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The pen is mightier than the Marvel superhero

The pen is mightier than the Marvel superhero

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When Matt Kindt returned home the other day, he was amazed at the lack of noise.

It was quiet.

Kindt had just returned from his first day of working on creating his comic books in the midst of "Marvel Super Heroes: the Exhibition" at the Saint Louis Science Center.

Excited children were everywhere. They climbed the spider wall, visited the drawing area, actions stations and the costume creation workshop, and played Marvel superhero video games. They also stopped to watch Kindt, a professional comic book artist, as he worked on comic book pages that will later be published.

"It was kind of fun," said Kindt, with a smile as he waited for children to visit the exhibit on his second day there.

Kindt, 32, of Webster Groves, is no novice to working with children around. He and his wife, Sharlene, have a 4-year-old daughter, Ella, at home. Kindt and his wife are both artists and work from home.

Ella, who wore a cape to the exhibition opening, told Kindt she also wants to be an artist - so she can stay at home with him.

There was no defining moment that inspired Kindt to become a comic book artist. It was a gradual progression that started when his older brother, Karl, brought home some paintings and drawings he had done in high school. Kindt's brother later wrote a comic book story and Kindt drew the art for it.

"I wanted to write and draw," Kindt said. "Comics is one of those things where you can do both."

After graduation from Webster University with a degree in art, Kindt took a series of jobs in graphic design. He worked for companies including the May Company and the Sporting News. He was laid off in 2003, which was the push he said he needed to do comic books full-time.

He now has published four books "Mephisto and the Empty Box," "2sisters," Pistolwhip," and "Pistolwhip: The Yellow Menace," through a publishing company called Top Shelf. His books are mostly set in the 1940s and some feature a bungling character who calls himself "the super spy," unknowing that other people call him that sarcastically.

While Kindt prefers to do his own books from start to finish, he also has worked on books created by others. He designed the cover and interior art for Alan Moore's "Lost Girls." Moore is the creator of the acclaimed graphic novels "V for Vendetta" and "Watchmen."

Kindt prefers to remain independent. The big comic book companies like Marvel and DC don't usually let one person write, draw, ink and color a book. He was recruited for the Marvel exhibit when he was participating in an art show at Mad Art Gallery in Soulard. Participating artists created a painting or piece of art based on a fictional character and one based on a comic book character. Kindt chose Capt. John Yossarian from Joseph Heller's novel "Catch-22" and Spiderman.

Pili Dressel, director of special/traveling exhibits at the Science Center, recruited Kindt and other area comic book artists for the exhibition. Chris Files, marketing manager at the Science Center, said St. Louis is the first city to include actual comic book artists in the traveling exhibit.

The purpose of the exhibit is to explain the science behind super powers, like when a chemical reaction in Bruce Banner's brain turns him into The Incredible Hulk. Files said the exhibit also lets people have fun. He said the Science Center recruited Kindt and other artists to show kids that they can make comic books too.

"You become a comic book artist with a comic book you created under the guidance of a professional comic book artist," Files said. "Kids will sit down with them and create this incredibly professional looking comic book."

The exhibit will continue until Sept. 4 at the Montgomery Bank Exploradome at the Science Center, 5050 Oakland Ave. Cost of admission for non-members is $9 for children and $11 for adults. Anyone wanting more information should visit www.slsc.org.

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