I was very nervous when I read that Kevin Smith was making Clerks 2. The reasons he wound up making that film; namely a desire to work on a smaller-time scale again with his closest friends rather than being burned by the Hollywood system, as well as to revisit the actors and characters with which he had his first success, are not the cynical cash-grabby reasons you may have expected. (These come later.)
To the surprise and delight of most, Clerks 2 ended up being pretty bloody good. It had the warmth underneath the filth that we’ve all come to expect from the creator of the chocolate-covered pretzel routine, and gave Smith good reason not to suffer from the self-doubt he was experiencing at the time after the negative backlash of previous effort Jersey Girl stung him back a couple of steps.
Fast-forward to 2013, and Smith is trying to be everywhere at once. He wrote a new animated Jay & Silent Bob film, and can be seen every Thursday night on cable TV with his Comic Book Men – both self-reflexive celebrations of the man’s Smodcast empire which originated from a podcast he started in 2007 with producer, best friend and “heterosexual life partner” Scott Mosier. While Mosier is busy establishing a solid industry reputation – by producing documentaries and working on Adult Swim-style animated programming for Titmouse, Inc. – Smith remains firmly in his own brand; recording for five different podcasts a week, touring them live onstage with a revolving cast of co-stars from the Smodcast universe, and plugging such things to his almost 2.4 million followers on Twitter.
The latest in a series of false starts for his next actual production – after hockey drama Hit Somebody became a film, then two films, then a TV mini-series, then god knows what – was another visit to the characters who made him: Dante Hicks and Randal Graves, played in the films (and short-lived animated series; how’s that for squeezing the nickels) by Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson. Anderson in particular was very, very nervous about making even a first sequel but Smith’s enthusiasm for what was a very personal project turned him around on the topic.
And now? Clerks III. Having waited twelve years to revisit the lives of the sweariest clerks in servitude, Smith wants to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the original by releasing a third instalment of the series in 2014. This format also went through some weird conceptual changes – being first proposed as a Broadway play, and then as a novel, before Smith finally sat down twenty years to the day that he started production on the original and hashed out a script that’s, as he put it, “the best film [he]’ll ever make”.
For the sake of his legacy, in danger of being swallowed whole by his own self-congratulatory Smod-dulgences, I really, really hope this turns out to be the case.