Kevin Smith & Jim Mahfood: Clerks: The Comic Book

Kevin Smith & Jim Mahfood: Clerks: The Comic Book

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Clerks: The Comic Book

Author: Kevin Smith & Jim Mahfood

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Writer/director Kevin Smith (Mallrats, Chasing Amy) loves comic books, so it was probably inevitable that he would eventually try making his own, especially after his work on Tim Burton's upcoming Superman movie was scrapped. Those looking for a taste of what Smith can do with superhero material will have to search the Internet—or wait until he takes over the writing duties at Daredevil—but those anticipating something a little closer to the source need wait no longer. Though none of Smith's generally dialogue-driven films would appear to be easily translated into comics, here's Clerks: The Comic Book, a continuation of Smith's low-budget 1994 feature-film debut about unhappy members of the lower end of New Jersey's retail-service industry. Movie sequels in comic-book form have a long history of being terrible, as anyone who remembers Marvel Comics' Star Wars series—which for some reason included a giant, laser-toting rabbit with green fur—can attest. Smith's own knowledge of this phenomenon may have kept Clerks from meeting the same fate: His decision to write this adaptation surely didn't hurt. Smith's ear for dialogue carries over to the page effectively; in fact, because there's a limit to the number of words that can fit into a speech balloon, readers are spared the sharp but overlong monologues that plagued Chasing Amy. In this first issue, Clerks' two protagonists decide to begin dealing Star Wars figures, a decision that pits them against the rival proprietors of a comic-book shop, and eventually involves a third matched set of male friends: Jay and Silent Bob, the comical dope peddlers who have appeared in each of the director's films. The form allows Smith to indulge in some of the broad humor that's bubbled under the surface of his films, and while some of the jokes don't work—references to "Shaved Bush Chewie" and "Leia-Porkin' Ewok" figures, for example—Smith displays a real knack for both plotting a story and pacing a gag. Jim Mahfood's attractive, perfectly matched black-and-white artwork helps, too. While Clerks: The Comic Book steers clear, so far at least, of some of the more substantial issues raised in the film—which may have something to do with the near-absence of female characters—it definitely captures the source material's flavor. This probably ensures that Smith's fans will love it, his detractors will hate it, and just about everyone else won't care.

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