Joe Matt and friend. Source: Instagram

Cartoonist Joe Matt died suddenly this week at age 60. He was found dead at his drawing board, apparently of a heart attack. Known for his brutally honest autobiographical comic Peepshow, Matt’s death was announced by his friend Matt Wagner:  


Joe Matt by Matt Wagner

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 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.

90s cartoonists Seth, Chester Brown and Joe Matt. Source: Facebook

Matt was a sweet guy, with, as many have noted, a “childlike enthusiasm” for his many passions. I knew him from his book tours, an on one memorable day he was touring with Chester and we were all invited to Matt Groening’s house to watch John Woo movies. Groening was a big fan of Matt’s work, and it was like one big indie cartoonist love fest.

Matt was never very prolific (he wrote a lot about being a “lazy” cartoonist) and I hadn’t thought about him in a long time. Looking at his Instagram, there are commissions, and lots of photos of him and Seymour, a friend’s cat he frequently cat-sat for. Seymour’s owner also posted about Matt on FB:

And more photos of Matt, his work and Seymour.

Brian Cronin has more about Matt’s career, including his color work for DC here. And here’s a tell-all interview from 2007. 

And this remembrance from MariNaomi, which includes an unpublished interview from 2013.

Peepshow was collected in four books, and their titles are iconic: Peepshow, The Poor Bastard, Fair Weather, and Spent. They’re all out of print, and Amazon prices for some are steep. Matt’s work was a direct continuation of the Justin Green/R. Crumb school of painfully honest autobiography – and came in for many of the same contemporary criticisms. Evan back in the 90s, there was a lot of eye rolling at the gruelingly quotidian autobio comics that his work inspired. But very few people have ever done it with the lighthearted energy that Joe Matt did. He was truly one of a kind. His death at such a young age is very sad, and The Beat sends condolences to his family and friends.



  1. Joe had been complaining of chest pains but didn’t want to go get checked out due to how devastating financially a doctor’s visit can be. It’s a shame that healthcare in America is so horrid. I wanted to see Joe Matt fifty years down the road. A great talent

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