Almost a year ago, Nothing But Comics writer Creighton (AKA Cosmo) caught up with the brilliant writer Matt Kindt to talk about some of his work. If you missed it, you can find it here. Before this interview Creighton reached out to the Nothing But Comics staff to see if anyone had a question for Kindt. This was a very exciting moment in my life because I had a question, a big question. The more I thought about this question, the more confused I became. A few months prior to this interview I read the terrific Matt Kindt story Revolver. I noticed something in Revolver that was ever so subtly touched upon. I began to obsess about this tiny detail thinking that every thing in the book revolved around it. I handed the book to every friend I knew would read it, hoping anyone else could catch this subtle key. None of them were able to see it. Now my friend Creighton was asking if anyone had any questions for Matt Kindt, the writer of Revolver, the very man who was causing my sleep loss. So did I have a question for Matt Kindt? You bet I did.
Cosmo: I would like to switch over to Revolver briefly. In that graphic novel, we know Sam originated in the normal mundane world. I believe you left enough hints in the book to indicate that Verve originated in the chaotic world. This feels like the key to the book, though, I cannot quite unlock it. Can you lend some insight into why they originated from opposite worlds?
Kindt: Not without spoiling too much. Verve is a character that I think, based on what he does in Revolver, that can easily be a character that unites every book I’ve done. I’ve always felt like every book I’ve ever written exists in the same “universe” and so I’m kind of using him to illustrate how they all fit together…but I don’t want to say too much to spoil anything.
Kindt’s response answered everything and nothing. It was exactly what I was hoping for and nothing like I wanted. I was overjoyed and overheated. Satisfied and disappointed. This answer reassured that I am onto something; in fact Kindt indicates that Verve is the key that unites every book he has ever done. But without spoiling anything Kindt keeps his mystery close to the chest. So now it falls on my shoulders. Kindt’s fantastic answer sparks an idea in my mind, an idea to read a body of his work and to keep Revolver close by for reference. Kindt has always said that he believes that all his stories take place in the same universe and now I have the key by my side.
For those of you who do not know, Revolver is a story of a man who is going through the motions of his lifeless life. He has a boring office job going nowhere, a boss who can’t stand him, a routine relationship and a little apartment. One day he wakes up and the world is in shambles. Buildings are getting bombed, people are jumping out of windows, danger is around every corner. However next time he goes to sleep he wakes up back in his boring mundane world. As the story goes on the man, Sam, keeps flip flopping back and forth between his “real world” where he puts little effort into just about everything, and this “dream world” where he is a leader and actually making a difference. Sam seeks out help from a therapist for some kind of explanation of what he is going through. He ends up finding a self help motivational speaker named Verve. Verve explains to him that he too goes to sleep in one world and wakes up in the next. He says the chaotic world is his playground and he is the one destroying it. In this scene Verve mentions one very small detail indicating that the chaotic world is actually where he originated. Sam’s real life was in the mundane world and one day he woke up in the chaotic world, while Verve’s real life was the chaotic world (although it was not chaotic yet) and one day woke up in Sam’s mundane world. I knew there had to be some big significance that Sam’s real life began in one world while Verve’s began in the other, but I just could not put my finger on it. So I asked the question to Kindt to receive his acknowledgement that it is important but no answer as to how.
The first book I will take a look at (with Revolver close by) is Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes. I often have discussions with a friend about how one small choice we make could have a huge impact on our, or someone else’s life. There is a stand up bit by Aziz Ansari where he tells a story of his friend that clogged the toilet and had to go to Bed Bath and Beyond to get a plunger. In the parking lot of this Bed, Bath and Beyond he ended up meeting his future wife and now they are pregnant with their first child. The punchline is just because one day he took an overly large poop that started a chain of events leading to him creating life. If you enjoy thinking about this type of thing (chain reactions, not poops) then Red Handed is right up your alley. It was an absolute joy to read. I am not exaggerating in saying it is one of my favourite books. I love discussing the grey areas when it comes to issues that our society and government have deemed black and white. This book dives face first into the grey and does it flawlessly. Does breaking the law make you a bad person? Is breaking the law always wrong? Can I “break the rules” without hurting anyone and vice versa, can I “follow the rules” and someone ends up dead because of it? The book poses the question if an apple has fallen off a tree on my neighbour’s property and it will most likely be thrown away is it wrong for me to steal that apple if I am starving? According to the law, it is stealing.
Red Handed has the feeling of the movie Memento. They do not have anything to do with each other except for the way the story is told. If you have seen Memento and seen it the proper way you know that the movie is backwards scene by scene with a black and white commentary scene chopped up and placed in-between the scenes. This is the type of feel that Red Handed gives. Red Handed is a book with a bunch of short stories explaining some very odd crimes. In the middle of each story is a conversation between two people who we cannot see; we can only see their word bubbles. The conversation is about the grey area of the crimes we are witnessing. What is considered right and wrong. Then after all the short stories there is one scene at the end that brings everything together. A fantastic narrative to this book.
After reading this first Kindt book on my journey to understanding the universe, I am a little bit closer but not much. Kindt said that Verve is a character that can unite everything that he has done. The question then becomes (keeping Verve in mind) how can Revolver and Red Handed be in the same universe? Verve is a man who is a motivational speaker and an icon in one world, but in his world is a terrorist. The obvious answer is that all of Kindt’s books are just different worlds of the same universe. Revolver shows us that there can be more dimensions out there. “See you in another life” actually means I could be seeing you right now in another life. However, I think it is more than just this. I think the fact that Verve is aware he is in both worlds is also key to Kindt’s connection of the “universe.” Perhaps we have a tendency to destroy the worlds we are in when it seems like there is something better waiting for us somewhere. The mentality that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Red Handed is a book about criminals, a book about strange crimes, it is a book about people who just can’t help doing the things they do. However, maybe in another world she doesn’t need to steal, maybe in another world he doesn’t want to take those pictures. Perhaps these characters are present in other Kindt books? If they are I would like to know what they are doing there. If you have any thoughts on the Kindt universe feel free to comment below, however I will be travelling through a Kindt book each week so try not to spoil ones I have not read yet.
I am adding Red Handed to your must read pile, and it should be very near the top. Just think if you buy Red Handed today on your visit to the local comic book store you may save 27 lives who would have crashed on a bus 1283 miles away. Or maybe you will end up causing that crash…