It's hard to think of another figure in the world of comics today quite as prolific and visible as Mark Millar. With the Kapow Comic Con launching April 9-10 2011 in London, a number of high-profile comics like "Death of Spider-Man" and Kick Ass 2, the magazine CLiNT, and even directing a motion picture -- Millar has a lot on his plate. But MTV Geek managed to catch up with this comic industry Renaissance Man to talk Kapow, Stan Lee, "Miracle Park," and a lot more...
MTV Geek: Comics, movies, a magazine, and now a convention – is Mark Millar angling to be “king of all media?”
Mark Millar: Yes, definitely. I want to be like Oprah.
Geek: What gave you the idea for Kapow Comic Con? And how is it different from other comic conventions?
Millar: The inspiration, I guess, is San Diego. It's the best con in the world. Just spectacular. I don't mean the size of the audience, which is an amazing 150,000, but the fact that all the big publishers and studios and TV producers and actors are all there in a bid to court fandom. As fans, we've never been as powerful as we are now. The Internet has democratised news and criticism so a blog in Iowa is as important as Variety and Hollywood Reporter in terms of buzz. So the idea of replicating the geek Mecca that is San Diego here in the UK is very exciting to us. We've described as the European version of SDCC and I think that's pretty accurate. It will be comic based and feature the best and most high profile creators in the country, but also have the studios coming to impress you with all their comic book and genre movie line-up for 2011 and 2012. I'm in a unique situation that my Christmas card list extends into comics and cinema and I've basically called all my pals, getting them excited about this too.
Geek: How did you hook up with Stan Lee for the “Stan Lee Awards?” Would you consider him one of your idols?
Millar: Stan Lee isn't one of my idols. He IS my idol. He was such a huge part of my childhood and almost seems as unreal to me as Spider-Man or the X-Men. Having an email from Stan when I switch on my computer in the morning is like a missive from Galactus. This career I've been blessed with, and I cannot stress how great it is to be doing what you've dreamed of doing since you were five, is entirely down to Stan. He inspired me as a kid and he inspires me as an adult. To help honour him with these international awards is an honour for me.
Geek: With statues given to Best Superhero or Sci-Fi Movie, Best Toy, and Best TV Show, the Stan Lee Awards seem to really expand the categories for a comic book awards ceremony. Is it possible these days to regard “Comics” as *just* comic books – or in your opinion is the industry irrevocably tied-in with other media as well?
Millar: Comics is the most important thing to happen to cinema since Lucas, Spielberg, DePalma and Scorcese became a force with the American New Wave. In money terms, it's bigger than Star Wars. I don't think we're the junior partner here by any means. Talk to any execs now and it's clear comics is the tail wagging the dog. There's never been a better time to be a comic reader or a comic creator and I think the awards reflect that. the awards that extend beyond the books themselves show how far the medium has extended and captured other mediums.
Geek: The convention will be host to many movie & TV previews…is there anything big launching at Kapow that you might want to tease us with?
Millar: The convention is still a few months away and we have the movie and TV side to be announced on Valentine's Day next year, but we've got a series of news stories that will be rolling out in the weeks and months leading up to this. Besides the insane comic line-up with Frank Quitely, Dave Gibbons, Leinil Yu and so on which broke last week we sent a press release out on Friday detailing the 2000AD panel, where Judge Dredd producer Andrew MacDonald (Trainspotting and 28 Days Later) is coming with a Dredd movie exclusive. There's really going to be news like this every few days for a while, but the avalanche of movie and TV news gets announced on Feb 14th. Suffice to say, I've got four movies in various stages of production at the moment and have friends on all the big features. If you think I haven't been utilising my phone-book you're crazy (laughs).
Geek: You seem to be one of the busiest people in comics – how do you have time to do it all?
Millar: I spend less time with the people who matter and more on superficial, working relationships. Also, I don't exercise and am enjoying letting myself just completely go.
Geek: Do you ever miss the days when you just wrote comics, or have satisfyingly integrated all the many facets of your career – publisher, writer, director, comic con organizer?
Millar: Actually, it's nice doing other things. I've been writing comics since I was 19 and I just turned 40 so actually standing up and stretching my legs feels good. It's quite an isolated job when you're a full time writer and I'm quite a social person so mixing it up has been fun and creatively rewarding. I have about 20 other things I want to get into too, all related to what I've been doing.
Geek: You describe your directorial debut, “Miracle Park,” as “Trainspotting meets X-Men” – could you expand a little bit on the story for us?
Millar: The story is annoyingly under wraps for now, I'm afraid, but we'll be getting the trailer out there early next year. All I can say is it's cool. But I'll tell you something funny. I always forget that nobody understands a word I'm saying and I always forget that this is a problem all Scots have. This cast is almost entirely Scottish and so many segments of this movie are getting re-dubbed to clean up the accents a little. I understood everything, but my English producer felt like she was watching a foreign language film when we were looking at some of the rushes (laughs). I don't want to get subtitled so we're doing some ADR over the toughest bits. I heard Trainspotting was subtitled in some parts of the states and I am not going there!!
Geek: What’s next for Mark Millar on the comics front?
Millar: I just finished Nemesis book one, which Tony Scott is turning into a movie, and I'm just about finished Superior, which we're doing as a movie too, weirdly enough. That means I just have The Death of Spider-Man (for Marvel Comics) and Kick-Ass 2 left to do between now and February. Then the next phase of my master-plan begins. I'm going to wrap Miracle Park, get the editing going and throw myself headlong into three new projects. These are all huge announcements we're making at Kapow! in April, but the first of these projects will be drawn by the brilliant Dave Gibbons. Yes, the Dave Gibbons who did Watchmen with Alan Moore and Give Me Liberty with Mr Frank Miller. So no pressure there (laughs).
Geek: There’s obviously a lot happening at Kapow Con 2011 – but if you had to pick one event or guest that you are most excited about, what or who would that be?
Millar: There's so much stuff we can't tell you about yet. I don't want to spoil anything. But one very cool thing we're doing is called MOVIE X and details of this will be spilled very soon. Stay tuned.
Kapow Comic Con will be held at the London Business Design Centre, and boasts a stellar line-up of comic creators such as Frank Quitely, Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland, Steve Dillon, Bryan Hitch, John Romita Jr., Kevin O’Neil, and many more. Tickets are available now for purchase at the website: £15/$24 for one day, £25/$40 for a weekend pass, and VIP tickets at £175/$275.