As part of the Liberator trade paperback, Black Mask Studios asked a stellar team of comic creators to play in the world that Matt Miner created. Each team had the chance to create a short story using characters and ideas already explored in the first volume of Liberator, adding to the world and further looking into animal activism and rights. The collected issues combined with all the backups make the Liberator trade a huge collection of comics with a cause. All week long on StashMyComics I’ll be talking with some of the contributors to the Liberator trade, like Ales Kot, Fabian Rangel, Jr., Brian Level, and, of course, Matt Miner himself.
Next is Matthew Rosenberg, writer of Black Mask Studios’ Twelve Reasons To Die who contributed writing on the short We Are What We Are - a look at the cruelty that humans are so often capable of.
Leo Johnson: How did you initially get involved with contributing a backup to the Liberator trade?
Matthew Rosenberg: I wrote a book called Twelve Reasons To Die which was also published at Black Mask Studios so I know Matt Miner from that. Black Mask is a small publisher but they do a great job encouraging a community feel so when it came time for Matt to put backups in his book I think it just made sense for him to ask folks like myself and Adam Mortimer.
LJ: You contributed the story We Are What We Are. What’s it all about?
MR: My story, which is drawn by the amazingly talented Ariela Kristantina and colored by the equally amazing Jen Hickman, is a bit odd. I figured some other folks would be doing stories about animal rights activism in a more head-on approach and I didn’t want to tread the same ground or step on any toes. W.A.W.W.A. is a story about an activist who gets sent to prison and the correlations between the way our society treats animals and the way it treats criminals. Prisoners rights is a cause that I care about a great deal. My girlfriend does a lot of work in that field and I volunteer some time when I can as well. I don’t think it’s a huge leap in logic to see a correlation between the cruelty we display to animals and the cruelty we display to inmates. Humanity has a great track record of maintaining an “out of sight, out of mind” policy for cruelty on any level, and an equally great record of keeping these things out of sight however possible. I assume that a lot of folks reading Liberator will already care about animal rights causes. I guess my hope is just to remind some people that their compassion shouldn’t end at prison gates anymore than it should at slaughterhouse doors.
LJ: Liberator deals with animal activism and those that are a part of that world. Do you personally have any connection to the subject matter?
MR: I grew up as a straight edge kid in the New York hardcore scene in the 90’s, so animal rights issues have been a major issue in my circle for as long as I have been a critically thinking person. I’ve had lots of friends involved in animal rights causes my whole adult life. I know a few who even ended up in jail for their activism, which is some of the inspiration for this story. When I worked at a print shop I made sure we would donate time and labor to print shirts for animal activists. I also used to put out records for a bunch of bands who would talk about and promote animal rights causes through their music. My involvement is tangential in some ways, but the ideas and the people involved have always been a big part of my world as well as that of my writing partner, Patrick Kindlon.
LJ: Finally, for anyone who hasn’t read it, why would you suggest picking up a copy of Liberator?
Comics have a very rich history of being socially and politically cutting edge. Whether through the counter cultural influence of characters like The Hulk and Spider-Man, to the commentary of O’Neil/Adams run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow, books from American Splendor to Marshall Law to V For Vendetta, all do a great job of challenging social norms and truly provoking thought in their readers. But that is something that is sorely missing from comics right now. There are certainly pockets of great and challenging works being made now, but by in large comics have entered a remarkably apolitical period. Along with that lack of politics comics have also ushered in their lowest sales in history. I think it is crucial if people care about the future of the medium for them to start being more proactive in supporting challenging ideas. LIBERATOR is a good example of one of those books. It tells a good story, it’s a fun journey, but most importantly it has something to say. Whether or not you care about animal rights, the chance to read a comic that presents you with new and interesting ideas should be so important to any thinking reader. Supporting new creators, interesting voices and ideas, young and exciting publishers, and most of all supporting good work should be reason enough. Not to mention it now has short stories by some of my favorite comic creators like Ed Brisson, Frank Barbiere, Tim Seeley, Ales Kot, Fabian Rangel Jr., and a ton more. Also, I like my story well enough. Buy it for that.