Mark Millar is a comic book GIANT! From Superman: Red Son (my personal favourite), Kick-Ass, Hit-Girl, Wanted, to Kingsman and now to Chrononaughts, Mark Millar has created and written some of the best comic books and movie adaptations to date. I am thrilled to have had the chance of interviewing him and I’ve been waiting to share it with you all.
First up, I’m a huge Superman fan, and Red Son is one of my favourite books and reiterations of the character. You’ve previously mentioned via social media that you came up with the idea for Red Son when you were just 6 years old! Where did you get the inspiration from for that?
It’s rare to remember where an idea came from, but this one has always stayed with me for some reason. The very first time I imagined Red Son was a 1976 book called Superman 300, and it had a slightly more political vibe than most other superhero comics. It had this great scene with Superman’s rocket landing in neutral waters and both the Soviets and the USA racing to reach him. America got there first, but I remember asking my Mum what Russia was and she explained about the USSR, and I thought it was an interesting idea, this notion of the other guys getting him. The seed was planted. Sadly, it would be 27 more years before it came out (laughs).
You had the concept at aged 6, pitched at 13, then sold it at 27, did you ever tweak the story as time went on?
Oh, yes. Totally. I had a few stories I wrote and drew when I was 13 on school maths paper, all lettered by me too and sent to Superman editor Julie Schwartz. I didn’t hear back, but got this 6 page letter from Sal Amendola, their talent coordinator, which was really encouraging and inspired me to keep going. My Russian Superman exists out there somewhere hand-drawn and hand-lettered and just 8 pages long. It would have been longer, but I was lazy always got fed up drawing around page 8!
What does Superman mean to you?
Oh, everything. I always loved Superman as far back as I can remember, and even associate him with Wednesdays when I was learning the days of the week aged 3 or 4. That was so I could make sure I didn’t miss the cartoon which Scottish TV ran on Wednesdays just before my dinner. Batman always makes me think of Mondays for the same reason. But I was 8 when I saw Superman: The Movie and that’s when it all fell into place. I don’t know why I love it SO much, but it was that precise moment I knew what I wanted to do for a living and I felt like Moses talking to the burning bush. Everything Superman I could afford I got, either with my pocket money or as a birthday gift. I had a Spanish Superman mug on our living room shelf til I was 15 just because. I faked photos of me flying as Superman in costume as a nine year old, using my own version of the Matte Effect. I oven played Superman Hoopla. Every weekend I walked around the nine or ten grocery stores in my town seeing if new books were in. If Superman wasn’t on the cover I wasn’t interested really. I didn’t get into Batman until I was a teenager, and Marvel I only really read when I was very young, maybe five to seven.
What do you think of current representations of Superman and do you have any particular favourites? In Films, Comics & TV?
I think we all have our own eras and we’re not that interested in anything that deviated from it. So for me it runs until the end of my childhood and anything before that I love. I have to say I haven’t kept up since, really just remembering how much I loved the old stuff. That said, Kingdom Come is one of the greatest Superman stories ever told and I love this new Frank Miller one.
Would you ever consider going back to writing for DC Comics? Or Superman perhaps?
Possibly, way down the line, but I’m committed to lots of Netflix projects over the next few years so it’s not going to be anytime soon. It would be fun to write a definitive Justice League story. I’ve always fancied that.
A lot of your work has been adapted into films or TV series. What is the process of that? Do you pitch the ideas to them, or do they come to you?
I’ve never done a pitch in my life. I always laugh when I see that. I live in Scotland!! What happened was that, without trying, Wanted was spotted in the solicits by a movie producer and they did the deal before issue one came out. It was crazy. It made $340 million on a $70 million budget so everything I did after that got picked up. Now of course it’s all owned by Netflix after my wife and I sold the company, so anything that was taking a little while in development is moving like a rocket. It’s very exciting. All the new projects I write I develop internally as shows or movies and the comic comes a little later. They don’t all end up as comics, just because I put so much time into them.
Have you heard about the animated version of Red Son that DC Announced at SDCC? What are your thoughts on that?
I don’t know anything about it, but fingers crossed it’s good. I just hope kids can watch it. The Timm/Dini era of WB shows was amazing. The more recent stuff is a little scary for wee ones. My wee girls were freaked out by the Wonder Woman one and asked me to stick it off.
Following the success of Chrononauts, the sequel ‘Chrononauts: Futureshock’ is set for release at the end of October. They are being released as a “binge” series, whereby they are all out at the same time! What was the thought process around this Netflix-esque decision?
It’s just a really fun idea and one I’ve never seen before myself… the idea of an entire series released in a single day so you can binge one after the other. The idea that it’s Netflix just makes total sense. I love that the marketing guys are always coming up with something cool. Our big project being released at Christmas has been solicited without even knowing what it’s called or who’s drawing it. It’s insane. I love the idea that stores don’t even know until they open the box on December 18th.
Now that you’ve worked with and had huge success with Sean Gordon Murphy, have you guys approached anything differently for ‘Futureshock’? Whether it’s the way you work together, techniques etc?
The big thing for the Sean Murphy book was mans’ first steps into the past, all televised for a global audience. The sequel needs to feel different and so it’s a sci-fi series set in the future. The complete opposite. Danny and Corbin travel into the future and find out why mankind has never been invaded by time-travelers in the future. It’s a really interesting idea. I feel it’s the best book I’ve done. I was so, so happy to get Eric Canete on art. Hopefully we can get him back for a third volume.
What can readers expect from ‘Futureshock’? And can we expect to see a Netflix adaptation of the sequel?
My bold claim for Chrononauts: Futureshock is that this is going to be top of your list for your favourite book of 2019. I love it and that’s a start. Netflix love Chrononauts too so you never know., Stay tuned! We’re doing the first 7 projects right now and already talking about what’s coming next.
Will you be attending any comic conventions in the US or UK anytime soon?
Sadly, no plans. But I do plan to be hitting up the rest of the world. South America and Asia are two big targets for us next Summer so I look forward to guzzling drinks with readers there!
Again, a huge thank you to Mark for taking the time to talk with me! Don’t forget, all four issues of Chrononauts: Futureshock is set for release on 30th October!