Matt Blairstone writes:
August 18th, 2014, I quit drinking.
August 31st, 2014, I got married.
Once my wife and I had maneuvered that flaming hopscotch court more or less unscathed, it was time to figure out what to do with all this new, sober free time. It…was quite a lot of free time, incidentally (at least for a little while; we’ll get to that.)
My wife is a professional illustrator and my best critic/motivator; I was a “writer” who hadn’t really drawn anything in over 20 years (Note: a disproportionate amount of drunks say they’re writers; most of them just don’t have anything to say at the moment. Or maybe ever. But trust me, we’ll still tell you we’re “writers”.) Nonetheless, she gave me a sketchbook and a grayscale marker set and told me to get busy.
I drew our dog. Not bad. I nailed her glassy, annoyed eyes, at least. And the way she tries to make her muscular frame look tiny when she curls up to nap.
Then I drew a human skull with antlers, apparently (I’m looking at that sketchbook now.) Well, I have listened to my fair share of Celtic Frost.
Then some kind of Gill-Man in a satanic psychedelic setting that wouldn’t be out of place in the journal of someone who had last drawn something over 20 years ago. This is all pretty boilerplate, right?
And then I drew a giant Cyclops fighting a robot on the moon before a horizon of lunar pyramids. Lovecraftian tentacles descended ominously from the space above them. A tantrum-prone pumpkin-monster with an uncanny resemblance to Dr. Doom stomped past a horse-headed man in a shredded lab coat wielding a severed human head. Mad Doctors was born. And that stew of disparate absurdity is still, pretty much, what Mad Doctors looks like today, three issues and (almost) three years later: if Ray Harryhausen and Jack Kirby had designed Masters of the Universe action figures.
I’m Matt Blairstone. I’m 41 years old and three weeks shy of three years of sobriety. I’m in the midst of my first Kickstarter and about to tell you why, in a veritable galaxy full of amazing comics and projects desperate for your precious dollars, you should give Mad Doctors a read.
I went to film school in Chicago from 1998-2001, and that was a great time for reckless creativity and unchecked ambitions. But the film “crew” slowly drifted away across the states and I followed a girl who’s not the girl anymore to Portland, Oregon. I gigged around in a few bands (the holy trinity of comics and film in my life is completed by guitar rock of many flavors).
I did what creative types, artists and “writers” are wont to do: kick around the service industry. Basically settled into indie-restaurant management as a respectable Portland career, met the real girl, and drank like I worked in the service industry. Until I didn’t.
Quitting drinking was hard, and I don’t want to belittle that by breezing over the details and anguish, and I don’t want to make light of anyone else’s struggles with it. But I’m not here to talk about going sober, exactly. I’m here to talk about what came after.
Because I found something I love a whole lot more than booze.
Before David Lynch or punk rock saved my life, there had been comic books. Numerous touchstones throughout my adolescence:
- A tattered copy of Incredible Hulk #131, missing the cover, scooped up from some Midwest garage sale, featuring poor ol’ misunderstood Greenskin duking it out (yet again) with that rakish dick, Iron Man;
- The first issue of Transformers in 1984, my first “real” comic book purchase off the spinner rack of the local Kroger store (again, a Midwest thing); this was the first series I collected faithfully, month after month;
- My discovery of Alan Moore‘s Swamp Thing on the public library’s Bookmobile. I was too young to grasp much of its nuance, but I knew that I had discovered something special, something arcane…
Marshal freaking Law.
I had drawn my own comics as a boy; odd, crude things that looked like a mishmash of Hellraiser and professional wrestling (only much later did I realize that I was tapping into some serious 2000AD zeitgeist, minus the talent). But then life, as it does, happened, and I bounced around outsider film and metal bands and horror fiction and, y’know, jobs that actually paid me.
When my wife gave me that sketchbook, and I started drawing warriors with surgical scrubs and bo staffs, I realized that Mad Doctors was an encapsulation of so many snapshots from throughout my life.
I was creating something that tied it all together. Silver age comics, monster movies, punk rock, 80s action figures, the pulp pulp PULP of Star Wars and Planet of the Apes and Barbarella. A mishmash of sci-fi and fantasy, and a soundtrack where Voivod, the Ramones and KISS all fight for airtime.
It was something to believe in, something to stick with, to remain committed and dedicated to. I’ve worked nearly every day for the past three years on some aspect of Mad Doctors.
It is something I share with my wife: our artistic time together. We are both far better, more productive people these days.
And oh yeah, then we went and had an awesome little baby boy seven months ago and blew the whole carefully disciplined process all to hell! The art ground to a halt for a minute there, but we’re piecing it back together again. It’s much easier finding my center these days, knowing I’ve got a delightful family unit and Mad Doctors to constantly come back to.
I realize I haven’t really told you what Mad Doctors is yet, so here’s a more conventional pitch:
“When a spy is captured in a rival Doctor’s kingdom, all (literal) Hell breaks loose. Savage warfare erupts between the two dominant Mad Lands, the fallout of which will forever alter the socio-medical landscape of Doctorworld!”
In a world consumed with conquering time travel, building a better Death Ray, and Frankenstein-ing every spare corpse in sight, capital-D Doomsday is always just around the corner. Every woman, man, cyclops, cyborg and sentient vegetable is a god unto her-, him- or itself, and boy…do these gods know how to dream BIG!
In a smaller sense, the first three-issue arc (80 pages total) of Mad Doctors introduces the two rival powerhouses of Doctorworld, the uneasy balance of power between them, and their seemingly inevitable march toward Doctor World War.
One kingdom is ruled by Dr. Nero Lynott: beloved, brilliant…and oh, hey, he’s a giant purple cyclops. Across the battlefield is Dr. Laganeria “Lago” Fatum: great and terrible, Practioner of Rather Dark Arts, prone to third-person monologues, and most assuredly not a sentient gourd wearing a Dr. Doom mask. Along the way we’ll encounter a cybernetic Tyrannosaurus Rex, human-crayfish hybrids, and a fellow Mad Doctor who can successfully send his skeletal system (yes, only his bones) forward in time. And lots and lots of robots. Sounds thrilling, n’est ce pas?!
After the events of our initial Three-Act story are completed, the world of Mad Doctors will be blown wide open (literally) to countless avenues of storytelling possibilities. In fact, production of the first offshoot series, Mad Doctors: Mondo Cosmico, is already well underway! Until the wrong Mad Doctor gets his finger on the wrong End-Of-The-World button, I, your faithful chronicler, will be here to share their stories.
Mad Doctors is a love letter to all dreamers who are unafraid to go out in a ghastly inferno of glory and drag this whole accursed world along with them just to achieve their mad, mad, mad dreams. And that, dear Reader, is a really long way of saying it is a love letter to YOU!
AND TO SUM UP, IN ALL SINCERITY…
Mad Doctors is, in many ways, a reflection on the nature of faith vs. science. In our increasingly volatile world, where battle lines are being drawn on seemingly every topic — you are either for this or for that — this feels like a quite prescient debate and well worth having.
“Mad Doctors. Where breaking the law of reality is the only law of the land.”
My Kickstarter aims to fund large enough print runs for the first two issues of Mad Doctors and the first issue of Mondo Cosmico so that the series can feed itself from here on out. As a special thank you to Bleeding Cool devotees, anyone who kicks in $10 or more and mentions hearing about it on Bleeding Cool will receive a black light poster in addition to the listed tiered rewards.
Mad Doctors is recommended for fans of:
*Kirby, Steranko, Starlin and Romita Sr. (my Mount Rushmore)
*Modern day indie marvels like Copra, Space Mullet and Space Riders
*He-Man, Star Wars, and the poetry of Ace Frehley (I promise you, it’s a very real thing.)
Thank you, Bleeding Cool, for letting me go on about my passion, and thank you for reading this. Go Go Mondo Culto!
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