With the launch of Inferno Girl Red graphic novel on Kickstarter today, we are delighted to be joined by the co-creator and writer Mat Groom. Mat has worked on numerous comics including Self/Made, Crimes of Passion, Tales from the Dark Multiverse, The Rise Of Ultraman and The Trials Of Ultraman.
Hi, Mat thank you for taking the time to sit and chat with us today.
Thanks for having me! I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about INFERNO GIRL RED.
Mat for some of our readers who may not be familiar with your work, could please tell us about yourself?
Sure! I’m from Sydney, Australia, and during the day I work at a creative agency called FOR THE PEOPLE as a writer. And during my evenings and weekends, I write comics! I started with SELF/MADE, a creator-owned series published by Image Comics, I’ve done a few small one-off things for DC Comics, and I currently co-write the ULTRAMAN books for Marvel, with Kyle Higgins!
You have just launched a Kickstarter campaign for your new graphic novel Inferno Girl Red, could you please tell us about the Inferno Girl Red graphic novel?
Absolutely! INFERNO GIRL RED is a 100-page graphic novel about a teenage girl named Cássia Costa who has to overcome her hard-earned skepticism to wield the power of a magical dragon bracelet and save her city, which has been ripped out of our existence by ancient cult and their army of demons! It celebrates hope in the face of darkness and action in the face of apathy, and features a mix of superhero action, teen angst and tokusatsu action.
Why did you choose to use a Kickstarter campaign to release your graphic novel?
We did approach some publishers initially, but the only options before us in traditional publishing were splitting the novel into single issues or giving up the intellectual property rights (and thus control of the destiny of the series). Neither of those options was acceptable to us, so we decided to take the book to Kickstarter! This allows us to genuinely gauge reader enthusiasm for the series and, if funded, will mean our art team can work on the book for the better part of a year and still be able to pay rent and buy food!
Could you tell us about the origin of Inferno Girl Red?
Yeah! The mother of our lead character Cássia, Ana, became something of a pariah years ago for unjust reasons and because of that Cássia and Ana have had to move from city-to-city, barely getting by as Ana looked for work. It’s not like Cássia has a bad life, Ana is a supportive and loving and enthusiastic parent, but their situation has meant that Cássia has grown up pragmatic, and highly-rational– not a big believer in fairy tales.
But when she gets an invitation to a prestigious boarding school in the near-utopian Apex City, it looks like her situation is about to turn around. Her skepticism seems to be validated, though, when the entire city is ripped out of our existence. It looks like there might be hope when Cássia encounters a magical dragon bracelet that lets her transform into INFERNO GIRL RED… but the gauntlet is powered by belief, and Cássia might be the worst person in the world to wield it…
Is there a reason you wanted to release Inferno Girl Red as a graphic novel instead of telling the story in parts using single issues?
It’s a little difficult to describe other than ‘this felt right like the right format for the story’. I write single issues for ULTRAMAN, I wrote single issues for SELF/MADE (and particularly loved playing with the format there), but at every stage of building this story it was clear to me that this story would work best as a novel, with a bit more time to breathe and without the need to have a beginning, middle and end every 20(ish) pages as you really should in single-issue comics.
How did Erica D’Urso join the project and what has it been like working with her?
Editor Kyle Higgins and I conducted a long search for the right artist for the series, but it wasn’t until we found Erica (who was recommended to us by Francesco Manna, our artist collaborator on ULTRAMAN) that we knew we’d found the right person. Erica can handle explosive, dynamic action just as easily as heartfelt emotional moments, and that was the balance we needed—but she also has a tremendous sense of style and design that fit just right. Since we’ve been working together, I’ve also discovered that she is lovely, enthusiastic, wildly inventive and really dedicated. So, basically, I’m the luckiest writer in the world!
Can you talk us through the design of the character of Inferno Girl Red and how her look came about?
Well that was all Erica, but I can talk a little to the conversations we had during the design process. We talked a lot about the awesome design aesthetics of tokusatsu heroes like the SUPER SENTAI and the KAMEN RIDERS… but also the design choices of recently-created American superheroes.
Ultimately, the goal was to create something clear and iconic, but also very forward-thinking and fresh… I think Erica absolutely nailed it. There are so many great touches, from the super sneakers to the energy scarf… and it was all Erica.
On The Inferno Girl Red graphic novel you are working with Igor Monti, Becca Carey and Kyle Higgins what has been like working with them?
Oh it’s been a dream. Igor and Becca are both doing work that I really do think will be looked back on as ahead of its time. Igor creates these wondrously vivid and electric palettes that look kind of wild but actually aren’t, they’re very carefully guiding the tone of each page from panel-to-panel. And what he does with light and shadow is some sort of magic trick. Becca took our request to make the lettering feel as emotive and dynamic and create as the art… and just RAN with it. So good.
As for Kyle—we’ve been friends for years, and we co-write ULTRAMAN together, so we have a very natural working relationship. But I never take his experience for granted—he has so much wisdom to share, both about storytelling but also about the process of producing comics, which is really important to know if you’re doing a creator-owned comic.
Do you have a favourite Kickstarter reward?
Oh actually my favourite I can’t talk about just yet because we haven’t announced it quite yet, it’s taking a little longer to finalise—but it’s SO cool, and I think completely unlike anything I’ve seen from a comics Kickstarter before.
But that’s a bad, vague answer, so I’ll instead say: our art prints. Seeing our world interpreted by legends like Nicola Scott and Darko Lafuente and Tiffany Turrill and so many more… it’s been an incredible thrill and a real privilege, and I’m so happy with how they turned out.
Is there a connection between Inferno Girl Red and Radiant Black?
Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?
I hope you’ll consider backing our campaign! It’s a genuine passion project from a team of creators pouring their hearts and souls into it, and there’s no way it can come to life without community support. So please, come check out our campaign—come for the gorgeous art, stay (and back) for the heartfelt and timely story that has something to say about what it’s going to take for humanity to persevere.
We would like to say thank you to Mat for talking to us about his new project. We would like to wish the whole team of Inferno Girl Red the best of luck with their campaign.
To support the campaign, visit Kickstarter: Inferno Girl Red.