As the man behind comic book titles such as Wanted and Kick Ass, Mark Millar is one of Scotland’s biggest cultural success stories. Sitting down with Scotcampus’ writer Lacey Dolan he talks about how he got started in the industry as well as the inspiration behind his most famous Kick Ass character.
What got you into writing comics in the first place?
“It’s what I wanted to do when I was a little kid, it didn’t seem like a very realistic job, it seemed like wanting to be an astronaut or being a superhero, it just didn’t seem realistic. I remember in school the careers officer saying ‘but nobody does that’ and I said ‘but somebody must do it because I read the comics’ and they said ‘nah but it’s not a job!’ Eventually I started noticing some British guys breaking in, and it started suddenly feeling a bit more real. Alan Moore was the first and I thought ‘oh my God, helives in England but he’s working in New York!’ When I was in 6th year I started working at DC and thought this is amazing and it felt like something I could actually do. I had always loved it and the idea of getting paid to do something that I would have done as a hobby, seemed like a dream come true.”
What were the comic books that inspired you when you were growing up?
“As a wee boy I was really into Superman and Spiderman. I remember the first Spiderman comic I got when I was six-year-old, it was a reprint of an American version, in it the Green Goblin was gutted by his goblin glider and Spiderman accidently broke his girlfriend’s neck and killed her. Then after the incident Spiderman goes home and his best pal is out his face on LSD! Even as a six-year-old I thought this is the greatest thing I have ever seen in my life! I was totally hooked. Most people go through a phase were they stop reading comics, but I didn’t.”
How did it come about transforming Kick Ass the comic into Kick Ass the movie?
“It was quite interesting actually, Matthew Vaughn was doing Thor at the time, as he was originally going to write and direct it. I had heard from Jonathan Ross that he had been having real trouble with it and being quite arrogant I suppose, I said I know his problem with this to Jonathan and had sat on a train and written some notes for him. I had never even met the guy. I then sent them through via Jonathan and he loved them. A friendship was formed. As Thor had fallen through he called me asking if I had anything else for him. I had two projects then; American Jesus and Kick Ass. I had only written two issues of Kick Ass. After he had read them he said this is the one. As Kick Ass is 8 comics long he just advised me to continue writing. After I had sent in issue 3 which is Hit Girl’s first appearance, he loved it. I thought shit, as I take about three weeks to finish each comic. But Matthew was so into it and asked me if could just get a start on writing the screenplay. So I decided to write some of the plot that was coming up so I could let him know how it ends. He ended up writing the screenplay faster than I could write the comics!”
How on earth did you come up with the character of Hit Girl?
“My oldest daughter likes superheroes and when she was about eight-yearsold we would go down to the swing park I would set up little commando missions for her. Giving her three minutes to run around the park and tackle various obstacles. She had asked me to come up with a character for her so I came up with Hit Girl and Big Daddy based on us. Then I thought ‘hmm I think I could make this more violent’ and I ended up making it one of this most shocking things I guess I’ve ever done. It just worked really well. She is now 13 and is still not allowed to read it. Chloe Moretz (Hit Girl) is desperate to meet her so when we film Kick Ass 2 I will bring her along to the set with me.”
As a controversial comic book writer have you had any bad press concerning Kick Ass?
“Surprisingly very little. There was someone in the States, a guy called Roger Ebert who wasn’t a fan of the movie, he is well respected in America but I don’t know if he is into stuff that is a bit more hardcore which is understandable as he is an older guy. In the UK, Chris Tookey who works for the Daily Mail absolutely hated it and gave it zero stars and said it was the worst movie that has ever been made. He despised Hit Girl and said ‘I feel as if this is the work of people who try to encourage child molestation’. We were like ‘what are you talking about!’ As for a start most of the people working on the film were parents, so were quite sensitive to that sort of thing. We purposely had Hit Girl completely covered up and in costume she never shows an inch of flesh because she’s a child you know?”
What made you make Hit Girl the ultimate bad ass in the comics?
“Well I structured it like Star Wars, that was always my plan and I made her Han Solo it was as simple as that. She is basically Harrison Ford, she has all the cool lines and isn’t in the movie all the time. But when she comes in it she steals the scene.”
Since your success do you ever find yourself getting mobbed in the street? Or are you still able to go incognito?
“It’s a very weird kind of success being a writer. It’s a strange fame. If you are in one room you could literally be mobbed. Like at Comic Con you can have loads of people desperate to talk to you. But then you can go across the street to Greggs and no-one gives a shit! Which is kinda perfect really isn’t it? It’s a really small fame which is the best kind as you get all the benefits, the nice parties, the good lifestyle, but you don’t have to pay the price when you are being hounded daily.”
Not bad for a lad from Coatbridge then?
“Haha I suppose.”
So being a good Catholic boy any words to any Atheists out there?
“Atheists? Sadly you are going to hell that’s the bad news! I’ve got my bets covered even if God doesn’t exist I’m fine, and if he does I’m golden! Whereas Richard Dawkins he’s going to hell! Haha.”
Kick Ass 2 is out next year keep an eye on www. millarworld.tv for Mark’s upcoming work.