When Dark Horse first revealed their new series “Bang!,” it was done so with the creative team redacted. Eventually the publisher slowly revealed the plot, characters and creative team behind the series. So in the end it was no real mystery that the writer behind this new spy thriller mystery was no other than a man who knows how to write a good mystery, Matt Kindt.
Teaming up with artist Wilfredo Torres, colorist Nayoung Kim, and letterer Nate Piekos, the series has generated a lot of hype. A mind bending story following “a best-of-the-best secret agent with memories he couldn’t possibly possess, a mystery writer in her 60s who spends her retirement solving crimes, a man of action with mysterious drugs that keep him ahead of a constant string of targeted disasters, a seemingly omnipotent terrorist organization that might be behind it all . . .and they’re all connected to one man: a science-fiction author with more information than seems possible, whose books may hold the key to either saving reality or destroying it.”
Since the series is shrouded in mystery we were very excited to be able to talk to writer Matt Kindt about “Bang!” Matt discusses the meta approach to the series, playing off tropes, what readers can expect from the series, and getting a Keanu pull quote. A huge thanks to Matt for taking the time to talk to us and be sure to look for “Bang!” from Dark Horse Comics in stores and online February 19th.
Plus, we’ve got an exclusive first look at the character designs for the breakout character of the second issue: Matt Kindt?
There has been a lot of mystery surrounding the series following its early tease and announcement. Was that something you really wanted to build and planned for the title as a creative team? Have you been apart of anything like this before?
Matt Kindt: Definitely. I think the idea is akin to a lot of the subversive stuff I have done previously on “MIND MGMT.” There’s a meta-element to the entire concept that is designed to get the reader more directly involved in the story and Dark Horse and I have been working together long enough now that they really get me and some of my crazier ideas…of which this is one.
I have read the solicitations and the first issue, and I don’t think people have any clue what they are in for with this series. What can and should readers expect going into this first issue of “Bang!?”
MK: Better to just go in expecting…nothing. Let it wash over you. It starts with a great big fun action scene – it’s what you want in comics! The first seven pages are like every amazing action scene you’ve ever seen at the movies or in comics – and then there are the next 15 pages that…do something completely different.
The series suggests it may play off many of the spy/action/mystery genre tropes we know from movies, TV and comics. What have brought in as inspiration for the series? Does working with those tropes allow you an easier path to then subvert them?
MK: My process was this: I love the old pulp serials. Doc Savage and The Shadow and Agatha Christie and 50/60s sci-fi. The problem is? No one else cares about those things as much as I do. So I started creating a timeline – a kind of family tree to characters that people care about today. What are the modern equivalents? There’s the super spy, the master detective, the action hero, and the tech-genius/adventurer. All tropes that we’ve see play out from the 50s through the 80s and now modern day. Knight Rider, [James] Bond, Murder She Wrote, the A-Team…it’s all the same kind of characters with a sort of modern sheen put onto them. That’s this in a way but with a kind of mind-bending Philip K. Dick-esque twist to it. In a lot of ways my entire career has been building to this book.
This book has the qualities I think of for a Dark Horse style title. How did this project come to be both at Dark Horse and with the creative team? Also this is not secretly a “Black Hammer” book is it? Lemire is taking over!Continued below
MK: Dark Horse asked me what I had next and I didn’t have anything (laughs). So I came up with this. Everyone is doing a shared universe so I got to thinking what would my ideal shared universe be? Well, turns out my shared universe is a pretty messed-up mix of pulp characters with a lot of insane action/violence. I’d love to see a “Black Hammer”/”Bang!” cross-over; I think they’d mix pretty well.
Both you and Wilfredo are extremely accomplished creators in the world of comics. Has there been anything different with this series you have done as creators and your approach or style?
MK: I’ve been consciously trying to streamline my writing. To strip it to down to the essentials. “MIND MGMT” was definitely me putting every idea and concept I had about comics and the medium into one book. This, to me is about stripping it all back – how many things can we take away and still make it work. There are still big ideas in this book – complex thoughts on the nature of character and fiction and genre but they’re layered in now. I think part of it is just being a little older. A little more mature. Bells and whistles are great – but I really think this is the beginning of new kind of storytelling (for me at least.) I’m finding that the most subversive kind of storytelling you can do is to be subversive without anyone having an inkling at all that something else entirely is going on.
Having seen a lot of the issue, I would be remiss to not mention the amazing work Nayoung Kim’s coloring and Nate Piekos’ lettering. What do those two bring to the team and book that stands out to you?
MK: It’s a tricky book and I think it took an issue for all of us to figure out exactly what we’re doing – it was some trial and error – because this kind of book hasn’t really been done before. Everything from the title and credit placement to over all look of the book. None of us have done this kind of thing before. Again, on the surface we want it to look like a straight-up action adventure thing. So we have to bend to the requirements of that sort of mainstream expectation. Flip through it…it looks like what you want it to be – fun and and colorful and action! A perfect set up for the left turns we’re about to take. I’m dancing around all the spoiler stuff…
One of the teased characters in the book is writer Philip K. Verve. He appears to be a central figure in the series. Is there any more difficulty or nuance as a writer writing a writer? Has Wilfredo noticed you trying to make the Philip too cool a character?
MK: Ha ha! I hate stories about writers and comic book creators. They always get it wrong. But Verve is an interesting character – he’s actually appeared in nearly every book I’ve ever done. He’s the through-line that ties the “Kindt-verse” together for better or worse. Sometimes a villain, sometimes just a bit-player and sometimes…something else which is what he is in “Bang!”
I feel like it’s the obvious question that everyone will ask you so almost why even ask it but how does one get a Keanu pull quote on their book? Would agree with his description?
MK: I definitely agree with the “fucked up” bit…ha ha! I promise you this series isn’t going where you think it is…
I have talked with more creators of late and seen more articles on the singles versus trade wait dilemma. For a series like “Bang!,” which is a five issue limited series, why should readers go out and pick up issue one? What do you hope their experience is with the issue and series?
MK: I get the dilemma. But there are a few reason. It’s the equivalent experience to binging a tv show in a couple days versus watching it once a week. The small dose allows you to have some space to think about the thing you’re reading. It allows you some time to talk about it with your friends. If you binge it all at once you end up just forgetting about it in a few weeks and it just has less of an impact. Comics are expensive. They take a long time to make. A lot of care goes into every single page. Take some time to enjoy it. We’re doing some special things with the covers and inside covers as well that really only works in the issue format. Also – buying single issues is the single best way to support the creators you love. It makes the entire series sustainable. And we want this to be sustainable – there are big plans past issue 5 – but we need to get there – and single issue sales are what make it all happen.