Remembering Joe Matt: An Acclaimed Cartoonist
With great sadness, we announce the passing of Joe Matt, the beloved cartoonist behind the renowned autobiographical series Peepshow. At the age of 60, Joe Matt left a significant legacy in the world of comics and will be deeply missed.
A Pioneering Journey in Autobiographical Comics
Joe Matt’s artistic journey began with a series of autobiographical comic strips, which eventually evolved into the comic book form of Peepshow. In 1991, he introduced Peepshow #1 by Drawn & Quarterly, marking the transition of his work and paving the way for future success.
Friendships That Shaped His Art
Matt formed strong friendships with fellow Drawn & Quarterly cartoonists Seth and Chester Brown, who often appeared in his comics. Through his storytelling, Matt captured the complexities of his life, particularly his relationship with his then-girlfriend, Trish, and shared his personal views on women, sex, and pornography.
The Art of Voyeurism
Matt described his work as that of a voyeur, striving to create the comic book he would enjoy reading the most. He hoped that other voyeurs would appreciate his work if executed well. Unfortunately, this focus on adult themes somewhat tarnished the reputation of autobiographical comics, an apprehension Matt acknowledged. However, he found inspiration in Robert Crumb, who explored his obsessions, albeit with women.
The Breakthrough: “The Poor Bastard”
The unraveling of Matt’s relationship with Trish became the foundation for the first Peepshow collection, The Poor Bastard. This release garnered critical acclaim, including an Eisner Award nomination, in 1996.
Beyond Comics: Collaboration and Recognition
Joe Matt’s talent stretched beyond his own comics. He teamed up with David X. Cohen, co-creator of Futurama, for a pilot HBO series based on The Poor Bastard. Although the project ultimately did not progress, it showcased Matt’s ability to work with other brilliant minds in the industry.
While he was not the most prolific cartoonist, with just 14 issues of Peepshow published from 1991 to 2006, Matt’s influence was considerable. Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, professed his admiration, proclaiming himself a “Joe Matt fanatic!” Likewise, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer acknowledged Matt’s work as a significant influence on his songwriting. Even Robert Crumb, who profoundly inspired Matt’s artistry, consistently praised his creations over the years.
A Versatile Colorist
In addition to his comics, Matt also made a name for himself as a remarkable colorist. He lent his coloring expertise to projects such as Matt Wagner’s Grendel and Mage, as well as the iconic Batman/Grendel crossover in 1993. Notably, he contributed his talents to the Riddler’s origin story in Secret Origins Special #1 (1989), written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Bernie Mireault and Matt Wagner.
Interestingly, both Gaiman and Matt were nominated for the Eisner Award for Best Single Issue in 1993. Although they didn’t win, their incredible contributions left a lasting impact on the comic book industry.
Peepshow: A Raw and Honest Depiction
Peepshow stands as one of the most raw and honest depictions of a cartoonist’s life. Its influence on the genre of autobiographical comics remains unparalleled, making Joe Matt one of the most influential figures of the past three decades. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Joe Matt’s family and friends. We will always remember his exceptional contributions to the world of comics. Rest in peace, Joe Matt.