EXCLUSIVE: Kindt Plans A "Star Wars: Rebel Heist" for Dark Horse

It can be intimidating to think of a new story set in the familiar territory of the original "Star Wars" trilogy. Luckily for Matt Kindt, that intimidation led to inspiration.

Despite being a fan of the franchise, the Mind MGMT" creator originally declined when Dark Horse Comics asked him if he was interested in writing a Star Wars miniseries, due both to his busy schedule and the uncertainty that he'd be able to come up with something new to the franchise. Yet his mixed emotions soon led to him discovering his idea for the story -- introducing new members of Rebel Alliance and showing how they view the icons of the Star Wars universe. The end result is the four-issue "Star Wars: Rebel Heist" miniseries, debuting in April and illustrated by Star Wars comic alum Marco Castiello.

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Speaking with CBR New, Kindt discussed "Rebel Heist" in detail and provided updates on "Mind MGMT" -- both the acclaimed comic book series and the film adaptation in development at 20th Century Fox with Ridley Scott as producer -- and confirms that he's looking to scale back his work-for-hire schedule (he's currently writing books at Marvel, DC Comics and Valiant), including departing "Suicide Squad" following the title's current "Forever Evil" tie-in.

CBR News: Much has been made out of your busy writing schedule as of late, so presumably a "Star War" miniseries was something you were uniquely interested in. Are you a big Star Wars fan?

Matt Kindt: Yeah, I was like 4 or 5 when the first one came out. That was one of my earliest memories, seeing it in the theater, and people being dressed up in the theater -- the theater workers were actually dressed up. It's kind of a scary memory, because I was pretty young, but it definitely stuck with me. [Laughs]

I've always been a fan. [Dark Horse] asked me if I wanted to do something, and I was like, "I don't know" -- partly because I'm so busy. "Man, I really don't have time, as much as I want to do it." I need to learn how to say no. I was like, "This is going to be a good test for me, if I say no to writing a Star Wars comic, which is ridiculous," because growing up with it I was like, "Man, that would be my dream come true."

I got myself into such a busy schedule this summer, so I told them no. Then, the next day, I was taking a shower or something, and I just had an idea. "That's what I could do!" I wasn't trying to think of an idea for it; an idea just popped into my head. So I called them back the next day. "If it can't be this, I don't know if I have time to think of another thing." They were really great about it.

It seems like a tricky prospect, with Star Wars especially, and a story set in the timeline of the original trilogy -- there's so much territory covering that era, so many novels and comics and stories told in that time period -- that going into it has to be almost intimidating, figuring out what you're going to do.

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Yeah, that was why it was kind of easy for me to be like, "No, I'm too busy." It's a combination of all the worst things I hate about properties that I don't own. [Laughs] A rabid fanbase, huge amounts of continuity, all this history. As much as I love it, I'm not steeped in Star Wars mythology. Since I was a kid, I was like, "If it didn't happen in the movies, it didn't happen." Other than the movies, that's what I draw from. This was definitely intimidating, and if this idea hadn't literally dropped in my lap, I wouldn't have done it.

Honestly, the idea came from my reverence for those characters. I guess I was inspired by the intimidation factor of those characters. I thought, "How great would it be to do a series where you get to see Han Solo from a regular dude's point of view?" Which is basically my point of view! What if I got to tag along with Han Solo, and we had to do some mission for the rebellion? What would that be like? I thought something like that would be awesome.

So that was the springboard. It would be cool to have four core characters, and each issue would play with that idea -- Princess Leia and a spy character who she teams up with, but it's all from the point of view of the character Princess Leia teams up with. Viewing Princess Leia, viewing Han Solo, viewing Chewbacca, viewing Luke through the guise of a normal dude. Han Solo is like the coolest character ever, so it was fun to write that, where this guy's sort of starstruck by him -- just like I would be. Then they've got this mission to do, and doing a real mission where everything's on the line, and your life is in danger -- by the end of that issue, Han Solo's not so cool anymore. This guy's scared out of his mind. Han Solo's kind of reckless.

That was my way in, almost viewing those characters in a childlike way, like I did when I was a kid, and you look up to Han Solo as the coolest. It was easy to write after that.

So it's a different new character in each issue, paired up with one of the established figures?

Yeah. There's a different character in each one, and there's a narrator that pulls you through the story. Each issue is centered on one of the main characters. They're all tied together, though. Without spoiling too much, the fourth issue it all comes together, and you realize all these separate missions are part of something bigger. Like Han and Leia and Chewie they are actually separate from each other, but they're all working together towards some secret mission -- that kind of spoils it a little bit. [Laughs]

How's it been, working with artist Marco Castiello thus far?

He turned in [his] first page, a splash page of Han Solo -- he totally cheated, he skipped ahead to draw the coolest page. [Laughs] It looks good. It's going to be good.

Let's talk a bit about "Mind MGMT," which just saw the end of Book Three, and is coming up on a new arc in the latter half of the series. What can you share about what's on coming up for the book?

This is like Stage Two. The way I structured it, there's Stage One, which is basically all set-up -- 12 issues of setting up the pieces. This next arc will be putting all of that into motion. I'm inking issue #19 right now, and I've written up to #24, #25. It's all plotted out, but actual scripts are written out to #25.

This next arc, all of the pieces that I've put into place in the first arc come together. You get to see everybody in action. A lot of it was revealing what Mind MGMT is, and who the players are, and who's going to be what. This is the two sides fighting it out for the first time.

You've been working on a lot of different books this past year, but since "Mind MGMT" is creator-owned, and you're writing and drawing it, is it still the book you're most focused on, the one that takes the most time out of your schedule?

It does. A lot of it's just because I have to do the art, too. Luckily, the story's sort of figured out already. I have an outline for the whole series, through 36 issues, so when I sit down and write six issues at a time, I did those in like a week. I sort of chip away. I have a general outline, and I start to narrow it down, do thumbnails. The actual sitting and typing of the words, I can do that in like a week, because it's all figured out already, and I've been thinking about it for a long time. That actually goes a little faster than the other stuff I've been working on, because I've already figured it out -- it's just a matter of executing it.

But, yeah. It's inking, coloring, lettering -- all that stuff. It takes a huge chunk out of the month, and then I spend evenings and weekends writing the other stuff. Somehow I found a balance. I do take time off sometimes.

It was about this time a year ago when there was first word that "Mind MGMT" had been optioned as a movie. I don't know how in the loop you are at this point, but do you have any updates on the process of the film adaptation?

It's slow. They're looking for a screenwriter that they like. It's in development.

I honestly don't pay much attention, because I'm too busy. [Laughs] That stuff takes care of itself. They'll figure it out, and then my job is to keep doing the comics. They'll call me with updates every once in a while. "We're talking to this guy, or that guy." I'm willfully out of the loop. I can't do much. I can worry about it -- I'd rather work on the comics.

So is your schedule getting a little more back to normal, or are you just getting used to the pace?

It's getting better. I told my wife, "If I can get through December without going crazy, we'll be alright." Or I'll be alright. [Laughs] I started scaling back. There are a few things I'm not going to be doing next year. I turned down a couple of jobs -- I turned down something crazy. I'm won't say what it is. It was right up my alley. I just don't have time to do it -- like a Star Wars type thing, but it was a bigger commitment. It killed me to do that, though.

It's funny, because I feel like I was able to do everything I did this year without the quality suffering, but it took a lot. I didn't hack anything out or just pump something out to get it done. I took the same amount of time I always do. I could sustain that for the time I did sustain it, but to do it for another year, or even another two months, I just couldn't do it. I'm scaling back a little bit. I'm working on a couple slightly different things other than monthlies -- I don't want to spoil anything. There will be new projects coming out, but hopefully not as much as I was doing this year. [Laughs]

More new creator-owned stuff, or work for hire books?

I have two creator-owned things, one thing they're about to announce that's going to be supercool. I'm writing it. [Editor's Note: This interview took place before the announcement of "Poppy! and the Lost Lagoon," an original graphic novel published by Dark Horse written by Kindt and illustrated by Brian Hurtt.] I have two for sure creator-owned things coming out next year in addition to "Mind MGMT." I'm sort of shifting from work for hire back to more creator-owned stuff, but I'm still doing a little bit of work-for-hire, just not as much.

In terms of stuff that you are working on, "Unity" just started about a month ago, which seems to have been a very positive experience so far -- fans seem to have embraced it, sales have been solid, and it's something you appear to be enthused about personally.

It's great. I just get to handpick all the best characters and put them together. I don't have to work very hard to make them interesting. The hard part is giving each one enough screentime. It's awesome. Valiant's great to work with. They've been really open to my ideas. When I'm writing that, I feel like I'm kind of writing a creator-owned book with characters I don't own.

Are you sticking on "Suicide Squad" past "Forever Evil," or is that only for the course of that story?

It's just for "Forever Evil" and then I'm done. It's one of the things I'm scaling back on, because I don't have time. It's driving me crazy to do so much. I knew I could do a finite amount of time on that and do it well, but I can't sustain it for that long and make it good, still -- "for sure" good. There's a chance it could be good. I told my editor, "At a certain point, it's just going to be like flipping a coin -- it could turn out alright or not, depending on how I'm feeling that day. It's better to take a little bit of time off and recharge my batteries.

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