Writers Matt Kindt and Jeff Lemire visited with Steve Sunu in the CBR TV Tiki Room at New York Comic Con to talk about their upcoming Valiant Entertainment crossover miniseries "The Valiant." The frequent collaborators discuss their friendship and how their creative process works on their solo projects and together. The fellow writer/artists also talk about their future creator-owned projects, finding their place starting out at Top Shelf and the community of talent they've become a part of as they climbed the creative ranks together.
On how Kindt & Lemire's friendship began:
Matt Kindt: We met at MoCCA -- what, ten years ago? We were both doing our own creator-owned books.
Jeff Lemire: Matt had "Pistol Whip" and maybe "Two Sisters" then. And I had just self-published "Lost Dogs." I guess something about his art style. We both were not very good.
Kindt: Somehow we were both still working in the industry.
On how they ended up working together on the upcoming "The Valiant":
Lemire: It's a lot of fun. We have been talking about doing stuff together forever. I mean, we've done little things. Matt drew three issues of "Sweet Tooth," near the end of that run. Little things like that, but I mean, doing like a super hero kind of story, we always thought would be super fun if we could get the right project.
Kindt: It was something we couldn't find time for, and what was the right project? We talked about doing creator-owned things together, too, and its not ever synched up with our schedules.
On Kindt having seniority at Valiant:
Kindt: He was jealous of me when I came over to Valiant.
Lemire: I was not jealous of him
Kindt: I was telling him about how great it was. [Laughs]
Lemire: Just from talking to him I could just tell his experience at Valiant was so positive. He was doing really great stuff. I feel like "Rai" was the best work prior stuff you've ever done. It was just a really great book. Just the way he talked about Warren [Simons] and the guys it seemed like a really great place to be. So we started talking about doing something 'cause my exclusive was ending at DC. It started off as a really small project. It was going to be a one-shot "Bloodshot" thing that we were going to co-write, co-draw just for fun. But the more we started specifically talking story it just grew into something bigger.
Kindt: Ten coffees later it grew into an epic series.
On the specifics of their "The Valiant" collaboration:
Lemire: It's really easy. We just get together and start talking and thinking of cool things we want to write about and story just starts coming together. I think it was at Emerald City Comicon in March, we just went out for coffee and just started talking about what the project would be. It just kind of became this thing that encompassed the larger Valiant universe. It wasn't like an editorial mandate where Warren came to us and said, "We need an event for summer." It was just the story kind of became so big and kind of epic...
Kindt: I don't even think they knew what we were doing, did they? We just started doing it and we were like, "We'll pitch it when were done." Yeah, I think we have similar tastes and backgrounds, so it was like a couple of kids sitting around the kitchen table shooting ideas back and forth like "This would be cool. Well what if we did that? And let's do that, too." Throwing everything cool into it that we liked. It was easy.
Lemire: Yeah super fun. We just get on the phone now, and we have the basic story broken down, obviously. We know where it's going. We've written two scripts out of four. We just kind of get on the phone and go through the issue. And then we just split up scenes.
Kindt: Right, it's like, "What part do you want to write?"
Lemire: Matt likes certain characters. I wanted to do the Bloodshot scenes because it's kind of leading into where I am going with the character. It's just very natural.
On which Valiant characters Kindt enjoys working with:
Kindt: New Jack. New Jack is a character I don't want anybody else touching. So he's not allowed to write it.
Lemire: It's weird. He loves that character.
On working in a smaller universe and having more control:
Lemire: It's just naturally -- it's smaller and more manageable. There's not as many writers, as many books, as many characters, as many editors involved. So naturally it's just easier to coordinate.
On upcoming creator-owned projects and maintaining balance between work for hire and creator-owned projects
Lemire: It's hard to say what too much work is. For one writer doing two books a month might be the max. I can do like six, seven sometimes. It's not too much for me, I can handle it. It depends on your work ethic and your schedule and you ability. It's always important, for me, to keep a balance between work for hire and creator-owned stuff, just because they flex different muscles. Its good to have creator-owned stuff to go off and do your own thing, it's also great to have this where you can come back and collaborate with people and being able to do both things. We are lucky we can do that.
Kindt: Well, we both draw too, so I don't ever want to give up drawing. I feel like it's nice to have something you can go write and draw.
Lemire: Drawing, to be honest, is still the passion. The visual storytelling. That's always my priority is drawing something. My 9-to-5 on Monday to Friday, the bulk of that is drawing. The writing is kind of stuff you do for fun on the side, to be honest. I'm at the point now where I'm taking projects not because I need the work, but because I get excited about a story I can tell with a certain character, which is a great place to be. We are really lucky.
Kindt: I feel like I take on extra writing jobs, because otherwise I'd just be playing video games, watch a movie, while I could be writing comic script. I'd rather write a comic script.