Pat Mills Comments


I have set out below an excerpt from Neil Emery's fascinating interview with creator and all-round comics legend Pat Mills on the subject of 'Charley's War'. The part dealt with here has some interesting comments on our old friend 'Johnny Red' and more on 'Battle' in general..

NE - Neil Emery
PM - Pat Mills

NE : I look on you and Joe Colquhoun's work on 'Charley's War' as a sort of Lennon/Mcartney of the comic world !! - two geniuses working on the same team.
Did you pick Joe specifically for 'Charley's War' or was it a happy accident? Because he was working on 'Johnny Red' at the time wasn't he?

PM : You are very kind, but yes - if you get the right team anything is possible.
Alas, all too often, I've been stuck with artists who are nowhere near as talented as Joe. The credit must go to Dave Hunt the editor. 'Johnny Red' was fantastic - a lesser editor would have kept Joe on that story. What impressed me about 'Johnny Red' was the incredible scenes of the Russians as heroes. It was a tribute to their astonishing courage and suffering at Stalingrad and Leningrad. Those graphic pictures were so moving - so bloody moving.

Frankly, I didn't care for 'Johnny Red' himself - a Brit leading the Russians felt a little patronising for my taste - although it was probably the only way a comic story could have featured Russian communists as heroes. Full marks to writer Tom Tully and Joe for doing the story. Joe deserves equal recognition for his truly fantastic work on Johnny Red. I would love to see Joe's 'Johnny Red'' episodes collected as I'm sure Charley's War will be in the future.

Anyway, I'd just finished creating 2000AD and I wanted to do something new and special. After the success of German stories such as 'Hellman Of Hammer Force', I wanted to try something even more challenging - and so I wrote a story about a Japanese war hero ... 'Samurai' , with artist Cruez. The publisher was even more nervous this time, but reluctantly agreed. (He was quite reasonably afraid that the Burma Road veterans would complain). Frankly, I didn't get Samurai right. I couldn't get inside the Asiatic mindset and there simply wasn't the research material available. The story was popular enough, but Dave Hunt felt I could come up with something better and create a new number one story. He knew World War One would appeal to me because it was the riskiest subject of all time because it's static and non visual . To tempt me, he suggested Joe as the artist. . This tempting process was and is very common in comics. Thus Dave also tempted Carlos Ezquerra away from his creation 'Judge Dredd' to draw 'El Mestizo' for Battle.

Dave was damn good at this - sometimes , as in the case of Ezquerra, I was miffed that he'd lured away a 2000AD artist. There was a lot of fairly friendly rivalry going on ! Anyway, I jumped at the chance of working with Joe! I was so impressed that Dave would take Joe off a highly popular story - 'Johnny Red' - and put him on such a risky venture. Joe liked the idea and so we were in business. At some point you might want to get Dave's view on all this, although I have no idea where he is these days.

Don't worry 'Battle' fans ! There's an all-new interview with Dave Hunt here!

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