Comic-Con Exclusive: Interview with writer Matt Kindt of upcoming JLA, Suicide Squad, and more

After my interview with Chris Burnham I had about two hours or so before I would need to head back to the DC Comics booth for more interviews. In that span of time I lost the tiny pieces of paper with my handwritten questions and I tried in vain to hear the audio from my second interview. I truly believed that I had lost all recordings once again and it wouldn’t be until I finally left the convention center that I would ever be able to hear that the audio was indeed intact. Since I didn’t know that at the time I finagled with the settings on the microphone once more and although I had only used my notes as a guideline earlier in the day I would truly be improvising for my final two interviews. Several live-tweets, cosplay pictures, and the world’s worst $8 (or was it $10?) personal pizza later and I was back at the DC booth. Rather than stand next to the Sandman advertisement like with Burnham, I was back in the roped-off area with the black tufted chairs only this time I would be sharing a seat with Matt Kindt who was instantly fascinated by the look of the microphone that clipped to the end of my phone.

Kindt: Testing, testing!

Andrew: Let’s hope it works. Alright, so you’re from St. Louis?

Kindt: Yes, I am.

Andrew: I’m from ******* near *****

Kindt: Yeah, okay, that’s right! My wife is from *******

Mrs. Kindt: Oh yay! I lived on *********

Andrew: That’s the road I live on right now.

Mrs. Kindt: Are you serious?

Kindt: You still live there?

Andrew: Yeah.

Kindt: Alright.

Mrs. Kindt: I love that place.

Kindt: Why did we have to come all the way here to meet? We could’ve just met at a Starbucks there. If this doesn’t record we’ll just–

Press Handler: I call San Diego “Adult Summer Camp” because we all meet here.

Andrew: We could just meet at Blueberry Hill or something.

Kindt: Exactly! We live in ******** right now so that’s cool. Wow. This is really fascinating for everyone listening. (laughs)

Andrew: Yeah, I was telling your wife earlier that I’m not very professional with this. I basically just do comic book reviews. I usually don’t like doing interviews because it’s like, what if I like the guy and I’ll start being too easy on him in the reviews or if I don’t like him I’ll be more critical and not even realize it.

Kindt: Yeah. That’s funny, I have a lot of friends who do comics so it’s like “I never know if I like your book because I’m friends with you or if I like it because I actually really like it!” It’s hard to tell.

Andrew: Yeah, I’ve started to become good friends with ********* and I’m still being really blunt with them, but–

Kindt: That’s good. No, you gotta do that. Do you know Brian Hurt from Sixth Gun? Cullen Bunn?

Andrew: I know of Cullen Bunn because he goes to the same comic shop as me.

Kindt: That’s right! Well, Brian lives in St. Louis too  so we’re friends and we’re super blunt. We make each other better by being super honest. We’re basically mean to each other all the time.

Andrew: Do you bounce ideas off each other too before you start working on a project?

Kindt: Yeah, once a week we come together and work and draw and write and everything. We get together all the time, really.

Andrew: Jeez, what aren’t you working on right now?

Kindt: (laughs) I know…

Andrew: I looked ahead at the solicitations before I came out here for the interview and it was like nine books coming out!

Kindt: Yeah… I don’t… I dunno. (he starts shaking his head and I start laughing) I want to do it all! Like, they keep offering me things and I’m like “Okay that sounds like fun.” Ya know?

Andrew: How do you keep all of those characters in line, I mean most of these are team books with large casts.

Kindt: I keep a lot of notes. I honestly have like a ton of notes and before I get on the phone with somebody I’ll re-read everything that I’ve done so I can get my head straight. Otherwise there’s no way I could do it. I don’t have one of those minds that’s photographic or that I can remember, I have to write it all down!

Andrew: Did you have to do a lot of research or were you already well-versed and a big fan of all these characters?

Kindt: Yeah! Ya know, I just did the Sinestro villain issue and I had read, like, Blackest Night but that was like the only Green Lantern thing I had ever read since I was a kid and so they sent me this stack of… Basically I have a Geoff Johns shelf now! I read everything in like a week and then my mind was just fried afterwards. Yeah, I had to read a lot of that and catch up. But  the rest of the stuff like Suicide Squad? I grew up reading that so I knew a lot of those characters and everything else I kind of knew from before and a lot of it’s relaunch so it’s still kind of fresh so I don’t have to keep up with a lot of the continuity. So it’s been fun.

Andrew: Have you been a pretty big player in organizing what villain month is since you’re writing so many of those books?

Kindt: Geoff Johns is the mastermind behind it all so he’s had notes on all that stuff, but we’ve been working together and we ended up –because I’m doing so many things that tie into it– we’re collaborating on a lot of stuff. We’ve talked about a lot of characters we’re going to use and some characters that haven’t been introduced yet in the New 52 and calling dibs on some of ’em! I had one guy and –I’m not going to say who it was because I don’t want to spoil it– I’m not going to say who it was and I was like, I really want to use this guy I got a good idea and he was like “Aw, I was going to use him in like issue two of Forever Evil but I like your idea so I’ll set it up and you can use him.” and it’s like, awesome!

Andrew: So are you going to be doing Justice League of America full-time now?

Kindt: I’m doing five issues and I did like a stand-alone Martian Manhunter issue, I don’t know when that’s coming out. I’m too busy keeping track of when this stuff is coming out! I know when my deadlines are and I need those deadlines…and then I don’t know when it’s coming out so… Yeah, I’m doing five issues of that and then somebody else is taking over after who I– I don’t know if they’ve announced so I’m not going to say!

Andrew: What’s a typical day like for you since you’re covering so many books?

Kindt: Man, it’s crazy! So… It just depends on what’s due when. I sort of rotate everything and keep everything on time. But I’m doing Mind MGMT, which is my own monthly book that I write and draw.

Andrew: I started reading that on the plane over here, actually and you know, it starts off with a plane ride–

Kindt: Oh, yeah! I know! My dad jokes every time I get on a plane, “Oh I hope you don’t lose your memory!” And I’m like, What? What are you talking about? And so, anyway, it’s funny, it’s great because I’m never bored. I’m either writing something for DC or writing an outline for DC or an actual script or I’m penciling my book or inking my book or coloring my book. And in Mind MGMT I’m writing in chunks so I’ll write like six issues at a time so I don’t have to juggle that in my head. Ya know? The story for that? The story is already set up so that I can focus on writing all the DC stuff and just draw Mind MGMT which is more mindless so I can think about DC while I’m drawing! It’s fun.

Andrew: Like I said, I’m only a few issues into Mind MGMT because I just started it on the plane and I’m liking it so far–

Kindt: Cool.

Andrew: But it’s structured very differently than a lot of comics. You even said in the epilogue for one issue that you were trying to make something new and experimental, a monthly book that you wouldn’t want to trade-wait. Do you have that same approach for the stuff you’re doing at DC or does it have to be more linear?

Kindt: I am, you know? I’m pushing it as much as I can and they’re pretty open minded. I’m not filling in for someone else at DC, they’re paying me because of stuff like Mind MGMT so I’m lucky in that way. And if they’re like “Hey, we like what you did and how you do it, can you do that for us?” Then– I was even doing that for the backups in Justice League of America with Martian Manhunter. Geoff asked me to do those and I was like, sure but it would be cool to do something where I could react to what you’re doing in the issue kind of like what I’m doing in Mind MGMT where I do two-page backups in that and they sort of feed in and sometimes tie-in later. So instead of doing an 8-page stand-alone in Justice League of America, I’ll just expand on something you’ve done. I’ll make a story out of that and sort of riff on what you’re doing so the stories sort of talk to each other, which I haven’t done yet! Ya know, like I love the Shazam backups!

Andrew: Yes!

Kindt: I like that and I like seeing Shazam come back but I want to do something that’s a little weird and different and like make it so I can collaborate with you, Geoff Johns, and see if he was up for that. So he would write the script, send it to me, and I would write my script after he was done– sort of reacting or expanding or doing something so that the whole issue works so it’s not just his story and then my story. The whole thing works together.

Press Handler: Last question!

Andrew: Um… Tell me a little bit about Forever Evil: ARGUS. How many parts is that?

Kindt: It’s going to be five issues and it’s basically, you know, regular guys and how they’re going to react to everything. Villains have taken over and wrecked everything. How do regular people without super powers that were dealing with the containment of super heroes and now they’ve got villains to deal with who are actively against them. That makes it worse. So I get to introduce Steve Trevor, who’s going to the head of it and he’s in charge so he’ll be the main player there and I’ve got a cast of characters around him that are going to be kind of awesome. There’s going to be um… The Duchess? I don’t know if you remember the old Suicide Squad? She was originally Lashina, who was one of the female furies and the New Gods that Jack Kirby did so I’m folding her into it in a really cool way. There’s going to be a little bit of New Gods technology that’s going to be in there that’s gonna be kind of awesome that I’m using  in an interesting way to sort of like create the headquarters for ARGUS because there hasn’t really been a really cool base for ARGUS. They’ve always just been floating around but I’m going to get to establish that and make them a real thing in the DC universe which is going to be awesome.

 Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT by Dark Horse Comics is currently on its 13th issue and is already on its way to becoming a major motion picture produced by Ridley Scott. This September he will be writing the Villains month issue for Sinestro, Deadshot, Solomon Grundy, and Harley Quinn and in October he will be taking over on JLA, Forever Evil: ARGUS, and Suicide Squad.