It’s about time that all the conspiracies, powers, and redacted documents were collected in one place for longtime fans and brand new readers to indoctrine–and this week the first Omnibus edition of Matt Kindt’s MIND MGMT hits shops. Volume 1 of the “Comprehensive Report” will guide you through a hefty chunk of the comic’s history running through the first two previously collected volumes, and the books will introduce you to basically all things MIND MGMT in existence by the time we hit Volume 3. These are the definitive editions of the series that originally contained plenty of meta-material which has never before been collected.
For those new to the series, we follow a reporter, Meru, who having lost her memories in an unusual plane flight event, persists in trying to track down the story behind her experience at greater and greater cost, lured into the dangerous and violent world of the MIND MGMT agency.
Matt Kindt joins us today to talk about the new omnibus editions and whether we have to burn after reading…
Hannah Means-Shannon: So is this just a chunkier format for the MIND MGMT organization to recruit new agents? More direct results in a shorter time?
Matt Kindt: Ha! No–this is the first complete version of MIND MGMT since the single issues came out. When the series was coming out monthly, I included a lot of extra short stories on the inside covers and back covers as well as fake ads and other oddities in every issue as well as letter pages, etc. That was the kind of bonus content I was including to encourage readers to follow and interact on a monthly basis. What I realized was that after that initial run, no one else was able to read those extra stories — some of which really enrich the main narrative and add shading to the characters. So all of that content has existed nowhere else but the single issues until now. I wasn’t going to ever include that material in collected editions but what I realized was that there is now an new generation of readers that can’t find the more hard-to-get issues and those extra stories are kind of lost forever. Hence…a super fat reprint with 2 volumes in one — PLUS all of the extra content that hasn’t been collected anywhere before.
HMS: Please tell us that there are more secret messages to locate and decode in this new format. Even if it’s not true, what fabrications can you share with us?
MK: Oh yeah. Careful readers will…well…be careful is all I’m gonna say.
HMS: Do you think that all storytelling is about constructing a narrative from a personal point of view? Do you agree with the post-modern perspective of the “death of the author”, meaning reader is king?
MK: Well, every story is different. I think most of mine work as a kind of collaborative experience, though. I think I lean towards asking more from my readers than most books ask. I certainly try to make it something you can read casually over lunch. But that’s only the first stage. Especially with something like MIND MGMT — the reader is ultimately made to be complicit in the events that are happening between the pages. One of the new pages that’s going to be collected in this new omnibus is the last back cover of the last issue which requires the reader to take a kind of visual exam – and you end up on one side or the other. I don’t want to spoil the effect, but your eye-dominance plays a key role in the final outcome. Man, that sounds weird – but it’s the truth!
HMS: When MIND MGMT is presented in this longer format, are you more able to see change over time in artwork, style, or theme? Do you think the series changed over time?
MK: It still feels pretty consistent to me. I really had tunnel vision for the three years it took me to finish MIND MGMT. I set up some boundaries for myself when I started book and then spent three years trying to push the edge of those boundaries. The secret side-text on every page was initially only supposed to appear on the first six issues but the deeper I got into the story the more I realized that I couldn’t just stop those subliminal messages arbitrarily. But I also couldn’t just keep repeating the same kind of theme and message for 36 chapters so I was forced to sort of evolve that idea over the length of the project and find ways to break out of the mold I’d made. It ended up being way more subversive than what I’d originally intended.
HMS: What guidance can you give prospective Mind MGMT recruits when approaching these omnibus editions? Anything to look out for? Anything to be careful of?
MK: Just read it through once for fun. Let it sit for a few days. And then go back and start looking closely at every page. I can safely say that no reader has picked up on every secret thing I’ve layered into this book. There are some great websites and resources out there though that can guide you if you want to cheat a little. Drew Bradely did an amazing running commentary on MIND MGMT as it was coming out – and he’s come the closest to cracking all of the code.
HMS: Are these the definitive editions you want the series to be known by in future generations? What do you think of these omnibuses (omnibii) potentially going into residence in the Library of Congress?
MK: Yeah – these are it. Everything that was or is or will be MIND MGMT is in this…the only thing missing at this point is the read-along comic book and record that I Kickstarted over the summer. But I still have a few of those left here.
Eventually it would be great to do a big boxed over-sized set with the record and annotations, etc…something I’ve wanted to do for a long time — one day — that will happen!
Thanks so much to Matt Kindt for submitting to our interrogation!
The MIND MGMT Comprehensive Report Volume 1 is available now in shops from Dark Horse!