Matt, Joe 1963-
MATT, Joe 1963-
Born September 3, 1963, in Philadelphia, PA. Education: Graduate of Philadelphia College of Art.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Drawn & Quarterly, P.O. Box 48056, Montreal, Quebec H2V 4S8, Canada.
Graphic artist and writer.
Peep Show!: The Cartoon Diary of Joe Matt, Kitchen Sink Press (Princeton, WI), 1992.
The Poor Bastard, Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1996.
Joe Matt's "Jam Sketchbook" 1995-98, Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1998.
Fair Weather, Drawn & Quarterly (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2002.
Creator of comix series Peepshow.
In 1987, cartoonist Joe Matt began creating his single-page comix Peepshow. In it, he always has himself wearing glasses and, like Little Orphan Annie in the comic strip of the same name, there are no eyeballs behind them. His work, in which he reveals his sexual habits, including his addiction to pornography, and such personal details as his elimination practices, became so popular that Kitchen Sink Press collected his output and published it as Peep Show!: The Cartoon Diary of Joe Matt.
In this first collection, Matt writes of how he was inspired by R. Crumb, whose work he first read after finishing college. Matt told Chris Brayshaw in an interview for Comics Journal that "there was something about the style that seemed like it was always familiar to me. It seemed like I had been seeing it around since I was a kid. The whole style just gave me a real nostalgic charge that I've always been attracted to. Even as a child, things like the really old Little Rascals on TV or old movies, anything that spoke of an older world always grabbed me."
Matt's attempt at a career in illustration netted few results. He lived with his mother in the suburbs for nearly a year, then stayed with his friend from college, Matt Wagner, who was working on Mage and Grendel at the time. Matt slept on the floor and earned money coloring for Wagner. He worked one night a week unloading comics for Jack's Comic Crypt and used the money for rent when he moved into a shared apartment with his roommate Kevin. The money from Wagner then went for food.
Matt observed how Wagner kept a sketchbook. "This coincided with the time I was really discovering Crumb, Pekar, and Spiegelman's work," Matt told Brayshaw. "I'd see Crumb's sketchbooks as well, so I started keeping one myself and doing little strips about my life and just incidents that would happen on a daily basis, like a diary." Wagner was supportive of Matt's work, which was popular with all of their friends, and after Matt sent twenty pages to Kitchen Sink Press, he had a deal. The book and Matt's series were then picked up by Canada's Drawn & Quarterly.
In reviewing Peep Show!: The Cartoon Diary of Joe Matt, Booklist's Ray Olson described Matt as "wonderfully pathetic, funny, and all too human."
Matt's graphic novel The Poor Bastard contains six issues of Peepshow, and in this volume we learn how Matt's girlfriend Trish left him and how he came to move into a rooming house in Toronto. His sensible friend, Seth, is an ever-present component who is the sounding board for Matt's complaints about Trish and his tales of his pursuit of the beautiful but unattainable women he feels he deserves.
A reviewer for Bob's Comics Reviews online said that "it's hard to review Joe Matt's autobiographical comics without reviewing Joe Matt. Selfish, undirected, obsessed with fantasy images of unavailable women, he's pretty much a loser. Of course, how then does he manage to produce a readable, well-drawn, and decidedly non-self-glorifying comic book?"
Fair Weather collects four Peepshow comix and is an account of Matt's childhood in 1970s Philadelphia, the city he moved back to in the spring of 2003. Matt portrays himself as a bed-wetting cheat who shoplifts, hides from bullies, and terrorizes his mother. The traits he displays as a child hint at how his adult personality may have been formed. This collection also reveals more about Matt's friendship with Chester Brown, who created his own autobiographical comic, "I Never Liked You." Booklist's Gordon Flagg opined that "Matt the artist is utterly fearless when it comes to unflinchingly exposing his pathetic life for all the world to see."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 1992, Ray Olson, review of Peep Show!: The Cartoon Diary of Joe Matt, p. 1741; February 1, 2003, Gordon Flagg, review of Fair Weather, p. 967.
Library Journal, March 1, 2003, Steve Raiteri, review of Fair Weather, p. 74.
Publishers Weekly, August 4, 1997, review of The Poor Bastard, p. 68.
Village Voice, June, 1992, Richard Gehr, review of Peep Show!: The Cartoon Diary of Joe Matt, pp. 28-29.
Bob's Comics Reviews,http://www.zompist.com/bob15.html (December, 1997), review of The Poor Bastard.
Comics Journal Online,http://www.tcj.com/ (August 13, 2003), Chris Brayshaw, interview with Matt.*