'Kick-Ass' co-creator John Romita Jr. talks past, present, and future
Was there ever any content that gave you pause or made you uncomfortable, or were you trusting in Mark Millar's vision?
There were a couple of things that made me uncomfortable. One is the C-bomb, the famous comment that was in the film. That made me uncomfortable because that is the most foul word in the history of mankind in America, and yet they use it a little more frequently in the UK, without the same bang to it. They use that word as if we use the word "bitch" around here. Be that as it may, it still made me uncomfortable. Made me uncomfortable when I heard it from a little girl, and it caused all kind of controversy.
The only thing that I had pause for were the kids getting killed in one issue, and the rape scene that didn't really happen. It was everything but the rape scene -- everything leading up to the rape scene, the brutalizing of the girl.
Those things are uncomfortable for me on a personal basis -- the thought of a child getting hurt rips my heart out, the thought of a woman getting attacked rips my heart out. Then seeing Hit-Girl getting beat up in the second arc, that broke my heart because I came to know Chloë Moretz. "Nobody can touch that girl!"
Those little moments made me uncomfortable, only because it's something I had never considered before. You'd have to ask Mark if he regrets any of that. I don't know. I've seen stuff in some independent books that still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, that I'm shocked at. Because this is higher profile, I had those moments of discomfort, yes. There's something I've never done before. The first time I illustrated a naked woman in an issue, it made me feel uncomfortable. I come from a Catholic background, what can I say? [Laughs] I'm puritanical. I'm such a wuss!
It seems like you've been working that out of your system, though.
When I was first working on this, my son was 11, I think, and I had to keep him out of the room. "Dad, what do you mean I can't come in the room? What are you doing in there?" "Vinnie, you can't see this." Almost as if I was doing a porno movie. I had to keep him out, because the stuff was so rough. And that made him want to see it all the more! So I had to hide the books from him, I had to hide the artwork from him. That's what people do -- they're dying of curiosity.
The whole thing was a shock to my system at first, and it was a shock to everybody's system -- my parents and my family, so on -- because it was me. And then I had moments when I was trying to come up with new and inventive ways to ruin people's bodies, to cut them into little pieces. "How can I do something that's never been done before? Let's cut this head's guy off in sections, instead of completely." You know what kind of sick, twisted people come up with this kind of stuff? And here I am, coming up with it in the middle of the night as I'm working.
There's one last issue of your "Captain America" run with writer Rick Remender left to come out. How'd you enjoy illustrating that story? Just from the perspective of a reader, seemed like a cool story to draw; a different type of Captain America book, with plenty of otherworldly creatures for Cap to interact with.
Amazing. Because it was so different. I love different. Rick Remender came up with this fantastic otherworldly deconstruction of Captain America. Very proud of it, and Rick did a hell of a job.
It was not easy, which seems to be par for the course for me -- a single character book turns into "War and Peace"; Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments." Everybody throws in a cast of millions whenever I'm working on a book. [Laughs] I don't know if I should take it as a compliment or I should get mad. But Rick Remender should be applauded for this series. It's brilliant, and I'm very proud of it.
You're likely still focused on drawing "Kick-Ass 3," but what do you see next for you beyond that, in a general sense? Your Marvel contract, I believe, is up.
Yes, yes it is. It's up.
Is there a chance you're headed elsewhere with work-for-hire material? What's in your future?
I honestly don't know for sure. I do know I'll be working, I just don't know in what capacity. Could be freelance, could be work-for-hire and creator-owned. I have a lawyer working on that, with Marvel, and DC, and Image. Everybody's talking. I'm still doing the "Kick-Ass" book under the Icon label, and I have four-and-a-half issues to finish. I honestly don't know, and I'm going to let things play out as they will. All I know is, I want to do creator-owned, and I want to do work-for-hire. I have five creator-owned ideas in various forms of production. "The Gray Area's" got some interest, "Shmuggy and Bimbo." Everything that I want to do is all down the line, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do first in what order, but I know that I'll be an artist. [Laughs]
You've had such a legacy at Marvel, but is it almost at a position where you've drawn all the Marvel characters you wanted to and you're looking for something different? Or would you be happy with more Marvel work?
I can't even think about it that way, because I've done several arcs with each character. I think it's less about characters now, and more about an idea that I have and I'd love to apply it to a character, whoever that could be. I honestly am going to let things work out before I decide which characters I want to do.
I can't really give you a straight answer. That's the unfortunate thing. I'm in such a gray area -- excuse the pun -- at the moment. I'm going to let it play out, and let my lawyer deal with the contract negotiations, because I'm too nice a guy to be a negotiator. I just can't take advantage of anybody. [Laughs] I'm a wuss! What can I say, I'm a wuss.
Plus, with these long-running characters, a story can come along -- like the "Captain America" "Dimension Z" arc -- where it's an old character, but portrayed in a way that hasn't been seen before.
Absolutely true. And that plays a part in it, it does. And it depends on writers. I think the industry moves that way. You can't expect a title to go on ad infinitum with the same ol', same ol'. So you have different people coming in, throwing their thoughts in different directions, and that's the freshness of the industry.
And Hollywood plays a part in this. People know that their ideas can be attractive, because there are no limits anymore. Hollywood and comics have come together where they should have a long time ago, but the technology wasn't there. So now it's a wide open, and that's exciting. The work-for-hire and the creator-owned, they're connected, in many different ways. And that's exciting, because it really does open up everybody's imagination. And I can't tell you how excited I am about the future -- the immediate future.
"Kick-Ass 3" #2 is on sale now, and the "Kick-Ass 2" feature film opens Friday.
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