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Interview With The Vampire Terror Suspect

Editor’s note: Matt Boyd was kind enough to talk to Fleen about his recent experiences; what follows is a lightly-edited transcript of a Gmail Chat session.

Matt Boyd: Heya.

Fleen: Hey. Cough twice if it’s not safe to talk.

Boyd: It’s all good.

Fleen: Okay, on a scale of one to ten, are you more a) pissed; b) surprised; c) depressed by this turn of events?

Boyd: Gonna have to go with b) surprised.

Fleen: Let’s back up a bit and give the readers some fill-in. You woke up with four detectives knockin’ on your door. What agency or department did they represent?

Boyd: According to the business card I have here, they were with the St. Mary’s County Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

Fleen: That’s Maryland?

Boyd: Yes indeed.

Fleen: Okay, so they came to talk to you about “making terroristic threats”. Because you finished on reasonably good terms with your employer (although not with certain anonymous coworkers), this had to be a shock.

Boyd: Shoot, I thought it was my uncle. He was supposed to come today to fix a light switch.

Fleen: On what complaint or authority did these detectives say they were talking to you?

Boyd: On the complaint that I may have made terroristic threats through computers. At least, that’s what was passed down to me from the State’s Attorney through the detectives on the phone.

Fleen: So who is it that you’re supposed to have threatened? Is it now law in the state of Maryland that if anybody anywhere unknown to you feels uneasy at something you write, it’s a crime?

Boyd: Well, a terroristic threat is an old legal concept. Basically, it’s calling in a bomb scare or something similar.

Now, in the second comic, there’s the verbatim transcript of what I said that got me fired. And there’s a co-worker who overhears it, which as far as I know is what happened. And Ian [McConville]’s drawing resembles someone in the office to an uncanny degree. Of course, he’s never met her, because he lives in California.

Fleen: So the State’s Attorney decided you needed a talking-to. If the comic had been less true-to-life, you wouldn’t have met detectives?

Boyd: I don’t think many people at the office were very clear that I don’t draw the comic myself. I had one hanging on my wall but nobody really seemed that interested.

Fleen: Well, now that your former office knows that Ian draws it, I suppose it’s a federal matter and he’s going to meet some FBI agents.

Boyd: I hope not. I’ve already pulled far too many people into this. The person it resembled was one of my best friends at the office while I was working there. I’m trying to find out if she got scared personally. I really hope not.

But yes, if it hadn’t looked so much like me (because it happened to me and it is me,) I might not have gotten a knock. Of course, you’d have to ask the State’s Attorney to be sure.

Fleen: So much for journal comics — this could be really chilling. How would your characterize your time with the detectives? Interview? Investigation? Friendly warning? Interrogation?

Boyd: Well, as I mentioned elsewhere, my roommate was also a coworker and friend. Apparently he got called home from work, so two were interviewing him and two were interviewing me. They were cautious, which you’d expect.

But the words shit always rolls downhill did come up at least once. At least one of them seemed a little disgusted by it when his partner left to make a phone call, but I shouldn’t put words in his mouth.

Fleen: So let’s be clear on this — you haven’t actually been charged with anything, but it’s being held out as a possibility.

Boyd: It is a possibility. I can be charged at any time. The detectives at least seemed satisified. One relayed a message from the State’s Attorney that I was right on the line of making a terroristic threat. I mean to say, the detectives themselves were satisfied I was harmless. On the plus side? They liked the comic. I showed one the Mac Hall book.

Fleen: Well, that’s good. What are the potential repercussions of this? Your neighbors are looking at you a little funny right now, but what happens even if you’re not charged? I imagine for starters you may not be getting that .22 you had your eye on.

Boyd: My only neighbor is my grandmother, and she’s outraged. And yes, I don’t think that background check would go so well at the moment. That’s fine. I’m a little put out on the idea of gun ownership anyway.

Fleen: Do you have any recourse if you aren’t charged? Is there a way to get the State’s Attorney to say, “Okay, this is nothing, we’re dropping it”, or do you think that in an immediately post-VT world, he is thinking, “No way am I gonna be the guy that lets another Cho by him”?

Boyd: Not that I know of. If there is, I’d like to hear about it. But this all went down a few hours ago.

Fleen: Got any flights planned?

Boyd: Yeah, mid-June, San Francisco.

Fleen: Good luck with that.

Boyd: I’m a little put out on the county right now too. A change of location might be good.

Fleen: What do you need done right now? Is this a case of having people aware of this situation is helpful, or is it better to hope it just dies down on its own? ‘Cause I gotta say, I thought it had died down, then it just sort of sprang back to life.

Boyd: Well, all I really wanted to do from the beginning was tell people what happened. And everything I say from here on out is a risk, because I still have this threat hanging over my head. (I’ve about given up on a good reference at this point.) But I can’t just keep quiet.

Fleen: Is this going to change how you work on Three Panel Soul? Make it a little less autobiographical, a little more fake autobiographical?

Boyd: No, never.

Fleen: By any chance, are State’s Attorneys elected in Maryland?

Boyd: They are indeed.

Fleen: Is this an election year for the office?

Boyd:: Boy, you’re really trying to get me in trouble! Let me check. Hmm, not sure.

Fleen: That’s okay. And trying to get you in trouble would be, “Would you care to share the name of the State’s Attorney that has a bug up his ass?”

Boyd:St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney. Don’t know his name personally, but I’m sure Google’s got it. [Editor’s note: there was formerly a link for the State’s Attorney here; as Mr Boyd has requested that readers not harass the State’s Attorney on his behalf, the link has been removed.]

Fleen: Okay, good enough for us. What are your plans now?

Boyd: Well, like I said, with the situation, I’ve been planning to leave town. Ian and Jess are in San Francisco, and they’ve been encouraging me to come out. I had promised one of my bosses I would stay at my old job until December when the project ended, but that’s not really an issue anymore.

Fleen: Since wherever you end up and try to find a job, you’re probably going to get Googled, state definitively and for the record — did you ever intend to go on a rampage, or make terroristic threats?

Boyd: Nope. Hey, deja vu.

As far as jobs, until today I’d been applying for similar jobs as to what I was doing. SAP security. Kind of esoteric. But I think, on further reflection, I wouldn’t like to work in an office again.

Fleen: Any ideas what you would like to do?

Boyd: I hear “webcomics” are big these days. Maybe I’ll really crank up the consumer-whorism and take another shot at making a living off that. Or I know a guy out there who knows a guy who needs kitchen help.

Fleen: You wouldn’t be the first creator to go full-time following a sudden shift in work. Any last thoughts for our readers in webcomicland?

Boyd:: No.

Fleen:: Okay, thanks for your time.

Boyd: Okey doke, thanks.

Fleen thanks Boyd for his time and candor; as a followup, Fleen will attempt to contact the State’s Attorney of St. Mary’s County for an official statement.

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