Somewhere in the back of your mind, there is a nagging feeling that Matt Kindt‘s name sounds familiar. His name has been popping up a lot lately in comic shops and social media. It could be that his name is gaining recognition as a result of his new hit series Mind MGMT for Dark Horse Comics, a story that involves a secret agency using mind control to achieve their sinister goals.
Knowing the subject from the point-of-view of his previous day job working in marketing and design, you could say that Kindt may have some hardcore mind control powers of his own. “If you see something three times in three ways, you’re almost guaranteed to buy it,” he says, which may tie back into why he’s becoming a force of his own in the comic book/graphic novel format.
Of course, his less than sinister power is the ability to tell a deeply engaging story. Densely packed with action, psychological character study, and philosophical questions, Kindt says of Mind MGMT, “I guess I’m trying to throw everything I can into this story.”
Almost a genre unto itself, Mind MGMT draws influence from a variety of genres that Kindt is able to juxtapose into a cohesive style that flows as elegantly as a John Le Carre spy novel, but challenges the reader’s perception as much as a Philip K. Dick story.
“I’ve always been excited with spies and this secret life behind them,” he says. “Everything I’ve ever done has been based in reality.”
That’s not to say that he doesn’t stretch the boundaries of reality to move the story into the realm of the surreal. He says, “The other inspiration for this (Mind MGMT) was about this non-fiction book I read that pushes the edge of science fiction.”
Things such as remote viewing, mind control, and X-Files like occurrences have been a part of the conspiracy theorist realm for decades. Rather than starting with the most out there idea he can think of, Kindt works from the opposite angle with his ideas and then takes them to the outer limits. “It’s fun for me to push it to the next step,” he says.
Perhaps it’s this approach that has been beneficial to him as readers are looking for something more unique than the super hero stories that have dominated the format for so many years. “I’ve grown up reading super hero comics,” he says. ‘I love them, but I want more. You read a super hero comic and it’s done in like ten or fifteen minutes. There’s no (super heroes) flying in Mind MGMT.”
Regarding the approach to Mind MGMT’s lure or design to engaging readers, he says, ” I wish I had a formula for everything…I wanted to make sure I jammed as much as I can into the story.” Considering the praise and general reception for the story as cerebral and layered in a way that warrants re-reading, he says, “That’s ideal to go back and re-read a title to get more out of it.”
That isn’t the easiest thing to do when making the transition from long-form graphic novels to a serialized approach in storytelling. “I started with graphic novels when I broke into the industry,” he says. This required him to take a different approach to developing the story if it was going to be put out in monthly installments.
In graphic novels, the writer has a larger canvas to work with when setting up a story, allowing them to bring readers on at a casual pace. Kindt’s challenge was tweaking his pacing to work with the expectations reader’s have from a story told in installments.
“I know the whole story,” he says. “I know what’s going to happen…there’s enough in those first three or four issues…I’m trying to find a way to slow down the pace without using prose.”
Some of that involved tweaking parts of the story, causing it to evolve from certain aspects of his original pitch to Dark Horse. “I read the first six issues and thought the first issue was boring,” he says. “At the last second, I needed something to kick the story off.”
Using that as his adjustment to entering a monthly format, Kindt found a way to make his complex storytelling work for an audience with a slightly shorter attention span. “The fun of doing a monthly is getting immediate feedback.”
His ability to adapt his intellectually challenging style to a monthly format is one part of Kindt’s sudden success that has him winning new readers to his already fantastic work. “It’s been an overnight success that’s been ten years in the making,” says Kindt.
Besides his success with Mind MGMT, Kindt has also taken over writing from Jeff Lemire on DC’s Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E title, saying “it’s such a relief” on writing without doing the art. “It’s a different process and definitely more of a collaboration,” he says.
When taking into consideration the amount of time it takes to write two titles and draw one of them, it’s amazing Kindt has any time to promote himself. As it stands, Kindt’s going to have his dance card punched for the foreseeable future.
Next week, he will be signing for Dark Horse at the San Diego Comic Con, and he plans on releasing his next story Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes in April. Mind MGMT #3 is due out on July 25th.