I meant to share this with you about three months ago. I started the draft for this entry a couple of days after my 25th birthday (Yes, I already turned 25! More on my 25before25 project soon.). I forgot about it somehow, but here it is, the short story of how I completed my little transcription project. 🙂
About a week before my birthday, I was surfing the web and came upon the website of Ms. Jessica Zafra. I didn’t know that she had a dialogue with Mark Millar, so I was pleasantly surprised to read the first part of her amusing two-hour long interview. She called for volunteers to do the rest. Without thinking too much about it, I signed up for the job. I don’t recall having any transcribing experience, so I was kinda wishing she’d ignore my jab at volunteerism.
In about an hour, I received the email I was hoping/not hoping to get. I immediately played the attached audio file. Played it again. And again. Man, I could hardly understand anything. If you’re familiar with Millar’s Scottish accent, you’d get what I mean. I knew this was gonna be fun.
After some number of hours listening at maximum volume (to hell with my hearing), rewinding, and piecing words together ’til they formed coherent sentences, I was able to successfully transcribe my share of the pie. That was probably the looonnnggggest seven minutes ever!
This is the part where we note that his work on The Ultimates was a big influence on The Avengers movie.
Mark Millar (MM): It was very flattering, I mean, they used a lot of that stuff in the movie. But they do that all the time in comics, like the Spider-Man movie. The first Spiderman movie has lots of things from old Spider-Man comics, you know, and uhm, Tim Burton’s Batman had a lot of things from Alan Moore’s Killing Joke, you know. And so, The Avengers movie…
Jessica Zafra (JZ): It’s interesting that the collected Ultimates has an introduction by Joss Whedon.
MM: Totally coincidental, ye, at the time we obviously had no idea.
JZ: And also the casting of Samuel Jackson (as Nick Fury) was totally your idea.
MM: Yeah, that was 2001 when we came up with that, you know.
JZ: In your comics they’re actually sitting around talking about who should play them in the movie. Hilarious.
MM: Hilarious, I know. I couldn’t believe it, but it just kinda came true, you know? But I think when I do something, I tend to take a filmic approach to it. So I think movie producers look at it and they think, “Oh, that would be quite easy to do in a movie” ’cause I’ve done it like a movie in the comic, you know…I think when they read The Ultimates they thought, “Ye, we should lay it out like that.” It just happens that my style is quite filmic.
JZ: Do you prefer the term ‘comics’ or ‘graphic novels’?
MM: Comics. ‘Graphic novel’ sounds like it’s ashamed to be a comic book.
I always think it’s funny, but I sort of get why they made it up, because (the term) was invented in 1986-1987. And that was a time when there was amazing work coming out, you know, like Frank Miller was doing The Dark Knight, Alan Moore was doing Watchmen and they were trying to get them in the bookstores and the bookstores were saying, “We don’t want comics.”
So they said, “Oh no, these are not comics; these are special comics called graphic novels.” It’s a very clever way of selling comics to people who doesn’t like comics.
JZ: I think it’s really good excuse for parents to go and buy comics for themselves, because they’re graphic novels.
JZ: Of the characters you’ve written, which one has the most amount of you in it?
MM: I would say the most is probably Kick-Ass, because it’s autobiographical. There’s loads of things from my real life in it, you know. I mean, like…
JZ: You once put on a costume and fought crime?
MM: I almost did, ye. When I was 15 I designed a costume. My best friend and I made costumes, and we were like, “Aren’t we too old?” You kinda think you’d do that when you’re 10 not 13. You’re almost a man by 15, you know?
And I designed a costume and we went to the gym for six months and we were doing karate and things like that. And it would’ve been so easy to find out who we were, because we were the only two guys who were into comics probably for a hundred miles around. So thank goodness we didn’t do it.
Kick-Ass is the story of what may have happened if we had tried it. That’s why I dedicated the book to my friend who I was gonna (be superheroes) with. If we had done it, I think we would’ve had our asses kicked—going on the streets, as soon as people saw our costumes, they would’ve beat us up. The costumes would’ve been enough—they were bright blue costumes, people would’ve chased us home. So thank goodness we didn’t do it, but Kick-Ass is a fantasy of what may have happened if we had done it.
JZ: Do you see yourself writing a novel that is all words?
MM: I’ve turned down offers in the past, but I’m gonna do one in January or February, I’m gonna start something like, I had an idea for something, and it’s actually kind of…I hope it won’t fall under Chick Lit! It’s not what I expected to write.
I had this idea last year…it’s the kind of thing that my wife would read or something, and I’m known for doing things where you can get shot in the face and things like that. I don’t know how my fans would react to it, you know. I had this idea for something very emotional, and I thought it would be a stretch. It wouldn’t work as a comic, but it would work very well as a prose thing, you know. It’s so definite that I think my fan base might be like, “What the hell is this?”
JZ: Or you can just publish it under another name, like Stephen King does all the time.
MM: I would like to bring my readers into it, I have a fair number of people guaranteed to buy it. I’ve done a children’s book coming out spring next year. It’s a superhero book aimed at 5-year-olds, it’s got pictures done in storybook style, with one picture per page. It’s a kindergarten-level book. That’s kinda fun to do as well, because I kinda quite like things that are like, you know, objectionable.
I quite like writing stuff that’s kinda violent or objectionable, full of swearing, things like that. I always find it quite fun to do that kind of stuff. So then to suddenly change gears in my head to do something for 5-year-olds is great fun. So I’m gonna do more of that.
To be continued
You may be wondering what I got in return – what else but yet another copy of Super Crooks #1! One can’t have enough, it seems. I didn’t do it for the comics though. I did enjoy the challenge even if I stayed up all night (more than once) to get it done. It just proved to me that you can make things that make you happy (however small) happen by simply saying yes.
Special thanks to Ms. Zafra!