Posted on August 13, 2013 AT 08:22pm
Dark Horse Comics has a lot of terrific titles on their roster, and none might be as highly-regarded as Mind MGMT. Full of intrigue suspense and message sending dolphins, this book is as strange as it is glorious, and one of the smartest books to ever be given to the populace. Centering around the novelist Meru, this book focuses on her journey as well as the multitude of agents that have/do work for Mind MGMT, a spy organization full of incredibly gifted agents that can do anything from memory erasing to the placement of psychic ads in magazines. Its creator, writer and artist, Matt Kindt, was kind enough to answer some questions for DigitalNoob regarding the book, his influences and some of his favorite comics.
DigitalNoob: Matt, thanks for sitting down with us. Now, You’ve done a lot of different types of stories over the years. What are some of the comics or books that have influenced you over your years of work?
Matt Kindt: Catch-22 and On the Road are two of the most influential books as far as how I approach story-telling (Catch-22) and how I approach work ethic (Kerouac.) As far as comics go, I can easily point to the first 8 or so issues of Eightball as the comics that opened my eyes to the idea of making comics my “day job.”
DN: This is a really strange, really smart and incredibly dense book, as far as subject matter and core concept go. How did the idea for this book come about?
Kindt: I got the idea from the title — which a friend gave to me. First time that’s ever happened and it was really the easiest concept/story to come up with. It really just grew from the seed of those two words into what it is. I wish it was always that easy!
DN: One of the most interesting things about this title are the messages on the side of the page, which have revealed everything from pages of the Mind MGMT handbook to what seem like direct messages either to the reader or to Meru. This is a bold choice. Was this added in for dramatic effect, to further add a layer of information to an already thought-packed book, or something else entirely?
Kindt: Yes – definitely everything you said there. I really just enjoy writing. I think the last few years I’ve been playing around with adding more text to comics — but not in the form of text pages between chapters or at the end of sections which is something I kind of hate. I think reading comics…and then getting to big blocks of text kind of ruins the comic. It slows it all down and you end up dreading those big text pages. So I’ve been trying to be a little more creative with threading text and extra story and concepts into the comic pages without getting in the way of the actual comic.
DN: The art style in the book is very distinct and, at times, a bit unsettling. Was it a conscious decision to go with this style from the start or was it a case of wanting/needing to do the artwork yourself instead of finding a different artist with a more traditional style?
Kindt: I’m not sure exactly what a traditional style is at this point. That’s the great thing about comics to me — I’m loving books by Dan Clowes who works in a really formalistic and generally traditional art style and then I like Zander Cannon who is in a lot of ways at the opposite spectrum. I think the art should always be in service to the story. I’m working in a style that I’ve been using for ten years…and it’s evolving slowly but it’s not too much different than what I was doing in Super Spy and Revolver. I think full water color painting is the biggest shift for me. Historically I’m not much of a collaborator so finding an artist to draw this was never really an option.
DN: On a personal note, whenever I read this book in several issue bursts, I seem to get the strange sensation that my brain might melt at any moment. Any reason behind that?
Kindt: You should never read more than one issue in a sitting! I think there’s a disclaimer in there somewhere…
DN: The second trade is on the way soon, and I know you’ve mentioned before that there is some extra material that is put into the monthly issues not placed into the trades. Any intent to put something different into the trades as well, to promote getting them in several issue pieces?
Kindt: No. Buying and reading the monthly comic is what keeps the series a viable for me so that I can make a living and keep doing the series. The collections have everything you need — you’ll get the entire story — but the extras in the issues are my “thank-you” to everyone that goes to the trouble to read it via their iPad or local comic shop. I’ve been waiting for trades instead of issues the last few years myself, so I’m going out of the way to make sure that it’s worth picking up the monthly book.
DN: What kind of theories or letter have you gotten from readers about what they think will happen in this book?
Kindt: I’ve gotten tons of crazy theories! That’s been the most fun I think – is seeing people’s expectations. It’s so different than doing a graphic novel that is complete in and of itself. I love seeing the reaction as the story progresses….it’s like I get to read it along with everyone else and read/hear what they’re thinking as they read it. That’s something you just don’t get from releasing a stand-alone graphic novel. As far as specific theories — there’s a lot of crazy ideas about who the “Eraser” is and about Meru and her origin and what she’s about. I can safely say that no one has really gotten it right so far. Some people have come close…but no one’s gotten everything!
DN: This book, despite being a bit of a strange subject, has really found an audience. Did you worry about that at all when you were writing the story?
Kindt: Definitely. I knew when I started that if it didn’t sell well enough by issue 3 or so that I was going to have to end it as a six-issue limited series. So I spent a stressful 3 months waiting to see the numbers. And then when numbers went up — everything was good! I had those first six issues done when it launched and I had an alternate ending in case it didn’t make it. And you can actually see the penciled last page of the series underneath the last page of issue 6 — just barely — I left it underneath as a sort of alternate ending that could have happened if readers hadn’t found the series. Luckily — I got to go with my real ending of that issue…which leads to the rest of the series!
DN: This is one of the most talked about titles that I’ve seen in terms of enjoyment among the creator community. Is it odd to be the guy who everyone who makes comics mentions as one of their favorites?
Kindt: It’s not odd — it’s super cool. I love the comic industry and I got into it because of that kind of thing. It’s small enough that everyone knows everyone and you never get “too big” to be a fan of books and talk to other creators. It’s really a sort of big weird family. We’re all going to the same conventions and seeing each other in all kinds of different cities all the time. It’s the closest thing you have to “co-workers” in comics…and it’s great to have co-workers that love their jobs as much as you love yours.
DN: Are there any titles out there right now that you’re really into as a reader?
Kindt: Heck by Zander Cannon was just amazing. Sixth Gun by Cullen [Bunn] and Brian [Hurtt] is always a fun read. I’m reading all the Valiant titles…I was before they hired me…so that counts as a legit recommendation! Can’t wait for [Jeff] Lemire’s Trillium– he showed me some of the art early on and it looks like it’s going to be his best thing yet.
DN: What other projects, aside from Mind MGMT are you working on at the moment?
Kindt: I’m writing a few books for DC and Marvel and launching Valiant’s first super-team book, Unity, which is a lot of fun. I’ve got a new graphic novel, Red Handed, that just came out this Spring from First Second — that’s my first crime book since my first book Pistolwhip. Much different kind of crime book than that. I’m evolving!
DN: Am I going to remember conducting this interview tomorrow?
Kindt: You’ll remember it yesterday.
Thanks again to Matt for answering our questions, and look out for more Mind MGMT from Kindt and Dark Horse Comics, as well as the to be announced upcoming film based on the property. To get the full experience, read it monthly!
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