Kickstarter You Should Be Backing: DEATH TRAP (Interview with Matt Miner AND Laura Palmer)

This is a special edition of our Kickstarter boost posts. We were able to speak with the writer of the latest campaign and the musician behind the video theme. This is the perfect combination of what we are about here at Pop Culture Squad.

This week we are spotlighting Death Trap. It is a comic story that will be released digitally in four individual issues and then printed in a collected edition.

What is Death Trap?

According to the Kickstarter campaign page:

Death Trap is the story of a young woman named Ollie who grew up in the Strongin Circus crime family, surrounded by sideshow freaks and weird clowns and a huge albino dancing bear named Wojtek.  Her Dad’s killed by a rival crime family at Davenport Amusements, and ends up haunting his old Mercury Cougar muscle car.  So Ollie and her dad’s ghost team up for some sweet, sweet, revenge.

It sounds super cool and the various reward tiers are full of excellent material. We are stoked to see this project get funded.  At three days into the campaign, they are at about 20% of their goal.

The creative team behind Death Trap is:

    •  Matt Miner (words) – GWAR, Poser, Liberator, All We Ever Wanted
    •  Christopher Peterson (art) – Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight, Mayday, Broken World
    •  Josh Jensen (colors) – GWAR, Lab Raider, House of Fear, Doctor Crowe
    •  Matt Krotzer (letters) – Strayed, Retcon, Lab Raider, House of Fear

As we noted earlier, we got a chance to speak with Matt Miner, the writer and creator of the book, about this project. Matt has written comics such as GWAR: Orgasmageddon, Lab Raider, and  Toe Tag Riot, and his work has been featured in various anthologies. He has used Kickstarter to bring three other projects to life.

We were also lucky enough to speak to Laura Palmer, the frontwoman for Screamin’ Rebel Angels. They are a Rock N Roll band that “has kept the dance floors pulsing, and roofs rattling across stages, airwaves and turntables around the globe since 2011!”

Interview with Matt Miner:

Pop Culture Squad: How is this story different than your other Kickstarters and published works?

Matt Miner: Well, Death Trap is a story about this girl Ollie, who grew up in the Strongin Circus crime family, surrounded by sideshow freaks, weird clowns, and a huge albino dancing bear named Wojtek.  Her Dad is killed by a rival crime family at Davenport Amusements, and ends up haunting his old Mercury Cougar muscle car. So, Ollie and her Dad’s ghost team up for some sweet, sweet, revenge.

My other books have generally had some greater social commentary or significance, and while Death Trap is certainly socially aware, there’s no great moral to be learned.  The book is about family, both the kind you’re born into and the kind you find along the way – and trying to do right by your family and make them proud.

PCS: What keeps bringing you back to Kickstarter?

MM: I mean, I’m not rich.  And for some damn reason the artists expect to be able to eat and keep the lights on while they make comics?  Weird, right? So, you’re stuck at a crossroads: make the comic and do the Kickstarter grind, or don’t make the story you have burning in the back of your head.  Clearly, I’m always gonna opt for making the story, especially when there’s an incredible publisher onboard to take it worldwide, should we hit goal and fund our own art. 

PCS: What is the inspiration for the car motif in the story?

MM: Movies like Gone in 60 Seconds and Vanishing Point are big inspirations.  I always found the road films so fun and inspiring and I’ve always loved cars and road trips.  For a couple years in the late 60s, Mercury jumped in the muscle car game with the Cougar, and those are some of my favorite vehicles to ever tear up the blacktop.

PCS: What year is the Cougar?

MM: It’s a 1968, though at this point I’m wondering if it should have been a ’69 just so I could make a dumb joke when someone asks me the year.

PCS: Ha Ha, that’s good. What made you want to tell this story with a female lead?

MM: Most of my stories have female leads.  It’s not something I intentionally do, but I just find women more fun to write, generally.  Writing guys, well once you get deep into a character, part of yourself seeps in and maybe it hits a little too close to home and makes me face my own past, which is something nobody ever wants to do.

PCS: Is Ollie inspired by characters or people and how would you describe her?

MM: She’s an amalgamation of people I’ve known in my past.  She has a rockabilly look, but is inspired in large part by this girl I used to know back in the days of my more active animal rights protest work.  Tough as hell, covered in tattoos (that’s coming to Ollie’s future soon), but once you got through the tough exterior, this woman was not only ridiculously intelligent and intuitive, but fragile and sensitive.  Ollie’s seen some stuff that’s given her a hard shell, but she’s empathetic and operates in the right shades of grey.

PCS: Is there anything about Ollie’s backstory or character traits you feel like sharing before we get the book?

MM: Ollie grew up in the criminal organization, and her Dad was kind of a low-level debt collector and enforcer.  So, he’d break a couple bones here and there, or blacken someone’s eye, but he wasn’t a “bad guy” per se. Even though Ollie disapproved of this work, she was, and continues to be, eager to gain her Dad’s approval.  Making Dad proud is one of Ollie’s goals through the book, but she’s going to see her character arc land somewhere else, where she realizes she doesn’t need his approval to approve of herself.

PCS: Did you do any fun research for this project? Like with sideshows or gearheads? 

MM: Lots of it, and all of it bananas.  The sideshow research was great for getting ideas for circus freaks and pushing it even further and getting a little crazier.  The car stuff comes naturally, as I’ve been lusting after a handful of certain muscle cars for ages.  

PCS: Is there sideshow/carny rivalry?

MM: Yep, Strongin’s Circus, where Ollie sides, is in direct competition with Davenport Amusements, where all the carnies are.  They’re both mobile shows, so for the past few stops, Davenport’s been following Strongin around, and it’s gonna get ugly.

PCS: I have to say I have a lot of questions about the Twins’ biological functions…

MM: The crab twins?  Yeah, my friend Eric Palicki, first thing, said “That’s so f’n awesome!  Also, how do they poop?”

I’ll tell you what I told him:  It’s not polite to ask ladies such things. 

PCS: Does the story open with Ollie already established on her revenge quest with her Dad ghost car or do we meet the ghost & mission at the same time as Ollie?

MM: Ollie’s already in her revenge quest, but the story operates in the current time, and with flashbacks that fill in the past.  So, you’ll get to meet Ollie’s Dad through Ollie’s memories, and kind of see what makes Ollie tick the way she does now. You’ll also get to meet some of the more colorful circus characters and see how they came to be in this ragtag family of weirdos.

PCS: How did you get connected with Laura?

MM: Well this is kind of embarrassing, but we met through Clash of Clans. Remember that mobile game? We were in a vegan clan together and became Facebook friends from there.  Even though that was years ago, we stayed in touch. She’s awesome.

PCS: Thanks Matt, and Good Luck!

Interview with Laura Palmer of Screamin’ Rebel Angels:

Pop Culture Squad: What drew you to this project and lending your music to it as a theme song?

Laura Palmer: I love the absolutely berserk universe that Matt created. It combined so many things that I love: a badass female punk rock lead, muscle cars, sideshow, carnies, vengeance-bound ghosts. The song “Racing Death”, takes on another meaning when used in this context, and just perfectly fits.

I also think that people who like our music will probably also like his comics, just like I did, and vice versa, as there is a lot of comics and music crossover. It seemed like a fun collaboration, and when you’re indie artists, it’s always fun to support one another and break out of your box a bit.

PCS: How did this collaboration between the two of you come about?

LP: Matt approached me to ask if he could use our song “Racing Death” for his Kickstarter video, and the more he told me about the project, the more I could visualize it. I also love Motion Comics, and the ability it has to bring to life a bit of the artwork in a short time, so I offered to animate a few of the panels for the video so that it would really fit with the song. 

PCS: This isn’t your first time marrying comics and music, you did a comic for the Psychobilly Luau event that you organized several years ago. Now you’ve created an animated theme song video for a comic. Is there any further sequential art and rock & roll mash up project you could see yourself doing (or planning)?

LP: I think music and comics just go hand in hand. There is something about both that feed the same part of your brain. They both create a semi-defined universe that gives your brain the freedom to fill in the rest, and it brings the listener or reader into the creative process that way.

It is the magic of this kind of art, making it collaborative between the creator and the enjoyer. Especially when it’s a world of outsiders and fantasy you create a community and a sense of belonging through art and the individual that isn’t matched in real life.

If this project gets funded, and they are able to create the four-part series, then I will be taking one of the stories in the comic, and creating a full length music video for “Racing Death”, with a bit more of a storyline, and more in-depth animation.  That will be the fourth music video for our new record Heel Grinder. (The third one is in post production now.) I am excited how each is so different, and each has been a new challenge to produce, as I write, direct and edit them all.

Check them out on our YouTube! channel



PCS: Where can folks listen to the whole “Racing Death” song? 

LP: Everywhere you normally get your music, but have a listen here:


PCS: And when they want even more Screamin’ Rebel Angels?

LRA: Check us out on Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, or come to a show in real life, or grab some vinyl or CDs!


Make sure you check out the Kickstarter for Death Trap and consider backing it. We will leave you with a few of the finished pages from issue #1.