So one of my favorite writing groups is doing a blog hop today about our favorite characters. You should check them out too!
Me though, I’m gonna talk about Matty. Is Matty my favorite character? Meh. I like writing him, but I like writing all my characters. However, Matty is almost universally my beta readers’ favorite character. He’s also Ashley’s (my artist) favorite character.
Mateo Viktor Antony Grekov. Called Matty pretty much all his life.
Since working on the webcomic, I’ve had been forcibly introduced to how much he’s changed. Which is really funny, because in the original short, he didn’t barely appeared. He was mostly a plot device, something for Mina to angst over. And yes, there is a trope for that: Cynicism Catalyst.
When I decided to expand that first story into a series, I knew Matty would need to be more than the broken and abused little brother. I had to make him the compliment to Mina, shoring up her weaknesses (her sharp temper and inability to trust) and a foil for her strengths (her generous heart and need to protect.)
I also wanted to a write a character with some cognitive issues. I’m a touch of a tumblr addict. And I see a lot of people asking for characters that have real disabilties. They want characters who reflect their reality.
Here was the perfect place to put such a character. I took some PTSD symptoms and mixed them with some magical brain damage. Then I added a heaping helping of sarcasm and angst.
And, he’ll never get ‘better’. I don’t mean that in a Status Quo is God sort of way. It’s more a commentary on most characters in media with some sort of mental disability. At some point, contrary to all logic, they magically ‘get better’, as in their issues go away. Usually because they fall in love. *rolls eyes*
Yeah, not Matty. He improves, gradually, but even in the far distant finale (which is written), he’s not 100% ‘normal’.
And while yes, he does seem to improve when around Dean, he also goes into a downward spiral when he and Dean fight. Deliberate on my part. As was the reason for their fight: Matty hiding the extent of his mental issues.
I may be writing about a werewolf, but I try to keep the human side of him realistic. I’ve been around enough people with actual mental illness to know how much they resent the effect it has on their lives, and how far some of them go to hide it.
So, while being happy masked some of the Matty’s symptoms and he suppressed others when around Dean, those issues were still present, and got worse before they got better.
And in the final series, there’s a bit of time skip… and Matty is still not 100% better, and there’s recognition from him that he never will be. But in (what I hope) is a healthy way. He accepts that he’s not ‘normal’, but is still working to improve his mental condition.
This is my favorite way to look at Matty:
Specifically, that’s how Dean sees him.
And now let’s touch on Dean in regards to Matty and the relationship that all of a sudden just was.
Mainly, I didn’t want the assumption that his lack of a sex drive was related to his mental condition. It’s not. Matty had never had any sexual attraction even before Ivan Dzunbenko messed with his brain. However, with only limited flashbacks, it’s hard to see that.
And then I introduced Dean.
Here was a minor character, who took on a life of his own, and whose role in the stories kept expanding. What struck me the most was his chemistry with Matty. As I had wanted a cool, calm, collected, but empathetic character, writing him and Matty was fun. He didn’t judge, he didn’t assume, and he genuinely liked the werewolf.
I remember the exact moment that I realized I was writing a romantic relationship between the two. I was reworking Hunted Down to reflect some changes in Hunter’s Moon, and it’s the scene where Dean is carrying Matty out of the burning house.
The exact thought, “Man, if Matty was a woman that would be really powerful… how utterly heteronormative of me.”
And just like that, I realized what I had written. However, I didn’t want to erase Matty’s lack of previous sexual desire. There are so few characters who represent people other that white, straight, and sexually normative.
And asexuals do fall in love, and have sex. Technically, Matty is demisexual. He only feels sexual attraction to people he has a deep emotional bond with. Dean is simply the only person who he’s ever fallen in love with. Our boy is picky.
So yes, their ‘relationship’ comes out of nowhere, because Matty has no idea how he feels, and Dean (not knowing about Matty’s lack of sexual experience) keeps getting confused by Matty’s (unknowing) mixed signals.
Here’s a scene from Hunter’s Moon (from Mina’s point of view). Read it, knowing what you do now.
In the living room, her brother and Rick traded insults as rapidly as their digital avatars traded blows.
Dean leaned past her. “I’ll be back in about two hours. Prepare for death then.”
“Whatever, man.” Matty looked over his shoulder while his fingers continued to press buttons rapidly. “You’re terrible at this game.” On the screen Rick’s character succumbed to death. Dean laughed as Matty finally turned back to the screen.
The insinuation that he’d be returning and playing video games with her brother until one in the morning again was just the icing on the foreboding cake.
I haven’t gotten so much as a goodnight kiss.
When they finally talk it all comes out, but damn Dean was stubborn about that.
And that’s also my favorite scene in Hunter’s Moon. Not when Dean kisses Matty, but when they ‘come out’ to Matty’s family.
Sam and Sonja are not surprised (if you pay attention, you notice Sonja trying to talk to Mina about Dean for the first half of the story, and constantly being interrupted. Yes, she is trying to point out how much more time Dean spends with Matty than Mina.)
Rick and Mina are surprised, but only because they ‘know’ that Matty is asexual. They didn’t see him flirting because Matty doesn’t flirt. They’re shocked, but only because Matty wants to date, not that he’s dating a guy. (And minor note, yes, Dean is bisexual.)
All in all, I get why people like Matty. He’s tragic without being wangsty, and he’s by far the funniest character in the cast. In fact, Matty is my inner voice. Yes, I am that sarcastic in my head.
Haven’t read my stuff? Here’s a few of my favorite Matty lines.
Matty’s heart pounded when he realized why her (Mina’s) hops and jumps were erratic. She couldn’t put any weight on her back left foot.
Rick stepped forward, and Matty caught his sleeve. “Interfere now and she’ll take more than your pride when it’s over.”
Rick collapsed in the driver’s seat and pulled his shirt away from his sticky chest as Matty thumbed through his notebook. His uncanny resemblance to Mina did nothing for the acid broiling in Rick’s stomach.
The Speaker shuddered. “She doesn’t like me.”
“You’re not being helpful.”
Matty didn’t look up. “I was already helpful. I told you to let Sam call her.”
“How are we supposed to be a team if half of us can’t talk to each other?” Rick punched the steering wheel.
Matty shook his head as he continued to read. “Mina always was what our den mother called a ‘tough broad.’ That was under Speaker domination. Give her time. She’ll come around.”
“She trusts Sam.”
Matty lifted his dark eyes. “Don’t go there.”
“After her. She and I look way too much alike for me to condone that.”
“I’m not interested in her, I just don’t get why she doesn’t like me.”
Matty laughed. “You’re so irresistible you can’t imagine someone who doesn’t like you?”
“A little.” Rick grinned as Matty rolled his eyes. “You know it’s true. Who do we send in when we need to charm women?”
“Good point.” Rick studied the red brick street in front of him. “I just- I hate thinking my sister…”
Matty sighed. “I’m telling you, back off. Let Mina come to terms with this.” The werewolf stared at the roof for a moment. “I didn’t know Echo, but not all wolves hated or feared all Speakers. Mina was on great terms with a few of them.”
Rick caught his wolf’s eye. “But not you, huh?”
Matty grinned. “Yeah… not so much.”
From Hunted Down:
“Matty Grekov, what the hell are you doing in my part of the world?” Nick bounded to his feet and swept Matty up in huge bear hug. He was bigger than most werewolves at five foot ten and had a barrel chest.
“They called us in to kill what your incompetent ass can’t handle. I mean, how hard is it to kill a gremlin?”
Also from Hunted Down:
The thumping in his head was intense. It might have been Jack Matthew’s epic base line to ‘Good Bad Girl.’ Matty was pretty sure it was actually a head wound.
He opened his eye. He wanted to open both, but the other wouldn’t budge. Matty attempted to lift a hand to inspect it and only got the jingle of metal.
From Hunter’s Moon:
“Oh man!” Matty leaned towards Dean, but hesitated. As Dean tensed, Matty’s heart dropped a little. “Sorry, I- uh, anyway. I stole a guy from Mina. This is years of entertainment.”
“You aren’t- I’m confused.”
“This is going to be awkward on a lot of levels for a long time. I’m a twenty-seven-year old virgin who has trouble leaving the house. The first person I’ve ever been attracted to not only saved my life, but recently broke up with my sister… who looks like my clone. And I live with her. Not to mention the fact that I’m a werewolf currently being hunted.” Matty grinned. “But I’m game, if you are.”
Dean stared at him for a long moment before he laughed. “Are you ever serious?”
“When I have to be…”
He held up a finger. “Your timing has been getting steadily worse the last two weeks, culminating in getting bitten, then jumping the gun on a not-sleeping reaver.” A second finger joined the first. “After a year of working with you and more than a decade of being a Speaker, he’s suddenly embarrassed when you’re naked.” Three fingers wiggled at her. “The two of you went from a minimum of four hours of training a day to barely two a week. And both of you wear sweats and baggy t-shirts, whereas two weeks ago he never had a shirt and you wore a sports bra and yoga pants.” Two fingers dropped, leaving his thin middle finger in the air. “Do I even need to add that all these changes occurred after the two of you fought a succubus on your own?”
And those are just his best lines. Matty is the master of the one liner and the sarcastic comeback. Not counting the sarcasm that stays inside his head.
I get it. I get why my short, skinny, sarcastic, but broken demisexual, Hispanic werewolf just melts hearts. Because I designed him to do just that.
When it comes to Matty, there is one trope that supercedes all others, beyond Latin Lover, Knight in Sour Armor, Bishonen, and Determinator, Matty is a Woobie. Matty makes you say, “oh, poor baby” every time you learn something new about him.
Now, granted, he’s an Iron Woobie, someone who can’t catch a break and just keeps going anyway, but he was designed to make you want to rough up his hair and pour him a cup of tea. But he’s someone to feel for, and ultimately, someone to root for. My favorite description of him, comes from the man himself (go figure):
“I do what I have to, until I can’t. And then I do what I have to until I can.”
Yeah, he’s fun to write.