Interview With Matthew Bogart, Author of The Chairs’ Hiatus

I was really impressed when I stumbled across Matthew Bogart’s The Chairs’ Hiatus a couple of weeks ago, so I asked him a few questions about the project and his history.

Matthew Bogart

You can find out more about his work at his website, which includes full comics to read, and his Kickstarter is already backed with 12 days to go. Just a few more dollars means a new story with the characters, though, so go pledge.

How long have you been making comics? Why and how did you start?

I’ve been making and publishing comics since I was in middle school. Those early comics were 11×17 photocopied sheets folded in half and stapled that my friends and I sold at our local comic store.

I recently wrote the shop owner who let my friends and I sell our comics in his store and told him that, while a Kickstarter doing well is amazing, there’s nothing that compares to having your comics sold in a real live comic shop when you’re in middle school!

I know that some people don’t consider that kind of thing “real” comics, but I do. I’m not sure I’d consider what we made “good” comics but who’s to say?

You seem to be very forward-looking in terms of your use of online tools, with free copies readable on the web, selling PDF downloads, use of ComiXology Submit, a Patreon, and now your first Kickstarter. How successful have the various outlets been for you?

Thanks! I don’t write about it a lot, but I’m really into technology. I feel a pull towards technology similar to when I first discovered comics. I read more tech sites than comics sites. It’s something I really enjoy experimenting with. The trick is to try and balance what is interesting for the creator to play with and what is actually helpful to the reader.

The Chairs' Hiatus page by Matthew Bogart

By far the most rewarding experience I’ve had publishing on the web has been my Patreon. I share weekly video updates, post early versions of my pages, and offer behind-the-scenes posts about how I make my comics. The folks at Patreon, who really seem to have their hearts in the right place, are building something very special for both fans and creators. It’s a wonderful platform.

Am I right in thinking that your Kickstarter is your first time in print?

I could see how you would think that. This is certainly the first time I’ve attempted to have a large print run done of a nicely printed book. I’ve been printing my own work since I was a kid, however. I like to do things that experiment with print as well. I’ve published flipbooks and gate-fold comics. I made a set of cards to be viewed in a turn-of-the-century stereoscope. I’ve even printed a small batch of The Chairs’ Hiatus before, using a print-on-demand publisher. They were black-and-white paperbacks made to take to a few conventions.

What inspired the story of The Chairs’ Hiatus? Why that subject and characters?

That’s a tough one to answer. I’d had an idea for a story about a musician that died and asked a friend of his to complete his final album for him. Around the same time I’d had a friendship dissolve in what seemed like a very permanent way. I can see elements of both of those things in the finished story. I also wanted to tell a story that all took place in one crazy night. I’d read Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and thought it was an interesting restriction to put on a story. I’m not sure if it’s totally clear, but in the last panel of The Chairs’ Hiatus the sun is just starting to come up.

Both The Chairs’ Hiatus and Oh, It’s the End of the World deal with major life changes told through substantial use of flashbacks. What determines your use of that structure?

It’s almost always used to make an emotional beat or scene land in the present. For example, in Oh, It’s the End of the World, there’s a flashback about how what a crazy romantic whirlwind the previous summer was for this character named Erin. It establishes how badly she regretted not expressing her feelings for this boy and how, now that he’s back for summer break again, she’s decided to come out and tell him how she feels. This is all to make the moment later in the story, where the reader finds out that he’s actually started hiding from her, more uncomfortable.

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