Kevin Smith has never been a stranger to comics, but this month he made his return to the four-color medium with some unexpected twists.
Thanks to the combined efforts of Mark Millar and John Romita's Kick-Ass team and Image Comics, Smith teamed with artist Pernille Ørum this month to launch the latest chapter in the ongoing adventures of Hit-Girl. The pre-teen assassin stepped into volume 2 of her latest ongoing series with a new "Golden Rage of Hollywood" arc which sees Mindy McCready head to Los Angeles to stop a movie of her life from being made. While the story may sound familiar to Smith fans, there was plenty of new wrinkles to the trope in issue #1 – a "silent" affair that told the story of Hit-Girl foiling a school shooting sans dialogue of any kind.
CBR spoke with Smith from the preproduction offices of his next film, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, and the director went in-depth about the Hollywood parallels and John Byrne comics that inspired his quiet opening story, his personal feelings on how to process the horror of mass shootings in his work, the way his films and comics have been received over the years and why by the end of Mindy's four-issue journey, her view of Hollywood may not be so cynical after all.
CBR: How was it that Mark came to you and got you on board to get into writing comics again?
Kevin Smith: He asked. It's that simple. He hit me with an e-mail out of the blue. I've known Mark for years and am a big fan going back to when he took over Swamp Thing back in the day. He referenced Alan Moore's run, and that instantly made me love him to death. Plus, he's just a really great writer. So I would seek him out at cons and tell him, "Man, I love what you do. I've got pages from Swamp Thing framed in my house and shit."
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I've known him for years, and I've watched him slowly become and industry and really a titan of comic books. He went from that dude who wrote a Swamp Thing I love to being Mark Fuckin' Millar. Netflix invested in the Mark Millar business. And for me, that was a moment where you say, "Hey! One of the good guys rose to the top!" And I loved it when they did Kick-Ass as a flick and introduced Hit-Girl, and I loved Kingsman. I love that his shit has taken off. Some people in this business where you go, "That asshole made it?" but never Mark. He's a really nice guy, and I'm happy to see him succeed.
So he hit me up before my heart attack and told me how he was going to revive the Kick-Ass stuff but give Hit-Girl her own run on a book. And he said, "Do you have any interest in doing four issues?" and I said I'd love to if he thought I was the guy. He was looking to pick artists that would make for international mashups, and I said that there was an artist I love who did a Yoga Hosers piece for me called Pernille. She gave it to me on an episode of the Hollywood Babble-On podcast that we do. I fell in love with her artwork in a big bad way. The DC Super Hero Girls line – which I absolutely love – she was a designer on them. She came in not just as me going "Can you hire my friend?" but she's a legit talent in this space.
And I felt like this story – since we're doing Hit-Girl in Hollywood – needed Pernille who draws in a kind of Disney-esque style. I thought that would lend itself to our story. I don't know if they would have gotten away with her art style when Hit-Girl went to Brazil or Chile, but in a story where we're taking on a fictionalized version of her story in Hollywood, this style felt like the perfect blend of it all. So once Mark hired me, I asked if he could hire her, and then we were off to the races.
And then I had a heart attack. But when I was off mending, I went to work on the scripts. I literally couldn't do anything else. I wrote this in the first week after the heart attack when I was sitting at home unable to do much else. I could physically get around, but I wasn't allowed to work or get up on stage. So I just sat in my office and wrote Hit-Girl, and boy, it came so thick and fast.
What inspired the silent storytelling of that first issue?
The first issue was easy because I didn't have to write any dialogue, and I stole that from John Byrne. When I was a kid, he did a run called "The Many Deaths of Batman." The first issue of that was wordless except for at one point Jim Gordon is in a morgue and says, "Get out." Otherwise not a single line of dialogue. And I was always impressed by that. That's knowing your medium. It's a visual medium, and to do an entire story without word balloons? That takes talent. And naturally, it was John Byrne, so it all made sense.
So when I started in on Hit-Girl, I figured if it was four issues set in Hollywood then each issue could have some dopey nod to Hollywood history. The first one would be "The Silent Era," and I thought it would both be a cool story and a great showcase for Pernille's artwork. She's front and center without word balloons getting in the way. And as another plus, I have done comics in a minute, and if you pay attention to this kind of thing, I'm known for using way too many words. Joe Quesada said to me, "Kevin, you have to leave me a little space to draw pictures" back when we were doing Daredevil. I would just write so many word balloons. Coming back to comics for the first time in a minute and knowing that even the Batman comic I did with Ralph Garman had dialogue all over the place. So let's see if I can do what John Byrne did and tell a story without any dialogue.
And it worked out! The first issue is "The Silent Era" and does its thing, and then the second issue is "The Talkies," and that's when we get into the dialogue of it all. She's cursing her fool head off. But if you're a person who says, "I pay for my comic books by the word, motherfucker" then you're going to feel really ripped off by Hit-Girl #1. But #2, 3 and 4 of the "Golden Rage of Hollywood" arc have plenty of dialogue.