If you were to go back in time three years ago to take a look at all the year-end lists that highlighted 2007's best comics, no doubt you'd find Matt Kindt's Super Spy on many of those lists. The book consisted of 52 short stories -- or was it all one big story? -- that detailed the lives of spies during World War II.
Now Kindt is working on a follow-up of sorts to Super Spy that jumps into a different genre, the paranormal, and stars the ghosts of Houdini, Amelia Earhart and even a character from Super Spy, among others.
"I really focus on each one of them as they interact with each other and examine their past to sort of uncover the mystery of their life -- rather than their deaths," Kindt said. "Is that vague enough? I really don't want to give too much away."
Kindt did give a few things away, however, about the project.
JK: From what I understand, Super Natural is a "sequel" of sorts to Super Spy -- or at least they share a common character, correct? What else can you tell us about the new book?
Matt: It's basically my take on ghost stories. I'm not a big fan of super natural stuff at all -- I really do want a sort of rational explanation for everything -- or at least for there to be a rational explanation behind it, even if I don't get it. So that's pretty much what this book is -- a way for me to figure out a way to tell a super natural story that satisfies me. It's set in the 1950s and includes a dead character from Super Spy (I won't say which one), Houdini, Amelia Earhart, Morgan Earp and a teenage girl ... all ghosts. But 90 percent of the story is sort of flashbacks to their life, with the ghost parts being more of a way to show how they examine their existence and try to figure out why they're ghosts at all.
JK: One of the things I loved about Super Spy was how fast it moved, as it was told in short vignettes, as well as how non-linear it was ... it fit the "spy" theme very well, as the reader unraveled the missions and motivations of the characters. Are you taking a similar approach to Super Natural, or does the subject matter call for something different?
Matt: It's not quite as convoluted. Each character will get there chapter and it's told slightly out of sequence and with overlapping timelines but only because the nature of them as ghosts is such that they lived during drastically different time periods. So the teenage girl was a huge fan of Amelia Earhart, but Morgan Earp has no idea who she is. The chapters will also be slightly longer -- I think there's only 6 or 7 chapters -- making up the 270 pages of story, so it's a little less vignette-like.
JK: What kind of research did you put into the book, given its historical nature?
Matt: A lot. I read a lot of biographies of the main characters who were real to get the period details right and to just get some ideas. My writing is pretty organic so I had to sort of go with what was known about these people and see where that lead me. It's so much easier to make up characters from scratch.
JK: In addition to creating your books, you also design them as well. Have you thought about the design of Super Natural, and what it will look like when published?
Matt: Yes -- it really has to serve as a companion piece to Super Spy and also differentiate itself. I'll still probably have some sort of see-through, x-ray cover like I did on Super Spy -- which seems to fit the theme of Super Natural pretty well also. The cover is usually the last thing I do though -- I like to wait until the book is done and I really know it backwards and forwards and see what it is. By then the cover has usually just come together in my head and it's a matter of putting it together. There's nothing like thousands of hours of work to make you focus on a cover.
JK: Super Spy was released online before Top Shelf published it. Will Super Natural appear as a webcomic first as well?
Matt: Well, maybe. I'm not sure. I'm designing it to work as a book first and foremost but I wouldn't rule out seeing some special extra on-line content that would dovetail with the print version.
JK: From what I understand this is actually the third part of a trilogy -- Super Spy, Super Natural and I think you've mentioned before that the next one will be called Super Computer. Can you tell us anything about your plans for the third book?
Matt: Right now, the third book is pretty vague. I have a general idea and several characters from Super Spy and Super Natural will be key players in it -- basically it's going to be a sci-fi book with time travel and set in the 1960s. I wanted to hit every genre so when that's done all I'll have left is my fantasy book...