Civil War & Peace of Mind with Mark Millar (Part 2)
Civil War & Peace of Mind with Mark Millar (Part 2)
In Part One of our Two-Part interview with writer Mark Millar, we discussed his recent health scare and how it’s affected the outlook on his life and his comic book career. Today we go in-depth with Millar about the comics.
The writer speaks at length about leavingThe Ultimates and Ultimate FF, Civil War, Alpha Flight rumors, the secretMillarworld 1 project with a BIG name artist, Millarworld 2, and his Marvel future…
Newsarama: Mark, before we ask you about the books you’re writing and will write, how about you tell us about some books you are reading these days?
Mark Millar: I’m reading tons of stuff. A horrible amount of comics, actually, and my wife is going nuts because the house is starting to look like the 40 Year-Old Virgin‘s place. I really got my geek on in my time out and, like I said before, have been checking out a lot of old comics.
In terms of new books, my favorite is Ultimate Hulk/Wolverine. I remember reading the black & whites and seeing Leinil’s beautiful art with a script that could in no way be done by a newbie like Damon. I was the same combo of elated and suicidal all the old-timers must have been in 1983 when they read their first Alan Moore Swamp Thing. It was perfect and the rest of the series is too. The storytelling is flawless and, unusually, it was reading his comics that got me into Damon’s show (Lost) that I’m now addicted to. He’s become a good pal too and is incredibly, incredibly jazzed to be doing this job, which is great to see.
Also loving Joss, Brian Vaughan, and Garth. They’re my new Holy Trinity after Damon and I would literally buy a dog turd if I thought I saw their name on it somewhere.
Garth, when he’s on, is probably the best and most consistent writer of the last fifteen years. He’s the best storyteller and the best dialogue guy in the business. These are all guys I learn something from and I actually keep their comics on my desk for inspiration.
Likewise, Warren, Brian, Jeph, and JMS are must reads. Nextwave is funny and Immonen is priceless. Brian is killing on Ultimate Spider-Man right now. I went back and read the last twelve issues in a row recently and they’re great. Just perfect Spidey comics. I don’t know how he keeps it up after almost a 100 issues, but it’s amazing stuff.
Obviously loving Infinite Crisis, Superman is really good right now (probably the best it’s been for ages), Jim Robinson’s Batman is great, loving Greg’s Wonder Woman. Loads of great books and the Civil War stuff hasn’t even started yet. I’m in a nice position because I know all the Marvel stuff coming up and I’m really jazzed about all the books coming out of this. There’s some good books coming up. Not a good time to be poor, believe me.
NRAMA: Well, we’re going to ignore that Civil War segue and talk about that in a few moments, so let’s start talking titles with a couple of books you are leaving, and we’ll start with Ultimate Fantastic Four… First of all – Zombies…did you know the reaction was going to be like this?
MM: Of course. It was just one of those things I knew everybody was going to dig because it’s fun and stupid and the kind of comic I’d want to read myself.
My idea with Ultimate FF was to treat my twelve issue run like Stan and Jack treated issues 30-50 of the original series, firing out all these concepts with legs that other people could run with. They gave us the Inhumans, Black Panther, and all that great stuff in a very short space of time and I wanted to do the same, creating the Zombie-verse, Super-Earth, and all these things other people could play with in the spin-offs.
But I’ll tell you what: I’m glad Robert Kirkman was drafted in to do the Zombie spin-off instead of me (as was the original plan) because he did a far better job. Axel had coined the “Marvel Zombies” name for the spin-off and my high concept for the book was much straighter, the Punisher being the last human against all these super-zombies who wanted to eat him. But Robert just knocked the ball out of the park and made the book his own.
He and Daniel Way are maybe my favorite new writers. Love their stuff. The wave of guys coming just behind me and Brian B is just great. Looking forward to seeing what Matt Fraction does with Punisher War Journal too. I’ve heard some of the early ideas and it’s fantastic. Again, we’re lucky to be working at a time when so many good writers are hammering on keyboards. Great stuff.
NRAMA: I think readers are going to appreciate your generosity Mark, but we are here to talk about you…
Ultimate FF has been sort of an unusual run for you. You helped co-launch the title, then left fairly quickly, came back for a spell, now you’re leaving it again. Has this been due to creative issues, just plain circumstance?
MM: To be honest, issue #21 really felt like my first issue. My involvement with the first six was so minimal I barely registered it. I was just the plotter (and let’s face it, the plot was by Stan and Jack) and so poor Brian really did all the hard work. He and Warren did a cracking job on the book before me and it was exciting to get a chance to put my stamp on it, but it really did seem new to me with “Crossover”.
I should stress, by the way, that Brian and I got equal royalties on those first six issues, despite the fact that the wee man did nearly all the work. There’s nothing I enjoy more than teasing him about that.
NRAMA: Do you consider this your swan song, or is there perhaps another run in your future?
MM: No, this is it as far as Ultimate FF goes, I’m afraid. I pretty much know what I’m doing for the next couple of years and UFF doesn’t feature. There was a moment a few months back where I almost stayed for another year or two. Joe had just read the new issue and wrote me a really nice letter, saying he really felt I should stay and since a new writer hadn’t been chosen yet it was very tempting. I love the FF and had forgotten just how much until I started working on the book. I felt I had a good voice for them and the readers seemed really into it. It was very tempting, like I said, but I’m strictly a 2.5 books a month guy at the most and wasn’t prepared to shelf upcoming plans.
I’d really like a crack at the regular FF at some point in the future, but this would obviously be a long, long time away. I’ve been reading the Byrne stuff for the first time (it wasn’t distributed in my town when I was a kid) and am just in awe of it. Byrne was really up there with Miller and Simonson for Marvel in the 80s. It really was incredible stuff and the best FF outside of Stan and Jack. I’ve been reading his Alpha Flight‘s recently too and they’re just amazing.
NRAMA: Speaking of which, we’ll get to Alpha Flight in due time…
This is not an original question, but always to get some interesting responses. Looking back, what are the one things, respectively, you’re most pleased with or proud of in regards to the title, and what’s the one “if I could do it over again”..?
MM: Well, sales are good and people seem to really like it so I’d be scared to go back and change anything, I suppose. That said, it’s impossible for me to re-read my own stuff. The last time I read a book is when I’m proofing the issues before they go off to press. I don’t like looking back and, like you say, would only see the mistakes.
NRAMA: What do you think it added to the overall fabric of the Ultimate Universe. Why did the Ultimate Universe need an FF?
MM: Precisely the same reason the regular Marvel Universe needed an FF; because they’re the best team in comics. Funnily enough, I was talking to my daughter about this yesterday when we were all out shopping in the Disney store and she asked why the FF are the only heroes who don’t wear masks. It really got me thinking how unique they were as a concept and so unlike the formula that had been around for twenty-five years prior to their creation. The four corners of the Marvel Universe, to me, are Spidey, the X-Men, the Avengers characters, and the FF. These are the same foundations as the Ultimate universe and everything else really builds upon those four core concepts.
NRAMA: Some fans have taken notice it has added more fantastical elements to what was originally a more grounded Universe than the Marvel Universe proper?
MM: I think a book called “Fantastic Four” needs to me fantastic or else we might as well call them the Realistic Four. Stan gave me great advice shortly before I started writing when he said it was such a pleasure to do FF because it was the one book where no idea was too crazy. That’s the best piece of advice you can get before you start a run on that title.
NRAMA: Okay, now let’s talk about your (with forgiveness to The Authority and the open book that’s Civil War) your so-far career defining title, The Ultimates.
First and foremost, why leave it? While it launched many years ago, at the end of the day, your run is only a couple-of-years-and-change worth of books. Bendis is nearing 100 onSpider-Man. Take us inside your frame of mind and talk about leaving the book how and when you are?
MM: Well, Brian is very unusual in that he’s still brilliant when he’s doing six books a month. Also, he’s still brilliant when he’s on issue #100 of a run. Personally, I’d have been spread myself thinner than Keira Knightly by that point and just snapped.
I think I’ve got about 24 good issues in me on something I’m even wildly enthused about and Brian (Hitch) and me both agreed that we’d only even do Ultimates 2 if we were absolutely certain it was better than the first thirteen issues. The first volume was so wildly popular it took us all by surprise. People really, really liked this book and we didn’t want to tarnish the legacy by doing a sequel unless we were sure it could stand up.
We had an idea for Ultimates 3, but it wasn’t as good as Ultimates 2 and so we decided to move on. It’s really that simple. We’re surprisingly perfectionist about this stuff and take it very seriously. Plus, we’re excited about what’s coming next.
As I said before, we’ve known about this for about two years, but it won’t be until later this year that an official announcement is made. The only hint you’re getting is that we’re not taking over an existing book as such. This isn’t a regular title or even one single book. It’s much, much bigger than that; the most ambitious (in terms of numbers) book we’ve ever been involved in. I think you might hear something around October or thereabouts.
NRAMA: Well, you’re getting a little ahead of us here… Let’s go back to The Ultimates. Do you think the book evolved differently given gestation period between issues and the first and second run? How might have this book been different if Bryan was bionic and you guys were cranking out issues monthly?
MM: God, yes. It changed every day. And still does. We’re constantly tweaking this thing and going in completely different directions any time one of us gets an idea. Bryan is a genius. He’s the best artist in comics. He’s the best figure-artist, the best storyteller, the best at everything. There’s just nobody like him and pretty much all his peers agree. We have a strange symbiosis I recognize when I hear Scorsese talking about his relationship with DeNiro. We talk on the phone every day, finish each other’s sentences, and just agree on almost everything.
We were born within a few months of one another, come from the North of Britain, read all the same (obscure) comics growing up and absolutely can’t stop talking when we meet up. We’re very much the best of friends and this has just gelled beautifully on the page. It’s like we’ve been making a movie for the last five years (or two movies now) and the experience is unlike anything else we’ve ever had on other books.
NRAMA: Would the book not have been of the same quality had it come out more rapidly?
MM: There’s no question about it. The art in particular. If Bryan doesn’t finally win an American award this year for Ultimates it’s absolutely shocking. He had eight bloody amazing looking issues out last year and wasn’t even nominated. I was really, really disappointed by that, given everyone almost agrees he’s their favorite artist.
NRAMA: Going to ask you to put aside modesty and humility for a second, but what sort of influence do you think the book has had, either on the Ultimate Universe, Marvel as a whole, the superhero story in general, or all of the above?
MM: I don’t want to blow it out of proportion. It’s a good book. Great art, good story. If people dig it I’m happy.
MM: Possibly, but we’re all influenced by everything we see and read. The Ultimate Avengers cartoon, of course, is the obvious answer, but I still haven’t seen it. The buggers still haven’t sent me a copy.
I saw a little bit on Youtube.com and the animation was a bit crap, but it looked okay. Kind of exciting to see scenes you did unfolding as continuous action or whatever, but I’m almost scared to watch the real thing because we had no involvement beyond Bryan doing the cover of the DVD. I didn’t even see the script. So if it’s great, I’m pleased. If not, we can always say we’d have done it better (laughs). That said, we did this book work-for-hire and they didn’t need to give us a credit or any money. But they did and even though the amount was small, it was a nice gesture. It’s probably worth pointing that out.
NRAMA: The standard answer to the following question is “You can’t wait to see what the next guys will do”, but – and absolutely no slight to Jeph Loeb and Joe Mad meant – therewas originally talk of The Ultimates ending when you and Bryan left. What are your thoughts on the title continuing by other hands?
MM: Bryan and I have said from the start that the single most depressing notion, after setting these characters up for the past five years, would be Marvel canceling the book just after their 26 issue origin was completed. That would have been horrible. This was never intended to be a self-contained work. We were re-introducing these characters for a brand new line and so we couldn’t be happier they’re continuing.
Also, delighted to see Jeph and Joe here. Their style will be the polar-opposite of what we’ve been doing and sell twice as much. Yeah, we’ve been a top five book from the start, but they’ll make it number one. Our worst nightmare would have been a Millar clone and a Hitch clone out there doing more political stories. It’s done. Time for something new and these guys are great. We’ve seen a lot of what they’re doing and this will be huge.
NRAMA: So we’re talking about the end of The Ultimates, but there is still two issues and a lot of story left. We’re not going to ask you about a bunch of stuff still to be revealed in the series (we’ll do a post mortem after #12 goes on sale), so how previewing some of the action of the last two chapters for us?
MM: Actually, it’s ended up as three more issues. The original idea was that issue #12 would be double-sized (double-sized, these days, meaning 38 pages). But we just couldn’t do it. We had so much we wanted to wrap up after five years that we wanted room to play and loads of spreads and big images.
After the intensity of all the short stories comprising the first eight issues (which were mostly one and two-parters), we really wanted to spread this out and spare nothing in terms of budget. So we opted for a big issue #12 (probably around 29 pages at normal price) and a 24-26 page issue #13. There’s a lot of epilogues here and some good stuff. If you think the book was “OTT” [over the top] before, wait until you see issue twelve. I don’t want to spoil specific scenes, but you get to see Bryan draw stuff he’s never drawn before and the whole Ultimate Marvel Universe makes an appearance since this fight is raging all across America.
The final issue is much quieter, mostly epilogues. But it’s good stuff. I’m going to miss it. We both say this every day.
NRAMA: All right, moving from one series with political underpinnings to another, let’s talkCivil War. Must have been difficult to remain silent while the series was rolled out and the early marketing was going on?
MM: Actually, it was easy. I was too busy throwing up and sitting reading “Home Improvement” magazines in hospital waiting rooms. NRAMA: If memory serves, the origin of the series stems back to a Marvel creative summit, but we’d certainly like to hear if from the horse’s mouth. What is the secret origin of Civil War?
MM: Well, it happened purely by accident, actually.
Last September, me, Brian, Jeph, JMS, and the Marvel staff all got together and were hammering out a business plan for the coming year. We do this two or three times a year and it’s great fun because nobody really has to do any work and we get free water and little cakes while we’re talking (I’m easily impressed). Anyway, Marvel had a big hit with House of M last year and wanted another one. Nobody could really be arsed writing anything and I was looking forward to some time off. But the idea they floated as a possible crossover had everyone a little worried. Bri and I both looked at each other with a kind of “this is a mistake” expression, but we didn’t want to offend anyone.
That night, we all went out and again me and Bri quietly expressed our concerns that the project they were talking about was a good story, but didn’t feel like a crossover. It just didn’t feel big enough. So next morning, we’re heading out shopping and BB looks kind of excited, saying he thinks we should do something totally different. He suggests we do something he’d been setting up a little in New Avengers and Secret Wars with a Superhuman Registration. He had this notion of S.H.I.E.L.D. hunting the heroes and making them all give up their secret IDs for the S.H.I.E.L.D. database. I thought this was great and Brian pitched it at the meeting. Everybody liked it, but my only concern was that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been over-used lately (especially Nick Fury) and suggested we make it heroes versus heroes.
I was actually pinching from the concept Bryan Hitch and I had been developing (the original title of which was “Civil War”) and brought this ‘brother versus brother’ idea into the mix. People were getting more and more excited as we all started talking, guessing who’d take who’s side and so on. But Jeph Loeb really crystallized it all when he stood up and said “Who’s Side Are You On?”.
He’s been a big brain in TV rooms since Mister Ed or something and as close to a genius as an American can get and this just finished the package. I knew I was going to be taking time off at the end of October, but thought I could get this mostly done inside the couple of months I had. But no dice. I was doing a few hours most days even through my time out sick, constantly rewriting this thing and constantly getting new ideas. It was very exciting and actually served as a nice distraction while I was off.
NRAMA: So how much of this is just a good ole fashion superhero story, and how much of it is meant as allegory and perhaps commentary on some of the political and social realities of the post 9/11 world? For instance, the debate in regards to the compromising of civil liberties stemming from the Patriotic Act, and the privacy issues surrounding the wiretapping controversy in the U.S.?
MM: It’s actually both, though should be read as a superhero story. The Golden Age Superman isn’t about immigrants needing a hope figure in the middle of the Depression. It’s about Superman fighting Luthor and mad robots. Spider-Man isn’t about sexually repressed teenagers secretly firing a thick, gooey substance behind their auntie’s back, it’s about Spider-Man fighting the Green Goblin. The undercurrents are there with all these stories and it gives them a little depth. Children and adults will, even subconsciously, be able to identify this as the world they’re living in and hopefully what’s essentially a fanboy beat-em-up on some level with also have a little more resonance.
NRAMA: The fact that you’re not an American, don’t live here and didn’t grow up here, do you think that outsiders perspective is a benefit to tacking issues like these, or a limitation?
MM: I don’t think it matters at all. You can write X-Men without being a mutant. You don’t have to be a horse to be a vet.
NRAMA: Switching gears for one sec, some readers have pointed out other Marvel writers have addressed these topic before. Was it Walter Simonson’s Fantastic Four that dealt with Congressional hearings on superhero registration? Any thoughts on this?
MM: So many people have tried to second-guess what the series is about, but out thing couldn’t be more different. It’s not about registering superhero identities. Brian had suggested this in the back of the taxi, but we both quickly agreed that this had been done to death with everything from Watchmen to The Incredibles (though the first place to do it, I think, was the Alan Arkin movie The Return of Captain invincible). I labored over this for a while when I got home and opted instead for making the superhero dilemma something a little different. People thought they were dangerous, but they didn’t want a ban (also done to death). What they wanted was superheroes paid by the federal government like cops and open to the same kind of scrutiny. It was the perfect solution and nobody, as far as I’m aware, has done this before.
NRAMA: Marvel has played up the “Whose Side Are You On” angle, and have identified Captain America and Iron Man as leaders of the two factions. Some readers have speculated that Cap, being the soldier that he is, would naturally side with his government and the pro-registration side. But looked at as a symbol of the ideals this country was founded on, i.e. freedom and civil liberties, the case could be made he’s actually on the con side – a case supported by the fact that Wolverine and Namor seem to be on his side, and its hard to imagine them on the pro side under any circumstances. Any thoughts you can share as to who is on what side and why?
MM: No, I don’t want to give that stuff away. That’s really what the book’s about. I wasn’t even going to reveal who picked what side, but that seems to have gotten out there already. Tony has his reasons – as you’ll see in the book – but, as you say, Cap is about freedom more than anything else. He’s about altruism and not being in anyone’s pocket. He’d be repulsed by the idea of doing this as a job. He’s all about civic duty. He’s no lapdog and is bigger than any government, whether it’s Republican or Democrat. He represents the ideal.
NRAMA: Do you think they’ll be much division in fandom in terms of this issue? It’s one thing to advocate giving up civil liberties when you feel genuinely threatened and it could make you more secure. But these are comic book superheroes. Do you think there will be equal number of fans that feel strongly that superheroes should be registered with the government.
MM: Yes. Definitely. And you’ll constantly change your mind as you keep reading. Both sides have very compelling arguments. As readers, we might be drawn to the old ways we’ve always known (which Cap reps), but think about it: Would you rather The Punisher or Ghost Rider or Namor were licensed (or even locked up) or would you be quite happy seeing them running around doing whatever the Hell they wanted?
NRAMA: It was just a few years ago that people were burning Dixie Chicks CD’s and voicing dissent in regards to the Iraq war nearly got you branded on a traitor on cable news talk shows. You think Civil War – which seems to be about deep political dissent – could have been published a couple of years ago?
MM: Yes, definitely. I think Marvel’s been great in this regard. The Ultimates is at least as political and we’ve never been touched despite the fact that we clearly stated last year that Bush’s long-term plan (for himself and whoever succeeds him) was Iraq, Iran, Syria, North Korea and eventually China. They sent the heavy guns into Iran in Ultimates 2 to halt their nuclear program and it’s kind of depressing to see it all unfolding in real life now too as guys like Seymour Hersh expose their nuclear ambitions for the region.
That said, I live miles away and am quite safe and it all makes great comics. Remember how dull books were under Clinton? Like the 80s, we need a Republican in the White House to react against to make good comics. Well done, Bush. May you reign forever.
NRAMA: Okay, we’ll get out our high perch for a bit and just talk action. What can you say to assure fans this is going to be as dramatic and impactful (in a long-term way) as it’s being billed? Take us a year in the future. What can you tell us about the post Civil War Marvel Universe that doesn’t spoil the story?
MM: This is just one of those books. I’m pretty sure I’ll never be involved in anything like this again because, by their very nature, you can only do them once in a generation. Marvel has never done a book on this scale before. Even the original Secret War, as much as there were a few changes, all really took place within a single moment and the status quo was pretty much maintained.
I don’t want to say too much because people are always jaded by these statements. Nobody believes you, but that’s really going to work to our advantage here because expectations are very low now. People think the biggest thing we’ll do is maybe blow up a city in the Midwest, kill some old villains, kill some old heroes, have a semi-popular character die near the end and then resume the status quo. But that’s not what happens. This is a shake-up – an absolutely radical shake-up – but done for all the right reasons. It’s all about logic, rather than stunts – though something pretty huge happens in every issue.
The only thing I can say is that pretty much every book – New Avengers, Cap, Iron Man,Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and a few others – end up incredibly different as a result of this series. Not just a bit, I mean hugely different as a result.
I also think books which have been ailing in sales like Cap and Iron Man will have a huge boost. I think they’ll either double or trip in sales in the final quarter and you’ll understand why when you read the series. Copy and save this paragraph and either slap me on the back or laugh at me in December, but you’ll understand why my wife is starting to speculate with all this insider information I’m giving here (laughs). The book is an enormous responsibility because they’re basically trusting me with the house, the kids, and the family car and the whole place is getting renovated in the meantime.
NRAMA: Speaking of ramifications of Civil War…Alpha Flight?
That’s it… just talk about Alpha Flight. You know the questions on people’s minds.
MM: Well, the two big questions are whether Cap flees for Canada and whether I’m writing the Alpha Flight spin-off book. To answer the first, no, Cap doesn’t flee for Canada because that’s just bloody stupid and completely out of character.
However, there’s some truth in the other rumor floated recently about the origins of the new Alpha Flight team. I pitched the idea to Marvel just as they were preparing a newAlpha Flight book (with an excellent writer I really like) and they were incredibly accommodating, working all my plans into their series and launching the whole thing fromCivil War.
I will have zero to do with the book beyond that or setting it up (the writer is too good and too smart to need a paunchy Scots drunk looking over his shoulder), but there’s a number of books I’m helping set up in this regard. There’s about five at present and I’d love to write at least one of them. I don’t know if I’ll have time, but as well as the revamps of most of the established Marvel books Civil War will also launch several high-profile spin-offs. These books will be very varied and have some creative teams Joe, Tom [Brevoort], Mike Marts, and Axel [Alonso] are putting together right now and it’s incredibly exciting.
Like I said, they’ve given me a huge amount of latitude in revamping this stuff and the other writers have been brilliant. There’s been no ego here at all and I’m equally quite happy to have anything knocked back. But guys like Brian and JMS have been especially great here because I’ve been playing with their toys for seven months and they’ve never complained – not even once. All they’ve done is contribute great ideas and the whole thing has ended up as a really nice, big cohesive event.
Oh, and I’m hardly killing anyone. Why should I kill twenty or thirty or fifty characters who might just be your favorite? What’s the point? We tear down a few things with this book, but it’s mostly about building a new Marvel Universe. I want to add to the mythos instead of taking away.
NRAMA: How’s your working relationship with Civil War edtitor Tom Brevoort?
MM: Tom’s been amazing. I’ve never worked with an editor who’s put as much into this project as Tom has.
As I mentioned before, each script gone through five, six or even seven drafts and sometimes completely revised from top to bottom if continuity conflicts with a story from the past. Tom has patiently read every draft, offered sage advice and been there to hold my hand through – let’s face it – a lot of continuity. But you can’t moan about continuity when you’ve agreed to write an inter-company crossover. You either respect it or you bugger off and do your creator-owned book.
It’s like superhero actors moaning about all the time they spend in make-up. You know the deal before you start and, to be honest, the continuity can really work for you if you learn how to ride it. It’s a lot of work, but Tom’s been great and hit me with a million interesting suggestions. I’d never have been able to do this without him, to be honest. I’d have messed up royally on my own.
NRAMA: Marvel has sent over many new images from Civil War #1 to accompany this issue. Steve McNiven seems on the cusp (if he hasn’t already) of developing a unique and distinct style all his own. As evidenced by a lot of these images, he seems particularly strong at close-up, headshots of the characters.
Are you finding yourself writing to suit McNiven’s particular strengths?
MM: Steve is the next big thing. In fact, he’s kind of the big thing already and people seemed to notice it on his FF series a couple of years back. He did a great arc on New Avengers and I hope this series just puts him into the stratosphere. Marvel said he’s the next Jim Lee and Bryan Singer said he’s the best artist in comics. So it was a big attraction for me getting to work with him on something like this.
We’d talked about doing the Ultimate Cap book in the 40s (something me, Hitchy, and Cassaday had all considered at various points) and flirted with a couple of other possibilities. But this is the big one. This is probably the most high profile book of the year from either company and Steve has really brought his a-game to it. I’m emailing him every time I see a page. People are going to love the art on this thing. It’s just a shame I have to cover it up with my measly Scots script.
NRAMA: Okay, let’s talk about Millarworld 2 next.
First of all, you mentioned there being a Millarworld 1 project (obviously unpublished) no one ever knew about. What’s the story?
MM: Well, nobody knows this yet. This is literally the first time I’ve talked about it, but I have a project called ‘Kick-Ass I’m doing with John Romita Jr. We had a great time working on Wolverine together and wanted to do something cool, violent and creator-owned.
We still haven’t decided on a publisher yet, but ICON is very likely, given that it’s the best deal in town and we’re both Marvel guys. Hopefully, we’ll have this out by the end of the year and, once Unfunnies is published (Unfunnies will be completely out by the end of the year with the first two issues being reprinted), the whole Millarworld Phase One thing can be wrapped up by Christmas. But Kick-Ass is insane. I can’t wait to start writing the script.
NRAMA: So, we’re just going to give you the floor in regards to Millarworld 2. Tell us what you can about it.
MM: Well, this changes all the time because we haven’t finalized the line-up yet. But the idea is to start writing this stuff in June, have it all drawn by the end of the year and publish in the spring. We’re looking at a four-issue superhero series, a three-issue superhero series, a three-issue horror, some horror one-shots and American Jesus (the sequel to Chosen). I’ll announce the full line-up either at Heroes-Con in June orWizardWorld: Chicago. But it’s good. Really good,
NRAMA: Is there something you wanted to accomplish this time around you didn’t the first time?
MM: Getting everything out in time would be nice. You live and learn, but I can’t complain. Our first three books had two movie deals while they were still being published and the fourth book from Phase One, Kick-Ass, has studios asking about it before one word is even reading (it’s a good star vehicle for an older man).
NRAMA: Will ICON be a home to any of the Phase Two titles?
MM: Definitely. Wanted was much bigger than any of us expected. We went through four printings of most issues and ended up doing over 80K on issue one. It was a good book, but a lot of this was down to Top Cow’s excellent marketing and, in particular, Jim Mclauchlin and Matt Hawkins. So we’ll almost certainly do one of the books over there.
Likewise, Chosen worked out great at Dark Horse and I really like Mike (Richardson) soAmerican Jesus is a shoo-in over there. But the rest will probably be at Icon. Marvel makes nothing out of these books and the money all goes to the creators. After speaking to the artists, this looks like the best bet for the other books.
NRAMA: All right, ;last but not least, let’s get back to your Marvel future a bit? According to Wizard, you were at one time going to take some ideas that began with Neil Gaiman, that then went to JMS, and then to you. We’re talking about Thor. Can you tell us the full story of that, and what is the current status of that project, or idea?
MM: Oh, that just became Ultimate FF. Greg Land and I talked to them about Thor and I loved a couple of the ideas floating around, but we never really got that into it and opted for Ultimate FF instead. I don’t know if they’ve been named yet, but there’s a new Thorcreative team (a very good one) and it’s nothing to do with us.
NRAMA: Very simply, what does the next two years bring for you post Civil War/The Ultimates? As you’ve mentioned, at least one project with Bryan Hitch, yes?
MM: Without a doubt. That’s what I’m starting now and Bryan’s already been developing a lot of the characters. As much as this isn’t as wide-scale as Civil War, it’s going to be at least as big. You’ll understand why when the details are released at the end of the year and, again, it’s a huge amount of trust on Marvel’s part.
It also involves a lot of studying on my part. I’ve been researching the characters involved during my time-off and will continue to do so until early summer. It’s a pretty vast undertaking, but I’m really getting into it (as is Hitchy who’s also been hugely involved in the research).
Joe Q suggested doing one of the Civil War spin-off books I’m setting up and there’s one in particular I’d love to do (can’t say which without spoiling the end of Civil War) because it brings back a character I have a huge affection for. It’s annoying because these things will be huge and every other bugger will make a fortune from all these books, but I’ve already committed myself to Millarworld 2 and the next Marvel thing is the Hitchy project.
I tend to divide my career up into segments, based on when I signed contracts and this is my third contract at Marvel. The first was Ultimate X-Men, The Ultimates, Trouble, andUltimate War.
The second contract was Ultimates 2, Spider-Man, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Wolverineand 1985 (which should hopefully be done by the end of the year).
The third phase seems to be taking another big jump up. It kicks off with Civil War, there’s the Hitchy project, and a run you’ll be hearing about which (unusually for me) lasts thirty-six issues (though they’ll all be out in a much shorter time than three years).
Beyond that, I really, really want to do Blade and a Ghost Rider project. I’m going to talk to Marvel about these next week, actually, but if possible I’d like both out early next year because I’ve had the ideas for ages.
There’s also a couple of artists I really want to work with. I’m a huge fan of Ryan Sook and want to set him up with something inside the next year or two. No idea what this will be yet. In terms of characters or teams, Hulk, Fantastic Four, and Captain America all have huge appeal. But I’m focusing on the Hitchy thing first. I have a few ideas, but it’s way too early to talk about them yet.
Needless to say, I’m having a ball.
NRAMA: Okay then, finally, look into your crystal ball and talk about Mark Millar’s comic book career 5 and 10 years from now? What are your long-term goals?
MM: Still being alive would be an excellent start. Anything else is pure gravy…[Speaking of “gravy”, Newsarama is pleased to announce that Millar and his Civil War editor Tom Brevoort will return to Newsarama for Civil War Correspondence, a Q&A that combines questions from us and our readers, to be published in conjunction with each issue of the limited series.
Look for more details soon…]