Shuffling in from a crowded elevator for a Saturday afternoon comic panel at the Big Apple Comic Con was dapper-dressed Scotsman, writer Mark Millar, alongside his artist partner Lenil Francis Yu who casually sported a new t-shirt emblazoned with the duo’s new comic series up for discussion, “Superior.” Moderated by “Wizard Magazine” Editor Mike Cotton, the panel highlighted the creative team’s new Marvel Comics creator-owned series about a young boy diagnosed with multiple-sclerosis who is granted a wish for his greatest desire of becoming the big-screen superhero he loves.
In describing the series, which will coming out under the publisher’s Icon imprint next week (see CBR’s exclusive preview here), Millar admitted the book is a “love letter to the Christopher Reeves ‘Superman’ movies,” and the character himself as the writer explained he’s “saddened that Superman is [viewed as] less cool than some of the other characters” he’s worked on over the course of his career. In the series, Superior is a Golden Age hero from 1948 who was immensely popular, but in present times has since been forgotten. With the creation of a new film developed to reinvigorate the character, the young boy’s love of the character is renewed.
Fans have seen what the pairing of Millar and Yu can create together in the release of “Ultimate Avengers 2” from Marvel’s Ultimate line, but this is the first time the team will be collaborating on a creator-owned project in an environment outside of the Marvel Universe. Millar discussed his over a decade-long desire to work with Yu as he felt the artist is the “best artist in superhero comics.” Denied the chance of a collaboration when Yu left Marvel years ago to work for DC Comics, the artist eventually returned to Marvel, but teamed with writer Brian Michael Bendis, causing Millar’s desire to work together to grow even stronger. When the scribe found an opening in the pair’s schedules for a team-up roughly two years ago, he jumped at the chance.
Enthused about the project, Yu revealed it as being his “best work yet” and echoed a positive response in working with Millar, from his scripting to his approachability. Adding a little levity to the discussion, Millar joked about Yu’s artistic process, revealing that the artist draws his characters naked first, adding the clothes later.
Operating in a different arena than readers have grown to expect from the writer of the ultra-violent, “Wanted” and “Kick-Ass,” Millar summed up this somehwat lighter tale as a “magic wish story.” In his mind, Millar said he saw the story as an all-ages book, however, further examination of the script by a friend amusingly showed otherwise. “[My friend] said, ‘You’ve got the word ‘fuck’ twenty times,” Millar recalled. In his defense, Millar jokingly explained that he felt the expletive usage was, “charming.”
From the silver screen success of the movie adaptations of his comics “Wanted” and “Kick-Ass” and the soon-to-be-in-production “Nemesis,” fans quickly sought the writer’s thoughts on how he feels his properties are treated in film. Millar told the crowd, when he initially got the call from a studio who was interested in producing “Wanted,” he genuinely thought the call was a prank from a friend and was ultimately thankful he remained pleasant on the phone call.
Not to be content with solely creating the content for films, Millar also mentioned his directorial duties on his upcoming, small-budget, Scottish superhero movie entitled, “Miracle Park.” In keeping with the independent filmmaker, low-budget vibe, Millar shot the film with a handheld camera, filming it close to home in Glasgow. The decision to use a handheld was a desire to give the film a “Blair Witch Project” and “Cloverfield” feel.
With so many successful titles under his belt, the writer openly responded to questions about his writing process. Speaking on his familiar trademark of jaw-dropping violence, Millar said he likes to juxtapose those scenes with humor. “When you’re freaking out, you’re laughing and when you’re laughing, you’re freaking out,” Millar explained. The scribe added, he likes to never let the reader relax when reading his work. In regard to working with artists, Millar said he likes to give them something to draw rather than a series of talking heads.
Yu contributed an interesting note regarding violence in comics, explaining that when he broke into comics, blood was supposed to be colored black. “Up until now, that’s still my mindset,” Yu explained. “I could have made ‘Ultimate Avengers’ more violent,” Yu added, comparing his work to the first volume of “The Ultimates.”
In answering a question about Millar’s most recent box-office success, “Kick-Ass,” Millar related an amusing anecdote about a phone call about the casting of Hit-Girl prior to choosing actress Chloe Moretz. “I was on the train back up to Scotland, and [other passengers] could only hear one side of the conversation,” Millar told the audience. “I was surrounded by passengers and saying [on the phone], ‘I’ve had a really good couple of days. I’ve been watching lots of DVDs of little girls.” Millar continued: “There’s a couple that I really like. One is 11, but she could look nine [years old].” The writer admitted he forgot to take into account his environment with respect to the speculative nature the passengers may have had about his conversation, but was amused in hindsight nonetheless.
A fan then brought up another of Millar’s current projects, “Clint Magazine,” A 100-page, UK-based men’s magazine featuring articles and comic strips from Millar and his friends and past collaborators, including Jonathan Ross, Frankie Bolye, John Romita Jr., Steve McNiven and Tommy Lee Edwards. Through the magazine, the writer hopes to bring focus to UK creators and a different market as well as a submissions venue for new talent.
In closing, Millar and Yu fielded more questions about their creative process. Yu mentioned his need for motivation to create his best work, saying the use of three-dimensional software increased his productivity. Millar admitted that Captain America is his favorite mainstream character to write, noting his belief in the character being full of potential, though having been underused for some time. The writer added he likes the feel of creator-owned projects and being one’s own boss, describing himself addicted to that form of creating comics. Not to solely be captivated by creator-owned works, however, Millar revealed he is preparing for a larger Marvel project in the near future.
“Superior” debuts in stores next Wednesday, October 13. Check out CBR’s exclusive preview here.