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ComicsAlliance vs. The Independent’s Mark Millar Article

Every once in a while, the ComicsAlliance staff comes across a piece of news that catches our attention. When that happens, we sit down for a thought provoking discussion of the news of the day, which usually just devolves into us making fun of it.

This time, Caleb Goellner, Laura Hudson, and Chris Sims sit down with The Independent’s article on Mark Millar and his upcoming “Kick-Ass” movie.

CS: Wait a second — “Britain’s bestselling comic-book writer Mark Millar?” Didn’t “Watchmen,” written by Northampton’s own Affable Alan Moore, become the best-selling graphic novel of all time last year?

LH: I’m at the point where I don’t even pretend to expect mainstream journalists to attempt accuracy in either their broad characterizations of the print comics industry or any specific information about its structure, audience, or sales.

CS: Still, getting it wrong in the first seven words. That’s gotta be a record.

LH: And I mean, “Watchmen” was a major Hollywood event. It’s not like you could have missed it. If my mom knows about “Watchmen,” I’m pretty sure an entertainment writer should be on top of it.

CS: When I think “Hollywood’s Finest,” three names come to mind: Spielberg, Scorcese, and Acid Burn from “Hackers.”

LH: Also, can I be a pedant and complain that “comic book” has been made into a compound modifier?

CS: Hey, as long as they remember there’s a hyphen in Spider-Man, I don’t care where else they stick one.

LH: That’s… what she said?

LH: “COMIC-BOOKS FAN.”

CS: Man, remember those days? Those crazy days when comics were so uncool that people would write news stories about how crazy it was they were cool now? Back before the “X-Men” movie came out and changed everything? I’m just glad that Hollywood deigned to drag funnybooks out of the ghetto and make them popular. It’s like “She’s All That,” except comics haven’t found out that the movie industry’s interest was based entirely on a dare from the music industry yet.

LH: I just went to the Real Life Super-Heroes site, you guys, and I want you to know that it is “The Official Kick Ass Headquarters.”

CG: I wonder what Lionsgate’s legal expenses will look like come 2011? Remember all those stupid parents who sued Saban over “Power Rangers?”

LH: It’s all fun and games until some kid in Spandex gets beaten to death in an alley.

LH: Really, this guy should just hyphenate all his sentences into one long word.

CS: This isn’t the first article to draw the comparison between “career criminal” and “comic book writer,” and it won’t be the last.

LH: I saw it more as a comparison between “dudes who grew up” and “dudes who didn’t.” Which kind of implies that being a career criminal is a more mature choice than writing comics.

CG: Somebody from Millar’s high school has to have been all of the above. The overachiever. Doctor-policeman-career-criminal-comic-book-writer.

CS: Dr. Policeman Career Criminal Comic Book Writer is my least-favorite Spider-Man villain.

LH: That should really be the next bad guy in “Axe Cop.

CG: If only this guy knew about the Super Adaptoid.

CS: Whoa whoa whoa, stop the presses! A super-hero without any super-powers?! Why, that’s just crazy enough to work! I wonder why nobody ever tried that in, say, May of 1939!

LH:
What I love about this journalist is how he ends up sounding like he’s writing promotional copy for Image Comics in 1995, or something. INSTANT ICON!

CS: I like that Millar’s reluctance to write any character, even an eleven-year-old girl, as someone who doesn’t talk like John McClane with Tourette’s is being hailed as revolutionary. I’m not kidding: I like that. Say what you will about the guy, but he knows how to game the system.

CG: I keep waiting for the article to refer to characters by the name of the comic/movie.

CS: “Oh it was awesome when Angelina Jolie taught Wanted how to curve those bullets.”

CG: Mark knows his stuff, so I’m hoping this is out of context. I hope this is how that quote actually ended: “…and yeah, there were actually lots of comics set in the real world, but y’knowwatimsayin?”

CS: Okay, I’m going to stop you right there. You’re saying that “Kick-Ass,” the book about the 11 year-old girl who cuts through grown men’s bones with a katana and then survives being shot six times at point-blank range because she’s wearing a skin-tight layer of Kevlar… was “set in the real world.” I mean, just to clarify, that’s what’s going on here?

LH: Yes, Chris, I believe he is saying that he keeps it realer than Batman.

CG: Just because big media doesn’t report on all the slayings by 11-year-old girls doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen all the time.

CS: “Dave Lizewski is a three-dimensional hero because he’s built entirely from tired cliches about nerds. This is realistic and groundbreaking because it’s new.”

CG: Mark is a nice dude and I enjoyed “Kick-Ass” for what it was and look forward to seeing the film after a few Blue Moons, but I wish his interactions with the media would be half as obnoxious as his characters.

LH: You know, if “Powers” (2000) and “Gotham Central” (2003) were not two of my favorite comics of all time, and partially responsible for the fact that I remained interested in comics into adulthood, I think I’d be a lot less offended by this “first time” claim.

CS: Quick question, Laura.

LH: SHOOT.

CS: Was Gotham Central realistic enough to be a MAJOR HOLLYWOOD MOVIE from the studio that brought you “The Spirit” and “Saw V?” YEAH, I DIDN’T THINK SO. Obviously “Kick Ass” is superior.

LH: Also, this is basically the epitome of the confusion in comics that somehow equates “realism” with “hyper-violence.” I’ve lived
in reality my entire life, and I’ve never disemboweled anyone with a katana or beaten people to death with my bare hands. Am I doing it wrong?

CS: Yes. Yes you are.

CS: “Comfortable with the attentions of Hollywood.” Sure, that’s one way to put it.

CG: I think the story of “Kick-Ass” getting made into a movie would be a lot more impressive if it wasn’t essentially written to become a movie. And where’s John Romita Jr. in all this? I think his artwork is what drew a healthy number of readers, and he’s not even mentioned in the article.

LH: You know what I’d like to see? The story of “Kick-Ass” getting made into a movie being made into a movie. Tracing Millar’s history as an aspiring real-life superhero to his ascent as a comics writer until at the end of the movie the real villains show up and Millar has to put on the Kick-Ass suit and fight them inside the movie set, and it’s super meta. Like a superhero “Adaptation,” but with guns instead of orchids.

CG: So… you were okay with “Wanted” being nothing like the comic you wrote?

CS: I just ran this through Google Translate, and it came back as “I am totally okay with people thinking I wrote about a magic loom that told Morgan Freeman to become a super-hitman if it gets me a gigantic stack of money and free drinks at Planet Hollywood.” I am not necessarily saying this is a bad thing.

LH: I remember doing an interview with Mark once, and he made a comment to the effect that if the movie was bad, it’s not like it affected the comic — the comic would still be however good it was. It’s an interesting division, though, between the reactions of the niche and the reactions of the mainstream world — and what matters, and how it matters, and how you talk to both groups of people. This interview being a great example of Millar talking to the mainstream. And he’s tailored it to them, of course. It’s just hard to tell how much of what he really means.

CS: “The superhero fan I used to be.”

LH: If Millarworld were an amusement park, what would it be like?

CS: There would be a lot of rides that were announced, but then took forever to be built, but the ones that were there would be hugely fun, right up ’til the ending, where they just sorta crapped out. And the “Swamp Thing” ride would be absolutely fantastic, but since it wasn’t like anything else in the park, nobody’d ever go on it.

CG: The ride limits would be reversed, and the costumed critters would kick all visitors square in the nuts and curse at them as they left the park.

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