by Andy Wolverton
Reading Mind MGMT is such a unique, strange, mysterious, and mind-bending experience, I’m actually going to tell you as little about it as possible for fear that I’ll spoil even a small part of it. I will say that even though Mind MGMT Volume Two: The Futurist contains a brief 20-panel recap of what has happened previously, you must read the first volume before picking up The Futurist.
In Mind MGMT Volume One: The Manager, you’ll discover Meru, a young woman trying to make a living as a writer. As that volume opens, she has just published her first true crime book and is looking for new material when she learns of a strange incident: a commercial airline flight lands safely, but all the passengers walk away suffering from amnesia. As Meru investigates this strange story for her next book, she finds evidence of a much larger story involving secret government conspiracies, spies with psychic abilities, and….
Well, I did say I was going to tell you as little as possible…
Kindt has visited the spy genre before in his 2007 graphic novel Super Spy (Top Shelf), a collection of 52 interconnected short stories about espionage and the lives of those who practice it. Super Spy is a very good work with some wonderful moments, but it’s like an appetizer compared to Mind MGMT, an ongoing series that’s immediately intriguing and complex, yet not so complex as to leave you frustrated. Having said that, Mind MGMT is a very smart title that may challenge you on many levels. But you’ll find yourself so wrapped up in the book, it won’t feel like work.
In The Manager, we’re learning the world of Mind MGMT right alongside Meru. Because she is new and the story is new, we spend as much time getting to know her as we do the plot. In The Futurist, collecting issues #7-12 of the series, it first seems we’re not getting that much new information about Meru. We know her story and Kindt seems to be fleshing out the characters around her. But as you work your way through The Futurist, you begin to see how Kindt has masterfully crafted a work filled with concealments and surprises. If The Manager opens a door to another world, The Futurist lets us walk around in it. Make no mistake; Kindt knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s clearly not making this up as he goes along, but rather is carefully revealing information and revelations at precisely the right time.
Kindt’s artwork is a combination of muted yet gorgeous watercolors surrounding pencil/ink work that — without the watercolors — might seem to shout “indie” to many people, due to its lack boldness and heavy lines. Yet Kindt’s style is perfect for this espionage tale, a genre where lines are not always clear and things are sometimes a bit fuzzy.
For several months I bought the single issues of Mind MGMT before waiting for the trades. When I visit my local comic shop, I tend to spend a lot of time there, and I never noticed anyone else picking up Mind MGMT. I asked a few people if they were reading it and they said no. So I tried an experiment this week. I handed three librarians a copy of Mind MGMT #1 and asked them to read a few pages (or the whole thing, if they wanted). Two of the librarians (both of whom are frequent comics readers) read several pages and said they liked the story, but didn’t care for the art. One of those librarians compared Kindt’s art to that of Jeff Lemire. “I didn’t care for [Lemire’s] Sweet Tooth at first,” she said, “because of the art, but eventually I got over that.”
I began to wonder if Kindt’s art is something of an acquired taste. Then something strange happened…. Another librarian (who rarely reads comics) read the entire issue, then looked at me and said, “Where’s the rest of it? I want to know what happens next.” When I asked her what she thought of the art, she said, “I like it. It doesn’t look too cartoony. It fits the story.”
I’m not really sure what to make of my experiment. I don’t know how the sales figures are for Mind MGMT, but it deserves to find a strong, wide audience. Maybe it is an acquired taste, but it’s certainly one worth acquiring. Mind MGMT is an intriguing, intelligent read that challenges, entertains and fascinates. And I think that’s something to celebrate and hang onto.
Read Mind MGMT and other great Matt Kindt books: