Comic book heavyweight Mark Millar has given 13 would-be professionals a leg-up into the industry, choosing the winners for his talent search aimed at helping new creators break into comics, as well as raising money for charity.
Millar, the writer behind hits including Kick-Ass, Kingsman, Jupiterâ€™s Circle and his latest, Huck â€“ all of which have either been made into or optioned for movies â€“ and a team at his website Millarworld have chosen six artists, six writers and a cover artist who will be allowed to work with his characters in a charity comic book to be released in 2016.
The Scottish author is notoriously protective of his properties and does not allow other others to use his characters. In September, Millar launched a competition to allow unknown writers and authors the chance to write stories featuring Kick-Ass, Hit Girl, characters from Chrononauts, Kingsman and American Jesus, or Duke McQueen from his series Starlight, which is being adapted for the big screen by 20th Century Fox.
The stories will be published in a special comic book in what Millar hopes will become an annual event showcasing new comic book talent.
Announcing the winners on his site, Millar said: â€œWe had around 1,500 entries if I recall and Iâ€™m so blown away by the quality. The last week Iâ€™ve done nothing except read them and mull things over, trying to pick the final winners. The standard was so much higher than I expected.â€
Millar added that the spread of entries was â€œtruly internationalâ€. â€œLess than a third came from the US or UK and this was incredible,â€ he said. â€œTotally unexpected.â€
The winners and the stories they will be working on are: writer Ricardo Mo and artist Ifesinachi Orjiekwe on Kick-Ass; writer Philip Huxler and artist Myron Macklin on Kingsman; writer Deniz Camp and artist Prancheta Banerjee on Starlight; writer Cliff Bumgardner and artist Steve Beach on American Jesus; writer Shawn Brill and artist Conor Hughes on Chrononauts; and writer Mark Abnett and artist Osgur Yildirim on Hit-Girl. The cover artist will be Satine Zillah.
Millar said the level of talent was â€œstaggeringâ€ and urged comic publishers to examine the work posted on his site by entrants to the competition.
â€œThereâ€™s easily a hundred people who should be working full-time and about 20 I think are going to have really big careers,â€ he said. â€œI hope you employ them and I also hope you pay them proper rates.â€
Millar has pledged to pay all the artists and writers selected for the first annual what he says are starting rates for Marvel and DC new talent: $90 (Â£60) per page for writers and $200 per page for artists. Profits from sales will go to the Hero Initiative charity, which helps comic book creators in financial need with costs such as emergency medical services.
Millar said he knew there were â€œsmart people out there just waiting for a place to focus their energies, but â€“ my God â€“ youâ€™re going to love this annual,â€ Millar said. â€œParing it down to just 30 and then a final six writers and six artists plus a cover artist â€¦ was one of the hardest things Iâ€™ve ever done. Seriously, youâ€™ll see what I mean. Wait till you see what these guys have done with my characters.â€