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Progressive Ideas & What Happens When We Die: In Conversation with Matt Hardy, Writer of Last Exit to Brighton

In our previous review of Last Exit to Brighton, I stated how much I enjoyed the classic murder mystery tropes sprinkled with a bizarre paranormal twist that kept me hooked to its epic conclusion. We had the chance to pen some questions to Matt Hardy, the writer of this thrilling tale, to discuss the origins behind the story, collaborations with artist Edward Bentley and what we may see next in their crazy world…

AP2HYC: Despite the chaos that unfolds within your story, can you provide a brief summary of Last Exit to Brighton?

Matt Hardy: We ask the question – what if we KNEW what happened after we die? And it turned out we DID go to Heaven – but that Heaven sucked? Instead, all the fun, the glory and the power was in Hell! What then? Well, for one serial killer, the answer is easy – the more he kills – the better deal he gets in hell. And it’s up to our two oddball detectives, Jack and Squat, to piece together his plan, tracking his path through Brighton, and stop him. Or not. There are some twists – with Heaven and Hell in the equation – who really knows what is going on in the afterlife? Plus mutant piranhas, gun-runners on the pier, a rather dodgy nightclub owner, a young lady with a desperate need to watch you slowly die, and the Devil. Something for everyone?

AP2HYC: In terms of location, what brought you guys to settle on the seaside town of Brighton as the main place?

Hardy: Well Brighton is somewhat a fusion of progressive ideas coupled with overt indulgence – so it seemed an ideal place to set a story about good, evil, and crazy weirdness. At the time of creating the book, Edward Bentley was living in Brighton, and I’d drive through the city on my way home from work, so every Wednesday, I would meet Ed at a small Brighton pub called “The Office”, a few doors down from Dave’s Comics. We’d go through the weekly books and after a few drinks Ed would tell me how he wanted to draw a giant mutated octopus at the end of the second chapter (or some similar suggestion to derail my plot, most got rejected, the octopus actually stayed in). And Last Exit to Brighton seemed a cool title. And actually makes sense when you read the book.

AP2HYC: How did you come to work on this comic together with Edward Bentley? Have you worked on prior titles together before this?

Hardy: We’d done a couple of short unpublished test stories and in between originally publishing Last Exit online and putting the Absolute Edition on Kickstarter, we’d completed the Madhouse graphic novel and started our ongoing series Cadavers. But Last Exit remains our earliest full work – our first “real” comic so to speak. It holds an important place for us. Please like it!

AP2HYC: Was Edward given much freedom with the character designs? Who got final say in the decision-making?

Hardy: Ed pretty much designed all the characters. I think my input was that Jack needs to be tall and Squat needs to be short. That’s my genius at work there. I actually preferred the more elegant detective version of Jack that you can see in one of the design images in the back of the book, but it quickly became apparent that we needed a more action-hero type for the plot. So Jack became the chiselled jawed, US style cop you’ll learn to laugh at.

AP2HYC: What is next for the cast of characters or the world you have presented here? Is this the last we have seen of them?

Hardy: I have a full plot outline for Last Exit 2 : Robo Nazis of Hove – picking up from the short lead-in story in the Last Exit Absolute Edition. It’s a case of finding the time to fit it into our current schedule. We both love the characters of Jack and Squat, they are great fun for me to write so you very much haven’t heard the last of them.

AP2HYC: Do you have any further projects you wish to discuss at this time?

Hardy: I have a new graphic novel titled Murder Most Mundane for sale on A tranquil, idyllic village where the type of murders are inventive and the murder rate is somewhat high. It’s Hot Fuzz meets Se7en meets The Wickerman.

Ed has just completed colouring/inking and co-writing a book with Dan Earet called Dark Boy & Adler, a LGBTQ tale of unrequited love, bullying and voodoo curses.

I’m also putting together an Anthology of short stories set in the universe occupied by our Cadavers characters. It features artists including Russell Mark Olsen, Daniel Maine, Rory Donald, Lyndon White, Dan Earey, Jonathan Scott, Luke Francis and many more. Ed and I also have a story in the book, you can never be too busy with comics I feel.

Thanks Matt for taking the time to talk to us and we wish you the best in your future projects. Make sure you show your support for Matt and let him know we sent you. Or check back on AP2HYC soon as we may have a review on the way for Murder Most Mundane, or maybe you want to see our review for Last Exit to Brighton. The choice is yours.

You can purchase Last Exit to Brighton here! Have you had the chance to read this amazing comic yet? What are your thoughts on some of Matt’s titles? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!

About the author

Connor Filsell