Aug. 20, 2013 -- Everyone wants to know what John Romita Jr. has to say.

 

As the co-creator (with writer Mark Millar) and artist of Kick-Ass, Romita is in demand due to the Aug. 16 premiere of Kick-Ass 2. There’s also Kick-Ass 3 to talk about, as well as Romita’s moves after that … where a mystery is brewing.

 

Romita’s story is pretty well-known to comics fans, which he confirmed in a telephone interview. He grew up at the feet of legendary artist and long-time Marvel Comics art director John Romita Sr., whose run on Amazing Spider-Man set the standard look of the character. Romita Jr. was headed for a career in advertising – he said his father told him, “you’d be crazy to want to go into comics” – when he was metaphorically bit by his own irradiated spider doing some work for Marvel UK.

 

Now, 37 years later, he’s had his own successful runs on popular titles such as Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil and Wolverine, and drawn at one time or another virtually every Marvel character. And he’d happily draw most of them again, especially the web-spinner.

 

“The best character in existence, as far as I’m concerned, is Spider-Man,” he said. “One is the quality of the character. Second there’s an emotional attachment to it. I’d do Spider-Man in a minute. I would love Daredevil again. And a character I’ve never done regularly but I’d like to do is Dr. Strange. … Anything I haven’t done I’d like to try, but as far as going back to Spider-Man or Daredevil I’d love to do that.”

 

But it was the Wolverine story he drew –called “Enemy of the State,” and written by Millar – that proved most fateful. It was a long series, he said, where he and Millar got to know and like each other.

 

“We were working on the ‘Enemy of the State’ Wolverine series, and one of us mentioned, or both, about doing something creator-owned,” he said. “And he had an idea that might be worthy. And it’s a chance, because the only way to get it published was to take no money up front, a complete gamble on sales and so on.”

 

Which turned out to be Kick-Ass.

 

“[The pitch] was different than the way it ended up,” Romita said. “It was more about a boy and his father, and it morphed into this complete package. It’s a process. You discuss things with your creative partner, and then you mold it, and you play with it. Things change with characters and circumstances in the first issue, and you go from there, etc. That’s the advantage to working with a brilliant writer, is that you can bounce off each other and improve from there.”

 

Kick-Ass was published by Marvel’s Icon imprint, which allows for creator ownership. And Romita was so pumped up he changed his style.

 

“I was consciously wanting to have a physical difference in the artwork,” he said. “So I made a subtle change. … I literally left out all dark fields; no black, no shading. I wanted just linear – lots of  linework. A real illustrative look. … I tried to distinguish my work from the regular mainstream work.”

 

Which didn’t extend to the graphic violence in Kick-Ass, which has occasionally been controversial. Romita “struggled” with it, he said, and finally opted to present the material within the bounds of his normal work for Marvel Comics. So, in contradistinction to the movie, the graphic violence in Kick-Ass the comic book is more often implied than depicted.

 

“A scream off-panel or off-camera – a blood-curdling scream – is still effective,” he said.

 

Not that he’s condemning the movie. While he feels that special effects might have gotten to the point where some discretion is called for – “it removes the mystery” – he was thrilled to see characters he’d drawn, and some actual scenes, up on the screen. His reaction?

 

“Wow!” he said with a laugh. “I saw my name on the screen .Monday and I still wanted to jump out of my seat and scream. … I don’t know what else to say. I can’t think of anything profound or clever.”

 

It’s an experience he may have again, with Kick-Ass 3, which he describes as “better than the first two combined, as far as Mark’s words. Just brilliant, brilliant stuff. The story is set up beautifully, and it’s a nice completion to the arc. And I’m trying to keep up the quality of the artwork, with the quality of the story. He really nailed it.”

 

Then there’s Gray Area, a creator-owned work Romita wrote and drew in 2004, that now has a screenplay, director and production company attached. “We’re going to re-publish the graphic novel  in time for the second draft of the screenplay,” he said, “and we’re gonna shop it … around to the studios.”

 

But the big question mark in Romita’s future is that his latest contract with Marvel has lapsed … and crosstown competitor DC Comics has made the long-time Marvel man an offer.

 

“I’ve always been fascinated with an idea that would apply to Superman,” he hints. “My lawyer is working out things with Marvel, and my lawyer is working out things with DC. I’ve no idea what the future holds. But I wasn’t fascinated with Superman until about two months ago, and now I am.”

 

To be continued!

 

Contact Captain Comics at capncomics@aol.com.

See the complete John Romita Jr. interview HERE.

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I still remember about a year ago, when the Captain America cover above was first seen as a promotion for the upcoming series. I recall seeing in a few places on the internet a comment that said, "I notice you can't see his whole face! I'm wondering if he will be wearing a full face mask!"

This led to conversations about Marvel ruining Captain America by giving him a full face mask.

People invested time into this conversation. Invested time into exhorting Marvel for giving Captain America a full face mask.

Thank goodness for all of the complainers out there. Otherwise surely we would have a Captain America today who wears a full face mask. Either that, or they were wasting their time.

People invested time into this conversation. Invested time into exhorting Marvel for giving Captain America a full face mask.

That is how pretty much all fans are, especially on the internet. Look how much time has been spent on Ben Affleck cast as Batman.

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