“A Crazy Kind Of Hybrid Medium” – Matt Kindt On His Record + Book Mind MGMT Kickstarter

by Hannah Means Shannon

Yesterday, Matt Kindt launched his first-ever Kickstarter campaign for an unusual and intriguing project—a special Mind MGMT comic book with a vinyl audio recording accompaniment by voice actor Clint McElroy. The 45 record will work in tandem with the comic as part of the story experience rather than simply being a recording of dialog. The campaign reached its funding goal within a couple of hours, and is now closing in on stretch goal rewards that will be rolling out, so stay tuned!

For those who have followed Kindt’s career, and even for those who might have read Mind MGMT closely, you’ll know that hidden messages, concealed details, and puzzles have always played a part of the meta-matter of Kindt’s comics. Now that will branch into audio with this unique artifact set in the world of his super-spies and counter-intelligence operatives.

However, this story is totally stand-alone, too, and made to be enjoyed by those who might be new to Mind MGMT as well, so anyone who’s interested by innovative storytelling can take part.

Kindt and McElroy will also be donating 10% of the profits to the Hispanic Federation, the nation’s premier Latino nonprofit membership organization which is aiding Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Irma.

Matt Kindt joins us here today to talk about this rather thrilling new project.

HMS: So, obviously, when records accompany reading experiences, they usually play the dialog you are reading on the page, or provide an atmospheric soundtrack. But your record will interact differently with the reading experience. Is there anything you can reveal about your approach to this? In your mind, does this increase the element of audience participation in the story above and beyond comic reading?

Matt Kindt: Yeah – I was just talking about this with my wife today. And I was realizing that you will probably have to read and listen to this comic/record at least three times to get all of the nuance and meaning in it. So you’ll get your money’s worth!

Thinking about how the experience will be for a reader/listener, it’s going to work the same way the Mind MGMT comics did – there’s the main story and then there’s some side text sort of subliminally laid in on the side. So you can attack the story in a few different ways – read all of the comic and then the side text…or read them both…or side text first. And if you’re not familiar with Mind MGMT – don’t worry about what I just said – you won’t be lost. This is designed to introduce you to the concept of Mind MGMT so anyone can pick this up.

But the way this record works is like that. Using the audio story as one piece in a larger puzzle. You listen to the story and read along just like when I was a kid…but the images in the comic paint a different story – they subvert the audio…and then you have this crazy third layer of words and captions that are subverting both the audio and the image below it. It’s really working on three levels all at the same time. I’ve never seen anything like it. And that’s really why I felt like it was worth doing. It started as inspiration from nostalgia, but then morphed into this crazy kind of hybrid medium that really hasn’t been explored at all.

HMS: Can you tell us anything about the time period in which this new story will be set and if any characters we might recognize or have heard of will pop up?

MK: It’s set in the late 60s and one of the main characters is “The First Immortal” – Sir Francis. Again, if you’re not familiar with Mind MGMT, don’t worry. This is a recurring character who has been trained in advanced mind-over-body techniques so he can heal himself from nearly any malady or injury…and he’s going to be your guide as you enter the story. He’s always been one of my favorite characters because, due to the nature of his training, he’s lived a LONG time…so he spans the generations.

HMS: Did your choice of creating a record tie in at all to the history of the Mind MGMT world in the 1920s through Cold War and the prevalence of records, and other media formats, during those periods? It seems like sound recordings were a big part of Cold War spying, for instance. 

MK: Definitely that’s in the back of my mind. One of my first books was Super Spy – and I love that era and the vintage mediums…especially vinyl records. I have this amazing paper-thin record that I found at an estate sale that is a recorded message from a wife to her husband in World War II – it’s got a message to him on it and it was sent through the mail – it was a self-mailer…and a way to send audio messages to loved ones during the war…just a great haunting thing to listen to and see.

Mind MGMT really lends itself to some of the more “out-there” ideas that I have. Even after the series was done, I never really stopped thinking about new ideas or stories to tell. And that’s where this came from. I grew up reading and listening to these read-along records and they’re just burned into my brain. The soundtrack and the voice-acting. My brother and I loved these – and we still quote the GI JOE: Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb record all the time.

I realized Mind MGMT would be the perfect vehicle to do a comic and read-along record. Vinyl is having a resurgence and it just seemed like the right medium to bring it all back.

HMS: Is this your first experience working with a voice actor to create a story? If so, what did you most enjoy about this particular experience?

MK: It was definitely my first time – and getting the timing down was tricky. There is only so many minutes you can fit on a 45 record so the script had to be tight.

Clint McElroy is a veteran and a true pro. He’s been voice-acting for a while…and I know he spent many many, hours recording this. And he absolutely nailed it. My favorite part was listening to it for the first time…apprehensive that my dialogue might sound horrible out loud…and Clint just sold every second of it. His voice quality…it really took me back – made me feel like a kid again putting on a 45 and listening to an old GI JOE: Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb record…it has absolutely that same feel to it. I don’t know how he channeled that so well but he did…and of course it’s super-subversive…so the story fits right into my adult sensibilities. Hearing his acting on this is one of the high points of my career.

HMS: Did you find that knowing there would be a soundtrack element that contrasted with the comic narrative affect your mode of comic storytelling in any way? Did you find yourself revealing more, or less, information, for instance, or doing anything that felt out of your normal comfort zone as a creator?

MK: This entire project was really about getting out of my comfort zone. Writing audio script was completely new. And honestly, the comic that goes with the audio – it didn’t really occur to me until I started drawing it that…I had to re-think the entire project. It was silly to repeat the audio story in the comic…and the dialogue? It had to be something more – and it ended up being insane…in the best way. It’s a new medium really.

Using the audio story as one piece in a larger puzzle. You listen to the story and read along just like when I was a kid…but the images in the comic paint a different story – they subvert the audio…and then you have this crazy third layer of words and captions that are subverting both the audio and the image below it. It’s really working on three levels all at the same time. I’ve never seen anything like it. And that’s really why I felt like it was worth doing. It started as inspiration from nostalgia, but then morphed into this crazy kind of hybrid medium that really hasn’t been explored at all.

Thanks so much to Matt Kindt for answering our questions in such depth!

We can’t wait to see this Kickstarter fulfilled, so head over to the campaign page and give it your support! The campaign will be running until August 8th, 2018. 

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