Do Good, Have Fun: Talking With Dark Horse Writer And Artist Matt Kindt
by Tom Smithyman
Matt Kindt is having a moment. The writer and artist recently launched a Dark Horse important called Flux House, which has published several titles including Spy Superb, Mind MGMT: Bootleg and Super Spy as well as upcoming the series Mr. Mammoth and Hairball. BRZRKR, which he co-wrote with Keanu Reeves, recently wrapped up its acclaimed run as well. In aComicon exclusive, Kindt discusses his stories’ themes, collaboration with his wife, and whether he’s really a writer or an artist.
Tom Smithyman: Congratulations on your new Dark Horse imprint, Flux House. Now, what the heck is an imprint anyway, and why call it Flux House?
Matt Kindt: Haha! Well, the imprint can kind of be defined however you want it to be. My definition is that every book we do is something I’m involved in – either writing it, drawing it or both. The more I get into it – I could see using it to shepherd in a book by a creator that I am a fan of – just to get it more attention – to bring eyes to something I think is deserving – but that might be a ways down the road.
And “Flux House” is a reference to a late 50/60s art movement called Fluxus – which was really just a way of making new art out of old techniques. Thinking about art in a different way – and letting it take any form you want – let the art dictate the form. So I really want these books to be the same. Try to push comic books into some new territory – rather than the monthly self-cover 22-page comics. I want to push that envelope – make readers think about the art form – the medium of comics – in a different way. It’s such a young medium – we’ve barely scratched the surface – so I’m trying to gouge out some divots in it – make something interesting – and keep the industry vital. But also entertaining. I want to hit every genre before I’m done – I finally hit on horror – and mystery – so westerns and romance might be all that’s left. We’ll get there!
Smithyman: You have a spy book that’s really a hilarious comedy, a detective story, a supernatural thriller, and then there’s the continuing story of Mind MGMT– and that’s all just in the first half of 2023. Where do you find the inspiration for your stories, and how are you able to produce so much at such a high quality?
Kindt: Well, I never stop working. But thinking is my work, I guess. I don’t know how to turn it off. I was hanging out with my good friend Brian Hurtt the other day, and we were going to get together and watch the St. Louis soccer team play (we have a new team). But before he came over, I was like “Don’t forget your sketchbook. I plan on drawing during the game.” It’s our night off, and both of us wanted to be drawing and working on comics more than anything else. I think there’s no secret to it at all. I just like making comics more than anything else.
Smithyman: When you look at all the stories you have worked on over the years, do you think there is a theme or some collective tissue that binds them?
Kindt: The older I get, the more aware of some common themes. I think if you look back at almost all of it…it’s what I always told my daughter when I would drop her off at school in the morning. I’d say: “Do good. Have fun,” which I’d been saying every day for 13 years. What I meant was: “Do good on your school work and also…have fun.” But somewhere in that last year of saying it to her, I realized the double meaning in what I was saying. Have fun…yeah, okay. But the “do good” part – really…it was to do good in the bigger sense of it. So if there’s some theme in my books – it’s that, I guess. Have fun. Do good.
Smithyman: Do you consider yourself a writer who draws or the other way around? And how do you decide which projects you’re going to write and draw vs. just write?
Kindt: I can’t stand writing all of the time. I get burned out on drawing. So I bounce back and forth so I don’t get burned out. I think I settled on comics because I like doing both. I don’t want one without the other. I sometimes think that if I had just focused on art or just on writing, I could be so much better. But the problem is, I love them both. So instead, I focus on storytelling – art and story. But I guess at the end of the day I consider myself a “writer” but only because the art is integral to the storytelling. I consider my drawing to be part of the writing. It’s all abstract symbols to represent ideas so I’m not sure there’s really a difference in my mind.
Smithyman: In Flux House, you’re going to get innovative with the books’ format, including different trims, magazine sizes and print features. At what point do you think, “This comic really needs fur?”
Kindt: Haha! Well…it’s a horror book. And the feeling of that fur on your hands when you get to certain passages in that book…yikes. That’s going to be a feeling you’ve never had before while reading a comic. I promise (laughs).
Smithyman: When you draw, your wife Sharlene often provides the colors. What is that collaboration like?
Kindt: It’s great. We’ve known each other longer than we haven’t. We just feel like two halves of a whole sometimes…it’s hard to explain. She’s an accomplished artist in her own right. We met at art school, and so I like working together so other people can see that part of her. I mean, even when she’s not working on a book I’m doing, her influence is all over it. She pushes me to not be a lazy artist – to make it better. She’s a great set of eyes to look at everything and give an informed opinion. Whether she’s painting the book or not – I couldn’t do any of it without her.
Smithyman: How do you follow up the amazing winter and spring you’re having?
Kindt: Oh, wow! Just wait! The books just get bigger and crazier. It think Mind MGMT and Hairball were the intro books…to ease you into the wild books to come. Like boiling a frog…you won’t know you’re boiled until it’s too late! Danny McDaid. David Rubin. Wilfredo Torres – drawing some truly insane stuff…you have no idea!
Smithyman: BRZRKR, which you write with Keanu Reeves, recently concluded. Do you have any other celebrity collaborations planned? Also, what role are you playing in John Wick 4???
Kindt: Ha! I talked to Sergio Aragones last month, and he’s doing a small thing with me. He called me and left a message, and I can’t tell you how nervous I was to call him back. He’s a living legend. I’ve been such a huge fan forever. And I have to call him back…and talk about…I don’t know. He didn’t say…he just wanted to talk. It took me two days to call him back. What a great human being. So amazing. So full of stories. I’m really so fortunate to be where I’m at, doing what I’m doing.
As for Wick 4…I’ve done a read-through of every BRZRKR script, 12 issues, with Keanu, so he knows I am not an actor. I have a face for radio and a voice for comic books. I’m right where I need to be.
Smithyman: Again, congratulations on an amazing run. Best of luck with the new titles!