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Clerks. X.

Good news for fans of Kevin Smith and his comics writing. No, Marvel has not announced a ship date for any new projects, but it's quite possible that by the time you get through everything on the new Clerks. 10th Anniversary Edition DVD, Mister Smith will at least have gotten through two or three pages of script for the third issue of Spider-Man/Black Cat.

Nobody said he was fast.

Good thing, actually, because there's almost too much of Clerks to get through. Sure, a lesser Fanboy would have been happy with one fewer disc and two or three more comic books, but those of us that follow Smith's comic book work are the lesser fanboys, at least in numbers. Knowing where his bread is truly buttered, he has gone back to the root of his franchise (mysteriously Affleck-free) and prepared this massive, over-comprehensive look at that which made him famous.

It's the kind of DVD that makes me extremely nervous. Clerks. X. reminds me why I have yet to buy Tim Burton's Batman films, nor Superman II, because of the gnawing fear that the second I do, the studio will announce the version I really wanted but just couldn't stand waiting for any longer. But I promise, Smith couldn't possibly have anything more to add on this one.

Why should someone buy this edition if he has either of the earlier ones? As anybody saving their shekels for the Super-Tiger-Dragon-Platinum edition of The Lord of the Rings can tell you, it's to be complete. (Another set, by the way, that I have held off on buying.) Smith throws in not just deleted scenes, at least some of which were on an earlier release. In fact, the cover copy even cops to Disc One's commentary track being "classic" - as in, "it's the same as on earlier releases." But what will suck in the fans is a brand new old print of Clerks on Disc Two, the version originally shown at film festivals before Miramax stepped in and created a movie legend out of Kevin Smith.

Some twelve minutes longer than the theatrical release, this has new commentary from everyone you would really want to hear speak. Smith joins Brian O'Halloran (Dante), Jeff Anderson (Randall), producer Scott Mosier, and of course the man with the thinnest line between personality and persona in film history, Jason Mewes.

Has time mellowed them, changed their outlooks or at least refined their anecdotes? To be honest, I haven't had time to compare the two commentaries, but that shouldn't stop fans from devouring this. Well, even Smith might say it should, but we know that self-deprecation thing is just an act. In reality, he wants you to suck it up, Sparky.

And you can also suck up Kevin's first short for The Tonight Show, and all those MTV spots he did with Mewes. The real archive stuff, though, has a disc all to itself, with a collection of early reviews and articles for fans to have at their fingertips rather than scour the web. Also included is Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary, Smith and Mosier's first film school project together. Again, anybody with a lot of time and a search engine could gather this material up, but it does make for a nice all-in-one resource.

On the DVD-ROM section, Smith also includes the original 168 page first draft of the screenplay. I'm officially starting the rumor now that one of the easter eggs is the second issue of Daredevil/Bullseye: The Target and an outline for the first twelve issues of The Brave and the Bold.

Smith recently announced that he will be returning to Leonardo, New Jersey again with Clerks 2, a.k.a. The Passion of the Clerks. Please ignore the fact that he stated Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back would close the door on the Askewniverse. Watching this first film serves to remind us what an original voice Smith seemed to be ten years ago. He remains idiosyncratic, and his films in the interim have been mostly highly personal and at least honest, more than you can say for many. I look forward to Clerks 2, but I'll be honest.

What I really want is those comics.

Clerks (10th Anniversary Edition)

Derek McCaw


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