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John Heffernan Writes for Broken Frontier

Segment taken from an article by John Heffernan in the Frontiersman.

I’m doing a lot of interviews these days, with the first issue of my book Driver For The Dead hitting the stands and people thankfully taking some interest. In one of the recent ones, one of the questions asked was, “The character Moses Freeman in your book looks a lot like the actor Morgan Freeman. Was this intentional?”

It’s a good question. And it brings up even more good questions, about comic books and Hollywood, and the barrier between the two media that is becoming as seemingly permeable as the one between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

The correct answer is, yes and no. The description that I gave my artist—the inimitable Leonardo Manco—in the script was: “Getting out of the back of the cab is an old black man in an old brown suit. This is MOSES FREEMAN. Inspiration is Morgan Freeman by way of Nelson Mandela. He could be sixty, he could be a hundred. It’s impossible to say.” So, certainly I wanted Moses to look like Morgan Freeman, but maybe not exactly like Morgan Freeman. My mistake was underestimating just how incredibly good an artist Leo is. If I had known he could do such a dead-on portrait, I might have given the character a different name. But Moses’s dad was a freed slave (as we’ll find out in Issue #2) and wanted to give his son a moniker reflecting that fact, so my hands were tied. Nothing I could do.

This might have been an isolated little literary incident and nothing more. But the resemblance of my deceased character (spoiler alert, but come on, the book is called Driver For The Dead) to that of the not-so-deceased Mr. Freeman is but one example of famous actors making uncredited guest appearances in the pages of funnybooks everywhere. On any given Wednesday you might see Tommy Lee Jones as Norman Osborn in Mike Deodato’s New Avengers, or Simon Pegg as Wee Hughie in Darick Robertson’s The Boys, or Samuel L. Jackson (my very own Agent Flynn) as Col. Nick Fury in Bryan Hitch’s Ultimates.

What’s going on here? Is it mere coincidence? Have Hollywood agents started making phone calls to comic book editors in Midtown and demanding deals for their clients to appear in spandex and capes? Have comic book writers and artists become so involved with the world of film and television that they’re starting to incorporate it as their own, co-opting the world of celluloid just as celluloid has so often co-opted comics? Or have comics, with the success of superhero films and the prevalence of film production companies optioning everything associated with comic books all the way from black- and-white indies to stick figures on cocktail napkins, gotten so close to movies that they’re starting to merge on some postmodern metacultural level?”

Click the image below to go to Broken Frontier’s website, where downloads of their online magazine, The Frontiersman, are available. Mr. Heffernan’s article appears on page 30 of the online issue.


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