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MILLAR MOVES TO AMERICA FOR MARVEL


The last 12 months have seen writer Mark Millar’s star rise and explode like a Roman candle. Once best known for his acclaimed work on DC Comics‘ “Superman Adventures” animated all-ages book, writing DC/WildStorm‘s “The Authority” and now Marvel Comics‘ “Ultimate X-Men” has made him a brand name with comic fans.

When the reports first surfaced that he would be moving from his native Scotland to the United States, the speculation began. Monday, he broke his silence. Millar is making his Marvel.

“This is just a quick one to clarify some rumors kicking around regarding my move to the States this year,” Millar said in a statement sent to the Comic Wire and other news sites Monday afternoon. “There’s been a lot of Internet speculation lately and, after a batch of British newspaper profiles at the weekend, I thought it was best to come clean and let everyone know what I’m up to.

“As has been reported, I was made a couple of truly fine offers from WildStorm and Marvel before Christmas. The WildStorm gig was an exclusive contract where I’d up sticks and move from Glasgow to sunny California and work, in-house, as Head Writer and Brainstormer-in-Chief from WildStorm’s offices in La Jolla. The WildStorm guys are old mates of mine and this was incredibly tempting, especially since it hasn’t stopped raining here in Scotland since something like 1974.

“However, what Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas at Marvel offered was a chance for my family and I to move to New York and for me to put my money where my mouth is, working on the front-lines and playing my part in Marvel’s major play for new readers in 2001. This means I’ll be working on staff for Marvel Entertainment over the next couple of years but, contrary to some Net speculation, I won’t be working in an editorial capacity. I’ll be sitting around a conference table, eating pizza, drinking beer and brain-storming at every opportunity, but my real job will be writing. My commitment to Marvel, for the next two years at least, is to continue writing Ultimate X-Men and to initiate what looks set to be the biggest, most ambitious Ultimate title yet. I wish I could divulge details of this right now (because I’m aching to tell you who the f—ing artist is), but I have to bite my lip until my other commitments are finished first and I can get properly started in May.

“In case you haven’t noticed, the buzz up at Park Avenue South has been electric these last few months and I just want to play a bigger part in it. My decision was as simple as that. Joe Q has turned the place around a hundred and eighty degrees and Marvel’s gone from being the ugly girl on the dance-floor to the girl everyone most wants to shag. It’s not about money. You can make ten times as much money in TV. It’s about respect for the creators, a level of enthusiasm that’s been missing from comics these last few years and a mapped-out mission from Bill and Joe to SAVE this brilliant, little industry we’re all so besotted by.

“Another reason I opted for the Marvel proposal was because the unique contract they put together for me actually allowed me to continue working for other people too. I’ve always enjoyed writing the kind of risky books which give Management both ulcers and heart trouble and the Marvel contract allows me to do some creator-owned material for WildStorm, Humanoids and Matt Hawkins at Top Cow. Essentially, I’m getting the best of both worlds here: Writing big, blockbuster superhero comics at the same time as the small, independent and more personal work.

“As you can tell, I’m excited. I haven’t felt this good about comics since 1986 and I honestly reckon that 2001 is going to be even better. Marvel’s got Grant Morrison, Brian Bendis, Pete Milligan, Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, JMS, Paul Jenkins and a shit-load of other people I’d NEVER has expected to see under the Marvel banner. The enthusiasm’s infectious.”

PEYER ON THE NEW ‘AUTHORITY’ FIGURES,

THE LAST MINUTES OF ‘HOURMAN’

Warning: Spoilers for the latest issue of “The Authority.”

At the moment, Tom Peyer writes the acclaimed, but under-read “Hourman” for DC Comics. In two months, that’ll be over, when the series ends with issue #25. His next project, though, seems destined for the sort of attention “Hourman” never got: He’s pinch-hitting a four issue filler “Authority” story in the middle of the current story arc in the wake of sudden creative changes on the book.

While fans have voiced decidedly mixed opinions about the current story arc being interrupted until issue #27 in October, the fill-in fits into a natural place in the story arc, as the current Authority team has been assassinated by the G-7 nations and a new, government-approved Authority has taken their place. It is this team that Peyer and artist Dustin Nguyen will be telling a four part story of.

[Authority #22]

“I’m going to be writing about the New Authority, the team that replaces The Original Authority after the tragic events of #22,” Peyer told the Comic Wire on Friday. “The global powers-that-be destroyed our rebellious heroes and installed these cheap rip-offs in their place. That strategy will pay off handsomely for the rich and powerful, and my story will follow the money.”

While regular “Authority” writer Mark Millar presumably has plans for the new team in the conclusion of his on-hold story, Peyer will be given a chance to flesh the characters out.

“Mark created them, but there’s a lot I get to fill in,” he said, saying the new Authority — who share codenames with their murdered predecessors — resemble the original team “like the Monkees resemble the Beatles. They’re all right, but there’s no question who’s better.

“We’ll be brushing up against bad heroes and good villains, public relations and Vietnam War II. The rich and famous will lose everything. The trappings of religion will play a supporting role in great acts of evil. Our heroes will feel the sting of being micro-managed by the boss. Midnighter’s replacement will launch a futile crusade to be accepted as a heterosexual. And in the end, I hope our heroes will leave the world a worse place than they found it.”

“The Authority” #23 is being rescheduled for a June release from DC/WildStorm.

Readers of Peyer’s current series, “Hourman,” know what the title character in the book seems to realize, that this is the end of the line. The final arc features Hourman and his entire supporting cast joy-riding through time, burning up Hourman’s fuel for his timeship, presumably greatly curtailing his heroic career in future. The bittersweet tone of the arc is intentional, Peyer said.

“I want it to be funny and sad, because my favorite stories are. I’ll miss Snapper and Hourman, but there’s something ridiculous about them, too. That appealed to me, but maybe it’s the reason their audience kept shrinking.”

As for Hourman’s role in the DC Universe after the series’ end, “Hourman will be available if writers want to use him, but he won’t be in the way if they don’t,” Peyer said.

This dramatic resolution of the series was not some long-planned finale to “Hourman.”

“‘Hourman’ was the most carefully-planned series I ever wrote, but I left big holes in my planning in case I got inspired. The ending I finally went with didn’t occur to me until I began the last story arc. It was the least obvious one I’d thought of. No one’s guessed it yet.”

Had the series continued, Peyer had some general plans for the future.

“When I was writing ‘Hourman,’ I got to like unusual ways of dealing with villains, like inviting them into the circle of friends, or proving to them that they’re wasting their lives and they just surrender. I probably would have stuck with that, and I’ll probably stick with it anyway. I probably would have kept growing the supporting cast until it rivaled The Simpsons’ Springfield. I don’t think I would have written anyone out. As for specific plots, I got nothin’. I told all the stories I thought of and I stopped thinking of more, because I knew it was ending.”

Given knowledge of how it would all turn out, would Peyer reconsider taking the character from the “DC One Million” miniseries and writing his quirky solo book?

“I consider ‘Hourman’ a high point, and I’d do it again in a second. It was a real case of the whole creative team rowing in the same direction; a very satisfying experience. I really like the body of work … the writing could have been better here and there, but you can’t say that about the art, and the whole package came together more often than we had a right to expect. I guess I should be disappointed it only lasted two years, but … it lasted two years! Sales didn’t justify it, but DC kept it going … and they kept promoting it well into its second year. Editor Tony Bedard — who put this creative team together in the first place — kept ‘Hourman’ alive with a tireless in-house cheerleading campaign, and the marketing department was a source of great support. I couldn’t be more grateful for the experience and the teamwork.”

TWICE UPON A TIME:

MEDLEY’S RETURN TO ‘CASTLE WAITING’

[Castle Waiting #4]
Castle Waiting #4 Preview

Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Northern California, Linda Medley wrote a comic book called “Castle Waiting,” set in the world of fairy tales, and picked up two 1998 Eisner awards recognizing her efforts.

And then, after a pause while she worked on a DC/Vertigo “Books of Faerie” series that never quite happened, “Castle Waiting” is back, this time published bimonthly by Cartoon Books, home of “Bone.”

While the book takes place in the world of fairy tales — the castle of the title turns out to be a very famous fairy tale castle, as readers of the “Curse of Brambly Hedge” graphic novel know — the series isn’t a retelling of fairy tales. That’s not its focus, at least.

“I don’t know how to describe it myself,” Medley told the Comic Wire on Thursday. “I’ve picked up a few descriptions from people: It’s a reconstructionist fairy tale. Or, a fairy tale for adults … although it’s not an adult book. … It’s a fable, I guess.”

While the book is grounded in fairy tales, Medley isn’t a life-long fan of the form.

“I didn’t really take a strong interest in it until I was in college. At that age, I was old enough to analyze and intellectualize [them]. … There are very common themes in folklore. And you can see how they can relate to real human nature and to things that were going on in people’s lives and how that relates to the modern world. And it’s a lot easier to draw things made out of wood than cars,” she laughed.

Of course, “Castle Waiting” readers can sometimes spot elements of fairy tales in the series, and as with “The Curse of Brambly Hedge,” sometimes classic fairy tales will be major part of the story, although they won’t always be instantly recognizable as such.

“In the course of the whole story, there are four or five very specific fairy tales that happen in the course of the tale,” Medley said. “Some of them you won’t realize right away. Some of them you won’t until it actually ends. And then there’s a lot of other characters that are from … well, for instance, Snow White is going to be in the book much later, but it’s after her story ends.

“And the whole story, itself, is a long story.”

While the two volumes of “Castle Waiting,” and “Brambly Hedge,” form one long story, Medley at this point isn’t sure how many years it will take to get it all done.

“I’ve never actually counted,” she said. And even if she did, the number would remain fairly flexible. “For instance, the story I’m doing right now, is probably going to be six or seven issues. I originally thought it was going to be two, but then the characters got interesting, and started putting in little bits.”

While she’s keeping mum on the longer story, in the near term, Medley is willing to outline the current arc and the next few issues beyond that.

“This storyline with [Sister Peace] will end,” followed by a few issues of shorter stories. “It kind of ends up wrapping up a few loose ends. Then there will be a break in the story, and it will skip forward about five years.”

Part of the reason for the leap forward in time is to allow the changeling baby (if that’s what he is) of Jain, who arrived at the castle seeking refuge in the first volume of the series, time to become more than just an infant in diapers.

“Right now, the baby’s been a prop, instead of a character,” Medley said. “I want him to have his own life.”

Among the shorter stories following the Sister Peace story will be flashback issues.

“A lot of the loose ends will be flashbacks into Jain’s life. Her younger life, her getting married. … You kind of get brought up on who she is and what’s going on.”

The current story, telling who Sister Peace was and how she came to be at the castle, was originally intended to fall later in Medley’s long term plan.

“I kind of wanted to just continued with the stories that they went in the first, [Cartoon Books publisher Jeff Smith] suggested that, since it was starting with a new number one, maybe it should be something that stands alone. … These stories I was going to tell later, but I just bumped it forward.”

She had always intended to talk about the themes of faith and religion in “Castle Waiting,” which this story first introduces into the series.

[Castle Waiting #5]

“There’s nothing wrong with getting it in early. … It was fun and funny to do a weird bearded lady nuns,” she laughed. “They do become, in a much later story — you don’t actually see them again — but they become important with another character you see later on.

“The main character of the book kind of skips around. … It’s not actually Jain. Jain was just an easy entry into the story. For a while, Simon actually becomes the main character.”

The story of bearded lady Peaceful and the order of bearded nuns she encounters have been looked on by some readers as being metaphors for homosexuals and their place in society. That’s not what Medley intended this time, but it’s a happy coincidence, she says.

“When I started out writing the story, I didn’t even know that particular saint had been adopted a gay community saint,” she said. “I had actually planned on having the acceptance of homosexuality theme covered with a totally different character in a totally different story.”

And by the current story’s end, some of the metaphorical aspects read into it might not work so well.

“The story I just finished, you kind of get the idea that they’re all boy-crazy,” she said. “When I started the story, it was more personal … They’re strong women who don’t want to be wives … There’s something different about them. But I hadn’t thought about it being along the lines of being different sexual orientation.

“The whole thing with the Solicitine story line, here’s a bunch of people saying that not only is it OK, you may actually even be holier. … That’s taking it to the extreme.”

Some might think that such themes and content, in what’s meant to be an all-ages book, are too grown-up for young readers. Medley doesn’t think there’s anything to worry about.

“I do stop and think, once in a while, to make sure that I don’t put in anything that’s overly sexual suggestive. Not that that’s usually a problem,” she laughed. “I know that the things that an adult is going to interpret is going to be there, but you’ll only going to interpret it that way if you’re an adult.”

While there have been some threats of violence in the past, there will eventually be a bit of it in the series.

“There’s going to be a little bit of fighting. But most of it goes on off-panel. There is actually one instance of a character committing murder. And it’s probably the last character anyone would expect,” Medley said. “It’s not going to be seen. And it’s only done out of necessity.”

In any case, she said, it’s not likely there are too many kids reading the book.

“I think at this point, it’s almost all adults. Which is kind of too bad. … But I think that’s a matter of there being so few kids in the market today,” she said. “You know, Harry Potter is fine for kids, but it’s a book. But if you have anything in comic form, it has to be cartoon funny animals for it to be OK for kids.”

NEW LOOK OF ‘CATWOMAN’ COMES TOGETHER


Fans of DC Comics‘ Catwoman don’t yet know what the new costume the character will wear will look like when the series is relaunched later this year, but last week’s announcement of who the artist on the series is — “Batman: Ego” artist Darwyn Cooke — has meant that series writer Ed Brubaker has begun talking, at least, about how the book will look in the 21st century.

Before the book is relaunched, there will be an initial prologue story in the pages of “Detective Comics,” handled by the regular team of Brubaker, Cooke and inker Cameron Stewart, who shares a studio with Cooke.

“I just got the art for both the second part of the ‘Detective’ back-up thing, and the second issue of ‘Catwoman,’ and I am totally overwhelmed,” Brubaker said at his Delphi.com forum last week. “There’s a two page sequence in the opening of ‘Catwoman’ #2 that is like Steranko meets Chris Ware at EC in the ’50s.

“Jesus, did I get lucky … Of course, I still haven’t seen anything inked, but if Cameron’s work on [Brubaker’s DC/Vertigo series] ‘Deadenders’ is an example of what to expect, I’ve set my sights high …

“Right Cameron?”

“Goddamn right,” Stewart replied. “It’s going to look great, really. Even better than ‘Deadenders.’

“And I’ve got Darwyn standing over my table as I work, and loudly clearing his throat whenever I do something ‘wrong.'”

COMIC BRIEF CONFIDENTIAL


Here’s what’s news and press releases in CBR’s Comic Brief since the last edition of the Comic Wire:

  • The Mummy to unwrap in the pages of Chaos!
  • The Rock lays the smack-down at Chaos!
  • A glimpse of fantasy with ‘Legend of the Sage!’
  • Tony Moore takes a ‘Battle Pope’ break
  • ‘The Cell’ director to helm ‘Hellblazer’ for Warners
  • GLAAD Media Awards nominations for 2000

AND FINALLY …


Readers wanting to reach Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada with ideas for the name of December’s all-silent month of comics (read about it in last Thursday’s Comic Wire, if you haven’t already) can reach him here.

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