Now come on!
Chapter 54: The start of something new...
Hi there. I’ve been lying to you. I am, in fact, a liar.
My name is Matthew Rosenberg and for the past year or so this has been my personal newsletter where I talk about my comic projects, stuff I’m reading, dogs I run into, and weirdly chocolate milk. It all seemed so casual. But all of that was bullshit. It was all practice leading up to this post.
But let’s back up.
Years ago, when I realized I wanted to make comics for a living or die trying, my friend and I decided to make up “a name” to present our work under. Our thinking was, if it seemed like we were being published by some unknown company, maybe some real publishers would think we were worth noticing. It seemed like pretending to be a publisher was the smart move. It wasn’t. But that fake publisher was called Ashcan Press. We worked under the banner of Ashcan Press for years, begging our way into comic conventions, sleeping on other people’s hotel room floors, and doing whatever we could to get our comics into the hands of anyone who might care.
Now let’s jump forward an indeterminate amount of time.
Now I’ve managed to do okay for myself despite my very dumb ideas. I’ve worked on some of the biggest comics in the world like Detective Comics, Uncanny X-Men, The Joker, New Mutants, WildC.A.T.S., The Punisher, Star Wars, and of course, Iron Man 2020: Force Works. I’ve also co-written an album with a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, created multiple things that have been sold to film and television companies, and I wrote a graphic novel for a Christian metal band that I honestly forgot doing until I found a copy of it behind my bookshelf the other day. But the works I am most proud of are the titles I co-created from nothing. WE CAN NEVER GO HOME and 4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK are series that will always hold a special place in my heart. And for the past few years I’ve had the honor of making WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE? with my partner Tyler Boss. We have been incredibly lucky that it has exceeded our wildest dreams for what our silly little world might do, found a very devoted audience, and it may be my favorite thing I’ve ever made. But as everything goes well I can’t help but be reminded of those scrappy days where we’d do anything to get the chance to just make more comics. And, like Chekhov’s fake publishing company, what was mentioned in the first act must always come back in the third act to blow everything up. Sorry if that just spoiled Uncle Vanya for you.
So, Ashcan Press is finally a publisher?
No. Not really. Or at least not in the traditional sense. Ashcan Press was a lie we told to make it seem like we knew what we were doing. But I now know how to make all these comics that have been kicking around in my head all these years. I want to create things that challenge me, inspire me, amuse me, confuse me, move me, and frighten me. And I want to do that with some of the best people making comics today. So that’s what this is. It’s my chance to work with creators I admire so much, artists that truly inspire me, and make things together that remind us why we had never had a choice but to make comics. We are going to tell stories that we love and find out if anyone out there wants to listen. Which brings me to you.
This isn’t a publisher. This is a group of people making things together and inviting you along for the ride. There isn’t a real name for what this is, so I stole an old name that never served me well. This is Ashcan Press and we make comics.
If you’re interested, you can sign up here. And if you’re already signed up for the free newsletter you can upgrade now.
Now that I’ve come clean about who I am and what Ashcan Press is, we can talk a little more detail about how this works… But just a little. Over the next few years this here newsletter is going to be the birthplace for at least 6 brand new comic projects, among other fun things. But we aren’t going to tell you much about them just yet. We want this newsletter to serve the books and not the other way around. So each project will have its own spotlight and not be shoved out in front of you before it’s ready. This whole thing isn’t just some play to try and sell you comics. We think what we’re making is special and how we’re making it is part of that. We’re want to give you access to the creation process (if you want it) so you can be part of that journey as we build these books. So for now, each of the 6 brilliant illustrators has created a little teaser for their title to give you a sense of where we’re going. But really, we’re asking you to trust us.
Some brief intros.
Before I go further, you should meet the stars of the show. We’ll go more in depth soon, but here’s a quick rundown of who everyone is.
TYLER BOSS is my constant partner in crime, working with me on books like WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE? and 4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK. He’s one of my all-time favorite artists and favorite people. I am a writer and a person he tolerates, so it works out nicely. Besides drawing a new(?) project on here (don’t worry, we’re still making more WTFPFH?), Tyler is also co-writing a series with me. Also, he was kind enough to frequently tell me “Your newsletter looks like shit,” so he is the designer of all this new fanciness you will see here, including our neat new logo.
JUAN FERREYRA is one of the most striking artists working in comics. We got to collaborate at Marvel on THUNDERBOLTS for a few issues and it was some of the most fun I had at the company. His pure talent is matched by his need to push himself to try new things. We’re doing a new series that is a love letter to a type of comic they don’t really make anymore and I couldn’t imagine a better partner.
JOSH HIXSON should be a household name. He is a comic artist in the most classic sense. He squeezes the most story, action, and atmosphere out of every inch of the page. I got to work with Josh on THE JOKER: PUZZLEBOX and WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE? #7 and every single page blew me away. What we’re working on won’t be ready for a little while, but hopefully we can give you some teases along the way.
STEFANO LANDINI is one of the most underrated artists I’ve ever worked with. After doing a few issues of THE PUNISHER together I knew we had to do more. And we were supposed to. Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit, our next Marvel project went away with no warning. But lucky for me, Stefano reached out and asked if we should do our own thing and I couldn’t have said yes faster. We’ve been working on this book for a while and it is truly gorgeous. I have a feeling Stefano is going to be recognized as one of the top artists in the industry when we start showing this series off.
ANDY MACDONALD is one of those artists who, when you mention his name to anyone he has worked with, their faces just light up. That’s because besides being a truly fun person to collaborate with, he’s an artist who puts it all on the page- His energy, his heart, his sense of humor, and lots of weird shit that I don’t know where it comes from. I was lucky enough to work with him on MULTIPLE MAN and I’ve been waiting for the chance to do another series together. I can’t wait for you all to see it.
JAVIER RODRÍGUEZ is one of the best artists to make comics. Not at this moment. Not in this era. He is simply one of the best. His understanding of a page, his use of color, his gorgeous characters, his kinetic energy, all of it combines to make a comic reading experience unlike any other. We’ve never had the chance to work together before but often exchanged compliments on each other’s work. I finally found a project that I knew only he could do and was so happy when he said yes. I am beyond excited to make this book with Javier and get the chance to watch a master create.
(And today is his birthday!)
JORDIE BELLAIRE is one of the first names that comes to mind when you mention comic coloring. It makes sense that she is also a gifted writer because her understanding of mood, atmosphere, and how every element of the page tells the story, is unparalleled in comics. She just understands the medium in a way others don’t and she uses that in everything she does. I was lucky to get to work with her on DETECTIVE COMICS: HOUSE OF GOTHAM this year and watching her take Fernando Blanco’s brilliant panels and create these immersive, lived in, heartbreaking worlds inside them was a total joy. So of course, when we needed a colorist, she was the first person we reached out to.
HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU is truly one of the most gifted letterers in comics. As the third member of team WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE?, Hassan makes the impossible seem effortless and the mundane seem exceptional on every single page. Lettering is the art of knowing when to be subtle and when to be bold, and I often think he understands that in my scripts better than I do. I am so excited to do more with him.
RACHEL PINNELAS is truly the person that keeps Ashcan Press running. We met when she was a Marvel editor, and I was a struggling writer trying to catch a break. Her kindness and support for my work developed into a friendship that has seen us both put on a lot of different hats in comics. And she’s used all those different skills to become an even better editor. Her understanding of story, her enthusiasm for getting the best out of people, and her ability to keep the ship from sinking, all made her the only person I would trust to be the Managing Editor of all of this.
Maybe you fear change though…
Now I realize some of you are here for the dog photos, the book recommendations, and the updates on projects like WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE?, THE JOKER and WILDC.A.T.S.. Don’t worry, that’s not going anywhere. If that’s all you want you don’t have to do anything and you’ll still get your weekly dose of my rambling.
We’re also starting a regular podcast that will be delivered right to your inbox, free of charge, featuring some of my favorite comic creators. We’ll be talking about their secret origins, deep diving on their craft, and studying some of their favorite projects. We’re figuring it out as we go, but it’s free so you shouldn’t really complain, right?
And we’re going to be hosting a regular movie club where you can join me and other creators to watch movies that influence us, and chat about them in real time, all from the comfort of your own home.
And I’ll probably review some chocolate milk too in the hopes of that ever-elusive sponsorship. You can skip that though. I won’t be offended.
But if you want the comics…
For those who are willing to pay for more than just the basic newsletter, we have some cool stuff to offer. We want to build something here a little beyond the simple idea that we make comics, and you can buy them here. You can. But we have a lot more to offer than that. Check out the different subscription tiers below.
PEOPLE WHO LIKE FREE SHIT level
$0 / Eternity
HERE IS WHAT YOU GET-
You get to keep all your money!
All the normal weird rambling stuff we put in the regular free newsletter! Like news, updates, previews of comics, the podcast, Matthew's brilliant insights*, and lots of other cool stuff.
*brilliance not guaranteed.
The Movie Club! An invitation to the semi-regular Ashcan Press Virtual Movie Club (APVMC?), where you can chat with us and other subscribers as we watch movies that was influential to our work in real time from the comfort of our own homes. Or wherever you want to watch, I guess.
LORDS OF THIS REALITY level
$5 / 1 month OR $50 / 1 year
HERE IS WHAT YOU GET-
Everything from the free tier (except keeping all your money) plus access to all the Digital Content behind the paywall! Where it is locked away from all those creepy people who won't pay for it. Which includes:
Comics! At least 12 digital issues delivered to your inbox, before they’re available anywhere else. Including a few things that have never been released before and may never be again! It will probably be more, but this is what we know for sure. All delivered in multiple formats for your convenience.
Behind the scenes! Looks at the writing, art, creative process, and discussions with the creators of the books we’re making here.
PLUS A 5% discount on any item in our webstore! Plus, early access to certain items before they go on sale to the public.
Be in the audience! Join the virtual audience of the regularly scheduled podcast / livestream and ask questions to Matthew and all the fancy guests.
We’ll probably think of other stuff! Or not. This is a lot.
GOLDEN RULERS OF THE KNOWN & UNKNOWN UNIVERSE level
$250 / 1 year
HERE IS WHAT YOU GET-
Everything included in the other tiers plus:
5 Exclusive Variant Covers unavailable anywhere else! These are extremely exclusive covers that will not be made available anywhere else. Limited to 300 copies of each at most, they will be mailed directly to you. Maybe with some bonus goodies. Who knows?
1 Hand Drawn Sketch Cover! Your chance to own some original art by some amazing artists. Drawn by an Ashcan Press artist (of our choosing.)
1 Comic Script! Never publicly released, signed by Matthew Rosenberg. Complete with typos and weird jokes to editors that they don’t find funny.
1 Membership Card! Not only does it look cool, but it entitles you to cut the line at any Matthew Rosenberg signing for the next year (and not pay any signing fees on up to 5 items, when applicable.)
A 10% discount on any item in our webstore! Plus, early access to certain items before they go on sale to the public. (This is instead the 5% discount of the monthly/annual tier, not in addition to it.)
So there you have it. 4 options to choose from.
Also, my good friend Joshua Williamson is launching his Substack today as well. Make sure you head over there now and subscribe to get a bunch of cool comics and exclusive stuff from him and is brilliant collaborators.
And that’s it for now. I really stressed over this. Thanks for reading it all.
Stay safe. Take care of each other. Do the shit you’ve always wanted to do.
P.S. A special thanks to Nick for all the hard work, long hours, and late nights he put into all of this. I probably can never repay you, but I’ll let you buy me dinner any time you want.