Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Preview Post - THE MASK

It’s time to P-A-R-T-why? Because we’ve reached twenty regular episodes here on 24 Panels Per Second!  And to celebrate, we are taking a look at a 1994 film that really knows how to swing, The Mask!

The history of the character is a little complicated. Conceived by Dark Horse Comics founder and publisher Mike Richardson in the early 1980s, the character made his full debut in Dark Horse Presents #10, written and drawn by Mike Badger. Except, well, the character at this point is not quite the Mask we know. The Masque (as this version of the character had his name written) is supposedly very different from the more famous version to come. While I have not been able to find much in the way of material about this earlier version of the Mask, the below page can give you a sense as to what it was like.

After undergoing a redesign by Chris Warner, writer John Arcudi and artist Doug Mahnke would re-launch the Mask in Mayhem #1. In this new version, the mask is an object which transforms the wearer into a big, green headed being with nearly unlimited power, which includes seemingly warping reality around him in an almost cartoon-like fashion. While infused with the personality of the wearer, the mask also removes almost all sense of social and moral restraint, leading to usually ultra-violent situations. A mixture of black comedy and horror (think Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn in terms of the comic’s tone), the title became a solid hit for Dark Horse, and eventually a hot property to turn into a film.

Initially intended to become a new horror franchise, New Line Cinema offered the job of directing the film to Chuck Russell, whose previous credits include Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and the remake of The Blob:

While Russell would accept the job, the film would be a far cry from the horror film originally sought by the studio. Instead, Russell would transform the material into an out and our comedy adventure, taking even more direct influence from the work of animator Tex Avery than the original comics did, and drawing upon Classic Hollywood comedies and musicals for further influence. Cast in the lead of the greatly reinvented character of Stanley Ipkiss was an up and coming comedy star name Jim Carrey.  1994 would be a huge year for Carrey, with all three of the films he starred in, including The Mask, becoming box office hits, turning Carrey into a household name. The other two films were little films you may have heard of, the first being Ace Ventura: Pet Detective:

And a little film called Dumb and Dumber:

While the story for the film is credited to Michael Fallon and Dark Horse mainstay Mark Verheiden (My Name Is Bruce and a former writer on the early seasons of the television series Smallville), the final screenplay is credited to Mike Werb, writer of, um, Firehouse Dog and Dark Man III: Die, Darkman, Die!

After being a smash at the box office, a sequel was a sure bet. And we did eventually get one….eleven years later, without Jim Carrey or director Russell. Instead, we ended up with Son of the Mask, which stars Jamie Kennedy and Alan Cumming:

Oh we’ll get to that one sooner or later. Thankfully,there was the ok animated spinoff to tied fans over for the most part:

I said ok, remember? I didn't say great.

Anyways, join us later this week as we take a look at the comedy hit, The Mask!

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