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Super Spy by Matt Kindt
http://www.topshelfcomix.com/ts2.0/artist/22

Essay and Interview by John Seven

Though recently collected into a wonderful graphic novel, Matt Kindt’s “Super Spy” first saw life as a web comic. It’s a dense work, packed with nostalgia for the intrigue and confusion of old -style spying, where gadgets and action are part of the mix, but they never obscure the human stories. In Kindt’s tales, the larger scope of espionage is an excuse to tell smaller stories.

Kindt’s stories constitute a chronicle of sacrifice and survival, of being forced to play a game in order to survive. The game — espionage — is the folly of warring nations and Kindt takes great pains to point out that the information passed along in the situations he presents does save lives and turn the tide of wars. They also ruin lives and take them as well — people are killed and those left behind can often feels dead. Some, however, are reborn through their experience.

Kindt rounds them all up and Iaves them into an inventive tapestry that brings spies to life, personalizing a wartime experience that is so often at arm’s length.

Kindt gathered and re-edited his material into the book “Super Spy,” but two strips remain at the Top Shelf Productions web site.  http://www.topshelfcomix.com/ts2.0/artist/22

His second installment, ‘Spy Versus Spy’ appears exclusively here with special thanks to Matt.

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Click a thumbnail to view comic.

Materials: I use Uasutomo Liquid Sumi ink and a #2 round Kolinsky Sable hair brush. For the second color I use a windsor newton color ink (sepia color). In Photoshop I select that 2nd color and switch it to the appropriate color depending on the chapter and location of the story.

Interview with Matt Kindt:

Q: When did you first become interested in spies and espionage?
A: My first “spy” memory was seeing Moonraker with my parents at a drive-in. Not exactly the kind of espionage tale that I work on today but I’d grown up as a huge James Bond fan…I’d read all of the Fleming books in high school and then as I got older started doing research and reading about real spies and espionage and especially World War II history.

Q: Are you a secretive person?
A: Hm. Is that a trick question? Not really — if anything what attracts me to spy work is the idea of getting to pretend you’re someone else and being able to lie for a good cause (depending on what side you’re on).

Q: What artists influence your work?
A: I’d say Bill Mauldin, Dave McKean, and Joseph Heller are a few of the big ones that come to mind. That seems to change though depending on which day you ask me.

Q: Did you conceive of the entire story before sitting down and working on it?
A: No. I was working week to week as I serialized it on-line for Top Shelf. I had a  basic idea of a beginning and end and some of the bigger story arcs but I wasn’t sure how I was going to get from A to B. My main focus was to just create interesting characters that I could care about and also put them in real situations that spies did and might find themselves in.

Q: When the work went into a print version, you rearranged the chapters — could you talk about your reasoning in doing that?
A: Since I was working week to week, once I uploaded a story that was it and that was the order they were read in. But as I finished, and started putting the book together I thought that tweaking the sequences slightly helped the pacing of the book as a whole — I wanted the small pieces to really work together as a bigger work so I actually took several chapters out (that did appear on-line) and added some small bits of art here and there to make it work as a book.

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