Memorabilia Magazine - Pat Mills Interview
The September '02 issue of 'Memorabilia' Magazine had a four page colour article on 'Battle' and 'Action'.It included a short interview with creator Pat Mills, which I have reproduced (without permission - sorry!) below.
MEM - Memorabilia Magazine
PM - Pat Mills
If there's one man responsible for
creating some of the most memorable
characters in recent British comics
history, it's Pat Mills. He co-created Battle
and was the genius/madman behind the
controversial Action! and the title it
spawned - 2000AD. Other memorable
credits include Marshall Law (with long-
time collaborator, artist Kevin O'Neill) and
a variety of US comics, such as DC
Comics' Batman: Book of Shadows.
What was the British
comics industry like to work in?
PM : Full of fuck-wits. It's
improved a little over the years, but in a
sense, these days, it's become more
colourless - at least people then were
pretty wacky and eccentric and drunk!
These days when I've entered a couple
of editorial studios it's like a morgue! But
the fuck-wits are still around, only
they've become better at hiding their
incompetence. Back in those days you
could spot them at a thousand paces -
usually by their pipe smoke and sports
jackets. There were lots of them.
Having come from a non-comic
background, sent in to stir the industry
up with some new titles and new
thinking, and being given a free hand to
achieve it, you could imagine how well I
got on with them. I realised that if I was
going to produce something worthwhile,
I'd have to start from scratch without
MEM: What can you tell us about the
interference you had with later parts
of your anti-war story for Battle,
PM: Not much on the censorship front.
I can recall two examples. If you mean
the fact another writer took over Charley's
War, I accepted this because Joe
Colquhoun, the artist, wanted to carry on
to retirement and I thought the world of
him. Alas, the new writer pretty well killed
Charley's War stone dead. It lasted a
matter of months after I left it.
MEM: What was the reaction to
Charley's War at the time?
PM: Very popular. No problems. Being
World War One, no one in charge paid
MEM: Is there any chance it will be
MEM: What do you think made the
comics you created such a success - and
as sought after as Action! and Battle are
with their fans today?
PM: It seems very likely. We're gathering
requests [via the Charley's War web site here
from readers to
pass on to Titan [who previously
published it in two graphic albums]. The
more we get, the more likely they will
PM: Because I aimed them at the ordinary
reader. Not comic aficionados. Both [Battle and
Action!] were very street level. Both were
subversive in one way or another; Action!
particularly so. And on both, we sweated
MEM: Why do you think the British comics
market has changed so dramatically since
then? Why are there no longer any original
'boys comics' (except for 2000AD)?
PM: Because all the talent is going
elsewhere, to the US in most Brit writers and
artists' cases, to France, in my case. You
could say it's the weekly format being out of
date, but The Beano is still there, so I feel
that's an excuse. Imagine a Brit weekly comic
filled with top writers and artists - I think it
would succeed, and 2000AD's ongoing
success also bears this out.
MEM: If you collect comics at all, what do
you chase down at comics festivals?
PM: I don't collect, but if I did, it would have to
be Ken Reid. Especially his Jonah and Frankie Stein.
The man was a genius. His satirical black humour
pre-dated Monty Python and seems to have
working class roots, rather than university origins.
Yet it is as funny and warped as any of them.
MEM: What are you working on now?
I still wish I'd been able to run his story in
2000AD about a nuclear survivor who is so hideous
he tries to kill himself every week. But the pipe-
smokers won on that occasion and stopped me.
PM: 'Requiem-Vampire Knight' and two other
ongoing bandes dessines for France. The
French market is extremely important to me -
good deals, good format, good sales and
plenty of respect for creators.
Main 'BATTLE' Page