Mark Millar reveals the Hollywood origins of his zany time-travel comic-book series Chrononauts

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Apr 24, 2015

Mark Millar’s comics are quickly being snapped up by Hollywood, these days (Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service) - so quickly, in fact, that the writer’s latest offering -- Chrononauts -- even nabbed an option for the big screen from Universal wayyy before the comic’s first issue even hit the shelves.

Created by Millar and drawn by Sean Gordon Murphy, Chrononauts has been a critical hit so far. The four-issue series features the adventures of time-traveling dynamic duo of Doctors Corbin Quinn and Danny Reilly, our titular "Chrononauts." It's been described as a buddy comedy of sorts with "insane, epic scenarios." 

In a great new interview with Comic Book Resources, Millar revealed how the idea for the Image comic series actually had its origins in La-La Land. Which is rather interesting. When asked if the fact that the comic book being optioned by Universal was his agent’s work, and whether his books were taken to the studios as soon as they were finished, Millar had a surprising answer:

"It's funny. With "Chrononauts," I actually sold it last year. I was having lunch with the head of Universal when I was in town last August -- because I go out to Los Angeles and work for about a week each year. So I was having lunch with the guy who runs the company, and he said to me, "What have you got coming up?" I said that I actually had a bunch of things finishing -- "Starlight" and things like that -- and just had a few ideas I was thinking about. I mentioned "Chrononauts" just in conversation, and he said, "Don't do that as a comic. Just do it as a movie, and you can keep all the money." [Laughs] He just felt like, "Why share half the profits with an artist?" But he loved the idea and said, "We'll just do this as a movie. Even if you don't want to write the screenplay, I'll just buy the rights."

And I'm kind of lazy, so I liked the idea of not doing all the scripts. I thought maybe I could just write a synopsis and then stay as a producer on the movie. But then when I got my flight, literally on the flight home I just couldn't stop thinking about this as a comic. It would just make such an awesome comic, you know? So I started to work on some stuff, and I spoke to Sean who I'd been talking to for a while. He loves drawing period detail, and he loves drawing machinery and technology. I said, "I've got your dream project. It cuts across 15 time zones. You will love this." And he said, "I love the sound of that."

So then I had to call up my friend and Universal and say, "I don't want to do this as a movie. It's going to be a comic." [Laughs] But he said, "I'm going to buy it as a movie anyway." So I just told him we'd get along with the comic, and I'd stay in touch. Then when this came out, he made us an offer. Sean was delighted because he had an instant movie deal, and that worked out really nice. And the financial hit you take whenever you work on your own comics was eased because of the finance we got from the movie deal.

Millar also added that he didn't really think in movie terms when writing, but in comic-book terms, and that he plans his entire year of comics ahead. The writer also touched upon the fact that comic books allow the freedom a writer needs to tell any story he/she wants because: NO. BUDGET. RESTRICTIONS! He said:

"That's the thing I love about comics. It doesn't matter what you do, the budget is limitless when you're drawing the page. These guys can go anywhere. The book moves pretty much through all time and space, and it's relentless. You're going to see things you've never seen before because time travel, believe it or not, hasn't been explored that much in comics."

The rest of the interview is chock-full of great stuff (including a discussion on main character Quinn), so head on over to CBR for more. What do you think of Mark Millar's comments?

(via Comic Book Resources)

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