Wanted man Mark Millar keeping feet on ground despite 
big-screen success

Mark Millar.
Mark Millar.

After comic book writer Mark Millar sold his publishing company Millarworld last year to US film-streaming giant Netflix in a deal estimated to be worth more than £40m, he took his kids out for a special treat – a fish supper.

It was a typically down-to-earth gesture from the 48-year-old, born into a working-class Catholic family in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire.

Angelina Jolie as Fox and Morgan Freeman as Sloan in the 2008 film version of Wanted.

Angelina Jolie as Fox and Morgan Freeman as Sloan in the 2008 film version of Wanted.

Mark is the bestselling author of Kick-Ass, Wanted and Kingsman: The Secret Service, all of which have been adapted into Hollywood movies.

Despite his huge success and multi-million-pound deals, he remains firmly grounded, though – an attitude he puts down to his humble upbringing.

The father-of-three has also rejected several lucrative offers to move to the US and lives in Glasgow with wife Lucy, who works alongside him at Millarworld.

It’s a down-to-earth approach he tries to instil in his children.

Mark, made a Member of the British Empire in 2013 for services to literature and drama, said: “I’ve always been really sensible with the kids. When ‘Wanted’ opened, it made $54m in its opening weekend, and we were really delighted and celebrated by taking the children to Ayr beach for the day.

“When we did the Netflix deal, which was probably the biggest media deal in the country in years, what we did was take the children for a fish supper at Ayr. Ayr is the treat.”

Later this month, visitors to the Borders Book Festival in Melrose will have a rare chance to get an inside steer on the world of Marvel, Netflix, Hollywood blockbusters and all things superhero-related.

Mark is to make an appearance at the literary gathering on Saturday, June 16, when he will be interviewed by BBC Newsnight presented Kirsty Wark.

And after his talk, he’s planning to take in the town.

“I’m totally going to hit the town afterwards. I’ve never gone to a convention that doesn’t end up in a massive bender,” he said.

A comic-book obsessive from a young age, his older siblings bought him comics to feed his passion, and his own work at DC Comics, included Superman: Red Son.

At Marvel Comics he created The Ultimates, selected by Time Magazine as the comic book of the decade.

He also created Wolverine: Old Man Logan and Civil War, Marvel’s two biggest-selling graphic novels ever.

Civil War was subsequently the basis of the Captain America: Civil War movie and Old Man Logan the inspiration for Fox’s Logan movie, released last year.

Mark has been an executive producer on all his movies, and for four years he worked as a creative consultant for Fox Studios on its Marvel slate of movies.

After Netflix bought his comic book company Millarworld in the company’s first-ever such acquisition, it promptly took on Mark as president to continue creating comics, TV shows and movies.

His own children, aged four to 19, have also been bitten by the comic book bug.

“I’ve never really tried to brainwash them. I always liked the idea of them being into them, but I didn’t try to force them into it,” he said.

“But maybe it’s genetic or something and, especially my middle kid, she’s six, when she was three she would always watch the Flash Gordon movie or the Christopher Reeve Superman movie or the Adam West batman shows, so she’s got the same tastes as a 48-year-old man!”

On his decision not to move to the US, he said: “I lived in Coatbridge until I was 31 and in Glasgow ever since, and I think it’s so important for the kids because I see my friends’ children, and they are nightmares.

“I was at a friend of mine’s house last year, and his 18-year-old son jumped out of a Ferrari and into a Maserati, and drove off with his pals. I was like ‘I never want that to be my kids’.”

He has no idea who will turn up at Melrose, adding: “My demographic tends to be people, both male and female, aged 19 to 26, but comics have changed a lot in the last decade.

“I might be shocked – there may be a bunch of 75-year-olds.”

Mark will be talking to Kirsty Wark at the Baillie Gifford-sponsored Borders Book Festival on Saturday, June 16, from 1pm.

Tickets are £13, £11 for concessions, and they’re available at www.bordersbookfestival.org or via 0131 473 2000.