The Mask
Cover to The Mask volume 1
Publication information
Publisher Dark Horse Comics
First appearance As Masque:
Dark Horse Presents #10 (September 1987)
As The Mask:
Mayhem #1 (May 1989)
Created by John Arcudi
Doug Mahnke
Mike Richardson
In-story information
Alter ego Stanley Ipkiss (comics, film, and TV series)
Tim Avery (Son of the Mask)
Notable aliases Masque, Big Head, Loki, Green Guy, Green Head, Green Face, Green Joker, FreakClown, The Green Mask

In comics and film version:

  • Reality fabric manipulation (wearer of the magical Mask can alter surrounding reality, including ex nihilo object manifestation)
  • Superhuman strength, durability, speed and agility
  • Invulnerability to any kind of assault (except removing the Mask)
  • Increased intelligence at the loss of sanity, inhibitions, and self-control

In comics only:

Appear as any person with second lifelike 'mask' of a human face formed over the wearer's green "big head"

In other media only:

A cartoon-like style of reality warping

The Mask is a Dark Horse comic book series created by writer John Arcudi and artist Doug Mahnke, and based on a concept by publisher Mike Richardson. The series follows a magical mask which imbues the wearer with reality-bending powers and physical imperviousness, as well as bypassing the wearer's psychological inhibitions. It was adapted into the 1994 film The Mask, starring Jim Carrey, which was followed by an animated television series voiced by Rob Paulsen and a sequel made in 2005, Son of the Mask.


In all versions the story initially revolves around a magical mask which gives any wearer limitless power and an altered appearance, characterized by a large set of teeth and a green head. The mask affects the personality of the wearer by removing all personal social inhibitions, causing the wearer to become insane. The book was inspired by a combination of earlier characters: The Joker and Steve Ditko's Creeper,[1] as well as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the original comic stories, characters who wore the Mask would become dangerous and cruel antiheroes with ultraviolent tendencies, even if this was not the wearer's original intention. When adapted into a film, the violence was toned down to make the Mask only as dangerous as its wearer. In both the 1994 film and animated television show, the main character Stanley Ipkiss was depicted as a benevolent yet mischievous superhero. The same is true of the 2005 sequel's main character Tim Avery, who is named after Tex Avery.

The title of the comic book originally referred to the mask itself and not the character it unleashed. In early stories, the character was referred to as Big Head; it was not until the films and television series that the character became known as The Mask.

The Mask (comic books)

The base concept of The Mask was created by Mike Richardson in 1982.[1] It first saw life as a single sketch he made in 1985 for APA-5, an amateur press publication created by writer Mark Verheiden.[1] After starting Dark Horse Comics, Richardson pitched his concept to Marvel comic book writer/artist Mark Badger, which resulted in the Masque strip that ran in the early issues of Dark Horse Presents.[1] Badger's strips became increasingly political, and Richardson ended the strip in order to bring the character back to his original concept.

Artist Chris Warner was hired to revamp the character based on Richardson's original APA-5 drawing and created the definitive look for the character. The character was given a new launch in 1989 in the pages of Dark Horse's Mayhem anthology. Aspiring writer John Arcudi and artist Doug Mahnke were hired to create the new adventures, which became the first very popular use of the character, "a combination of Tex Avery and The Terminator".[1] The Mask stories from Mayhem #1-4 were later collected as the 1991 issue The Mask #0 and in a trade paperback collection as well.

Mayhem was canceled after four issues, but in 1991 Arcudi and Mahnke continued with The Mask four issue limited series, which introduced one of the Mask's antagonists, a mute brutish hulk named Walter. This run was among Dark Horse's best sellers; following it, the company continued a succession of miniseries around the Mask, with various antagonists and protagonists wearing the mask. These series concluded in 2000 with the DC Comics crossover Joker/Mask, in which the magical Mask finds its way into the hands of Batman's arch-enemy The Joker.[2] The first major storylines and the Joker/Mask crossover have all been collected in trade-paperback and in a limited edition hardcover box set. In 2014, after a 14 year hiatus, Dark Horse started publishing a new addition to the original Mask series, entitled "Itty Bitty Mask". It takes an approach similar to "Teen Titans Go!" that is more silly and kid-friendly, unlike the graphic violence from the other Mask publications.

Original ongoing series

  1. Mayhem (#1-4, Monthly, May 1989-September 1989, re-printed in The Mask #0)
  2. The Mask (#1-4, Monthly, July 1991-October 1991)
  3. The Mask (#0, December 1991)
  4. The Mask Returns (#1-4, Bimonthly, October 1992-March 1993)
  5. The Mask Strikes Back (#1-5, Monthly, February 1995-May 1995)
  6. The Mask: The Hunt for Green October (#1-4, Monthly, June 1995-October 1995)
  7. The Mask: World Tour (#1-4, Monthly, December 1995-March 1996)
  8. The Mask: Southern Discomfort (#1-4, Monthly, April 1996-July 1996)
  9. The Mask: Toys in the Attic (#1-4, Monthly, August 1998-November 1998)
  10. Joker/Mask (#1-4, Monthly, May 2000-August 2000)
  11. Itty Bitty Mask (#1-4, November 2014-February 2015)

The Mask (#0-4)

In an antiques shop, a weak, neurotic man named Stanley Ipkiss shops for a gift to give to his girlfriend, Kathy. At the store he purchases an old jade mask which begins to speak to him. When Stanley wears it, he is transformed into a wacky, superpowered being with an abnormally large, bald, green-skinned head and a mouthful of large teeth. After exploring his new abilities, Ipkiss goes on a rampage, taking revenge on personal grudges, and earns the nickname Big Head.

After taking the mask off, Stan begins to realize what has been happening. His acts as Big Head begin to take an emotional toll on him. He becomes verbally abusive toward Kathy. She kicks him out but keeps the mask since Stanley had bought it as a gift for her.

Later Stan breaks into her apartment to steal it back just as the police respond to their earlier domestic violence call. Deciding his only way out is as Big Head, Stan places the mask back on and kills 11 cops in his escape. He returns home as Big Head and takes off the mask only to be shot in the back and killed by Kathy, who has put two and two together and figured out the identity of Big Head, before putting the mask on herself.

Kathy takes the mask to Lt. Kellaway for safe-keeping. Kellaway, who had been struggling at both the recent Big Head murders and organized crime lords running loose through his city, disregards Kathy's warnings and tries on the mask thinking she is stressed, and not thinking well. Becoming Big Head, Kellaway sets out to take down the crime lords who have plagued his police career.

The city, not knowing of the magical mask, assumes Big Head is still the same killer but has moved his target list to high profile crime lords. Despite Kellaway's good intentions, the mask turns his methods increasingly more violent. Big Head encounters Walter, a behemoth-sized mob muscle-man who never speaks and has taken a vendetta against Big Head for killing his employers. Walter never shows pain and is the only one who can injure Big Head to any real degree.

While fighting off Walter's attacks, Lt. Kellaway, as Big Head, becomes the target of a police manhunt. Big Head fights off the police and tracks down the remaining mobsters. When Kellaway's partner attempts to stop Big Head, the mask-altered policeman nearly kills his friend and colleague. Kellaway, realizing what he has been doing, flees. He removes the mask, buries it away in his basement with cement, and vows never to let it be worn again.

The first half of the story following Stan as Big Head was originally published in the four-issue anthology series Mayhem and was then collected as the first part of The Mask trade paperback.

The Mask Returns (#1-4)

The crime lords send men to Lt. Kellaway's home and attempt to kill him. Kellaway makes his way to the basement in an attempt to retrieve the mask but is wounded before he can put it on and is put into a coma. After the shooting, the men escape, taking the mask with them. One of them puts it on the wimpy driver, Nunzio, as a joke, but he then becomes Big Head. Big Head kills the thugs and kills all of the crime lords, and becomes the city's preeminent crime boss. Kathy, realizing the return of Big Head means Kellaway failed to hide the mask well enough, knows that it's up to her to stop him. She dresses as a hooker, and Big Head falls head over heels. She tricks him into taking off the mask, and she pulls out a gun, then Nunzio dives for the mask but is shot and killed. Kathy uses the mask to escape and decides to go after the real crime boss (who Big Head stole the office from while he was in Miami) Don Mozzo. When Don comes back from Miami, he knows Big Head is after him and so he goes for help from the one man who can help him, Walter.

The Mask Strikes Back (#1-5)

Four friends, named Rick, Ben, Hugo, and Archie, all fascinated by the Big Head murders, find that all their lives are at a dead end, until one of them finds the magical mask by the city pier and brings it home. Realizing this was the source of their hero's power, each of the four take turns trying it on. They attempt to use its power to fix their lives but only end up making things worse for themselves. By the end, Walter finds the mask in his hands and is unable to use it and, in frustration, throws it into the distance with tremendous force.

This was the last series in the original Mask storyline by Arcudi and Mahnke. It was also the first to be made after the success of The Mask film and as such the violence of the earlier stories was toned down and the Tex Avery aspects were more prominent than before.

The Mask: The Hunt for Green October (#1-4)

The Mask continues to find its way into the hands of unwitting wearers. Ray Tuttle, a loser film-buff and his daughter Emily discover its power, but Lt. Kellaway and a group of terrorists who knew about the mask's secrets are looking to take it from them. The title parodies the title of the novel The Hunt for Red October.

The Mask: World Tour (#1-4)

A new wearer of the magical mask finds his way traveling through the Dark Horse Comics universe.

The Mask: Southern Discomfort (#1-4)

In New Orleans, the mask ends up in the hands of Eric Martin who tries to find his sister who is been kidnapped by voodoo gangsters, all while Lt. Kellaway looks for the mask to destroy it.

The Mask: Toys in the Attic (#1-4)

A character named Aldo Krasker gets his hands on the mask which leads him to subconsciously embark on a murder spree, Lt. Kellaway joins the investigation so he can find the mask. Doug Mahnke returned to illustrate the covers for this series.

Specials, spinoffs, and crossovers

Walter: Campaign of Terror

In this four-issue spin-off by original The Mask creators John Arcudi and Doug Mahnke, Big Head's arch-enemy and indestructible Mafia killer, Walter the voiceless, runs for Mayor of Edge City.

Marshal Law vs. The Mask (February–March 1998)

The Mask is applied to a superhuman serial killer as part of a secret government experiment which inevitably goes disastrously wrong. Marshal Law is called in to take down a nemesis who is not only immune to his usual ultra-violence, but can warp reality according to his psychotic whims.

Grifter/The Mask (September–October 1996)

Grifter of The Wild C.A.T.S. is sent to Las Vegas to break up a weapons smuggling ring at a gun show. Trouble brews when one of the tourists ends up with the mask and as Big Head causes a riot at the gun show by pulling a knife. Grifter initially mistakes the Mask for a target but when the tourist's girlfriend is threatened Grifter and the Mask team up to stop the smuggling ring.

Lobo vs. The Mask (February–March 1997)

The alien bounty hunter Lobo is hired to find the "Ultimate Bastich", a being who has decimated numerous planets. His hunt leads him to Earth, where a petty thief has become Big Head. In a battle that decimates Manhattan, Big Head finally offers to "help" Lobo find the "previous wearer."

The duo head through space causing mass destruction. In a space truck stop, Lobo eventually wins the mask for himself, puts it on, and causes even more damage. A black hole sends him back in time by a month and it turns out that he is, in fact, the Ultimate Bastich. Waking up on Earth and realizing this, Lobo tosses the mask in the same spot the thief found it. Lobo breaks the time loop when he meets his past self and turns his past self in for the reward money.

Former Mask comic team John Arcudi and Doug Mahnke returned for these books, along with Lobo writer Alan Grant.

Night of the Return of the Living Ipkiss…Kinda (September 1996)

After Kathy visits Ipkiss' grave, he returns from the dead as a zombie Big Head, with a thirst for revenge. Walking around the city, he finds and kills Kellaway, Walter, Don Mozzo, Lionel, many police officers, and a biker. When he finally finds Kathy, she yells at him, telling him that he doesn't have the mask anymore and he couldn't have come back to life. After that, he becomes a pile of dust and all the murdered people are brought back to life. From "A Decade of Dark Horse" #3.

The Mask: Official Movie Adaptation

A two issue comic book adaptation of the 1994 film starring Jim Carrey. In addition to retelling the story of the first movie, this comic book version contains short moments of the story which were cut out of the final film. This includes the deleted scenes most often seen as extra features in video releases of The Mask, most significantly, the death of supporting character Peggy Brandt. It also includes completely unseen moments such as Stanley Ipkiss' watch being stolen by the same group of thugs that he pays back with the balloon animal routine and dialog by the mechanics right before they are burst in on by The Mask. Some dialog is also changed. In this version, Stanley is more of the shy, clumsy version from the animated series.

Adventures of the Mask (#1-12)

Following the success of the first Mask movie, which led to the release of The Mask: Animated Series, Dark Horse published this spinoff comic series which followed the continuity of the television cartoon. Like the television show, this title combined elements of both the original adult comics and the Jim Carrey movie. Elements from the film included The Mask as Jim Carrey portrayed him in the film: goofy and heroic with his trademark yellow suit. From the early comics were Walter, still Pretorius' Henchman, and a Lt. Kellaway more like his original counterpart than as depicted in film.

This series ran monthly from January 1996 until December of the same year.

Ghost, another Dark Horse hero who was popular at the time, appeared in Adventures of the Mask #5.

The Mask: Virtual Surreality

A collection of stories by different authors, Stanley Ipkiss watches favorite TV show The Dukes of Hazzard when a commercial broadcast of Dr. Buzz Hedgaymes offers a new gadget for home entertainment Virtual Surreality where Dr. Hedgaymes offers The Mask to test his new machine. Stanley takes the offer, puts on the mask and spins to Dr. Hedgaymes lab within moments. The Mask arrives succinctly just as Hedgaymes begins to explain the machine, all the while testing it. Various events such as barbarians, superheroes, weird cartoons to demons play with The Mask suddenly in Ipkiss' childhood. After discrepancies with Stanley's actual mother, The Mask uncovers that Pretorius was Hedgaymes all along. Following this, Pretorius challenges The Mask to Rock Paper Scissors. The former foresees the outcome and rules out playing fair, using giant scissors to cut The Mask's head off when defeated in the round, while The Mask counters with a giant hand made of stone. The Mask opts to go for another round of Dukes of Hazzard before sending Pretorius to the police.

Angry Young Mask

A short comic book story focus on a 11-year-old boy named Ned who has a problem with his unfair parents then he found the old wooden mask and wear it making a lot of mischief later Ned removes the mask and threw it in the backyard, But when morning came Ned find his two-year-old brother Josh wearing the mask and grew big.

No Mask Is An Island

On hill roads at night the professor of anthropology tells the young museum collector the history about the mask and victims, a depressed airplane pilot smoking in a cargo area found the mask and gone insane by wearing it, The crazed pilot crash the aircraft into the mountain killed the rest of his crew and survived after removing the mask and became resident of the mental institution, Later in the crash site a little girl living in a nearby farm found the mask and raced home to show her abusive drunk father than that night the girl wear the mask and murdered her father and called the police for a report on the green faced lunatic, Afterwards the girl was sent to a foster home with her new healthy foster parents and when'd to the church for a confession with a priest who kindly took the mask for safe keeping but then a short time later the priest put on the mask and became a sex-crazed maniac with nuns, after the church's unsuccessful attempting for exorcism the priest sadly removes the mask and claimed that the mask forced him to do unspeakable things, The church hired the professor to trace the mask origins and discovered the mask was a thousand years old and made with African technique but with Scandinavian motifs, after analysing the mask the professor couldn't give the church an explanation about it so they decide to destroy the mask but the professor found a museum which was willing to donate a small fortune for its acquisition, The young museum collector didn't really believe the professor's story and put the mask back in the box as they headed for the city presuming Gotham.

Joker/Mask (#1-4)

The Joker inadvertently gets his hands on the magical mask after it is found in a Gotham City museum. With its power the Joker begins to feel a new rejuvenation in his career of crime. Lt. Kellaway finds his way to Gotham and helps Batman and Commissioner Gordon in defeating the newly superpowered Joker. Batman is able to trick the Joker into removing the Mask by claiming that the villain is no longer funny, and is relying on tired schtick and the power of the Mask instead of his own style. It is worth mentioning that the Joker himself had enough will power to "emerge" from the Mask's body (resulting in a two-headed being) in order to remove the mask on his own. Lt. Kellaway asks Batman to give him the Mask. Batman agrees and the Mask is last seen as Kellaway digs up Stanley Ipkiss' grave and buries the Mask there with his corpse.

The Mask Omnibus collections

Recently, Dark Horse has published two trade paperbacks collecting The Mask stories in chronological order. However, it should be noted that this collection does not reprint bonus materials previously released in the individual trade paperbacks for the individual series, such as deleted pages and author forwards and retrospectives.

The Mask Omnibus Vol. 1

Collects The Mask #0-4, The Mask Returns #1-4, and The Mask Strikes Back #1-5.

The Mask Omnibus Vol. 2

Collects The Mask: The Hunt for Green October #1-4, The Mask: World Tour #1-4, The Mask: Southern Discomfort #1-4, Night of the Return of the Living Ipkiss...Kinda, and The Mask: Toys in the Attic #1-4.

Adventures of the Mask Omnibus

Collects The Mask: Official Movie Adaptation, Adventures of the Mask (#1-12) and "The Mask: Virtual Surreality" released 29 Jul 2009 in 392 pages

Adaptations and spinoffs

The Mask (film) poster

Jim Carrey as The Mask


The Mask (1994)

Main article: The Mask (film)

A film version of The Mask was released in the United States on July 29, 1994, starring Jim Carrey in the title role. Directed by Chuck Russell, the film co-starred Peter Greene as Dorian Tyrell, Peter Riegert as Lt. Mitch Kellaway, Orestes Matacena as Niko, Richard Jeni as Charlie Schumacher, Amy Yasbeck as Peggy Brandt, and Cameron Diaz, in her screen debut, as Tina Carlyle. Ben Stein has a cameo role as Dr. Arthur Neuman.

While there were early efforts to take the movie in the direction of horror (some at New Line Cinema saw it as a replacement for their fading Nightmare On Elm Street franchise), it was never completely intended as a "dark horror" picture. New Line had problems coming up with a script that could show violence that was comical, but had more success with a story that had comedy that was violent. Richardson always pushed in the direction of the Tex Avery concept which was eventually adopted, despite the efforts of several potential directors, including, initially, Chuck Russell, to make the move to horror. Richardson also resisted early attempts to attach both Martin Short and Rick Moranis to the lead role. Mike Deluca's suggestion of Jim Carrey for the lead, together with Mark Verheiden's "Cuban Pete" production number, set the final tone for the film.

The plot of the film was loosely based on the first half of the Arcudi/Mahnke comic book miniseries. It uses only a few scenes from the comic, including the scenes of the muffler mechanics and the street gang and balloon animals.

Mike Richardson's comic origin for the character came from the ancestor worship of ancient Africans that formed the basis for the voodoo that came centuries later. In the film, however, the Loki-based origin was grafted on in Chuck Russell's screenplay. A deleted scene is featured on the DVD, where a band of Vikings drag a chest containing the mask onto the shore of North America which was also depicted in the Dark Horse Comics two-part comic book adaptation of the film.

The movie also spin-off into a video game adaptation, released for the Super NES in 1995.

The Mask: Animated Series (1995–1997)

Main article: The Mask: Animated Series

The movie version of the character subsequently appeared in an animated TV series entitled The Mask (with Rob Paulsen as Stanley Ipkiss/The Mask) and his own short-run comic book series based upon the TV show, Adventures of The Mask. John Arcudi wrote season one's "How Much is That Dog in the Tin Can" and season three's "The Goofalotatots" (a parody of Warner Bros.' Animaniacs). Much as with the Beetlejuice cartoon before it, The Mask TAS took many elements from the source movie but made numerous changes. Tina was absent, and reporter Peggy Brandt had become the main female character but not love interest. Also unlike in the movie, Ipkiss appeared to be able to use the mask in daytime as well as at night. The series also had a crossover with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, another animated series based on a Jim Carrey film.

Four VHS volumes of the series were released (an extra two were released in Australia), all of which are now out of print. Upon the initial DVD release of the Son of the Mask, Wal-Mart stores sold an exclusive 2-pack of the movie with the pilot episode of the animated series ("The Mask Is Always Greener On Other Side" Parts 1&2). As of 2012, this is the only DVD release of the series.

Son of the Mask (2005)

Main article: Son of the Mask

Son of the Mask is the poorly received Sequel to the 1994 Comedy film, The Mask, directed by Lawrence Guterman. The movie had a $84 million budget and a $17 million domestic box office gross, along with a $40 million foreign box office gross.

Director Chuck Russell, who helmed the original film, expressed his interest in a Mask sequel in his 1996 LaserDisc commentary. He was hoping Jim Carrey would come back as The Mask, along with Amy Yasbeck, who played Peggy in the original. Russell decided to cut scenes when Peggy dies and leave the character open for the sequel, which became this film. The concept was completely changed when Carrey decided not to return, focusing on another man (played by Jamie Kennedy) finding the Mask and unintentionally conceiving a child while wearing it- resulting in a son who possesses the powers of the Mask without needing to wear it, at the same time as Loki (played by Alan Cumming), the Norse God and original creator of the Mask, searches the human world attempting to find it.

Ben Stein reprises his role of Dr. Arthur Neuman from the first film. He is involved in the movie to reestablish the relationship between the mask and its creator, Loki. He is the only actor to appear in both films as well as the Mask cartoon series.

Powers and abilities

In the original comics, The Mask grants the user superhuman physical attributes and intelligence, a healing factor, the ability to look like other people, and the ability to create objects out of the air. A perfect example to The Mask almost omnipotent powers happened when The Mask managed to swallow whole an entire hulking alien mutant invader by shapeshifting his head and mouth to gigantic sizes. The Alien found himself bounded by the chains in the cave like stomach system of The Mask and he encountered a cannibal caricature of The Mask, ready to devour him alive in his own stomach.

In the other media, The Mask's reality warping powers are more powerful, and it has more cartoon physics-style abilities, such as:

The Mask also travels in a similar way to The Flash, by propelling himself to tornado speed. It is proven to be a devastating combination of brute force and speed that he instantly killed 11 cops when the tornado hit them.

His only weakness is also his strongest weapon, a very unstable condition of mind. The Masked individual completely goes insane after transformation and another person may persuade him to remove the mask.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Mark Richardson, "Introduction: Behind the Mask", The Mask: The Collection, Dark Horse Comics, August 1993, ISBN 1-87857-450-7
  2. "Joker & The Mask - Universe-Shattering Comic Book Crossovers". 2011-01-19. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 

External links

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