'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar on How to Succeed in Comics and Hollywood

"I tend to work around a simple conceit, usually keeping it real, and that translates well into movies, too," one of THR's most powerful comics writers says

If Mark Millar, one of The Hollywood Reporter's most powerful comic writers, has one piece of advice for other writers in Hollywood, it's this: "Be unobtainable."

The 44-year-old creator of Wanted, Kick-Ass and next year's Kingsman: The Secret Service practices what he preaches. "I go to L.A. just once a year, and even with the time difference, I never do a call after around 6:30 p.m. U.K. time," he says. "Writers often try to please too much, and I think it makes people take them for granted."

With a slate that includes a number of all-new projects for 2015 and continued consulting on Fox's X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, it's unlikely that Millar will be taken for granted anytime soon. The writer has experienced a level of success in Hollywood that most other comic book creators could only dream of, something that's set to continue with the announcement that Marvel will adapt his 2006 hit Civil War for its third Captain America movie (His work on the 2002-2007 series The Ultimates with artist Bryan Hitch similarly informed Marvel Studios' approaches to the first Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Avengers movies).

Read more How Marvel Became the Envy (and Scourge) of Hollywood

These days, he's concentrating on properties that he owns himself, and enjoying everything that brings. "It's fantastic," he says. "Had I created these characters for Marvel or DC it would have been painful as they'd have been out of my control and I'd barely be credited and certainly receive no cash for me or the artist. As is, the artists and I split the money fifty-fifty, and we get all the cash, which is actually lovely in an industry with a history of mistreating the people who create the concepts."

With so many of his original concepts in development with various studios, it might seem as if Millar is thinking about properties' suitability for the big screen even before he starts writing the comic book, but he denies the charge. "It's like milking a cow and thinking this will one day be cheese and that cheese may one day be used in the layers of a lasagna. It's too far down the line when you're writing a book to even really contemplate," he says. Instead, he suggests, his success lies in the strength of his core ideas. "I tend to work around a simple conceit, usually keeping it real, and that translates well into movies too. I was doing this a decade before anyone in Hollywood had even spoken to me."

These days, Millar is setting his sights on expanding comics' influence on movies beyond the superhero. "You'll never sell a superhero concept to Disney or Warners, and even Fox has three Millar-world superhero projects alongside their various Marvel ones," he explains, before pointing to his recent deals for Starlight — in which an aged space hero comes out of retirement following the death of his wife — and time-traveling action-comedy Chrononauts as proof of Hollywood's growing appetite for non-superhero comic material. "If anything, I think non-superhero books sell faster as movies because they can go anywhere."

Millar is part of The Hollywood Reporter's list of Hollywood's 5 Most Powerful Comics Writers of 2014. Check out the rest of the list, including  Robert Kirkman and Brian Michael Bendis, here.

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