Interview: Matt Kindt on BOOM! Studios’ Black Badge

Black Badge #1 Matt Kindt cover

Black Badge #1 Matt Kindt cover


Creator Matt Kindt is known for his work on Mind MGMT, Dept. H, Divinity, Harbinger Wars 2, and much more. Now he re-teams with his Grass Kings collaborator, Tyler Jenkins, for Black Badge from BOOM! Studios. This thrilling new series features the adventures of a secret branch of boy scouts.

Westfield: Where did the idea for Black Badge come from?

Matt Kindt: The basic concept of Black Badge was a kind of joking conversation I would have with my wife (Sharlene Kindt). Whenever the Boy Scouts would come up in the news I would always wonder…what if the Boy Scouts were actually deployed as real scouts? On real scouting missions? Why are they called “scouts” if they’re not actually doing actual scouting missions? I think language is really important. I’m fascinated by language when it fails to communicate or when its communication has unintended consequences. And like the birth of all great ideas, what started out as a joke started to percolate in the back of my mind. What if these kids were sent out on real scouting missions? What would that be like? Then I started imagining all the “advanced” badges that the kids would have to get – demolition expert, subterfuge, etc…and I realized it needed to be a book. Then of course, I started imagining what kind of impact this would have on the kids and also – what kind of adults would send kids on these missions? It got a lot deeper a lot quicker than the initial joke.

Westfield: Were you a scout?

Kindt: No. I had friends that were but I wasn’t much of a “joiner” when I was a kid. “Kenny” – the leader of the scouts in the comic is named after the one friend I had in grade school who was a scout. I hated team sports. I played a lot of tennis because it was one of the few sports you could play without cooperating. I loved spending time in the woods but the Scouts seemed to have way too much human interaction for me (laughs).

Black Badge #1 Tyler Jenkins cover

Black Badge #1 Tyler Jenkins cover


Westfield: You’re working once again with Tyler Jenkins. What makes this a good collaboration for you?

Kindt: The obvious answer is that Tyler (and his talented wife, Hilary) are amazing artists. Grass Kings was such a fun and easy experience. We figured out the story and the characters and it just seemed like the pages flowed. We’re a natural fit as far as collaborations go – a lot of give and take and the result really is amazing. It seems effortless (even though it’s not). Tyler came to me with Grass Kings and when we were done – I didn’t want to stop working together – neither of us did. I had this idea sort of sitting in my back pocket – waiting for me to have time to work on it but when I realized Tyler wanted to do another project – I knew this would be the perfect follow up to Grass Kings.

Black Badge #1 interior art by Tyler Jenkins

Black Badge #1 interior art by Tyler Jenkins


Westfield: Who are the main characters readers will meet in the series?

Kindt: Willy is the new recruit. He’s sort of our window into this crazy world of boy scouts as real scouts. He’s got every badge ever offered by the scouts he thought…then he learns about the Black Badge and he’s a little worried about what he’s going to have to do to earn the Black Badge.

Kenny is the leader and he takes the idea of “always prepared” literally. He’s carries an impossibly large backpack with literally anything the team would ever need for any mission. Also, his best friend might be missing or dead. And it might be Kenny’s fault.

Mitz is the archery expert and firecracker of the team. But Mitz has a bit of a secret that he’s hiding. If the team has a “Snake Eyes” he is it.

Cliff is the brains and the muscle. While the other kids have a lot of gadgets and gear…Cliff has a big walking stick that’s really just his ass-beating stick.

Black Badge #1 interior art by Tyler Jenkins

Black Badge #1 interior art by Tyler Jenkins


Westfield: What can readers look forward to in the story?

Kindt: There is a lot of globe-trotting. I was always a fan of Ian Fleming’s original James Bond novels – and he was originally a travel writer and you can really tell in the books. It’s a great way to arm-chair travel, honestly. So there is going to be a lot of that – I’m also a huge fan of travel so I’m always drawing inspiration from places we’ve been or in some instances – places I would like to go.

The series is structured in an interesting way as well – each issue is a mission and every arc is a season in the kids lives…we’ll see them grow older and we’ll slowly get to know more about them and their life at home when they’re not on missions – but we’ll get that info in the same real-time as the kids learn it about each other. It’s really a character driven piece and I’m trying to really capture kids’ voices and thought processes as realistically as possible. But there’s also trains blowing up, missile-strikes, and unintended assassinations (laughing).

Black Badge #1 Jeff Lemire Incentive Cover

Black Badge #1 Jeff Lemire Incentive Cover


Westfield: Will the series reflect any real world events?

Kindt: Not directly. The kids are living in a world where the real political relationships between countries exist…but we’re keeping this story timeless as well. The aim is to keep the story as valid now as it will be in a hundred years. I never write for today’s headlines. I’ve been around for 45 years so you start to see certain patterns in human behavior and global events so it’s a little bit easier to write to that kind of thing. The stories that interest me (as a reader and writer) are the ones that speak to larger ideas – of what it means to be a good person and make the world a better place.

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