Sean Fernald, representing John Romita Jr., said “John has been with Marvel for nearly four decades now, and his last seven-year contract expired. He has not renewed it yet. He’s still talking to them, but also considering other options. And that’s something sort of big that’s going on in his life and as a result in the comic-book industry.”

That was enough for an interview. Here it is:

 

Captain Comics: Before we get to Kick-Ass and your potential future, may I ask some career questions to sort of set the table?

 

John Romita Jr.: Sure!

 

CC: OK, I can see some influences in your work, like your father, Jack Kirby, John Buscema. Any others I should be aware of?

 

JR JR: None that show. In my head, it starts off at the top of my head, I see all these great illustrators outside of comics. And all the great illustrators in of comics. By the time it comes out my fingers, unfortunately, it ends up being my stuff.

But through my education, and through reading books, and speaking to other artists, and looking at their influences, there’s an enormous amount of illustrators, the Gibsons, and the Wyeths, the fine artists – [Charles Dana] Gibson’s a fine illustrator, Wyeths are painters – [garble] is the style of painter I’d like to be when I graduate from deadline work and retire to the south of France. I’d like to be an impressionistic painter.

On a serious note, there’s guys like J.C. Leyendecker, not a lot of people know about Gibson – it’s outside of comics. Inside of comics, you’ve hit the three. I’m influenced in my head, and my own style ends up covering it. I can’t do anything about that. But there’s more to it than just the actual illustrative style, then there’s the storytelling  aspect of comics that I find I’ve been influenced most by, which is my father, and Stan Lee’s storytelling and Jack Kirby’s storytelling, and of course cinema has affected me. But I mention the storytelling because it actually improved my artwork. And I’d have to say my father has been the most influential. Like I said, I wish I could be as good an artist as he is, it just didn’t work out that way.

 

CC: I think you’ve certainly carved your own place in the world. And it seems natural that you’d follow your father’s footsteps, given your talent. Did you ever consider any other career?

 

JR JR: Yeah, as a matter of fact, my degree is in advertising illustration. And I assumed I was going to be in advertising in some form, because my father told me so. He said ‘You’d be crazy to want to go into comics.’ Yeah, I didn’t think of it as the end-all being a cartoonist. I assumed it would be filling in a couple of years after college, then I would be looking to walk up and down Madison Avenue with my big portfolio.  But I’m happy how things happened to work out. Obviously, advertising can affect any part of a job. The advertising “neck,” – how to sell the work, and how to promote stuff. The Illustration part of it helped out big time. And all of the curriculum that was there helped out enormously. I don’t know if I’ll go into advertising after I retire; I don’t know that. But I’m glad I took the course, and I’m glad I got the degree, and I’m glad it worked out the way it did.

 

CC: It’s always out there as a possibility – Plan B.

JRJR: Sure, it’s just at a little different level than when I was in college. The technology has changed just a touch!

 

CC: You’ve worked for Marvel now for about 37 years, right?

 

JR JR: It would have been 37 in January under contract, but it’s about 36 total years under contract. But I’m still working for Marvel as Kick-Ass is put out by Icon. So 37, yes.

 

CC: You’ve drawn virtually everyone in the Marvel Universe. Is there one you haven’t drawn as much as you’d like, or a favorite you’d like to return to?

 

JR JR: The best character in existence, as far as I’m concerned, is Spider-Man. There’s a bunch of things to that. 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. There are other characters, even Superman, Batman, because of an application of an idea that I have. 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.

 

CC: Before Kick-Ass you had a creator-owned book called Gray Area. Any plans for it?

 

JR JR: Yes, matter of fact there’s a screenplay that’s been completed, and we’re in the process of getting a second draft. We’re also – I say “we,” it’s the writer Glen Brunswick and I, are going to add some pages of artwork (well, I’m going to do the artwork, he’s done some writing cleanup). There’s gonna be some new lettering and new coloring. And we’re going to re-publish the graphic novel  in time for the second draft of the screenplay, and we’re gonna shop it. … We’re gonna shop it around to the studios, and we’ve got a producer attached to it named Stephen LaRue [sp?] and Solipsist Films is the production company that’s gonna shop it. We’ll see what happens.


CC: The way the movie and comics synergy is working  these days, that’s a powerful impetus behind it.

 

JR JR: I hope so … It’s a quality, quality story. And I can attest to that because I came up with the idea!

 

CC: It's unusual for the time, I was intrigued by it, no Spandex … it was quite a departure for what you’d been doing at the time.

 

JR JR: That’s pretty much the way my other creator-owned properties are lining up … that type of combination of no super-heroes, and some fantasy and reality mixed in. And also based on past experiences in my life. I’ve found the best way to get some heart into a story is to use past experiences as a bridge to jump off of. Jumping off of bridges, not so good.

 

CC: Maybe not the best metaphor! But I get the idea.

 

JR JR: So I took some of my childhood experiences, some of my mid-life experiences, and friends, family, and used them as bases for stories and add the fantastic to it. I’ve got five or six of them, that I’ve based them on. Even down to my dear friend and deceased roommate, New York police officer Jack, I’ve based a story on. LIterlally, he came to me in dreams after he passed away saying he needed my help, that kind of thing. I’ve come up with ideas based on a little bit of real life, only for the sole purpose of having a basis in reality that I can jump from.

 

CC: There’s no limit to that. It could be an anthology series, it could be a series of movies, it could be a Netflix show …

 

JR JR: The interesting thing is that I add the fantastic to reality, and yet, the character that I’m talking about, who’s just a dear friend, rest in peace, was an amazing character all by himself. I have an opportunity to show that.  … He was an amazing character. And I added the fantastic, a story about him coming back from the dead type of thing. These are the kind of things that I’m trying to come up with, all based on past experiences or childhood experiences, even childhood experiences that my parents went through. Like Schmuggy and Bimbo, two characters who grew up with my parents. Out of a lack of imagination to come up with something out of the blue, I grab something that’s colorful in my past, and add a little bit more fantasy to it. It’s fun. I’m eventually going to run out of colorful metaphors and colorful stories, because my life has only so much color to it. But interestingly enough, my family and my friends … New York City does to people. Makes your life colorful.

 

CC: Like they say, there’s a million stories in the Naked City.

 

JR JR: Absolutely true. [Laughs]

 

CC:  Maybe you should use that line! You could design a whole show around that!

 

JR JR: Maybe a crime drama!

 

CC: Thanks for indulging me. How did you become involved in Kick-Ass? Did Millar come to you, or what?

 

JR JR: Yeah, he did. We working on the “Enemy of the State” Wolverine series, and one of us mentioned, or both, about doing something creator-owned. And hehad 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. But because it’s Mark I wanted to work on it, and then he proposed it to me, but it was different than the way it ended up. 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.

CC: There’s no doubt that Millar is a brilliant writer. Is “Enemy of the State” the only place you’d worked together?

 

JR JR: That’s correct. But it was a long series, and we got to know each other. I believe the first thing he did as send me, and this is the absolute truth – as soon as we were signed up to work together – he sent me an airline bottle of Scotch whiskey. He said, ‘If we’re going to work together, you have to know my taste in liquor.’ And he sent me the little bottle.  Just from that you can imagine the  kind of guy he is. Very colorful, brilliant. And then we worked together on the Wolverine  story, and got along famously, met at conventions, managed to enjoy ourselves immensely together. And then the creator-owned thing happened, he proposed the idea, and it just morphed and got bigger and bigger and bigger. Interestingly enough, it didn’t get too big for him to keep a grasp of quality. Sometimes it can outgrow you, or get too big for you. It didn’t.  And he’s brilliant. It affected the artwork. Hopefully my artwork affected his writing, and it’s worked out really well.

 

CC: Well, I’m going to call y’all co-creators, even if you are trying to give him all the credit!

 

JR JR: Interestingly enough, he says I’ve done 80 percent of the work. I tell him, just send another 30 percent of your check over to me, and we’ll make it 80-20. I’ll accept that.

 

CC: Seems only fair.

 

JR JR: I have it in an e-mail! I’ll take him to court one of these days …

 

CC: You should wait until after Kick-Ass 3.

 

JR JR: I will, I will.

CC: I’ve read elsewhere that you and Millar didn’t change your approach on the book, even though you know it was going to be a movie from the outset. Is that right?

 

JR JR: It was close to the outset, yes.  The only way I can do this is to stick with what I knew how to do. I was consciously wanting to have a physical difference in the artwork. So I made a subtle change in the artwork. I literally left out all dark fields; no black, no shading. I wanted just linear – lots of  linework. A real illustrative look. A brilliant artist that worked with me, Scott Palmer, and we discussed that and it worked out nicely. I tried to distinguish my work from the regular mainstream work. But I couldn’t have done anything differently because I wouldn’t know  how to deal with the extreme violence. So I stuck with – and this is weird. The first issue, I struggled in my mind before I began, with how to go about it. Here’s the extreme violence, do I do something different than what I’m doing, how do I show this violence? I think the first day, as I approached the first violent scene, was the way I would have done it in normal work-for-hire books. I had to. I couldn’t come up with anything different. I didn’t want to try to be non-deliberate by doing something special for a big scene. In other words, a full-page splash of someone getting their head chopped off, I didn’t want to just sell out immediately. What I wanted to do was apply it the way I normally do things, which is my normal formula is deliberate storytelling. That was the difference right there. Because my normal storytelling is with discretionary violence. And now here we’re using graphic violence. And I just applied it to my normal storytelling. And it worked out nicely. It was a nice juxtaposition. I kind of stumbled onto it, and I’m very happy that I did. 

 

 CC: Was it Hitchcock who said what scares you the most is what you don’t see?

 

JR JR: That’s exactly right! And that’s why discretionary violence can be as effective. Which makes this all the more of a struggle with me: How do I handle it? And all I did was eliminate the discretion.

 

CC: You leave enough out that the reader has to fill in the blanks and become a collaborator.

 

JR JR: Absolutely true. That’s one of the mysterious things about comics and movies is what I didn’t know what was behind the curtain or in the dark.

 

CC: Can movies do anything you can imagine now? Have the F/X gotten that good?

 

JR JR: Yes, they have. And that’s a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is it’s allowed comics and Hollywood to come alongside each other. The bad thing is that there’s no mystery. That’s not bad, it’s bad in that you can’t be mysterious as much as you used to be. Now they say ‘Oh, we can show that, we have no problem with that.’ There’s no cleverness involved. It’s so easy to do things.

 

Actually, I should take that back and say it’s a blessing. We’re from the same thought patterns about what you don’t see is scary. Or in the case of romance, what you don’t see is very sexy. But that’s our imaginations. No longer is there need for imaginations … because technology has allowed us to do anything. Maybe there’s a down side to that. But the good side is that there are no limits any more on imagination, you can throw anything on the screen and pretty much apply it visually. I’m on the fence on that.

 

CC: Movies are now at the stage of figuring out what to leave out.

 

JR JR: A scream off-panel or off-screen – a blood-curdling scream – is still effective. You can’t take that away. But you have to build up to it, and that’s where the storytelling comes into play. I can still apply that kind of discretion on Kick-Ass, with a little trickle of blood, let’s say. But I can’t show graphic [violence] constantly. There has to be a way of avoiding it. So that you can still have a little mystery, and it’s too repetitive.

 

CC: How close have the Kick-Ass movies come to showing what you’ve seen in your head?

 

JR JR: It’s about 60/40. I didn’t want the film to be lock-step with the series. That would have made no sense. Why have a director? Why have a screenwriter? The whole point is the way the collaboration is with the writer and the artist should be like the collaboration between the graphic novel series and the director. And I think it’s worked out well in both films, two different versions. I really enjoyed this one and the difference between the two isn’t so much as glaring as much as it’s distinct. There is a difference. The characters are there, but the storytelling is different and the applications are different.

 

CC: What did they keep that you’re most proud? parts did the movie lift that you’re most proud of?

 

JR JR: There are visuals in both movies that are glaring and obvious that were taken from our choreography. I noticed the very first time up on the screen the first film the opening sequence when the superhero jumps off the building, that was taken directly from the book. And there were several scenes along the way in that first film that were taken directly from the books. Not constant throughout the film, but there was enough that you could say ‘Wowe, that’s the same set-up we had in the books’ and that’s damned flattering. And it’s scattered throughout the films. And I think that the directors using a good amount, either/or, and then mixing them together, it’s a nice combination. And again, I don’t expect it to be 100 percent either direction. I want a nice combination of both, and I got it.

 

CC: Did you ever dream that you’d ever see characters you’d created would move and breath on a movie screen. What’s it feel like?

 

JR JR: ‘Wow!’ Honestly, I still jump in my head like a kid at a basketball game … I saw my name on the screen Monday and I still wanted to jump out of my seat and scream ‘Holy shit! My name is up on a movie screen!’ I sway this incessantly: All the relative intelligence that I have garnered through education over the years is gone. I have nothing clever to say, but ‘Yahhhhh!’

 

It’s like a sporting event, you stand up when a home run’s hit, ‘Hurray!’ That’s all I can say, I don’t know what else to say. I can’t think of anything profound or clever.

 

CC: What can you tell me about Kick-Ass 3?

 

JR JR: I’ll yell a little bit louder if there’s a third one. The series I’m working on is 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. I’ve got to compound that and keep it up.

 

CC: This completes the arc? So this was planned from the beginning?

 

JR JR: An ending was planned, yes, as far as how long we’d have gone with it.  I think it depended on happenstance. And again the amount of work I had to put out was limited by what I was doing with Marvel. And unfortunately, we should have done five, six, seven arcs instead of four (including ‘Hit-Girl). But still, I’ll be damn proud of it, and I’m looking forward to what happens afterwards. And who knows what will happen in the future?

 

CC: The rumor about Superman. What have you got to say?

 

JR JR: I got to say who knows what the future will hold? I’ve always been fascinated with an idea that would apply to Superman. And being in between contracts, I’ ve been offered a chance to do something from DC Comics. And 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.

Sean Fernald, representing John Romita Jr., said “John has been with Marvel for nearly four decades now, and his last seven-year contract expired. He has not renewed it yet. He’s still talking to them, but also considering other options. And that’s something sort of big that’s going on in his life and as a result in the comic-book industry.”

 

Captain Comics: Before we get to Kick-Ass and your potential future, may I ask some career questions to sort of set the table?

 

John Romita Jr.: Sure!

 

CC: OK, I can see some influences in your work, like your father, Jack Kirby, John Buscema. Any others I should be aware of?

 

JR JR: None that show. In my head, it starts off at the top of my head, I see all these great illustrators outside of comics. And all the great illustrators in of comics. By the time it comes out my fingers, unfortunately, it ends up being my stuff. But through my education, and through reading books, and speaking to other artists, and looking at their influences, there’s an enormous amount of illustrators, the Gibsons, and the Wyeths, the fine artists – [Charles Dana] Gibson’s a fine illustrator, Wyeths are painters – [garble] is the style of painter I’d like to be when I graduate from deadline work and retire to the south of France. I’d like to be an impressionistic painter.On a serious note, there’s guys like J.C. Leyendecker, not a lot of people know about Gibson – it’s outside of comics. Inside of comics, you’ve hit the three. I’m influenced in my head, and my own style ends up covering it. I can’t do anything about that. But there’s more to it than just the actual illustrative style, then there’s the storytelling  aspect of comics that I find I’ve been influenced most by, which is my father, and Stan Lee’s storytelling and Jack Kirby’s storytelling, and of course cinema has affected me. But I mention the storytelling because it actually improved my artwork. And I’d have to say my father has been the most influential. Like I said, I wish I could be as good an artist as he is, it just didn’t work out that way.

 

CC: I think you’ve certainly carved your own place in the world. And it seems natural that you’d follow your father’s footsteps, given your talent. Did you ever consider any other career?

 

JRJR: Yeah, as a matter of fact, my degree is in advertising illustration. And I assumed I was going to be in advertising in some form, because my father told me so. He said ‘You’d be crazy to want to go into comics.’ Yeah, I didn’t think of it as the end-all being a cartoonist. I assumed it would be filling in a couple of years after college, then I would be looking to walk up and down Madison Avenue with my big portfolio.  But I’m happy how things happened to work out. Obviously, advertising can affect any part of a job. The advertising “neck,” – how to sell the work, and how to promote stuff. The Illustration part of it helped out big time. And all of the curriculum that was there helped out enormously. I don’t know if I’ll go into advertising after I retire; I don’t know that. But I’m glad I took the course, and I’m glad I got the degree, and I’m glad it worked out the way it did.

 

CC: It’s always out there as a possibility – Plan B.

JRJR: Sure, it’s just at a little different level than when I was in college. The technology has changed just a touch!

 

CC: You’ve worked for Marvel now for about 37 years, right?

 

JRJR: It would have been 37 in January under contract, but it’s about 36 total years under contract. But I’m still working for Marvel as Kick-Ass is put out by Icon. So 37, yes.

 

CC: You’ve drawn virtually everyone in the Marvel Universe. Is there one you haven’t drawn as much as you’d like, or a favorite you’d like to return to?

 

JR JR: The best character in existence, as far as I’m concerned, is Spider-Man. There’s a bunch of things to that. 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. There are other characters, even Superman, Batman, because of an application of an idea that I have. 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.

 

CC: Before Kick-Ass you had a creator-owned book called “Gray Area.” Any plans for it?

 

JR JR: Yes, matter of fact there’s a screenplay that’s been completed, and we’re in the process of getting a second draft. We’re also – I say “we,” it’s the writer Glen Brunswick and I, are going to add some pages of artwork (well, I’m going to do the artwork, he’s done some writing cleanup). There’s gonna be some new lettering and new coloring. And we’re going to re-publish the graphic novel  in time for the second draft of the screenplay, and we’re gonna shop it. … We’re gonna shop it around to the studios, and we’ve got a producer attached to it named Stephen LaRue [sp?] and Solipsist Films is the production company that’s gonna shop it. We’ll see what happens.


CC: The way the movie and comics synergy is working  these days, that’s a powerful impetus behind it.

 

JR JR: I hope so … It’s a quality, quality story. And I can attest to that because I came up with the idea!

 

CC: Itw as unusual for the time, I was intrigued by it, no Spandex … it was quite a departure for what you’d been doing at the time.

 

JR JR: That’s pretty much the way my other creator-owned properties are lining up … that type of combination of no super-heroes, and some fantasy and reality mixed in. And also based on past experiences in my life. I’ve found the best way to get some heart into a story is to use past experiences as a bridge to jump off of. Jumping off of bridges, not so good.

 

CC: Maybe not the best metaphor! But I get the idea.

 

JR JR: So I took some of my childhood experiences, some of my mid-life experiences, and friends, family, and used them as bases for stories and add the fantastic to it. I’ve got five or six of them, that I’ve based them on. Even down to my dear friend and deceased roommate, New York police officer Jack, I’ve based a story on. LIterlally, he came to me in dreams after he passed away saying he needed my help, that kind of thing. I’ve come up with ideas based on a little bit of real life, only for the sole purpose of having a basis in reality that I can jump from.

 

CC: There’s no limit to that. It could be an anthology series, it could be a series of movies, it could be a Netflix show …

 

JR JR: The interesting thing is that I add the fantastic to reality, and yet, the character that I’m talking about, who’s just a dear friend, rest in peace, was an amazing character all by himself. I have an opportunity to show that.  … He was an amazing character. And I added the fantastic, a story about him coming back from the dead type of thing. These are the kind of things that I’m trying to come up with, all based on past experiences or childhood experiences, even childhood experiences that my parents went through. Like Schmuggy and Bimbo, two characters who grew up with my parents. Out of a lack of imagination to come up with something out of the blue, I grab something that’s colorful in my past, and add a little bit more fantasy to it. It’s fun. I’m eventually going to run out of colorful metaphors and colorful stories, because my life has only so much color to it. But interestingly enough, my family and my friends … New York City does to people. Makes your life colorful.

 

CC: Likethey say, there’s a million stories in the Naked City.

 

JR JR: Absolutely true. [Laughs]

 

CC:  Maybe you should use that line! You could design a whole show around that!

 

JR JR: Maybe a crime drama!

 

CC: Thanks for indulging me.

 

JR JR: How did you become involved in Kick-Ass? Did Millar come to you, or what?

 

JR JR: Yeah, he did. We working on the “Enemy of the State” Wolverine series, and one of us mentioned, or both, about doing something creator-owned. And hehad 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. But because it’s Mark I wanted to work on it, and then he proposed it to me, but it was different than the way it ended up. 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.

CC: There’s no doubt that Millar is a brilliant writer. Is “Enemy of the State” the only place you’d worked together?

 

JR JR: That’s correct. But it was a long series, and we got to know each other. I believe the first thing he did as send me, and this is the absolute truth – as soon as we were signed up to work together – he sent me an airline bottle of Scotch whiskey. He said, ‘If we’re going to work together, you have to know my taste in liquor.’ And he sent me the little bottle.  Just from that you can imagine the  kind of guy he is. Very colorful, brilliant. And then we worked together on the Wolverine  story, and got along famously, met at conventions, managed to enjoy ourselves immensely together. And then the creator-owned thing happened, he proposed the idea, and it just morphed and got bigger and bigger and bigger. Interestingly enough, it didn’t get too big for him to keep a grasp of quality. Sometimes it can outgrow you, or get too big for you. It didn’t.  And he’s brilliant. It affected the artwork. Hopefully my artwork affected his writing, and it’s worked out really well.

 

CC: Well, I’m going to call y’all co-creators, even if you are trying to give him all the credit!

 

JR JR: Interestingly enough, he says I’ve done 80 percent of the work. I tell him, just send another 30 percent of your check over to me, and we’ll make it 80-20. I’ll accept that.

 

CC: Seems only fair.

 

JR JR: I have it in an e-mail! I’ll take him to court one of these days …

 

CC: You should wait until after Kick-Ass 3.

 

JR JR: I will, I will.

 

 I’ve read elsewhere that you and Millar didn’t change your approach on the book, even though you know it was going to be a movie from the outset. Is that right?

 

JR JR: It was close to the outset, yes.  The only way I can do this is to stick with what I knew how to do. I was consciously wanting to have a physical difference in the artwork. So I made a subtle change in the artwork. I literally left out all dark fields; no black, no shading. I wanted just linear – lots of  linework. A real illustrative look. A brilliant artist that worked with me, Scott Palmer, and we discussed that and it worked out nicely. I tried to distinguish my work from the regular mainstream work. But I couldn’t have done anything differently because I wouldn’t know  how to deal with the extreme violence. So I stuck with – and this is weird. The first issue, I struggled in my mind before I began, with how to go about it. Here’s the extreme violence, do I do something different than what I’m doing, how do I show this violence? I think the first day, as I approached the first violent scene, was the way I would have done it in normal work-for-hire books. I had to. I couldn’t come up with anything different. I didn’t want to try to be non-deliberate by doing something special for a big scene. In other words, a full-page splash of someone getting their head chopped off, I didn’t want to just sell out immediately. What I wanted to do was apply it the way I normally do things, which is my normal formula is deliberate storytelling. That was the difference right there. Because my normal storytelling is with discretionary violence. And now here we’re using graphic violence. And I just applied it to my normal storytelling. And it worked out nicely. It was a nice juxtaposition. I kind of stumbled onto it, and I’m very happy that I did. 

 

 CC: Was it Hitchcock who said what scares you the most is what you don’t see?

 

JR JR: That’s exactly right! And that’s why discretionary violence can be as effective. Which makes this all the more of a struggle with me: How do I handle it? And all I did was eliminate the discretion.

 

CC: You leave enough out that the reader has to fill in the blanks and become a collaborator.

 

JR JR: Absolutely true. That’s one of the mysterious things about comics and movies is what I didn’t know what was behind the curtain or in the dark.

 

CC: Can movies do anything you can imagine now? Have the F/X gotten that good?

 

JR JR: Yes, they have. And that’s a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is it’s allowed comics and Hollywood to come alongside each other. The bad thing is that there’s no mystery. That’s not bad, it’s bad in that you can’t be mysterious as much as you used to be. Now they say ‘Oh, we can show that, we have no problem with that.’ There’s no cleverness involved. It’s so easy to do things.

 

Actually, I should take that back and say it’s a blessing. We’re from the same thought patterns about what you don’t see is scary. Or in the case of romance, what you don’t see is very sexy. But that’s our imaginations. No longer is there need for imaginations … because technology has allowed us to do anything. Maybe there’s a down side to that. But the good side is that there are no limits any more on imagination, you can throw anything on the screen and pretty much apply it visually. I’m on the fence on that.

 

CC: Movies are now at the stage of figuring out what to leave out.

 

JR JR: A scream off-panel or off-screen – a blood-curdling scream – is still effective. You can’t take that away. But you have to build up to it, and that’s where the storytelling comes into play. I can still apply that kind of discretion on Kick-Ass, with a little trickle of blood, let’s say. But I can’t show graphic [violence] constantly. There has to be a way of avoiding it. So that you can still have a little mystery, and it’s too repetitive.

 

CC: How close have the Kick-Ass movies come to showing what you’ve seen in your head?

 

JR JR: It’s about 60/40. I didn’t want the film to be lock-step with the series. That would have made no sense. Why have a director? Why have a screenwriter? The whole point is the way the collaboration is with the writer and the artist should be like the collaboration between the graphic novel series and the director. And I think it’s worked out well in both films, two different versions. I really enjoyed this one and the difference between the two isn’t so much as glaring as much as it’s distinct. There is a difference. The characters are there, but the storytelling is different and the applications are different.

 

CC: What did they keep that you’re most proud? parts did the movie lift that you’re most proud of?

 

JR JR: There are visuals in both movies that are glaring and obvious that were taken from our choreography. I noticed the very first time up on the screen the first film the opening sequence when the superhero jumps off the building, that was taken directly from the book. And there were several scenes along the way in that first film that were taken directly from the books. Not constant throughout the film, but there was enough that you could say ‘Wowe, that’s the same set-up we had in the books’ and that’s damned flattering. And it’s scattered throughout the films. And I think that the directors using a good amount, either/or, and then mixing them together, it’s a nice combination. And again, I don’t expect it to be 100 percent either direction. I want a nice combination of both, and I got it.

 

CC: Did you ever dream that you’d ever see characters you’d created would move and breath on a movie screen. What’s it feel like?

 

JR JR: ‘Wow!’ Honestly, I still jump in my head like a kid at a basketball game … I saw my name on the screen Monday and I still wanted to jump out of my seat and scream ‘Holy shit! My name is up on a movie screen!’ I sway this incessantly: All the relative intelligence that I have garnered through education over the years is gone. I have nothing clever to say, but ‘Yahhhhh!’

 

It’s like a sporting event, you stand up when a home run’s hit, ‘Hurray!’ That’s all I can say, I don’t know what else to say. I can’t think of anything profound or clever.

 

CC: What can you tell me about Kick-Ass 3?

 

JR JR: I’ll yell a little bit louder if there’s a third one. The series I’m working on is 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. I’ve got to compound that and keep it up.

 

CC: This completes the arc? So this was planned from the beginning?

 

JR JR: An ending was planned, yes, as far as how long we’d have gone with it.  I think it depended on happenstance. And again the amount of work I had to put out was limited by what I was doing with Marvel. And unfortunately, we should have done five, six, seven arcs instead of four (including ‘Hit-Girl). But still, I’ll be damn proud of it, and I’m looking forward to what happens afterwards. And who knows what will happen in the future?

 

CC: The rumor about Superman. What have you got to say?

 

JR JR: I got to say who knows what the future will hold? I’ve always been fascinated with an idea that would apply to Superman. And being in between contracts, I’ ve been offered a chance to do something from DC Comics. And 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.

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