Joe Matt, an influential cartoonist who specialized in shockingly honest autobiographical comics, suddenly and unexpectedly died at 60. The Comics Beat reports, "He was found dead at his drawing board, apparently of a heart attack."
Matt was most famous for his comic book series Peepshow, which was collected in four books: Peepshow, The Poor Bastard, Fair Weather, and Spent.
Peepshow was an early hit for Drawn & Quarterly, and ran for 14 issues, from 1991 to 2006. The stories were completely confessional and self-deprecating, detailing his troubled romance with his girl friend Trish (sister to both Dark Horse editor Diana Schutz and Wagner's wife, Barb), and his addiction to pornography and masturbation. Along with Julie Doucet's contemporary Dirty Plotte, Matt influenced a whole generation of similarly honest autobio comics, including Chester Brown's.
Although the subject matter sounds rough, Matt's cartooning was cheerful and hilarious, and he always made himself the butt of the joke. Although born in Philadelphia, he moved to Canada where he became close friends with fellow cartoonists Brown and Seth, and they all appeared in each other's work over the years. Matt eventually moved to LA, where he lived until his death.
In a separate post on The Comics Beat, "Surviving and Dying in the Comics Industry," Heidi MacDonald raises some troubling questions about health insurance and being an artist in the United States.
[I]t's been reported that he had been having chest pains for months and didn't go to the doctor. That'll do it. Joe was a legendary cheapskate and he probably didn't want to pay to go seek medical help. I can't blame him, since getting sick is the worst thing you can do in America.
From Matt's publisher, Drawn & Quarterly:
The Comics Journal has posted two interviews with Matt.
I loved Peepshow, especially when his autobiographical comics veered away from pure story, and were higher concept. I remember this "How to Be Cheap" page very well.
This comic, "The Completist," shows Matt making fun of himself in an identifiable way.
Joe Matt's Peepshow, #1: