Entries in Matt Kindt (2)
It certainly doesn't hurt that I have met Matt Kindt on several occasions and have always found him to be pleasant if not outright charming. It also doesn't hurt that I have read many of his previous works and have always found them engaging and entertaining. And if this were a lesser book I could imagine my past experiences coloring the way I talk about the book.
But Mind MGMT is not a lesser book.
It is a spectacular book.
The art is fluid and accessible, though some super-hero purists may not find it to their liking, but I would challenge them to read the book nonetheless as even though it may not be to their crisp-line-heavily-photo-referenced tastes it achieves a great story telling pace and suits the narrative quite nicely. The pacing is whip-smart and the characters are, at first blush (which is all you can really get from a first issue), human and complex.
The thing about this book that I really think people are going to get attached to quite quickly is the secret nuggets hidden within the book and information that is peppered throughout in ways that many writers wouldn't think to include. Wrapping the frame of each page is, what appears, to be content instructions, such as "When filing report all essential details must fall within the solid "live area" box. This is the border for a standard, non-bleed field report", but if you read them on each page you get additional content, you get insight into the world in which the book lives. It's a brilliant and subtle way of executing such an easter egg, which other creators have done to differing levels of success in the past (Jeph Loeb and Chris Bachalo in the pages of The Witching Hour, Joe Casey and Giuseppe Camuncoli in the pages of The Intimates, as well as Kindt in the pages of his most recent graphic novel Revolver), and this is definitely the kind of thing that I can imagine having to go back and re-read after having finished an issue and realizing that I had forgotten to read the gutter content since I was so taken by the pages of the actual issue.
Which is exactly what Kindt wants. He admits in the back matter of the first issue that he has been a "trade waiter" for a while now and that when he was given the opportunity to work on a monthly comic that he wanted to make sure that it was the kind of comic that he would want to buy. And I hope he achieved it for himself, I know he achieved it for me. The hidden pieces from the frame, the short story on the front and back inside covers, the short story at the end of the issue ... all add up to the kind of release that gets me excited to read. Most of the comics that I think make the most of the single issue format are like that. The releases from Brubaker and Phillips that include both a bit of journaling from the creators and an essay from one of their friends. The kind of letters pages that you can only get from The Walking Dead, Invincible, Powers, and Savage Dragon. The additional content provided by Richard Starkings in the pages of Elephantmen (also out this week!). And he lets you know that the extra content in each issue will be exclusive to the single issues. To reward the people who are willing to come out to shops and get the issues.
I say all of this and I haven't told you a single thing about the book. And I feel like I could get away with not telling you anything and based solely on the passion with which I speak that you should go check it out.
But I won't.
The book is about a young woman, who is a true crime novelist, trying to uncover the truth, despite the desires of her publisher, behind a mysterious commercial airline flight, during which all the passengers were suddenly and simultaneously struck with amnesia. As the rest of the story unfolds we see shady characters in the background and hear heart breaking stories of the people whose lives were ruined by their having been on the flight. People who no longer recognize their spouses or children. And yet the story presses on (I hope that as the story weaves that we might see more of what happened to the passengers in the additional content supplied in each issue). It's clear that in one instance we are in for a ride of breakneck proportions but that there will be the chance to have side moments and more of the history of the story unfold in the aforementioned extra content. And I have to say that I look forward to reading the next issue. But even moreso that I look forward to re-reading the first issue. And to talking with other people about the issues as they release. The way that I used to talk about episodes of LOST with friends and co-workers. The way that I talk about issues of Morning Glories with my employees. And I look forward to hearing ideas and theories that others put forth that make me want to go back and give each issue a 3rd and 4th reading. And I hope you'll come along on the journey with me.
Matt Kindt has become rather well known for his sense of design as well as his unique storytelling style (though in my opinion he should be far more well known) and penchant for stories set in the throes of WWII. His masterful works 2 Sisters and Super Spy are collections that every serious fan of noir and espionage should immediately add to their collection if they don't already have them. But the most recent release from Kindt, (and his first from a publisher aside from Top Shelf) 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man, has brought the kind of story that will generate a whole lot of buzz.
On first look the story seems like an outlandish concept of a man who never stopped growing, but there is something far more complex and far more emotionally impactful going on with this story. The story of Craig Pressgang is one of not only the tragic circumstances of his life but also of the kind of relationships he has with the women in his life. Each chapter of the graphic novel is really the story of the women of the different stages of Craig's life. The first his mother, her tragic story of losing her husband in the Second World War, never really getting to know him, never really getting the chance to be a wife before she became a widow ... and a mother. The second chapter the story of the love of Craig's life and her struggle living in the shadow of the the biggest celebrity the world has ever known. The third chapter the story of Craig's daughter, trying to understand her father and grasp the impact he had on the world around him.
This is a really brilliant book. It grasps your heartstrings in such a delicate and subtle way that before you know you know it you find yourself emotionally invested into the plight of the man, before you find yourself feeling the tragedy of the young widow, before you find yourself understanding the struggles of loving a force of nature, before you find yourself grasping for knowledge of the mysterious giant.
I was completely taken by this book, the narrative is well crafted and the art unique. I think that anyone looking for a really great representation of the kind of brilliance and excitement that Kindt brings to the comic form would find this a great entry point. This is one of the best new graphic novels that I have read this year and think that it has a strong chance to be mentioned around Eisner and Harvey time next year.