The Mark Millar Spotlight Panel at C2E2 on Friday took place on the main stage and promised to be wide-ranging about Millar’s works in comics and beyond.
This was one of Millar’s first convention appearances in nearly a decade, aside from SDCC.
Asked what projects people ask him about the most, he said Kick-Ass, even though Kingsman was “bigger”. He said on Halloween in Glasgow, he saw two girls dress liked Hit-Girl, even though it’s not unusual to see “women walking around with knives” in Scotland, he laughed.
Asked if there will be a spin-off from Hit-Girl, he said it would be hard because Chloe Moritz is Hit-Girl, the way Hugh Jackman is Wolverine.
Asked what adapting comics to screen is like, Millar said that everyone else does the hard work for him. Things he wrote nearly 10 years ago suddenly become adaptations, and he was never thinking about it at the time.
Asked how he got into the comics industry, Millar said there was nothing else he could imagine doing. It was a sense of “vocation” for him. He can see one of his daughters getting into comics at age 6, having made her own comic and selling it, turning a profit, at a wedding family gathering.
Millar said that he grew up thinking that superheroes were real because his older brothers would convince him that Superman was a historical figure. About 7 years old, he had a “Santa Claus” moment where he realized what was going on. He grew up with the “best comics there are”, Millar said, and he also was wowed by the Superman movie as a kid.
Asked about working in and founding his own company, he said the inspiration was interviewing Stan Lee for a magazine. Lee said he should think about “doing his own stuff” and not just Marvel. Millar had never considered this, and immediately started writing Wanted. Which sold as a movie before the comic even came out.
Asked how his routine has changed now that Netflix is in the picture, Millar said that he and his wife run the company in Scotland, with a London and an LA office as well. For Netflix, he must must create a certain number of comics a year, and now must also create a certain number of shows as well. It’s a lot of work but it’s exciting, he said.
He tends to start with “visuals” on little post-it notes, which are often quite violent, and moves to writing after that. He feels the story, however, is there already, and it’s like “excavating” without disturbing it and bringing it to light.
He plans to do 29 stories with Netflix, he said, over the next few years, with at least 7 per year.
Asked about “down time” and geeking out aside from comics, he says he just drinks, laughing. He works, he plays with his kids, and goes to the pub.
Asked about when to expect Chosen Book 2, American Jesus, Millar said “soon”. He needs to write it quickly, and it may arriving at the end of the year. It’s a sequel to the Bible, he explained.
Asked if War Heroes will ever conclude, Millar said, “possibly, I’m not sure”. He has projects planned out roughly 7 years ahead, he explained.
Asked about working independently vs. with Marvel and DC, Millar referenced working on Civil War a few years ago, and it was “hard” because of all the moving pieces. But something like Kick-Ass is so “easy” because of being your own boss. He also runs the division at Netflix. He doesn’t know that he could ever move away from that freedom. His comments in the past got “exaggerated” about not wanting to work with Marvel and DC in future. It’s more that he has a lot of freedom now, and that’s attractive.
The Magic Order will arrive in June in comics, and they’ll be moving ahead with the TV show, too. It opens with images of a little kid waking his parents up by killing them, which is probably his own subconscious fear of his own small children, he laughed. It’s like Tony Soprano dealing with “supernatural situations”, Millar explained.
Kick-Ass is loosely autobiographical since as a teen, he and his friends wanted to be real super heroes, and they trained for about a week, then gave up. Later they said to each other, “We would have been stabbed the first night”.
Talking about comics in the media, Millar said, “Is this not the world you have dreamed of?” to applause. There are Batman movies, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, now making more money than Star Wars. He worries that he’s “imagining” this world and will wake up and find it’s not true.
Talking about the need for escapism, he reminded that Superman was created by “two Jewish kids when times were tough”. We’ve never had a climate like this, with constant wars, and we need Thor: Ragnarok now more than ever, Millar commented. He loved the film. It’s his favorite Marvel movie, though he also loves James Gunn’s Guardians. There’s a shift going on, he feels, and the Avengers feels like a chapter closing, and now Black Panther, Thor, Guardians, have a different “tone” and are the next wave.
Millar always “hopes for the best” on DC movies, but… He still lives in hope. Wonder Woman was great, and he has high hopes for Aquaman, too, actually.
Asked what his favorite project adapted to the screen has been, he said the first Kick-Ass film was “magical”, and felt like something that started as a sketch, and was brought into the world. Seeing the set and actors for the first time brought him close to tears.
Asked about a comic artist he’d love to work with, Millar said he went after Olivier Coipel for 20 years and eventually wore him down for The Magic Order. Adam Hughes is also very much on his “hit list” for more than covers. Sometimes the best artists take a long time, but “fingers crossed” someday.
Asked about getting ideas for works, Millar said that most of his characters are based on friends, real people in his life, and it’s embarrassing if it gets picked up for a film, waiting for it to be released and knowing they’ll see their names and characters in the work. For instance, in Kingsman, Eggsy is his best friend from school. He doesn’t warn the people, though, he laughed.
Heidi MacDonald of The Comics Beat asked if his comics at Netflix are still Image Comics, and he said that yes, the comics will still come out from Image. “Netflix isn’t getting into publishing. That’s not part of the plan”, he clarified.
Asked how he divides his time, Millar said it’s about 50-50 on comics vs. TV or film work.
Asked if he’ll bring back the contest, he said it is just such a huge amount of work that it became impractical to do it this year. He definitely wants to do it, since there are so many people who want to work in comics. The industry needs to “bring new blood in”, he feels.