Exclusive Mark Millar Interview
[Date: April 27, 1999]
Mark Millar is a writer for DC Comics, writing the popular Superman Adventures comic books, and also co-writer with Stuart Immonen on Action Comics (one of the regular Superman comic books).
The Superman Homepage would like to thank Mark for agreeing to do this interview, and for fitting it into his busy schedule.
This interview is Copyright © 1999 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.
Q: Can you please tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
My name is Mark Millar. I'm handsome, Scottish and twenty nine years old; the same age as Superman. No matter what they tell you, Superman is 29. The only guys who want him to be thirty five are friends of mine who are dangerously on the wrong side of thirty. I'm a script-writer and, more specifically, a comics script-writer. Movies and TV are starting to play a big role in my life, but comics are my own true love. Superman comics in particular. Superman is the reason I got into this business and suddenly finding myself as the most prolific writer of Superman material is something I still can't quite fit into my head.
Q: When did you become a Superman fan and what got you into Superman (the comics, radio shows, television shows, movies)?
Mark Waid told me to tell you this... It's actually fairly embarrassing and, as Mark so brilliantly put it, "on the razor edge of PATHETIC", but I believed in Superman as a REAL PERSON until the age of around six or seven. My brother told me he fought during the war and disappeared shortly afterwards with the other heroes and I had no reason to disbelieve him. We didn't get the George Reeves show over here until 1989, but I found a photograph of Reeves in an old school encyclopedia on American pop culture. I was six or seven at the time and the photo said nothing about a TV show. As far as I was aware, this WAS Superman. Who WOULDN'T believe in him?
Q: What do you think of the Superman Homepage?
Brilliant. Pros always lie and say they don't check out the reviews, but we scan every single one on the message-boards, homepages, Usenet, etc. The Superman Homepage always gives me a fair review, which probably makes me a little biased, but it's my favourite web page on the Internet... aside from the Jenny McCarthy one.
Q: Who would you like to see play Superman on the big screen in another Superman movie?
Don't laugh, but I thought Nic Cage was an interesting idea. I hated Dean Cain so much and thought he looked, acted and sounded more unlike Superman than Teri Hatcher. Compared to Cain, Cage actually IS Superman and the fact that he's an Oscar-winning actor would, I think, bring some much-needed dignity after the TV show. He doesn't look like Superman, granted, but ANYONE can look like a superhero with the right wig, make-up, special effects, etc.
If I could choose anyone, I think I'd opt for Daniel Day-Lewis. The last rumour I heard from a friend in Hollywood was that he was being seriously considered. Being Irish shouldn't prevent him from tackling such an all-American role. I mean, Superman's from Krypton, isn't he?
Q: In 1998, Warner Bros. celebrated their 75th Anniversary by rereleasing movies from every decade, including Superman from in the 1970s movie section. Did you see Superman when it was rereleased? If so, where, and what did you think seeing the movie 20 years later again on the big screen? How did it make you feel?
It made me feel angry because we didn't GET the 20th Anniversary screening over here. I was really pissed off about that, especially when all my pro pals in the USA rubbed it in. Originally, I saw the movie in the ABC cinema in Glasgow. I was nine years old when it was released and actually threw up with excitement whilst waiting in the queue. One of my four older brothers took me and, as I've said to him countless times, it changed my life forever. I'm writing comics thanks to that movie. It's still my all-time favourite.
Q: When did you first decide that you wanted to write comic books?
As soon as I saw my first one. I can't remember if it was an issue of Tec with Batman on a white horse or Superman #297. Either way, I knew immediately that this is what I wanted to do, despite being four years old.
Q: Where did you go to college?
Several places. I trained to be a priest for a bit at Blairs College in Aberdeen, but discovered girls and left. I went to a regular comprehensive and eventually to Paisley University. However, my parents both died when I was in my teens and I had absolutely no money. I had to quit my degree in the final months due to mounting debts and find a job. Cue comics!
Q: How do you go about becoming a comic book writer?
I broke in at an easier time, but still spent six months writing one six page script every day and sending it in to a British comic called 2000AD. I worked nine to five, five days a week for six months for no money. More than anything, a writer needs dedication and, if you're good, you'll be hired. It's as simple as that. No conspiracy exists to keep out good writers.
Q: Would you recommend that others join the comic industry?
It's very tough at the moment, especially for new guys. That said, you'll be hired if you're at least as good as the people they're currently using. However, the writers have actually improved a lot lately. 90% of comics used to be unreadable. Now I'd say it's about 50/50.
Q: In your opinion, is the comic industry still a strong business?
No, but I think it will improve thanks to the efforts of the creators. Good comics builds enthusiasm and enthusiasm builds a recovery. Right now, the biggest problem is getting the books to people. The collapse of the direct market means that so many people I know can't even FIND comics to spend their dollars on.
Q: Who's your favorite comic book hero?
Come on. Do you even need to ask? Although, I must admit, I like Batman too.
Q: What version of Superman is your personal favorite?
Mark and Alex pinned him down perfectly in Kingdom Come. This, to me, is the best DC Comics have ever been and should be suspended above the keyboard and drawing-board of every freelancer. I'm also a massive fan of the mid-70s Maggin/Bates/Swan stuff. Kingdom Come appealed to me because it evoked this period which inspired me so much.
Q: Which do you think of when writing a Superman story?
Somewhere between Curt Swan and Alex Ross. These two Supermen look nothing alike, but both seem to be channeling the real guy... wherever he is out there.
Q: Can you let us in on any future/up-coming Superman projects you are working on or will soon be working on?
Well, I'm writing Superman Adventures until Christmas and have a lot of good stuff coming up there. The one I'm writing at the moment features The Parasite draining Mr Mxyzptlk's powers and going on a rampage through space and time. These are the kind of stories you couldn't get away with in the regular books and I've had a ball over the last eighteen months writing this stuff.
Also out soon is Team Superman with the brilliant Georges Jeanty. The idea behind this story features Superman being responsible for the accidental deaths of three hundred people and exiling himself from Earth... or so it appears!
Superman: Red Son is the biggie. This is Superman's "Dark Knight" and is a three issue, prestige format Elseworlds series which Wildcats' Dave Johnson has been drawing for three years. It's incredible and, hopefully, will be out by the end of this year. The basic premise is Superman's rocket landing in the Soviet Union in 1938 and Superman growing up in a triumphant USSR. Truth, Justice and the American Way? No thanks, Comrade!
Q: What is it like now that you are part of the DCU Superman team?
Q: How did the position come about for you? Who contacted you?
Maureen McTigue and Joey Cavalieri contacted me, but Stuart Immonen was the man who recommended me. I really love Stuart. He's a very gracious collaborator, a solid ideas man and one of the three best artists in the business. I owe my position on this book to him.
A few "off topic" questions:
Q: Do you have any bad habits?
Like all Scotsmen, I like a drink and can often end up in fights... even at conventions!
Q: What is the best advice anybody ever gave you?
Grant Morrison, 1988: "Forget being an artist, be a writer!"
Q: Who would you most like to sit next to on a long airplane flight?
Grant Morrison and I are best pals and always travel to Cons together so he's the one I'm most likely to spend eighteen hours with on the trek from Glasgow to San Diego. We always get drunk and snigger the entire trip. Everyone sitting near us HATES us.
Q: Who would you least like to sit next to on an airplane flight?
Hard to say, really. I wouldn't mind sitting next to someone I dislike because it would give me the chance to bug them for eighteen hours. Forrest Whittaker maybe... I don't know why, but he's the actor I hate more than any other on Earth.
Q: What is the one thing you can't live without?
Q: If you were down to your last $10 how would you spend it?
An issue of Superman Adventures for me and another four for my big brothers. I'd spend the remaining five cents on candy!
Thanks for allowing me to interview you!
IntroductionThe Superman Homepage has had the pleasure of interviewing various Superman Comic Book creative people about their work.
Question and Answer Interviews:
- Interview with Christopher Priest about the Superman vs. Deathstroke story in Deathstroke #8 (November 2016)
- Interview with Sterling Gates about the 'Adventures of Supergirl' digital-first comic book series (January 2016)
- Interview with J. Michael Straczynski about Superman: Earth One - Vol. 3 - Writer J. Michael Straczynski talks to us about the third volume in the Superman: Earth One graphic novel series (February 2015)
- Interview with Jim Krueger - Writer Jim Krueger talks to us about his The Dark Lantern story in the Adventures of Superman comic book title (November 2013)
- Smallville: Season 11 Interview with Bryan Q. Miller - Writer Bryan Q. Miller talks to us about his work on the Smallville: Season 11 comic book title (October 2012)
- Supergirl Interview with Mahmud Asrar - Artist Mahmud Asrar talks to us about his work on the monthly Supergirl comic book title (July 2012)
- Superman/Batman Interview with Joshua Hale Fialkov - Joshua Hale Fialkov answers our questions about The Secret 3-part story in Superman/Batman #85-87 (July 2011)
- Supergirl Interview with Sterling Gates - Sterling Gates answers our questions about where Supergirl is headed post War of the Supermen (June 2010)
- Supergirl Interview with Sterling Gates & Jamal Igle - Adam Dechanel chats with the Supergirl comic book team about the Maid of Might (March 2010)
- Behind the Scenes of the Super Friends - Four part indepth look at the Super Friends comic book title with artists J. Bone and Stewart McKenny (February 2010)
- Interview with Landry Q Walker and Eric Jones - The writer and artist discuss Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade (May 2009)
- Interview with Elliot S! Maggin - Legendary Superman writer and novelist discusses his career (January 2009)
- Interview with J. Bone - Artist discusses Super Friends comic book (November 2008)
- Interview with Mark Bagley (September 2008)
- Interview with J. Torres - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #18 (September 2008)
- Interview with Jake Black (May 2008)
- Interview with Cary Bates (June 2008)
- Interview with Jack Briglio - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #14 (May 2008)
- Interview with Ken Pontac - Writer discusses Justice League Unlimited #44 (May 2008)
- Interview with Karl Kerschl (April 2008)
- Interview with J. Torres - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #13 (April 2008)
- Interview with J. Torres - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #11 (February 2008)
- Interview with Fabian Nicieza - Writer on Superman comic books (June 2007)
- Interview with Danny Fingeroth - Writer of the book Superman on the Couch (May 2007)
- Interview with Jesse McCann - Writer on the Krypto The Superdog comic books (December 2006)
- Interview with Matt Haley - Artist on the Superman Returns comic book movie adaptation (November 2006)
- Interview with Ethan Van Sciver - Artist on Superman/Batman (September 2006)
- Interview with Mark Verheiden on taking over the writing duties on Superman/Batman (April 2006)
- Interview with Matt Idelson on taking over as Superman group editor (March 2006)
- Interview with Jeph Loeb on Sam and Superman/Batman #26 (February 2006)
- Interview with Roger Stern (December 2005)
- Interview with Marv Wolfman (November 2005)
- Interview with Gail Simone (May 2005)
- Interview with Greg Rucka (April 2005)
- Interview with Brad Meltzer [Identity Crisis] (January 2005)
- Interview with Glenn Whitmore (November 2004)
- Interview with Jeph Loeb (September 2004)
- Interview with Karl Kerschl (September 2004)
- Interview with Ron Garney (September 2004)
- Interview with Greg Rucka and Matthew Clark (May 2004)
- Interview with Ed McGuinness (March 2004)
- Interview with Brad Meltzer [Identity Crisis] (March 2004)
- Interview with Mark Millar [Superman: Red Son] (March 2003)
- Interview with Min S. Ku (September 2001)
- Interview with Jeph Loeb (May 2001)
- Interview with Joe Casey (April 2001)
- Interview with Mike S. Miller (September 2000)
- Interview with Denis Rodier (August 2000)
- Interview with Grant Morrison (December 1999)
- Interview with Mark Millar [Part 2] (November 1999)
- Interview with Mark Millar [Part 1] (April 1999)
- Superman vs. Terminator - A Chat with Fight Promoter Alan Grant. (January 2000)
- Superman: The Dailies (1939-1940) Graphic Novel Review.
- The Rebirth of Superman (Part 1) - Superman is reborn... again.
- The Rebirth of Superman (Part 2) - Eddie Barganza on taking the character in a new direction.
- The Rebirth of Superman (Part 3) - Jeph Loeb discusses writing the Man of Steel.
- Lex Luthor For President - Forget Superman. An updated Luthor's new enemies are Gore and Bush.
- Superman: Last Son of Earth - Steve Gerbern Interview - The writer discusses flip-flopping the Man of Steel's origin. (August 2000)
Krypton Club Interviews:
When Lois & Clark started production in 1993, there was an obvious relationship between the comic book people and the Hollywood people.
A trade paperback Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, was published, with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher on the cover. It included reprints of comic book stories that were the inspiration for Lois & Clark, helping to define the characters. Comic's included are: The Story of the Century (Man of Steel miniseries #2), Tears for Titano (Superman Annual #1), Metropolis - 900 mi (in SUP #9), The Name Game (SUP #11), Lois Lane (in ACT #600), Headhunter (AOS #445), Homeless for the Holidays (AOS #462), The Limits of Power (AOS #466), and Survival (ACT #665).
A number of comic book writers and artists had roles as extras in the episode I'm Looking Through You (Season one, episode 4). Their presence was immortilized in the Sky Trading Card #34.
Craig Byrne, president of the online Lois & Clark fanclub The Krypton Club, carried out a series of interviews with comic book writers. The interviews are reprinted with permission of the Krypton Club.
- Interview with Roger Stern (June 1995)
- Interview with John Byrne (June 1995)
- Interview with Mike Carlin (July 1995)