No new ideas out there? No new stories to tell? That’s just not true. The bastion of new ideas lies in the realm of independent comic books, where creators are often unafraid to explore ideas and challenge their audience. The often satiric bent of independent comics means that the creators can also have a bit of fun as well. Matt Miner has been working in this realm for the last six years or so, and his latest project, Death Trap, will have the kind of verve you won’t even find in either the cinema or mainstream comic books. It’s a story populated with circus-based crime families, an assortment of sideshow freaks and a protagonist who drives a fast car and is out for revenge. It promises to be even more absurd than it sounds, with a sideshow freak that appears to be Siamese twin sisters joined at the torso.. with no legs (no wonder they are called the crab sisters), and that’s just for starters.
Miner’s been into the absurd before, having created the lore for GWAR (the heavy metal band with the elaborate armor and costumes that makes them the most visually distinct band in the business) in comics form, while some of his other projects have had a more politically charged bent. His new series, Lab Raider takes place in the same world as past projects Liberator and Critical Hit and it follows a couple of women who go out at night wearing mask to free animals from their abusers, vigilantes for our four-legged friends.
Miner began his career as a comic book writer about seven years ago when he realized that his writing style was perhaps more suited to the comic page than prose. “ I took one of Scott Snyder’s pre-DC-workshop graphic novel classes, and got some incredibly good advice and guidance and was able to start working with Black Mask Studios. He’s worked hard since then but has been able to come up with new ideas and collaborate with other talented people. “ I’ve also teamed up with my good friend Eric Palicki and publisher A Wave Blue World to do yearly (more or less) anthology projects where we spearhead and Kickstart these huge themed books. The first one was a horror and politics mashup named This Nightmare Kills Fascists, and the second, All We Ever Wanted: Stories of a Better World, was a more hopeful book featuring stories that envisioned a brighter future.”
Better World has garnered a bit of critical recognition, as it has been nominated for a Ringo Award and was featured in The New York Times. “I think a lot of folks are looking for stories that are a little more fun, and a little less real-world or gritty.”
With Death Trap, Miner is collaborating with artist Christopher Peterson (Grindhouse– Dark Horse, and Broken World – BOOM Studios) who had since drifted away from comics but Miner has brought him back into the fold and the two of them have had a fruitful collaboration on this an other projects. Miner has also tapped Josh Jensen as colorist and Matt Kroitzer for lettering. “[These] are guys I’ve known in comics for awhile. I like working with them, and we get along, and they’re incredibly skilled and talented, so here we are.
Death Trap, which features a very pleasing art style that is almost pop in its sensibilities, while not eschewing the 70’s thriller sensibilities from which it seems to draw some of its inspiration. It’s story is inspired: a girl and her dad’s ghost go hunting for revenge in her dad’s Mercury Cougar in a story about warring circus crime families. It’s breezy and fun and will feature some crazy side-show characters, including an albino dancing bear, a bearded strong-woman, and the crab-twins, mentioned earlier. Drawn with sharp,m clean lines, each panel has a sense of movement and danger to it, and Miner’s conversational writing style is well-suited for pushing this crazy, exciting story forward. If you’ve made it this far, check out www.deathtrap.world, and support Miner and his collaborators. After all, you won’t find stories like this made by the bigger publishing companies like DC or Marvel, and the smaller creators depend on the kind of support that Kickstarter can spearhead. And when you see the kinds of ideas talented writers like Miner dcan come up with, you can only feel inspired. It’s storytelling on this level that will still endure long after the mainstream has drained any and all potential ideas from the latest fad.