BRZRKR is an action comic born from the collaboration between Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt and Ron Garney, starring a millennial warrior, a half man half god (he is the son of the god of war), who goes in search of his origins. Set in our present, it sees the character embarking on dangerous missions on behalf of the United States government in exchange for secrets and revelations about his identity. The comic book was launched in 2020 with a crowdfunding campaign that, with its $ 1.45 million raised, set an all-time record for a Kickstarter comic project. Distributed by the publisher Boom! Studios, in Italy is instead published by Panini Comics. We had the opportunity to interview Matt Kindt to talk about the genesis of the project.
The book starts with a big action sequence that is almost as long as the whole issue. How did you develop such a long set piece, in terms of rhythm and conveying information to the reader?
We really wanted to start off with a bang – to sort of set the parameters of what our main character can (and would) do – both physically and morally. I think action, if not done right, can be a little boring or you can become numb to it after a while so we really wanted to do something that would be inventive and fun and horrible all at the same time. In a way to set the tone for the reader that what they’re about to read isn’t going to be a traditional comic book or action thriller. It’s something else all together.
How did you come up with the look of the book? Rafael Grampá is credited as co-designer, how did that process work?
Keanu and I talked quite a bit about who “B” is and what he should wear – and it’s really dependent on the time period he finds himself in. But we really focused on the now – where is he now and what is he wearing and what does he look like. I always liked the idea of these hand wraps – that even with him being immortal and healing – over time – he’s punched enough faces that his knuckles take a little longer to grow back. So he wraps them up – they got used a LOT over the centuries. Rafael had a great idea to add this scarf – a bit of color and something that would hold some meaning to him – that could have been around for a long time and we all loved that.
BRZRKR is a very violent book, how did you deal with that aspect?
I think BRZRKR is actually ABOUT violence – so there’s no way to talk about that and deal with it – without the book also being the thing that it’s commenting on. The deeper you get into the story the more this becomes apparent – it’s about why we fight. Why humanity kills itself and all the ramifications of that – all sort of seen throught he lense of a person who doesn’t have any real consequences to the violence that perpetrated against him. He can always come back. So we sort of see him become numb to it. If there’s a meaning to that I think we’d rather just let the reader come up with their conclusions rather than hit anyone over the head with it.
What was the creative process with Keanu Reeves like?
It’s still on-going. We’re currently writing the last two issues. It’s been intense. Writing alone which is what I usually do, is a completely different process. I’m just in my head the entire time. Working with Keanu has been so much fun in comparison. Having each other to spitball ideas and bounce scenes and dialogue off of – it’s something I miss a little bit on my solo projects. He’s a generous collaborator and the dialogue is 100% better after he’s taken his pass. Every scene – every line – is acted out – and I wish everyone could see into the process we’re using. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind comic book writing experience.
You said you developed the story 4 issues at the time. So, did your working relationship change during the various story sessions?
It’s gotten easier. We’ve been working over 2 years on this so we have a shorthand now that you just don’t have at the beginning of any collaboration. We have ideas and ending scenes that we’ve been talking about for years so if anything I’d say it’s just gotten more comfortable. There’s a trust there now – we can offer up ideas in a way that just feels like no judgement or anything. Working in comics as long as I have takes a crazy amount of work ethic – the hours put in are just endless and never-ending if you really care about it and want it to be the best it can be. When I was working on MIND MGMT – I just worked until it was done. There were no weekends or days off. Working with Keanu has been that way for both of us. It doesn’t matter what time of day or day of the week – whenever there’s a window of time we can talk about it and work on script. We’re doing it. It’s intense but we both love what we’re doing.
Beyond the basic premise, is there an idea that Reeves had that you would never have thought of?
The ending. Keanu had it from the start – it was the thing that sold me on the entire idea. I’d seen immortal warrior ideas before – in comics especially – so I was hesitant to take this on. But he had a crazy idea that I just loved – totally out of left field – and immediately sold me on it.
And were there any ideas of him that you had to leave behind because they weren’t suited to the language of comics?
I think there were a few scenes where he doubted what we could actually get done in comics – the issue at B’s house where they listen to music and talk about the meaning of sound, etc…but he trusted me on the vision – and we might have broke Ron a little bit – but the storytelling turned out amazing – something that can only really work in comics – which is always one of the goals.
You’ve written Mind MGMT, and now BRZRKR. Why do you hate vowels so much? Is there something that intrigues you about the all-consonants words?!
The real answer? I’m a bad speller. (laughs)
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