Kick Ass: Creating the Comic, Making the Movie - Book Review
A source over at Titan books sent me an advanced copy of a behind-the-scenes book that features lots of great information about the making of the movie adaptation of Mark Millar's extremely popular Kick Ass, a movie about what would happen if real people decided to become superheroes in real life, even without special powers. I want to clarify right off the bat that I'm reviewing this book and not the movie or the comic. Why would I want to be clear on that? Because if you've read the comic, you know that it's got some pretty serious R-rated material in it that I think is going to spark at least a little controversy. But I want to steer clear of that here and just talk about the book in an un-biased way.
If you're the kind of person who loves the special features that come on your DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, then you are going to eat this book for breakfast. (Don't do that though...) It's full of fun behind-the-scenes stories from everyone at the center of the production, and if you were into the comic or even Mark Millar's other work, then this book will be a special treat for you. I must be getting hungry. I'm using all these food metaphors...
There are scads of photos and images from the comic, original art by John Romita Jr., information about the casting process, concept drawings, interviews, early script pages, anecdotes, and just about everything that you would want to know about the process of adapting a comic book for the silver screen. If you're a fangirl, then you will enjoy page after page of firsthand information from the people closest to the comic and film, including Millar himself. As a matter of fact, you can read ready made rebuttals for some of the criticism Millar knows he's going to face for this film.
Comic book nerds, and I would know because I am one, are completely prepared for what they might see any given day browsing the shelves of their local comic store. I don't know if the parents of kids who love comics know just how graphic and adult comics can be now, but anyone into comics does. It's like any other art form, there's material for all age ranges and maturity levels, but they're not really separated in stores into categories accordingly. (Though sometimes you'll see the parental advisory warnings, like the one on the back of this book. That's rare too though.) Although, just to be honest, in all my years of comic browsing, I have never, not one single time, been in the store at the same time as a kid. Interesting, huh? Comics today seem to be primarily for adults and the only kids I've ever met who are into them are the children of comic book enthusiasts. Kids don't often just stumble upon a love for comics the way they used to...and now I'm sounding old.
Anyway, back to the point at hand, it's not something that you hear a lot about, nobody protests graphic violence in comics. Personally, I find violence on the page of a comic far more palatable and it's almost always more thought out and intellectually delivered within graphic novels than it is in film, in my opinion. Usually, anyway. Because the artists drawing the panels are considering factors like composition and balance, which is sometimes ignored on film in favor of sensationalism or exploitation. But hey, there's good and bad in all art forms right?
But film is a regular battle ground over explicit material, maybe because it's more in your face on screen and also because parents are more likely to see it. I don't know many parents who will hear about the news in comics on TV. Then you take something like the material from Kick Ass that has a kid in a lead role (doling out some vigilante justice) doing some majorly adult stuff, put it on film, and mark my words...you will hear protests over this movie from someone. I save my judgments and opinions, no matter what the buzz, until after I've seen the actual movie.
One of the most interesting parts of the book is hearing how the creators prepared themselves for that and what their thought process was during the initial creation of the material. It's really interesting stuff, and nice to have it all in one place written down. Special features usually move way too quickly for me, and trying to glean anything about a movie you're looking forward to from press junket interviews on entertainment clips shows can be really infuriating. They'll tell you about an interview with a writer, director, or actor you're really looking forward to seeing for 25 minutes before they go to commercial, and then they'll give you a 30 second snippet of something not all that interesting. So this book gives you a nice, long drawn out experience.
It's a coffee table book, so it won't fit on the shelf or in the box with your comics, but you'll probably be able to find a place nearby that will suit the book well if you're interested. Because as I know, where you will physically put it will probably matter to you if you're into collecting. Space is always a factor and most collectors are far more organized than you would ever image. I think we're all type A personalities.
Rest assured, if you already own the comic, you'll probably want this book. If not, wait until you see the movie. If you love the flick, then grab this, it'll be a nice collector's item to stow away along with the comic or DVD once you become a fan.