In an exclusive interview with Villain Media, writer Matt Kindt talks about Hairball #1 (Dark Horse Comics) and the other incredible titles he’s doing at the Flux House. Find out what happens when Kindt, artist Tyler Jenkins, and colorist Hilary Jenkins follow a dysfunctional family as their mounting problems may or may not be caused by the family’s cat.
The upcoming incredible releases from Flux House, a new boutique imprint at Dark Horse Comics. dive into crime, science fiction, and humor stories from Matt Kindt. From Dark Horse Comics and Flex Books, Spy Superb launched in January and a hardcover version of Mind MGMT: Bootleg was released in March. Mr. Mammoth will hit stores in April 11th and the first issue of Hairball will arrive on April 5th.
Ahead of their April release dates, Matt Kindt opened up about the scares behind Hairball, the detective influences of Mr. Mammoth, and shares his thoughts on the final issue of BRZRKR, released from BOOM! Studios. Join us as we head into the writer’s room to discuss the craft of storytelling.
VILLAIN MEDIA: You have a number of releases from Flux House, a new imprint at Dark Horse, including Spy Superb, Mr. Mammoth, and Hairball. Is it a challenge to juggle these many projects – which are different in genre – while still avoiding writer’s block?
MATT KINDT: It’s a challenge. But I’ve been juggling multiple projects for as long as I can remember. Early on I was juggling design jobs that paid bills with long hours on comics that paid very little. It’s just how I had to do it.
Now I’m juggling only comics so there’s never a day I’m not excited to be working on something. Unless it’s email day [laughs]. If I could get rid of email, my workday would be perfect. The way my brain works – it’s all partitioned.
Every project has its own little room. So I go in that room – work on that thing. Then jump into another room to work on the other thing. I have a very bad memory when it comes to my projects because I really have limited “rooms” in my head.
So as soon as one project is done, I dump it to make room for another one. It was harder a few years ago when I was working on my stuff, Marvel, DC, and Valiant – it was hard to keep the continuity and the universes from bleeding into each other. I maxed out on “rooms” in my head during all that – but I found out what my limits were for sure.
VM: What can you say about Hairball?
MK: It’s a supernatural (maybe) nightmare that’s Junji Ito meets Hayao Miyazaki. Or so I’m told. I just wanted to do a story about a cat that might be up to some evil things and a girl who’s trying to understand it…set against the backdrop of a family falling apart…with some ancient history thrown in.
As the girl tries her best to rid herself of this creature, she discovers that maybe the cat is not evil after all and a greater terror may be behind these horrific events harming her life.
VM: Which project – among Spy Superb, Mr. Mammoth, and Hairball – do you think changed you the most as a storyteller?
MK: I pour everything I have into all of them. And I don’t really know if I’m changed by a project until long after it’s done. But I think I’d say Spy Superb probably affected me the most. I didn’t really think it was funny while I was writing it. I thought there were parts that were amusing. But the reaction has been amazing.
I think it’s hard to tell if humor is going to land and so I made sure that the story and character were solid. The humor was incidental to the narrative. The main guy – Jay – was just Jay. I wrote him and he ended up kind of being really easy and fun to write. He took over in a way. It was like channeling a super narcissistic demon. Hard to put him back in the bottle when I was done. So I think it was just an eye-opener for me – that readers are open to – and maybe even hungry for a little more fun in their funny books. Spy Superb has a pretty emotional gut-punch of an ending – so I feel a little guilty about that – but I think this book gave me some license to have a little more fun.
VM: Tell me about playing up the espionage cliches with the action and comedy in Spy Superb.
MK: Well, I think I’m literally blowing up the cliches in this one. The first eight pages, I kind of blow up the entire idea of a “super spy.” And the rest of the story is really very grounded in a lot of ways.
There’s a super-assassin but he’s got a sad kind of backstory which we don’t really ever get in the genre. I’m not a fan of pastiches or parody – so I wanted to make sure that this was definitely not any of that. I want you to be able to read this as a straight-forward spy/espionage thriller…that just happens to have some crazy/funny stuff happen. But there are stakes…and there is a sad beating heart underneath all of the spy trappings.
VM: Tell me about Mr. Mammoth, which sounds like a tribute to Sherlock Holmes and Benoit Blanc sleuthing stories.
MK: I think Benoit Blanc is a tribute to a lot of older characters so I’m not sure he’s established enough have a to tribute to (as much as I enjoy him). Mr. Mammoth definitely has some Holmes DNA in him but also a lot of the typical Hammet/Chandler tough private eye in him as well. But with a twist! I wanted to do a down-on-his-luck detective but he’s down-on-his-luck by choice.
He takes a beating but not because he’s not good at fighting. This guy is 7 feet tall, built, scars all over. But he’s a pacifist. He doesn’t believe in fighting. So he takes a lot of punishment on purpose. I like the idea of this physically imposing character – who would usually be kind of dumb – but he’s the smartest guy in the room. And the toughest. He just doesn’t fight. And he loves soap operas. He’s an antidote in a way to the hard drinking, womanizing crime detective that we’re all familiar with.
VM: Tell me about returning to the universe of Mind MGMT with Mind MGMT: Bootleg while saying goodbye to the BRZRKR universe with the final issue.
MK: Well, returning to MIND MGMT was one of those “never say never” experiences. I was never going to do another monthly normal comic book with MIND MGMT – but I had an idea to do a kind of series using other artists and make it an “unofficial” sequel – a “bootleg” kind of idea where it doesn’t seem to be fully condoned by myself.
I thought that was a fair way to cheat my promise to not do any more “normal” issues of MIND MGMT. For me, MIND MGMT will always be living on – but in different formats – a Netflix TV show, a board game, a book and record, playing cards. It’s going to keep telling stories but I think the format needs to constantly be shifting for me to stay interested and for the idea of what MIND MGMT is, to stay relevant.
BRZRKR was a lot of work. Over three years into our writing collaboration – it was definitely a bittersweet finish. Relief to have not screwed up the ending. It’s pretty great – Ron’s art and Bill’s colors – really knock the thing out of the park. So I think it’s a sense of relief and some sadness that we won’t be having our monthly meeting to go over script and lettering and art.
VM: What are you working on now?
MK: I just finished drawing a four issue series that tells the story of the very first work of art ever created (cave-man times). And put the finishing touches on a new murder-mystery who-dunnit that I’ll be drawing next.
In addition to that – I’m seeing art roll in every week on a couple new series that I wrote for a few different artists – not announced yet – but both big high-sci-fi adventure books.