An Interview with Matt Kindt about the MIND MGMT Kickstarter

We're big fans of Matt Kindt's work here at Panel Patter. Matt's a fantastic, imaginative writer and artist of a number of complex, reality-bending, engaging stories. In particular, I'm a huge fan of his series MIND MGMT. So, when Matt announced a MIND MGMT Kickstarter for a comic and record, not only was I thrilled to support this effort, but I jumped at the chance to interview Matt via email about the project.   

JK: Matt, thanks for taking the time to connect with me. I’m sure this is a busy time, with your MIND MGMT Kickstarter going live this week. The project hit its goal within the first few hours! You must feel pretty gratified about that level of support.

Yeah – I can’t tell you. I woke up at 6am the day of launch – super worried. It kind of snuck up on me. Only because it’s a very public way to fail miserably. I was completely surprised by the amount of response. It was super humbling – very gratifying. And everyone that’s backing seems super engaged. And the excitement about the project to me is placed in just the right spot. Everyone’s excited about the content. The story. Not any superficial stuff. What I really love about the Kickstarter platform is that it is a really great direct way to connect with readers. I’m not a faceless corporation pumping out product. I’m just a dude trying to make some mind-bending comics (and record). Ha ha!

It’s a lot like performing live, you know? I’m feeding off of all of this energy that everyone is giving me every day – and I’m pouring it right into this project. The story and art is done – but there are a lot of extra layers that I’m really excited to start adding in. It’s going to be a lot bigger than I initially planned. We still have nearly 30 days before it’s over!

JK: Your description of the project on Kickstarter referenced your love of read-along books and records as a kid, and a desire to create that sort of project for adults. I loved the one I had for Return of the Jedi! Would this be something you’d consider further pursuing, either with another record, or as a podcast, or in some other form?

I’m not sure. I really haven’t thought past this project. Each project I do is dependent on the story. This story specifically – only works as a comic book and record. If I did continue, I’d have to think of a story that would justify that treatment. So right now – it’s a one-off unique art-object kind of thing. But I’ve always loved radio plays – so I could see writing audio plays in the future. I think that’d be fun. I’ve always wanted to adapt my first book (Pistolwhip) into an audio play. And Super Spy would lend itself to some great audio shorts. But the combination of a comic book with audio – it’s tricky. If you just illustrate the audio story then it kind of seems pointless to me. You’re not milking either medium to their full effect put together. This comic/record combo was a real challenge. It needed to be this way – but figuring out a story that needed to be told this way was super tricky.

JK: The combined book-and-record approach for MIND MGMT feels like a logical extension of the structural nature of the comic, where you were already using the idea of concurrent related (and sometimes contradictory) stories moving at the same time. Were there any additional creative challenges involved in pacing a record to be read along with a comic?

The technical aspects of it all. Without Clint McElroy there was NO way this was going to happen. I needed a great voice actor and I don’t really know that many. And finding one that’s a huge MIND MGMT fan? Even harder to find. So he took care of the hardest part. The other challenges were learning how to edit and layer audio. I’ve done a lot of video and music editing (for fun) so it wasn’t much different than that. It was really fun to set the mood with soundscapes and ambient sounds and music. There are SO many layers to this project. I had to just break it down into pieces and work on it a little at a time…the final project is really nuts. Because you’ve got this comic that goes with it that has just as many layers. Side text and subtle textures and subliminal messages in the art as well as the many meanings of text and pictures combined that all comics have. It’s probably going to take 4 or 5 times through this thing to really decipher all that there is in it.

JK: MIND MGMT was filled with subliminal messages and instructions embedded in advertising, music and other media, which feels prescient in this era of “fake news” and outrage from fake bot accounts. When you were first thinking about the role of disinformation in MIND MGMT, did you have the impact of modern technology and media (and its potential for disinformation) in mind?

It’s an interesting time to be alive for sure. Who could have predicted that? I honestly don’t hold myself up as some kind of prognosticator or futurist. But I think you really can’t go wrong as a writer if you just tap into basic human nature. Just telling someone a story is a way of shading the truth or bending “reality.” Every living human being is a filter that truth goes through and filters…filter. Ha ha! The mind is the ultimate filter – and most of them are pretty dirty.

JK: What, in particular, inspired your choice to have 10% of proceeds go to Hispanic Federation? Beyond just wanting to support Puerto Rican reconstruction, an extremely worthy cause.

Clint volunteered his time on this project and he spent many many hours in the studio recording this. And I wasn’t going to NOT compensate him. But he wouldn’t take it. So I asked him to name a charity and I’d donate to that and match his donation. The Hispanic Federation was his choice and I’m so happy to be a part of helping them out and actually doing some real concrete good in the world with comic books.

JK: Thank you for your time! I can’t wait to read and listen to the story.

Thanks for having me! Stay tuned! We’re going to be announcing some surprises during the Kickstarter this month – a lot of stuff being added as a kind of “thank you” to everyone that’s backing it!

[Thanks to David Hyde of Superfan Promotions for arranging the interview, and to Rob (my very smart editor) for suggesting it!].