Mondays With Marts: August 22nd, 2005 (Peter Milligan)

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This week Mike interviews writer PETER MILLIGAN, who has writing credits in every genre imaginable and has done dozens of issues for both Marvel and DC. But more importantly, he's the regular writer on X-MEN!

Bad CompanyMike Marts -- Peter, I know you were writing professionally outside of comics before you entered this crazy industry. What type of work were you doing? And then how did you break into writing comic books?

Peter Milligan -- I don’t know how professional a lot of it was, but I was working on some experimental fiction, the more unreadable the better. After working on a kind of anarcho punk post-modernist strip for a British music magazine I broke into comics the tried and trusted way for British-based writers and artists: through the good offices of 2000AD. I suppose through that I came to the notice of some American editors, most importantly I think Karen Berger, over at DC Comics.

Mike Marts -- Who would you say your major influences are?

Peter Milligan -- Oh, that’s tough. Rather than lapse into facetiousness, which is always easy when you don’t really have a good answer, I’ll come clean and say I don’t really have a good answer! Of course Brendan McCarthy was a huge influence, in that it was with Brendan (and Brett Ewins) that I did some of my early work, and whereas I was pretty oblivious to the world of comics, they had a long-time interest in and knowledge of the medium.

Brett EwinsMike Marts -- Favorite fictional character/sports team/movie/television show?

Peter Milligan -- In the name of God, Marts, you ask some devilish questions. Wrestled with who my favorite fictional character might be. I liked Tom Ripley in the Ripley books – bland, evil, and engrossing at the same time! I was attracted by Augie March, in Bellow’s great novel, his drive, his naivety, his heart. But let’s settle for Leopold Bloom, from Ulysses. A common man. Cheated on by his wife, an exile, sneered at by so-called friends, who manages to keep his dignity and decency.

Sports team? Easy. Tottenham Hotspur. That’s a football team, or soccer team for you Americans. Not a great football team at the moment, but it chose me, I didn’t choose it.

Movie? Very tough. I’ll choose a European film, rather than an American. I like a lot of Truffaut’s movies, and more recently some of Patric Leconte’s. .But let’s go with:

A Bout De Souffle (Breathless) Jean-Luc Godard’s ultra-cool thriller. It was also the film I saw on my first date with who was to turn out to be wife.

Television show? Of the latest crop, an American import. Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, I suppose. It can get samey, but the characters are really great, and there’s stuff in there you don’t usually see on television.

Rogan GoshMike Marts -- What single work are you most proud of?

Peter Milligan -- Let’s go with Rogan Gosh, because it’s probably the most strange.

Mike Marts -- You’ve worked with dozens of amazing artists. Which ones have you enjoyed collaborating with the most? Why?

Peter Milligan -- I really enjoyed collaborating with Edwin Biukovic. Not because I spoke to him – I didn’t – and not because there was a lot of feedback – there wasn’t – but because the end results were so amazing, and when I’m asked this kind of question I always think of Eddie because he died so terribly young, and he would have gone on to be even greater, and to do even greater work had he lived. For those who don’t know, Eddie was the artist on my first Human Target mini-series.

Human TargetMike Marts -- X-MEN is a slight departure from what most readers have come to expect from you. How do you find the whole “X-Men” experience?

Peter Milligan -- I think it’s a pretty big departure! Which is one of the reasons why I was attracted to it. It was a little tough and strange at first, getting your head around all the characters, and the continuity, and everything else associated with the book, but all in all the experience has been a good one.

Mike Marts -- Which X-Men characters do you find the most fun to write? How about the most challenging?

PolarisPeter Milligan -- I think perhaps at the moment Lorna (Polaris) intrigues me, as she seems more vague and frail than your usual hero, at least she is how I’m writing her! Logan is a great character but because so much has been written about him I suppose it’s quite a challenge to keep him fresh and to say new things about him. There’s always a danger of slipping into stereotypes. Whereas what we should be creating here are archetypes.

I think.

Mike Marts -- You’ve done extensive work for both of the big two companies—Marvel and DC. What’s different about working at each company?

Peter Milligan -- I’ve generally found that it comes down to the personality of the particular editor you’re working with, and the relationship you have with him or her, rather than the company. When I was starting out I formed the impression that DC Comics were analogous to the Democratic Party, and Marvel the Republican. But experience has shown me that it’s a little more complicated than that!

Mike Marts -- Great--thanks, Peter.

Next week we have NIGHTCRAWLER writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa!