11:15am PT by Graeme McMillan
'Dept. H' Comic Series Offers Murder Under the Seas (Exclusive Trailer)
There's more going on under the sea that anyone knows, and for one investigator trying to solve a murder committed in a deep-sea research station, that could be a real problem.
That's the hook behind Dept. H, a new comic book series by Mind MGMT creator Matt Kindt (with colors by his wife, Sharlene). As THR exclusively debuts the trailer for the series, created by Tyler Swank, Kindt answered some questions about what inspired him to set a murder mystery six miles below sea level.
"I’m really a huge fan of genre fiction," Kindt told THR about the new series. "I love the lurid covers that usually come with it and the art and all of that pulp sensibility. I think early in my career I wasn’t as aware of it as I am now. I just knew the kinds of things I liked to draw. As I got older I’ve been able to tap in to most of my favorite genres – spies, sci-fi, and even crime – but I’d yet to really just confront a straight-up kind of murder mystery. I think the reason is that the problem with most murder mysteries is that it’s all about the clever crime and how it was committed, and it’s usually at the expense of character and ideas. So I really wanted to tackle a whodunit with that in mind."
Dept. H takes place in an base six miles under the sea, where the smartest man in the world has been murdered, and the lead character — a troubled investigator named Mia — has to uncover the truth before the base floods and destroys the evidence.
"In a lot of ways, murder mysteries are like jokes," Kindt suggested. "You suffer through this long repetitive joke, which is usually in a story form...you sit through that story because you know there’s going to be a payoff. You sit through the joke because it’s worth it to get to the punch line. But what if the story – the 'joke' — was just as interesting as the punch line? It seems like that would be the best joke ever. And I think that’s what the best mystery can do. The story and the characters are even more compelling than the punch line of whodunit. I think that's what really inspired me at the start."
Other influences include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories — "What makes Holmes so great and what still sets him apart from most murder mysteries is that the story isn’t so much about 'who did it' but rather, how is this crazy eccentric character going to solve the case?" — and, perhaps surprisingly, nature documentaries.
"James Cameron is definitely an influence — the documentary he filmed, Deepsea Challenge. That film and Cousteau’s documentary World Without Sun," Kindt said. "I think the ideas we all share are this sense of wonder about this huge part of our world that is teaming with unknown life that is just waiting to be discovered. That’s the real mystery, I think. What’s down there? What is it that we haven’t seen yet? I’m excited as anyone about the Mars missions, but the reality of it is, we’re looking for the tiniest proof that life may have ever existed there...while we’re literally sitting on an ocean full of undiscovered wonder."
Dept. H launches next month from Dark Horse Comics, with the first issue in stores April 20. Read a preview below.