Written by Neil Greenaway
At DINK 2017 I had the chance to sit down and talk with Mister V of Death By Dive Bar about his take on publishing indie comics. This interview originally ran on Bleeding Cool on 4/14/2017, and you can read their version of it here.
Mister V (also known as Mathew Veraldo) is a cartoonist from Granby, Colorado. Sometimes he makes comics about really wild and offensive things. Sometimes he makes comics about really quaint and pleasant things. But no matter what, he’s always making comics about something. At the Denver Independent Comic and Art Expo (DINK!2017) last weekend, I took the opportunity to sit and talk with him about comics, ‘zines, and medical weed.
Neil Greenaway: You have a lot of different books out right now. Can you give a brief rundown of what kinds of things you make?
Mister V.: I put out everything. I put out everything I can. I write a few comic strips for a small newspaper in my county called the Grand Gazette. I also write comics that can be so vulgar that my wife yells at me and goes to bed. Like my newest book, Death By Dive Bar, which was nominated for a DINKy (for Outstanding work by a Colorado Creator). My wife read that book, which is not your run of the mill stuff, and she got mad at me because it was so far past the line. So she yelled at me and went to bed.
Getting back to my range of books, I also have a children’s book called Craterface, and a collection of my single panel newspaper funnies, called Them There Hills.
NG: You also have several ‘zines available. What can you tell me about those?
MV: The ‘zines are a great venue when I have something that I want to put on paper, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money putting it out. It is also a great way to support my local economy. I have a local copy shop, and I like to kick them some business. It’s also a great way to get people to stop by your table, maybe spend a dollar or two. But even that gets your name out there in their minds.
NG: What have you been doing lately? Has it been mostly working on Death By Dive Bar?
MV: Yes! I just finished work on my DINKy nominated book. After 4 years spent working on that, I finished it. So right now, I’m just trying to let the well recharge. I mean… Dear God! 4 years worth of anything. I look back and it’s like, that is how long I spent in high school!
NG: Is it a collection at all, or is it a completely original work?
MV: Completely original, and non-linear. It is a pick-a-plot style book. It’s only 140 pages, but it is deceptively dense. So it took 4 years to write and it also takes a really long time to read. (laughs)
NG: You have some books about medical marijuana that are actually called Mile High. What can you tell me about those?
MV: Oh, that’s a lot of fun there. I was in the unique position of exploring marijuana in this state before it was legal for everyone. I had a stomach ailment that went undiagnosed for a number of years. I would go to doctors, and they would try to give me pills. When I was young they thought that it could have been abuse. There were so many examinations, and nothing worked. So when medical marijuana became legal in CO, I thought, let’s check it out. Let’s see what happens. And it worked. It actually helped me. But at the same time, I was part of this weird underground culture that had sprung up. There were people buying marijuana from shady doctors offices and shady dispensaries that were popping up as fast as they could be shut down by the state. We had doctors losing their medical licenses for writing prescriptions incorrectly. It was anarchy, like the wild west. It was horrifying, and entertaining, and fascinating to be a part of. I had to preserve it. Because it’s legal in our state, and it’s only a matter of time before its legal everywhere. It is inevitable. So this time needed to be preserved, for posterity.
NG: Are you involved in any of the cannabis portions of the show here at DINK?
MV: I’m not, but I would like to be. Maybe next year? We’ll see. I would like to be a part of that.
NG: What is it like working on a newspaper strip? How did that come about?
MV: The Grand Gazette is run by a woman named Kim Cameron, and I just sent her some of my scripts and she said I was hired as freelance. It has been really challenging. I have flourished on the other side of the line, where I can push my boundaries as far as possible. It’s weird to have to step back over to the all-ages category. It has caused me sleepless nights on more than one occasion. Did I go too far? I don’t know where the line is anymore! I worry, you know? Am I going to get angry letters? Am I going to get socked in the local grocery store?
NG: Have you received any negative feedback at all from the strip?
MV: No. Not at all. Which is a huge relief.
NG: This is your second year attending DINK. What do you think of the show?
MV: It has been fantastic. DINK is an absolutely wonderful show. It is so great to get in on this one on the ground floor, and then to watch it grow and expand. I was speaking to Charlie LaGreca a little bit ago about the DINKy award ceremony, and I was hit by a sense of my place in time. I am so happy that I can say that I can say I was here for the beginning, because this show will only continue to get bigger. The best thing I can say about this show is that the people who come here care about art. They care about what we do. And it sort of doesn’t matter if the people who stop buy your book or not because you can have a conversation with them. But you don’t feel obliged to make small talk about Batman or Star Wars. You can talk about art, or whatever you want. That is the best thing about this crowd.
NG: So you are going to continue to be a part of this show?
MV: I will keep coming as long as they let me through the doors.
NG: If people wanted to find you online, or see more of your books, where would they look?