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Tabula Rasa/Butterfly: A Grindhouse Feature in Comic Form

Grindhouse films used to be prevalent in cinema due to fans of excessive violence, buxom babes, and, of course, entertaining over-the-top stories.

Writers Anthony Mathenia and Shane Crash believe that comics need more of this and have decided to collaborate for their comic book project: Tabula Rasa/Butterfly. One side of the comic features a story written by Shane with another by Anthony on the flip-side. They’ve teamed up with some amazing artists to bring these grind house-inspired stories to life.

The comic contains 28 full-color pages with two covers, one for each story. I picked the brain of Anthony Mathenia who told Indiereader more about this brand new Kickstarter collaboration.

SU: Tell us about Tabula Rasa/Butterfly and the process behind it?

AM: The project is co-created by author Shane Crash and was born out of our mutual desire to collaborate, our love for pop-cinema and comics books, and our goal of wanting to able to have a presence at sci-fi/fantasy and comic conventions. As published literary authors it also affords us an opportunity to kick-back and have fun with writing something not so heavy for a change.

The comic-book serves as a prequel to a split-paperback book we just released through our indie label, Red Forest.  The comic ends where the paperback begins.  Like the book, the comic is a “double feature”, with a story by me and one by Shane.

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************************************************************************************************** SU:  What makes this a Grindhouse comic? 

AM: For us, grindhouse is an attitude. In contrast to our deeper literary works, this is project is less existential navel gazing and more balls-to-the-wall action.  The stories also take their cues from grindhouse cinema, both in being a “double feature” and in gritty, free-wheeling content.

SU:  How have you been able to fund your project?

AM: We are using the Kickstarter to raise funds for the printing the comic. The artwork has already been paid out of pocket from personal savings. It is important for us to invest in the project ourselves before we ask others to do so.  That being said, we’d love it if the Kickstarter was successful enough to refill our savings so we can have resources for future projects.

SU:  What have been your influences in creating comics and what made you want to do so in the first place?

AM: I got reintroduced to comics through a writing challenge where writers had to draft a script in a month. I chose a comic-script, if only because it seemed the most challenging since I wasn’t a comic reader. By the time I had written my first comic-script I had fallen in love with the medium. It is a fantastic way to tell lots of different kinds of stories. As a comic writer my specific influences are Grant Morrison and Alan Moore. Shane’s specific influences lean more toward Joss Whedon, Alan Moore, and J. Michael Stracynski.

This book is being released in cooperation with Stache Publishing. Stache is a local comic creating collective that supports individual creators as they produce and publish their own comic books.

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SU: What would you like people to take in when reading your comic?

AM: The comic is meant to be fun and I hope that our readers are entertained. There are underlying satirical tones, but they don’t need to be recognized in order for the books to be enjoyable reads.

SU: What other projects have you been working on and what kind of stuff would you like to do in comics?

AM: As far as novels go, Shane is starting on his next literary novel, Phoenix while I’m finishing up Happiness: How to Find It and Paradise Earth: Week One.

I have two web-comic projects starting up, including the Human Wrestler. The plan is to release a page a week for each, with the goal of compiling and printing them down the line as graphic novels.

Ultimately we’d like to continue to put out more with the characters from Tabula Rasa and Butterfly. We are hoping to do a follow-up to the split paperback Summer 2014 and we will be testing the waters to see if there is any publishing interest in the comic book, either taking the story back further or adapting the paperback into comics. Both of us keep very busy.

 SU:  What are you reading right now, any comics right now you are really into?

AM: I’ve been reading Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson.  As far as comics go, I am a fan of Li’l Depressed Boy by Steven Struble and Saga by Brian K. Vaughan. I’m looking forward to Larime Taylor’s A Voice in the Dark; he’s a tremendous writer and artist. He also happens to be disabled and can only use his mouth to draw. I’m a fan and excited that he is helping out our Kickstarter by doing an exclusive print for backers at the $25 level. Shane’s reading a lot of Gogol, Sartre, and Didion. As far as comics go, he’s a fan of Saga by Vaughan and The Buffy Comics by Whedon and company.

SU:  What are your plans for the future?

AM: We’re trying to keep ourselves afloat as we write. In order to do that, we’re participating in extensive touring of conventions, shops, and pretty much anywhere that’ll have us. Shane jokes that I’m like Murray the manager of Flight of the Concords and we’ll be doing readings in an elevator to no-one. Look for us at a laundromat near you!

SU: What is your method of writing/creating how do you come up with your content?

AM: Like a lot of creators I am not able to able to answer the question: where do you get your ideas.  For me they usually start with a seed that grows quite organically as I water it with booze. Butterfly simply started as a campy homage to 70’s women-in-prison cinema and has since grown into a story about a strong woman finding her way after leaving a destructive cult. Shane draws mostly from his passion for literature and his literary background. His writing is also very informed by his experiences as a nomad, traveling around the world and observing different cultures, cities, and lifestyles.

Specifically, scripts are written and sent to our artists. They come up with page layouts that are refined before a finished page is completed and sent to the colorists. I do the lettering and put it all together for the printer.

SU: Anything else you would like to add?

AM: I would like to thank readers for supporting indie books. It’s not just by financially backing projects like our Kickstarter, but also by leaving reviews on places like Amazon and Goodreads. It only takes a minute but it is incredibly helpful in getting book seen in an arena filled with thousands of others.

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