A few years ago, a new face appeared on the New Pulp scene, a guy by the name Mat Mastos. He offered a lot of praise for my Myth Hunter series and he had ideas about expanding New Pulp beyond the niche audience it had mostly appealed to which intrigued me, as that was something I wanted to do as well.
When Mat came out with his first novel, The Cestus Concern, he was kind enough to send me an email with a free copy and asked if I’d review it. I did and I genuinely enjoyed it. We kept in touch and he hired me to edit his WW2 fantasy novel, The Man With The Iron Heart.
Back in late 2013 or thereabouts, Mat and I were talking. I’d had him as a guest on my now-aborted podcast, The Exploding Typewriter, and he suggested we start working together. Mat had a label he’d set up for his books, called Nifty Entertainment, and he said he wanted to turn it into an author collective. Given the connections he seemed to have and the success of The Cestus Concern, I thought it was a good move so I agreed.
No contracts were ever signed, no rights were transferred, and no money was ever exchanged. He said we’d simply be helping each other out, providing services for each other, promoting each other’s work, etc. I thought it seemed like a good idea, so I said yes. I updated all my books to include the Nifty Entertainment logo, put them on his site, etc. I also added previews of some of his books to the back of some of my books and he said he would do the same (no clue if he ever actually did). He even did the original cover for Vanguard: Season One:
But shortly after that, Mat just stopped responding to emails and messages. I’d often ask him about how we can work together on some promotions and I wouldn’t get any response. When I asked him if he’d be willing to work on the cover for Vanguard: Season Two, he finally responded and said he would send me a concept and then I never heard anything else.
Around the same time, I’d joined up with an author group. In a month of being in that group, they provided me with more support and advice than Mat had after several months of being part of Nifty. So I decided it wasn’t worth it to keep my work associated with him. I changed the cover for Vanguard: Season One, removed the Nifty label from all my books, and took them off the Nifty site.
I never really heard anything else from Mat after that. He didn’t even say anything when I decided to pull my stuff, so I just left it at that and moved on with my life. I just didn’t feel like the association was doing anything for my work so there was no need to continue it.
Turns out I had made the right decision, and I just found out how right the decision was given the news of the past week.
Mat often talked about the work he’d done in comics and film/TV. He frequently touted his friendships with various creators and celebrities to the point that some of it seemed exaggerating. But there was one thing he would claim frequently—that he was one of co-creators of Disney’s Phineas and Ferb. It was so frequent and he often touted it on his resume to such an extent that even his banners when he went to comic conventions featured those characters. So it seemed unlikely that was something he would exaggerate about, as it went far beyond idle chatter.
But according to Bleeding Cool, exaggeration was putting it lightly—he straight-up lied. Swampy Marsh, one of the actual creators of Phineas and Ferb, posted the following on his Facebook page:
Like I said, I knew he exaggerated, but I never expected something this fraudulent. Mat has since scrubbed the mentions of himself from the Internet that he has control over—his Facebook page, Twitter account, and his websites. Disney’s lawyers do not screw around, so I’m guessing he’s gotten himself in some very hot water.
The thing I don’t understand is why? The Cestus Concern and The Man With The Iron Heart were both great books and very well-written and as you can see from the Vanguard cover I posted above, he’s also a talented artist. This is a guy who could have written his own ticket on the basis of his talent alone.
Just goes to show you—be careful who you associate with and be careful about the boasts you make online. You never know when it might come back to bite you in the ass. I didn’t properly vet a potential business partner and if our arrangement had gone beyond just a handshake deal, I may have suffered a lot worse than the embarrassment I’m feeling at the moment.
That’s a mistake I won’t make again.