Interview: Matt Jorgensen Talks SciFi Art & His Comic Book Project ‘MetalHeads’
While trawling Kickstarter recently I came across an interesting campaign to raise money for a graphic novel titled MetalHeads by Matthew Jorgensen, who over the years has worked on numerous television shows and movies. So I approached Matt to discuss his work and ask him a few questions about MetalHeads, which looks like it could be a comic book story worth investing in.
Below is what Matt had to share with me about his work and experiences in film, television and comics.
SciFiPulse: Matt going by your resume alone, you’ve done a lot in the visual arts from sculpture, painting and CGI. Could you talk about what got you interested in the visual arts and how that has let you into comics?
Matt Jorgensen: I think I was born with an interest in the visual arts. My grandfather was a fine jeweler, my brother, Michael, is a fine artist and woodworker and my Dad could draw and was a fan of the old newspaper comic strips – Milt Caniff was his favorite. It was also my Dad that shared with me his liking of Science Fiction. I’d say my Dad’s appreciation of the comic medium naturally led to my parents not minding that I developed a voracious appetite for comics when I was a kid. The comics led directly into my reading Science Fiction and Fantasy novels.
SFP: I see that you worked on both Inception and Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull. Could you talk a little about what your responsibilities were in those films and perhaps what we should look for the next time we pull those movies out to watch on DVD or Blu Ray?
Matt Jorgensen: Yeah, that was at WM Creations. For Indiana Jones we did a likeness make up for Harrison Ford’s stunt man and then we did a whole bunch of these large skeleton plates that looked like bones being dug out of cave walls and floors.
For Inception we made silicone body doubles for the main stars. They were used in the scenes where the bodies are bound together and floating in the dream hotel room. They got good coverage and those were all my paint jobs.
SFP: I noticed that you have worked at The Stan Winston studios and I have to ask if you ever met the great man at all?
Matt Jorgensen: Oh yes, absolutely. It was my second day, I was sculpting and he comes in and says, “Hi, I’m Stan.” He was pretty hands on with the sculpts, always making sure you had good reference and stuff like that.
SFP: You also worked on shows such as Babylon 5 and X Files. Which must have been a little like night and day with X Files being so much more Earth Bound. Do you have any memories you could share with us from your time on those shows?
Matt Jorgensen: Ha! Yeah, I remember 16 hour days 7 days a week. And that was just the average. We didn’t really have time to think about the differences of the shows. We had Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the same time so you would just go from one kind of creature to the next. I remember one night, Buffy, Angel and the X-files all had big episodes that were due on the same day. I painted six gelatin heads and six silicone chests for the X-files, then about a dozen prosthetics for Angel and the same for Buffy. That was a twenty-four hour shift. And there were a lot more than that.
SFP: I’ve noticed that you’ve ticked one of the boxes at DC Comics having drawn The Green Lantern, but am wondering if there is a hero from DC other than Green Lantern that you’d love to have a crack at. And how do you think you could do it different from the current artists?
Matt Jorgensen: Well, my Green Lantern wasn’t the Green Lantern. It was a one shot story about a corrupt GL who gets his in the end. My favorite DC character, like so many others, is Batman. He would be a real challenge to be totally original with him because so much has already been done, but it would be fun to try. One DC guy I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on is Dr. Fate. I think you could do some true surrealism and pan-dimensional stuff with him that wouldn’t really fit on other characters.
SFP: You also did work on a Conan comic book series. What was it that interested you so much about that character in particular?
Matt Jorgensen: I’m a fan of Fantasy, especially Michael Moorcock and Robert E. Howard. With Conan and his world I think that Howard really tapped into what makes archetypal Mythology. He understood that heroes are fallible, human. Conan wasn’t always driven by what was right – sometimes he was driven by lust or greed. He always seemed like a real guy to me, despite the fantastical trappings. That’s why I can put Howard on my bookshelf right next to Homer.
SFP: While on the subject of comics. I first came to notice you via your Kickstarter campaign for MetalHeads and am just wondering if you’d like to talk about that?
Matt Jorgensen: Yes, sir!
SFP: I have to say from the little I have seen of MetalHeads it looks like it could make for a fascinating visual feast and it seems a tad Cyberpunk in how it looks. Would you say that’s a fair description?
Matt Jorgensen: First off, thanks for your kind words.
I would have no problem with someone describing Metalheads as a bit Cyberpunk. To be honest, I didn’t set out to make a Cyberpunk piece, initially. It just sort of flowed in that direction.
SFP: What would you say the inspiration is for MetalHeads? How did the idea come about?
Matt Jorgensen: Ah, the artist’s most feared question.
The idea for the society and politics of Metalheads comes from extrapolating our present world economic problems. The genesis of the worldwide recession lies at the feet of unrestrained corporate practices, mostly in the banking arena. And, though there’s much blame, no one has actually been held accountable. So my question becomes this: what would the world look like if the governments of the Earth ceased to exist and we had true corporate governance? The entire planet would become, if you will, a company town. Everything you do must benefit the corporate state. Unlike Mussolini’s Fascism where government was partnered with corporations, this would be corporations as government. (Advertising would really be cutthroat) There would, of course, be problems between the companies, but all that’s big picture background, you need something to focus it through. You need characters.
In my case, these are characters that live outside of the normal society, some of them were thrust outside, others were born there. But they’re rebellious in nature. Not rebels in a military sense, but rebellious in the way that the Beats, Mods, Rockers, Hippies and Punks were. They deliberately cultivate a different look, rough clothes, tattoos, piercings; we’ve all seen it. So my guys go further, they’re body modificationists. But they don’t simply alter their bodies; they add and replace parts with illegal cybernetics, weapons and computers. They wear their differences with honor – they know they could never pass as company men.
That they live in the unused subways of New York was inspired by an article I read a few years back about how there actually are people that live in some of the vacant subway tunnels of New York.
So, What happens when a group of naturally rebellious people gets pushed to the brink by a monolithic, uncaring, selfish government? Historically (and in the present) we see those people strike back.
Throw in some absurdist color commentary and you’ve got Metalheads.
You can learn more about ‘Metalheads’ and also donate to the kickstarter campaign at:
Written By: Ian Cullen
Ian Cullen is the owner of scifipulse.net. A wannabe musician. Ian is a legend in his own mind and when not working on the website host the hugely successful SFP-NOW Podcast he can be found skulking around empty corridors. A longtime fan of genre television and movies Ian was also a producer on the Reality On Demand web-series and has even been published in the official Star Trek Magazine.
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