Netflix’s first ever buy? A little British comic co run by a university drop-out

By Kitty Knowles 8 August 2017

The drop-out genius behind Kick-Ass.

In Hollywood, 11-year-old girls aren’t usually cast as crime-fighting vigilantes. But cult hit film Kick-Ass has one.

It’s a narrative that shows that the best talent isn’t always where you’d expect.

Which is apt, given that it’s based on a comic written by British university drop-out Mark Millar.

Clever Netflix

Today Netflix has shown itself to be wise to this way of thinking: for it’s first ever acquisition it hasn’t bought out a big established Hollywood production house.

Instead it’s sought out Millar’s (relatively) humble comic company, Millarworld – a business with assets totalling just £1.6m.

And it’s a sale that sees Millar’s story climax, like any great superhero film, as one of triumph against the odds.

The artist grew up near Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, in one of Britain’s most impoverished communities, and the death of both his parents meant he had to drop out of the University of Glasgow.

Yet, Millar went on to write Spider-Man, Superman and Wonder Woman adventures for DC Comics, and his own series Kick-Ass and Wanted have been turned into Hollywood blockbusters (that feature big names like Angelina Jolie, Nicolas Cage and James McAvoy).

Now Millar’s publishing company Millarworld has been sold in a multimillion-dollar deal.

“Biggest news of my life. Breaking: Netflix acquires Millarworld Company,” he wrote on Twitter.

“This is only the third time in history a major comic book company has been purchased at this level. I’m so in love with what Netflix is doing and excited by their plans. Netflix is the future and Millarworld couldn’t have a better home.”

What can your company learn?

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, compared Millar to Marvel creator Stan Lee. In short: Millar’s a genius in his niche.

“Mark has created a next-generation comics universe, full of indelible characters living in situations people around the world can identify easily with,” says Sarandos.

What we’d argue, however, is it’s Millar’s own life, his background, his ‘shortfallings’, that have shaped him to be able to write in such a way. It’s the subtle life lessons and human observations you don’t learn at uni.

So when your company is looking to make its next big acquisition, or your team is hunting for its next new hire, don’t limit yourself to the beaten track.

You might miss out on talent that is truly ‘kick-ass’.