Secret identity

I was among the last in my class to learn to read, and my spelling was atrocious. I liked pictures, so comics were a natural home as I made my transition to becoming a reader at around seven. My friend Ajit, who lived next door to me in Neasden, was an avid reader of Marvel Comics. Much of our play was superhero themed. Skinny nine year old Ajit, brandishing a ruler, would be Thor and Abu from across the road might be Spiderman, and as the youngest I always seemed to be allotted Iron Man.

I remember one Hulk comic frame where our hero rips up the surface of the street to reveal a science fiction underworld below. This image of breakthrough, and revealing what is hidden under the surface has always stayed with me. Hulk is by nature a breaker of barriers.

But for me the lasting legacy of those Marvel comics was the idea of the double identity. The Hulk had Dr Bruce Banner, Spiderman was Peter Parker, and Thor has had multiple alter egos, including surgeon Dr Donald Blake, labourer Sigurd Jarlson, Architect Eric Masterson, and more. While alter egos have a long pedigree, perhaps most famously The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde  by Robert Louis Stevenson and first published in 1886. Interesting that a high proportion of heroes’ alter egos have PhDs. My brother has a PhD (just sayin’) and studied doubles in literature. Through him my Marvel based notion of alter egos expanded to include doubles, which were present in  The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad and The Double by Dostoevsky for example. Once you get your ear in, doubles are everywhere. 

Rather inspired by seeing Jeff Keen Shoot The WRX I decided to start doing some home movies. Also I have been watching Inland Empire again by David Lynch, which always promotes weirdness. So here is my double identity piece called Janus. It’s a bit mad, but was fun and surprisingly fast to make. You can view it here, or click through to watch it bigger on YouTube. I was also interested in the creepy, and unflattering, effect you can get when not showing the entire face.

By Peter Kenny

I lead a double life. Identity #1. A writer of poems, comedy plays, dark fiction and the odd libretto. Identity #2: A marketing outlier, working with London creative agencies and my own clients as a copywriter and creative consultant.

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