CLiNT WEEK: Mark Millar Readies Phase 2

The tender-hearted amongst CBR's readership may ask themselves "What the hell does 'CLiNT' mean? when looking at Mark Millar and Titan Magazine's monthly publication (hint: squint your eyes if you like vulgarity). But starting this May, the creators of the magazine want readers to know that "CLiNT" means comics.

That month, the magazine which has been on newsstands in the UK for over a year and seeing simultaneous release in U.S. comic shops since the beginning of this year will relaunch with a new issue #1, new features including the original comic "Death Sentence," new Millarworld properties like "The Secret Service" with Dave Gibbons and "Supercrooks" with Leinil Yu and a few other graphic surprises.

To get a look inside how the stands have treated Millar's comics outreach baby over its first year, what changes he's making to the magazine and why, what the new focus on an all-comics format means and much more, CBR News is launching CLiNT WEEK! For the rest of this week, we'll have exclusive interviews and inside looks into the launch of the

CBR News: To begin, it's kind of crazy to think that CLiNT has been going for over a year now! Overall, how well do you feel you met your goals for the magazine both creatively and in terms of readership over that time?

Mark Millar: I couldn't be happier. There's two newsagents -- what Americans would call newsstands -- near my house and both stock "CLiNT" every month. I love that when I get my papers or when I'm running for a train I see it out there on the front lines and able to be seen by people who don't know comic stores. That was always the plan, and it's worked out nicely. Getting it into supermarkets is my ultimate objective. They account for 70% of magazine sales in this country, but it's hard, especially with some of the content. That's the long-term plan though. Creatively, I think it's going from strength to strength. It morphed in the course of the first volume from something retailers would stock at eye-level (lots of mainstream media and lads mag style articles) into something we think is close to perfect. I'd say the magazine found its groove by around issue 8 or 9. I'm really, really happy with it and a lot of that's down to Ned Hartley and, even moreso, Andrew James in the Titan office. He's shaped it beautifully and it's just ticking along now.

Have you had a lot of chances to interact with the readership of the mag? Who do you think has been most into "CLiNT" since the beginning, and how do you think you're performing in terms of outreach to guys who traditionally don't read comics?

Yes, it's really interesting. The bulk of the readership in this country are people who don't regularly read comics. That was always the intention and I think "Kick-Ass 2," Frankie Boyle and Jonathan Ross have all been instrumental in that. What's interesting is that they find it easy to read because there's no huge back-story to the characters. They wanted to get into Marvel and DC but didn't know where to start. That's the beauty of creator-owned I guess. The other readers are Marvel and DC fans who can't afford to buy all the extra indie stuff so they get the books months later and slightly chopped up, but for a bargain price.

Looking forward, what's precipitated this relaunch? I know that a big part of the Volume 1 launch was hitting the newsstand market hard, but I get the impression that since then you've found a lot of interest from comic shops as well. Is part of relaunching about trying to hit that group of readers a bit more on the head?

The idea is to hit everybody really. I know it sounds obvious, but I think the formula is quite a strong one in that there's a big allure for mainstream UK people and at the same time a financial incentive for the US readership. We produce exactly the same magazine, but aimed squarely at both audiences. There's features on comic pros and upcoming books and movie spin-offs and so on, stuff that really appeals to hardcore fans, but at the same time they're written with an accessibility.

So Volume 1 launched with "Kick-Ass 2" front and center. Now that that serial is about to wrap, which of your own strips are you most excited to get out there with the mag's readers and why?

Well, "Hit-Girl" is going to be at least as big as "Kick-Ass 2" and since we're about to go very public with the movie details soon I expect that's going to be a massive boost. The "Hit-Girl" series is the first act of the movie (set between "Kick-Ass" volumes 1 and 2 of the comic) and mainstream readers in particular are going to be picking that up for a sneaky look at what they can expect. At the same time, I've gone full time on Millarworld so there's a crazy amount of stuff. The Icon books will always come out first. They're my bread and butter. But we've got some great stuff to draw on over the next two years with Quitely, Gibbons, Leinil Yu doing "Supercrooks" and all my pals doing creator-owned too. As I mentioned before, four issues of Nemesis paid more than "Civil War," and "Civil War" was the best pay-day anyone at Marvel or DC has had in over a decade. Other pros are starting to realize this pretty quicky. Even low-selling books, in the long-term, make you more money than top Marvel and DC books when you count foreign pre-sales and the collections. So there's this mass migration into creator-owned now and some amazing stuff for "CLiNT" to pick and choose from.

But of course, there's plenty in "CLiNT" that's all original. Looking at "Rex Royd" -- well to be blunt about it, that strip is really fucked up. How does it exemplify the kind of comic you wanted to show off in the magazine, and what's got you excited about its continuation?

It's just unlike anything I've ever read before, which is why it's the first thing I read in the mag every month. I love what we can do in comics now. Things aren't so formulaic anymore. You can literally do a comic about anything and Frankie takes full advantage of the pirate nature of the industry. Even in TV he'd have to be more reigned in than comics. We both like the fact that it's basically the writer, the artist and the reader all sharing a joke. No middle-men.

I've already seen you talk some about "Death Sentence," but now that you're in the phase where you're seeing the final strip come in, what's it been like to have the full story develop as opposed to the preview that got you hooked at the con?

I'm actually really fussy. I hardly read anything. Since the '90s, I'd say I read about one book a month. If I'm not into something I stop a few pages in. But "Death Sentence" had me from page one and is the freshest thing I've read in years. Monty is a genuine new talent. Like Scott Snyder and Jason Aaron, I think he's going to hit big and make a real splash. Hardly anyone can do creator-owned and pull you in. Even some brilliant writers really find that jump from Batman or Superman very hard. But he does it effortlessly. I think he's going to be big. Definitely a guy to watch.

Finally, we know you've already done some rad reprints of Image books like "Who Is Jake Ellis?" and "Officer Downe" recently. Are there more plans to bring some of your buds' new comics -- "America's Got Powers" anyone? -- to "CLiNT" Volume 2?

Oh God, yes. Like I said, there's so many good guys doing creator-owned now. And it's the good guys. The guys I love like Hitch and Quitely and so on. There's almost too much to choose from. There's never been a better time to be doing this mag.

Stay tuned for more of CLiNT WEEK, this week on CBR!

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