When most people think about vigilante comic books, images of The Punisher or Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass come to mind. Those heroes are ordinary people, who make an extraordinary difference, but what if these ordinary heroes didn’t focus on muggings or gangers but turned their attention to helping those who are almost incapable of helping themselves?
That is what Matt Miner aims to do in his Kickstarter funded project titled Liberator. Consisting of four issues, Liberator follows the adventures of Damon and Jeanette who take drastic measures to protect animals from cruelty but vow that no one will get hurt in the process. The books; however, are headed by two protagonists.
Bleeding Cool ran a story that contained the first five pages of Liberator, which you can find here.
Artist Joel Gomez, who has done covers from The Flash to Justice League and the interiors of such books as Witchblade, accompanies miner on this story of avenging animal cruelty.
Miner’s Kickstarter page still has a few days left on it and is close to being funded but still has a few hundred dollars to go before the goal of $18,000 is met. Project backers can get everything from signed issues, to original art commissions, to having your own pet drawn into the cover of an issue of as happy rescue animal. If you are interested in donating towards the project, you simply have to click and you will be brought to Miner’s Kickstarter page.
I had a chance to talk to Miner about Liberator.
You are an animal activist, working to protect and save animals of all kinds. Have you put any of your experiences into your writing? Any real life stories/horrors/successes that made it into the book?
Liberator’s inspired by my own experiences in the AR and rescue worlds along with my friends’ and the people I’ve only read about who take these extra-legal clandestine actions for animals. My own rescued pit bulls were used for artist reference in the first issue and all the evils our heroes tackle are loosely inspired by any number of real life events. There’s a whole underground movement for animals that’s just fascinating – it’s gutsy, heroic stuff, like real-life superheroes for animals. The name Liberator is a nod to an underground animal rights support group ‘zine from the 80s of the same name.
Why do you feel a comic book is the best way to tell this story?
When I first learned about this underground movement, these vigilantes putting on masks in the middle of the night to help animals, they sounded to me like Batman but for animals. These folks don’t hurt anyone, but they’re seriously badass nonetheless and they will wreck your world if you’re in the business of hurting animals. I mean, it’s masked vigilantes seeking vengeance on behalf of the voiceless and abused… totally comic book stuff just waiting to be written.
Do you have plans to carry the series out past four issue if possible?
Absolutely. I have Liberator stories for a long time and am psyched to be able to start telling them. I’ll keep writing them as long as people keep reading them.
What inspired you to become an animal activist? Any particular moment or story from your life?
Even in the animal world, nobody’s ever asked me this outside of my wife. In 2003 my house burned while I was out of town. I came home to, literally, a wet smoldering shell of a home and my cat Cootie had been killed. I lost everything that day, including a lifelong collection of comics, action figures and original art, but what killed me inside and what still hurts even to this day was the loss of my cat. I’ve never forgiven myself for letting her die like that and so I started to re-evaluate my life and where I stood when it came to animals. I wanted to make things right. Every time I rescue a cat or a dog, every time I get some poor abused animal out of an abusive hellhole, it’s all dedicated to her.
Do you still read comic books? If so, what do you read? What do you read outside of comic books? What are some of your all time favorite comic books?
I love comics. I’ve read comics since I was a kid and I’ll be reading comics when I’m old and grey. Right now I’m loving Batman and Batgirl, I’m catching up on The Boys in trade and I’m really digging Ultimate Spider-Man. I just love Miles Morales and Bendis is freakin’ amazing writing that book. Other favorites at the moment are The Massive and pretty much any of Steve Niles’ twisted stuff.
My all-time favorite comics are the dark 80s Batman books I grew up with like Killing Joke, Year One and Dark Knight Returns, along with V for Vendetta, Preacher and, my latest addition to my “favorites” list: Sweet Tooth. I mostly like the darker, grittier stuff – it resonates with me.
Outside of comics I’m a big fan of political history, books focusing on different social justice movements, nonfiction accounts of twisted shit like serial killers and I’ve also been really into Duane Swierczynski’s crime novels this past month or so.
Does being an animal rescuer ever weigh heavy on your heart or do you find it do be a more rewarding experience?
Yeah, I mean, every time I fail it weighs heavily on my heart. Every time I’m trying to get an animal out of a kill shelter and I’m too late it kills me. On the flip side, every time I fall in love with one of our foster dogs and adopt them out it breaks my heart, too. You have to be tough to be in rescue but there’s really no better feeling than seeing a dog or cat you took away from an abuser and brought back to health be adopted to their loving forever home.
You have partnered up with artist Joel Gomez. What brought you both together on this project?
I met Joel through a recommendation from Freddie Williams Jr. I’d gotten a commission from Freddie and since I was serious about putting together this project and had money set aside for it, I asked him if he had any buddies who might be down to do the book. I was already familiar with Joel’s work, so it was a no brainer for me – Freddie introduced us by email and we went from there. Joel’s really helped bring the storytelling to the next level and make Liberator shine.
When should we expect “Liberator” to hit shelves?
I hear that you “may” see Liberator on shelves in May. Haw haw funny joke. No, really, it’ll be in stores in May.
What pets do you have yourself?
We have 2 pit bulls, 3 cats and at the moment a foster Rottweiler and another pit bull foster.
Is there going to be a heavy punk influence throughout the book?
I grew up in the punk music scene and, considering how many punk bands support radical politics, I thought it’d be a nice way to say “thanks” to some of my favorite bands if I put little nods to them in the book. That’s why Jeanette’s wearing a Conflict shirt at one point and Damon has a Flux of Pink Indians poster in his apartment.
What advice do you have for people who want to get into animal rescuing? What about comic books?
If you want to get into rescuing be ready for a lot of heartache and an enormous amount of hard work. Same advice holds true for comics.