Screenwriter and author Jane Goldman first collaborated with director Matthew Vaughn when she co-wrote the screenplay adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Stardust. Subsequently, Goldman co-wrote Kick-Ass with Vaughn, and is at work on the script for their next collaboration, X-Men: First Class. Her other screenplays include the upcoming films The Debt (starring Helen Mirren) and The Woman in Black (set to star Daniel Radcliffe). Now artist and co-creator of Kick-Ass, John Romita, Jr. has previously been best known for his work on Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Uncanny X-Men lines; he follows in the footsteps of his father, also a legendary Marvel artist who left his stamp on many of the same characters. Goldman and Romita sat down together to meet the press at the 2010 WonderCon at San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center.
Groucho: What were your first impressions of the material that you got, all the words and pictures from the comic? And John, what were your initial impressions of how they were handling your material?
John Romita, Jr.: Oh boy! Go ahead, you go.
Jane Goldman: Well, I mean, very early on—we kind of started the screenplay back before John had started work, actually, but we were very excited when we did get to see John's art.
John Romita, Jr.: All I had was—I was doing some model sheets and some character sheets, beforehand. And when I actually saw the screenplay, which was rather quick, to work on the animated sequence, and got a chance to read it—and I had threatened to put it on the internet for a certain amount of money—
Jane Goldman: (Laughs.)
JRJR: But they didn't buy it—I was giggling like a little kid. Because it was so close to what Mark and I had worked on before the finished art. And I was grinning—my wife came down. I'm reading the screenplay. She said, "What you supposed to be doin'?" I said, "Well, on the back of this, I'm supposed to work on an animated scene. She says, "What are you doin' up here?" "Well, I'm reading this again."
JRJR: Which was, like, my third time.
JRJR: So I was a little kid in a candy store. And it's the only way I can describe it. There's no classy way of putting this. I was a fan geek.
Groucho: The process had to have been very complicated—you reminded me that John hadn't finished any issues yet—one might worry about too many cooks in the kitchen when you have Matthew Vaughn, you have Mark and John, and you all trying to—
JG: To be perfectly honest, though, the two things were growing up completely separately. I mean, we were all communicating. But, I mean, you know, you have John and Mark working on the comic, and you have Matthew and I working on the movie. And apart from the fact that we were all, y'know, getting along great and just sharing with one another what we were all up to, there was no question of either pair interfering with the other pair's work, so it worked.
JRJR: It would have been obvious had everything crossed too conveniently, so even though we're having a concerted effort to keep them disparate, it was still close enough to be—have the charm from either/or, coordinated. It was a nice combination.
JG: You know, I mean, I think because Matthew and I were concentrating on the movie, and John and Mark were concentrating on the comic—apart from when we stole John away to do the animated sequence!
JRJR: Yes, but I couldn't quite say to them, "Uh, I'm sorry, I can't do this. I have a comic book to work on."
JG: I know. You're like—
JRJR: It wouldn't have sounded smart.
JG: "Screw that! Come and work on this movie!" But, no, I mean, there was no question of...apart from the fact that there were things that Mark went "Oh, that works well. We'll use that in the comic" and other times when Mark would go "Oh, I've changed this, and this is what I'm going to do," and we'd go "Oh, that's cool," and we'd put it in. But there was never a matter of four of us all kind of shouting—
JRJR: How soon after the screenplay did you guys start shooting?
JG: It was pretty fast, as I recall. We sort of went into production right away.
JRJR: 'Cause I think I had two issues—
JRJR: Or an issue and a half done, two issues done before the filming began.
JG: Yeah. No, definitely. I mean, once we started shooting, there were two issues done. And it was so exciting for us when we saw John's first lot of artwork. It was a really exciting moment for us all.
JRJR: And that—talk about compliments. And I wasn't sure; I didn't know them personally very well. But when Matthew would say, on a conference call, "I really enjoy the way you tell a story," "Yeah, right, right, right, right, right. We'll have lunch someday. Right, right." And then to have him—find out through Mark that they actually used some of the sequences—
JG: Yeah. Absolutely.
JRJR: So closely. First, it was nice to know Matthew was honest. And second, that—like I said, that was the biggest compliment, to find that out. It was nice...
G: How did you first get hooked up with Matthew as his go-to screenwriter, and you with Mark as an artist?
JG: With Matthew, it was when he was looking for a screenwriter to adapt Stardust. And I've actually known Neil Gaiman for a long time, since I was very young. And Matthew had been interviewing loads of Hollywood hotshots, and Neil had said, "You know what, you guys should go for coffee," and I just said, "Well, he's never gonna hire me. You know, he's talking to all these really important screenwriting guys. And it was just one of these things where we went for coffee and just creatively our thoughts were so much along the same lines, we just clicked. And by the end of the coffee, he said, "When can you start?" So it was great, and it's just gone from there. It's just one of those relationships—working relationships—that works incredibly well. So it's just a very fortunate thing, and we look forward to working together again.
JRJR: Interestingly enough, with Mark, it's less about the friendship...we were friends before we worked. I'm writer-friendly, according to the writers. I worked with Neil on Eternals.
JRJR: And he came out of the cold and told Marvel that he wanted to work with me, because I'm writer-friendly. I give them what they want, and give them more than what they want, but in the realm of what they want. Editorially... And yet when I spoke to Neil, he said, "Listen. I know we've never met, but whatever you do, I'll accept, and I'll change my writing to come to your artwork." Which—wow: that's a compliment. So apparently my storytelling is good enough for writers that they feel comfortable with me. And it's the same thing with Mark. We worked on a Wolverine project. And it went off so well that he said, "Let's do something again," and again, and that's the way it goes. So I give the writers what they want, and yet I expand them visually, more than what they ask for. As long as it's editorially correct, they're happy...
JG: Thank you.
G: Thank you.
JRJR: Thank you so much...I appreciate it.