A Cavalier Disregard for Genre: Talking with Matt Kindt, Author of Boom! Studios’ New Series ‘Folklords’

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Folklords is a genre defying series from Boom! Studios that focuses on Ansel, a boy who lives in a magical world but dreams of finding the one in his dreams, which suspiciously looks a lot like ours. We here at Black Nerd Problems had a chance to talk with the series writer, Matt Kindt who is a St. Louis based, Eisner-award winning comic book creator and picked his mind about his past and present work.

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A little bit of this, and a little bit of that…

Black Nerd Problems: A lot of your older work features a lot of noir elements between Pistolwhip, Super Spy, and MIND MGMT. What was the inspiration to pivot over a more fantasy driven world with these noir thematic elements in the background?

Matt Kindt: I’m just attracted to all of these different genres. I grew up reading things like Ian Fleming’s books, and then Doc Savage, and tons of science fiction. Even like the Marvel Comics Conan stories got me interested in the original pulp novels. Fantasy was one of those genres that I never really felt like I wanted to take part in, and I couldn’t figure it out because I love barbarians and I loved the idea of traveling and running into all these adventurers, but the idea of writing something like that had never appealed to me before. The older I got I was like “I’ve done spies. I’ve done science fiction. I’ve done all of these other genres. Why haven’t I done fantasy?” You know, I enjoy it, and I think I just resisted it because… I’m not sure why. I think the rational part of me wants everything to make sense and I feel like a lot of times with magic and that kind of stuff, the writer in me has to have an explanation. Why does it work? How does it work? And I think that’s what always scared me off from the genre. And then finally I was like “screw it, I’ll figure out.” And that’s kind of how it came about.

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Riffing Off Fantasy

BNP: So, the first issue of Folklords instantly endeared itself to me with this opening bit of “Once upon a time…” being crossed out and the handwritten “No… Just this one time.” How did you settle on that riff on the prototypical fairy tale opening?

Matt: Honestly, I think it is my cavalier disregard for the genre. *Laughter* You know, it was part of this thing where I was like I don’t like parts of the genre and the tropes and everything I seen, and I wanted to be able to call this stuff out y’know, but also be true to the genre. I do enjoy it, primarily the long explanation where the narrator comes in and then becomes a bigger part of the story and maybe the narrator… without spoiling anything… is my direct hand into the story, to make me more interested in writing it. Rather than just a straight up fantasy story, it has this twist. I’m going to be super vague there, because there is a reveal that I don’t want to spoil.

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BNP: On that note, without spoiling anything, what was your favorite moment of the first issue?

Matt: My favorite part… you know what, I like the kids and the bunch of panels where they’re all telling what their mission is going to be, you know their quest. It was fun to come up with those kids and the quests they’re coming up with it. This was one of the ideas that came about with a friend of mind. I share a studio with Bryan Hurtt. He’s a comic book artist who does 6th Gun. He’s great, an amazing artist. I run stories by him all the time and we were talking about us maybe doing a fantasy book one time and then just kicking that idea around, he was like “yeah, I don’t want to do a quest story. Like every fantasy story has a quest. Go on this thing, do this thing.” And that kinda stuck with me. Like every story, regardless of genre, has a quest to it. So, then when I started writing this, it was still rattling around in my head, and I thought “You know what would be funny? Instead of running away from the quest idea, just create a world where everybody is on a quest all of the time. So when Ansel goes out into the world, there’s all these people running around also on quests. It’s not just him. He’s not a chosen one. Every single gets one, no big deal. It’s like getting a driver’s license, you pass the test and get your quest.

BNP: So speaking of Ansel, what were some of the major inspiration points behind his creation?

Matt: When I started this book, the original kernel of the idea came from my editor Eric. We were just kicking around what I was going to do next after Black Badge. He was like “I have a title for ya, but I don’t have anything else.” And he said “Folklords.” And I was like huh. And as soon as he said that, this image popped into my head of this kid wearing a suit and a tie in a wild Conan world and I don’t know why that happened. The idea really stemmed from the title. Ansel keeps evolving as I’m writing him. I have an idea of what he is and where he comes from. If you ask me in like five or six issues, I’ll be able to tell you more. I have the basic idea, but he’s writing himself. Just over the course of the first couple issues, he became a little bit of a pacifist. He doesn’t want to hurt anybody and just is curious. You can see him actually grow.

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Creative Endeavors

BNP: As a creator who has worked as a writer, penciler, inker, colorist, how does that cross disciplinary skill set help you make comics?

Matt: It’s funny because I’m not super conscious of it unless I hear from an artist, editor, or other people I work with and then they like working with me and they point these things out. I think the discipline of writing your own thing and then having to draw the thing you wrote, I think it changes how you write comics. It changes how you approach it. You just become more aware of what the artist has to do, what the letterer has to do, and what the colorists do. You then start thinking about color when you’re writing because color is part of the story. I just turned in some notes on some lettering on issue 2, because the lettering is crucial to the story too. Having done it all, I don’t just type the script and send it off and not think about it again. I’m conscious of every part of it having done it all at some point. It’s great now because I don’t actually have to do it but get to pass it off to other skilled creators to do the hard work. Drawing is the hardest part, it takes the longest, and I’m happy to pass it off.

BNP: How did you connect with the artist, Matt Smith, for this project?

Matt: I was first aware of his stuff when I was hanging out with a friend of mine, Jeff Lemire, in Toronto and I see this print from Matt Smith on his wall of all the Twin Peaks characters. And I was like “what is that? I need that.” And so, then I just emailed Matt since he didn’t have the print on sale on his website anymore, so I was like “do you have any copies? Let me know, I need one really bad.” I was willing to pay for it, but he was like “artist courtesy” or whatever. And he sent me one, and I think I traded him a MIND MGMT print, or I hope I did *laughter*. I think I did. I did send him something, can’t remember what. But, that’s how I introduced myself to him because of that print, and I love Twin Peaks and his art. And through Boom!, I think the opportunity came up to write a Planet of the Apes short story for one of their Planet of the Ape books and they paired me up with Matt and I was like “This is great. I love Matt’s stuff.” So we did that and we worked well together, and then the Folklords thing came up and Boom! helped pair us up.

One Last Bit about Folklords

BNP: Would you mind cursing us with a little bit of knowledge? What can we expect from the rest of the series?

Matt: … The unexpected. So, what’s funny is that I don’t really know the book or what it’s about until it’s done, you know? I have an idea for it and what I’m trying to do. But until I finish it, I don’t know what it’s about. A lot of times, doing interviews like this help me figure it out. People ask questions and seeing how people respond to it actually informs me. Hopefully, you’ll get a good adventure story with a twist. It’s character driven like all stuff I like. What to expect… I don’t know. I did read a review where someone said it’s a reverse Harry Potter. I like this idea. Instead of being this magical world or fighting to get to this magical world, Ansel’s already in it and is trying to get out of it. That’s what you kinda expect.

Be sure to check out our review of Folklords #1, available 11/13.

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  • Mikkel Snyder is a technical writer by day and pop culture curator and critic all other times.

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