Pat Mills (b. 1949) started his career with DC Thomson as a sub-editor on romantic magazine Romeo, where he met chief sub-editor John Wagner. In 1971 both left to go freelance, writing scripts and sub-editing for IPC's girls' and humour comics. Mills worked as a sub-editor for Tammy under editor Gerry Finley-Day, and was involved in the launch of Jinty in 1974.
After DC Thomson launched Warlord, a successful war-themed weekly, in 1974, Mills was asked to develop a rival title for IPC. Based in the girls' comics department to avoid the attention of the staff of the boys' department, Mills, along with Wagner and Gerry Finley-Day, worked in secret to create Battle Picture Weekly, launched in 1975. Battle's stories were more violent and its characters more working class than IPC's traditional fare, and it was an immediate hit. Having made the comic ready for launch, Mills resigned as editor. He would later write the celebrated First World War series "Charley's War", drawn by Joe Colquhoun, for the title.
After launching Battle, Mills began developing a new boys' title, Action, launched in 1976. Action's mix of violence and anti-authoritarianism proved controversial and the title lasted less than two years before being withdrawn in the face of media protests. It was briefly revived in neutered form before being merged into Battle.
His next creation was the science fiction-themed weekly 2000 AD, launched in 1977. As with Battle and Action he developed most of the early series before handing them over to other writers. He took over the development of "Judge Dredd" when creator John Wagner temporarily walked out, and wrote many of the early stories, establishing the character and his world, before Wagner returned. He and Wagner also collaborated on scripts for Doctor Who Weekly in the late 70s, most of them drawn by Dave Gibbons.
He continued to work in girls' comics, writing "Land of No Tears" (1977-78), "The Human Zoo" (1978-79) and "Worlds Apart" (1981) for Jinty. IPC asked him to create a girls' counterpart to 2000 AD in 1978, but he declined when no offer of a share in the profits was forthcoming. The new title, Misty, was developed by others, but Mills was involved as an associate editor and wrote several stories, including "Moonchild", drawn by John Armstrong.
In 1978 IPC launched Starlord, a short-lived companion title for 2000 AD. Mills, who was not involved as an editor, contributed "Ro-Busters", a series about a robot disaster squad, which moved to 2000 AD when Starlord was cancelled. "Ro-Busters" was the beginning of a mini-universe of interrelated stories Mills was to create for 2000 AD, including "ABC Warriors" and "Nemesis the Warlock". Artist Kevin O'Neill was involved in the creation of all three. "Nemesis" in particular, featuring a morally ambiguous alien hero fighting a despotic human empire, allowed Mills to work out his feelings towards religion and imperialism. Another strand of his 2000 AD work was "Sláine", a barbarian fantasy based on Celtic mythology and neo-paganism, which he co-created with his then wife Angela Kincaid (with whom he also created a series of children's books, The Butterfly Children). His involvement with the title continues to this day, writing the continuing "Sláine" and "ABC Warriors", as well as "Savage", a revival of a very early 2000 AD strip set in Russian-occupied Britain, and "Defoe", a 17th-century zombie hunter.
In 1986 he edited and wrote most of the role-playing comic Dice Man, which featured characters from 2000 AD and lasted five issues. This led to You Are Maggie Thatcher ("a dole-playing game") with artist Hunt Emerson, published by Titan Books in 1987. He was involved in the launch of Crisis, a politically aware 2000 AD spin-off aimed at older readers, in 1988. For it he wrote Third World War, drawn initially by Carlos Ezquerra, a polemical critique of global capitalism and the ways it exploits the developing world. The title lasted until 1991 and launched the careers of talents such as Garth Ennis, John Smith and Sean Phillips.
In 1991 Mills launched Toxic!, an independent colour newsstand weekly comic with a violent, anarchic tone, perhaps as a reaction against the politically worthy Crisis, and a creator-owned ideal. The lead strip was Mills and O'Neill's "Marshall Law", a violent superhero satire which had previously been published by Marvel Comics' Epic imprint in the USA. Many other stories were created by Mills and co-writer Tony Skinner, including "Accident Man", an assassin who makes his hits look like accidents. Toxic! lasted less than a year, but gave a start to talents such as Duke Mighten and Martin Emond.
In 1995 he broke in the Franco-Belgian market with Sha, created with French artist Olivier Ledroit. This led to Requiem Chevalier Vampire with the same artist, and its spin-off, Claudia Chevalier Vampire, with artist Franck Tacito.
References[edit | edit source]
- Jenni Scott, Interview with Pat Mills at Caption, 2004