Making Comics Is Easy | Matt Kindt

kindtheaderSt. Louis-based writer/artist Matt Kindt is conducting a pair of workshops on creating comics in conjunction with the St. Louis Public Library. Kindt gives us the skinny on what it takes to create a comic, and what books light his creative fires.

 

Want to make a comic? Yeah? Well, great timing. Two workshops are being offered by the St Louis Public Library and hosted by the very talented Matt Kindt. You couldn't ask for a better teacher. Matt has worn just about every hat in comics: writing, drawing, and designing his own Super Spy graphic novels like 2 Sisters and Pistolwhip, which earned Harvey Nominations for both Best Graphic Novel and Best New Talent and made it onto Time magazine's Top 10 graphic novels of 2001. Matt also happens to be the nicest guy in comics, and he was nice enough to answer some questions for us about the events.

Interview conducted by Nick Main.

PLAYBACK:stl: You have some experience teaching comics already, right?

 

Self-portrait by Matt Kindt.Matt Kindt: Yes, I've taught comic book making to kids (and adults) for over three years now.

 

Who is the workshop available to, and what sort of people are you hoping to attract?

 

The workshop is available to everyone — young and old. As long as you are old enough to read and write you're eligible.

 

What do you want people to take away from it?

 

 

I love creating comics and I really hope people walk away from the experience inspired to do their own comics. Whether it's a full-length graphic novel or a mini-comic or even just the desire to go to the library or bookstore and pick up a stack of comics — I just want people to get that same little burst of excitement I get every time I get a new idea for a story or pick up a great looking book.

 

Is this a drawing class? Does someone need to know how to draw to make comics?

 

 

Not necessarily. It certainly helps, but your level of drawing skills shouldn't inhibit you. I've got great examples of comics that I show in the presentation where the artist used a series of dots and word balloons to make a full-length 24-page comic — and it works!

 

How did you get into comics and what are you reading these days?

 

 

The cover to Super Spy by Matt KindtMy older brother got me into comics. I'd steal comics out of his room when he wasn't looking and then try to return them before he noticed, but it never worked. He was a huge fan of comics and then I kind of was by default, being the younger brother. We'd save up our quarters and get one or two comics on every grocery trip (this is when the comics were only on the spinner racks next to the magazines). These days I try to read a little of everything. I'll try nearly any book once, if only to keep tabs on what's going on, especially when I'm teaching kids and they're mentioning books they love that I've never heard of — so I try to make it my business to keep up with them. My favorite books though end up being anything by Dan Clowes (David Boring) and Chris Ware (Acme Novelty Library), Grant Morrison (The Filth and All-Star Superman), a fun series Dungeon by Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar, and an old classic that a friend recently bought me, New York Stories, which collects all of Will Eisner's New York graphic novels.

 

 

In your opinion, what are some of the best examples of the medium? Do you have any particular standby books that you feel could sway any narrow-minded comics naysayer?

 

 

Boy, it really depends on where you're coming from. I don't think you can read David Boring or Ice Haven (by Dan Clowes) without being blown away by the literary potential of the comics medium. Those books are really right up there with Nabakov in my mind and deserve space on the same shelf. Alan Moore's From Hell book is another masterpiece that will really stand the test of time — there's just really no other equivalent to it — truly a unique piece of storytelling art that works as historical fiction, history of London and Jack the Ripper mystery thriller.

 

And, on the other hand I just read Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman book and it really took me back. It's an intelligent super-hero comic that simultaneously exercises your brain but makes you feel like a grown-up kid while you're reading it. A really smart and fun read.

 

Are there any other programs or resources in the area that people can check out?

 

 

COCA offers classes (that I teach) around 4 times a year, and it's an extended version of the two-hour workshop that I'm doing with the library. That class is spread out over a week and by the end of the week everyone has a full story finished and we actually assemble and produce a mini-comic that customers can buy at Star Clipper. Other resources I would recommend would be Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics graphic novel for a great history of the medium and also Will Eisner's book on making a graphic novel (Comics & Sequential Art) — just an indispensable text on creating comics.

 

Comics can be a tough field to break into and very few find fortune and glory in it. What would you say to those who might be discouraged by this?

 

 

I would say that of all the entertainment industries, comics is probably the easiest to break into. By that I mean that compared to the movie or book industry, comics is still relatively small so the publishers are more or less approachable, either online or directly at comic book conventions. My first graphic novel was published in 2001 — and to "break in" I actually produced my first graphic novel. I wrote, penciled, inked and had mock-up copies printed at Kinko's. I then took those 20 finished books to San Diego's Comic Con and passed them out to prospective publishers with a cover letter and my phone number. A week later I got calls from two publishers both wanting to publish the book. They had no idea who I was, but the work can and does speak for itself. I didn't have to know someone or network or get my foot in the door. It just takes a little sweat and work to get the book produced. And if it's ready, there will be a publisher willing to take it.

 

What are you working on now?

 

 

I just finished a new 336 page full color graphic novel called Super Spy. It will be in-stores in August and you can pre-order it through my publisher's website or off of Amazon.com. I'm also putting the touches on a new book End of the World which is a sort of graphic novel/prose novel hybrid that is part comic book, part prose and illustrated throughout.

 

I also have a show coming up at Gallery Vision with my wife that will feature all new work. And I have a one-man interactive Super Spy show coming up at Subterranean Books on July 13th as well.

 

To learn more about Matt Kindt, visit his website at www.supersecretspy.com.

 

Matt Kindt's Graphic Novel Workshops will be held from 10 AM to 12 PM at the following branches of the St. Louis Public Library:

– Saturday, July 7th at the Julia Davis branch, 4415 Natural Bridge Rd. For information, call 314-383-3021.

– Saturday, July 14th, at the Kingshighway branch, 2260 S. Vandeventer Ave. For information, call 314-771-5450.

 

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