Monday, August 13, 2007

Mark Millar: The Wizard Q&A

As you guys know, Mark Millar is my 3rd favourite writer. So I was thrilled to read that Wizard interviewed him at Wizard World: Chicago!

The superstar scribe kicks back with stories of sunbathing with Angelina Jolie, how Samuel L. Jackson became Nick Fury and why he can’t live to 60

By Kiel Phegley

Posted August 10, 2007 6:15 PM

Mark Millar had an announcement for his audience early in his spotlight Q&A Friday at Wizard World Chicago.

“Brian Bendis is gay,” laughed the writer of The Ultimates and Civil War. And while the panel didn’t hold any big ticket project announcements, Millar’s signature humor provided plenty of entertainment with a few choice nuggets of information on his latest string of creator-owned books, the movie adaptation of his and J.G. Jones’ Wanted and what the future of his career at Marvel Comics is.

Wizard Universe will be running a full transcript of the Q & A as well as video footage from the panel later this week, but in the meantime, enjoy a selection of the tastiest highlights below!

On his health after being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease:

It was really good. I got 12 weeks off, and I was just lying the garden doing Sudoku. I got to be like Tony Stark in a dressing gown all day out in the garden, so I really recommend illness if anybody fancies it.

On his comics work for 2008:

Since about Christmas I’ve been working like a dog—really, really hard—because I wanted millions of books out in 2008. I’ve essentially had 2007 off. There’s almost nothing out in 2007. I think there’s two issues of The Unfunnies, which nobody but perverts read, [Laughter] the final issue of Ultimates, which was written ages before, and the final Civil War as well.

So next year, there’s millions of stuff. In January, my new series with Hitchy launches. I started writing it last Christmas, and I’m on the 10th issue right now. Hitch started drawing it in January or February, and he’s done four and a half issues so far. It look so, so good. It makes Ultimates look sh--, which is our pull-quote for the book.

Then in February, I launch a book called Kick Ass, which is a highbrow, Sandman-style book [Laughter] with John Romita, Jr. It’s for the Icon line. It’s a superhero book that’s unlike any other superhero book anybody’s ever done before. We’ve heard this expression for 20 years—‘realistic superheroes’—but realistic superheroes, as much as I love those books, always seem to be like Dark Knight with Superman in it or the Batmobile. Watchmen has a big, giant blue guy with his penis hanging out and everything. You’ve still got super guys, but I actually thought—I’m almost embarrassed saying this out loud—but when I was 15, I used to do karate, and a friend and I who were in the same karate class, we would say, “You know what we should do? We should become superheroes.” [Laughter] So I wanted to do a serious book about two guys just trying it. Just going out and what would happen.

In March there’s 1985, and this is a project I feel like I started back in 1985. It’s a series from Marvel, and it’s drawn by a guy—does anybody in here know Tommy Lee Edwards? He’s like the greatest best-kept secret in comics. He sounds like one of the Dukes of Hazzard, but he’s amazing. All my friends who I’ve sent the PDFs to have said “This is where he becomes the next David Mazzucchelli.” He’s phenomenal. And what this book is—it’s surprisingly highbrow—but it’s like Jim Shooter’s 1984 Secret Wars, but our story’s set in our world in 1985. The villains of the Marvel Universe discover that our Earth doesn’t have any superheroes to protect it, and everybody starts coming through a haunted house in the middle of this Minnesota woodland. A bunch of kids—it’s kind of like “The Goonies” or something—a bunch of kids who love Marvel Comics, and they’re the only people who know how to deal with the Marvel characters because they’ve been reading this s--- for years. It’s like a little creepy Stephen King story.

In April, there’s a huge project with me and Steve McNiven. We did Civil War together last year, and Marvel was itching to get us together on something else. I can’t stand him—no, I’m kidding, I’m awful—but they were keen to get us back together to do something.

On his life expectancy:

I have a whole new batch of new characters, and I’d like in my remaining years being alive to come up with some new ones. In Scotland, you only live to 59. I read this alarming statistic recently that the average age a guy in Glasgow dies at is 59.5, and what’s even more alarming is that in Iraq in Baghdad it’s 61. So I’d be safer in Iraq.

On the film adaptation of his and J.G. Jones’ Wanted:

I went into it with no ego whatsoever. I was like, “I did the comic. You guys do the movie.” I’m a producer on it, but that just means they give me a bunch of money to go away. And J.G. Jones does as well. But I just thought “If it’s a good movie, that’s a bonus.” And it looks brilliant. We got to hang about with Angelina Jolie. I got to sunbathe with Angelina Jolie! She’s quite attractive. [Laughter] She did kind of rub suntan lotion on me because I’m Scottish, and if any sun comes out I start to burn. She said, “Look at you. You’re all red.” So I was like, “Yeah. Rub away.”

On his and Bryan Hitch’s eventual Superman comic:

Superman’s the holy grail for me. It’s the one I feel like I’ve spent my entire life trying to do. At some point in the future, God know when, but at some point we will do Superman. Hitch and I have got a blood oath. And we talk about it on the phone all the time. I’ve got like 500 pages of notes about what we’ll do with it.

On his early work:

You know the weird thing? I’ve never reread anything I’ve ever done. I’ve been doing this job since I was 19. I dropped out of university and started doing comics when I was about 19 doing small press stuff. And I’ve literally never reread anything I’ve ever done because I’m always thinking about the next thing. And I hope that’s a healthy thing. I do obsess about it, but I obsess about the next one I’m doing because I’m constantly planning that and plotting it. I think maybe when I’m old, I’ll sit and read them all. I hope they’re good when I go back and look at them. I may be in for a terrible time.

On the possibility of writing comics for kids:

It’s weird to be working in an industry which the world primarily views as something for children. Neighbors and things will say “Oh, can Emily read all of your stuff?” And I’m like “No she can’t!” And they don’t understand. With Unfunnies in particular because I’ve got this big thing up in the hall—the only thing I’ve got to do with comics on the grand floor of the house is a bunch of covers all in this big giant frame. Unfunnies is there, and people keep saying “I’d love to see that. It looks like a funny cartoon book. That’ll be good for the kids.” Little do they realize it starts with a crow masturbating as the opening scene. And I’m just in horror of this stuff.

I’m going to have this trouble with the Wanted movie because none of my family reads my stuff. I’ve got four older brothers and a big sister and everything, and they think this is going to be like “Spider-Man.” And the fact that the movie opens up with an anal sex scene, at the premier I’m going to be sinking in my seat. My mother-in-law is going to be there. It’s going to be awful. “What the hell do you do to my daughter?” [Laughter]

On Ultimate Nick Fury’s resemblance to Samuel L. Jackson:

I insisted we make him black because I always thought Nick Fury was like a brilliant 1970s blaxploitation name. You would go and see that in the movies, wouldn’t you? You can just see him walking down the street: Nick Fury. I also felt that 1960s Steranko brilliantly taps into that whole Rat Pack cool of the period. It was the suits and the thin ties and the hair and everything. It was cool in 1966 or ’67, but the big mistake is that people were trying to do 1967 in 2000, 2001. So I really felt that he had to be a cool black guy, but I’m 100% sure it was Hitchy’s idea to make him Sam Jackson.

Booooooo...I know all comic creators want to work on their favourite characters and stuff, but I really don't want Millar to leave Marvel and work for DC, writing Superman. I'm sure it'd be awesome...but cmon Millar, stay with Marvel!

Can't wait to watch the "Wanted" movie when it comes out.

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