While attending New York Comic Con 2017, PopCultHQ had the fortunate opportunity to chat with comic creators Matt Mair Lowery & Cassie Anderson. The creative duo was on-hand repping Dark Horse Comics and promoting the collected volume of their series LIFEFORMED: CLEO MAKES CONTACT, a YA sci-fi comic published by Dark Horse. Matt (writer) and Cassie (artist) were just the nicest people to speak to at the event.
I do want to briefly take a moment to apologize to the two of them for not getting this interview published sooner. NYCC kicked my butt and I had so many things come up, this interview unfortunately got sidelined in the process. But it was important to me to get this out because I want you all to hear from these fun, passionate creators and the wonderful series they have on their hands. They blessed me with a signed copy at the con and it was a fantastic read on the flight back to California. So to Matt and Cassie, I want to sincerely apologize for my negligence on going live with this interview. I hope what I’ve put together here in this article makes up for that in some way.
Okay, back to our regularly scheduled program. Hear Matt explain his desire to write in the YA genre, Cassie details what she most wanted to capture in the series, and preview LIFEFORMED: CLEO MAKES CONTACT and see for yourself why this trade paperback is a collection that should be on every family’s shelves.
PopCultHQ Spotlight Interview:
Matt Mair Lowery & Cassie Anderson
PopCultHQ: Let’s talk about LIFEFORMED. How did the two of you come together to collaborate on this project?
Matt Mair Lowery: I had been working on the story for a little while, and I decided to search around online to see if I could find somebody to work on it. [Cassie] was one of the first people I came across, her portfolio, a couple of different places (Tumblr). So I just got in touch with her; we had coffee, we hit it off, and we did some test pages. They turned out really great, so we went from there and we developed an issue-sized pitch.
PopCultHQ: And it got picked up by Dark Horse!
Matt: Yeah, it got picked up by Dark Horse!
Cassie Anderson: [Matt] sent me a script initially, which is different than what you read today.
PopCultHQ: Okay, so it’s evolved since then?
Cassie: Yeah it’s changed a lot, but for the best. There was something about the characters that really drew me in. They intrigued me and I kind of wanted to see where their stories went and what kind of adventures they go on. I was really interested in the story from the start, and getting to draw it was a real treat!
PopCultHQ: Wonderful! So you’re both here at NYCC promoting LIFEFORMED, this graphic novel essentially. It’s like five issues, isn’t? Or like five chapters?
Matt: Five parts, yeah.
Cassie: We have some ideas. We’d like to continue, but we’re going to wait and see how this book goes, then go from there.
Matt: Definitely a lot planned. Hopefully we’ll get to execute that. Hopefully a trilogy or more, is kind of what I have in my head.
PopCultHQ: Awesome! Let’s talk about the writing. What inspired you to bring this story to life? What is it about the story that made you decide this is the story you wanted to tell?
Matt: I have a couple of girls and Cleo is the hero of this story, who’s a little bit of an amalgam of them. She taken on a life of her own, of course. I wanted something [in the genre] that I could read with my two daughters, which just got me thinking about it. Then the stories just started coming. They seemed like they would make a great comic, something that we could share. Something in the 10-and-up that we could read together and talk about, enjoy and discuss, like we did with other things they read.
Matt: I think that now there’s…I started the story about five years ago or so. I kind of feel like in that time, there’s a lot of great stuff that’s come out – Lumberjanes, Goldie Vance – there’s some of that stuff that’s a little more genre-ish and in that zone. I just don’t feel like there’s a place that isn’t filled necessarily with the family-ish story. It’s about Cleo and an alien who is filling in for her dad.
PopCultHQ: Like something with a message [behind it]?
Matt: Yeah, something with a message, and with that family connection – in dealing with growing up and trying to raise kids as well. Sometimes you feel like an alien trying to raise kids, sometimes your kids seem like aliens.
Cassie: [laughing in agreement]
Matt: It feels like that’s something that’s not mined. Also, I feel there’s always room for more of girls seeing a girl hero in the sci-fi realm. I feel that’s still not something you see a lot of [today]. Like a Sarah Connor for kids, I think that’s a role that can still be filled.
PopCultHQ: It’s great that you’re able to bring that out.
Matt: Oh yeah.
PopCultHQ: And Cassie, what was your artistic inspiration [for Lifeformed]? What did you find most challenging or most important to bring out of the writing?
Cassie: We talked about it and there’s this overarching, big story with the aliens and everything. But the heart of the story is the small moments. That was what I really wanted to draw was those small moments. The emotional significance of Cleo and her dad, and the alien posing as her dad, the relationships.
The things that were most challenging to draw, the things that were outside of my comfort zone, like buildings, explosions, and aliens. But I learned a lot and I think I’ve grown a lot because of it.
PopCultHQ: That’s wonderful, that you just don’t “play it safe.”
Cassie: [laughing in agreement]
Matt: She was very willing to go to those places where she wasn’t comfortable.
PopCultHQ: And did that come up? Did you guys discuss and say, “Hey, this is something that may be a little challenging for me.”?
Cassie: Um, I don’t know. [to Matt] Did I? I’m always like, “I can draw it. I can figure out a way to draw it.” It might not look as good as I want it to, but I will figure it a way. [Matt] gave me the opportunity – he said, “What would you like to draw?” I’d say, “I want to draw a forest!” and he’d write in a forest.
Matt: We have a big climactic battle in a forest, so that’s where that came from.
PopCultHQ: That makes for a great collaboration! That truly shows you guys are really working together!
Special thanks to Matt & Cassie for making time to speak with PopCultHQ and for Dark Horse setting up our interview!
Be sure to follow the team online (links below) for all the latest from each, and both, of these talented creators! And check out all of what Dark Horse Comics is doing too! Here’s a preview of Matt and Cassie’s book. Be sure to snag a copy today!
Genre: Science-Fiction, Action/Adventure
Publication Date: September 13, 2017
Format: FC, 192 pages; TPB 6”x 9”
Age range: 12
The fight for Earth’s future!
In the wake of an alien invasion–and her fathers death–a young girl must fight for the future of Earth. Aided by a shape-shifting rebel alien posing as her father, the unlikely pair bond, fight back, and ponder what it means to be human. The powers of choice, courage, and unity are examined in Lifeformed: Cleo Makes Contact, an unforgettable debut work from creators Matt Mair Lowery and Cassie Anderson.
* The first work by up-and-coming creators Matt Mair Lowery and Cassie Anderson!
* Young adult sci-fi adventure starring a relatable, endearing young heroine.
Follow LIFEFORMED online!
Follow Matt Mair Lowery online!
Follow Cassie Anderson online!
Follow Dark Horse Comics online!