Ahoy’s Happy Hour was a series that was chock full of relatable satire for present day circumstances. And who better to tell that story than a writer who has made a living out of examining humanity’s foibles in a unique and expressive way, Peter Milligan. Peter is certainly no stranger to comic work. As he has written for just about every publisher out there. Marvel, DC, 2000 AD, Aftershock and of course, Ahoy. Along the way, he has written for some of the biggest characters including Batman, The Red Lanterns, HellBlazer, X-Force, X-Statix among others.
With Ahoy’s Happy Hour, Milligan along with artist Michael Montenat explored a world where it was considered illegal to be unhappy. Failure to live up to Kumbaya standards got you sent for attitude adjustment. So when Kim and Jerry meet they find they are kindred spirits. Both suddenly realizing for different reasons, that being happy all the time is not their cup of tea. So together, they try to find a place where its ok to think life sucks.
Coming to comic stores on August 25th and Book Stores on September 7th, Ahoy Comics Happy Hour the TPB gives fans who missed the initial series an opportunity to see what Happiness vs. Misery is all about. So, lets talk to the architect of Happy Hour and welcome Peter Milligan to GVN’s Talking Comics.
Working with Tom Peyer and Ahoy
GVN: Thank you for giving us some of your time Peter. You have made a great career out of writing looking at things with a unique and often humorous viewpoint. Which made it all the sense in the world to work with Ahoy. How did your first collaboration with Tom and Ahoy come about?
PM: Tom and I have known each other for years. We first worked together back in the early days of Vertigo. I’ve had extensive therapy to get over that experience so when he told me about Ahoy I was willing to give it a go. He described Ahoy as being like “Vertigo with laughs.” I was of course sold.
The Inspiration for Happy Hour
GVN: When it came to Happy Hour, did you have a basic premise in mind for the book going in and what inspired you to tell this story?
PM: I’d say my premise was more than basic. I had a very clear idea of what the book was about. My inspiration came from two sources. When I first started to go to the USA, one thing that struck me was how so many people seemed so intent on coming across as really happy. It was all smiles ‘have a nice day!” and ‘that’s great!” Everything was so up and smiley and enthusiastic. Coming from a country where the default mode is ironic/miserable/bored this really struck me. And what struck me most of all was the disparity between this gloss of bright happiness—and the problems that seemed so visible in America, the homelessness I saw on the streets, newspaper reports of crime, murders, and various strands of madness. That stayed with me.
A while later, I read something by a psychologist – I think it was Adam Pillips – who spoke about some of his patients’ unhappiness. How some of his patients wanted to be cured of their unhappiness…as though it were some kind of illness. As though happiness was a right. This struck me as strange and reminded me of my first experiences in America. Because if happiness was a right….maybe being UNHAPPY was WRONG. The Roman emperors knew this when they gave their people bread and circuses to keep them happy, even though they were starving and living in shitty houses. How much easier to have a law obliging someone to be happy than to try to fix the problems that might make people unhappy– unemployment, poverty etc. Thus was born the evil monster known as Happy Hour.
Working with Artist Michael Montenat
GVN: It’s funny you said that about different attitudes in different places. When I moved from Michigan to Arkansas, it was striking how different the people were. Everyone in Arkansas would wave and smile at you as if you were related to them. In Michigan, people waved…but it was usually just with one finger. Maybe they were trying to tell I’m number 1? So I can certainly understand the culture shock. But as usual, I digress. You worked with the talented Michael Montenat on Happy Hour. What was that collaboration like and did Michael’s work surprise you or inspire you to see your story in a different way?
PM: It was all positive. With a story like Happy Hour, a story that errs towards the surreal and strange, I think it’s really important that the art, and in particular the
characters, look real, solid, and recognizable. And Michael achieves this. As well as the madness and the satire I wanted Happy Hour to have some real emotion, and again
Michael’s art really rises to the challenge.
Telling the Story He Wanted to Tell
GVN: So now that Happy Hour is coming to TPB, do you and Michael have another volume in mind or did you tell the story you wanted to?
PM: I told the story I wanted to tell. But I do believe it’s one of those ideas with a lot of potential stories. So who knows what’ll happen.
GVN: Here’s a hypothetical for you. If Peter Milligan were to be transported into the Happy Hour world, which premise could you function in better. The always find the good side of things world or the misery loves company side of the street?
PM: At the end of the story our heroes make their way to a very unusual commune. I think I’d probably end up here. I can’t tell you what this commune is called or it’d be a
GVN: Nice tease there. Thanks again for your time Peter. Before I let you go, do you have any other projects coming up you can talk about?
PM: Yes. Some projects I can’t really talk about yet but I can mention ‘HUMAN REMAINS’, being published at Vault Comics. I’m also enjoying my relationship with Aftershock. Out of Body is out now and God Of Tremors, a gothic horror, is out either now or soon. Also working on something new for them which will be announced soon. I’m also working on some things with AWA and Bad Idea – Pyrate Queen is published by the latter about now or very soon. And coming next year is the long-awaited THE X-CELLENT, the new maxi series I’m doing with Mike Alred, over at Marvel.
GVN: Well that’s a lot to look forward to. We will keep all your projects on our radar. Ahoy’s Happy Hour TPB hits comic stores on August 25th.
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Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 17 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.