Over his extended career, Matt Kindt has done it all. He’s been a writer (Grass Kings and Black Badge); an artist (Sweet Tooth and Postcards); and a writer-artist (MIND MGMT and Dept. H). Now, though, he’s taking on another role entirely, as he heads up a new Dark Horse imprint, Flux House.
The boutique imprint will feature both Kindt’s work and that of other creators and collaborators. The imprint, which joins other Dark Horse lines like Jinxworld and Berger’s Books, will focus primarily on “crime, science fiction, and humor stories, all told and presented in startling and untraditional ways.” Lastly, Flux House’s titles will “take many forms and formats,” including punch-card dust jackets and “special print features (like die-cut and fur).”
The imprint kicks off in earnest on July 6 as Kindt and several collaborators revisit the aforementioned MIND MGMT with a brand-new title. The four-part MIND MGMT: BOOTLEG is the first to showcase other artists, with variant covers from Jim Rugg, Marguerite Sauvage, Aron Wiesenfeld, and Laura Perez. Kindt said, via a press release, that the book’s no “prequel, a studio-driven sequel, or a corporate re-imagining,” but rather more “weird, paranoid storytelling.”
Ahead of the launch of Flux at-large and the new book, we caught up with Kindt via email. There, we discussed his aspirations, the story of BOOTLEG, what comes next, and much, much more.
AIPT: What’s the elevator pitch for MIND MGMT: BOOTLEG?
Matt Kindt: It’s a series of visual/written tests designed to recruit you into the mind-spy agency known as MIND MGMT…but all disguised as a comic book narrative following three kid recruits (who are actually stand-ins for you and all the good/bad things that might happen to you if you successfully pass the cognitive tests embedded in the comic book pages). What are the kids doing? Well, this MIND MGMT story is made-up — but in this made-up story they’re fighting a viral meme that is literally contagious.
AIPT: What’s it like to revisit the MIND MGMT universe? Have your perceptions or goals with the larger story shifted/changed at all?
MK: The good and bad thing about MIND MGMT for me was that it was a huge influence on myself. It’s really the perfect premise and world to play in for me. So I never stopped thinking about MIND MGMT ideas. Most of my story ideas are MIND MGMT ideas and I have to figure out a way to make them not that every time. MIND MGMT is kind of infectious. I get texts from friends all the time with news articles and they’re just #mgmt on them — MIND MGMT is going to always be relevant for better or worse. It’s fun and horrifying to see it.
AIPT: What was the genesis of Flux House? What are you bringing to comics that maybe it doesn’t already have or that other outlets don’t emphasize?
MK: The design of the book. I got a box of comps for one of my books (I won’t say which one because I don’t wanna have bad thoughts about a publisher) — but it was just the thinnest cheapest looking book. Flimsy paper. Slick shiny cover. I mean…the U-LINE catalog had better production value. It just felt like such a terrible lost opportunity to make the comics special. Unique. Worth putting on a shelf. It doesn’t cost that much more to put thought and love into the presentation of a book. The cover and the design — it is all part of the story you’re telling. Or it should be. My background as a graphic designer has always made me sensitive to paper and ink and fonts and design. Comics have been traditionally a throw-away medium. Now I feel like I’m competing with digital comics — the most disposable of all mediums. I wanted these new books to be more. To have presence. To start telling you the story from the moment you see it and pick it up. Fur covers? Sure. That’s an easy one. What about a grocery paper bag for a cover so the comic looks like trash? Why would I do that…? Well, because it’s a spy comic and it’s trying to blend in! It doesn’t want you to notice it!
AIPT: What can we expect in terms of story/aesthetic/feel for the first Flux books?
MK: Every book will be different. The story is going to drive the design and production and format. Some are going to be epic sci-fi stories so we’re doing a magazine sized format — a double-page spread at magazine size? You’d have to have a gigantic iPad to even get close to replicating that experience (laughs). Some are traditional sized but the covers will be unique materials. Or double-covers. Or polybagged with playing cards that you can use in any deck of playing cards — and change/break/warp any game you play. But also thematic to the story in the comic. The idea is to create memorable reading experiences. I was talking to my wife last week about remembering the specific moment I heard certain songs. I remembered where I was. Time of day — what I was doing. It’s like a crazy little capsule of a memory. I want to create that with these books. So every time you see this book on the shelf — you’ll remember where you were when you picked it up and read it.
AIPT: Do you have a dream list of collaborators/contributors for Flux?
MK: I’ve been so lucky — everyone I’m working with now is someone who I’ve worked with in the past. I reached out to a creator last year that I was a huge fan of — Dan McDaid — he did a self-published sci-fi book DEGA, which I highly recommend. But I fell in love with it, reached out to him, pitched him an idea, he pitched the idea back with some scenes and visuals, and and we really hit it off. So that’s new. That never happens — but it did. Also — I want to write a story for Geof Darrow so badly — I can’t tell you how much. So I’m throwing that out there into the universe so it’ll happen one day. Or he’ll read this and tell me to maybe take a couple steps back, buddy. Settle down.
AIPT: How’s it feel to join the lineage of other great Dark Horse imprints a la Jinxworld and Berger Books? Does having that “history” help at all?
MK: It definitely helps me…feel good about myself — ha ha! I mean — what company? And before that? The history of Dark Horse is literal legends. Darrow, and Mignola. Paul Chadwick is a hero of mine. Miller and Byrne and the rest. So many greats. Not sure if I belong in that company but I’ve written enough spy stories to know that I just need to keep talking and smiling and maybe no one will question me.
AIPT: Flux reportedly takes influence from ’50s avant-garde movements. Are you worried at all that those may be harder to “sell” to mainstream comic audiences?
MK: Not really. It’s still spy stories. Sci-fi. Crime. I’m not making “art” comics by any stretch of the imagination. Imagine the Fluxus movement — where you’re walking through the museum and you see a tackle box full of needles and a glove and a match (this exists in real life) — but now imagine that’s just the cover of the book — and inside the match and the glove and the needles all have back story — crime, mystery, or spies…so now you look at that tackle box full of random stuff…and it has this extra meaning. A story. That’s what I’m going for. I scare you a little bit with something that seems like it’s going to be inaccessible and then sucker punch you with a heartbreaking story about a scarred-up detective that is seven feet tall, all muscle, but gets his ass kicked because he’s a pacifist. And has to solve the perfect murder. That’s one of the books…so really — I’m just trying to make the books look good on the shelf — feel good In you hand, and make you think about comics in a new way. Yet keep you entertained!
AIPT: In the vein of that last Q, or is Flux’s weirdness and genre-bounding perhaps a larger continuation of the things you’ve always done in your career?
MK: It’s me having gained a little bit of “power” and wielding that power to have fun with book design. Gilded page edges. Fur covers. Plastic-wrapped books. Books disguised as trash. Things that I couldn’t pitch when I was first starting out. But now it’s okay…it’s just me doing that thing. In the studio now I can’t even finish a sentence before someone completes it “…and it has a secret hidden message.” I can’t help it. It’s how my brain works. Life is a secret message. We’re all trying to crack the code.
AIPT: There’s been some word about the “forms and formats” of Flux books, including die-cut and fur print features. Can you tease anything else?
MK: Interactive playing cards. Bazooka Joe comic strips that aren’t quite what they seem… Fur covers, grocery-bag double-covers to disguise themselves…what else…big magazine sized sci-fi stories! Big stories. Punchcard-covers that I can customize for you in person so it reveals…secret messages…nothing is going to be familiar.
AIPT: Should more creators have their own kind of imprints — do you think this could be a novel thing in terms of furthering creator-owned works?
MK: I don’t know. Really — I just think creators need to be doing creator owned work — however that happens. I get discouraged when I see talented people doing work for hire year after year. It’s partly selfish — I want something new and unique — and partly out of concern — I think you can be doing comics for 20 or 30 years without owning your own work in any kind of healthy sustainable way. Comics doesn’t pay a TON of money but the one thing it does have over every other medium is total creative control. Don’t give up the best part.
AIPT: What kinds of stories or projects wouldn’t be a good fit for Flux?
MK: They are all good. I pitched a romance series that made my editor nervous…but it’s romance with a twist…it’ll work. I promise! I think I wouldn’t do a straight up comedy book. I’d do dark comedy. Because I think well…life is a dark comedy. Eventually we all get the same punch line. So that’s easier to write.
AIPT: There’s an emphasis on the Flux books as “art objects.” How do they compare to similar collectables (i.e., coffee table books) that are big in the industry?
MK: I have no idea. I know what I like and that’s what I’m trying to put out into the world. I don’t like coffee table books because they’re too big. It makes them kind of an ordeal to pick up and read. It’s an event. There’s a balance there — I want something unique but comfortable. I can’t read my deluxe complete run of Thor because the book is too heavy. So…not that. I really just want the tactile part of holding the book to be part of the story. The smell. The thickness of the page. The inside covers. Your interaction with the book is the “bigness” of it. I want the book to be like a mystery box that you study and examine and turn around and look for secrets in.
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