Seduction of the Reader: An Interview with THE DISCIPLINE’s Peter Milligan

Peter Milligan is a renowned veteran comic book writer with over twenty years of experience and hundreds of issues to his name. With the first issue of The Discipline about to hit shelves from Image Comics, Peter was gracious enough to chat with Capeless’ Josh Epstein regarding the origins of the series and some of its themes.

Josh Epstein: Welcome, Peter. First, thanks for agreeing to do this. I’ve had a chance to read the first issue of The Discipline and found myself tremendously fascinated.

Milligan Quote

The first thing I wanted to ask you about was one of the themes I seemed to notice throughout the book, specifically that of dissatisfaction. In creating Melissa, was there a concerted effort on your part to showcase how, even though she appears to have everything the material world can offer, she doesn’t find it fulfilling?

Discipline MelissaPeter Milligan:  Well, yes.   It was important that Melissa be dissatisfied. I think only someone who was dissatisfied – I mean really bloody pissed off –  with large elements of their life would take the kind of risks that Melissa takes.  But I was interested in someone who was not only dissatisfied but clearly living in a world or level that was not quite her own. Though smart, Melissa comes from a working class background. This adds to a sense of what you might call “dislocation’.  This ability to move from one world to another fascinates me, and it’s certainly something that would be of interest to the people who decide to lure Melissa into their dangerous orbit…

JE: Secondly, I was hoping you might expound a bit on the genesis of the idea for Discipline. What drove you to create a mystical story within the erotic thriller genre?

PM:  I had some personal reasons.  A while ago I was on the periphery of a pretty strange crowd. There were the usual drugs and sex but there was a real hint or rumor of much more. I toyed with this group,  sniffed its darkness, and got out.  But I’ve always wondered what lay at its heart.  Real darkness or my over-heated imagination?

Cut to some years later and I’m talking to Will Denis, erstwhile editor at Vertigo.  We discussed me working on a new dark thriller and my mind kept returning to this group.  In many stories, sex is the endgame. The ultimate goal of so many characters. I think what interested me was the idea that sex, seduction, eroticism, might be just one a step on a larger journey, to….somewhere.  The Discipline, then,  is an attempt to bring together a number of different interests:  smart working class types living above their natural station, secret organizations,  weird sexual situations, magic, transformation.   How could I not be interested to develop a comic with all that in it?

JE: I noticed that this is the first time you’ve worked with Leandro Fernandez. What do you feel made him the right choice to bring The Discipline to life?

PM:  It was the first time I’d worked with Leandro–but since starting and then stopping The Discipline we have done The Names together for Vertigo.   Leandro is an exceptional artist. He is great with people, character, emotions. But he is also very smart when it comes to settings.

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JE: With all the various comic series which have been optioned for one form of live-action development or another, is this a story you think might someday lend itself to adaptation? If so, who would make up your dream cast?

PM:  Yes, I really think so.  Obviously I would say that, wouldn’t I? But I do really think that The Discipline would be perfect for TV or Film.  In fact, we’ve had a bit of interest before the first issue has been printed. But we’ll see, for now all I’m concentrating on is the first series. Six issues, in which Melissa’s entire world changes.  And I get a bit closer to imagining what went on in that group of people I used to know…

JE: Peter, thank you so much. There’s a ton more I’d love to ask you, but I think we’d be edging into spoiler territory and I’d much rather be surprised when the story comes out in stores.  I hope the debut of The Discipline goes swimmingly!

The first issue of The Discipline by Peter Milligan and Leandro Fernandez will be available from Image Comics on March 2, 2016.


Josh Epstein

Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and resident of a real-world Smallville.

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