Nerdgasms.net did an interview with our friend and comic creator Cory Matthews about his creation: T n C Comics.
Nerdgasms: So you do TnC comics which is based on you, Cory, and your wife, Tia. Do you want to tell us a little about the comic itself?
Cory: Sure it’s basically started out with just a single strip of me teasing my wife about packing her bags for vacation and just going way overboard and packing like thirteen bags for a one week vacation … I knew an artist, Eryck Webb of Eryck Webb Graphics who I had commissioned artwork from before and I asked him if he would be interested in doing the strip. He took it on and made fun of Tia with it and I showed around to a bunch of family and friends everybody enjoyed it. They all thought it was funny and so they all asked me when is the next one? When is the next one. I hadn’t really thought that far ahead, so when it seemed like enough people liked it I decided I’m gonna try to do more and TnC comics was made.
Since you started, what has been the response you’ve gotten?
Pretty much every everybody likes it. The best part is when people are like “oh. That sounds like me my wife” or friends that go that totally sounds like something you would do to Tia. Yo everyone likes it. It seems like the fan favorite is Colby everybody likes it when Colby makes a guest appearance … overall for all everyone really likes it a lot like
What was Tia’s first reaction when you showed her the first strip that Eryck drew?
When she first saw it, she was like “that’s cute” That was pretty much the end of it. She didn’t like the fact that she was the butt of the joke in the first comic. But when once I did some more and hammered out some scripts and Eryck did the artwork, she saw I was the bumbling goofball of the comic strip, she liked it a lot more.
What about your kids? They are starting to make appearances. Were they hesitant to be in it at first?
I’m the adult. So I didn’t really give them a choice. I just did it. Ciara thought it was cute and she really liked it when I started including her bearded dragon, Steve. She asked me to print out a copy of the strip to hang up on her wall. She’s pretty proud of Steve being in it. My son just turned 20 and he moved back home. So he’s being included in the strip and he’s included in the latest issue. Slowly we’re getting everyone back in it. Basically it’s going to focus on the 4 of us and our nephew Colby.
How long does it take you to write a script? Do you bank a bunch of them?
It’s hard because I always feel like I have these great ideas. But the great ideas always seem to hit at like 11:30 at night when you’re laying in bed trying to go to sleep. They never hit you at like 4 in the afternoon. Last week, I think I did eleven scripts and this week I’ve been sorta flabbergasted and I haven’t done anything. The good thing is I sorta just type them up and save them and ship 4 scripts a month to Eryck. He does 4 strips at a time so that gives me enough time to figure out some more. Plus they kinda write themselves. Yesterday, everyone was gone from the house except for me. I thought that’s what I wanted until I was alone then I was bored. Something like that translates pretty easy to a 3 or 4 panel comic strip.
In one of the latest editions, your character complains about “based on a true story”. Is that a nod to your comic strip?
No. It’s actually something that really really irks me. At the beginning of every television show or movie, they say “based on a true story” but they never really tell you what it means. How much of it is a true story? All of it but they changed the name of the character for privacy issues? Or is it that the story happened in a small town in Pennsylvania and that’s the only part that’s true and everything else is made up. It just drives me nuts. It’s one of those things that makes me scratch my head sometimes.
It’s like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It says based on a true story, but the only true part was there was a killer that wore people’s faces. It wasn’t with a chainsaw, there wasn’t a whole family of crazies. It wasn’t even in Texas.
Exactly. But it’s “based on a true story”. Haha. Then you have “loosely based on a true story”, that’s just making things up. Why even bother saying it’s based on a true story? People give me weird looks when I go off on those tangents. But it’s one of the things I think about.
I feel your pain. I have a strong physics background, so movies like Mission Impossible drive me nuts. I’ll yell “GRRRR THAT CAN’T HAPPEN!” and everyone thinks I’m nuts.
Tia says the same thing. She says I ruin movies when I say things like “ya know, I don’t know why the right side of that car is all mashed up. He was getting rammed on the left hand side. The left hand side should have been messed up.” And she’ll just tell me to shut up and enjoy the movie. One of the funnier ones is the movie Troy with Brad Pitt. I guess there’s a plane flying by in a shot. Good job editing that.
With TnC comics, what’s your ultimate goal with the strip?
Ideally, I’d like to get it printed. The whole idea of it was to pass something down to the grandkids when Tia and I got old. “look! Grandma and grandpa were in the comics!” But the positivity I’ve gotten from it has been so overwhelming, so I’ll take it as far along as I can. I’m not looking to make any money on it. I’m not going to be Bill Watterson [creator of Calvin & Hobbes] or Jim Davis [creator of Garfield] or anything. If I can get some books made and people actually want them, I’d be willing to do any of that. I’m working on a kickstarter to hopefully cover some of the financials of getting a book made.
With Eryck Webb doing the artwork for the strips, how long does it take him to do the 4 stories for the month and get them to you?
It takes him about a week. He’s got other projects going on as well. It basically comes down to me sending him the 4 scripts and he sends me back a rough draft. I ask him for any changes I need, which is pretty seldom. He and I are on the same page for the most part. So it goes really smoothly. He sends me the rough draft. I’ll OK them. And a few days later, he sends me the final copy. Then I have the hardest job of all. I have to hang on to them for a month without showing people. Then hand them out every Friday like candy.
Since you’ve started doing the strip, have you noticed the audience growing and growing?
Ya know. I do it for me. But at the same time its nice to know that people enjoy it. They say not to worry about it and just do it because you like to do it. But everyone wants to be accepted and everyone wants to be known for being good at something. So every week I get a few new likes on Facebook. And just this month, my friend Scott has helped me set up TnCcomics.com We’ve got those two venues going, we have twitter, deviantart, and I also post on different forums. So I try to get it out there. I like it and everyone else seems to like it. So I want as many people as possible to see it.
I like it because it keeps the G-rating and unlike a lot of comics in the newspaper, it’s still funny. Having a wife that is not part of geek culture, I read it and say “this could be my wife and me”
The G-rating, I do that because I want everyone to be able to enjoy it and read it. I don’t want to alienate anyone. I wish I could go more than a G-rating because I have a whole lot of material I could talk about. But I think it might ruin the innocence of the comic strip. You can’t get into serious topics or adult conversation and then come back with Colby playing with a bearded dragon. That’s two different things and two different areas. I try to keep it fun and innocent and go from there.
What does your family think about the comic? Do they find it funny?
Yeah. My brother is usually the first one I hear from every week. He always says “I can totally see you doing that”. And my sister-in-law will tell me “I’d me mad if I was Tia. There’s no way Clayton would get away with that.” Everybody seems to like it. The only complaints I’ve heard was in the beginning when I was doing the coloring. Some people said the coloring looked a little plain. Then Eryck took over the coloring chore with TnC #10. So I guess I fixed the only complaint.
For this years San Diego Comic Con, they gave you a professional badge.
Ha. How did that make you feel when you got that notice?
Actually I was proud. It was almost like having another baby. Like I said, I was doing it for fun. And my friend Walden Wong, who inks for Marvel right now, was like “you can go, you’re a professional now”. I just make comic strips on the internet, that shouldn’t matter. But he said it does, and he believed in me enough to file all my paperwork and make me flyers to pass out at San Diego Comic Con. He did all that. And I got the thing that said congratulations you’ve been accepted as a professional at SDCC, I thought it was pretty cool. I can’t wait to get the badge that says “Cory Matthews” and has TnC Comics underneath. I’ll probably frame it because I’m a goofball like that. I figure if I can get into comic con, I can get in everywhere now.
With newspapers dying off and the comic strips moving online, has that been helpful because of more outlets or harder because of competition?
It works both ways. In one way its easier because there’s a lot of people that have submitted to have their comic syndicated and be told they’re not good enough. There’s a lot of talented people out there. So they have a bigger outlet to get their comics seen. And with all of these print-on-demand outlets, it makes it easier for people to get their stories out there. And there’s a lot of great stories that I’ve found that I would never have found if I was just looking in the newspapers. It’s really sad because I enjoy getting the Sunday paper and reading my comics. That’s something I grew up with, getting the Sunday paper and reading the comics. Now that newspapers are slowly dying out, that’s sad. But now there’s more options out there. Where before you could only find a comic you like in the paper, now you can find a comic you like anywhere on the internet.
What’s been the best moment of doing the comic so far?
This. This is pretty cool. This, getting my comic con badge. Just knowing there’s other people out there that are doing it and are willing to help. Its been like a brotherhood. There’s websites I’ve gone to like webcomicalliance.com and justthefirstframe.com and they’re there to help people. It’s not cutthroat. They’re not trying to shove you out of the way to get their comic more out there. There’s so much room that they get their comics out there, then scoot over a little bit and let you put your ideas on the table too. So finding out you’re not alone is pretty cool. Finding out you don’t have to be super successful to be successful. If that makes sense.
It’s kind of cool with the geek culture. Most people help each other out. I see that with my site. Bigger sites helping me out and giving me suggestions.
That’s what’s nice. People make it seem that if you’re a geek or a nerd, you’re a shut in. You live in your mom’s basement and play on the internet and play video games and have all of this seclusion. Except it’s almost totally the opposite. Through the internet, I’ve been able to branch out and made friends with people all the way to Virginia [editor note: Cory lives in the Northwest US] who do web comics. Chris Flick [capesnbabes.com] is one of them. He’s 3 time zones away and he still doesn’t care that I bother him for ideas or tips or to pick his brain. So I’ve been able to make friends that I would never have been able to make before if I hadn’t been nerdy enough to spend time on the internet.
Is there anything you want to add?
I wouldn’t change anything. I got a great artist in Eryck Webb. I’ve got terrific people willing to help in Byron Wilkins, Chris Flick, Dawn from webcomicsalliance. I’m just having a blast. I can’t believe that a one-strip comic that I was going to use to just tease my wife with is something that I’m being interviewed about and considered a professional at San Diego Comic Con for. It’s the Superbowl of Comic Conventions.
Through you, I got to work with Eryck Webb. If you’re on the site, he did the logo and the little character that he dubbed Nerdgasmo. That was all done by Eryck. For me, he was fantastic to work with. Through a couple emails, he had an amazing grasp of what I was looking for. He send over 8 samples and through a composite of them all, he knew exactly what I wanted and did a fantastic job.
That’s what I love about Eryck. It’s not like “here’s your work now go away”. He makes himself available through email and he web streams artwork. So some nights I sit back and watch the live stream. It’s awesome to be able to watch the artwork being done from a blank piece of paper, to a sketch to pencil lines to color to lettering. And you see it all come together. To me at least, that’s really entertaining. That’s part of the reason I went with him. It wasn’t just a job, but something he really enjoys doing. That’s what I was looking for, somebody that would enjoy doing it too. So I enjoy working with him.
He doesn’t make it a black box. It’s not like “here’s your work”. He involves you through the whole process.
He has been so helpful because he has his own comic. He does a web comic he puts out called Jumping Boy. Me being new at it, I get emails from him saying “are you sure you want to do it like this? It might be better this way” and he’s right. So we go that way. It goes back to what I was saying. In web comics, everybody helps everybody. It makes it fun. It’s not stressful. It’s fun.
Being friends aside, it’s a really good comic that I look forward to.
Yeah. Every Friday. I haven’t missed one yet. In May, I think, it will be one year and we haven’t missed one Friday.
You even took the comic version of you on vacation with you.
Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Eryck was nice enough to draw Tia and I in vacation clothes and I printed it out and did a little cut out and brought it with us to the Caribbean. So we got TnC in Honduras in some Mayan ruins. I thought it was something fun to do. No matter where we go, TnC is coming with us.
Any final words?
Thank you for the interview. Thank you to Eryck Webb for being a great artist. Thank you to all the people who have helped me so far. Thank you to all the people who will help me when my Kickstarter project goes up. I figure after that 30 days of the kickstarter project everyone is going to hate me for bombarding them.