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Add to the long list of tools of mayhem the pen and brush of Matt Wagner, the creator of "Grendel" comics.

They include the blunt instrument of Grendel dialogue that smashes home the raw, powerful message that violence is the currency of modern society.These are not comics for children but award-winning, adult-oriented tales by a man who almost instantly won notice for his work over 10 years ago with a science-fiction Nebula nomination that has been followed by numerous other nominations and at least one Eisner award.

Wagner, who recently made a public appearance at Salt Lake's Night Flight Comics, examines through the medium of comics the price the world pays for evil.

"Grendel" began as the story of one man responding to the horrors of evil. But over the past decade the word "Grendel" has grown to mean not only the original character but a grisly philosophy and post-apocalyptic society where warrior clans and eventually the entire planet are governed by aggression and savagery in response to unmanageable depravity.

"Grendel" has become known for the unpredictability of its storyline. Wagner says he approaches a new story as a painter might an empty canvas: Beyond a bare outline, he is not certain where the story will take itself, but he, and his fans, apparently enjoy the process as Grendel's canvas is textured with unsettling and often shocking imagery and implications.

In addition to his writing and artistic ac-com-plish-ments, Wagner remains one of a handful of successful comics creators who have maintained ownership rights of their creations, avoiding being shackled by the large comics publishers.

When Wagner is not producing "Grendel" stories, he works on Batman stories for DC Comics, crossover comics, or acts as creative director for other artists producing "Grendel" comics. He says it's not that difficult to temporarily surrender Grendel to the vision or other artists and writers, and he has always been pleased by what he has learned about his own character from them. Story ideas constantly flow from fellow professionals who are eager to add to the Grendel mythology and find in the chaos of brutality an opportunity to express themselves.

Wagner lives with his family in Oregon, and when he is not writing and drawing he is reading; undoubtedly, tales of violence.