I have a weird relationship with Kick-Ass going on right now. I think I'm getting measurable heart palpitations in anticipation of its world premiere at SXSW on Friday, yet I've refused to watch any trailers for it beyond the initial teaser. After hearing the raving responses from a handful of people who caught the early screening at Butt-Numb-a-Thon last December, I don't want to dare risk having any of its big moments spoiled in a trailer. That said, I just tore through reading the outstanding behind-the-scenes compendium that is Kick-Ass: Creating the Comic, Making the Movie.

Given that I'm trying to avoid knowing too much about the movie ahead of time, reading a book about the making of it written by Mark Millar, the man who not only helped produce the film, but wrote the source material it is based on, might seem a tad counter-productive. It wasn't, though. In a weird way it only fed my hunger more. Creating the Comic, Making the Movie is like an introductory hit of crack for a behind-the-scenes junkie like me and now I'm hooked, jonesing to get my next Kick-Ass fix.

I'm a huge fan of all the movie tie-ins Titan Books has been putting out over the last few years, particularly Star Trek: The Art of the Film, but I think Kick-Ass may just be their best work yet. It's obviously an indispensable resource for production information, but what makes it so enjoyable is that unlike their previous tie-ins, which were written by third parties, Creating the Comic was written by Millar himself. Sure, it may lose a bit of objectivity because of that, but Millar's informal, casual, and honest style of writing make the whole thing come across like a personal conversation between the reader and the writer.



And just as you'd expect from a personal conversation, it's ripe with confessions. This isn't a by-the-numbers retrospective break down of how Kick-Ass the comic and Kick-Ass the movie came together; this is Millar's personal perspective on what it all meant to him. It opens with his own anecdote of how Kick-Ass, which tells the story of a young man who throws caution to the wind and tries to become a superhero despite not having any superpowers, and how he and a friend actually planned to become superheroes when they were in high school. These beginnings are rife with humility, but they also help explain the "this is my story and I'm going to tell it my way" independent spirit of the comic; a spirit that extended to the movie thanks to Matthew Vaughn and his willingness to never compromise the production.

It's no secret that Kick-Ass was made outside the studio system, but what this book dives into is just how much of an impact the studio-free environment had on the production. Not only was Millar more involved than he ever expected to be (he assumed his producer responsibilities would match his contributions to Wanted, which were mainly to get a five minute phone call from the studio every other week asking what he thought about a decision they had already made) but nearly every step of the process reads as though it were made in harmonious collaboration, which is wonderful to learn considering how often you come across stories of writers being shut out of a film after they've sold the rights to producers disinterested in a writers' input.

But if reading about the production from just Millar's point of view isn't interesting enough for you, the publisher also put together a pair of interviewers to approach everyone from the film's director and its stars to the comic's artist, John Romita Jr. and get their personal reactions to everything from costume design to casting to how much of a fanboy they may be. As with everything else in the book, these interspersed segments aren't just dry, factual information, but open and honest reactions. I say that not to imply that other behind-the-scenes books are somehow dishonest, but I've come across few that are as playful and as endearing as Kick-Ass: Creating the Comic, Making the Movie.

As far as presentation goes, the book boasts the standard quality of excellence one should expect from Titan's movie tie-ins. Each page is overflowing with things to absorb, be they text blocks, comic sketches, frames from the film, or behind-the-scenes stills. Think of it as a superlative making-of supplemental you've seen on a Blu-ray disc, only in book form.

Again, my hat is off to Titan for putting out one hell of a behind-the-scenes movie book. I doubt this will be the last time they do such a tremendous job and I have no idea what their next title is going to be, but the geek in me can't wait to get his hands on it. The next time you're at a Barnes & Noble, or wherever you buy books, pull a copy of Creating the Comic off the shelf and just flip through the pages. You'll see exactly what I'm talking about in no time.

Or check this out!