10 Questions with Peter Milligan

Our latest Comics Brewmaster, Peter Milligan, first came to my attention in 1993 when John Constantine appeared in a three part Shade, the Changing Man story titled History Lesson(issues #42-44).  So, Garth Ennis was sort of my gateway drug to Peter Milligan, since I was such a big fan of Ennis’ Hellblazer run at that time.  I picked that issue up, not expecting anything special other than a fun crossover, but what I discovered instead was a writer that really understood the human condition and could write one hell of a good, character driven story!

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Prior to Shade, Milligan was mainly known for his British comics work like Johnny Nemo, Bad Company, Skin, and his first assignment at DC, Skreemer with Brett Ewins.  He would go onto write a number of books for the newly launched Vertigo line, including Animal Man, Enigma, Minx, Egypt, and The Extremist, to name a few.

Milligan was no stranger to mainstream super-hero comics, as well.  He had a memorable Batman run on Detective Comics in the early ’90’s and he’s responsible for creating & writing one of my favorite super-hero team books of all time, X-Statix!

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Today, Peter Milligan is still one of the top writers working in comics and he continues to stand out for his smart, funny, and dark writing style.  He has written books for just about every major comics publisher out there, including the recent Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel for Valiant, and the critically acclaimed mini-series Terminal Hero for Dynamite.

His latest DC/Vertigo series, New Romancer, with artist Brett Parson just launched this month and it’s already one of my favorite comics on the market!

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I could go on and on, listing more great comics from Milligan’s illustrious career, but that could take weeks, because this guy’s been a work horse!  So, let’s just get to the good stuff!

Kick back and enjoy these 10(or so..) insightful and witty answers by the man of the hour himself, Mr. Peter Milligan!

1. Mister Sensitive or Shade, the Changing Man?

Not sure what there is to explain. They’re two quite different characters–though I suppose they are both in their own ways sensitive, easily affected or hurt by events or people. The difference is of course how they respond: Mr Sensitive internalizes the pain. Shade externalizes his own hurt, usually as some form of madness.

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2. Do you ever drink and write? If not, are there any other vices you partake in while writing your stories??

The only vices I partake in while working are self-loathing and egotism, and I’m not sure if they’re vices. I might make notes in a pub or cafe – while drinking beer or coffee – but that’s a prelude to work: real work is sober. I think some of my stories might have been helped by the drugs and drinks I took previously, but in my experience most work done while actually under the influence of drink or drugs – though it might seem pretty hot stuff at the time – turns out in the cold light of day to be bollocks.

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3. Your new DC/Vertigo series, New Romancer, is a modern day twist on the ideas and writings of such classic literary romantics as Lord Byron and Giacomo Casanova.  The main character in the story, Lexy(Alexia Ryan), is a coder/writer who works for New Romancer, a start-up internet dating app company.  Things get really interesting when Lexy’s lovingly crafted fake profiles begin to take on a life of their own after a mysterious accident at her previous employer, Incubator Inc.

That’s right. I’ve been interested in writing about Byron for a while, this story came about by marrying this romantic hero lover with the modern phenomenon of internet dating. NEW ROMANCER is a different kind of book for me. I think I’m probably known for producing pretty dark or twisted stuff: though New Romancer has its dark or twisted moments it is a very romantic – or new romantic – book. It’s also funny, I think.

I really enjoyed the first issue and I’m looking forward to seeing where you go with these characters. Brett Parson is really killing it on art and his style is perfect for this story.

Thanks! I was really happy with the first issue, and it’s great that people seem to be getting it and enjoying it. And you’re right about Brett: his art is amazing. He completely captures the tone of the book; some of those drawings of Lexy and Byron together manage to be cute and funny without being sentimental or saccharine. He’s a wonderful new talent and an essential part of this project. In fact, I couldn’t think of anyone who’d do a better job.

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What inspired the creation of New Romancer and can you give us an idea of what’s to come?

Years ago I was working on an idea for a story called “Byron is Dead”. It wasn’t a fully fleshed out idea but it revealed my interest in using Byron as a character. Vertigo Editor Shelly Bond read that at the time and recently we were having a series of long e-meetings and some germs of this old idea came together with some new thoughts, about the whole internet dating thing.

What’s to come? Byron and Casanova is not the only long dead demon lover to be reanimated. We also learn more about Lexy and her father as the weird modern romance between Lexy and Byron goes on its rocky, twisting, unexpected route.

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4. What was the last good movie you’ve seen?

Maybe: “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence” by Roy Andersson.

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5. I’m a big fan of your X-Statix run and the recent All-New Doop mini-series. Any chance we’ll get to see more Doop comics from you in the future?

Thanks. I really enjoyed entering the strange world of the inimitable Doop again and would love to go back there. One of these days I might talk about it to Marvel.

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6. Describe your worst dating experience.

Besides, I’m often the last person to know if a date has been disastrous. I went on one date – to see A Bout de Souffle (Breathless). I thought the evening had gone swimmingly but I found out later my date had had a pretty miserable experience and I’d been pompous and full of put-downs. I hadn’t even realized! Remarkably, I ended up marrying her!

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7. Your classic comic from the 80’s, Johnny Nemo, was recently collected by Titan.  Obviously, a lot has changed in the world since you first wrote those stories, but you could argue that much of the post-Thatcherism social commentary is still relevant, today.  What do you think Johnny Nemo would say about the state of the world in 2015?

We in the UK clearly DO live in a post-Thatcher reality: she dismantled the post war political settlement (as it was called) and we’re living with the consequences. Nemo would recognize some of the inequality that’s at the heart of the British system from his own much more unequal new London world. What would confirm his fairly low view of humanity is the political apathy of the age.

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8. What comics do you like to read(if any)? Any personal favorites from recent time? Also, do you collect comic books or anything else?

I don’t read a lot of comics anymore, though I do keep tabs of most of the Vertigo books and some of the Image stuff. I do though like going to conventions and picking up new stuff that I haven’t come across before. The thing that’s really blown me away recently is the work of Luis Scafati, he really seems to doing something somewhere between book illustration and comic strips. He’s brilliant.

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9. Have you had any funny, or embarrassing moments at comics conventions/book signings?

Quite a few. Alan Grant and I were due on a panel in San Diego (he was writing batman and I Detective Comics) and over a few drinks the night before we decided to act as though we were angrily disagreeing with each other. the following day, whatever Alan said I witheringly put down, pretty much calling him an idiot. Problem was…Alan has completely forgotten about our plan. He was wondering, what’s got into Peter today?

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10. In addition to New Romancer, you’re also writing new Bad Company comics for 2000 AD.  Is that going to be ongoing or is it a limited run?  What else should we look forward to from you in 2016 and beyond?

Bad Company is a 12 issue run. It’s a finite story but leaves the possibility for a follow up if we want. Happily, the story has gone down very well with readers. I’m also creating a new character and story for 2000AD, which I’ll be beginning to script in the new year.

A new series called THE DISCIPLINE writing by me and drawn by the exceptional Leo Fernandez is being published by IMAGE this March. I’m very excited about that. I also have a limited series in the pipeline with a new publisher. We’re just finishing the paperwork for this so I don’t want to talk about it yet. But it’ll happen soon and it’ll be amazing.

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Thank you, Peter!

*Pictures of Peter Milligan and his work were provided by the internet. Thx!