Mark Millar: God and Comics
The uber-successful comics writer, who has penned everything from Captain America to Superman to creator-owned works like KICK-ASS, spoke with us from his native Scotland about his new book SUPERIOR; what it's like being a practicing Catholic in a secular industry; and the time DC comics made him remove prayer from a story.
Mark Millar's new book SUPERIOR is about a young boy with multiple sclerosis who is offered the deal of a lifetime: receive limitless super powers in exchange for his own soul. The book is big departure for Millar, who often churns out darker, more violent fare. One of the big surprises of the book is how poignant and hopeful it is. Yes, you're reading a comic book filled with flying superheroes who blast villains with lazer eyes, but at the close you've experienced a redemptive story that challenges you to live life a little bit better. Pop culture goodies like graphic novels aim to entertain but rarely inspire. SUPERIOR is an exception to that rule, and I can't recommend this gem of a comic enough. Ok, mini-review over. Let's get on to the interview.
Ok, mini-review over. Let's get on to the interview.
BELIEFNET: So why is it important for you to incorporate faith into your work?
MARK: Whenever you write something, whenever you write anything, you draw on your life experiences. So without even meaning to, I feel like every story I do has lots of little things from my life. Kick-Ass [about a 14-year old boy who decides to become a Batman-like superhero, except without all the money] was a kind of easy one, because it was a plan I had when I was 14 years old. I was going to the gym and my friends and I were starting karate and we were planning to dress up and be superheroes and genuinely go out and help people.
BN: Oh, that sounds like a GREAT idea…
MARK: (laughing) The thing is that you can almost see that working in New York, but in rural Scotland it wasn’t exactly like we were going to be fighting with the Kingpin. I was so into Frank Miller comics and Alan Moore comics, I was reading The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One and Watchmen, and the whole realistic superhero thing was so exciting to me, that I found I wanted to do it in real life. So Kick Ass kind of drew on that. But even in very subtle ways bits from your life will come into your work. Kick Ass’ mom died at the age my mom died, you know when I was 14 years old. These little subtle things come into your stories and maybe the readers don’t even realize. And because faith, and Christianity, has always been a part of my life since I was born, since my baptism, I guess, I don’t even think about it being an unusual thing to include...Church might be a part of your character’s week, in the same way going to a job Monday to Friday is...And you know, I feel a little bit offended when I see how Catholicism or Christianity is portrayed in the media. And so I try and address that a little in my work. I don’t try and ram it down people’s throats or anything, I think that’s kind of weird in and of itself, but in a very relaxed way. [For example], Captian America in The Ultimates. I had a scene where he was in church praying, and Captain American is probably a protestant so I had him in an Episcopalean church in the States. I will just very subtly throw a lot of this stuff into my stories. I quite like going against what everyone else is doing, and because everyone else is very secular, to me it feels quite cool to be doing something that goes so far in the other direction. For the last 30 or 40 years everything has been very secular and so I quite like being anti-establishment and it's quite weird that Christianity is the most radical thing you could be right now.