Fed up with the lack of new British humour comics being published by the major publishers, Rochdale-based comics creator Joe Matthews decided to publish his own. As we previously reported, Issue Three of his wonderful Funny Monsters Comic is on sale now, featuring the “Zackster – Kid Zombie” (this time at the beach and causing mayhem!), “The Bed Bugs” (investugating a mysterious hair) and “Werewolf Growl” as well as a text story, “Milly, Monster Hunter”, and some great activity page. Every issue comes with free stickers and trading cards as an enticing gift.
“It seems I was always destined to be a cartoonist,” says Joe, who has also worked as a storyboard artist on the animated show Bob the Builder. “My childhood days where filled creating superheroes and comics, contributing to fanzines in the mid 70’s and self publishing my own fanzine at the age of 13. By 1985 I started having a few cartoons published in the Beano.”
His credits on DC Thomson’s humour weekly include “Ivy the Terrible”, “Ball Boy” and Billy Whiz”.
“Then, with the big influx of ‘lads’ comics I created ‘Thud n Bud’, the brainless bouncers which ran in Gas and then continued in UT. During this time I also contributed to the Newcastle-based Sunday Sun newspaper with a weekly feature called ‘The Sunday Gang’, which ran for just over two years.
“Despite unsuccessful trials on Count Duckula, Barbie and Rug Rats for London Editions, this did eventually lead to Tom & Jerry Comic and Baby Loony Tunes.
These days, you’ll see his illustrations on greetings cards and in ‘Little Monsters’ books. I was also privileged to work with him myself, on strips for Lucky Bag Comic.
“In recent years, I’ve concentrated on my own characters and publications,” he tells us. To this end, he set up his current business, Impact Printworks to concentrate on several projects in the Rochdale area, despite having clients in United States and Australia. These include the monthly All Star Squad comic for Rochdale’s Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre Kids Club since 2011, and Princess Pop Dancers comics for the Shaw-based dance school, Anna’s Dance.
The kids club was the idea of Rochdale’s Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre manager Martin Ballard, as he tried to increase communication and interaction with all of the centre’s customers.
The Centre has run a number of events over the past few years with a comics and SF film and TV theme, all designed to encourage footfall.
“I’ve always thought it important that we interact with shoppers of all ages,” Martin explained back in 2013 for the Centre’s newsletter, “and the best way to do that with the younger visitors is offer things to do, free of charge on a monthly basis.
“What better way to tell the members what’s going on than having Rochdale’s very own cartoonist and animator.”
The All Star Squad – a monthly four-page comic with strips, puzzles and colouring competitions – features heroes from all around the borough fighting against evil enemies such as ‘The Muck Monster,’ ‘The Beast of Blackstone Edge’ and ‘Negatron’.
More recently, Joe teamed up with his wife Michelle to form a new company, Animal Impact PE Ltd, to create a unique ready-prepared PE coaching programme for Key Stage 2 in primary schools. Joe’s animated characters help engage children in Michelle’s themed PE lessons and teachers are supplied with illustrated crosscurricular worksheets to bring learning from PE into the classroom.
And that brings us to his latest project…
“With characters like Zackster the Kid Zombie, Werewolf Growl and Millie the Monster Hunter, Funny Monsters Comic is a hark back to the 1970s comics such as Monster Fun and Shiver & Shake and is now on its third issue,” says Joe. “The comic comes with collectable cards and stickers.”
And does he have any advice for aspiring cartoonists?
“Yes – keep doodling!”
• All three issues of Funny Monsters Comic will be available to buy at Lancaster Comics Day on Sunday 14th June for £1 each. Joe will also be doing signed sketches of the characters as well as doing portraits were he will draw you as a Zombie – an idea which has proved to be very popular at other events and a lot of fun!
• For more information about Funny Monsters Comic visit the comic’s official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Funny-Monsters-Comic/713887701981304
• Follow Joe on Twitter @FunnyMonstersCo