Monday, April 19, 2010
Kickin' and Creepin'
Suzanne and I went to see KICK-ASS this weekend. I was really expecting to not like this movie. I greatly dislike movies that make fun of geek culture. Granted, there’s a lot to make fun of but it’s such an easy target, it almost feels like bullying. (It’s the same reason dwarf jokes always set my teeth on edge.) But in the case of KICK-ASS, it felt like the filmmakers were laughing with us. Not at us. The geeks (including Kick-Ass himself) are all portrayed as earnest, well-adjusted and pretty darned likeable.
We had a great time and laughed almost constantly, despite the brutal violence, most of which was being committed by the 11-year-old Hit-Girl. I wasn’t sure what to make of a homicidal, pre-pubescent, cherub-faced kid but the whole movie is tongue-in-cheek, so I just went with it. And, let me tell you, Hit-Girl steals the show. I don’t usually like precocious kid actors. (Dakota Fanning, for instance, has always given me the creeps. She was like a forty-year-old woman trapped in a little girl’s body.) But the kid playing Hit-Girl is different somehow. Despite the fact that she kills almost everyone she meets and spouts four-letter words without batting an eyelash, she still maintains an air of adorable sweetness throughout. And I like the fact that her mask is always slightly askew, making her look slightly cross-eyed.
Her dad, the strangely permissive “Big Daddy”, was played by Nicholas Cage, who also tends to grate my nerves, but he was very good in this, doing a riff on Adam West that had me in stitches.
There was also some nice John Romita Jr. artwork on display (given a neat 3D treatment in spots) and the soundtrack (despite being a compilation album and not a score) was, well, kick-ass. All in all, it was a great way to spend an evening. I highly recommend it.
This post’s sketch, I suppose, should have been of Kick-Ass (love that name!) but I was already well into the Creeper drawing before seeing the movie and decided to take advantage of having some art ready to post.
I was inspired by the recent hardcover compilation published by DC of all the Steve Ditko Creeper stories. I was always a big sucker for all the third-tier characters put out by the big two. At Marvel, I loved Nova, Rom, Omega, Deathlok, Nighthawk, Shroud, Black Panther, Vision...If there was a character without his own book or one that lasted less than 25 issues, I was a fan. At DC, it was Firestorm, Black Lightning, Eclipso, Metamorpho, Steel, Blue Devil...and The Creeper.
His origin was standard Ditko fare. Reporter Jack Ryder gets injured and happens to be near a doctor who has created a special healing serum that bestows superpowers. The doctor, upon supplying the serum to Ryder, is shot and killed by mob gunmen. This was very similar to the character The Destructor that Ditko created for Atlas Comics a bit later. Even I admit that The Creeper looks ridiculous in his slapped-together Halloween costume (assembled from odds and ends at the last minute to sneak into a mob costume party), including a red sheepskin rug (!) but somehow it works. Steve Ditko had a real knack for designing compelling characters. (Spider-Man, anyone?) Maybe they wouldn’t have looked like much in real life but, on paper, they were wonderous.
When I still had comic-book artist aspirations, I put together a couple of sample pages featuring The Creeper but never finished the samples. But I’ve always enjoyed drawing him. The new hardcover gave me the perfect excuse. I really liked where the drawing was going but ran out of time last week and ended up rushing it at the end to finish up this weekend. So the background didn’t quite come out like I’d hoped.
Anyway, I hope you like it.
Posted by Matt Wieringo at 9:18 AM