Exclusive Mike S. Miller Interview

[Date: September 24, 2000]

Mike S. Miller is currently the Penciller on "The Adventures of Superman" comic books.

The Superman Homepage would like to thank Mike for agreeing to do this interview, and for fitting it into his busy schedule.

Q: Can you please tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

A: I was born in Hawaii in 1971, the child of a Japanese mother and an American father. I moved to the mainland when I was 5 and have been here ever since. My mother is an artist, and my father's father is an artist, so I got doubly blessed when it came to the genetics of artistic talent. Not that talent is everything, but it helps! I wanted to be a comic book artist since I was a kid, though I had to give up that dream when I failed English in the 7th grade (because I didn't want to be in AP English, and I'm kind of stubborn...) and my father made me get rid of my comic collection. I got back into it in college in the early 90's, and when I heard what kind of money was being made in comics, I thought, "Well, I always wanted to draw comics!" I went to WonderCon and got work from Malibu. That was my beginning. 8 years later, here I am, drawing Superman.

Q: When and How did you become a Comic Book fan?

A: When I was a kid taking Tae Kwan Doe, I used to go across the street before and after class and check out the comics. I guess that's when I first got into it. My first trip into a comic book shop ended with my buying that sideways issue of Fantastic Four by John Byrne. After that, I was hooked. Paul Smith was on X-Men at the time, and I loved his work. He and Byrne were my favorite artists at the time. It was so cool that nearly 20 years later, Paul came to my wedding! So strange to become friends with people you idolized as a kid. I guess it's a fanboy's dream.

Q: When and How did you first get to work on Superman?

A: My friend Lary Stucker works with Eddie Berganza, the editor of the Superman books. When I told Lary that I was getting laid off of X-Man because of the whole Warren Ellis thing, he told Eddie, and Eddie said, 'cool'. He liked my work on X-Man, and wanted me to fill-in on Adventures of Superman until the new artist, HOWARD PORTER was to come on. So really, it was intended to be a semi-long fill-in gig. When Howard said he was quitting comics, Eddie, J. M. [Dematties, the writer] and I said, 'cool'. Basically, I lucked into it without fanfare, and I'm sure when I go, it will be likewise. I'm not in comics for fame and glory, anyway. I'm just glad to be able to do something that I love for a living and make a decent living while I'm doing it.

Q: When did you first decide that you wanted to work on comic books?

A: In 6th grade. I had an assignment to create my own business card for my future career, and I made a card that said I worked for Marvel Comics. Funny, eh? I wonder where that card is now... Anyway, then I really became serious about it in college, and then I got work.

Q: Where did you go to college?

A: De Anza Community College in Cupertino, California. It was really just a way to keep from having to pay rent. They had a couple good art teachers there though, so I had fun.

Q: How did you go about becoming a comic book artist? What was your first big break into the industry?

A: I took a paper bag full of drawings and some silly story pages to WonderCon, showed them around and finally showed them to Malibu, and Chris Ulm said he'd give me penciling work. Of course, all he ended up giving me pretty much was inking work and a few covers, but it was a break. It was money. And I got to practice my drawing while I made a living inking. I'm one of the very VERY few inkers who ever kept at their penciling enough to become a full-time penciler.

Q: Would you recommend that others join the comic industry?

A: Only if they truly love comics, and are willing to work their butts off for years before they can make a steady living.

Q: In your opinion, is the comic industry still a strong business?

A: I think... it's evolving. Comic books have a niche, but that niche is shrinking. Hopefully there will be new blood influxed into the fan-base, and at some shops you see this with Pokemon and stuff like that which draws children into the stores. I think stores that scare kids away are doing the whole industry a disservice. Without a next generation, this business will be history. A couple of helpful hints that I wrote in my column in the back of my old title Immortal Two, TELL your retailer what you like. TELL your friends about your favorite comics. GIVE your non-comic reading friends books that you think they will enjoy. This is a word-of-mouth industry, and the only word-of-mouth that works is if the mouths involved start working.

Q: Who's your favorite comic book hero?

A: Right now? Superman :)

Q: What comics do you personally read?

A: The Superman titles, Universe X, Shock Rockets, Savage Dragon, Pakkin's Land, DareDevil, BattleChasers, anything by Carlos Pacheco. Other stuff, but I really follow artists and a few writers. Funny thing, there are so many good writers out there, but it's so darned difficult to break into comics as a writer that you get stuck with all these half-wits writing funnybooks. The public has this perception that comics are for kids, and on an intellectual level, MANY are. I know I sound like I complain a lot about the industry, but it's because I love it so much, and I want it to be something on a whole to be proud of.

Q: What version of Superman is your personal favorite (Comics, TV, Movies)?

A: Comics, I would have to go with... oddly enough, John Byrne's Superman. For TV, Dean Cain, because he's half-Japanese too! And for movies? Who else... Christopher Reeve, man!

Q: What do you think of when illustrating a Superman story?

A: I think that I'm not good enough to be drawing the Man of Steel. The guy is an icon. They should have icon-class artists working on him.

Q: Can you let us in on any up-coming Superman storylines you are working on or will soon be working on?

A: I could, but my editor would kill me. Secrecy is a big deal on the Superman books. I guess I can slip one thing in, that it's going to get 'hot' for the Man of Steel... Vague enough for ya?

Q: What's it like being part of the DCU Superman team? What are the rest of the team like to work with?

A: They're great. Ed [McGuinness] is a good friend, though we've only spoken on the phone, we're both Christians, and talk fairly regularly. Doug [Mahnke] and I are getting to be good friends as well, he's a Christian also, so we all have that connection on top of being Superman artists and all-around comic geeks! I don't talk to the writers much, and J.M. just left, so any relationship I had with him doesn't really count now as far as the 'S-man' is concerned. Working with my Editor, Eddie Berganza, has been a good experience overall. He is a professional. Don't get that too much nowadays.

Q: How did the position come about for you? Who contacted you?

A: Lary Stucker was the go-between for Eddie and I until we actually made contact. Like I said, I just kind of landed the gig by default. You didn't see anything in Wizard about the Superman Editor stealing me away from Marvel, did you? Because it wasn't anything like that. God just kind of slipped me in quietly, no expectations, just 'do your best', and be a good witness.

Q: Other than Superman, what else are you working on at the moment? What plans do you have for the immediate future?

A: I'm doing an issue of Justice League of Aliens, a fifth-week event coming out next year. And I'm developing some other stories on my own for possible publication later on.

Q: How long do you anticipate you'll remain on the Superman books?

A: As long as Eddie feels like I'm the man for the job, I suppose. Like I said, he's a professional, and if someone with a big name and following came along and said 'I want to do Adventures', I wouldn't pitch a fit. If it's the best thing for the book, it's what a professional Editor would do. So until that happens, or whatever, I'm content to be the AOS artist.

Q: Who would you like to see play Superman on the big screen in another Superman movie?

A: Russel Crowe. Well, maybe not. But wasn't Gladiator awesome? I think someone with a face like Ben Afleck or that guy from Seinfeld who played Puddy. If he has the acting capability, he'd be good. Actually, he did play Supes in that American Express commercial, didn't he? He just got drawn over with the cartoon Supes.

Q: What do you think of the Superman Homepage?

A: Good looking page. I'd recommend it to any Superfan.

A few "off topic" questions:

Q: Do you have any bad habits?

A: I have a quick wit. Sometimes my wit is quicker than my brain and I say things I shouldn't. That is bad.

Q: What is the best advice anybody ever gave you?

A: Have you read the book of Proverbs? Everything in there is the best advice a person could get. But if I had to single something out, I would say that 'all you do, do unto the Lord' would be the best advice I ever got. And I got it from God, so I guess that's a pretty good source of advice. It means that in everything you do, you do your best, because that's what God wants out of you. Your best.

Q: Who would you most like to sit next to on a long airplane flight?

A: My wife.

Q: Who would you least like to sit next to on an airplane flight?

A: Someone smelly trying to sell me something I don't want.

Q: What is the one thing you can't live without?

A: The Bible.

Q: If you were down to your last $10 how would you spend it?

A: Oh... Taco Bell, I suppose. I could eat for days!

Thanks for allowing me to interview you!

You are very welcome. God Bless.

This interview is Copyright © 2000 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.



The Superman Homepage has had the pleasure of interviewing various Superman Comic Book creative people about their work.

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Check the Television section of this website for some “Lois & Clark” Interviews conducted by The Krypton Club.