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Cary Bates,
wherever you are,
we love you.

[Laughs.] What sort of influences are you tapping for your work on THE FLASH?

You know, I came into comics in the early Ď90s, and like anyone else from that period, my influences [include] Grant—whoís also my friend, but [heís] a writer as well. Grant massively influenced me. Alan Moore. Just people of that period, you know.

But I think, for the new take on super-heroes, Grant and I probably draw an inspiration more from what made you like these guys when you were a kid. And really what got me into super-heroes was the stuff that pre-dated Alan Moore and these guys who were such a gigantic influence towards the end of the Ď80s. And now youíre influenced by the Elliot Maggins, the Cary Bates—the guys I grew up reading in the Ď70s. And Grant is very much influenced by the John Broomes and the Gardner Foxes from the Ď60s because heís a little older.

But for me, now that Iím writing THE FLASH, I have a lot of things scattered around the floor ... like, you know, all the Infantino covers—all the pre-CRISIS stuff, but mainly the Cary Bates stuff, which I have an enormous affection for. Cary Bates, wherever you are, we love you.

So obviously you read CAPTAIN ATOM—

Well, I read it, but to me ... I liked having Cary Bates on the big guys. I mean, I enjoyed CAPTAIN ATOM, but he does such a great Superman, you know? I was the only person who wasnít looking forward to [Superman] being revamped, post-CRISIS. I really loved what he was doing with it anyway.

Did you read the Elliot Maggin SUPERMAN novels? You were—

Oh! Well, actually, itís really funny you say that because one of my favorite books of all time is LAST SON OF KRYPTON; I really love it. But you could not anywhere in the United Kingdom—in the whole of Great Britain, you could not find MIRACLE MONDAY, [the sequel to LAST SON OF KRYPTON].

Really? [Laughs.]

Oh, yeah, I mean nowhere. I would have paid any money for this. And Mark Waid—I was talking to Mark on the phone a few months ago, and Mark says, "Really? You, you had trouble getting it?!?" And he actually Fed-Exed his copy to me.

I was about to say, if you need a copy, we could try to set you up.

Oh, if you could set me up with one, thatíd be great, Ďcause I gave Markís back to him in San Diego. If you could set me up with one, I would dearly love you for it.

Iíll see if we can find one. I know Iíve got one personally; I donít know if Iíd be willing to part with it, but I might be able to track one down for you.

If youíve got a spare—you know, if thereís any one around, thatíd be really brilliant. Iíd really appreciate that.

Sure!

ĎCause Mark Fed-Exed me his copy, and I mustíve been late with a dozen scripts or something every day, Ďcause Iím always behind. And what I did was I took the day off and just sat and read that cover to cover. [Both laugh.] I love Elliotís stuff. It was actually a real hit meeting Elliot. I met him in San Diego, you know.

Iíve never had a chance to meet or talk with Elliot. Iíd love to sometime.

Heís a very interesting guy, you know. I come from a political background as well, and, you know, heís written speeches for governors and all sorts of senators and things. Heís pretty big in the Democratic party as a political speech writer.

Tell us a little bit about your background before comics.

Well, actually, what Iíve done is Iíve kind of kept a lot of hobbies. I kind of went professional in comics right about 1990, but most people probably wouldnít have read anything until SWAMP THING. And there wasnít even that many then, you know? [Laughs.]

Though in 1990, I did my first-ever comic, I think, called THE SAVIOUR. It was by a small independent company called Trident Comics and actually sold very well for a— It was just at the time of the boom. I sold 12,000 copies of this little black-and-white thing, and it won me a couple of awards, and it got me to write JUDGE DREDD—

Wow.

—for 2000 A.D. And thatís when I met Grant. We became good friends, and we did quite a few things for 2000 A.D.—a lot of your kind of characters that most Americans wouldnít have heard of, like Rogue Trooper and Robo-Hunter and all sorts of crazy stuff for kids over here.

But what they did in the end was they said to us, "Would you guys like to revamp 2000 A.D. and actually become editors on it for a while?"

And we said, "Thatíd be great."

So we did it for 12 weeks. We actually took over 2000 A.D. for 12 weeks and created a whole bunch of all-new characters.

Was this around the time Grant was working on "Zenith"?

Ah, it was shortly after that. Because that had been such a huge hit, they really wanted to have some kind of repeat success, you know?

So what we did was we created five new stories for 2000 A.D. and took over the book for 12 weeks, and we got all the artists we liked to draw them and everything. It actually ended up a really good book for about 12 weeks. I was really pleased with it. And from there, thatís what got me into DC: DC liked what weíd done with 2000 A.D., and I got SWAMP THING.

But before that I was actually training— My backgroundís in politics and economics. I was going to be— I wasnít sure. I was probably going to come in as some kind of university lecturer or something—probably lecture politics and from there go into politics, Ďcause thatís always been my ambition.

Iíve always been fairly active in my local Labor Party and everything. I donít know how familiar you are with British politics, but theyíre kind of like the Democrats. So theyíre the good guys, you know. [Both laugh.]

And Iíve always been obsessed. And as my familyís a hugely political family and everything, thatís kind of what Iíve always wanted to be involved in too. All my brothers have actually got very real jobs: One of themís a politician; another oneís a scientist, but heís involved in the Labor Party and everything as well. Theyíve all got some degree of politics in their blood, you know, and I think Iím just next.

After all, our familyís like the Kennedys or something: Thereís like a million of us, and weíve all ended up going into politics.

[Both laugh.]

Thatís interesting. Thatís a very unusual background for someone coming into comics.

[Laughs.]

No mysterious literature degree hidden in your past or high-school teaching or anything like that?

No, no, itís ... just straight from university.

Actually, I dropped out of university six months before I graduated, because I forced myself to actually go work in comics. [Laughs.] I mean, itís the most ludicrous thing. Itís good in hindsight, because it all worked out nicely, but at the time my family said to me, "Are you crazy? Donít work in comics; comics are for kids."

And I would say, "No, no, this is what I want to be, and if I get my degree Iíll just go and work in any other job. But if I drop out now, after three years of a degree—" I said, "If I drop out now, then itíll be great because Iíll be forced to do comics, you know?" [Laughs.] And luckily I managed to make a living out of it.

Yeah, it seems to have worked out quite well.

Yeah.

Still, the secret origin of Mark Millar has a few turns and twists I hadnít anticipated.

[Laughs.] Well, I trained to be a priest before that, actually, but only for a year.

Oh, really?

Yeah. When I was 13 I went off to a seminary college in Aberdeen and then also Scotland. But only—I did a year there. And I was really going for it, you know? [But] I was only going because my friends were there, and we thought it would be a real hoot, you know? We thought it would be a real hoot being priests.

[Laughs.]

And then we— [Laughs.] And then, after about a year of getting up for mass at 5:00 in the morning, I just kind of decided it wasnít for me. [Laughs.] And there was no checks, you know? I mean, that was the worst thing about it. Other than the masses. [Laughs.]


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