When Mark Millar launched a retailer order contest where the top shop buying his new Millarworld title “Supercrooks” would win the writer for a signing, he had one simple request: “Please just don’t let it be some Hell-hole.”
Luckily for the writer, the results of the issue #1 orders meant he’d be doing more than a store signing — he’d also be traveling to the Philippines to hang out on the home turf of “Supercrooks” collaborators Leinil Yu and Gerry Alanguilan at winning shop The National Bookstore for an event that could only be called “The Milla in Manila.”
After a whirlwind weekend to the country that included hotel and credit mix ups, Millar offered up excerpts from his “Supercrooks” travel diary to CBR News. Below, he gives the full story on the Filipino comics scene, the massive amount of promotion for the signing and the crowds of fans that showed up. Take it away, Mark!
Wed, 23rd May 2012
Just back from Kapow! Comic-Con in London. What a brilliant weekend. Weird thing about going with a baby is that you wake up without a hangover. Sure, you wake up six hours earlier than you PLANNED to wake up, but still…This is the first convention I’ve been to since I was seventeen years old where I didn’t arise stinking of booze and looking like a bomb had gone off in my head. It feels nice.
Off to London and spending night in an unsexy airport hotel so I can catch an early flight to Hong Kong in the morning. How come? It’s my route to the Philippines. What am I doing in the Philippines? Why, pimping my new book, of course. I had an online competition where I promised to do a signing at whichever comic-store ordered the most copies of “Supercrooks” #1, completely on my own dime. This was a calculated risk as I was sure London, LA or New York would order the most copies and I’m going to be in each of those places at least once over the coming months anyway. But – Land O’Goshen – The National Bookstore in Manila ordered more copies than anyone ever dreamed and so I’m heading for South-East Asia. Can’t wait!
My “Supercrooks” cohorts Leinil Yu and Gerry Alanguilan hail from this part of town and Colourist-Supreme Sunny Gho is flying in from Jakarta too. All we need is “Supercrooks” director Nacho Vigalondo and Asia could have the full set of “Supercrooks” creators. Sadly, Nacho is unable to leave Spain until they have working aeroplanes again. Thanks, Angela Merkel!!
Thurs, 24th May 2012
Took longer to get here than I expected. Crappy Radisson hotel at the airport had overbooked and so when I arrived at 11:00 PM they had to arrange a taxi for me and some old Italian guy in the same situation. They shipped us to a sister hotel almost an hour from the airport, but luckily the Italian turned out to be great company and so we propped up the bar together when we finally arrived at some place near Teddington. He heads up a Pharmaceutical company in the States and gave me his business card, saying I should bring the family to his Cedar Rapids home and crash for as long as we liked. How nice is THAT? Bed at 2:00 AM and check-in at 7:00 AM. Groan.
Flight was long, but great. 12 hours to a change at Hong Kong, which for some sounds a chore, but I see that as two movies, a documentary and a big chunk of “Jupiter’s Children” #2, my big upcoming project with Frank Quitely for Image Comics. The documentary was a really lovely biography of Stan Lee, mostly shot in his California home, and absolutely brilliant. The movies were even better: “Game Change,” which I hadn’t seen, and “Young Adult,” which I also somehow missed. I’m slightly obsessed with Julianne Moore and seem to be more into her the older she gets. She’s the greatest living American actress, but Ed Harris literally BECOMES McCain in this picture. It’s the most amazing performance and a great script. Weird to see Jay Roach as director as it’s not what you’d expect at all. This is everything “The Iron Lady” wanted to be and so deftly handled. But nothing can touch “Young Adult.” From a beautiful script by Diablo Cody to a career-best from Charlize Theron, this is a perfect movie. After only three days work on “The Road” in four years, Theron blazes back into cinema with three great-looking movies in the six months. Loved seeing Patrick Wilson in here too, an actor whom director Joe Carnahan and I rave about to anyone who will listen. If you missed this- and you probably did- get the DVD ASAP. It’s up there with “Chronicle,” “The Grey” and “Mission Impossible 4” as one of the four 5-star movies I’ve seen in the last two years.
Quick change at Hong Kong and I land in Manila to find a very official-looking woman waiting for me and ushering me through security. The security guys all nod and give a little smile. What the Hell is going on? I’m taken to a special VIP area in the airport where two lovely PR girls from the National Bookstore are waiting and they have a limo to take me to the hotel. This is not what I was expecting. Usually, when I do a signing I show up, bleary-eyed, do a couple of hours in the store, grab a few drinks with some local pals and shoot back somewhere in a cab. But two armed guards take us to our car in the airport and the girls pass me a PR itinerary for the next few days. As we drive through the sunny streets and they run through the TV channels we’re talking to tonight I glance out the window and see Millarworld banners hanging from the street lights all over the centre of town. This is clearly not going to be an ordinary signing.
As somebody said when I sent them these pics, Manila had been turned into a terrifying, nearby parallel Earth where I had won World War 2.
Friday, 25th May 2012
Did a bunch of interviews last night and went to bed around eleven pm. Had been awake over 30 hours and so expected to crash, but body still stubbornly on British time and so I lay awake until 6:00 AM, bright as a button and watching Filipino soaps. I couldn’t quite tell what was going on in my favourite, but it seemed like some girl wanted to be a hip-hop artist and her conservative parents were refusing to support her. As I emptied the mini-bar, it rapidly became the best show I had ever seen.
Two hours sleep and I was into another series of interviews, a combination of TV stuff and online and print mags like “GQ” and “Esquire Asia.” Everybody was absolutely lovely and I finally got to meet the legendary Flipgeeks, whom I instantly became best friends with. My favourite guy from the week had to be Jiggy Cruz, mainly because I think it’s the best name I’ve ever heard in my life, and I promised I’d use it in some upcoming Millarworld book. Really began to flag as the day went on, but out for a cracking meal with National Bookstore Supremo Miguel Ramos and a gaggle of brilliant Filipino artists. Special guest at the dinner was my old pal Leinil F(uck) Yu and it was brilliant to see him. We talk every day, but only really see each other maybe once a year. Great to catch up with he and his wife and dinner was a blast as you can see from the photo. The guy in the second picture below is Jason Paz and he’s Bryan Hitch’s new inker on various upcoming projects. Leinil and I may or may not have forced him to hold up this message we wrote for Hitchy.
Saturday, 26th May 2012
Jet-lag getting way worse. Didn’t get to sleep until 6am again and spent most of the night wide awake and on Twitter to pass the hours. Guys picked me up at 9am for another few hours of interviews and then off to Komikon, the rather fantastic Manila comic convention where I finally got to meet the legendary Gerry Alanguilan. Gerry, of course, writes and draws the Eisner award-winning “Elmer,” but you will also know him as Leinil’s greatest inker, notably on “Superior” and our new “Supercrooks” series. I’m a massive fan of Filipino art and have been since I was a kid, when DC brought a wave of these guys, and fans were treated to the likes of Alex Nino, Alfredo Alcala, Tony DeZuniga, Rudy Nebres and, my favourite, Nestor Redondo. There’s been a great lineage of amazing artists from these islands running through Whilce Portacio to guys like Leinil, Gerry and Francis Manapul today and I was absolutely in my element when I got a look around Komikon. They wheeled me in for ten minutes to promote tomorrow’s big “Supercrooks” signing and I phonetically wrote out a short speech in Filipino, trying to pass myself off as a local and faking up the whole Caucasian thing to get more work in American comics. I’m not sure they believed me, but you can see the video here.
More interviews after, including one with the brilliant Jessica Rules The Universe. This was scheduled for twenty minutes and ended up running to over two hours once the four of us got the wine flowing. Great night. Now: Bed. Big signing tomorrow. Need my sleep.
Sunday, 27th May 2012
My God. I slept 80 minutes last night. Didn’t nod off until after seven and up early for some interviews before a special signing at the hotel at 10:00 AM. The main signing is this afternoon, but I’m wrecked. Literally about eight hours sleep in the past four days. Need to come back and nap before signing.
Nap worked. Got 45 minutes and that was enough to power me up for the day. And what a day! Suddenly, it all made sense why we’d been doing all those interviews for three day and the special appearance at Komikon yesterday. The signing is absolutely crazy, tickets capped at 1000 people but more on the three upper levels of the shopping centre and watching the pre-signing talk down below. I’ve never seen anything like this. I feel like a visiting dictator, armed guards dotted around the centre and a giant 40-foot sign behind me as we seem to have commandeered the entire mall. Leinil, Gerry, Sunny and I chat on stage before we begin this marathon and I’m delighted to see that the entire hall speaks perfect English. It could not have gone better and the signing itself the biggest and most fun signing I’ve ever done. What absolutely lovely people! Big thanks to everyone who brought me gifts or artwork. I’ve brought them all home and am eating them all now, including the drawings! A sampling of the pics below should give you some idea of the scale this thing was taking place on. Leinil and I absolutely floored by the enthusiasm for “Supercrooks” and Matthew Vaughn resolutely refused to believe it until he saw the pictures. He called immediately, asking if I had spiked the local water with the mind-altering drug Rohypnol.
We signed until the last person and disappeared at 9:00 PM. My car was picking me up at 3:30 AM so sleep was unlikely, but brain so frazzled by this point it didn’t matter. Went for a goodbye dinner with Miguel, Leinil and the guys and horrified to find my credit card had been stopped as I was checking out. Why? My stupid bank does this every time I leave the country, even when I warn them beforehand, as a security measure. The minute I withdraw cash anywhere outside Glasgow they lock the place down and can the cards, leaving me stranded on more than one occasion. I literally didn’t have a penny, but luckily the lads chipped in and took care of everything. My entire bill…
Monday, 28th May 2012
Hong Kong airport: I’m 1/8th of the way home and travel tummy has kicked in. I’m so careful when I go abroad and even brush my teeth with bottled water. But it’s the ice-cubes, man. The ice-cubes in your freakin’ drinks. They get you every time. Delhi-Belly even in Manila. The next three days are not going to be pretty.
Got an iPad for Christmas and literally talking to my family in Scotland from the airport lounge, able to see their little faces like that astronaut dude in 2001. It’s at this precise moment I realize we’re living in the future. We’ve been waiting for the future to happen our entire lives, but sitting in Hong Kong and talking to one of my kids in Glasgow makes me realize we’re here. Amazing. But when will they really invent something for jet-lag? Five days in Asia and I’m STILL on British time.
Tuesday, 29th May 2012
Home. Cuddled everyone. Went for dinner. Bed. Awesome trip. Other writers reading this piece, I could not recommend Manila more. Nicest people you could ever meet.
Wednesday, 30th May 2012
Slept two hours last night and bright as a button since 2:00 AM. I am now on Manila time.
P.S. “Supercrooks” #3 is in your Local Comic Store today. Pick it up and see what all the fuss is about. I also recommend “America’s Got Powers” #2 by Jonathan Ross and my dear chum Bryan Hitch. Both books are just $2.99.