On September 22nd, 1972, Matthew Stuart Busch was born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. The oldest of 4, his family soon relocated to the metro Detroit area, where he would spend the rest of his adolescent years. As it was with most kids of his generation, STAR WARS expanded Busch’s creative horizons. His interest in playing with Matchbox cars and airplanes was replaced with Landspeeders and X-Wing Fighters. Little did the starry-eyed tyke know how involved his life would later become with that galaxy far, far away…
In fact, Matt Busch’s first lesson in making his dreams come true happened at an early age. In Kindergarten, he was excited to see that the STAR WARS pop-up-book was being offered through his school’s Scholastic book order program. Busch rushed home after school that day to show his mother. However, he was disappointed she wouldn’t order the book for him since he wasn’t reading his other books.
Instead of holding his breath until turning blue, Busch marched to his room and pulled out magic markers and construction paper. He began to create his own STAR WARS pop-up-book! While the drawing wasn’t particularly special for a four-year-old, the construction of the book was quite impressive.
Impressive enough to Busch’s mother that she secretly ordered the real pop-up-book. You can imagine how surprised and ecstatic he was to get the book in school when the orders came in. This rewarding experience taught Busch the magic of working hard and believing in yourself to make your dreams a reality.
Throughout his grade school years, Busch continued to create his own books, magazines, comics, and even a school STAR WARS fan club. He would make his own versions of MAD magazine, STAR WARS comics, and even PLAYBOY magazine. Busch also designed, wrote, and illustrated several of his own INDIANA JONES ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books! This led to creator-owed comics such as CAPTAIN STARGO and ZANY ZAPPIES.
Busch also pursued an interest in music early on. Classically trained on the piano since the age of four, he also studied drums and percussion, and eventually taught himself how to play the guitar. Busch began to compete internationally in both piano and keyboards, and at 14, won the American Guild of Music’s Age Championship for North America. During this time, he had joined several local bands with dreams of rock stardom.
As a young teen, Busch took on yet another hobby: film making. Tinkering with his parent’s video camera, he would call upon his buddies to help make ninja movies, like SILENT ASSASSINS OF THE NIGHT, and of course, its sequel. In high school, Busch embarked on what would be his biggest project to date: writing, directing, and co-starring in his own 25 minute action film, QUICK SAND.
Throughout high school, Busch pursued his love for art, writing, film, and music, but couldn’t pin down which he would want to choose as a career. Dipping his hands into almost every creative outlet, he considered himself the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’…
Upon graduating, Busch attended Macomb Community College, taking simple art classes. This was considered this a back-up, however, as his rock band PASSION began to gain success. Like any band, the breakup was inevitable, and Busch found the music business to be discouraging as a whole. A year later, he switched his focus back to visual art, and entered Macomb College’s Graphic and Commercial Art program.
Busch was lucky enough to live in an eclectic household that embraced his ambitions and projects, even though they kept changing. Matt’s parents encouraged him to explore and express his creativity with every avenue he wanted to pursue.
While studying graphic design and illustration, Busch began to draw creator-owned comics again, such as ZARK, ACROMAN, and DEATH GATE. He would make xeroxed copies of his books and sell them to dozens of local comic book stores. Busch’s schedule became hectic going to school full-time, working at Pizza Magic full-time, and then illustrating his comic books into the wee hours of the night. Busch had found his real passion- visual storytelling. Managing to get a new issue out every month, the time he was putting into his art began to pay off. At the very least, Busch was making enough money to print the next issue and keep circulation going.
Busch had found his real passion- visual storytelling.
In 1993, Matt Busch won an award from the Library of Congress for his copyright achievements and had graduated from MCC with an Associate of Arts degree in Graphic and Commercial Art. Tired of industrial Detroit, he was in need of a new atmosphere. Having been accepted to the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, Busch decided to pack up his belongings and head for the West coast to pursue his dreams.
At Art Center and the Los Angeles Art Academy, Busch studied Illustration, Film, and Entertainment Design. Geographically, he loved the creative environment in California, finding inspiration in the mountains and Pacific shores. While Busch also enjoyed the creative energy of the ‘entertainment capital of the world’, he found Hollywood egos and attitudes less than inspiring.
Within a month of moving to Los Angeles, Busch was commissioned for his first major professional jobs: illustrating two film posters and video box covers for the B-Movies CALIFORNIA FEVER and THE WHITE MONK. At the same time, Busch started developing an epic sci-fi storyline of his own. The project was a graphic novel called KASTAR SHANDAX, but the characters and roots of this plot would one day become ALADDIN 3477.
In 1994, Matt Busch began work on his first official STAR WARS project, illustrating a short story for the STAR WARS ADVENTURE JOURNAL. This would evolve into dozens of STAR WARS projects for West End Games, illustrating books, trading cards and other supplements for the STAR WARS Role-playing Game. Busch even became a contributing writer on the book STAR WARS: Heroes and Rogues.
Busch continued to build his career as a freelance illustrator with gigs at HOCKEY PLAYER MAGAZINE, K-SWISS SHOES, and the LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS collectable card game series. It was during this time that Busch realized his KASTAR SHANDAX project had similar aspects to the ALADDIN fairy tale, so he scrambled the plot around and began a new comic book series called DARIA JONTAK, published through Realm Press.
Upon Graduating from Art Center in 1996, Busch began to work on production design and advertising campaigns for many motion pictures, including CON AIR, The DEVIL’S OWN, HARD RAIN, HOME ALONE 3 and THE MATRIX. His versatility let him work on all aspects of film illustration, from character designs, to production paintings, to storyboards, to movie poster design.
Busch also worked with L.L. Cool J to design the opening credits for the television sitcom IN THE HOUSE. Other television shows Busch has worked on include COSBY, The KEENAN IVORY WAYANS SHOW, MARRIED… WITH CHILDREN, MARTIN, MELROSE PLACE, MILLENNIUM, MURPHY BROWN, NASH BRIDGES, and NEW YORK UNDERCOVER, among others.
At this point, Busch had been discussing a collaboration with Rikki Rockett, the drummer of the multi-platinum rock band POISON. Rockett had already founded NO MERCY Comics and OLD GHOSTS designer clothing. The two created the COVEN 13 comic book, which was written by Rockett and fully-painted by Busch. The book also featured ESPN Fitness Beach Host / PLAYBOY Supermodel LeeAnn Tweeden, now known as a host on THE BEST DAMN SPORTS SHOW on FOX.
During this time, STAR WARS was never very far from Busch’s drawing table. He illustrated the cover of the book STAR WARS: Tales from the Empire for Bantam Doubleday Dell, which became a New York Times bestseller! Busch also designed STAR WARS toy concepts for Mattel, before losing the license to Hasbro. However, he did design concepts at Team Disney for new STAR WARS rides at Disney theme parks, something that wouldn’t be revisited until nearly two decades later.
Writing was another passion that Busch was eager to explore. He wrote his first screenplay, a romantic comedy titled DIAMOND JOE’S, which received rave reviews and made the rounds in the Hollywood circuit, but true to Hollywood clichés, never any bites.
Busch tried a new tactic with his next screenplay, CRISIS. Intense research for the project included reading several books, visiting police departments, sheriff departments, touring jail facilities, and even spending two weeks in a wheelchair. Busch created the script as a graphic novel / illustrated screenplay; a trade paperback that included well over 100 storyboards and character designs alongside the text. Publishing it the book himself, Busch found the attention of many well-known actors and producers, constantly flying him across the country for meetings. However, Development Hell was where it was destined to stay.
However, it was difficult for Busch to be frustrated, as his STAR WARS career was exploding. He had done a plethora of advertising and marketing for EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE, and was a regular artist on numerous books and magazines. Busch was also one of three artists to exhibit at the first STAR WARS CELEBRATION in Denver, Colorado. To date, Busch is the only artist to have exhibited at every single CELEBRATION throughout the world.
Despite his success with illustration, Busch was getting restless. He wanted to continue his involvement in Hollywood without having to actually live there. At the end of the 1990s, Busch made the decision to move back across the country and set up a new company, Planetmatt Entertainment, in his home town of Sterling Heights, Michigan. Keeping his Los Angeles contacts, current technology let Busch stay on the ‘inside’.
Busch is currently a professor and faculty advisor of Creative Imaging and Illustration in their Media + Communication Arts department.
Matt Busch began his teaching career at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio. A semester later he started teaching at the Center for Creative Studies – College of Art and Design before settling on the place where it all started for Busch, Macomb Community College. Busch is currently a professor and faculty advisor of Creative Imaging and Illustration in their Media + Communication Arts department.
Continuing to seek every nitch in the entertainment industry Busch found a new one with music art. From CD covers to concert apparel, he has provided art for such mainstream musical artists as ALICE COOPER, BEASTIE BOYS, BECK, BILLY JOEL, BLACK SABBATH, FOO FIGHTERS, GARBAGE, JESSICA SIMPSON, KID ROCK, MÖTLEY CRÜE, POISON and TED NUGENT, to name a few. Busch has also created numerous designs for HARD ROCK CAFE merchandise around the world.
In 2001, Avatar Press published Busch’s first hardcover art book, FANTASTIC VISIONS. The introduction was written by his long-time collaborator, POISON’s Rikki Rockett. To celebrate the collected works, Busch began an annual art show extravaganza donning the same name, and featuring galleries, animation, and live music. To date, these events have scored a larger attendance for solo art shows than any other Detroit artist in history.
In 2003, Busch began to move into more independent film making projects, releasing his first feature length DVD full of animations and video shorts, FANTASTIC VISIONS. Some of these mini-movies made their way Online, making Busch one of the Top 75 Most-Viewed Directors on YouTube.
In addition to his growing freelance illustration, Busch began to write and illustrate his fully-painted graphic novel, ALIZARIN’S JOURNAL. He also began laying the groundwork for the epic sci-fi masterpiece he always wanted to tell. While his comic series DARIA JONTAK had gained a solid following, the story was not exactly how it originally perceived. Busch began writing a screenplay titled KLEPTOMODE, but the trick was to keep the elements he loved, while eliminating the aspects that had hints of ALADDIN.
In 2006, Busch was inducted as an Honorary Member of the 501st Legion of Stormtroopers by Jay Shimko of the Great Lakes Garrison. Other Honorary Members include notable STAR WARS actors, artists and writers behind-the-scenes, as well as celebrities like Kristen Bell, Seth Green, Kevin Smith, “Weird Al”, Yankovic, the band No Doubt, and George Lucas himself. Not long after that, Busch bacame the world’s first Honorary Member of the 501st to get his armor! The 501st is a worldwide community of fans that costume as collectors, fundraisers, volunteers, and doing charity work.
Also that year, Busch produced his first independent movie, CONJURE, a film he wrote, directed, starred in, and even composed music for. The movie was distributed in North America through every chain and source imaginable- from BLOCKBUSTER to NETFLIX to TARGET. Financing the entire movie himself, the unique film was met with critical acclaim and shattered records- becoming “The Highest PreSelling Movie of All Time” according to HorrorMovies.com. The movie was later released world-wide under the title DARK MANIFESTATION.
Busch was also finding success as a writer, producing articles for such magazines as ART SCENE INTERNATIONAL, STAR WARS KIDS, ACTION FIGURE DIGEST, FIRE AND ICE, and AIR-BRUSH ACTION. He was also a contributing writer on such books as REVENGE: The Real Life Story of STAR WARS, HOW TO WRITE AND ILLUSTRATE THE GRAPHIC NOVEL, HOW TO DRAW + SELL COMIC STRIPS, and LEGENDS: The Art of Painted Comics.
Busch’s second art book, “PUCKER: The Seductive Art of Matt Busch” was published by SQP Publishing. The new hardcover collection showcased Busch’s expertise with the female form, collecting his glamour, good girl, and pin-up art throughout his career. The book also featured an Introduction by another hard rock drummer, John Dolmayan of SYSTEM OF A DOWN.
2007 was a busy STAR WARS year for Busch in general, as he illustrated 5 different official posters, including the REVENGE OF THE SITH Style D One Sheet movie poster. This piece was designed as a bookend to the original 1978 poster for STAR WARS, which has become a favorite among fans and even George Lucas himself.
Also that year, the book YOU CAN DRAW STAR WARS was released by DK Publishing, which Busch illustrated nearly 400 drawings and paintings for. Acclaimed by fans, pros, and students the world over, the book went on to become a New York Times BestSeller. Scoop Magazine called it one of the 10 best published works of 2007.
Acclaimed by fans, pros, and students the world over, the book went on to become a New York Times BestSeller.
In promoting the book, Busch traveled the world, landing special guest book signings at Skywalker Ranch, Disney World, and Barnes & Nobels across the globe.
Lucasfilm tapped Busch to create a series of entertaining video tutorials, HOW TO DRAW STAR WARS. These cutting edge videos let Busch use his humor and unique storytelling skills to educate aspiring artists everywhere, with material not covered in the book. First released as a series on both DK.com and StarWars.com, all seven episodes chronicled the creation of a 30th Anniversary STAR WARS poster.
These episodes were also a great learning curve in Busch’s experience as a filmmaker. Not only did each episode cover a different aspect of creating illustration, but each episode also had a unique theme and story within the overall tutorial arc. There was even an episode where Busch parodied the legendary Bob Ross, complete with a “Happy little interrogation Droid.” Ultimately, these videos topped the charts at MySpace.com, landing the daily NUMBER ONE MOST VIEWED VIDEO ON MYSPACE.COM, twice! Each of the videos also went to number one in at least one category during the first day of its release.
In total, Busch produced 22 episodes, the last 3 of which were double-sized. The final episode stepped aside from actual drawing tips and gave incredible insight into “Breaking into the Biz.” The grande finale was created entirely with puppets, designed by then-girlfriend Lin Zy, who directed the episode as well. Eventually, the HOW TO DRAW STAR WARS videos were collected onto 3 volumes of limited edition DVDs, and premiered at the STAR WARS CELEBRATION IV show in Los Angeles. (Fun fact: who would be waiting in line to get a signed DVD from Matt, but a then-relatively-unknown J.J. Abrams!)
Busch also continued to work on properties like LOST, 24, LORD OF THE RINGS, HEROES, and INDIANA JONES. He also kept to his comic book roots by adding his touch on titles such at NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: SPIKE, Gene Simmon’s HOUSE OF HORRORS, and AFTERBURN.
In 2008, Comic-Con International in San Diego promoted Matt Busch as a Featured Special Guest, joining horror visionary Bernie Wrightson, Mad Magazine artists Al Jaffee and Sergio Aragones, Comic Artist Giants Jim Lee and J.G. Jones, Animator Dean Yeagle, and award winning writer icons Ray Bradbury, Joe Hill and Dean Koontz.
Times just right, Busch released an independent documentary, ILLUSTRATION NATION, which captured his world travel adventures. Prior, Busch toted a film crew for an entire year to record his triumphs and downfalls at shows and his traveling antics that named him the “Rock Star of Illustration.” The documentary had a limited run at Landmark Theaters before being released on DVD.
In addition to illustration, Busch was finally getting recognition for his work as a filmmaker. DC Comics hired Busch to produced a 15 minute documentary on the Encyclopedia of VERTIGO COMICS. He was also commissioned to illustrate the DVD cover, as well as produce video content for the new President of the United States, a documentary titled BECOMING BARACK, Evolution of a Leader.
Also that year, Hermes Press released the quintessential art book of Busch’s work. This new lavish collection, THE WORLDS OF MATT BUSCH, featured all his genre art from STAR WARS to MÖTLEY CRÜE and everything in between. This was followed by MATT BUSCH’S SKETCHBOOK, an oversized tome with nearly 500 drawings, doodles and scribbles.
In 2009, Busch made waves recreating all 6 STAR WARS movie posters with the zombie treatment- a clever viral marketing campaign for Lucasfilm releasing their first STAR WARS horror novel, Death Troopers. The posters became a huge hit, with exposure reaching as far as G4TV and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
That same year, Hasbro released a new “Droid Factory” collection of action figures, that included MB-RA-7, a figure somewhat created by and named after artist Matt Busch. Years prior, Busch was the regular writer and artist if the “How to Draw STAR WARS” articles for STAR WARS KIDS Magazine. Busch gave instructions under the visual moniker of an RA-7 droid, and in so tagging his initials, MB-RA-7 was born.
With the zombie craze at its height, Busch’s fan base was foaming at the mouth to see more zombified movie posters beyond the ones he had illustrated for STAR WARS. Under the banner HOLLYWOOD IS DEAD, Busch created dozens and dozens parody posters for all of the Box Office Cadavers of yesteryear, including Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and James Bond.
In 2010, Matt Busch began working with his brother Ian to develop INTERACTIVE SKETCHBOOK, a unique drawing app for the iPad. Produced through Ian’s company, Digital Wave Creative, the app is the closest digital thing you can get to an actual sketchbook, but with unlimited pages. DigitalTrends.com called the app “one of the 10 most innovative and just plain cool uses for the iPad.”
2011 saw the release of the INDIANA JONES WORLD MAP, a project that Busch spent 3 years researching. The illustrated map shows all of the archeological artifacts that Professor Henry Walton Jones Jr, Ph.D. has discovered. These items included are not only from the films, but the Young Indiana Jone Chronicles TV series, the novels, the comic books, the video games and even the Disney Theme Park attractions.
That same year, Busch married Lin Zy, a fellow respected artist, designer, and puppeteer. The two had worked on numerous projects prior, and together formed a new company, Kaleidoscope Koi Entertainment, LLC. The biggest project to be released under this company would be Busch’s magnum opus, his long-awaited sci-fi screenplay, which at that point was titled KLEPTOMODE.
However, after years of Busch trying so hard to change the story to not resemble ALADDIN, he had a change of heart, and went all out to just go ahead and have his epic story a spin off the classic Arabian Nights tale. Tired of trying to sell stories that suits aren’t looking for, Busch and Lin Zy also decided to take a huge leap and produce the film entirely themselves.
In 2012, a new version of the INTERACTIVE SKETCHBOOK app was released in the iTunes stores, completely revamped with a new engine that was more responsive with higher resolution. Later that year, Digital Wave Creative released a new app for iPhone and iPad, HOW TO DRAW with Matt Busch.
Soon after, Busch helped Lin Zy animate a full episode of the POWER OF THE FORCE GIRLS, a parody cartoon that’s essentially a mash-up of POWERPUFF GIRLS and STAR WARS. The episode has had over one million views on Lin Zy’s You Tube Channel, and has fans dying to know when they can expect episode 2.
Later that year, Busch announced on his 40th birthday his next big project in the works: writing and directing a live-action science fiction film, ALADDIN 3477. Based on the Arabian Nights tale and set 1,500 years in the future, the movie pays more homage to STAR WARS than it does Disney’s ALADDIN.
The first step in preproduction for ALADDIN 3477 was for Busch and Lin Zy to take a month and travel all of the exotic landscapes where the story was to take place: India, Thailand, Cambodia, China and Hong Kong. This served three purposes: story inspiration, the filming of background plates used in the movie and potential location scouting.
In 2013, Busch illustrated the cover of the CD re-release of the STAR WARS RADIO DRAMAS. The CD packaging also came with an exclusive trading card illustrated by Busch, and he illustrated additional commercial tie-ins for two Topps trading cards series as well as the STAR WARS INSIDER Magazine.
Busch completed the first draft of the ALADDIN 3477 screenplay in May 2013. From there was the onslaught of concept art, production paintings, as well as prop building and kit-bashing. This wasn’t as daunting as it would seem, as he already had two decades of material that the story was drawn upon, starting with the scrapped KASTAR SHANDAX graphic novel.
Later in the year, Busch ran a highly successful Kickstarter campaign for HOLLYWOOD IS DEAD, a deluxe coffee table art book collecting 6 years worth of zombified movie poster classics. The book hardcover book (Busch’s first to include a slipcase) would be his largest published collection to date (over 200 pages) and featured well over one hundred full page images of gruesome box office cadavers.
Busch initially sought out numerous big-name publishers to release the book. Many were interested, but no one wanted to produce the book the way he intended for an audience to experience it. And so, Busch utilized Kickstarter to do it all himself, which turned out great- tripling the figures needed to make the book happen, which in turn produced a higher quality book and certainly more profitable than if the book been released by a larger publishing house.
In 2014, Kaleidoscope Koi put out a world-wide casting call for the ALADDIN 3477 motion picture. Over 10,000 applicants sent in headshots and resumés in hopes of snagging a part in the film. After narrowing it down, Busch and Lin Zy held auditions with dozens before settling on the official cast.
The next step was to lease an industrial workshop in Clinton Township, Michigan, that Busch and Lin Zy would refurbish into a working soundstage, named after their entertainment company. Here, the duo and ever-passionate crew can create the sets, props and costumes needed for this out-of-this-world production.
In May of that year, principle photography began on ALADDIN 3477, a journey that (even years later) Busch is still knee deep in. While Busch and Lin Zy are moving as efficiently as possible, the time taken to make the sets, props and costumes look as good as they do takes way longer than larger studios with bigger budgets and a crew of hundreds.
No one is more excited about the release of this passion project than Busch. While the release of ALADDIN 3477 is still quite a ways away, Busch knows that he is in his glory working on his magnum opus. Like the ancient Buddhist quote, “The journey is the reward.”
Matt Busch and his wife Lin Zy live in a multiple-studio home in Macomb Township, Michigan, with their pug Roxie.
You can check out Matt Busch on WikiPedia HERE. While not everything on WikiPedia is true, it is likely updated more often than this Bio page.