If you’re familiar with the work of Matt Kindt, you know he’s one of the hardest working creators in comics. Over the past several years he’s received critical acclaim for his graphic novels Super Spy, 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man, Revolver, and Pistolwhip. More recently, you’ve probably seen his work on Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. and in Mind Mgmt, the monthly Dark Horse title he writes, illustrates and designs. Kindt’s previous graphic novels suggest he possesses one of the more original voices in comics. Now with Mind Mgmt, not only do you have further support for his originality, but you’re getting monthly examples of it. For a deeper look at Mind Mgmt, check out my review of issues 1-5 HERE. In the meantime, enjoy the interview.
Seth Peagler (SP): Mind Mgmt is your first big monthly book, but it’s also one where you’re writing, illustrating and directing the design of every aspect of it. What were some things that contributed to your decision to tackle something of this scale at this point in your career?
Matt Kindt (MK): Well, to be honest, I feel like graphic novels were getting too easy from a creative stand point. I was getting a little bored. And I was tired of disappearing for a year to finish a book and then launching a book and disappearing again. Now I get to launch a new issue every month and get a little more interaction with readers. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever go back to a GN format. I’m having way too much fun doing a monthly series.
SP: Mind Mgmt is among a handful of books (Criminal, Fatale also come to mind) where each single issue contains material that won’t be reprinted in the collected editions. Unlike those other books, you’re writing and illustrating the supplemental material, and they seem to provide a platform for you to further explore the varied histories existing in your book. How early into your planning did you realize you wanted to make good use of the inside front and back covers?
MK: At the beginning — I talked to Dark Horse and assumed I’d have ads and things in the book, but when they said I didn’t need to have ads then that just opened up that much more room for me to work with. I hate it when part of a book feels forgotten or not thought-through. Inside covers, back covers – those usually get the short-end of the creative stick. I also wanted to make sure I wasn’t just filling the extra stuff with something that seemed like “filler.” Sketchbook pages and scripts and that kind of thing are cool — but they don’t really seem essential and they’re kind of disconnected from the narrative. So I wanted to make sure the Mind Mgmt extra stuff seemed vital. It’s actually been hard for me to stick to my guns regarding the trades — I so badly want to put the inside covers stuff in, but I won’t. That’s always going to be the reward for the monthly reader that helped me launch the book and keep it going as a monthly success. That’s what keeps this viable for me as a livelihood.
SP: When you’re working on as many components of a book as you are, how strict is your work schedule? How much of Mind Mgmt had you completed before the first issue hit stands?
MK: I’m on a very strict schedule. I’ve never missed a deadline on anything ever. So I don’t plan on doing it now… that said, I’m about 3 or 4 issues ahead of whatever is on the stands. And I’ve written out the entire series in outline form. And I’m about 6-8 issues ahead on full script/thumbnails.
SP: Many of your books, like Super Spy, Revolver and now Mind Mgmt seem to drop readers right into the action. This pace continues throughout the works and there doesn’t ever seem to be much of a lull. I’m curious about how much you allow yourself to veer off script and head down a new direction; or, do you just keep lots of notebooks for new ideas that you accrue over the course of a project?
MK: Yeah — I have a notebook with a bunch of running ideas in it — and I fit those ideas in where I can when they seem appropriate. I veer off script a lot. I have the major plot points and things I have to get to but I’m always adding and layering things into it. The side-text in the first 6 issues was added later and then it gave me an idea for the next 6 issues — so ideas sort of beget ideas…
SP: I’d like to also bring up your work on Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. It seemed like something of a departure. What was the draw of this project for you? It seems to me that a monster/fantasy/superhero book might offer a nice cleansing of the palate after working on Mind Mgmt.
MK: It’s canceled now (sorry I took so long replying!) — but it was fun. Most fun I’ve had writing probably ever. I laughed a lot when writing those scripts. It’s a nice break from what I’m doing and it’s a liberating feeling to release a script to an artist and then just wait to see how they interpret it. So much fun! I’m writing Martian Manhunter now and it’s a little tougher — I’m trying to tie my story into what Geoff (Johns) is doing with Justice League of America so the backups interact with the main storyline.
SP: I know research has been a big part of some of your past projects like Super Spy. With some of your more recent books like Revolver and now Mind Mgmt, they seem to be a little more rooted in science fiction and conspiracies, but I’m curious if there’s still an element of research that goes into projects like these?
MK: Yeah – always. It’s all based in the real world so I’m always reading the news and history books for ideas. Mind Mgmt has been around for a long time so sort of embedding them into world history has been the most fun. Finding real events and then giving them a Mind Mgmt spin is one of my small joys in life!
SP: Finally, seeing as we’re just a few months into 2013, I’m curious if you’ve read any comics recently that really impressed you and that you’d like more people to give a try?
MK: Yep — Double Barrel by the Cannon twins [Zander and Kevin] (Top Shelf) is fantastic. Pterodactyl Hunters was awesome — great format, great story, great art – by Brendan Leach. Young guy who’s just getting started. He’s going to be scary good. Death Day by Sam Hiti is great too. Everything by Lemire and Snyder of course.
SP: Many thanks to Matt Kindt for his time. If you haven’t checked out Mind Mgmt yet, please do. It’s one of the most unique and fulfilling monthly titles on the shelves today. I can’t remember the last time a monthly series stood up so well to multiple readings. I’d also encourage you to take time to meet him if you ever see him at HeroesCon or elsewhere. Not only is he a genuinely nice guy, but he does some incredible commissions if you’re looking to get some original art for your walls.