Straight from Dynamite, here's a writer's commentary by Sholly Fish talking about Mighty Mouse #1, which hits stores today. Interior art is by Igor Lima with a cover by Alex Ross.
How's this for irony? I almost always skip over the commentary track in DVD extras, and yet, here I am writing the commentary for our "comic book extra." Well, let's see… I guess I could liven it up a bit by telling you that I'm writing this while dangling over a vat of acid with a savage puma clawing at my lifeline. But I can tell you're the sort of sophisticated reader who wouldn't fall for such cheap sensationalism. Right?
So let's just jump in, and I'll try to make this kinda entertaining. If I fail miserably, you can always skip the rest and go back to reading the comic. It's okay, I won't take it personally.
Whoops. There goes another strand of the lifeline.
Whenever I write all-ages comics, one of the challenges is trying to make it truly "all-ages" – working on one level for kids and another for older readers, so that there's something for everyone. A lot of the time, that includes sticking in some in-jokes for longtime comics fans. But I can't take credit for the subtle gag that Igor squeezed in here, coloring Oil Can Harry's robot in Lex Luthor colors. I don't know about you, but it made me smile.
By the way, because it needs to be said… Hey, look! I got to write Mighty Mouse! Is that cool, or what?
Here we go, into the story. I'm pretty impressed with Igor's ability to switch back and forth between drawing styles, highlighting the contrast between Mighty Mouse's fun, lighthearted cartoon universe and Joey's real world. I've tried to do the same in the script, making all of the action and dialogue in the real world ring as true as possible.
I've approached this five-issue limited series as a single graphic novel with five chapters, and the purpose of Chapter 1 is to introduce the main characters and set up the background for the rest of the series. So here we start to establish the real world, meet Joey, and begin to experience a little of what he has to deal with on a daily basis. Before anyone asks: No, I'm happy to say I wasn't Joey as a kid (although I did draw comics in my notebook too). But I've known kids who were – and I bet you've known some, too.
By the way, I semi-swiped the device of the jump rope chant from Will Eisner's classic Spirit story Ten Minutes. It's a neat way to mark time while also grounding the story in a little recognizable reality. If you ever want to write comics, there's no better way to learn than to study Eisner. For my money, no one ever did it better.
A little more depth for Joey as we experience his world outside the playground. He's the kind of kid who doesn't even rat out bullies, knows the name of the homeless guy on his stoop, and yet, he spends most of his time alone. And then…
Ta da! It's the first time we see Joey smile, as he escapes from his troubles into the cartoon adventures of his favorite super hero.
Feel free to pull up the Mighty Mouse theme song on YouTube and play it while you read this page. But don't blame me if you can't get the song out of your head for a week.
Despite Mighty Mouse's 75-year history and his sizeable fan base, I'm also conscious of the fact that, because it's been years since his last TV series, there are plenty of people – especially kids – who aren't familiar with Mighty Mouse. So part of the setup in issue #1 is also introducing Mighty Mouse for readers who haven't seen much of him before. We need to see him in action in a typical adventure in his own world first, before we can fully appreciate what's going to happen to him in the next few issues.
In writing Mighty Mouse's "cartoon," I tried to capture the spirit of the original while also weaving in just a touch of the self-aware attitude of Ralph Bakshi's brilliantly insane New Adventures of Mighty Mouse cartoons. Funny thing: When the script went to the licensor to review, one of the questions that came back was whether I'd adapted these pages from an actual cartoon. I hadn't, of course. But if even the people who own Mighty Mouse weren't sure, I figured it meant I was doing my job.
And Igor draws in yet a third, manga-inspired style for Joey's comic! Is there anything the man can't do???
More of the cartoon. In my first draft, I actually wrote all of the cartoon dialogue in operatic rhyme, like the earliest Mighty Mouse cartoons from the 1940s, but the licensor thought that was going too far. Oh well, there goes our shot at being the next Hamilton…
Joey's wish fulfillment! You know that scene in Annie Hall, where some guy is going on and on about Marshall McLuhan, so Woody Allen pulls Marshall McLuhan in from off-camera to tell the guy that he has no idea what he's talking about? And then Woody Allen turns to the camera and asks, "Don't you wish you could do this?" Joey does.
Joey's super hero name, "Joey Justice," just feels to me like something an 11-year-old would come up with. (When I was around that age, I planned to become "Detective Boy.") I really like the homemade-looking costume that Igor gave him, too.
The more-or-less end of the cartoon, while page 16 also underlines the contrast between how justice works in cartoons vs. the real world. Not to mention the fact that Joey understands that difference all too well…
…which is further driven home by the last page of Joey's comic, and the way he reacts to it.
But, suddenly, things really start to get moving. What's going on?
My favorite page in the issue! Just look at those expressions! Check out the contrast between the two art styles in the same panel! And…the issue's over! Aaagghh! What a cliffhanger.
Speaking of cliffhangers, I guess I'd better do something about this puma and the vat of acid now. Thanks for sticking it out through all of my ramblings.
See you next month!