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Punk Rock Zombies take on Westboro Baptist Church in "Toe Tag Riot"

Never let it be said that indie comic-book writer Matt Miner preferred to avoid controversy. After rattling some cages with his animal-rights advocating comic-book LIBERATOR, Miner has set his sights on the religious zealots of Westboro Baptist Church in his new project TOE TAG RIOT.

The comic features a punk rock band that also happens to be flesh-eating zombies! But if you’re a zombie with a conscience, what – or who - do you eat? Miner answers that question, and others about the proposed comic, in this interview for “Geek To Me”:

Geek To Me: Hey Matt! How's it been? Since we last chatted, your book Liberator has been making waves! How has that been?

Matt Miner: Great!  We just finished up volume 2, which was a mini-series collaboration with the legendary hardcore band Earth Crisis, which told the other side of the story told in their new album, but also tied in to the greater Liberator world.  Readers have been really digging the stories we've been telling with Liberator and I couldn't be happier or more grateful.

Geek To Me: Now I see that you have this new book that pits Zombies versus Westboro Baptist Church? Um...how did THAT come about?

Matt Miner: Well, I commissioned a "zombie Joey Ramone and Sid Vicious" piece from my artist friend Sean Von Gorman, and we both had so much fun with it that it kind of sprouted from that. 

I thought to myself "what would I do if I was a zombie in a punk band?"  Well, I don't eat meat, including humans, but I don't think zombies can subsist on a plant-based-diet.  So I started thinking about what the most-ethical choice a zombie could make in terms of dietary satisfaction and it clicked:  Of course, they could just eat the worst human garbage-people the Earth poops out:  Racists, sexists, and homophobes.

Geek To Me: It's funny how social media can affect marketing of a comic book, isn't it?

Matt Miner: It's funny in the way that Westboro Baptist Church has a direct Twitter-line to publicly call me and Sean "insincere pervs" this morning, I guess?  Haha! I still want to know what, exactly, I'm insincere about.

Geek To Me: And the reaction you got from WBC, that wasn't entirely expected, was it?

Matt Miner: We weren't entirely sure what to expect.  We knew there would be a reaction and I suspected it would be arrogant and we suspected they wouldn't think it out.  Those things all ended up being true.

We hadn't heavily advertised the fact that the two women in the comic were a lesbian couple, even though if you watch the Kickstarter video there's clearly an image of them kissing. 

Westboro's knee-jerk reaction was to praise the book for showing their terrible signs in one single image - they hadn't done their homework or really thought it through before stamping their sarcastic approval on the series.

@MattMinerXVX @VonGormanArt @FrontiersMag You're forcing zombies to EATOURBRAINS! I think we're allowed a lil fun before our gruesome end ;)

— WBC Signs (@WBCsigns) May 28, 2014

Geek To Me: Their rationalization for "supporting" the book seems rather specious, ya' think?

Matt Miner: Oh, for sure - WBC's hateful, ugly signs are visible in one image, which is their rationale for snarkily supporting the book, but Toe Tag Riot is an LGBT-positive comic - a horror/comedy about zombie punks with a ridiculous amount of tongue-in-cheek humor and carnage directed at people like WBC and WBC themselves. 

The book is absolutely endorsing a more inclusive comics community and a more tolerant world in general.

Geek To Me: What are you hoping comes of all this craziness surrounding the book?

Matt Miner: I hope we can all have a laugh and enjoy this fun series, and I hope the thing gets funded.  If the Kickstarter doesn't hit goal then the book won't be made, which would suck.

Geek To Me: How far along has the Kickstarter gotten?

Matt Miner: I think right now we're right at about a quarter funded, with 25 days left?  Something like that.  We're doing well, but we definitely need to keep the momentum going and every pledge is another finger in WBC's black eye.

Geek To Me: If the book is a hit, any chance for a sequel? And if so, who would the Toe Tag Riot go after next?

Matt Miner: You know, Elliott, there are so many awful people in the world. I joked about Toe Tag Riot doing an international tour and visiting Putin, but maybe that's not so far-fetched for the sequel. 

The cool thing about comics is we can totally just sic a zombie attack on anyone who tries to oppress someone for the color of their skin or the gender or sexuality they're born with.




Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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