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Bryan Hitch on ‘Superman: The Movie’, the Film That Introduced Him to Superheroes

If you didn’t happen to be at the Glasgow Film Festival in Scotland last week, you missed a screening of the Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman: The Movie. You also missed an introduction to the film by comics artist Bryan Hitch, who said the film inspired him to become a comic book artist.

Hitch shared his own initial reaction to the film as an eight-year-old boy, a rather common one among kids who saw the movie upon original release: he borrowed his sister’s red nightie and knickers to play Superman, believing that a man (and/or a little boy dressed appropriately) could fly.

Said Hitch, via a transcript at Comic Book Resources:


Richard Donner is to blame because he made me believe. I had watched a familiar story unfold, as Jor-El sent his only son to Earth to be a force for good, to show us ‘the way.’ I’d been brought up a strict Catholic, an altar boy, a future priest and the Messianic elements were clear and recognizable. If there was to be a modern Jesus, my eight-year-old self reasoned, he was surely to be dressed in red and blue, always tell the truth, fight for truth, justice and the American Way and have a thing for Lois Lane’s pink panties.

Hitch discussed the long and often troubled development of the film, mentioning the many actors briefly considered before Christopher Reeve, including Al Pacino, Clint Eastwood, Dustin Hoffman, Muhammad Ali, Nick Nolte, Neal Adams (!) and Christopher Walken (I would love to see some of those movies, which no doubt exist on parallel earths or Elseworlds or The Sandman’s DVD collection) and other directors considered, like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola and William Friedkin.

Hitch also emphasized that this was the film that not only instilled his love of superheroes and the medium they originated in, but also informed his choice to make a career out of drawing them, and the way he went about drawing them:

Comics were my underage drug of choice, my habit and right next door to the cinema was a newsagent that sold them. I could roll out of Superman and grab a handful of comics on the way home if I’d moaned at my mum long enough for an extra thirty-six pee. But as taht love of Superheroes was taking hold, Superman the movie came and made them real. I’ve been drawing comics for a quarter of a centruy and this movie is the DNA of that career. Not just as a choice but in how I approach it. I’ve had labels such as “cinematic” or “wiedescreen” given to my work in past years and if such labels fit it’s because I learned them here first.

Hitch earned those labels on the works he’s now best-known for, a 12-issue run on The Authority with writer Warren Ellis and two volumes of The Ultimates with Mark Millar for Marvel Comics, the latter of which, interestingly enough, seems to be heavily informing one of the biggest and most heavily-anticipated superhero movies this year, The Avengers.

Despite his love for the character, Hitch has had relatively few chances to draw the adventures of the Man of Steel. He illustrated an Adventures of Superman annual in 1991, collaborated with Mark Waid on the 2000 original graphic novel JLA: Heaven’s Ladder, which prominently featured Superman, and he had a short and troubled run as the artist on Waid’s 2000-2001 JLA run, handling the covers and interior art for parts of several story arcs.

[Via Comic Book Resources]

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