Matt D Wilson: Featured Image, Second Attempt

Matt D Wilson may have gotten his start behind the pseudonym King Oblivion, Ph.D., but these days, on the internet, in print, and on podcasts, his real name is front and center.

To find out more about how King Oblivion grew from a pen name to the star of three books and an occasional public speaker, check out the first installment of our interview. For Wilson’s present and future, stay right here as he discusses podcasts, comics, and why wrestling will save the children.

ComicsVerse: As I mentioned when you first called, I had just been listening to WAR ROCKET AJAX #400 [your podcast with cohost Chris Sims]. So first, congrats on hitting that big number.

Matt D Wilson: Thank you.

CV: Second, how do you feel about the journey to 400 looking back now?

Matt D Wilson: We wouldn’t be here without what we’ve done before so I don’t regret any of what we’ve done before. One thing I said in episode 400, though, was I’m sure if I went back and listened to old episodes, I’d have to get under a table and have a panic attack at how weirdly nervous I sound. I remember when I did my first episode of the show I was just like—I came in as a new host after Eugene Ahn left. So that show was already 45 or so episodes deep. I was already appeared on it a couple of times, but I was also a fan of it. So coming on it, I had this nervousness about it; that I had these big shoes to fill. I had to learn to edit and all this other stuff. So I had to get over immediately hearing all the nervousness in my voice.

Beyond that, I think I would really have to prepare myself for saying things that I probably wouldn’t agree with now. I would probably tell my [younger] self “don’t say that,” or “you shouldn’t say that,” or even wonder why I did say that. People change and evolve and learn what is appropriate and good and what is funny and what’s not. I was in my mid-20’s when I started to do that show and now I’m in my early- to mid-30’s. I’m a different person. My sense of humor has changed. What I think is inappropriate has changed. What I think is a mean thing to say has changed.

One thing people have noticed, to name one thing, is how much Chris Sim and I use wild or buckwild to describe things. And, on the one hand, it is just kind of a funny term. On the other hand, it is my way of not using the word crazy. Because about a year ago, a year-and-a-half ago, something switched on in my head that said, “You shouldn’t say things are crazy. That’s a loaded word.” Not a bad word per se. I’m not saying anyone can’t say it. But it’s loaded. So I’ve made an effort not to say it as much. It’s changed the parlance of our speech. It’s kind of created a catchphrase, and it’s my way of trying to be sensitive to people. There’s been a progression to get to that point.

But even with all that, I think the show is as funny as it has ever been. I think our interviews are better than they’ve ever been and more comfortable. One of the things we’ve always tried to do is just have a conversation with people. If we end up talking about their new comic, great. If we end up talking about that not at all, that’s also great. That’s fine. We just want to have a conversation for 45 minutes and it goes wherever it goes. I think those conversations have gotten better at being freewheeling and fun and we don’t feel like we have to check certain promotional boxes like maybe we did in the past.

I think the show has been continually improving over time and I’m happy with where we are.

Matt D Wilson: WAR ROCKET AJAX Rocket
Matt D. Wilson and Chris Sims bring fans the popular weekly comics podcast WAR ROCKET AJAX aboard this intimidating looking flying vessel.

CV: As a therapist, I thank you for being so thoughtful about the word “crazy.” I myself don’t have a huge problem with it; it is just such a part of our vernacular. But my first advisor in grad school was really focused on stigma in mental health and he loathed it being used. The field itself is really mixed. So whatever you decided would’ve been fine, but it is just really great to hear that you put thought into it and recognized it was loaded.

In terms of the future of WAR ROCKET AJAX, you and Chris’s commitment—with Patreon content and such—has really grown. However, with practice, things can get easier as well. Have you noticed the amount of time you spend on AJAX has grown and are you near a point where it can’t grow in terms of commitment anymore?

Matt D Wilson: We have to do more scheduling [than we used to]. That’s the realest aspect of it.

Like to do a two-hour Every Story Ever [the monthly special, ranking, listener-submitted comic book stories], we have to say, “hey, when can we do this.” “Ok, we’re doing it this day at this time and doing one hour of it and then another hour this day at this time.” Then I have to have enough time to edit so it goes up by the end of the month. A lot of times it is a race.

Things have fallen by the wayside. Like another podcast Chris and I do called MOVIE FIGHTERS where we watch a movie and make fun of it because we are extremely creative and original. That one used to be every two weeks but now it is monthly. That is a very time-consuming show because there are two hours of recording and two hours of watching a show, minimum, right? It takes a big chunk of time so it had to go to less frequent.

We definitely try to keep up with everything. Every Story Ever, our specials where we try snacks which is under the MOVIE FIGHTERS banner, we have other podcasts we do with other hosts which is what [episode] 400 ended up being about to some degree, and we’ve got bonus content we supply to patrons on Patreon. It’s not the easiest to keep up with all of that but we’re managing and I don’t think it is to the point of being unmanageable. It’s just—we have to mark things on our calendar.

In the early days of the show we just knew when we recorded the show and that’s just what we did.

We’ve promised other potential extra stuff when we hit other Patreon levels so that will be more scheduling stuff. I think we will probably, eventually, hit that breaking point where we are like, “Ok, this is all we can do.” But we’re not there yet. We’ve got a ways to go before we’re there.

CV: You mentioned the other podcasts. You have the ones you do with Chris, WAR ROCKET AJAX, MOVIE FIGHTERS, and…I’m sorry, I can’t remember the name of the snack one. All I remember is the theme song, “What You Snackin’ On.”

Matt D Wilson: [chuckles] SNACK SITUATION.

CV: That’s the one. Thank you. I’m so sorry about that.

Matt D Wilson: That’s ok.

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CV: So you have those with Chris and you also have one you introduced back in 2017 which is SMARK OF THE BEAST and that’s wrestling centric.

Matt D Wilson: I host that one with Matt Fisher. You mentioned the SNACK SITUATION theme music. He wrote that. He had a podcast called LIFE LEAVE ME ALONE which I think is now defunct. [The last regular episode went up June 30, 2017.]

So we started that one up. That’s another ranking one where we rank everything in the world of professional wrestling. That one is very freewheeling and a lot of fun to do.

CV: Obviously, you have an interest in wrestling. That comes up on AJAX as well, to some people’s enjoyment and other people’s chagrin. With SMARK, beyond your interest, why add a podcast about wrestling? For you, specifically? What creative itch did it scratch or outlet did it offer you?

Matt: Well, in my head, it was a show where I could talk about wrestling so I didn’t have to talk about it on AJAX as much. To some degree, I think that has worked, as my release valve for wrestling talk on another podcast. It still comes up on WAR ROCKET AJAX every once in a while but I feel like I can scratch the itch with BEAST in a way that I used to do on AJAX sometimes.

The other thing is Matt approached me to do the show. He had the idea, he wanted to do it. He told me I could be the Chris Sims of SMARK OF THE BEAST. That means I sit in front of the mic and talk for an hour and he does the rest. [laughs]

Which sounds mean and I’m happy to help him in any way I can. But that was enticing, to have a podcast where I get to the content creation part and I don’t have to do the backend editing and processing stuff.

CV: The wrestling content on WAR ROCKET AJAX I actually have to thank you for because I don’t actually watch wrestling myself but I have a lot of clients who love wrestling and my ability to take the information from what you guys say has actually being really helpful in building rapport. Because I can relate to them without actually subscribing to the [WWE] Network or watching all those hours of programming. So I do have to thank you for that.

Matt D Wilson: That is the real reason we talk about it on the show.

CV: For me? Yeah, I get that.

Matt D Wilson: To help the young ones get healthy. Anyone who complains when we talk wrestling on [AJAX] you are doing great great harm, so-

CV: Yes, they should know that. If they give you a hard time, send them to me. Because I don’t watch wrestling, I’m not as up to date on SMARK OF THE BEAST. But I have to ask, have you rated Max Moon yet?

Matt D Wilson: Not yet. But I’m sure we will get there. I mean, we are planning to rank everything so, we’ll get there.

Matt D Wilson: Smark of the Beast logo
The logo for SMARK OF THE BEAST, the logo to the Matt D Wilson/Matt Fisher wrestling podcast

CV: Ok because he’s…incredible.

Now the last podcast you do is actually very new. GHOST OF A CHANCE with your wife Marlene Thompson in which you act as the skeptic and she tries to convince you of the existence of the paranormal, basically. You folks have—I think—four or five episodes at this point?

Matt D Wilson: There’s a zero episode and then four regular episodes. There’s one more just about to go up so it’ll be five plus the zero.

CV: Ok. So I already went over the premise but you are working with Marlene which is someone you know very well and you spend a lot of time with already. How is it to take that relationship into the podcast realm? To structure a show around it, really? Do you feel pressure to present a different version of yourself than you are in the “real life” with each other?

Matt D Wilson: It’s not as hard as it might seem. Like a lot of that conversation is just how we normally talk to each other. It is really just us recording a conversation. The only thing that’s formalized about it is what the conversation is about and there’s some research that went into what the ghost story of the episode is. Really, the skeptic/believer hook is mostly an excuse to talk about these things. For Marlene to talk about these things she’s interested in and tell me about the stuff she likes most. Or, as some of the episodes have been, to talk about things that jointly we have done because anytime we go anywhere, she insists we go on a ghost tour.

So we either talk about that together or she can tell me about stuff. I can say well that’s great or ghosts aren’t real which is kind of how the show goes. But that’s really just set dressing, I feel like. The real meat of the show is just a way for us to talk about this thing she is really deeply interested in. And make it fun.

CV: Actually, that was my next question. Being married myself, I know interests can kind of spread and co-mingle. I don’t love tennis but my wife is a fan and a good player so now I know, like, who’s fourth ranked on the women’s tour and she didn’t read comics, but now she’s read every issue of HUMAN TARGET at least once. So, for you, is this a pre-existing interest or have you kind of inherited it or contracted it from Marlene?

Matt D Wilson: Yeah, I think I got involved in it by marrying her. Or dating her to begin with. [laughs]

Like I said, we go somewhere and before we even get there we are researching what ghost tour we can go on. Or we are watching ghost television shows of varying quality. So it was baked in already, we just figured out a way to do something with it.

There’s an osmosis that occurs, just being in the vicinity of someone who loves something. You’re going to absorb some.

Matt D Wilson: Ghost of a Chance logo
The logo for GHOST OF A CHANCE, the podcast by Marlene Thompson and her husband Matt D Wilson

CV: Let’s move on to the two comics you have currently going on. The first is COPERNICUS JONES which tells the story of a robot detective in a noir style world. It’s not—how do I put this—it’s not parody. The noir setting is taken seriously, it just happens a robot is our protagonist as opposed to a flesh and blood man.

Matt D Wilson: I would note at the beginning it was fully intended as a parody. Every aspect of it, in my head, was parody.

It started with a joke. It all started with this jokey premise of a goofy name and a goofy occupation—Copernicus Jones, Robot Detective just fell out of my brain. I thought it was a funny name and occupation.

Then, over time, I was like, “Maybe I could do that as something.” I fully intended for it to be total noir parody like silly stuff because the earliest noir I ever saw was parody.

So that was what I started with but as I continued to flesh out the first story arc is became more of a thing. I came to the realization that I wanted to write more of a noir story. If you read the first issue, [it] does hit you as parody. It is the one that reads most as parody because I was most intent on doing that at the time. As it goes through that first story arc though it becomes more and more a true noir storyline up to a real noir ending in issue #6.

So I sort of ended up writing a serious noir story even though I started trying to write something funny. I sort of stumbled into it and just happened to put robots in it.

CV: I read it in trade so in a lot of ways that first issue read as recognizing the potential for parody, leaning into it, and kind of getting that all out of the way. So as a part of the whole, it reads very well, an acknowledgment that it could be seen as silly while showing why it isn’t in this case.

Matt D Wilson: I’m glad you feel that way, I’m glad it reads that way. Part of it is I’m just getting it out of my system. By the time I was writing issues #2 and 3, I think something inside me said, “If I’m going to keep doing this it has to be a real story.” So it became something a bit more complicated.

CV: Since the trade, which covers #1-6, issues #7 and 8 have come out as well on Comixology?

Matt D Wilson: Yeah, #7 was a single issue story and #8 is the start of a new arc that is slowly coming along.

COPERNICUS JONES has been a book, from the get go, that has just kind of been something that Kevin Warren, the artist, has been able to draw whenever he can manage. He has a full-time job and he’s a dad. It’s not the easiest thing in the world for him to just crank out an issue.

That’s a comic I started before I was so insistent on paying artists upfront, it was a backend deal. It’s not the way I would do it now, but it’s the way we did it then. So I can’t rush anybody into putting those issues it. So #9 and #10—which are parts two and three of that arc, I think it’s going to be three parts—they will be out eventually. It’s just…whenever we can get to it. After that first arc, it became a “whenever you can get to it” kind of situation. The pay element of it is just not there the way it would be on a book that comes out on a regular schedule.

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CV: For people that are interested, can you tease the new storyline that starts with #8?

Matt D Wilson: It flashes back to when Copernicus was a police robot. There were mentions of how he used to be a police robot in the first arc. He’s got these connections to police and they know who he is but they never really talk about why he left the police force or how he could even do that. So this arc digs into that a little bit.

It’s a frame story. We see Copernicus as he is now, a private investigator and then we have flashbacks to this case where he is a police robot. It is him and his old partner investigating a series of employee disappearances at an aviation factory. It goes to pretty out there places. I’m not going to give too much away but it gets into some robot-y territory. Some things you couldn’t do in a regular noir story, that you could only do in a noir story with robots.

CV: Having listened to you on Elle Collins podcast INTO IT, I know you as someone who has become a really big fan of noir storytelling techniques, movies and so on. As someone with that love, how does it feel to play in that sandbox yourself?

Matt D Wilson: It’s hard not to do the expected beats, but that’s why it is a robot noir comic, not just a noir comic. [laughs] If it was just a noir comic, I don’t think I could do it. I would just tell myself, “Matt, Raymond Chandler already did this almost a century ago. This story does not need you. It’s been done.”

Adding the robot stuff it, it is still hitting those tropes and those beats that Chandler and Dashiell Hammond and others hit but it adds enough of a twist to it that I can justify in my head that I am doing something different. Even if it is just a remix. Even if I am just sampling the beat. I’m at least putting some new lyrics on it.

That’s the only way I can justify it. To add some new genre stuff into it and hope that that is enough of a recipe change that it has something of a different flavor.

Matt D Wilson: Mr. Jones and Me
A cover depiction of Copernicus Jones, protagonist of COPERNICUS JONES, ROBOT DETECTIVE, Matt D Wilson’s ongoing noir comic series.

CV: From the existing series, let’s transfer to the series debuting at the end of this month. It’s called EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY and it is set to drop on May 30 on Comixology. I know the title is meant ironically, but I want to kind of clear out here to let you explain the plot in your own words.

Matt D Wilson: First, that is a most likely publication date. There still could be some kind of weird circumstance that changes it. But more than likely, May 30.

This is another one that started as kind of parody, and I would still call it satire, of disaster fiction. It started with this absolutely ridiculous idea of “What if every potential disaster—both plausible and implausible—happened at the same time?” How would people react to that? Where would they go? Would they leave? Could they leave? If they did leave, what kind of state would they be in? What would happen after that? How could you escalate every bad thing happening at once?

So those are sort of the questions of the book. It starts a little bit in the middle. When we see the characters in issue #1, they’ve already left Earth. We get mentions and whispers of what might have happened on Earth. Then we see how deeply shell shocked they are, when a crisis arises on a space station where they live.

I think what I came down to in writing the book is that the events that occur are absolutely ridiculous. I—as the creator of those situations—am being so so ludicrous with what I’m throwing at these fictional characters. But the characters are reacting to it as if it is real. And it is all grounded with this brother and sister team. They’re two engineers and sort of the scrappy, smart ones while a lot of the people around them are… I’m not going to say too shell shocked or too traumatized to think clearly but there are a lot of traumatized, shell shocked people around them who are going to react very drastically to the circumstances.

These two, though, pride themselves on being problem solvers. They’re the ones who kind of can be objective and solve the problems as everything collapses and crumbles around them. So that’s the idea.

One thing I can tell you–with the exception of issues #1 and #3 which tell a combined story—there are a number of mini-arcs within the five issues of the miniseries. It does not stay in one place for very long. [laughs]

CV: As someone who is writing the worst possible things that could happen to humanity for five issues, do you have an emotional reaction to that? Is it a delight to face down those demons? Does it tweak your anxiety a little bit?

Matt D Wilson: For fear of saying this to a therapist, it is a form of therapy for me. I’ve easily had times when I’ve run through every bad scenario in my head. I’ve imagined the worst possible things that could happen as though they might really happen. By getting out in fiction, on the page, and then seeing an incredibly talented artist like Rodrigo Vargas bring it to life, I can—It’s not exactly comforting, but then I have some control over it. Something like that. It’s something like by going those pathways and trails I’m saying, “Ok, what really is the worst thing that can happen?” It’s almost like catharsis. Like I expunge—temporarily at least—from my brain.

I hope that’s the readers’ reaction to it too. I’m not trying to stoke anxiety. I want people to say at least, “That would be bad.” Get a nervous chuckle out of it, if not a big belly laugh.

Matt D Wilson: Everything Will Be Okay cover
A man watches the end begin on the cover of EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY #1, the new series written by Matt D Wilson and set to debut on Comixology at the end of May.

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