For those who don’t know, what is “Mind MGMT” about?
Matt Kindt: Super spies and espionage mixed with psychic abilities. Disbanded by the government…or are they? A disbanded agency doesn’t mean the expert agents just disappear…
MK: I got the idea based on the title alone — that a friend gave me. Loved the words so much that I built a world and a story around it. I started out with the basic question: What kinds of classes would you get to take if you were majoring in Mind Management? I’ve been working on it for over a year now. The first 6 issues (and an extra issue 0) are done and I’ve started in on the next 6 issues this week. Writing is easy — it’s the art and design that take all the time.
You’ve worked with a few publishers over your career. Why was Dark Horse the right home for “Mind MGMT”?
MK: Well, honestly they were the only publisher able to pay me a living wage and also let me do exactly what I wanted no matter what — they’ve let me keep my vision of the project completely clear and let me add every insane idea (Field Guide text and back cover ads) that occurred to me along the way.
You released 3 prequels online. What went into that decision, and are there plans to put them into print?
MK: I had the idea of releasing weekly stories every week for free leading up to the issue 1 premiere…to help generate some buzz for the book and to sort of whet readers’ appetite for what was to follow. And I had some extra ideas that wouldn’t fit into the overall series in a smooth way. I loved doing them but it made it really hard to keep up with my deadlines for that first arc — I’d planned out the calendar and then dropped basically a whole extra issue into the mix so it was a test of how much I could do in a small period of time. One issue a month I can handle — 2 issues? A little harder, but not impossible.
Dark Horse is releasing those 3 short stories as an Issue #0 after issue 6 comes out — so they will see print and be part of the series after all!
How far ahead do you have the story plotted? How far ahead are you with the art?
MK: I have the entire series (36 issues) plotted out. So I know what happens to who and when. I wouldn’t start something this big without knowing how it’s going to go. It’d be too crazy. So in a way it’s like I’m doing an epic graphic novel in serialized format. From the overall plot though, I do a tight script/thumbnails in 6 issue chunks, so right now I’m scripting/thumbnailing issues 7-12 right now.
Do you have an ending in mind for the series? How many issues do you hope to do?
MK: 36 issues is the plan. Already there’s an issue #0 which I hadn’t planned on so I’m sure there will be a few more issues in there. I’ve got some ideas for some 1-shot stories that I might drop between major story arcs and I’m doing an 8-page short for Dark Horse Presents that will probably find a home in an issue somewhere as well with some of my other shorter story ideas.
There’s a definite ending to the series and it’s going to be crazy. It’s structured in a way that will just pull out all the stops for me, creatively and push the idea of what a “24 page comic” to the breaking point (I hope).
I understand some of the material in the single issues will not be in the trade collections. How come, and what are you leaving out?Continued below
MK: All of the inside cover/back cover black and white stories won’t be in the collections. I had to decide at the beginning, how to incentivize readers into following the series in a monthly format which is my intent as the author. Sketchbook stuff and letters pages are okay incentives, but I don’t think that punishes the trade-waiters enough. It really takes story content I think to push readers over that edge — I know that’s what it would take for me to make the jump back to a monthly book. It’s a tough creative choice though, because as an author I do like having all my work published in nice books sitting on a bookshelf, and those trades will always be incomplete to me. Which bugs me. But I have to embrace the monthly serialized completely or not at all. So story pages will get dropped. (Also the letters page too, but again, that’s not enough of an incentive to me on its own).
You’re also writing “Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.” for DC. What are some of the differences between writing for a company, and writing something you own?
MK: I think notes from the editor are the big difference. Brendan Wright is a fantastic editor at Dark Horse and Joey Cavalieri is equally fantastic at DC. The difference is that Brendan is acting as a steward for my story and characters and trying to make it exactly what I want it to be. Joey is acting as a steward of DC’s characters so his job is to make sure those properties and those characters are protected and their original vision is what it needs to be. I don’t have a problem working within that — I get it. That’s the fun of working with DC characters and the thing you have to know going in. You’re playing with their toys and when you go to a friend’s house to play with their toys, it’s rude to break their toys. So you play by their rules and have fun within that context.
MK: Way easier writing for a different artist — just from a work standpoint, writing takes the least amount of time in the entire process of comic making. So it’s easier. What I found is that I still have to draw out thumbnails for stuff I’m only scripting — I think and write visually so I have to draw it out and then go back and type it up in a standard script format. So my process is the same either way. What happens with a different artist though is that sometime things get lost in translation or get modified intentionally or unintentionally — which isn’t a bad thing — to me it’s the fruit of the collaboration — sometimes the fruit is good and you love it, and other times there are corrections — but it’s that unique difference that makes collaborating fun. It’s not satisfying on its own (I still need my outlet where I have complete control) but it’s definitely the cherry on top of the most awesome job in the world.
What were your hopes for “Mind MGMT” when you started? Is the series meeting them so far?
MK: My hopes were that it would be better than anything I’d done before. That’s always sort of my goal when I start a new thing. I try to beat what I did last time. I really feel like it’s been hard — it took me a while to feel like I’d achieved something more, something that beat Super Spy which was a while ago. And I think I felt like I’d beaten that book in some ways with 3 Story and Revolver but I hadn’t beaten it completely. And with MIND MGMT I feel like I’m on the verge of doing it. It’s just as dense (and more so) than Super Spy but it has some elements from 3 Story and Revolver that I think are stronger and so I feel like I’m finally in this zone — when I’m done with MIND MGMT I’m not sure what I’ll do. To me it’s the thing that I’ve been practicing for my entire life and now it’s happening. Maybe I’ll just throw down the mic and walk away after this one!