This week, the first issue of Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT, Dept. H., X-O Manowar, Black Badge) and David Rubin’s (Rumble, Sherlock Frankenstein) final (for now) arc of their fascinating and heart-breaking series Ether arrived in shops with “The Disappearance of Violet Bell”. We were lucky enough to get an early read of the gorgeous first issue, packed with surprises even for those who have been with the series from the beginning. Unsurprisingly, David Rubin’s artwork just gets more elaborate and humorous in character design and action, and Matt Kindt’s play on ideas, springing from a tragi-comic hero’s story arc with Boone Dias, keeps you guessing every page.
For those who have been keeping track, the biggest unresolved relationship in Boone’s life turns on the Faerie woman Violet Bell, and her role in this miniseries is front-and-center, as you can glean from the title. But there’s much more to this finale, of course, that taps into the oldest conflicts in the series, really taking us back to the first issue where we first set foot in the Ether.
Matt Kindt joins us today to talk about this emotional journey, for Boone and for the creative team, and what’s coming up for our hero and for the world that’s shaped his life.
Hannah Means-Shannon: The cover to issue #1 of the series is quite grim and powerful, almost like a Conan story. Is this an indication of violence to come, a series about confrontation?
Matt Kindt: Yeah. This story is everything the series has been – but really turned up. The funny bits are even funnier I think – but there is some really sad, heart-breaking turns that the story takes. The entire series has been building to this book…and the ultimate confrontation with Lord Ubel.
HMS: In issue #1, we get the story of the “7 Lucky Gods”. What inspired you to include this background story, Matt?
MK: I really just love coming up with crazy stuff for David to draw. I think half of the ideas in this book spring from me trying to picture what David is going to do with it. And the other half? They’re ideas that started as sketches that David gives me before I start writing the book. I feed him an outline and then he turns in a ton of preliminary sketches and thoughts. The idea for Boone’s shaved head and new look – was David’s suggestion and I loved it. Our collaboration is really like a conversation – we feed off of each other. I know there’s a gag in the last issue with a charater’s scarf. It’s just one of those things – I look at David’s art and it’s so evocative – it gives me ideas.
HMS: Since we’re coming up on the final series for Ether, I’ll ask some questions about the world as a whole. If ordinary people could come and go to the Ether, what would the fall out likely be? Would their lives be as ravaged as Boone Dias’ life?
MK: Yeah – I think time works differently when you’re in there. I don’t think I started the series with this idea in mind – I never really know what a story is “about” until I’m done with it or close to done. And halfway through writing this one, I realized that the Ether is really the creative process. It’s like writing. It’s where you go to get ideas. I’ve told my wife before that I don’t like writing when we travel or we’re on vacation somewhere because when I’m writing? It’s like I’m not there. I’m in whatever place I’m imagining and the “writing” feels more like I’m just typing down descriptions of what I’m seeing. I’m not present. So I try to be careful with when I write because I just sort of disappear while I’m doing it. It’s not much different than Boone when he disappears from his family into the Ether. And the creative process is addictive. I love writing. I love creating and dreaming up worlds and characters. But unlike Boone…I’m trying to be aware of it and to find some balance. What’s the point of having a family if you’re not there to enjoy their company?
HMS: Violet has been this important but mercurial figure throughout, as an actual Faerie person. She and Boone have had a very passionate connection, often driven by arguments and anger as much as affection. Is she the biggest unresolved relationship in Boone’s life?
MK: Yeah. I think she wants to like Boone, but Boone is a hard guy to like. We’ve purposefully held her character back for this latest arc. Other than his family, Violet is probably the person he’s hurt the most so he’s going to have to try to get some resolution there. And we haven’t really seen her kick butt yet – so this is her book to shine.
HMS: I feel like the different Ether miniseries have each revealed more detail about the rules, laws, and territories of the Ether. Are there going to be bigger conceptual and visual revelations to come, or is this one more about those character moments?
MK: It’s fun to sort of put those building blocks of the Ether together slowly. It’s a HUGE world. It’s a universe we could spin stories out of for the rest of our lives. But ultimately we are building to some resolution with main characters. I would love to do an entirely new series after this that just focuses on Violet and her story before Ether...and after. This first series of books though, is really about Boone and his journey from complete-jerk scientists/detective to…whatever he becomes in this last arc. I don’t want to spoil it.
HMS: Comics, of course, are meant to be entertaining and keep the reader engaged, but what have some particularly poignant or meaningful moments been for you working on Ether?
MK: I think the scenes with Boone and his daughter, who we gradually see get older and older. Those really hit me. I think when you have a kid and you watch them grow up…it’s hard. I joke about it with my wife, that I’ve been having empty-nest syndrome since my daughter was three-years-old. But it’s not really a joke. I love being a dad and building this relationship with someone that you will have known for their entire life. It’s unlike anything else you’ll ever experience. So those elements in the story are hard for me to re-read. But that’s why I put the funny stuff in. And David’s art makes it seem a little more light-hearted then it really is. The big riddle scene we had in the previous arc – with a real riddle…I feel like that helps balance out the heart-breaking stuff. I love the idea of a teenage all-powerful wizard on her phone all the time.
HMS: If you could have any job or role in the Ether, what would it be?
MK: I think I’d want to be a personal shopper – I want to go back to that market we saw in issue 1 so bad! The weird birds…and who knows what else for sale? It’s probably the collector mentality in me talking. But I love a weird flea market – and the Ether has the weirdest flea markets!
HMS: This is a series that, based on the first issue, is bringing the story full circle in facing an old foe. How significant has that set up been in previous arcs and just how big is this showdown going to be?
MK: It’s going to be big…but also small. I think originally I had it building to a big fight and confrontation – and there is still a confrontation. But when I got to the “big fight” part of the story…I had a better idea. Something unexpected. I think this series is really ultimately about balance. And we’ve had so much crazy stuff – fights and adventures and characters…that having another big fighting confrontation at the end? It made it all feel unbalanced in some way. So the big final scene…it’s big…but quiet. It’s my favorite scene in the entire series really. And David’s art really sold it. It’s a heart-breaker.
Big thanks to Matt Kindt for taking this stroll through the Ether with us!
The first issue of Ether: The Disappearance of Violet Bell arrived this week from Dark Horse! Find it here.