For years, cartoonist Matt Kindt has been earning acclaim for his highly idiosyncratic twists on the spy and sci-fi genres like “Super Spy” and the current “Mind MGMT.” But over the past several months, Kindt has also found a home as a writer for DC Comics where his contributions to the New 52 “Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.” monthly are leading to his first ever crossover event with the “Rotworld: Secrets of the Dead” story starting in this week’s issue #13.
Playing right alongside the “Rotworld” super story created in Jeff Lemire’s “Animal Man” and Scott Snyer’s “Swamp Thing,” Kindt and artist Alberto Ponticelli’s tale is an action-heavy part of the overall fall event, and it sees the titular monster hero attacking the bizarre Rot in search of Dr. Frankenstein’s Soul Grinder -Â the device responsible for his own creation. Kindt told CBR News that his experience, interests and fellow creators helped make the transition one of the most enjoyable jobs in his career.
“There was definitely a few conversations I had with them where it was like ‘What is the Rot? What is it doing? How does this work?'” the writer laughed about his initial brainstorming sessions with the crossover masterminds. “It was definitely their creation, and from there I tried to figure out what Frankenstein would do. If Frankenstein was real and the Rot was real, what would he do about it? The big thing was figuring out what his role would be, and the Rot wouldn’t really affect Frankenstein – he’s one of the few characters that is immune to it. So then if it can’t bother him, you can just throw him right into it. He can go in with his sword and take it head on. He’s sort of the Conan the Barbarian of the group. ‘Throw Frank in there!’ is kind of his thing.”
Teaming with Lemire and Snyder on the story came naturally for Kindt as he explained, “We’re friends outside of comics, so we talk about stuff and goof around giving each other ideas. I knew they were going to do that story, and so we thought it would be fun to do it all together. It was sort of backwards. It wasn’t like DC mandated ‘You have to do this crossover!’ We wanted to do this crossover because it would be fun. It’s like hanging with your friends in high school and jamming on some comics together just to put a crazy story together and give everyone a little piece of it. It was more like that than anything.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I’ll honestly say that writing ‘Frankenstein’ has been the most fun I’ve had making comics. Part because it’s less work and i don’t have to draw it. Part of it is that it’s this crazy character, and part is that it’s me getting to work with my friends. I have to worry less about it for some reason.”
After September’s #0 issue, Kindt said that he was feeling more at home with Frankenstein as a character, and he noted that ease would soon extend to the Creature Commandos who have served as the monthly’s supporting cast. “I think for my first few issues, it had been a whole new system to me. I hadn’t really written any scripts for another artist before, so I had to learn that process. Seeing how what I write has been translated is helpful. And just this whole process of learning a new character and something crazy that I hadn’t invented meant I had to interpret what’s been done and then figure out what I can do with it. I think the first few issues were me juggling all that along with this big cast of characters like the wolfman and the mummy. It’s like ‘What do I do with them?’ I figured that the best thing to do with them is take them away and then ebb them back in slowly. That way, I can get to know each of the characters, and the readers can get to know the characters too.
“If you’ve got five or six characters jumping around every issue, you don’t get to know them or don’t grow to love them. It’s different with the Justice League because Batman and Superman and Wonder Woman -Â you know who they are already. The pleasure there is seeing them interact. With ‘Frankenstein,’ it’s like ‘Who are these guys?’ It’s not like Khalis the mummy has had a series for years that you’ve been reading. No one knows who the heck he is! So moving forward from issue #0, I’m trying to give him and everyone a little bit of extra time. I’m isolating some of the characters and giving them time to interact so you can get to know them. It’s been fun. It’s completely different from anything I’ve ever done, but a good story is a good story no matter what the character.”
Though, as he went along the writer found the fun in playing with smaller pieces of a superhero sandbox alongside his favorite character work. “I was really excited to tell the origin of his jacket,” Kindt laughed. “I was four or five issues into the writing and forgotten what had come out yet when someone started Twittering at me going, ‘FINALLY! The origin of his sleeveless jacket!’ That was my favorite part when I wrote it. I mean, why does he have no sleeves? I guess he’s showing off those guns.”
While his previous work has twisted a number of classic genres into new directions, Kindt explained that his lack of background in horror has changed how he approaches “Frankenstein,” although items like the Soul Grinder have kept the monster book in the right realm. “It’s funny. Growing up, I never really watched horror movies. ‘Creature From The Black Lagoon’ is one of my favorite movies, but I don’t really like the genre so much. I would say of all the genres, it’s the one I’m the least likely to be a part of. This just isn’t how I think or the kinds of stories I normally think about. So it was fun to go ‘Oh, what would I do in horror?’
“At the same time, I feel like these are monsters, and there is a darker edge to it. In a way, I’m more inspired by Jack Kirby and his crazy Fourth World stuff. I’d read a few of those issues here and there growing up, but when they put those hardcovers out with all the Fourth World stuff? I don’t know if it’s really healthy to just sit and read those all in one sitting like I did, but that’s what happened! It was inspiring. There’s just so many pages of so many nutty ideas. It’s a lot of crazy stuff, and now I feel like I’m able to let loose and try some of the crazier things that Kirby always did – especially later in his career. To me, it’s less horror and more like weird sci-fi with a horror twinge to it.”
“Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.” #13, part one of “Rotworld: Secrets of the Dead” ships this Wednesday, October 10 from DC Comics.