¦ Features ¦ Pat Mills
Interview by Richmond
Pat Mills is
one of the founding fathers of 2000AD, and is partly responsible for the longevity
of the comic. Creator of some of the longest running characters in the comic,
including Slaine and the ABC Warriors, Mills continues to keep these characters
alive in the comic today. We caught up with him for a few words...
What is a typical days work for you? Do you work to a strict
regime, or a looser timetable?
Both really. Sometimes I write abroad while travelling. Other times with friends.
Other times alone at home.
to begin earlier in your career, with Charley’s War. With its political
message, this tale was unlike anything else at the time. Did you have any trouble
convincing your editor to accept it?
None at all. It
would be far harder today.
And did the politics cause you to receive any fallout?
No - no problems
Did you ever write anything in Charley’s War where
your editor thought you had went too far, either politically or in the depiction
of the results of battle?
Three minor censorships...
Charley shoots a friend cos he's drowning in mud... deletion of white American
racism... deletion of fishing for rats with barbed wire
As well as its
graphic portrayal of the brutality of WW I, the story did not shy away from showing
the British class system at it worst. You have obviously written this from a point
of strong personal passion. I was wondering just how personal. Did you have any
family members who served in the War?
War by Joe Colquhoun
Yes. My Grandfather
was a policeman. Rather than arrest deserters, he joined the army and served in
the trenches as a cook. After the war he went back to being a cop. CW was very
much my chance to portray the Class War. I'd like to have continued into World
As one of only a handful of original contributors still
working for 2000AD, you are well placed to answer this. How do you think 2000AD
has changed in the last quarter century?
It's become more responsive to fandom as opposed to general
readership (whatever that is). This is inevitable given distribution problems,
and - arguably - fandom is keeping it alive. But its roots were general readership.
The differences between them are hard to put into words, but everyone is aware
that there are differences.
What do you think has been the secret of it’s longevity?
It's addictive. I started reading Private Eye when I was 17
or 18. I still buy it.
What do you think it needs to do to insure it’s continued
I think it's pretty
well aimed in the right direction which is very much down to the current editors
of Megazine and 2000AD who are more open than recent past editors.
You have written for online ‘digital’ comics,
could you see 2000AD, or indeed comics in general, heading in this direction,
or do you think there will always be a place for paper and print?
Both. But online
doesn't seem to really be working commercially as yet
Law, Metalzoic. All created with Kevin O’Neil. You seem to, if you don’t
mind me saying, bring out the weird in each other! Is there any chance of you
two working together again?
Law by Kevin O Neill
I've written two Marshal Law text novels with Kevin recently.
One - Day of the Dead - is just out.
From its beginning
Slaine has seemed to have had more than its fair share of groundbreaking artist,
for McMahon, Fabry, Bisley and right through to Langley’s amazing photo
real work at present. Is this a happy coincidence, or have you an active role
in selecting the artist?
has been a nightmare on Slaine. It's caused a lot of serious trauma for artists
over the years.
opening set a different style and standard and therein lies the core of the difficulty.
As various artists surpassed her, but still had that demanding and different approach,
we had to find similar artists. I have to have an active role in selecting the
artist because when I don't - the readers blame me. AND the artists seem to disappear
off the map if it isn't right (e.g. Steve Tappin - Grail Slaines) This is actually
unfair and damaging to the artists, when it was sometimes the editor's choice.
Example would be
the guy who drew Secret Commonwealth, Dave Bircham. I said he was great but maybe
not right for Slaine. Dave Bishop said to trust his choice. I had no choice and
I thought maybe I should concede to Bishop's strongly held views. There was a
howl of incoherent anger from fans directed against the artist and the stories.
The tragedy is that it seemed to push Dave Bircham off 2000AD which I think was
wrong. He's very talented, but needs the right story. I think there should have
been far greater care in choosing him.
So these days I
have to choose the artist, otherwise I get it in the neck.
(On a personal note) Are you planning to bring back Ukko?
some way off
What made you
decide it was time to bring back Savage?
The readers wanted
him back. Matt asked me, and I felt I had to because I have a horror of seeing
stories screwed up by other writers. I've
seen this happen elsewhere on 2000AD in the past.
Apart from copyright
reasons, I strongly believe only writers and artists who create stories should
do them - the days of house stories should be in the past. They are - in my view
- a throwback to less happy and archaic times. Occasionally I will pass a story
over (like an ABC novel), but only when I know the writer well and feel I can
How many books do you plan the tale to run for?
It depends on time. In an ideal world, several books. I hope
I have the time, because it's very close to my heart
Have you written the next book of Savage,
I wish. I wish! I'm itching to do it, but run out of time for
and if so, can you give us any hints as to what’s
going to happen?
I think Savage may go after Vashkov - if I can make it work.
I'm currently researching that aspect
Adlard returning as artist?
Yes. He's as into it as me
You seem to have a knack of coming up with off the wall technologies
and weapons. Most recently the Belly Blaster in ABC Warriors
That was a fantasy idea that a friend of mine, Alan Mitchell,
came up with.
or the gun Bill
used to down the chopper in Savage.
Warriors by Henry Flint
That actually exists.
These sort of things must be fun to dream up?
Yes. But many exist. We live in an SF world
The Medusa War was, as far as I am aware, your first novel.
How did writing it compare to writing a comic script?
Harder work. Tough on my eyes (written on a lap top). But I
The novel fits very tightly into the storyline running in
2000AD at the moment. Are there sections of the novel that maybe started off as
parts of the strip, or vice versa?
Yes. Parts are
dramatisations of the comic strip. Notably the Biohazard troopers because they
originally had excellent funky black dialogue contributed by my black co-writer
on the novel, Alan Mitchell. This was altered at the time by 2000AD editorial
without my knowledge and in an inappropriate and uncool way. It made my toes curl
it was so wrong. So I thought it was important to put it back the way it should
be. I think the text version is much better. Although having said that, I'm sure
some perverse fan is now going to say he preferred the comic version. In which
case, my response would be I'm sure you enjoy McDonalds burgers, too.
The novel is left wide open for another volume at the end.
Do you plan another prose volume, or will all the plot strands be answered in
The text novels continue the story and lead up to the current
Have you any plans to write novels for some of your other
I'm talking to Games Workshop about Slaine. Maybe others will
I wrote in the review of the novel that I thought you write
with your tongue in your cheek a lot more often than the fans give you credit
for... would I be right in thinking this?
Maybe. I think
some fans don't like anything that is remotely polemical, but easily digestible/disposable
entertainment ain't my style and wasn't my aim when I created 2000AD. Given the
world we live in, I don't apologise for being polemical. Many "ordinary"
readers like it and it's them I prefer to write for. If hard comic core fans want
pure entertainment - well, they must look elsewhere.
Who are your
favourite comic creators?
by Olivier Ledroit
Ken Reid - who
created Jonah and lots of Odhams publisher characters. Joe Colquohoun artist creator
on Charley's War.
and all my other artist creator colleagues.
Abroad - Bilal.
What are your
tips for us to look out for in the future?
I work a lot for
France - as well as for 2000AD. So that's Requiem - Vampire Knight. Claudia -
What’s the next thing we can expect to see from you?
The next Slaine.
Thanks to Pal
Mills for the interview. You can catch the latest ABC Warriors series in this