Exploring the funny side of Millar's 'The Unfunnies' with Williams and Christiansen

Mark Millar is a man at the top of his game right now. Writing almost half the titles Marvel publishes today isn't enough (that's a radical overstatement, but he does write a handful), so now he goes and publishes a bunch of books with a bunch of other publishers, seemingly just for kicks. We've already told you about one of those books, "Wanted" coming from Top Cow. And you've already read the articles about "Run" coming from Image and "Chosen" coming from Dark Horse. The final book of these four is "The Unfunnies," coming from Avatar Press in December.

We thought we'd start off by first sharing the solicitation copy from Avatar Press, describing the series for interested readers.

"Welcome to the most depraved comic-book of the 21st century, a disturbing, four issue mini-series that blends traditional animation with photo-strip storytelling to produce one of the most compelling horror comics in years. 'The Unfunnies' is a journey through the dark side of the human soul like 'Magnolia' or 'Happiness,' but told in the style of your favorite animated cartoon strips. Undoubtedly, the most uncompromising work Mark Millar has ever produced..."

The series will last four issues, starting in December. Each issue will feature an alternate "offensive" cover, some of which you're seeing along with this article. Millar is joined on his "disturbing" little adventure in "The Unfunnies" by artist Anthony Williams, who was hand picked by the writer.

"Mark is an email tease and was hinting since the beginning of the year that he had something for me to work on, without actually telling me what it was," Williams told CBR when asked about his first reaction to the pitch. "Obviously, being the humble man that I am, I'd assumed that I was taking over 'The Ultimates' from that hack Hitch. Turns out, he'd heard about my 'being taken roughly by Benny the Ball' fantasy and had just the job for me. When he told me the story outline, I decided he was clinically insane and played along to humour him. He's even pretending to have somebody will publish this stuff. I pity him. Now I find myself trapped in his deranged world."

Williams has been knocking around the industry for a while, getting his start back in 1987 drawing "Ghostbusters." In the '90s, the artist did numerous jobs for both DC and Marvel, with his last bit of major US work found in the pages of the first "X-Men" movie adaptation. The last few years he's

concentrated on comic work and illustration for advertising and marketing clients. The next time you find yourself on a Virgin Atlantic flight or looking at some sort of McDonalds giveaway comic, you'll be seeing work from Williams. Currently he's working on a series for "2000AD" and one for Games Workshop.

As Williams began getting scripts and read what he had to draw, we wondered whether there was ever a moment where the artist had to stop and catch his breath before continuing. He answered in the affirmative. "Every page, and it's getting worse. Somebody help him before it's to late." And when Williams began sending back finished pages to Millar, the writer did have a few recommendations and changes for the artist. "Bizarrely, I was drawing too well. I'd get repeated emails saying 'Make it shittier.'"

The duo have worked together in the past and Williams was happy to rejoin his old friend.

"We used to work together, way back when, on a load of strips for '2000AD.' Over the last few years we went our different ways. I moved onto the giddy heights of drawing 'Bear in the Big Blue House,' whilst Mark, I believe, managed to get some work from Marvel. In a desperate attempt to ride on my coatails, Mark contacted me about working on 'The Unfunnies.'"

CBR News also caught up with Avatar Press Publisher William Christiansen and asked him for his initial reaction to the pitch from Millar.

"Well, I knew that Mark wanted to see how far he could push the envelope," Christiansen told CBR News. "He likes to push editors until they push back. However, Avatar does not have the traditional boundaries that other publishers do; we have established ourselves with my editorial policy that gives creators total freedom and we don't bring down heavy-handed editing. So when Mark turned in the script I think he expected I would freak out. Nope, I laughed my ass off. I can safely say no other publisher in the industry would put this book out unedited, we are doing pure Millar insanity."

Look for "The Unfunnies" in comic shops this December.

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