Jeff Lemire and Mark Millar have never met, but they have shared a mutual admiration for years. So when Millar cold-called (well, emailed) Lemire asking him to write Hit-Girl — featuring the breakout star of Millar’s Kick-Ass franchise — the Canadian cartoonist didn’t hesitate. And now that it’s happening, Lemire’s bringing Mindy McCready to his home and native land, complete with Eduardo Risso on art.
CBR connected with Lemire, and the creator of Black Hammer and Descender shared that as he continues to transition his career further and further towards creator-owned projects, he views Millar as the model for success.
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The Toronto-based writer/artist also spilled the bloody details about what to expect from Mindy’s upcoming Canadian adventure, which begins in Hit-Girl #5 on June 20 from Image Comics, and how an ex-NHL tough guy-turned-Canuck crime boss features in the 12-year old psychopath’s story. Lemire also revelled in the greatness of Risso, and the potential for “polite” bad people in Canada.
CBR: Hit-Girl #5 opens in a snow-covered field but in a flashback, we find out the story is set in Toronto. While Canada is obviously not without its own level of violence, especially in larger cities, speaking as a fellow Canadian, am I blinded to believe that the adventures of Hit-Girl — and her cohort Kick-Ass — are perhaps not better suited to the streets of New York, Chicago or Los Angeles?
Jeff Lemire: There are bad people everywhere, even Canada. They are just way more polite about being bad here. [Laughs]
Do you bring Mindy to the Great White North, as well, as I understand that the storyline will also feature some of Canada’s indigenous population, specifically the Cree?
Mindy does indeed head north after a brief stay in Toronto. As you know, the James Bay area is somewhere I have visited and explored in a lot of my recent work, from Roughneck to Secret Path so it was fun to bring an iconic character like Hit-Girl up north, too!
What stands out most to you most about Canada’s First Nations population and what makes them such a powerful voice for comic book storytelling? Traditionally, they are collectively wildly underutilized as subjects and/or source material.
This story does not deal directly with indigenous issues or traditions. As I said, I have done that in recent work, but Hit-Girl is a much more high-octane sort of story, and in this instance it was the land itself that I felt would be a beautiful backdrop for her adventure, and I was dying to see how a master like Eduard Risso would render the north.
Me too. [Laughs] And we’ve seen some interior pages for your first issue and Eduardo is, indeed, killing it. His collaboration with Brian Azzarello on 100 Bullets is next level and I also love the Batman story he drew with Azz for Wednesday Comics, too. I know you have a relationship with Brian from Future’s End, but did you know Eduardo before this project?
I do know Brian and have worked with him in the past. But I have never had a chance to work with Risso. I thought if I tried, Azz might knife me. [Laughs] But in this case he would have to go through Mark Millar to get to me, so I think I’m safe. But seriously, Risso is a true master. I have adored his work and his storytelling for years and I am truly humbled to be working with him.
Why is Eduardo the right fit for what you wanted to do with Hit-Girl?
Are you kidding? He is the right fit for anything. [Laughs] But the landscape where I set the majority of this story is, visually, a place of extremes and extreme contrast. We take Mindy’s hyperactive sort of ultra-adventure, and put it in this stark but beautiful setting. Risso is the master of contrast. Light and dark. And it shows here. He is also able to inject an incredible amount of character and heart into what is a very violent and over-the-top story at times.
We’ve also seen some variant covers. Who is the big man in the Canada jersey? He looks amazing.
That’s the Karl Kerschl cover. That man is our main bad guy. A fictional, ex-NHL tough guy turned Canuck crime boss named Billy Baker. He is a really fun, walking, talking Canadian cliché, and I had fun making Mindy dismantle him piece by piece.
Were you a fan of the original Kick-Ass series and more broadly, the work of Mark Millar as a whole?
I greatly admire what Mark has built. As someone looking more and more to do creator-owned work, Mark is the model for where I would like my career to go. I am flattered beyond words that he asked me to follow him on Hit-Girl.
How did you end up working with him on Hit-Girl? Did you have a previous relationship?
Mark and I have never met, but we are mutual admirers and have expressed that admiration via email a number of times. Mark emailed me out of the blue asking me to take over Hit-Girl after him and, like I said, I was very flattered and excited by that offer.
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Any further/future plans to work with him?
I sure hope so. All he needs to do is ask.
And when can we expect your Netflix deal to be announced?
[Laughs] Stay tuned.
Hit-Girl #5 is scheduled for release on June 20 from Image Comics.