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The Bare Necessities: Mark L Miller and Zenescope's Jungle Book

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Mark L Miller and Mowglii

Zenescope has carved out a niche in the comics industry through their unique and sexy adaptations of fairy tales. In their Grimm Fairy Tales universe, they've established realms for adaptations of Wonderland, the titular Brothers Grimm characters, Neverland, and others.

Standing apart from these intersecting worlds of fantasy is Zenescope's THE JUNGLE BOOK, now entering it's third miniseries with FALL OF THE WILD, In anticipation of the advent of this new chapter in the adventures of Mowglii on the island jungle of Kipling, we corralled series writer Mark L. Miller for a little Q&A about some of the mysteries of Mowglii.

THE JUNGLE BOOK: FALL OF THE WILD is advertised as the third book of the trilogy. Was it planned to be a trilogy from the beginning, or is it something that just evolved that way after it had begun?

I'd love to say yes, but it really just worked out this way. I think anyone approaching a story hopes for a chance to tell their epic and sprawling tale with multiple arcs. Everyone wants to do their STAR WARS, but that doesn't always happen in comics so I've always approached each series as possibly the last. It's just a realistic way of thinking these days, but still, I like to pepper in bits here and there I want to elaborate on in future tales. I know I was lucky just to do one sequel that expanded the original story. Being able to bring the story to a close is just icing on the cake. Still, I had a lot of things I wanted to touch on in this series and I'm thrilled to be able to do it here with this FALL OF THE WILD series. Many of the things I was only hinting at in the previous series are being dealt with here and the opportunity to do a lot of the huge scenes I've been itching to do with these characters are going to happen, so I can't wait to have people read about the final fate of the island and its inhabitants.

Can you clarify if Kipling is another "realm" of the Zenescope multiverse, or is it separated entirely from all of that?

The story has always kind of functioned outside of the Zenescope multiverse on it's own insular little island. In FALL OF THE WILD, that "realm" is broadened a bit, but not by much. At least we get a concept of where and when this story is taking place. Up until now, we only had a few snippets of the real world where Mowglii and the kids were abducted from in the first few pages of the original series. This time, we see a bit more of that, but still, mostly everything happens in and around the island.

For no discernable reason, when I see the God of Fear and Fire holding the photograph in the first issue of FALL OF THE WILD, I got a very strong "Greystoke" vibe. Was there any conscious influence from that particular genre?

Maybe a little. I can't talk much about the God of Fear and Fire's intentions, but they aren't good for Mowglii. We revealed in the last series that the God of Fear and Fire is one of the pirates who abducted Mowglii and the others from their cribs, so he knows things about Mowglii that no one else knows on the island, giving him a unique advantage. Then again he's been stuck in a cave talking with bats and bears for all this time, so he's a little nuts.

If Mowglii leaves Kipling, where would you like to take her, either within the Grimmverse or otherwise?

Say the story goes on after this series; I'd love to take Mowglii completely off the island with a few of the animals and have her experience where she really comes from. This is something I've toyed with about doing but I wanted to tell this giant war story first. If there's an opportunity to tell another story, you might see Mowglii off the island and delving into her real history. I want FALL OF THE WILD to read as a natural conclusion, but I think there's still a lot of story left in these characters and would love to keep telling them.

Supposition: Mowglii encounters Rima the Jungle Girl and Sheena the Jungle Queen. Question: What happens?

Mowglii was raised to fight a never-ending battle by a pack of wolves, a bear, and a panther in a jungle where organized chaos occurs every day between warring tribes of a menagerie of animals. My gut tells me, Mowglii is scrappy enough to take out both Rima and Sheena.

In more (or perhaps less) civilized environments, what other stories do you have in development?

I have a few irons in the fire, but none I can talk about right now. I currently have a creator-owned horror/adventure series called PIROUETTE running at Black Mask Studios about a young female clown trying to escape from a cruel and demented circus. It's got fantastic art by Zenescope alum Carlos Granda and has a bunch of really creepy clowns and giant circus spectacles. It's another world I've thrown my all into, much like what I've done with the war on Kipling Isle.