HeroesCon Highlight: Matt Kindt

HeroesCon is one of our favorite shows, and we wanted to highlight some of the terrific comics creators that will be there. You can find all of our HeroesCon coverage here.

Matt Kindt is one of my favorite creators in all of comics. He's created a lot of terrific stories, whether as writer, artist, or both.  I first encountered Kindt's work in the terrific graphic novel Revolver, which played with time and reality in fascinating ways. But where I really fell in love with his work was in his Dark Horse series Mind MGMTMind MGMT stands out, for its gorgeous watercolor artwork, unusual layouts, complex plot, and general sense of existential unease one gets when reading the book. It's an engrossing, dense read (this is not a book you can skim or half-read while watching TV, and I also wouldn't recommend trying to read it when you're tired, trust me) all about a secret organization, people with incredible abilities, and the ways in which we are all being manipulated. 

What's interesting about the series starts with Kindt's overall look and design for his creation.  Kindt illustrated the book using watercolors, and it's hard to imagine the story being told in any other way. Additionally, nearly every page of Mind MGMT appears to be a report page on official stationery to the Mind Management organization (as it contains bureaucratic instructions at the top of each form), so the book reads as if it is prepared by an agent of the organization.

Kindt uses every part of the page to tell the story. Many of the pages are laid out in such a way that the gutters also contain related but completely separate information. These might be excerpts from the Mind Management field manual, the text of an interview of an Agent, a completely different cartoon depicting a related part of the plot. The effect of this creative usage of the gutters is that the book reads a little like a page from the Talmud, with the main text and the supplemental commentaries surrounding it.

Mind MGMT demands something of you, as each page may require multiple rereads in order to understand how the additional text/comic fits in with the main body of the story.  The connections there may not always be direct or obvious, but nothing in this book feels like it's there by accident. Kindt also makes creative layout choices in that sometimes the panels are meant to be read across first and then down, and sometimes they're simply meant to be read vertically in order.  Part of the fun and challenge of the book is figuring out, structurally, how an issue is meant to be read.

Kindt's washed-out, impressionistic watercolor designs lend a dreamlike sense of unreality to the whole book which is highly effective (and appropriate) given the subject matter. Characters are sometimes exaggerated or distorted in perspective and the line is looser (as in, character design can vary slightly from scene to scene) but the characters are clear and distinctive.  Notwithstanding the painted, impressionistic nature of the book, facial acting in the story is quite expressive and effective.

After Kindt completed Mind MGMT (a story with a vast, epic scope), he went in a very different and equally interesting direction with Dept. H (which just recently concluded after 18 issues).  Dept. H is a much more focused, tight, and personal story - it's a locked-room murder mystery at the bottom of the ocean, but it's also a deep psychological exploration of each of the suspects.  If some of Kindt's earlier series were all about vague existential dread, deja vu, and the sense that nothing is as it seems, this series seems to be aiming to capture high-pressure tension and claustrophobia

This change in focus and this sense of tension was also clearly reflected in the artwork. For this project, Matt's wife Sharlene Kindt was a co-creator, and provided all of the watercolor work. And it's absolutely gorgeous book, as Sharlene Kindt has brought a more vivid, weighty and darker color palate to this book than I've seen in Matt's other work; in the scenes of descent to the bottom of the ocean, the blue of the ocean feels heavy, like you can really see the weight of it pushing down on the very small ship. The slightly heavier line and strong colors really help to convey the sense of claustrophobia that's present in this series. It's another terrific read. 

But Kindt isn't done there yet! He's also writing several terrific ongoing series. Ether (at Dark Horse) is a strong collaboration with David Rubin (another of my favorite artists) which is an exploration of fantastical worlds, but also a look at the tremendous psychological toll that obsession can take on a person and their family.  

Grass Kings (published at Boom!) is another story where Kindt is working with a terrific artistic partner, in this case Tyler Jenkins. This story is about a group of people living in an isolationist collective, and it a murder-mystery along with a look at what profound, prolonged isolation can do to a person, or a group of people.  

And lastly (but certainly not least), Kindt is also a prolific author of some terrific superhero, science-fiction and adventure stories over at Valiant Entertainment. He's really one of their chief architects in recent years, having written the Divinity and Eternity miniseries, Ninjak, X-O Manowar and other books. Valiant is creating a lot of interesting, compelling stories, and Kindt is a big part of that.  So, regardless of the sort of story you're looking for, Kindt has you covered. If you're at HeroesCon be sure to stop by his booth, or to otherwise seek out his work.