In a world of digital ephemera, prolific writer and artist Matt Kindt wants to create art that lasts and that you can pick up with your hand.
Kindt (best known for his Mind MGMT, Dept. H, and BRZRKR series) is starting his very own imprint through Dark Horse Comics called Flux House this July with the launch of Mind MGMT: Bootleg. But just like one of Kindt’s trippy, slow-burn stories, this is just the beginning for Flux House, which takes a creative (and refreshing) approach to publishing comics and art.
Learn all about Kindt’s new imprint and his plans for the future (and if you see him at a convention this summer, and ask him to sign your mint copy of Mind MGMT #1, be prepared to get back a truly “one-of-a-kind” collectible!) in this exclusive interview.
You recently announced your new imprint Flux House through Dark Horse Comics. What artistic movements influenced the creation and feel of Flux House?
Matt Kindt: There is a fur covered teacup, plate and spoon at the Museum of Modern Art by Oppenheim (a Surrealist working in the 30s). So imagine that fur-lined teacup set (or better yet — google it so you can see it!) — imagine that … but now there’s a book about the backstory of how that teacup became fur-lined. And it’s a crime story. But also has spies…and maybe some characters with mind-melting abilities. So that’s not…exactly what Flux House is — but also — it kind of is.
I feel like my entire career is coming from that place — the early surrealists, the DADA movement — and the later Fluxus art that came after that — it’s artists having fun — making art objects that are just fun to look at. So that’s really what this is. It’s books that are fun to look at. Fun to hold — but inside the covers is a good story — crime, sci-fi, and horror — all the genres I always work in — let’s throw spies in there too for sure. It’s all that but now Dark Horse has given me a little bit of power so I’m going to wield it in the most fun/creative way I can to put some comics into the world like we’ve never seen before.
As the architect of Flux House, how does the imprint’s model resemble that of McSweeney’s?
Kindt: We’re probably cousins. In a way we will be the comic book and graphic novel version of that. It’s a little tougher with monthly comics — there’s a lot of push back on size and format for monthly collectors and from retailers — so I’m trying to thread that needle — where the books fit on the shelf with other comics but definitely don’t fit “in” if that makes sense. For example — one of the spy books I’m doing later this year will have a traditional cover — but it’s wrapped in another cover over that — that looks like a paper grocery bag. No title. No credits. It is disguised to look like someone placed a piece of trash onto the comic book shelf. (laughs) Now that I say that out loud — maybe not the best marketing move — but I want the books to be something you have to have in real life. Hold in your hand. McSweeney’s does a great job of that. There’s a mass market version — so anyone that wants to get their hands on it can — but we’re also going to have some special versions that don’t make any sense financially — but creatively — make all the sense in the world.
Your first title will be a new entry in your Mind MGMT series entitled Bootleg. It is also the first MGMT story that you haven’t illustrated. Did you specifically write the series with different art styles, and artists, in mind?
Kindt: For sure. Launching an imprint like this that is going to be doing things a little differently — well — a lot differently — I felt like Mind MGMT was the MOST of what I’m trying to do. So it made sense to do a new series using that universe and some of those characters to tell a new story and introduce a new wave of readers to that madness — but also prep you for the kinds of books that Flux House is going to be releasing. I want readers to pick up these books and realize how much work and thought went into them. I’m not publishing on auto-pilot here — every design decision — every format and graphic choice — it’s all in service of the story inside. Mind MGMT — is going to have some mind bending secret stuff in and on and around it. The new spy book at the end of the year — it’s going to be in disguise — you’ll have to kind of search for it on the shelf. It will be conspicuous in that it looks like it doesn’t belong. Every book is going to be like that — something fun — to interact with. Something that is going to be fun to hold.
Where does Bootleg fit in the grand design of Mind MGMT?
Kindt: It’s a stand-alone story. It takes place a few years after the last chapter of Mind MGMT. There’s a character — the Eraser — who’s recruiting a handful of new young kids to start up the program. It’s honestly a great jumping on point — you don’t need anything else to enjoy this story. It’s designed as a kind of window into the world. If you’re curious about what Mind MGMT was but you don’t wanna read 400 pages of graphic novel — then this is a super lazy way to just figure out what it’s all about (laughs). But be warned — the series is actually a recruitment device to find new agents. So when you’re done reading it — you won’t be the same person you were when you first picked it up.
In a world of NFTs and digital files, Flux House will focus on unique, collectible editions in a variety of formats. Which format/concept are you currently most excited about producing?
Kindt: I’m intentionally trying to make these books something that can’t be replicated digitally. You’ll be able to read the comics on your iPad, etc. But the full experience isn’t something you’ll get without having the paper product in your hand. Not because I want to make it harder or collectable — but because — if I’m actually using up paper and fuel and to get these books printed and shipped, etc. There needs to be a reason that it’s physical media. That means — we have to have fur covers on the evil cat book. We have to use recycled paper bags to hide our spy book. The sci-fi story with hundreds of characters in it? It’s going to have to be magazine sized — that much detail and character won’t fit on the current iPad screen. It’s going to be epic!
The whole thing with digital art and NFTs and all that is that the idea of “ownership” is kind of nebulous. What does it mean to own anything really? With these books — I’m figuring it out. I’m making Flux House books so that when you get one in your hands — and you put it on your shelf — you are very aware that you own it. It’s going to be looking back at you when you look at it.
These will be the books that your friends pick up when they come over — because they have to see what’s going on with them. Is that book making a hissing noise? What is going on? Is that a deck of playing cards or is it a time travel graphic novel in the format of a deck of cards? The answer is — yes to all of that — yes! If you collect all of the Flux House books — I want your personal library to end up looking like that weird curio shop that you went into last week that had the painting with eyes that followed you and you didn’t buy it. So you go back the next week to pick it up — and that curio shop is no longer there. Did you dream it? Was it magical? A portal to a pocket dimension? With the aid of Flux House books…YOU will be that curio shop.
With the summer convention season just beginning, what have you learned about interacting with your fans at conventions/signings?
Kindt: It’s fun to burn their books before signing them. It’s fun to cut out a panel and use it as a bookplate when signing them. It’s fun to do custom typewritten commissions of super heroes on the spot — just a paragraph description that describes their inner life. And it’s going to be fun to apply the Mind MGMT testing sequence to anyone that comes up to the table or to a panel this summer. I think we’re going to find a lot of new agents with amazing abilities.
Mind MGMT: Bootleg #1 will be in stores on July 6 and be sure to stay tuned to Conskipper for more information about future Flux House releases.