By: Linda Frank
Entertainment Buzz Hub
You may know Michael McMillian from his campy portrayal as Rev. Steve Newlin on HBO’s True Blood, or as the resourceful survivor from The Hills Have Eyes 2. But did you know he is also the author of Lucid, a comic published by Archaia & Beyond the Door?
Michael is a versatile, talented artist; writing comic books and acting in film and TV. He graduated from the renowned Carnegie Mellon University, School of Drama that fellow True Blood actor Joe Manganiello also attended. In addition to Lucid, he co-authors the True Blood comics for IDW and HBO and recently finished filming The Banshee Chapter with Ted Levine, currently in post-production. He has also guest starred on TV shows House of Lies, Hot in Cleveland, CSI: NY, The Mentalist, and as a series regular on the short-lived series Saved. I was able to snag Michael for a brief interview before his signing at the Archaia booth at San Diego’s Comic-Con a few weeks ago to talk about his burgeoning career.
How long were you working on Lucid before you had it published?
As soon as I started working on it we began the process of publishing it. But from the gestation period from idea to actual comic was about a year and a half.
That’s not too long.
No, cause I worked with the Before the Door guys Zack Quinto, Neal Dodson, and Corey Moosa and once I took the idea to them they found Archaia and you know we started working pretty quickly together to get it published.
How did you come up with the idea of Matthew Dee and having mages? You pick mages versus something else like werewolves, vampires, witches…
I’ve always been fascinated by Arthurian legend and Mathew Dee’s character is based on John Dee who was a court astrologer, mathematician, magician for Queen Elizabeth the first. And so the idea came out of what if the major world powers still had mages or magicians working for them. Thought it might be kind of funny if Obama had his own Merlin and so I just kinda took the idea from there and through development we sort of added this development of a James Bond spy element to it. But really it just came out of a long history of interest I’ve had with the occult and mysticism. That’s the kind of stuff I like.
Did you play around with doodling, making comics, writing as a child?
Yeah. Yeah…I’ve been reading comics ever since I was a really little kid and I wanted to be an animator when I grew up. I used to love to draw and that’s what got me interested in comics originally was the art work. And I’d hang out with my best friend when I was little and we’d make our own comics growing up. As I got older I became more interested on the writing side and I became less disciplined as an artist and then I fell into acting and that really took my attention away from art and from drawing. But I think being an actor, I’ve always had a close relationship to writing through scripts so comic books was something I always wanted to get back to and get into. Even though as a kid I thought if I was ever in comics it would be on the artist side not the writer’s side.
Do you still do drawing, doodling on your own?
Yeah, a little bit, yeah. It’s actually something I’d really love to get back into and go back and take classes, cause this really unique and great situation in my career where everything I’m doing professionally were all once hobbies of mine and drawing is kind of this forgotten hobby of mine so I’d like to go and really start doing that again. I think I’d really enjoy it.
Maybe a couple panels on the next Lucid?
I don’t know, maybe, we’ll see
On the drawing side, do you do mostly sketches? A lot of the people I know are now doing it directly on computers.
I have not gotten that far yet. When it comes to my skills, everything that I learned was evolved as probably 1992. So that’s the other hitch is learning all the software. I still love to doodle with just pen and paper and pencil and paper.
Are we going to get another Lucid?
I hope so. I think it’s dependent on what happens with the feature film that’s being developed right now. Warner Brothers optioned the rights to the book this past year and it’s being developed right now. Akiva Goldsman is attached as producer and I think they’re nailing down the script. They’re trying to work that out. I’m not directly involved with it so I get updates from time to time. I know it’s moving forward and hopefully if its green lit into a film, I think we’ll definitely see more Lucid comics.
Thanks, yeah I hope so. It’d be great for the book and you know and also all of us involved with it would like to see it.
So there’s not an actual plan set up for more at this point?
It’s something that I think that Archaia, Before the Door, and I definitely want to do. It just depends on what the future brings. I got ideas in my head of where I’d like it to go.
So you have a future story in your head.
I have at least two more ideas for two subsequent volumes. One of which I’d like to go back and do the origin story of Matthew Dee and tell his history and everything that’s just into that in the first volume of the book. And then again it all depends on ultimately the decision that Archaia makes. So if fans want to see more of this; should definitely support the book and tell their friends about it and get the word out.
One quick True Blood question. Why are you never on the Comic-Con panel?
Well, we have a very large cast.
Yes you do.
There are 20 of us and the panel at Comic-Con is usually reserved for the first 8. You know I would love to do it. (chuckles) I know HBO knows I would love to do it. I think it’s just a matter of making room for everyone is just too difficult.
Well Chris Meloni’s in it.
I know, but he’s our big special guest star this year and he’s a big name and his character is this brand new exciting character and I think they tend to bring the big heavy of each season on the panel. So I don’t know, we’ll see, hopefully maybe sometime next year, who knows?
Now you said the big guest star, is that a spoiler?
Well, no. He’s not signed on to do a ton of seasons.
Right, just wondered if that was a spoiler, that something happens to him?
(low sultry voice) Well you’ll just have to watch and find out.
Well, I’ll be doing that anyway.
My thanks to Michael McMillian and Mel Caylo at Archaia for making time in your busy schedule.
Welcome to the world of LUCID, the action-packed pop-fantasy that draws inspiration from the spy genre, Arthurian legend and 21st-century folklore! Dark forces are conspiring to prevent humankind from reaching its true potential. Thankfully, as newly appointed “Protector of the Realm,” Agent Matthew Dee uses his skills as a covert spy and Combat Mage to ensure America’s freedom from the grip of evil.
In his debut adventure, Agent Dee and his team of crack occult experts from Majestic Intelligence must track down a self-proclaimed prophet known as “The Pendragon” before he arms himself with enough dark magic to take over the world. Nobody said Matthew’s first month on the job was going to be easy!
Lucid is available at Archaia and other booksellers. Michael McMillian also writes the True Blood comics for IDW & HBO. True Blood airs Sunday nights on HBO. You can also watch episodes anytime on HBOGO.