3 Stories of Matt Kindt - Part Three

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To the average mainstream comic book fan, Matt Kindt’s name probably doesn’t ring a bell. While that may change soon – Kindt has a Black Widow story in the works for Marvel – the creator won’t every venture too far in the world of superheroics. His multiple Eisner Award-nominated and Harvey Award-winning body of work is of a more straightforward humane level. The latest example of this comes along next Wednesday, when Dark Horse releases 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man.

BF spoke to Kindt about what to expect from 3 Story and the characteristics of his oeuvre.

Read Part One
Read Part Two

BROKEN FRONTIER: There are a few recurring elements and themes in your books. Can you discuss why these are such an integral part of your oeuvre?  Let’s start with your preference for female characters and the female point of view…

That was never a conscious choice until 2 Sisters. I’d originally started writing that book about two brothers and then thought I’d shift it to sisters as a sort of challenge to myself as a writer. As a man, it’s kind of easy for me to write from that perspective so I thought I’d do it as a sort of game for myself. All of 2 Sisters ended up being a series of games that I would set up for myself. Female main characters, writing with no captions and using every page of the book (including the title page and back cover) as part of the sequential story.

So, female characters started as more of a challenge to myself instead of a preference, but now I think I do prefer it. It forces me to think a little more outside of myself for some reason. To figure out who this woman is. I think a lot of writers tend to make the main character or the hero share a lot of the same traits as themselves. So making the character a woman helps to keep me from falling into that trap. It helps me make that character their own person.

Another aspect of that might be the fact that I have a six-year-old daughter and interacting with her and finding books and comics that she likes has made me more aware of what’s out there and what’s not. And I don’t want to throw one more lead character out into the world that is a tough guy or a tough girl that’s basically a guy in girl’s clothes. If you page through the Previews catalogue and look at the women characters out there… it’s a little embarrassing, so I guess part of me is trying to counteract that.

BF: A second trait I noticed is that a Matt Kindt story is never straightforward, rather smaller sub-stories and perspectives make up the whole.

This is a tough one. I’m not really sure why it happens that way. I guess I don’t really think in a linear way and the writing process to me isn’t linear at all. In a lot of ways I think my books end up being published in the order that I actually wrote it in. I don’t really write the entire book and then jumble it up for effect. Pistolwhip and Super Spy I wrote from page 1 to the end. I had to go back and tweak things here and there to make the timelines and stories match up a bit, but I write sequentially. I guess I just don’t think about the stories that way.

The other thing is that once I started to become aware of the three-act structure for a story it really ruined a lot of movies and books for me. Once you start paying attention to that kind of thing, as a viewer you start to anticipate the story beats and it saps the life out of a story to me. So I guess I’m trying to avoid that typical rhythm of a story or at least mix it up a little to throw the reader off.

I’m also a huge fan of time travel stories and for some strange reason that’s probably the biggest reason that I do it. I love the idea of time being this fluid that you can jump around in. 

I’m not sure which came first though – me loving the idea of time travel or me loving history. I guess history comes first and time travel being a way to visit the times and events that I love. With writing I can sort of fake-time travel in a way. There’s definitely an escapist aspect to why I make these books.

BF: Setting stories in a different time is also a good technique to cause reflection on our time and state of mind. That leads me right into a third characteristic: The importance of basic but deep human emotions.

Boy, that’s a tough one. Not sure how to answer that without sounding super pretentious! I guess I like a story to make me feel something. Happiness, anger, sadness. Any of those kind of things. I’m not very funny so I guess I tend to go for the sad and angry notes more often. I wish I was funny.

And sometimes I feel like I’m emotionally numb, so that anything that can break through and make me feel something ends up being something I like. A lot of my stories end up doing that – poking at sensitive parts of my life to make me feel and understand them a little better.

It’s also a tricky thing. When I write that first draft it’s all sincere and from the heart. But after rewriting and penciling and inking and correcting and production it’s hard for me to feel like I did when I first wrote the idea down. It ends up feeling manufactured. That’s ultimately the Catch-22 of making these books.

I start out making a book that would be my perfect book. The book that has everything in it that I want to see and read in a book. But by the end of the creative process I’m so burned out by the energy and time it takes to make it that I can’t stand to even look at the finished product again. So in a way I’m kind of jealous of someone that can pick it up and read it fresh.

BF: We’ve already mentioned the next Super Spy volume and your Dark Horse MySpace short stories. I hear you’re also working on a webcomic with Cullen Bunn. What’s that about?

I’m not sure I can mention the book with Cullen yet, but it’s going to be a fun sort of departure from what I normally do – a 70s style horror book. But I’ll let Oni announce that when they’re ready. Sorry!

I also have another big 180 graphic novel that I’m nearly done inking now coming out from another publisher that isn’t Top Shelf, Dark Horse or Oni, that I’m not allowed to announce yet either but I’m dying to! Hopefully at San Diego I’ll be able to talk about it!

And I’m also doing an 8-page Black Widow story for Marvel that I accidentally blabbed last month and I didn’t get in trouble so I guess I can talk about it. It’s going to be in an anthology book. One of my childhood dreams realized, getting to play with a Marvel character. I’m really looking forward to it.

BF: You sure have a lot of stories to tell! How come you’re so fascinated by digital storytelling by the way?

Digital or print – I ultimately don’t care. I love telling stories and entertaining people and getting feedback and drawing. I have just been in love with the act of dragging a pen or brush on paper since I can remember. I can’t believe I’m allowed to do this for a living.

3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man goes on sale Wednesday, September 23, 2009.

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