
MENTON 3: That’s terrible!
BUG: (Laughs) I always thought 13 was lucky, should I skip on to the next one?
M3: Yeah, yeah.
BUG: Okay, we are stopping…
…okay, and now we’re starting again with interview fourteen! Better?
M3: Okay, we are good now. They don’t put 13th floors on hotel rooms, there’s a reason for that you know?
BUG: Yeah, I guess. So are you superstitious?
M3: I’m not superstitious, but I kind of grew up my whole life researching as much about religions and the occult as possible and I don’t know I would call myself superstitious, but I definitely think that we don’t know everything as humans you know? Like an ant really doesn’t conceive of a human being, it’s like I don’t think we are the quintessential top consciousness on this plane of existence kind of thing. I think there is funky stuff and I think it can get translated through like weird numerology crap and other stuff you know like chaos magic you know, they have this whole thing with sigil crafting and stuff and it’s all about making the subconscious react and if you believe that 13 is unlucky, I think it’s true, if you believe it.
BUG: By the way I’m here at the IDW booth and I’m here with Menton 3. Is it Menton 3 or Menton the third? What are all of the variations that you have heard people call you?
M3: Oh jeeze, well you know “shit head” is a good one. (Laughs) No, my name is Menton John Mathews III and Chris Ryall, the editor at IDW, awesome amazing guy kind of started the M3 thing and you know I’m all like “I’ll just take it on” you know? And you know I don’t really get along with my father at all, like we don’t communicate period and I kind of don’t like being associated with him, so just “Menton 3” kind of works better for me on an ethical level, but yeah you can call me whatever you want to. “Sexy Foxy Lady” works too, you know?
BUG: I think I’ll do that throughout the interview.
M3: Okay, cool. I am a beautiful lady.
BUG: So you’ve got so many new projects coming out here; let’s talk about the first one, MONOCYTE right?
M3: Yeah, that’s my baby. I wrote that with a co-writer named Kasra Ghanbari, he’s my art rep and my best friend. Basically that started out as I got hired to do…I oil paint a lot and I got hired to do a commission of a superhero, a superhero I love and I won’t name him, but to do the commission I kind of went back and bought some of the old comics and bought some of the new comics for this guy and I was reading them and it wasn’t what I had made it in my head, it was a totally different character and I put all of this stuff on him that he just wasn’t there and I’m like “These books actually suck. This is not good at all.” I’m like “What would be a cool superhero to me nowadays as an adult and the things that I know and the things that I like, what would apply to me now?” I started placing on top of that all of the things that I thought this other superhero was and within about fifteen minutes it was just there. The basic construct of that character was just sitting in front of me and I truly felt like I knew this guy already. It was almost like a metaphysical experience, it was just sitting there ready to be brought out and so I started talking to my friends about the idea and the stuff Kasra was asking me about the book or the story was so compelling it made me think about it and so endeared me to Kasra and we just started talking about it and over the next six or seven months we just kind of wrote this out and we sat back and were kind of amazed at the story that we had come up with, because it was so bigger than us as people, like we are not smart enough to write this story you know? It’s like his subconscious and my subconscious just started making it really relevant to ourselves. Our dreams got really weird and we just got really excited about it, we just started living in that world and so we pitched it to IDW and they don’t do a lot of creator owned stuff, so we were pretty much sure they weren’t going to do it, but I’m very loyal to them; I wouldn’t take it to anybody else before taking it to them and no one would know who I am, not that anybody does know who I am, but no one would know who I am without IDW.
BUG: I think they are about to.
M3: From your mouth to God’s ears, right? So yeah we just started doing the characterization for it and putting it together and IDW is like “Yeah, this is great, let’s do it.” So it was a definite moment having my son and getting married and having IDW green light a creator owned project of mine was definitely a moment. That and Bill Sienkiwicz doing an incentive cover for this, because he’s my god and Ashley Wood did one who is also my god…it’s just been amazing. Do you want me to talk about the story at all?
BUG: Yeah, let’s hear about the story, because I’m not completely…I’ve heard just a little bit about it. It’s about immortals?
M3: To put it simply, this is an occult action adventure story about the horror of immortality. There is some social and political and religious commentary in there as well. I look around the world and I see how organized religion has done a lot of bad shit and I’m just going to say that honestly and how politics nobody really likes it there much. I mean what’s being done to us as human beings is pretty horrible and the misuse of power and you know a lot of these guys if you went to them and you really offered them “Hey, you can live forever,” they would probably take it and it’s about “What happens when that takes place?”
BUG: So the people in charge are immortals.
M3: Yeah, you can’t kill them, like George Bush is never going to die and he has power for the rest of his life, what would the world be like? The Catholic Inquisition-type people are immortal, what would happen then? So basically what happens is there is this whole political thing where they become immortal and they keep it very hush hush, very quiet, but they start misusing humans because they need humans to stay immortal. My co-writer, Kasra Ghanbari, has run biotech companies and he’s very smart about cancer and Alzheimer’s and we kind of went through and invented a way of becoming immortal that probably wouldn’t work, but scientifically makes sense with this thing called Bose Einstein Condensate. If you do any kind of research on it, it will melt your face and so our idea is these guys come along and they become immortal, well it just so happens that a vampire type kind have been around all along and they are called “antedeluvians” and I’ve got Moses as one of them right, because the Bible is kind of unspecific about whether or not Moses actually took out or not. I’m sure he’s somewhere like a huge car salesman or something and selling you anything you want. But they come up and there’s this huge uprising and for thousands and thousands of years they can’t kill each other, but they need humans as like currency and cattle and feed, so when they do war, they basically have their humans go out and fight for them, but even when those humans die they are sucked up.
Throughout this warring the Earth is dead, nothing exists, trees, plant life, everything is dead, so Death himself is horribly bored. He has nothing to do anymore, so he starts this grand scheme manipulating time and duration to bring forth this ancient necromancer to set back balance to the universe, you know? He’s manipulated all of this shit to get it back to where people are dying again. So there comes in MONOCYTE, he’s this ancient necromancer whose only wish is to die, so Death is like “Look, if you go help me restore balance back, I will finally give you what you want.” But you know lot’s of stuff happens between there and then, like the story unfolds in a lot of different ways within that construct and I’ve implemented a lot of like strange occult philosophy into it and a lot of weird stuff, but on the surface it’s still an action adventure that anybody can read and have a fun time reading. There is going to be a lot of really interesting violence in this and horrible stuff, because MONOCYTE himself can take up a skull, communicate with the thing, and send it back and do crazy stuff and he walks around in bone armor that he manipulates however he wants to manipulate. He’s covered over an eye and only sees through one eye, because he can’t bear what he sees in this world, he just wants to fucking die, right? So a lot of stuff goes on…I don’t want to give too much away from the story, but there’s a woman involved who remembers him from a long time ago and things go kind of crazy, because one of the immortals, the kind of politicians involved, they are called alonastics and he uses the rise of MONOCYTE in a very peculiar way, almost against him, and things get really crazy and rough and I don’t want to give away the ending of the book or anything, because I think people will be very surprised at how the book ends. It’s not going to be what you think it is.
BUG: And so is this a four issue series?
M3: It’s four issues, but it’s really written almost to be an ongoing. This is really just the beginning and there’s a huge back story that I kind of just went into a little bit and there’s a lot that happens after this. We’ve kind of written more than we can chew, so one of the things I‘m looking at is to try to keep this IP going and get some really other talented artists onboard and have me and Kasra continue to write if IDW is interested and so forth. This is really just the beginning of something that we really want to continue doing for a long time. We love this world you know.
BUG: So I’ve been a fan of your work ever since I saw it on the covers of SILENT HILL and all of that stuff and even before that. How long does it take you to paint your paintings? It seems like it’s such an intricate and really beautifully crafted…all of them are beautiful pieces.
M3: Thanks man. I mean first off thank you so much. You are either a great liar or your have bad taste, but the length of time it takes me has really changed over the last few years. I mean I’ve really only been painting for three years.
BUG: Really? Wow!
M3: In the beginning yeah it took a lot longer, but I can do a cover in about a day now depending on the editor. Tom Wallace is sitting over there and he’s never given me crap abut anything, I deliver covers to Tom and Tom is like “Awesome,” but there are some other people I’ve worked with that tinker and torque, so you have to do digital at that point, just because it doesn’t make any sense to do oil, but you know I make my own oil paints for the most part.
BUG: You do?
M3: Yeah, like when I use black it’s actually made from bone. The reason I paint is…you know, I bought a book from the 1400s and that’s where I learn how to paint and you know when you’ve got just pure minerals, you know hematite, lapis lazuli, bone…at that point it stops being an image and it’s like jewelry mashed together into something and that’s kind of what gets me off with painting. So digital is fun…
BUG: What’s your background in?
M3: Music. I’ve been a musician most of my life, yeah.
BUG: And you’ve only painted for like three years? Were you always an artist growing up?
M3: As a child I painted a little bit and I won some competitions and stuff, like I won this Coca Cola thing in Atlanta and I got to light this sign up with the mayor who I think was coked up at the time, so that was there and I had kind of a weird childhood and it didn’t work out and I found Robert Smith and I wanted to be a musician then you know and so I kind of left it behind, but growing up I lived in Tupelo Mississippi and I was like exorcised by churches and stuff like I had a really horrible childhood in a lot of ways and you couldn’t buy comics anywhere and there was a gun show, a flea market, that would happen once a year that there would be this one woman who would have a box of comics and one year she had STRAY TOASTERS issue #2 from Bill Sienkiewicz and I saw it and I finally realized that I was not the only insane fucker in the world, that there were other people fucked up like me, and that issue, STRAY TOASTERS issue #2 from Bill Sienkiewicz, made my life okay and I decided I wanted to make comics and I was doing a music seminar in Los Angeles and it was a bunch of kids and they thought I knew something about the music industry and I was just talking and one of the things I said was “If you didn’t want to do music when you were five, it’s not the industry for you, because it’s a rough place.” But one of the kids walked up to me afterwards and was like “Well, what did you want to do when you were five?” “I wanted to make comic books.” As that came out of my mouth I was like “Wow” and my wife was like “Yeah,” so I just quit everything in music and was like “You know I’m going to spend a year just deciding if this is something I want to do” and then I just went for it. I mean I didn’t approach editors, I didn’t approach publishers, I just made my own book called ARS MEMORIA and I just made my own book and as soon as I did that I started getting paid work and so really since that moment it’s been like a dream come true, dream come true, dream come true….like just today I was talking with Ashley Wood who knew who I was, right, and knew my artwork, I mean he did an incentive cover for us, but it was just amazing and you’re talking to Bill Sienkiewicz and Chris Ryall, it’s just like a dream come true, you know? I feel like the luckiest kid in the world. It’s just so much fun to do.
BUG: I don’t want to not be able to talk about some of your other projects. You are working with Steve Niles soon, right?
M3: Who is awesome! You hear these names and these talented guys and I’ll be honest a lot of guys in comics are pretty fucking pretentious. I won’t name names but it’s like “Dude, you make comics, you’re not in the Rolling Stones, okay?” So when we first started talking with Steve I was a little worried, because he’s talented obviously and he’s well known, so you’re a little worried. Nicest guy I think I’ve met in comics.
BUG: Yeah, he’s a great guy.
M3: And talented as shit. He was telling me these side stories the other day and I’m like “Oh my God.” Everything that comes out of his mouth is amazing. So yeah, I’m doing a book with him called VAMPIRES VS. ROBOTS and it’s kind of a wink at ZOMBIES VS. ROBOTS and I was a little worried about that, but then I read Steve’s idea and was like “This is a great idea. I would love to read that comic.” I’m a fan of Steve’s and it was like “I would love to read this. I can’t believe this.” I immediately started drawing and coming up with the robot, because one of the things was like we don’t want to rip on Ashley…no Ashley Wood bots, you know, we had to do something completely different, so I kind of immediately designed a robot and they loved it and they are like “Yeah, let’s put this out next year,” so I think it’s going to be three issues, but I don’t know. Steve was saying it might be four. And there’s another thing that me and Steve are going to be doing that I can’t talk about and then another thing that Steve and I are putting together that I can’t talk about. I guess I could say that one of them deals with Dark Horse Comics, but yeah so we are doing that and let’s see what else am I doing? Tom Wallace…
BUG: I keep hearing your name when I’m talking with people.
M3: Like “He’s doing that…” We were doing a panel the other day and they threw up a Lovecraft cover I did and I have no memory of doing the cover. I think I made an ass of myself…
BUG: Maybe you did it in your sleep?
M3: Probably, you know, but yeah I did a lot of Lovecraft stuff recently with an editor at IDW named Denton, so “Menton and Denton.” He’s a great guy, man, he really is cool and that Lovecraft book was really fun. I did a prose book where I did like twenty illustrations to Lovecraft. What a great gig that is, right?
BUG: How big are your paintings? I know you say you can do one in a day, are they pretty small like comic book cover size?”
M3: Well when I do pages they are usually about 11’’ by 17’’ and my covers are anywhere from like 18’’ by 24’’ up to like 40 inches, but you know I honestly find the smaller the painting, the better it prints, because a painting can look good on its own, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to print well.
M3: When you can see the texture of the oil paint, it’s better. So I’ve been painting kind of smaller and smaller, I mean I do some gallery stuff too and commissions where I’ll do big paintings then, but about 11’’ by 17’’.
BUG: I feel like I’m sitting with someone who next year at this time you’ll…it’s like you’re almost about to explode and everybody is going to know you.
M3: Thank you, please and you know MONOCYTE will be available in October and anybody can preorder in August and preorders are a big deal. IDW doesn’t do a lot of creator owned books. It’s a good thing, man, support it. (Laughs)
BUG: Well, I definitely will. I can’t wait to check it out.
M3: One guy preordering it is a big deal. The office here is like “Hey, one guy in Washington DC preordered your book today, one guy.”
BUG: That’s awesome.
M3: Thank you so much for this. I really appreciate it.
BUG: Be on the look out for MONOCYTE from IDW Publishing coming in October. And check out Menton3’s website here for more examples of his fantastic work. You can preorder MONCYTE from Diamond in this month’s previews (order code: AUG110362) now!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Mark is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and will be releasing FAMOUS MONSTERS first ever comic book miniseries LUNA in October order code: AUG111067 (co-written by Martin Fisher with art by Tim Rees)! Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!
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Proofs, co-edits & common sense: Sleazy G
Check out Bug’s panel Horror on the Paneled Page in its entirety from the con!!!
Ambush Bug announces his new werewolf comic LUNA on FAMOUS MONSTERS panel!!!
SJimbrowski brings back a ton of webseries news from Comic Con—Felicia Day’s DRAGON AGE REDEMPTION! MORTAL KOMBAT! & Bryan Singer’s H+ THE DIGITAL SERIES!
Bug sits for a lengthy chat with Marvel CCO Joe Quesada!
SJimbrowski reports from Felicia Day’s THE GUILD and Joss Whedon’s panels!
Bug talks with DC top brass Dan Didio & Jim Lee!
Bug talks with Fear.net’s TODD & THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL star Jason Mewes!
Bug talks with Zenescope’s Ralph Tedesco & Raven Gregory!
Keep an eye out for more interviews and special reports from SDCC 2011!
Going to be in Chicago this weekend? Chicago’s got two conventions of note worth checking out! FLASHBACK WEEKEND CHICAGO HORROR CONVENTION will be at CROWNE PLAZA CHICAGO O’HARE, 5440 N. River Road, ROSEMONT, IL 60018! Join Robert Englund, Malcolm MacDowell, Sid Haig, Lance Henricksen and more to see all of the sights, frights, stars, and nightmares there are to see at this Chicago’s premiere horror convention this Friday-Sunday! Be sure to click on the image to the left for ticket info, a full schedule of events, and more goodies!
And if it’s comic books and stars you’re looking for, WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO 2011 is going on just a few blocks away at the DONALD E. STEPHENS CONVENTION CENTER, ROSEMONT, IL 60018 this Thursday – Sunday! Bruce Campbell, Patrick Steward, Felicia Day, Vivica A. Fox, and many more stars are set to be there this weekend! Be sure to click on the image to the right for scheduling and ticket info! Ambush Bug and the Chicago @$$Holes will be bopping between these two conventions all weekend. No self respecting genre fan would miss these two events. See you there!