"I remember my first convention 10 years ago and I was terrified to talk to anyone. But now I go to between 5-10 conventions a year and it has actually become fun to interact with readers. I'm actually glad because it helped me get over the phobia I'd had of talking to strangers. But the beauty of it is, that if you've read any of my books, you're not really a stranger. You know about me and how I think so it's just easier to talk."
- Matt Kindt (click for larger version)
November 11, 2011
A curious cast of characters are born in Matt Kindt's mind. They enter the world from the tips of his pencils and brushes and live out unusual existences in the pages of his comic books and graphic novels.
- A 20-foot-tall man who grows isolated from the world.
- A cubicle-dwelling office drone who wakes up to a post-apocalyptic dystopia every other day.
- World War II spies/lovers who use a copy of "Arabian Nights" to pass secrets.
The Webster Groves writer/artist has become one of the rising stars in comics thanks to his wild imagination, a quirky sense of storytelling and the ability to jump from espionage to science fiction to horror like a masked crime fighter bounding from rooftop to rooftop.
"I've always planned on hitting every genre at some point," said Kindt, 38. "It's also just kind of fun for me to take a genre and try to put something into it -- real characters with something real at stake.
"It never occurred to me to be pigeon-holed. I just sort of gravitate to different topics that interest me at the time of writing the book and then I move on. I tend to go 1,000 percent on a topic and then burn out on it completely."
Kindt jumped into comic book creating fulltime after getting laid off from his job as a graphic designer a few years ago.
"The secret to producing so much work is really just working on books like it's your job and not a hobby," he said. "Not having to do freelance anymore to pay bills really helps me focus. I have so many book and story ideas that the only way I can get to them all is to just write and draw every day."
Kindt's latest works are proof he's pushing himself to find new ways to tell stories.
In "The Tooth," Kindt has teamed with writers Cullen Bunn and Shawn Lee to create a silly and solemn fable told through the lens of 1970s comic books -- complete with faux ads, mock letters columns and an old Marvel-style editorial box that proudly proclaims the book is "prodigiously penciled and embellished by Matt Kindt."
The recently released graphic novel, published by Oni, centers on a man named Graham who finds a small object among his late grandfather's personal effects and tosses it away. Turns out, it's a mystical tooth. And when an evil magician and his henchmen come looking for the tooth, it springs to life, grows bigger, takes humanoid form and takes on the bad guys. Graham discovers "The Tooth" has a mythology all its own.
"Matt joined the creative team after plotting and scripting had already begun, but once he started delivering art, 'The Tooth' went through some changes," said Park Valley's Bunn. "Shawn and I knew that involving Matt in some of the story development would help set the book apart from anything else on the stands."
And even when DC gives Kindt the chance to work in the Spandex-clad world of mainstream comics, he doesn't send Batman to punch out some Gotham goons or Green Lantern to quell a war on a distant planet. In the first issue of the six-part story in "My Greatest Adventure," Kindt sends D-lister Robotman on a mission to Cuba where he's attacked by zombies.
St. Louis comic book artist Brian Hurtt laughs and says, "That's just Matt."
"He's just super imaginative," Hurtt said. "A lot of people compare Matt to (critically-acclaimed writer) Grant Morrison. I met Matt at a comic book shop 15 or 20 years ago when he was just doing his mini comic books and I was a fan right away. The story telling was so imaginative."
One of those crude, self-made books, "Pistolwhip," was the basis for Kindt's first published work in 2001.
Top Shelf publisher Chris Staros looks back and says, "Matt has always been one of the most amazing cartoonists and designers in the business. And we've known from the very beginning with 'Mephisto,' 'Pistolwhip,' 'Pistolwhip: The Yellow Menace,' '2 Sisters,' as well as 'Super Spy,' that eventually the comics world would wake up to his talent. And now he's exploded onto the scene, with great books coming from everywhere."
He's also created "Revolver," which was published by DC imprint Vertigo and his 2010 book from Dark Horse called "3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man" has been optioned by Warner Bros.
Kindt is working on two more graphic novels for Top Shelf, "Super Natural" and "Super Computer," and "The Strange Crimes of Red Wheelbarrow" will be out through FirstSecond in the summer. His ongoing sci-fi/espionage comic book called "MIND MGMT" from Dark Horse is scheduled to launch before the end of the year.
Having the ear of comic book publishers is great, but here's how Kindt knows he's made it: When he, his wife and their daughter recently renovated their home, he finally got his own home office.
"I'd worked in basements all my life out of necessity and also to avoid getting ink on the carpet," he said. "But we recently had our back porch finished off and made into a dedicated studio with windows all over the place and a nice view of our backyard. I swore I'd never work in a basement again."