Matthew Klein and Morgan Beem Tackle Addiction, Forgiveness and Superhero Healthcare in ‘Crashing’ from IDW [Interview]
IDW Publishing recently announced details of CRASHING, a brand new five-part comic book miniseries from writer Matthew Klein, artist Morgan Beem, colourist Triona Farrell and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.
Described as “part Nurse Jackie and part The Boys”, CRASHING #1 will go on sale this September, and will be the third title released in IDW’s ongoing slate of original comics debuting throughout 2022 and beyond.
The new series introduces us to Rose Olser, one of only a handful of doctors in the United States who specialize in treating “powered individuals,” human beings imbued with a range of incredible—and according to some, fundamentally dangerous—superhuman attributes.
With such an intriguing premise behind it, we simply had to know more, and so we’re thankful that both creators were able to take some time out of their busy schedules to sit down and have a chat about what we should expect from the series.
Not only that, but the fine folks at IDW were able to give us an early sneek peek at some preview art from the first issue, which you can feast your eyes on below.
BIG COMIC PAGE: Firstly, thanks so much to both of you for taking the time to chat. So, we’ve heard the basic elevator pitch, but tell us a little bit more about our leading lady Rose Osler. What’s her story?
MATTHEW KLEIN: Rose is a hero. Her superpower is saving lives. She just doesn’t wear a cape, fly, or read minds. Her healing touch is from being a surgeon. She’s a specialist who treats a growing citizenry that have developed extraordinary abilities and are known, colloquially, as the Powered. She puts the needs of her patients ahead of her own and her mission in life is simple: Save everyone. Rose is also an addict. She can be arrogant, manipulative, and brash. She’s one of the best in the country at what she does but to be the best also involves a personal cost. She’s gained her skill and confidence at the risk of becoming tunnel-visioned, neglectful, and incapable of half-measures. Rose’s greatest strengths are also her most crucial pain points. Her story is one of overcoming the need to save everyone by justifying sacrificing herself.
BCP: What kind of themes should readers expect to see explored throughout the course of the series?
MATTHEW: I think a major theme is forgiveness. Rose is constantly fighting the need to ask for forgiveness, from herself and others. I think, too, there’s a lot discussed about self-care. One of the things we do is we often rationalize putting ourselves dead last because we prioritize everyone else’s needs and wants first. And that can be really dangerous to your health. In this case, we make the stakes quite literally life and death because what’s the fun in a comic if it’s not at that level? Taking care of yourself though is so pivotal to living a happier, healthier, longer, and more fulfilling life. And taking care of your own needs makes you better equipped to take care of someone else. It’s a struggle because we’re not taught to value ourselves first. We’re taught that sacrifice is noble, suffering is the path to greatness, and that doesn’t have to be the case. So, I hope Rose’s journey in these five issues will help someone out there realize that it’s okay to be a little selfish. There is such a thing as a healthy level of selfishness and that’s to the point wherein your own needs are being met.
BCP: Outside of Rose, what supporting character are you each most excited about the readers getting to meet?
MATTHEW: I’m super excited for readers to meet Don, her husband. Rose is a doctor who treats and stands by the needs of her Powered patients. Meanwhile, Don is a politician who is the face of an Anti-Powered movement in the city of Boston. He’s pushing for legislation that will actually restrict the rights of Powered people unless they register, including access to healthcare. And so it’s super easy to paint Don as the villain. Except, he’s also completely devoted to Rose and has been incredibly supportive throughout her battle to stay sober for over seven years. He’s taken her to the ER when she’s overdosed, attended NA meetings with her, he’s very loving and attentive. I love characters who can’t just be defined by one trait and that’s what the team has crafted in Don.
MORGAN BREEM: For me it’s Gordian. I love a good villain, and I feel like often my favorite/the scariest kinds are the ones who calmly sit in the background pulling everyone’s strings.
BCP: A comic that’s being marketed as “Nurse Jackie meets The Boys” has the potential to end up quite ‘out there’ or, dare I say it, ‘zany’, but it sounds like you’re also tackling a lot of fairly weighty themes here. Was it important for you both to give this high concept idea some real substance underneath the hood?
MATTHEW: It’s super important that this be grounded in a person’s struggle with sobriety. Because as high concept as it is there are extremely relevant and real issues being dealt with. Over a hundred thousand people died from overdose last year in the U.S. alone. It’s the highest count on record. To have a main character dealing with addiction it’s imperative to treat that subject with respect. Every community is being touched by it right now. The plot is a doctor treating superheroes by day and super villains after hours and the story is of a person struggling to overcome her pattern of destroying everything under the guise of selflessness. Rose is obsessive and self-destructive. Those are traits that are very human and I know plenty of people who struggle to overcome them, including myself. While there’s action and powers there’s a thruline of finding ways to fight against that ingrained behavior before it takes everything good from one’s life like a marriage, friendships, and career.
BCP: How did the pair of you end up working with one another, and what has the creative process been like between you on this book?
MATTHEW: I reached out to Morgan thanks to the excellent recommendation of the absolutely wonderful manic pixie dream boy that is Ryan Cady. And if anyone reading this isn’t familiar with Ryan, everyone should check his and Morgan’s excellent web comic Wolfsbane over on Webtoons and they have what looks to be a bonkers fun story in the new Last Comic On The Left from Z2 Comics that’s being done with Last Podcast On The Left. I reached out to Ryan, told him the thirty second elevator pitch for Crashing and Morgan was his number one rec for me. And I’ll forever be grateful to him that he did.
From there we worked with editor Heather Antos to craft a compelling pitch for IDW. Heather’s the best editor in the business, period. She’s done an amazing job advocating for this project and coaching us to doing our best work possible. I’ve grown a thousand times over as a writer on this thanks to her, her assistant Vanessa Real, Morgan, our colorist Triona Farrell, and our incomparable letterer Hassan Ostmane-Elhaou.As far as creative process goes, I write some words and then Morgan does the real work making the world, designing the characters, crafting the visual storytelling, making everything a hundred times better than I could ever imagine (especially because I’m most definitely NOT a visual minded person).
Morgan’s been an absolute dream to collaborate and create with. She’s had such a handle on this story and these characters from the beginning. I’m going to say it’s some of my favorite work I’ve ever seen from her. The panel layouts alone make me swoon every time I see new pages are ready.
MORGAN: The creative process has been really wonderful on this book. The whole team is exceptionally good at what they do, and honestly I feel like we work like a well oiled machine.
BCP: Matthew, you mentioned the pandemic a few times in the official press releases – how have the events of the last couple of years helped shape the direction of this book?
MATTHEW: During the pandemic we saw the courage of first responders. True heroes fighting to save lives every single day. And who continue to fight that fight. I watched so many videos of testimonials from doctors and nurses talking about the horrors they saw and you could see how they were going through this intense trauma. Yet, they wouldn’t waver. They’d still show up to work and do what they could to help. That was inspiring. I wanted to tell a story about that hero. Not someone who wears tights and fights aliens but someone who wears a stethoscope and battles against broken breastplates. It’s important to remember that even everyday heroes have struggles and we shouldn’t forget they need help, too. Being surrounded by their stories is what inspired Rose and from Rose came the rest of this world.
BCP: Morgan, you’re probably best known for your work on Swamp Thing: Twin Branches at DC, which had a really striking visual style that won you a ton of new fans (myself included!) What should readers expect to see from a visual side of things in CRASHING? Have you made any tweaks to that style to fit the tone of the new book?
MORGAN: Thank you! I feel like style a lot of times is like your handwriting- it’s the set of little quirks that are a habit and stick with you no matter what. So I think readers can expect a lot of my same style when coming into CRASHING, hopefully accompanied by new skills I’ve picked up and some dramatic flair! Also I will say Tríona has elevated the hell out of the art with her colors, and I’m really excited for readers to see her artistry in this book.
BCP: And finally, what would you each say to someone who was perhaps on the fence about CRASHING to help convince them to give it a look?
MATTHEW: For anyone on the fence I’d say this is the story of an everyday hero who in the face of superpowered saviors and destroyers is trying to save everyone at the expense of herself. Every issue grabs you from the first scene and ends with a cliffhanger that will compel you to come back next month. Every month you’ll follow the twists and turns of a hero who wears scrubs and who’s quest to save everyone has to start with saving herself.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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