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Matthew Klein talks sobriety, superpowers, and healthcare in 'Crashing'

Comic Books

Matthew Klein talks sobriety, superpowers, and healthcare in ‘Crashing’

The superhero medical drama debuts September 21.

In perhaps one of the most eagerly awaited new books of the year, Crashing is a new five-issue series from IDW from the minds of writer Matthew Klein and artist Morgan Beem. (They’re joined by colorist Triona Farrell and letter Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.)

It’s been described as a “superhero medical drama,” where we follow Dr. Rose Osler as she oversees an ER “filled with casualties of a superhuman war” while also working on her own recovery from substance abuse. (So think Nurse Jackie by way of The Boys — and maybe if it also took place in the MCU.) The series expertly utilizes that core medical drama to both enhance and expand on the inherent superhero drama.

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Issue #1 won’t hit shelves until September 21. In the meantime, though, we spoke with Klein all about the series. Klein discusses everything from setting the story in Boston to working with editor Heather Antos to the important element of addiction in the narrative, among other tidbits.

(Psssst – want a quick preview? We recently ran an exclusive character reveal.)

'Nurse Jackie' meets 'The Boys' in IDW's 'Crashing' out September 2022

Courtesy of IDW.

AIPT: How long has Crashing been in the works?

Matthew Klein: Hmmm…Looking back on this now, I’d say I first came up with the germ of the idea in January 2021. I’d been spending a day putting together a bunch of pitch ideas and the thought of a doctor who treats superheroes by day and supervillains by night popped into my head.

I’d been following closely, as were most everyone in the U.S., it seemed, the stories of first responders being under incredible stress caused by COVID. You’d read stories and see videos from doctors every day who were beyond the breaking point but still saving as many lives as they could. It was inspiring. It is inspiring. I looked at these everyday heroes and thought, “what would one of these extraordinary people do if they were forced to choose between a hero and a villain?” That’s where all of this began.

Then, of course, I brought it to Heather Antos and Morgan Beem, who have just taken this idea to the next fifty levels up! The whole team’s made this story our own, and it’s become the best kind of collaboration wherein we’re all supporting one another to do our best work possible.

AIPT: What’s the 30-second pitch for Crashing?

MK: Think The Boys meets Nurse Jackie. A superhero medical drama about a doctor, Rose Osler, specializes in treating patients with Powers, the good guys by day, and moonlights healing the villains. To survive the most trying day of her career, Rose relapses after seven years of sobriety. Trapped in a downward spiral, can this everyday hero whose “superpower” is saving everyone manage to save herself?

AIPT: Crashing is set in Boston, AIPT’s hometown! When it comes to locations, what made Boston the right fit?

MK: Really? I had no idea, but that just means this is kismet. I think my subconscious is hoping this will finally get me up to Boston! I’m a big history fan, but I’ve never visited. I think Boston’s a tremendous location for a story about struggle because of the best and worst parts of the city’s history. I love the fact that Boston’s known as a work ethic town. Bostonians pull up their sleeves and do their jobs. They don’t look at overwhelming odds and run away. They face challenges head-on, which is how I envisioned Rose being.

Plus, there’s a great subplot that goes through the series around the rights of Powered citizens being taken away. Their very liberty and basic rights to healthcare are at stake. What better place to set a political struggle like that than in, arguably, the birthplace of the American Revolution.

Crashing

Courtesy of IDW.

AIPT: Crashing is decidedly a medical drama but also touches the human condition through addiction. Can you talk a little about this aspect of the story?

MK: Absolutely! I think you’re touching on the difference in this series between the plot and the story. The plot is about a doctor who treats people with powers and is torn between two sides of a supercharged war. The story is about an addict who learns to save herself after doing everything possible to destroy her own life.

My mother’s licensed professional counselor who specializes in addiction and mood disorders for the last forty-two years. I’ve read books for years about addiction, wrote about it in college, and still keep up with the latest treatments in my personal time.

Sadly, in 2021 we had over a hundred and eight thousand deaths due to overdose. That’s the highest ever recorded in the U.S. So, addiction is everywhere. It’s affecting nearly every community we live in. But what’s being done in comics to help raise awareness of this extremely personal issue? How many books out there are tackling this issue head-on? I thought there was room on the shelf for a title willing to do that.

Rose is an addict. Before identifying as a doctor or partner, she thinks of herself as an addict. She’ll not be an addict, and her recovery is a lifetime commitment. I wanted to touch on a story not about someone falling into addiction but about how a person thinks she’s mastered this aspect of herself and then relapses. Of all the aspects of addiction, relapsing is a very real and very common occurrence. I’ve read statistics ranging from 40% to 60% of addicts who undergo rehab will slip up or have a complete full-blown relapse. Yet, it’s not usually the aspect of the story focused on when you watch movies or TV shows covering characters dealing with this illness. And I hope I do justice to Rose’s journey to this struggle that so many are in the thick of today.

AIPT: What sort of research went into crafting a story about a doctor?

MK: How much? Well, I’ll be honest and say I did a lot more research into addiction than I did on the day-to-day trials of doctors. For the medical aspects, I researched emergency room procedures for mass casualty events, watched many videos from first responders giving firsthand accounts of day-to-day experiences, and then asked a couple of people whose partners are doctors some tips on basic jargon and culture. I would have applied to medical school, but as I told my father when I was seventeen, as he “suggested” I go into medicine, they would never take someone so scared at the sight of blood.

'Nurse Jackie' meets 'The Boys' in IDW's 'Crashing' out September 2022

Courtesy of IDW.

AIPT: How in-depth will you be getting with superhero care? I imagine some heroes have very unique methods of healing/saving?

MK: I don’t want to spoil anything, so let me just say that you’ll get a great sense that superhero care might be as challenging as good self-care!

AIPT: You are the sales manager for the US comics market at Penguin Random House; what goes into this gig, and does it come with free comics?

MK: I love my day job with PRH. I work with an incredible team dedicated to improving the health of the comics market (or direct market as the majority of shop owners call it). My goal is to help comic shops expand, explore, and grow their businesses. I work with shops on the West Coast, Texas, Arizona, and some special key accounts. That’s my territory.

I look to help comic shops identify trends, learn about new titles they may not be carrying much of yet but that is selling on a macro level, and make sure they know they have a partner working with them. Amazingly, the growth PRH has experienced since this team was started by my direct supervisor, Tyne Hunter. She’s been an incredible leader and has enabled us to build these wonderful relationships with shops.

I spend hours daily on the phone and trading emails, talking to comic shops about their needs, identifying opportunities, and brainstorming ways for them to sell graphic novels, comics, and manga. I started working at a Forbidden Planet shop and then up to vice president of sales and marketing for the publisher Valiant Entertainment. I got hired at PRH a couple of days before PRH announced becoming the exclusive distributor for Marvel Comics. So, to say I came on board at a very exciting time is an understatement. I love building things. My father was the same way. To build something from the ground up is massively rewarding, and that’s what the U.S. Comics Market team is in the midst of at PRH. We’re building a better marketplace with comic shops.

AIPT: Do you think Crashing would work well as a TV show or movie? Who would you like to see direct if so?

MK: I think Crashing would be a great TV show! And as you read issue by issue, the team structured it to be episodic. We want to grab you within four pages and have a cliffhanger at the end. Morgan Beem’s art creates such an incredible pace for this story, Triona Farrell’s colors add an emotional throughline, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s letters create an extra depth to every lived-in beat.

Our editor, Heather Antos, is an incredible project leader enabling this team to gel and excel. All of us are taking an incredible amount of pride in Crashing. Heather’s done what a great editor is supposed to do, putting us in a position to do our best work, and I’ve grown so much thanks to her guidance on this project. So, I think it’d be rewarding for all of us to see this someday on a screen on your couch! I’m sure the team will have differing opinions, but I’d be down for this to be a six-to-eight episode prestige TV series with Graham Yost’s show running. I love shows he’s worked on like Justified, Sneaky Pete, and “The Americans. He has an incredible way of developing compelling characters and focusing on emotional stories while keeping up the pace of episodic TV.


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