Tag: Matt Kindt
In this last episode of 2013 we count down our favorite comics of the year. On a methodological note, we limited ourselves to book-length works that felt like complete statements.
We also discussed the Sequential Artists Workshop’s end-of-year fundraiser. There are still 28 days left—consider pitching in to help fund this awesome school!
Josh’s Top Five:
Alex’s Top Five:
We said we’d post links to a bunch of our favorite minis and floppies here, but man, that’s hard to sort through. Hopefully we’ll do that soon.
Thanks for listening, everyone. 2013 was a great year in comics—see you early in 2014!
Matt Kindt is working out how to tell a certain kind of big story using a lot of little stories. It’s a method you usually see on TV, like how Buffy would always have an overarching Big Bad but also each episode have to deal with the Monster of the Week. He began to do it with 3 Story, three perspectives on a constantly growing giant, one from his mother, one from his wife, and one from his daughter. He’s doing it in an ongoing way with MIND MGMT, where the overall quest involving the world-spanning secret spy organization makes room each issue for a look at the special talents of one of its current or former agents. Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes is probably the most complete expression of it so far.
Each piece of Red Handed tells the story of a different quirky criminal. There’s a woman who steals chairs and caps her career by stealing an electric chair. There’s a woman who steals signs to write her multi-warehouse-sized novel about an ant trying to communicate with humans by arranging letters the size of its own body. There’s the aging pickpocket who can’t remember which wallet contains his actual ID because he’s losing his memory and with it losing track of his actual identity. All these perfect little psychological portraits of outlandish criminals, all solved by the city of Red Wheelbarrow’s genius Detective Gould.
Separating these stories are pieces of Gould’s own life and an ongoing dialogue, word balloons against a black background, between Gould and a criminal he’s caught, all about the nature of art, morality, and justice. That dialogue lets us know that someone has manipulated all these criminals into doing something in concert, in ways Detective Gould can’t understand and for reasons he can’t fathom, even though he can solve any crime, understand any motive.
This is the piece of work that cements Kindt’s transition from journeyman to master. I look at what I wrote about his previous books and I see I wasn’t completely taken with them, but this one is my favorite book of 2013 so far, and it’s not even close. It’s high-level stuff, dealing with major themes and intricately assembled, using genre tropes in an entirely new way. It’s going to get a ton of praise from everyone who writes about comics or thinks about them, and it’s going to deserve it.
In this episode we discuss:
Le Fils du Roi by Eric Lambé
Post by Molly Brooks
Sand Castle by Frederik Peeters and Pierre Oscar Lévy
Mumbai Confidential Book One: Good Cop, Bad Cop by Saurav Mohapatra and Vivek Shinde
Good Riddance: An Illustrated Memoir of Divorce by Cynthia Copeland
Country Ass-Whuppin': A Tornado Relief Anthology from 12-Gauge Comics
In this episode we discuss:
B+F by Gregory Benton
Zegas #0 by Michel Fiffe
Easy Pieces by Neil Dvorak
Miniature Jesus #1 by Ted McKeever
My Dutch Foreskin by Daniel Pucca
Artichoke Presents: Sketches and Streams by Antonio Romero
MIND MGMT Vol. 1 by Matt Kindt
The Battle of Blood and Ink by Jared Axelrod and Steve Walker
Announcing a new podcasting venture with me and Alex Rothman, who does comics poetry at Versequential.com, called Comics for Grownups. The RSS feed is here.
It’s still too early for it to show up in iTunes search results yet, so copy and paste that feed URL into the box that comes up under “Advanced—>Subscribe to Podcast…” in iTunes. Now with iTunes direct link here.
In this first episode we review Gabrielle Bell’s The Voyeurs, Brecht Evens’ The Making Of, Jeff Parker and Erika Moen’s Bucko, Frank Santoro’s Pompeii #1, Louis Trondheim’s Ralph Azham vol 1.: Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love?, Matt Kindt’s MIND MGMT, Grant Morrison’s Happy, L. Nichols, and Tom Motley.
Direct download for the first episode here.
I have an absolutely monstrous stack of comics and graphic hoo-hahs I’ve been neglecting, so I’m going to start trying to power through them a few at a time. More backlog mini-reviews to follow.
Journalism is a book for Joe Sacco completists and fans. While I heartily recommend becoming both of those things, it isn’t the first book of his I would buy if you’ve never read him before. It collects most of the short pieces he’s done on assignment for various magazines over the past 15 years or so.
The best of these are the ones that deal with the problems of poor, powerless groups we rarely hear about: Chechen refugees, African migrants stranded on Malta, and the dalits of rural India. Not coincidentally, these are also the longest three pieces in the book—Sacco is really at his best when he can pile up humanizing details and make the reader understand life from his subjects’ perspective. All three are further evidence that Sacoo is by far the most important creator of comics today.
Preview at the link above.
Matt Kindt likes his high concepts. His breakout book 3 Story was about a man who never stopped growing; his follow-up Revolver was about a man who switches between realities each time he goes to sleep. His new series Mind Mgmt is structured more as a mystery than those other two: rather than taking his high concept and playing out its implications, he has a journalist main character trying to figure out the (probably high-concept) cause of bizarre events. A whole airplane of passengers and crew gets amnesia simultaneously; all the inhabitants of a Mexican town begin making pottery with motifs from Zanzibar. She is chased by shadowy, murderous agents as she tries to learn more.
Two issues have come out and I still have no idea where all this is heading. Kindt keeps hinting at a grand conspiracy manipulating history and perhaps reality itself. So far I’m liking it quite a bit, and we’ll see if the payoff can live up to the hints.
Speaking of hints and payoffs … J.M. DeMatteis’s Brooklyn Dreams is like the textbook version of what John Gardner calls a yarn. It has an overtly conversational voice that keeps refusing to tell us things, promising revelations to come down the line. Meanwhile the story it is telling is about growing up as a teenager in Brooklyn, having a fairly shitty home life, slacking off in school, doing a few too many drugs. All perfectly fine subjects for a story, but all through it the narrator keeps telling us that the real shit is yet to come—and that shit, when it finally arrives, is so underwhelming it underwhelms all the good work that came before it.
Note to authors: don’t overpromise. If DeMatteis had foreshadowed less, I might have been more interested in his final epiphany.
Another mystery: in Sean Ford’s Only Skin, people keep disappearing from a small town. Mostly they vanish into the forest. A young woman returns to town with her 10-year-old brother to look for their father, one of the missing.
Ford takes his time with the story and the book’s big pages give plenty of space to his simple black-and-white drawings. The combined effect is a kind of languid, semi-ironic terror that I found very effective.
To give one example: he draws ghosts like the ones from Pac-Man, a hanging sheet with two holes for eyes. But he takes those ridiculous icons absolutely seriously as ghosts, capable of real menace.
I will also say that I did not see the villain coming, nor come close to guessing how the end would unfold. It’s a real pleasure to be surprised like that. The book sneaks up on you quietly. Highly recommended.
He had a great concept. A series of terrorist attacks shakes America, with conventional, biological, and radiological bombs exploding in multiple cities at nearly the same time. Fleeing the newspaper offices where he works, Sam ends up in a car with Jan, his boss. He kills a man, the world is in flames.
And then he wakes up to his ordinary life with his girlfriend Maria, who wants to go shopping for a new table set. Jan treats him just as contemptuously as ever. He can’t figure out what’s happened to him until the clock hits 11:11 and he finds himself back in Armageddon.
So there’s the concept: every day, the main character switches back and forth from world to world, on the run with Jan in one, at home with Maria in the other. He begins to prefer the crisis world to the ordinary one, because there he feels like he’s doing something important every day.
I had a few geek-level sci-fi issues with this setup. Like, it established that his body isn’t the same between the two worlds. Injuries sustained in one don’t carry over to the other. So what happens to him in one world while he’s conscious in the other? Does he go limp? No one around comments on it if he does. Does his body keep performing tasks without his being aware of it? He never remarks on things being different from the way he left them so that too seems unlikely, and anyway it would raise more unanswered questions about the consciousness in charge when “he” is absent. Or does he somehow experience simultaneous events in alternating fashion?
Whatever. It’s basically a solid conceit.
Then Kindt had to find a plot to fill out the concept, give it the shape of a story. So he kept writing until he found one that fit well enough, retconned the beginning, and wrapped up the end. At least, as I say, that’s how I imagine it happened, because that’s how I’ve done it myself.
You end up with an antagonist introduced only midway through the book and an explanation for what’s going on that doesn’t fully track. (For example [SPOILER ALERT], the villain confesses to Sam that he’s caused all the chaos in the one world by exploiting knowledge gleaned in the other. That doesn’t make any sense. Wouldn’t the hard part of building a biological or radiological bomb no matter where you got the blueprint? And how is it easier to gain access to deadly secrets in one world rather than the other before the bombs go off?)
Oh well. A solid premise an an 80% satisfying resolution still puts Matt Kindt ahead of nine of ten other comic book authors out there, and makes the book worth buying.
Preview below the fold.
Matt Kindt’s 3 Story tells three tales of a giant: the accounts of his mother, wife, and daughter. In childhood Craig Pressgang is normal-sized, but he keeps growing and growing until by his middle adulthood he’s three stories tall.
The mother’s story, the first one in the book, put me off a bit. I didn’t like the enforced simplicity, short sentences and sentence fragments broken across panels or by ellipses within panels. It struck me as an attempt to heighten the drama artificially. Also, the mother’s story was the most purely retrospective, and not, seemingly, very important to the whole.
With the wife’s story, though, the book started to grow on me (so to speak). There’s a lot more dialogue, which breaks up the repetitive short phrases, and a greater attention to the increasing problems of being huge, not just practical matters like how to get clothes or where to take a dump, but Craig’s progressively worsening disconnection from the world below him. This is presented not merely as an emotional detachment but also a physical one, as his nerves grow too long to carry sensation to his brain quickly. Eventually he can barely hear his loved ones even when they shout. He accidentally steps on a person and decides he needs to go away before he hurts his family.
In the third story the giant’s daughter, grown up now, tracks where he went after he left them. Here the narrative returns to the style I didn’t care for before, and again I’m not sure what is added to what we saw from the wife.
3 Story, then, is one pretty good story sandwiched between two lesser ones. The one in the middle takes up most of the book, so that’s okay.
The art matches the naive voice well, although I didn’t particularly love it in its own right. There’s very little depth to any of the drawings, and the backgrounds are often washes of a single color.
Preview below the fold.