Introduction - By 
Kevin Smith

hen I was a kid, I used to steal what comics I couldn't afford to buy from a local

magazine store. And it wasn't until years later as a more book-savvy seventeen year

old that I was introduced to the practice of serious, hard-core collecting - new comics

weekly, bagging and boarding to protect them from the elements (which in my bedroom were few,

yet still potentially harmful), the artful discerning of what constitutes a 'ding' in the cover or a bend

on the page, proper storage etiquette (upright, not flat), the seven year board rotation theory, and so

on. For these and many more useless preoccupations, I have one man to thank...

Walter Flanagan.

Walter is a close friend of mine, and it was he who introduced me to the world of Baxter and

Prestige formats, Godzilla bootlegs, and the Dirt Mall. Walter dwells in a world that borders on

ours, but maintains its own sense of order and self-government. His is a life to be marveled and


Comics and Walter - boil Mallrats down to it's elements and

that's the dichtomy you'll find the film rife with.

To thank my friend for all that he has given me, all that has

gone far toward fashioning me into the kind of half-life guy

that I am, I decided to use him as the template for the strangely

engaging creature now known to the world as Brodie. Like Bro-

die, Walter has a comics vault, Walter has been known to carry

a dixie cup around (sometimes for an entire day), Walter is a Se-

ga freak. The only difference is Walter is married - something I

think no matter how hard Rene tried, she'd never get Brodie to

commit to. So next time you watch the film, know that it's more-

or-less an effusive show of appreciation for an unsung hero

from Highlands, New Jersey.

Now - the comics angle.

Yes, the film is lousy with comic references (lousy meaning lots, not meaning unskilled use of),

and whether you're a collector or not, the film will still come off as more engaging than alienating.

But when I refer to the comics influence, it's not the overt Wolvie, Stan (the Man!) Lee, and Dark

Knight ingredients. No, I'm talking about something much more subtle.


In comics, characters of respective companies cross over constantly - e.g.: Daredevil popping up

in Spiderman's titles, Green Arrow slinging bows in a Batman book. This helps create the illusion

of one world in which the amazing is considered commonplace - there are superheros in that exis-

tence, and they're everywhere. This is an idea that's always appealed to me, and it was something

I wanted to establish with the movies I made. So far, I've been indulged - hopefully whoever wri-

tes the checks for these potboilers of mine will continue to allow it. And as long as more often than

not they're subtle, I think I can keep it up for the next two flicks. But let's not get ahead of our-

selves. For the non-comic reader who's lost right about now, I'll help break it down.

The View Askew Universe - as I affectionately dubbed it - centers around a New Jersey tri-town

area: Leonardo, Red Bank, and Atlantic Highlands. In Clerks, the entire film took place in Leo-

nardo - as attested to by the presence of the Leonardo First Aid Ambulance that took Caitlin away

after her unawared dalliance with the corpse in the back room. (if you haven't seen the movie yet,

you better!). A majority of Mallrats takes place in Red Bank at the mall (don't look for Eden Prairie

Mall in Jersey, kids - we shot the film in Minnesota), but Brodie lives in Leonardo (once refenced

by a shot of T.S.'s station wagon whipping past the Quick Stop that got cut), and Brandi lives in

Atlantic Highlands (never referenced anywhere except my own logic).

When T.S. and Brandi break up, it's over the death of Julie Dwyer - the girl who died in the

pool. When Dante and Randal leave the store to go to a funeral in Clerks, it's that very same Julie

Dwyer they're mourning. T.S. even mentions running into her at the video store the night before,

which would logically make 'Rats not a sequel to Clerks, but a prequel - kind of like 'Temple of

Doom' and 'Raiders'.

When T.S. and Brodie bump into Willam at the mall,one should get the ominous feeling that

we've met this guy before. There is a Willam in Clerks (often referred to as 'Snowball'), but is

he the same?

Little Tricia Jones - the Masters and Johnson of the teenage set - is a sister to Heather Jones, the

girl who recognizes Dante alongside Rick Derris (the trainer who used to sleep with Caitlin behind

Dante's back) in Clerks. Ricks name is also invoked by T.S., in relation to the costume party

(when Gwen found love atop a pool table) during the lingerie store scene in 'Rats.

Gill Hicks, the third contestant during the game show sequence, bears a striking resemblance to

and shares a last name with Dante.

Brodie tells two stories (one about a cat, one about pre-plane crash masturbation). In Clerks,

Randal tells his own Cousin Walter story (about self-fellatio). Would this then make Brodie and

Randal... cousins?

And while there's lots more of those think-about-it-real-hard links between the two films, the

most outstandingly blatant one has to be R2-D2 and C3PO of the View Askew Universe: the two

guys that have nothing more pressing to do than hang out at the mall one day and in front of the

convienience store the next. I won't even bother mentioning them by name - see if you can figure

it out.

Like I said, there's more of that to come in future films (if they let me continue making 'em and

if you guys and girls keep paying me to see 'em). In fact somewhere in this book is a might big

tip-off as to which character is going to switch teams (so to speak) in the next flick, Chasing Amy.

Impress your friends with your Clerks/Mallrats acumen by casually letting slip over drinks your

knowledge of a forthcoming film's major plot twist/theory arc (although I don't know if they'll

agree with you on it, considering that I'm often chastised for having little to no plot in my movies).

In the meantime, settle into the page and be transported to a world where little girls dump guys,

a sad figure searches endlessly for the 'hidden picture', and a pair of lackadaisical weed dealers

make zero sales.

Welcome to the wonderful world of 'Rats.

Enter the Mall