Strange Ambience

Ventures in arts and culture that leave an effect.

RIP Joe Matt, you were kinder than you let on.

Categories: news art books

Peep Show by the late Joe Matt.

Joe Matt laid bare his life in autobiographical comics to form a 'peep show' of sorts.

I used to see Joe Matt, Chester Brown and Seth regularly at a coffee shop called Jet Fuel in the Cabbagetown district of Toronto. My initial thoughts were, "Who are these loud, arrogant people drowning out the conversations and thoughts of others with no concern?" Eventually, I got to know them as pioneering indy comic book artists and even wrote about one of them (Seth) for a magazine.

While all three did interesting work, the one whose work I related most to was Joe Matt. His work is self-defacating, honest, funny, yet touching. I told him about how I used to buy Grendel comics (by Matt Wagner) as a kid (a series he worked on as colorist) and he squinted at me saying, "You don't look that old." I also asked about his predilection for watching, errr, 'nature films', and while he admitted he felt bad about his habit yet he also said he thought it, "great stuff." Joe Matt's addiction to 'nature films' is a recurring topic in his work and something he struggled with. Unlike most, he was humorous about this. But if you delve into Peepshow, you will also read of his struggles as a poor, broke artist intent on integrity, family issues and relationship troubles.

Joe Matt was always a nice, approachable and gentle fellow. I could sit and chat with him at the coffee shop anytime I wanted, to discuss comics or other things. I liked to see him with the cool hipster young ladies he hung out with, including an electro-punk lead singer in a local band. I forget what they are called. But I was more interested in Joe Matt and his shy demeanor.

I find his anthology, 'Peepshow' one of his finer works and it holds up well. Sadly, Joe Matt's work ethic dropped off in the latter 2000's and while there is a pending book about his move to Los Angeles, USA from Toronto, it is not completed. I suppose there was an underlying sense of guilt and overall sadness to him. A relationship that did not work out, a longing to find his 'other', and overwhelming loneliness. But I always saw a shy smile whenever I glanced his way. Rest in Peace, man.