Over the past year, I’ve managed to find and read a lot of comics by Matt Kindt, writer and artist. They tend to use a very simplified cartoonish style (similar to Jeff Lemire, in fact), but also use the space of the page and the use of colors and timing for some fascinating stories. Here are a few:
Pistolwhip was a graphic novel Matt Kindt did in 2001 with Jason Hall for Top Shelf. It was about various detectives and criminals and it was followed by two additional stories: Mephisto and the Empty Box and Pistolwhip and the Yellow Menace.
The stories are very much a combination of pulp fiction and film noir, with a meta-textual element of a pulp radio drama that, in fact, describes exactly what is happening or has happened or will happen. Time, in fact, gets confusing, because the story moves back and forth, so a close reading is in order.
Last year, Dark Horse put out The Complete Pistolwhip which collects all three stories. I would definitely recommend them, as I am a huge noir and pulp fiction fan and they contain a lot of interesting and fascinating characters.
2 Sisters, published in 2004, was the beginning of Kindt’s “Super Spy” series set during World War II. The story itself was about Elle, a young woman who comes to London to become an ambulance driver, who is then recruited by the OSS to be a spy.
Like the rest of the Super Spy stories (first released as a series of webcomics, then collected into a book), it’s filled with twists and turns.
The Super Spy comics were released from 2006 to 2007 and they contained more stories from various spies during the War. Throughout them all, you can see Kindt playing with more and more comic book “tricks” — playing with time, playing with the space of the panels and the layout of the pages. This panel is a great example. A female spy is telling her handler that her cover has been blown, but she can’t say it out loud...so she does it by the way she dances:
Revolver is a Vertigo Comic that Kindt did in 2010. This is going to get sort of complicated, so here goes:
Sam lives in a boring world with his boring job, until one day when the world just...breaks down. Everyone declares war on everyone else, society breaks down, cities are bombed, and everything quickly devolves into chaos.
And then Sam wakes up and it’s the same day, only it’s back to being boring. And then he wakes up again, this time in the choas-world.
Sam now lives in two worlds: the safe world, with his boring job, and the dystopia world, where he’s on a road trip with his boss to find out what happened.
Revolver plays with structure a lot and it’s really good at it. It’s also Kindt’s first foray into science fiction, which he would later perfect with MIND MGMT.
And now we come to the most recent and probably best: MIND MGMT, a series from Dark Horse that Matt Kindt did from 2012 to 2015, with one additional series (called New MGMT). It’s also quite possibly Kindt’s magnum opus — it’s certainly his longest work.
The story starts with an entire plane of people losing all of their memories. Two years later and this is still unexplained, but Meru, a true crime reporter badly in need of money, decides to write a book about it and goes off to investigate the plane and those on it.
What she finds is that there was one missing passenger, “Henry Lyme,” and her search for him will lead her to a strange organization called Mind Management. I don’t want to reveal any twists, because there are a lot and they are good.
The story twists and turns and goes into directions I couldn’t even predict. Kindt also includes a lot of ancillary information, with every issue coming with “backmatter,” additional information that provides more story for one of the side characters. And each page comes with a message along the side that combines to form another story. Time and space are played with, panels and panel formation are experimented upon.
It’s very, very good.
Kindt has other stories out there that are good: Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes is a First Second book that came out in 2013 and is a very good film noir story. Currently, he’s doing Dept H for Dark Horse, while also writing a variety of books for Valiant, including Unity, Rai, Ninjak, and Divinity (of these, I would say Ninjak is probably the best, since he continues his spy stories combined with pulp fiction - Colin King is literally an MI-6 agent who is also a ninja).
But these are the books that I hardily recommend.