PopCultHQ was fortunate to be on hand to cover the 15th Annual Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, WA. One of the highlights for us was the number of remarkable individuals in the comic book industry who were willing to take time out to speak with us. On Friday, we made our way up to the sixth floor of the Washington State Convention Center, where ECCC held their Artist Alley, to interview a writer/artist who seems almost omnipresent in the comic book world today with titles out by multiple publishers…Matt Kindt.
Kindt had a number of signing appearances during his time at ECCC at Valiant Entertainment‘s booth on the fourth floor, given the much-anticipated release of the new X-O Manowar series which he’s writing. But when I discovered I would be meeting him for an interview up in Artist Alley, I thought I’d take a step back from what I’m sure had been a flurry of questions regarding the new volume of X-O and discuss other areas pertaining to him and the comic book industry. What I accidentally stumbled upon was nothing short of remarkable. I met, spoke with, and listened to such a genuine individual, humble and gracious, and a man who is incredibly altruistic. His thoughts and concerns for others, including his wife, seemed to supersede anything else. It was extremely admirable to see someone of Kindt’s caliber to remain so grounded and see everyone as equals. Definitely shed some important light for me pertaining to his character. I’ll certainly be reading, or rereading, his work keeping that humility in mind.
So let us begin! Hear the New York Times Best-Selling writer and artist talk about collaborating with his wife Sharlene, listen as we briefly touch on the new X-O Manowar series he’s involved with at Valiant, and get a more in-depth look at his compassion and caring for those in the comic book industry!
PopCultHQ: Thanks for meeting with us. Welcome to Seattle. This isn’t your first time here, is it?
Matt Kindt: I’ve been here maybe five times. I love it.
PCHQ: Cool. What do you think of ECCC so far this year, being their 15th anniversary?
It’s great. The way they did Artist Alley and the way the put us all up here is a nice layout. Yeah, it’s fun.
PCHQ: I’ve heard that from other people here, as well. Let’s talk X-O Manowar. I know that’s been in production for a while. There’s been a huge promotional push by Valiant. How far along are you in this project? Or how long are you committed to this project?
MK: About a year. A year is pretty much done. There’s probably another half year after that, we have a good idea of what’s going to happen. Still mapping it out in getting there. I like to work ahead, you know and plant seeds. There’s something in issue one of X-O Manowar that’s going to pay off probably in issue twelve.
MK: Yeah. The only way to really do that is to plan ahead for a year.
PCHQ: Sure, so what you’re saying is anything now which we’re about to see in X-O Manowar #1…what happens early on can definitely have an impact later on in the series?
MK: Yeah, definitely. I mean, it works as you’re reading it, but then there’ll be things later on and you’ll go, “Oh!” and hopefully make you want to go back and reread something.
PCHQ: Like with the continuity and how earlier moments now make more sense?
MK: Yes, exactly.
PCHQ: Something I find interesting is that you also work with your wife. You two collaborate, right?
MK: Yeah, my wife is the colorist on Dept. H. So I do the writing and the art and she paints it.
PCHQ: I’m really curious about that dynamic in working together. You don’t meet a lot of couples in this industry who collaborate. So I was intrigued and wondered how that works exactly, the work environment or situation? Do you have to turn off the personal component and switch on the business side? Or how does that work for you?
MK: The weird thing about comics is it’s such a hard industry to do for a living, for a long period of time. We’ve been working together, maybe not publicly, but supporting each other. She’s been helping me with comics since I’ve been doing it, you know. She’s finally creatively involved, which I’m glad because it puts her name on the cover and people can she what she really contributes. I always tell people that we have a 13-year old daughter and we collaborated on that and she turned out great. So this is easy. If you can raise a kid, comics is not a problem.
PCHQ: Totally agree! That’s wonderful. Now something I’ve been asking around I’d like to ask. Is there something in the comic book industry right now that you struggle with, whether there’s some dynamic or a movement…something that rubs you the wrong way you wish was different? Or is there something you wished would be improved? Not necessarily, “I hate this” but rather “This is something I wish was better”?
MK: Hmm. That’s a good question. I don’t know. Honestly, I’m pretty insulated…I kind of do my own thing and I contribute to the [Comic Book] Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) to help anybody who needs it. I hope I never need it. But honestly, to me, the Hero Initiative is a big deal so I always have a bin out and collect for them. I think, just as a general rule, that comics is a hard industry. To do it for a lifetime, then to see these guys you grow up loving and you’re huge fans of and then they get older and they don’t have health insurance or they [encounter] a problem. That, to me, is important. I mean, I don’t want to be…I want to help those guys who inspired me when I was a kid and I also want…to hope to God that I’m never one of those people.
PCHQ: But at the same time, this is set up where they can help in case something did happen, something traumatic or unexpected.
MK: And yeah, that’s what I really love about the comic industry. It’s kind of small, everybody knows everybody. I feel, for the most part, we’re all kind of looking out for each other. When someone needs help, they’re going to have help.
PCHQ: So true. So for someone breaking into the indie comic book scene, it can be tough; trying to sign on with a publisher, Kickstarter campaigns, really anything to get going. What advice can you give? You’ve established yourself as such a recognizable name and brand from what you bring to your material. You’ve spent enough time working the processes [of creating and publishing] and worked with numerous publishers. There’s a lot of indie creators who are newcomers or trying to figure it all out.
MK: Sure, for sure.
PCHQ: What advice or tips can you give that may help them initially?
MK: The only advice I ever give is make your book. Finish it. Do it, get it produced first. Don’t worry about getting a publisher. You don’t need a publisher to start. You need a finished book to start, you know? If the book is good, it’ll find a market. You’ll find a publisher, you’ll find an audience. But if you only have 10 pages of script or a few pages of art, it’s not really going to do it. You need to learn by doing and actually finish a project. If you do that, you’ve proved that you can make comics, you taught yourself how to do it.
PCHQ: Those obstacles, you just have to work through them and grow from them.
MK: Yeah, yeah. Don’t worry about getting a publisher, worry about getting your book done. Then worry about a publisher.
PCHQ: So who are you currently reading, or who are you watching or think is a writer or artist to keep an eye on right now?
MK: (chuckling) Boy, I hate it when people ask me that, it’s just…
PCHQ: Yeah I know. there’s a lot of great talent out there.
MK: Yeah, I’m super excited about Brian Hurtt. Brian’s got a new series coming out called The Damned, so I’m excited about that. They did The Damned years ago and it was black and white, so they’re releasing it in color and there’s a whole new series coming out so I’m super excited about that.
PCHQ: In March here? End of this month?
PCHQ: Wonderful. Anything you’d like to close with or share with our readers?
MK: Just keep supporting the books. I appreciate it.
A very special thanks to Matt for taking his time out to speak with us at ECCC 2017.
If you would like to keep up on where Matt will be appearing this year,
be sure to follow him online and social media. Links can be found below…
Writer/Artist – Matt Kindt
Matt Kindt is the New York Times Best-Selling writer and artist of the comics and graphic novels Dept. H, Mind MGMT, Revolver, 3 Story, Super Spy, 2 Sisters, and Pistolwhip, as well as Justice League of America (DC), Spider-Man (Marvel), Unity, Ninjak, Rai, and Divinity (Valiant). He has been nominated for 4 Eisner and 6 Harvey Awards (and won once). His work has been published in French, Spanish, Italian, German and Korean.
Matt has been making comics all his life and has been doing it full-time as a “real” job since 2003. Seriously…he has the best job ever.