Michael McMillian Talks True Blood & Comics plus a Giveaway!

When we were at New York Comic Con in October, we met up with Michael McMillian (aka Reverend Steve Newlin) who was there to sign issues of his comic, LUCID. Such a charming guy, he chatted with us for a while and gave Liz graphic novel suggestions for her 10-year-old son, which were a big hit! Shortly after came the news that Mike would be co-writing the second series of True Blood comics, due in February, so we decided to sit down with him and get the scoop on all things True Blood and comic books. We’re also giving away a signed copy of LUCID, so be sure to enter at the bottom of this post!

Michael McMillian as Reverend Steve Newlin

Michael McMillian as Reverend Steve Newlin

Michael McMillian: Steve is a guy who serves up hate with a smile. I think that was a trait that came directly from Charlaine Harris’ version of Steve, and Alan Ball gave me the note to approach him that way early on. I watched a lot of TV evangelists on YouTube but really, the character came from what was on the page. As far as outrageous goes? I don’t think Steve nearly hit his limit in Season 2.

TB.net: Does that mean we’ll see Steve in True Blood season 4?

MM: Fingers crossed.

TB.net: Moving on to your original comic, LUCID, how long has this story been percolating? Were you a fan of comics/graphic novels as a child?

MM: LUCID has been in the works for about two years. That’s from the very early discussions with Before the Door about me wanting to do a magical-themed comic book. I’ve been developing the main story for the first series for a little over a year, I suppose. I have been reading comics since I was a kid, starting with The Amazing Spider-Man and then gradually consuming entire super-hero universes. I’m a big fan of Alan Moore, Brian Michael Bendis, Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis.

TB.net: What was the process of bringing this series to fruition? What does your partnership with Zachary Quinto’s media company mean for the series’ potential in other formats?

MM: Basically, Zach’s company, Before the Door consists of Zach and two other people, Neal Dodson and Corey Moosa, with whom Zach and I both attended Carnegie Mellon University, where we all studied theater. Neal knew I was looking to break into comic writing and asked me to come into the office and pitch them some ideas. We ultimately decided to go with LUCID and then Archaia came on board to publish it. Obviously, Before the Door is also producing films (the upcoming Margin Call) so the possibility of LUCID one day being developed into a film or TV series or animated story is definitely plausible. Personally, I am just focused on making sure LUCID Vol. 1 can be the best it can be.

Michael McMillian signs copies of his comic at New York Comic Con 2010

Michael McMillian at New York Comic Con

TB.net: LUCID combines the occult, the supernatural, the natural world and alternate universes. Where are you drawing your inspiration from? Do you envision this as a modern-day retelling of the Merlin legend?

MM: Merlin and Arthurian Legend definitely inspire the first mini-series, but I’m keeping the interpretation of those myths pretty loose. I’m furthe rinspired by what I call “21st century Folklore” – UFOs, Government Conspiracies, Secret Societies and magic the paranormal in general. Structurally, I’m trying something a bit different with LUCID. Instead of starting at the very beginning, I’m kicking off in the middle of the action. It’s a fragmented narrative, as opposed to being linear Some readers might find it hard to swallow at first, but over time and future story arcs I will hopefully get to piece together the life of Matthew Dee in a way that will bring new light to this first story-arc. I’m a guy who likes to go back and re-read my comics. I’m writing LUCID with that in mind.

TB.net: Matthew Dee is a novice Combat Mage; will we see him tempted by dark powers?

MM: I’m not sure if I see Matthew eventually being tempted by dark powers, but manipulated by dark powers? Maybe.

TB.net: What are your plans for future stories in the LUCID series?

MM: Assuming I get the green-light to do more, Vol. 2 will pick up some time after the events of the first and see Matthew off on a brand-new adventure that will span the entire mini-series and explore the origins of magic. Vol. 3 will likely be Matthew’s origin story, at least that’s the way I imagine it. I’d like to be telling LUCID stories for a long time.

TB.net: In addition to writing your own original series, it was just announced that you’ll be co-writing the second series of True Blood graphic novels. How did you get involved with this project? Did you pitch the story about contaminated Tru Blood? We think that’s inspired!

MM: I’d love to take credit for that idea, but it was Marc Andreyko’s little gem! He and I are neighbors and have known each other for awhile. I had heard the True Blood comic was in the works while I was thinking about what I would like to do after I had finished the first arc of LUCID. Marc has had a long-standing working relationship with IDW so we just decided to double our chances and to team up to pitch stories. The contaminated Tru Blood arc was one of them. We’d love to do more.

TB.net:  Do you feel like you have a slight edge from having been on the show, giving you a perspective on the story that other writers wouldn’t have?

MM: Perhaps. I certainly don’t present it that way to Marc. But I do think there is a benefit to have worked with these actors. I know what their voices sound like. Familiarity with the cast has made it very easy to channel them while writing dialogue. After we wrote the first script for Issue 1, Marc joked that my ability to write Jason was frightening. I think that came from working with Ryan Kwanten over the course of Season 2. And that’s the real challenge: nailing the voice and tone of the show in comic form. Marc and I both want the comic to feel as close to the show as possible.

TB.net:  How much latitude do you have within the established characters and story lines?

MM: Alan Ball has been very gracious with letting us do what we want with the story, but there are certain limitations; we can’t do anything that would drastically affect the world of the show, like kill a major character for example, or step on the storylines for the upcoming season. But the comic can expand on the mythology. That’s what excited me about doing a story with Tru Blood at the center of it.

TB.net: You’ve written an original series and now tackled the already established True Blood ‘verse. Are there any other current series or ‘verses you’d like to write for in the future?

MM: I’d love to work on any of the Spider-Man comics. I’ve missed the chance to play Peter Parker, so I hope I get to write him!

Enter to Win

The first two issues of LUCID are on sale now, and we’re giving away a signed copy of issue #1 to a lucky winner! Follow the steps below to be entered to win. Note: This contest is open to fans worldwide.

  • Fill out the entry form below and click Submit;
  • ONE ENTRY PER PERSON – duplicate entries will be deleted;
  • Deadline to enter is 11:59PM PST on Thursday, December 16, 2011;
  • One (1) winner will be drawn at random from eligible entries and notified via email.

Good luck!

**This giveaway has expired. Congratulations to our winner, Crystal!**

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