Mat Broome’s been working in comics and video games for nearly a quarter-century, collaborating with the likes of Alan Moore on WildC.A.T.S., Rick Remender on The End League and Kevin Grevioux on The Blue Marvel. But his new slate of projects – including an animated web series, designing the highly-anticipated DC Universe Online and a new social networking/content distribution site for creators – have him feeling like his career is just beginning.
“I’m only thinking about it for the first time, but it’s probably true,” Broome says. “I’m at a point now where I’m doing things that are extremely important to me, and focusing on projects I care about.”Broome’s been hard at work on a multitude of passion projects. Chief among them are Defcon 2055, a revival of his 1990s series Defcon4 as a graphic novel and animated motion comic, and CreatorSafe.com, a site that allows established and aspiring creators to safely upload and show off their ideas online while protecting their intellectual property.
Broome says that Defcon 2055 isn’t so much a motion comic as a graphic novel in traditional animation, with the print graphic novel as a companion to the animation. "They’re both created specifically for the media in which they’re presented."“It’s been a steep curve to learn how to produce animation that had the detail of comics and graphic novels, but had a more open-line style like you find in animation, and moved in a convincing way. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done!”
For the project, he spent the last six years developing the resources to produce two-minute spots approximately every five weeks, in a style that borrows from such classic anime as Robotech. “With films like Akira, the animation style was all about the detail and the color,” Broome says.“It’s very much traditional animation, but you get a very appealing art style with it. When you’re doing something specifically for the format, you can focus on the story. What this format lets me do is focus on the story of Defcon and the world they live in.”
Defcon 2055 will launch on Sept.1 as part of CreatorSafe.com, as the first of many public offerings from established creators on the site. Broome says the doors are open for anyone in any creative media to contribute.“It’s a like a big lounge for people to come together and create things, whether it’s a book, a graphic novel, a short film, a screenplay, a webcomic, a children’s book…when you upload the content to the site, it lives in the format that it was intended to be in, so that people can enjoy it naturally,” Broome says.
The result, Broome says, is a unique social environment for creators that’s the next logical step from such sites as deviantART. “What CreatorSafe lets you do is create original content in an original environment that is completely built to protect the creator from plagiarism and people trying to exploit the property,” Broome says.“It records what you’re doing in real time. It keeps a ledger of what you’re doing while you’re there. It keeps contracts if you want to collaborate. It keeps track of oral agreements. CreatorSafe is literally what I’ve known for 25 years automated into a 23-minute experience. The site is like a safe place for creators. It’s like a big, automated studio.”
Broome walked us through a typical CreatorSafe experience. “Say I’ve got 23 pages and a cover of a comic, and I want to publish it,” Broome says. “It’s not a superhero book, and the majors aren’t looking at submissions any more. With CreatorSafe, I can take this 23 pages and a cover, and upload it, and people can view it and comment on it.
“Or, if I just want to prove I had this idea, I can put it on my page and lock it, where no one but me can see it, and it’ll stay there forever. Or people can come in and collaborate on this, or select people can view this through a password.”
For the site, Broome has gotten content from a number of his industry friends, along with producers and executives who will use it to look for content. Those involved include Grant Curtis (producer with Sam Raimi on many projects, including the Spider-Man films), Corey Edwards (director of the upcoming Fraggle Rock film), Kevin Grevioux (many comics and the Underworld film series), filmmaker David Cunningham, Ale Garza, La Sean Thomas, Ryan Benjamin, Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, Sanford Greene, ChrisCross, Scott Sava and more.
Broome is enthusiastic about the site’s original content, which he calls “amazing.” But he’s most enthusiastic about the creators who could break out through CreatorSafe. “The person who will rise to the top is going to be someone you’ve never heard of, who has a lot of amazing stuff available and nowhere to put it.”He believes the site could create a new distribution model for intellectual property. “Anyone with an idea can deliver it free of obstacles directly to the public, and they can decide what they like and what they don’t,” Broome says. “CreatorSafe owns nothing. People who have seen it have called it everything from ‘eBay for your ideas’ to ‘YouTube 7.0’.”
With all this going on, Broome is still working on what many would call a dream “day job” as DC Universe Online’s art director. In this role, Broome’s been working directly with Jim Lee to bring the massive online role-playing game to life.
“Jim has given a tremendous amount of his time to this project, and been there for the full development of it over the last five years,” Broome says. “This has been an amazing journey for me personally, because there haven’t been a lot of times in my career where the game and comic worlds have crashed together so thoroughly.
“But with DC Universe Online, being the visual director and determining how the game worked was a very different experience, because 3-D design and software development are very different scenarios. I think what we’ve done is take some very, very rich artwork and brought to DC a scale and believability that I personally believe has never been done in a game before.”
Broome says that DC Universe Online will go even further than such acclaimed games as Batman: Arkham Asylum. “In DC Universe Online, you are far beyond Arkham Asylum,” Broome says. “You are in the world of DC. And I think that fans are going to be completely shocked at the size, the volume and how many of their favorite characters are going to be in this game when it launches.”
With a full plate, Broome isn’t stopping. “I’ve been in the business 25 years,” he says. “And this feels like the end of the beginning.”
Defcon 2055 and CreatorSafe.com both launch Sept.1.
Zack Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a regular contributor to Newsarama.