‘Happy Hour’ Writer Peter Milligan: The Conskipper Interview

Shade The Changing Man and X-Static’s Peter Milligan is well known for his satirical comic work. Milligan’s writing will make you laugh, scream, and most importantly, think.

In Milligan’s latest series for Ahoy Comics, Happy Hour, the prolific writer examines the nature of institutionalized happiness is examined in a time when everyone is looking for a little relief. But as the saving goes, be careful what you wish for…

Milligan took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss Happy Hour, some of his fan-favorite titles, and a number of upcoming projects in this exclusive interview.

How would describe your Ahoy Comics series Happy Hour for the uninitiated? 

Peter Milligan: America is a place where happiness isn’t just a right—it’s an obligation.  It’s the law.  Our two young heroes meet and begin to fall in love inside a “Readjustment Center”, where anyone who doesn’t comply with this upbeat edict is sent to learn how to be happy.  Our lovers dream of a place where they’ll be free to be miserable together. But does such a place exist?  And if it does—will it be any better than Happyland?

Do you have a favorite character to write in Happy Hour

Milligan: That’s really hard to answer.  I enjoy charting the joys and vicissitudes of Jerry and Kim’s love affair.  But it’s also interesting to write about Sullivan, who begins as such a fierce advocate of happiness and slowly moves to the melancholy camp.  It’s a bit like watching Vladimir Putin pull on a bright balaclava and join Pussy Riot.

What are the ways that you try to stay happy and steer clear of Joysuckers?

Milligan:  In Happy Hour, “Puppy Time” is perhaps the most effective treatment for unhappiness.  Images of gambolling cute puppy dogs burnt into your cerebral cortex is enough to make the most hardened misery-guts smile.  On a personal level I’m quite content – though not exactly happy – to remain closer to the melancholy camp, so joysuckers might sniff at me for a while but tend to leave me alone.

What does artist Michael Montenat bring to the series?

Milligan:  In word, reality.  In a story like this, where a degree of absurdity is used to examine certain issues, it’s key that the art isn’t also absurd, that it instead makes you believe in the reality of what you’re seeing.  So Kim and Jerry are two pretty normal-looking people falling in love,  and we believe that, even as what they’re going through is pretty insane. 

Many fans remember your work on Shade The Changing Man.  Thoughts on the series and the legacy of Vertigo Comics?

Milligan: Writing Shade was an important part of my life.  It was a moving stage on which I could play out a lot of the wild ideas I had about life, the world, America and more.  The main characters – Shade. Kathy, Lenny – also became very important to me.  As for Vertigo, I think it’s legacy is assured.  Quite simply, it changed comics.  What comics are. What they can do. And why we do them.  It also had a broader cultural impact beyond comics.  Comics today without Vertigo is unthinkable.

Reflections about your collaboration with Mike Allred on X-Statix?  Why do you think the series has such a large cult following?

Milligan: It really caught the zeitgeist – apt seeing as one of the main characters is called Zeitgeist – and remains just as relevant.  I also think that Mike and I make a good team.  We both have strengths.  He has a certain comic book sensibility that plays perfectly with my mix of social humor combined with feelings of alienation and angst.

Future projects? 

Milligan: It’s always difficult talking too much about future projects – companies have their own strategies for announcing stuff – but I can mention a few things.  As I’ve just talked about X-Statix and Mike, a good place to start is the Marvel project: The X-Cellent.  This a brand new series, a new team, that exists in the world of X-Statix (i.e only tangentially to the rest of the X-world.). Mike and I have been diligently working away at that.  Not sure when it’s coming out, COVID obviously changed things a bit.  

After that, Mike and I are working on a new team book for AWA.  I have my first series with Aftershock coming soon that’s called Out of Body and I’m really excited about it.  The art is by Inaki Miranda and looks sensational. I’m also working on projects for Vault Comics and Bad Idea. Plus a new and exciting  project with AWA with a very hot artists I’ve never worked with before. I really like a lot of these independent new companies, each with their own goal and voice.

Happy Hour #5 from Ahoy Comics is currently available in finer comic book shops everywhere.

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