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From Frankenstein to Mind MGMT: Chatting with Matt Kindt

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We’ve long been big fans of the Eisner nominated and Harvey award winning Matt Kindt around the Broken Frontier offices. Thanks in part to his wonderful work on titles like Vertigo’s Revolver and Top Shelf’s Super Spy, Matt has worked incredibly hard to build a name for himself through the industry. With 2012 serving up both his debut company and creator-owned ongoing series, all that hard work is paying off.

We caught up with Matt to chat about the recent announcement surrounding his new Dark Horse title Mind MGMT, and of course his upcoming stint on Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E over at DC.

BROKEN FRONTIER: You’re taking over from your pal Jeff Lemire on Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. How did the switch come about?

MATT KINDT: It was gradual. I was hanging out with him last year when he started writing the book and initially there was a thought that we might co-write it so we kicked a bunch of ideas around and really it was the most fun two days of working on comics I've had.

It was like when I was a kid working on home-made comics with my friends – just trying to come up with crazy ideas and fun things to draw and cool characters with mystery back stories. It was like we both reverted to 10-year-old kids for a couple days.

Anyway, I just waited until Jeff got too busy and was able to swoop in and pick up the book where he left off. We've been on the same page with the series from the beginning so I think if you've liked it so far, you'll still love it. And if you hated it so far... well... uh. It'll be better! Ha!

BF: So you’re not making a radical departure from Jeff’s initial vision and outline?

KINDT: I'm not really going to change the tone, no. I think Jeff really did a great job of setting a unique tone for the book that really isn't being done anywhere else. If anything I'm just going to add to it and maybe flesh out some things we'd talked about and he didn't get to yet.

The Mummy was always one of my favourite characters so in my first story arc we're going to sort of sneakily back into the origin of the Mummy and find out what he's really about. All the while though we'll get a little deeper into Frank's head... which is a scary place to go.

BF: You’ve risen up through the ranks in a similar way to Jeff: through creator-owned comics. Do you see work-for-hire jobs as a replacement for creator owned projects or as a gateway to more?

KINDT: I see it as my retirement plan! [Laughs] Writing and drawing my own books is a lot of work. I imagine when I'm 60 years old I won't have the energy I do now, so just writing books is a nice relaxing exercise. Drawing is the hard part!

But seriously, it can never replace my creator-owned work. What's great about getting into the mainstream stuff the way I did was that I've already established myself as a certain kind of storyteller so they end up bringing me in, not to just fill an empty seat but to bring what I do normally to something that they think will be a good fit for them. And I get to have a ton of fun!

BF: In all honesty, we expected to see more new blood coming through into The New DC52 from the beginning. How did you find collaborating with Jeff on Men of War, and how have you found juggling lofty fan expectations that come with taking on a DC book?  

KINDT: Collaborating with Jeff was just great, again. We really hit it off creatively last year talking about what the Agent of S.H.A.D.E. series could be, so when the opportunity to genuinely co-write something came up it seemed totally natural. We split up the chapters and then stitched them together Frankenstein-style.

As far as lofty fan expectations go...well...the way I approach these books is this: What do I like about DC's books? What don't I like? And I just end up writing a book, in this case Frankenstein, that interests me. At the end of the day when I pick up a comic, I just want a really good 20-24 page story. Something that inspires me or makes me think about it after I've finished reading it. So that's what I'm doing with Frank. Hopefully all of that is in there.

This also marks my first monthly for the Big Two for sure.

BF: Mind MGMT, your new creator-owned ongoing from Dark Horse looks very interesting. I love the tag line: “In a world where people can rewrite reality itself, can she trust anything she sees?" What’s your inspiration for this series?

KINDT: Well, I've always loved espionage and spies and all that comes with that genre. But I was trying to think of a way to really push that. What if super spies had different kinds of mental abilities? How could those be used “in the field?” I have a guy that can see 15 minutes into the future and an unkillable cadre of assassins that use mind over matter to heal their bodies. That combined with a guy that can make you forget anything sort of makes espionage rise to a whole new level.

BF: Your creator-owned books tend to be quite self-contained. How are you approaching an ongoing project?

KINDT: Well, it's my first monthly book that I'm writing, drawing, lettering, coloring and designing. It's a LOT of work. But I'm really trying to do something different with it. I've wanted to do a monthly book forever but now that I've gotten the opportunity to do it... I find that I don't really read monthly comics anymore. So I had to ask myself, why is that? Why do I wait for the trades? I used to LOVE going to a store every Wednesday and picking up new stuff. When did that stop and why? Well, what I figure out was that comics have sort of stopped being monthly reads.

They often tend to be written to read as trades. Which is fine. I like reading trades. But why do a monthly? So I've built this series to work as a monthly book first and foremost. There is a satisfying monthly story and a LOT of extra material and short stories and hidden messages and subliminal advertising threaded throughout each issue. In fact, the back pages are designed to look just like comic ads – ads for zit cream and chewing gum. But those ads have “interesting” ad copy and there are code numbers hidden in them that, when pieced together with the first 6 issues of ads, will contain a code that unlocks bonus stories hidden on the internet. The idea is that you've got to buy the monthly books. Sure, it will inevitably be collected in a trade, but the trade is going to only contain the main storyline. All of the bonus and extra material is ONLY in the monthly books.

I've planned Mind MGMT as a 3-year project but it all hinges on readers actually buying the monthly books so it can keep going. So I plan on rewarding any and all readers that go pick up the monthly book. I have lots of things planned going forward... strange things. Fun things. I promise you haven't seen anything like it!

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