Valiant's man of science and subterfuge is about to meet the supernatural. This December, the ongoing Ninjak series delves into the supernatural Deadside dimension -- and he's coming across Shadowman and Punk Mambo along the way.
Beginning with Ninjak #10, series writer Matt Kindt welcomes artist Doug Braithwaite for a 40-page “descent into an unknown and uncharted plane of existence” - a decidedly new direction into the supernatural for the scientifically-oriented Brit assassin.
Newsarama talked with Kindt and Braithwaite earlier this month at New York Comic Con to discuss the series, the collaboration, and the writer's goal to challenge the artist more than he's ever done before.
Newsarama: You have a new story arc coming up in December with Ninjak, and it’s going to be taking a bit of a departure from some of your past story lines. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Matt Kindt: I’m trying to get Ninjak and Shadowman together, and the only way to do that is to send Ninjak over to the Deadside. He has to go there because someone else from Deadside has come here to steal a member of the Shadow Seven, whom Ninjak just got done capturing during “The Shadow Wars,” the current Ninjak story arc. Now, Ninjak has to go over and recapture them. That’s where Shadowman comes in.
What’s cool, though, is Punk Mambo will be involved, too, to help him crossover to the Deadside. Of course, he’ll have to track those who were kidnapped and still get out alive.
Nrama: What sort of things are you doing different for this arc than what’s come before? Or from your perspective, Doug, how are you mixing it up artistically from other series you’ve worked on in the Valiant Universe?
Doug Braithwaite: Honestly, it’s a totally new concept for me. I don’t want to give too much away, but the way Matt’s written this story, there’s some really fancy, Grimm's fairy tales elements to this narrative. There are also some really dark stuff as well that I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into as well. Visually, it’s got me really excited.
Kindt: Everyone’s been too easy on Doug, so I’m putting some of the weirdest and hardest things to draw in this story! There are parts of the script he hasn’t even gotten to yet, and I can’t wait for him to begin drawing it! I ask myself “I wonder if…” thinking about things I know he can pull off, but I just really want to see him draw.
There’s going to be a lot of weird stuff in there [laughs].
Nrama: I know there is a wide range of areas you both have covered in the Valiant Universe, so it’s interesting to think about how you will continue to push yourselves creatively.
Braithwaite: That’s the thing: It’s nice to not have to worry about only going down one creative channel. And Matt’s imagination is fantastic in that regard. He puts these things in front of me that force me to step back and reassess things all the time – which I like as somebody who likes to think visually. I think this story is different from anything I’ve ever done before, and it’s challenged me to step up.
But it’s also not serious all the time, which makes it fun and easy.
Kindt: One thing I will say about working with Doug though is that he’s such a great storyteller that it’s nice to have a “safety net” there. You turn in some scripts and describe everything and be really detailed, but with Doug, I hardly have to do that. I can convey the story in a general manner. I may describe a page with five panels, but it may be seven or eight by the time it’s done. He’s adding stuff to make the story work better.
As a writer, I really appreciate that because he has my back and he’s making the story that much better.
Braithwaite: Thank you. I don’t do it just for the sake of it. I want to tell Matt’s story in the clearest way possible. If I have to add little inset panels or move some to best convey the beats he wants, I’ll do it.
Nrama: It’s the collaborative nature of the medium.
Braithwaite: Right. That’s what comic books is all about.
Nrama: What is one thing about this upcoming collaboration that has you both excited about the arc you’ll be kicking off together that’s going to be the big selling point?
Kindt: To me the big hook for new readers and for my wanting to write it is to take a character like Ninjak who has no superpowers, no special abilities. He’s just a guy who can make these gadgets and use them to lethal effect. He’s a science-based character thrust into a supernatural world where there’s all of this crazy stuff that he doesn’t understand. He tries to figure it out, but it’s the supernatural! Having him butt heads with Shadowman and that other side of the Valiant Universe that we don’t get to see that much of is what’s going to be fun.
Braithwaite: I haven’t drawn Shadowman before, but I really like Ninjak having worked with him on Unity in the past, which I enjoyed thoroughly. And he’s British. [Laughs]