In Matt Kindt's new graphic novel Revolver, the book's protagonist crosses over into an apocalyptic reality whenever he falls asleep in the "real" world. io9 talked to Kindt about job dissatisfaction and interdimensional angst.
Whenever Sam (the protagonist in Revolver) passes out in his boring, day job reality, he wakes up in a hellish alternate dimension in which civilization has more or less collapsed in 24 hours. What was your inspiration for this end-of-the-world scenario?
Pretty much every horrible real news story that's every happened...but all put together. The great thing about real life is that Chernobyl and the stock market crash and swine flu outbreaks and tsunamis — all of that sort of spreads itself out across history so we can sort of tackle just a few huge disasters at a time. In Revolver, I just did a "What if all of that happened on the same day?" scenario.
I stopped watching "live" TV and the news in particular after 9/11 — I think I'd spent a month after 9/11 just watching the news non-stop and it really wasn't healthy. So my wife and I just stopped watching. What's funny is that after you stop watching news your view of the world begins to change. You don't realize how bombarded you are with violent crimes and car accidents night after night until you stop watching it.
And then I started realizing — fatal car accidents and shootings aren't really news. It becomes a sort of morbid gossip. Why do I have to see that ever night? What could I possibly do about any of it? How am I supposed to act on that "news?" So all of that meltdown stuff is everything I've heard over the years.
(All that said, I do check a few news websites every day just to make sure the world didn't really end. Real-life Russian spies living in the suburbs? Now THAT is news.)
The pagination in Revolver is really ingenious. The page numbers are incorporated into a news ticker that displays fire-and-brimstone, end-times news in one dimension and soft news in the "real" world. What was your idea for this numbering scheme?
Again, too much news watching. I never watch the news at home. I don't even watch TV unless it's made it's way to DVD. But there's a local restaurant I go to when I work sometimes and they usually have the news running. So I was watching the news ticker across the bottom and trying to read that and also trying to listen to what the newscaster was saying and going a little bit crazy after a while.
It occurred to me that I could take a lot of the back story and world-building stuff I'd written that wasn't going to make it into the book, and [that I could] incorporate it in a way that would force you to go back and re-read the book again.
Your earlier works (Super Spy, Pistolwhip) were more espionage and pulp oriented. What would you say is different about writing science fiction?
It's not much different really. Scifi, like the spy stuff, is really just the hook. The characters are what's compelling to me — trying to make them come to life. The spies or the alternative reality stuff is the stick I use to prod and poke the characters and basically make their lives miserable. One big difference [with Revolver] was setting something in modern day.
Every book I'd done until now was always a period piece [...] When you draw vintage cars and clothes and cities I think it's a little easier — but when you're doing modern every-day stuff, you have to try to look at everything around you and pick out what's going to be interesting.
Is Sam's battle with modern malaise autobiographical, or is he just an everyman for the reader to identify with?
I think if you've ever taken a job because you needed the money you can probably relate to this. And just by the nature of how the world works, I think most of us have had a job we'd walk out on in a second if we didn't need the money. So [he's] definitely an "everyman" but also exactly what I used to be before I started doing nothing but the work I love (comics). The old cliche of "finding work that you love to do and you'll never work a day in your life" is pretty much true.
But the caveat I'd add to that is this — you have to find that work you love, but then you have to convince people to pay you for that work. That's the catch.
Revolver is out now from DC/Vertigo.