An interview with the creators of Let’s Play: MURDER

Today we get talky with Matt Longstaff and Chris Walker, AKA Squirm and Learn, about their twisted take on the alphabet, Let’s Play: MURDER.

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Matt Longstaff (left) and Chris Walker (right) with their creations Fred and Rosè.


So… where did the idea come from? Do you hate kids?

Matt: The origins of this are kind of weird. Maybe ten or eleven years ago when I was doing my art foundation course, I came across existentialism and Nihilism, and I had this idea about making this really big mural artwork proving there was a way to die for every letter of the alphabet. I embarked on this project, found out I wasn’t very good at art, and then just kind of left it. But the idea festered, I thought there was something in it, and then a few years later I’d been working with Chris for maybe six or seven years and I mentioned to him that I had this idea and we talked about it and then just kind of… left it. But a month later I got a text from Chris and he’d drawn these two little kids and from there it started to roll on. Originally it felt a lot more like I was going to write it and Chris was just going to draw it but as we got more into it we started throwing things out and bringing new things in and trying to turn it into a little bit more of a story, and it became a lot more collaborative.

Some very early concept art of the terrible two.

Some very early concept art of the terrible two.

Tell us more about the kids. Where did the sinister siblings come from?

Chris: I don’t know where the kids came from. I think it was my idea, I’m not quite sure why. It just sort of made sense that they would be these two feral children left to their own devices with no parental guidance, no moral compass. They’re just left alone in this council flat with all the tools. It’s as if they don’t even know what they’ve done. They were just playing a game and it’s all gone wrong.

Matt: Because it’s a book, and you do a lot of the work in your own mind, the kids actually lightened it up a bit. If it’s just two guys beating the shit out of each other, that’s not funny. The kids just made it almost innocent and playful.

Where did the design of the characters come from?

Chris: Well, my drawing style has always been that scratchy, big bowl head style. If I had to describe it I guess it’s Tim burton meets Mortal Kombat. I played a lot of Mortal Kombat as a kid and those fatalities have been getting more and more imaginative.

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Speaking of imaginative fatalities, how did you come up with each letter? Was it hard to think of 26 ways to die?

Matt: Very early on we decided that each letter had to be an action. So it couldn’t be ‘A for Axe’ because an axe is an object. The action for an axe would be ‘chopping’. And that set us apart from things like Gashlycrumb Tinies, because although we wanted our inspiration to be clear, we also wanted to roll it on from that. It also became apparent very early on that we didn’t want anything too fantastical. No grenades, ray guns, mafia hits, or stuff like that. It had to have this feeling that it could happen. Which kind of meant that we had to be a bit more imaginative.

Chris: The longest thing for us was this ‘list of method’. We started out with a spreadsheet and it was a long, long process. Some letters came quickly and others were just horrific. ‘J’ we really struggled with for a long long time. In the end we went with Jousting…

Matt: Which is potentially a little bit of a trick…

Chris: I dunno, I think it’s one of my favourites now.

Matt: Well that’s where the art comes in. It let us get away with things.

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Let’s talk about the reaction. The Kickstarter went incredibly well and you seem to have made fans all over the world.

Chris: Yeah, we hit our target in four days. We had no idea that was going to happen.

Matt: You hope, obviously. But I was just hoping that when we released this we didn’t get reported or anything! I was waiting for the Daily Mail article.

Chris: Wait until Mumsnet get hold of this.

Matt: But it turns out that people are willing to have a bit of a joke. I think on day two we got Kickstarter staff pick, and that really helped. From there it just took off.

And what does the future hold for Rosè and Fred? Are there any further adventures planting themselves in the back of your head?

Chris: We’ve got no plans as it stands, but we’ll have a little discussion. I’ve certainly got some ideas bubbling.

Matt: If people have bought into this idea, which it seems they have, you know, there might be. If it’s done for the right reasons and there’s a reason for it to continue then I think it could be fun.

Chris: The kids are going to want more money for a sequel though aren’t they?

Let’s Play: MURDER is out now and available on our store page.


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