With their 2016 Dark Horse Comic Ether, writer Matt Kindt and artist David Rubin brought readers a fantasy tale that mixed high adventure, questions of science and reality, and 1960s pop art aesthetic that made Kindt and Rubin’s story sing. Boone Dias, a man who’s grounded in science, travels back and forth between Earth and a fantastical realm known as the Ether, studying it in his quest to quantify that which may not be quantifiable. As readers saw at the end of the first Ether miniseries, that quest asked a hefty price from Boone.
However, the adventurer of the impossible is called to action again in this month’s Ether: The Copper Golems #1, attempting to seal breaches between the Ether and Earth before the magical energies of the Ether wreak havoc in our plane. Mr. Kindt spoke with us recently about where we find Boone Dias at the beginning of Ether: The Copper Golems, the state of the Ether itself, and how Boone’s relationship with his family may itself be ethereal and out of his grasp.
Also, make sure to check out our exclusive cover reveals for issue #4 of the miniseries!
FreakSugar: Nice to speak with you again! Where do we find Boone Dias at the beginning of Ether: The Copper Golems?
Matt Kindt: We start with a really heartbreaking scene with him talking to his daughter – who’s grown up while he was away having adventures in the Ether. His biggest issue is that he can’t eat anything over there, which is why his journeys are always cut a little short – he needs to come back just to eat. His daughter has been working on this problem for her entire life as a way to get closer to her father – and that’s really the emotional heart of this arc. That’s where we start but after that Boone, of course, jumps into the Ether and we get introduced to a whole new corner of the Ether that we haven’t seen before – migrating Sphinx (Sphinxes? Sphinx-i?), mummies, the birthplace of Rome with some super creepy wolves, and a new character that is cooler and way more cocky than Boone himself.
FS: How has the conceit of the story you want to tell changed since the first arc, if at all?
MK: Not so much. I think at the core of the series it’s always going to be this man of science butting his head against a world of magic. Boone has to explain it all. Everything he sees must have a rational explanation – that’s really where the friction of the series all happens. I have an idea for the end of Ether, but we’ll see how it goes – it’s been fun (and slightly sadistic) as a writer to try to grind down this character who thinks that there is a scientific explanation for everything – including talking purple gorillas and Faeries. In some ways, I feel like a bystander in the story – David Rubin, and I set up these two opposing world-views, and now it’s writing itself in a lot of ways.
FS: You delve into Boone’s family relations a bit in the first issue. What’s his mind frame when he confronts his family? Is there a certain mindset you had to be in when you tackled that dynamic?
MK: Yeah – I think it’s an issue that a lot of people deal with. The idea of balancing work and family. To be truly great at something you have to make sacrifices in other areas – and for Boone, that sacrifice is his family. It’s a tough balance to strike. I’m addicted to reading about the creative process of other artists, filmmakers, and writers. I just finished an amazing book about Stanley Kubrick called Space Oddysey, and it details the making of the movie and the collaboration with Arthur C. Clarke. But what struck me in the book as most fascinating was how they both balanced work with their family and personal relationships.
A lot of creators tend to be difficult to be around – and they can be a kind of toxic element in family and personal relationships – but I think Clarke and Kubrick found a way to not be that toxic element. It was kind of refreshing in a way to see that. Incorporating family and partners into the creative process I think is super important. But to do that I think you have to let go of a little bit of the ego – to recognize that the “art” isn’t always the most important thing. But when you do that, I think it ends up making the art even stronger. This is a lesson that Boone is absolutely going to learn the hard way. And probably too late.
FS: Even though the obstacles he faces are tremendous, Boone seems energized when he returns to the Ether. What does the Ether represent to Boone? Has how he views the Ether changed since last time we saw him?
MK: The Ether is a life-long personal challenge for Boone. It’s a realm of existence that flies in the face of everything he believes. It’s full of magic and the unexplainable. And this is the ultimate challenge for his massive scientific intellect. I think this is the real conflict in the series – Boone and his ego versus the Ether. Eventually one of them is going to have to break. I’m really having fun working on a conflict that isn’t a simple hero versus villain kind of story – even though we have a kind of “villain” in it – but it’s more about Boone versus outrageous ideas.
FS: The marriage of your words and David Rubin’s art in the last miniseries was a revelation. What’s the collaboration process like on this new series and has it changed based on your previous work together?
MK: David is a visual genius. Honestly – if anything I think I’ve learned to give David even more free reign when it comes to the visuals – I’m doing a lot more “suggesting” rather than detailed descriptions because I know his imagination is beyond anything I could type up. In this second book, I really tried to push him beyond his abilities – but there was no way to do it. I came up with the craziest scenarios I could think of, and he pushed them even further. There’s a quiet scene in the desert with these migrating Sphinx (which I mentioned earlier) that on the page seems cool. But the way he executed the art and color – it became really haunting.
FS: The end of the first miniseries and the beginning of this new one seems to suggest that magic and science is not an either/or proposition, but a both/and one. Is that a fair reading?
MK: Maybe. I’m honestly not taking sides. I think as soon as soon as you put something under a microscope you can strip the magic out of a thing as you start to understand how it works. At the same time, I think that understanding can give you a hubristic sense of knowledge. It’s the same thing with the story. I’m not going to put it under a microscope so I won’t say – I’d rather let the characters sort it out, and the reader can be the judge.
FS: Following up on that, is there a takeaway you want readers to take when considering those topics? (Aside from enjoying the story, of course.)
MK: There are some deep waters that this series wades into but really – have fun with it. There’s a magic-prison prison-break in the first issue and a character that smokes Cthulhu-inspired cigarettes that a kind of fear-nicotine that he’s become addicted to and makes him feel “alive.” There’s honestly something nutty like that on every page of this book – all those deeper big ideas will figure themselves out – enjoy the dragon-wardens of the magic prison! (For real!)
Ether: The Copper Golems #1 goes on sale Wednesday, May 16th, from Dark Horse Comics.
From the official issue description:
From New York Times bestselling Mind MGMT creator Matt Kindt and Black Hammer’s David Rubín comes this fantasy adventure about a science-minded hero intent on keeping the balance between Earth and a magic world!
Portals between Earth and the Ether begin to crack open unleashing devastating magical fury on our planet and only adventurer Boone Dias can seal the breaches. In order to put an end to this chaos, Boone recruits a powerful team of mystical beings including a grumpy, spell-writing fairy; a bickering, lavender gorilla; and a bull-headed, motorcycling spell-hacker. These heroes set off on a journey taking the reader through the center of volcanoes, deserts full of living mummies and sphinxes, and a bizarre fairy forest in an effort to save both worlds from complete destruction!