Mark Millar interview: Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2, CLiNT and more

James natters to Mark Millar about his thoughts now on the Kick-Ass movie, the planned sequel, and his current slate of comics work...

Mark Millar is one of the comics industry’s best-selling authors, and the man responsible for such critical and commercial smashes as The Ultimates, Kick-Ass and Civil War. With Millar’s new UK comics magazine/anthology, CLiNT, hitting shelves this month, at the same time as the DVD release of Kick-Ass, we took the opportunity to sit down with Mark for a 10-minute chat about how he thinks it’s all going. Last time we spoke to you [in February, linked below] the Kick-Ass movie was still a couple of months away from completion. Since then, the film’s come out, so I just wanted to ask: were you pleased with the reaction to it?

Yeah, it was good. It’s fairly important, because when you’ve put your blood and sweat into a project for two years, there’s a lot riding on it, especially for Matthew [Vaughn, director of Kick-Ass], and I think he was more relieved than anyone!

I’m an optimist, so I always thought, “This is gonna be great!”, but yeah, it was lovely to see it getting five star reviews. The people who didn’t like it pretty much boiled down to the Daily Mail and Roger Ebert, and they’re just from a different generation, so that’s to be expected. Luckily Empire liked it. If Empire hadn’t liked it, I’d have been worried, but then they said it was their favourite movie of the year, so that was great!

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The DVD’s just come out, as well, and although you told us before you generally leave the movie making to the movie people, I wondered whether you were very involved with the DVD release?

I did a few things for it. Obviously, we did most of the DVD stuff during the filming itself. Everyone looks so much younger!

To be honest, I think the only thing that’s been done since then was Matthew’s commentary. So yeah, I was involved when they were doing it, but since then it’s just been post-production stuff.

Okay, so while the DVD was being made, you’ve instead been working on the Kick-Ass 2 comic, which debuts in CLiNT magazine this month.

Yes, that’s right. CLiNT magazine is debuting Kick-Ass 2. After that I think, ideally, Kick-Ass 2 will usually be out in the US maybe a week or two before it shows up in CLiNT, because that’s kind of where I want that audience to see it.

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CLiNT is aimed at a UK, mainstream audience, so we’ve got Jonathan Ross, Frankie Boyle and me, and it’s supposed to be for people who don’t go into comic stores. It’s in newsagents. Asda, Tesco and all these kinds of places. But that’ll be reprints. The American release of Kick-Ass 2 will be the main one, and that’s what Matthew will be adapting once he’s done with X-Men.

 So, there are plans to go straight into a Kick-Ass 2 movie, then?

Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely. The film only cost $28 million dollars, and it made about $100 million just theatrically. They think it’ll do crazy business on DVD based on the pre-orders, which are already huge. It’s going to make a lot of dough, and it doesn’t cost a lot to do them. There’s no flying, no web-shooters, it’s all just people, and it seems like a lot more of the audience than is normal are going out and buying it on DVD so they can watch it again.

So, obviously, we’re riding some of that enthusiasm with CLiNT.

Not that CLiNT needs too much help, given who’s in it. It’s not a stretch to see why Jonathan Ross is writing comics, of course, given his uber-fan status, but how about Frankie Boyle? Was he already into comics, or did you specifically approach him to contribute?

It’s funny, working in the comics industry you realise that there’s a little network of comic fan celebrities who you meet along the way, and you find out these people you’ve watched on TV all your life are massive comic fans.

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Frankie had said nice things about me in interviews, and then later we actually met, and I got on well with him and we’ve been pals for a couple of years. It was always in the back of my mind that he was a comics fan, so when we decided to do CLiNT, I invited him to get involved. I knew he’d appeal to a mainstream audience.

And yeah, because of that, in our launch issue we’ve got the highest paid man in British telly, and probably the biggest comedian in the country, and their combined profile helps enormously, because it shows people we really mean business.

Whenever I want to bring in anyone else, I just have to mention their names and it’s obvious that we’re serious about making this project work.

In fact, I think the reason British comics often fail is that mainstream retailers really don’t care about me, or any other British or American comic author. You can come up with the best idea for a character and story and nobody with the shelf space will care. So, the trick is to get some big names that retailers recognise to author some comics.

Having Kick-Ass 2 launching off the back of the DVD release helps, but having Frankie and Jonathan, and some of the writers we’ve got coming later too, that’s really going to get us in shops, and hopefully it’ll help create a platform for new talent as well.

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I mean, I’ve thought about it very carefully, because I don’t want to be another comic magazine that just dies on the shelf. 2000AD managed to nail the market for an entire generation. That was brilliant, and the reason it worked because it was part of a massive infrastructure at IPC who could support it on every level, and now it’s not. And no disrespect to 2000AD, because they’re doing the best they can do with what they’ve got, but it doesn’t reach a wide audience anymore, and we’re hoping to do what they can’t.

So, as well as Kick-Ass 2 and CLiNT, do you want to update us on the other projects you’ve got on the go?

Yep. Actually, I’ve got so much on the go that I forget what’s out and what isn’t! Nemesis #3 should be off to the printers very soon, and issue #4 will then wrap the first edition of that up. Superior starts in October. It’s actually massively ahead of the others, and Leinil [Yu, co-creator of Superior] is well into drawing it, but I’ve kept it back because I wanted to get a bit of distance between all my projects, so that I’m not competing with myself, you know?

Really, there’s plenty going on with all of my creator-owned stuff. Nemesis is already being made into a movie, Matthew [Vaughn] wants to produce Superior. Well, actually, he’s unsure at the moment whether he’s going to direct that after X-Men, or go straight into directing Kick-Ass 2 and just produce Superior, but he’s interested either way. And you might think, “Well, Mark’s going to stick with creator-owned stuff in the future, then,” but I’m not, because, honestly, I just love doing the Marvel stuff too.

So, I’m going to have Ultimate Avengers finished by the end of the year, and then I’ll be going straight into Old Man Logan 2.

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So, with all that on the go, were you thinking of taking a break any time soon? I gather you’re also doing a movie?

Yeah, it’s a low budget film that I’ll be shooting in chunks. I’m doing the first chunk shortly, and the next chunk will probably be in bits and pieces around Christmas time, and then there’s post-production after that. But, because it’s not a big budget thing, it’s not a punishing schedule, so I can easily do my comic work around it. I’m having fun with it.

And honestly, because I took so much time off around when Kick Ass came out – off doing junkets and stuff – that I feel as if I’ve had a lot of time off already. In fact, I’m actually looking forward to getting stuck into some work again!

Mark Millar, thank you very much!

Kick-Ass is out on DVD and Blu-ray now.