Tag Archives: 2000ad

10 Questions: with Pat Mills

5 Apr

10 Questions is a feature in which I look at the most influential writers in comics and ask them 10 questions.

Pat Mills

If you want to know where the edge in modern comic books comes from, whether that be the inception of DC’s 80’s Vertigo line, the Image creator evolution of the 90’s, right on up to the Indie Artist ripe market-place, vying for a spot amongst the giants in modernity, then perhaps turn your head back to the late 70’s and the birth of 2000AD.

2000 AD Creator Pat Mills wanted to write working class comic books that shook the establishment and reached out to an angry youth with a subversive message that spoke to them through sci-fantasy. He succeeded with a revolution in British comic book storytelling that’s been oft imitated but never replicated.

Pat is writer of multi-award winning Charley’s War, Nemesis the Warlock, The ABC Warriors, Ro-Busters, Slaine, DeFoe, Marshal Law, Third World War, Requiem Vampire Knight and more.




Below are Pat Mill’s 10 Questions

  1. 2000 AD kicked the doors open for a disenfranchised generation tired of ‘safe’ comic books with off-beat, accessible characters in dystopian fantasizes. In today’s politically correct, heavily surveilled, hyper-propagandized and commercially charged atmosphere do you feel your story commentary has become prophetic?

I value your comment about a disenfranchised generation. You’re right. That’s what they were. I think changing that was very important to me. Probably because my personal experience of authority in all its forms was quite negative. So it struck that chord with the readers and I’m so happy that it did.

Today, there’s a new form of disenfranchise in the way you’ve described. It’s sad. I guess there was an element of prophecy. I only wish we could hit the establishment harder today, but many 2000AD readers might say we were being polemic, preachy, David Icke, whatever. So I personally have to be a little subversive in what I say. But not too much! But that’s okay – I’ve a lot of experience at subversion going back to the very first stories I wrote (for girls comics) which criticized the British occupation in N. Ireland by describing their torture techniques (sound weapons etc)

  1. Your characters are famously anti-establishment everymen. Where do these politics come from in your own life?

How long have we got?!! …Well, for a start – the Catholic Church influenced me – it is very establishment and corrupt. My personal experience of it is that it’s actually more sinister than anything you hear about in the media. It’s more masonic for example. Hence Jimmy Savile was a Knight of Malta and his coffin was surrounded by Knights of Saint Columba. What does that mean? Why doesn’t anyone bother to ask?

Other areas of Savile’s life have been investigated but not his links to the Catholic Church (or royalty). So my encountering two masonic organizations as a kid (one Catholic, one Gnostic) have a lot to do with my anti-establishment perspective.

The town I grew up in was one where everyone in power knew everyone else whether they were masons or something else. And they used their power in negative ways. I guess I’m still getting even with them! It made me suspicious of the establishment in all its forms.

So take Mother Theresa, shortly to be made a saint. If you google Sturn magazine’s article on her and “the mission millions” you’ll discover she’s a complete fraud. As a kid, I witnessed nuns being similarly fraudulent, lying and hiding the truth.

  1. If you could become any one of your characters for the day, who would it be. Why?

Marshal Law because he attacks super heroes who are pillars of the establishment. How many good arms dealers or tycoons do you know in real life? I’m not aware of any.

  1. Barring the obvious need to create, what fuels you as a writer to tell the stories you tell?

A kind of catharsis. E.g. Exploring Slaine’s childhood in latest story allowed me to explore my own psychology. And a form of veneration of my heroes. Defoe is a Leveller – they were great men who schools deliberately do not teach kids about because they stood for freedom. If the Levellers had won it wouldn’t be Charles 1 alone on the scaffold. They’d have got rid of all privilege. And there’d be no Charles 111. How our country allows an idiot with a disturbing, troubled and suspicious private life to take the throne of Britain is beyond me.

  1. You’re a vocal advocate of online comics. With Independent creators seemingly in a stronger position now than they’ve ever been, do you think the advent of ‘technology for everyone’ threatens the U.S. big 2’s comic book hegemony?

I’d like to think so! There are some buts tho, which most creators don’t take any notice of

  1. a) Write for an audience – not just for yourself.
  2. b) You’ve got to understand the techno side – you can’t upload and hope for the best.
  3. c) You’ve got to be good at marketing – and most creators aren’t. They think it’s enough to be “good”. It’s not.
  4. With the exception of solid entertainment, what message do you try to convey to the reader in your work?

Challenge society, change society, widen perspectives outside the mental straitjacket the media would put us in. E.G. By acknowledging Britain was probably one of the most evil Empires the world has ever known (and it’s still pretty dirty when you look at Iraq and Syria,) it sets us free. It’s not self-flagellation, it’s actually taking pride in the true Britain of characters like Defoe and the Levellers, soldiers like Charley in Charley’s War, wild Celts like Slaine and so on.

  1. Who are your own biggest influences as a writer?

John Pilger. Wilkie Collins – Moonstone. Susan George – A Fate Worse Than Debt. Thomas M. Disch – the Priest. E.D.Morel (politician against WW1). John S. Clarke (pacifist) Graham Greene. Robert Mckee – author of Story. Joseph Heller – Catch 22. P.G. Wodehouse – Jeeves. Samuel Butler – Erewhon. Richmal Crompton – William books. Dennis Wheatley. Rider Haggard. Giovanni Guareschi – Don Camillo. Ronald Searle and Geoffrey Williams – Molesworth. Searle’s cartoons – Saint Trinians. Emil Ludwig – Life of Bismarck. Stephen Leacock who wrote surreal short comedy stories. My favorite was The Great Detective which took the piss out of the Establishment. I read it when I was 8 or 9 So it’s probably all his fault!

  1. You formed Repeat Offenders with the aim of developing concepts for the big screen. Given the task of casting one of your characters – who would it be and who would play them?

American Reaper has a very powerful detective cop. Michael Fassbender or Gerard Butler are names that come to mind. I think the screenplay was sent to Gerard Butler but he said no. Actor Scott Adkins has optioned Accident Man cos he wants to star in it, so that’s one step closer to reality.

  1. You’re a keen user of historical characters in your fiction. If you could visit any moment in time and take a particular action; when would it be, what would it be and why would you do it?

Shoot Lord Milner.

He took over from Cecil Rhodes and created the conspiracy to draw Europe into a Great War. Sir Edward Grey was the front man – a master of bull-shit , the classic “English Gentleman” and also responsible for the mass murder of a generation – but shooting him wouldn’t do much good. But there is no doubt that Britain was secretly and not so secretly responsible for World War One.

Milner was the main man, so executing him might have prevented it. Just as executing Hitler might have stopped WW2. All this stuff about Gallant Little Belgium is crap. They don’t believe it in Belgium today – only in UK school books and in the works of establishment shills like Max Hastings. Belgium was in a secret military alliance with Britain and France. E. Morel exposed what Grey was up at to at the time . Morel is a man who also exposed the Congo atrocities.

He’s honoured for that work, but noted establishment military historians – like Gary Sheffield – just say “he was very wrong” where WW1 was concerned. Sheffield didn’t explain to me “why” when I had a twitter conversation with him about it. (I gave a lecture on this subject at Liverpool uni recently) Morel wasn’t alone, of course. Historians try to ignore him because he can’t be dismissed as a nut or a David Icke conspiracy theorist. Morel was a distinguished diplomat. A truly great man who needs remembering.

McGregor’s Hidden History covers the subject and is very readable. It’s also on-line. Lord Milner’s Second War is a bit dry but also does the job, plus the pamphlets of Morel are available on line. If Milner had been assassinated, in 1912, it could have just stopped Armageddon and opportunist characters like Churchill and Lloyd George might never have come to power with the terrible consequences for the people of 1914 – 1918 and beyond. With some areas of history, I’m still a student, but I’ve been studying WW1 since I was a kid and there is no doubt Britain was responsible.

Not something you’re likely to read about in school books or the mainstream media where Max Hastings and Paxman reign supreme, alas. As you can see, I feel strongly about this because we owe it to our ancestors that the truth gets out there. Not the ‘noble sacrifice’ bullshit of Cameron and co. The WW1 generation of young soldiers were murdered by the British establishment in conjunction with other forces, notably the bankers and merchants of death.

  1. What are you currently working on and want the world to know about? Pimp it hard:

Defoe – but it’s at an early stage. I’m still mulling over the plot. I want to carry on the London Hanged in a sequel (with new artist – tbc) called Diehards. Diehards was the name given to men who sneered at death when they were hung at Tyburn.

The intention of the Rich was to terrify the poor into submission and that was the real function of Tyburn. (Just like harsh prison sentences today.) So Diehards were a threat to them. They made a mockery of the terror of public executions. Now the Diehards are back as Zombies and they intend to continue eating the Rich! I think we can all identify with them! A dilemma for Reek Hunter Defoe because he hates Zombies, but he hates the Rich, too. So what’s he going to do?




It’s Safe Here

18 Nov

The weekend past I attended the Thought Bubble Comics convention in Leeds, like many hopefuls, to pitch my ‘Future Shocks’ idea to a panel of writers and editors for 2000AD (the Galaxy’s greatest mag.)

In advance I’d read a book on pitching; Selling your story in 60 Seconds by Michael Hauge. It’s a great book, but as it turns out it’s more applicable to pitching Hollywood than a panel of British writers. This is very relevant since I was pitching a panel of British writers.

When I was picked from the audience, I climbed onto the stage, heart hammering like an Ibiza base box and delivered my memorized shot at immortality with all the faux confidence and gusto I could muster. I was quickly picked apart by a blunt critiquing in the aftermath. It was gutting, I cannot lie.

This, I have come to realize, was an entirely necessary experience in defining a story to a group of people who are experts in story-telling. They don’t want the razzle dazzle necessary to spark an agents imagination. They simply want a blow by blow definition of a character arc overshadowed with the broader story themes. They are master craftsmen, so it only makes sense.

One helpful panelist told me she struggled to fathom how my big ideas would fit into four pages. This was particularly needling since I had already written the story (below) and felt they had fit. I hadn’t told her how though. Most importantly.

Thus my lesson in narrowing the broad strokes was learned. It was a jolt of humility and I’m happy of it. It set the parameters for how to proceed next time I’m in a similar situation, where I have to deliver the proverbial story goods. Especially in the world of publishing.

I’d like to further thank Mike Molcher for chatting with me outside and Rob Williams (who’s Unfollow has recently been Green-lit for a TV adaptation,) for taking the time to give me further encouragement on Twitter. A genuinely lovely pair of guys.

Below is the story, that given a clearer shout sheet, hopefully conveys the particulars better. I plan to submit it to 2000AD as soon as I get my next script back. I’m hopeful, as always.

If you’ve taken the time to read this far, plan to read further, I am as ever grateful. I’d be delighted to hear any feedback you have to offer.

Best – your pal Mark



Alien Invasion

It’s safe here

Life is good in the feed: a fusion of nature and technology that has saved humanity following the resource wars of the 21st century. Blimps line the skyline with digital reminders. When Nathan Potts witnesses a woman torn from reality by a terrifying creature, uttering the phrase, ‘Wheat camme 2 latte,’ he realises the hope he’s grown up with is an illusion. He rushes to tell his parents. They don’t believe him and he’s told to relax; life is safe here in the feed.

The next day the news feed remembers the victims of the resource wars of the 21st century. Wars that ravaged until the allies won victory and salvation came in Henry Falk’s invention: the Feed. A fusion of man, nature and technology. The broadcast is interrupted by reports of disappearances. Of strange creatures uttering phrases no one can understand. Nathan’s parents believe him now.

People start disappearing en masse. Nathan’s friends. His parents. The message Karl Sagan sent 100 years ago has been heard. But by who? By what? Where are the invaders coming from. Nathan’s life in the feed, the safety he’s been promised has all been a lie. A comfortable lie he grew up believing, because hope is the human condition. To give up is to die. The creatures come for Nathan and he laments; no one died in the feed. The creatures say; Ah, soo sayhd. Wuhye came 2 latte.

In a tunnel filled with hive-like machinery, VR FEED Machines filled with fossilised corpses, the creatures remove Nathan’s small, ossified corpse. “So sad, we came too late,” they say. Humanity is long dead, the creatures have discovered. Her last refugees plugged into the Feed to avoid the reality; starvation, on a world toxified by war and resource pillaging. We died a century ago and the aliens came, having heard Sagan’s message. Even now they float to our ruined earth in their saucers.

“So sad,” they say, “we came to late.”


Mark McCann

24 Deramore Avenue
Ormeau Road
Belfast, BT7 3ER


P1 Int: A possible future: Nathan Potts (black Male, 12 years old, inquisitive,) lies sleeping in his bed, just below his bedroom window. The window view opens out into the street beyond. A woman is walking her dog along the streamlined 22nd century cul de sac where Nathan lives. She is caught in a floating orb street light’s glare. There is no moon overhead, just endless black and a blimp that displays a neon sign: Safe Now.

In the 22nd century life is fine. All is good in the feed. We have this concept of what our life is here. It’s safe. Hopeful.

P 2 Int: Same scene – the difference is a huge otherworldly being digitally intruding on reality behind the woman walking her dog. It is huge, multi-armed and has an aquiline, yet beastly appearance. Its arms are cast out to take the woman, her expression is of shock. Nathan’s one eye opens as he hears the shriek. The blimp sign reads: Don’t let worry get you down.

They say it’s always been like that. That the human condition is one of hope. It’s like a survival mechanism. If we give up hope, we die. So instead we hope we’ll survive. Everyone tells you that when you grow up. In the feed.

P 3 Int: Same scene – the woman is wrenched away in a digitally gruesome expiry, as the being puts an inquisitive talon hand through her. Nathan has turned to stare out the window just in time to see this. The blimp sign reads: Life is fine in the feed.

But it’s not true. It’s false hope. Sometimes you can’t control when you’re going to die. But still, you tell yourself you’re always going to survive. Until maybe you don’t.

P 4 Int: Nathan from the rear – standing in his living room doorway – his parents sat in front of the massive view screen in their living room on their sofa – Dad watching TV – Mum reading a book – both looking up as Nathan intrudes on them.

But hope is infectious. It’s like a religion. When you’ve always believed it …

P5 Int: Nathan’s parents stand at his door. They have soothing looks of pleasant disbelief on their faces. Nathan is huddled in bed before them, dejected and afraid.

… It’s hard to let that belief go.
Son, you need to get some sleep. You’re imagination’s running away from you.
No more horror for you young man. And remember. Life is fine. We’re all okay. Its’ good in the feed.

P1 Ext: a picture of terrified children running towards the reader as a tsunami of pollution roars towards them.

After the war we lived sanitized lives. It was the feed that saved us.
And today we celebrate a hundred years since the end of the environmental crisis and the resource wars that followed.

P2 Int: panning out to reveal a massive view screen showing: Chinese Hover tanks flying towards a ravaged Washington.

We live in harmony with nature and technology. Through the feed. It’s a better life than what we used to have.
We remember the victims today in what would be known as the global resource conflict. Where the UK and Europe along with China battled the US/Israeli Empire to a standstill, eventually overthrowing the military giants and ushering in an environmentally viable era of peace.

P3 Int: Panning out further – Nathan’s living room – his parents watching the massive wall sized view screen on their sofa from the rear. The view screen shows US Storm-troopers opening fire in heavy black armor and gas masks – US Flags emblazoned on their chest pieces.

We’re not used to being afraid anymore. Survival seems normal in the feed. Inevitable.
Thanks to Henry Falk’s universal techno-singularity ‘the feed’. A vision that allowed us to put our past conflicts behind us and move into a new, sustainable technological age. One where humanity, nature and tech live in unison.

P4 Int: Pan out further – Nathan from the rear is now visible in the living room – his back to the reader – everyone caught in the glare of the view screen. The screen now shows an image of the creature Nathan has already encountered.

Nobody dies anymore.
BREAKING: Multiple disappearances and now amateur sightings and reports of mysterious creatures that seem to be from a different reality than ours. Witness report’s say they seem to be trying to communicate and experts are questioning …

P5 Int: Same panel – Nathan’s parents heads both turned to look at their son who stands quietly in the doorway – the view screen shows a close up of one of the beings. It looks fierce.

Until they do.
… Are these disappearances linked? And if so, are we looking at alien life, the kind Karl Sagan tried to contact over a century ago? But eminent physicist Stephen Hawking prophesized would come as invaders and colonizers. Not friends.

P 1 Ext: Nathan, an air-pad emanating from the palm of his hand watches the news of ‘INVADERS?’, head turned in shock to view two children being wrenched away through a digital portal by two more giant beings behind him.

In the 20th century we used to talk about Aliens. We sent messages to the stars.

P2 Int: Nathan and his parents stand in the living room watching the view screen, worried looks on their faces. More people snatching is being reported with images of more creatures.

When invaders came it wasn’t from the stars. It was from somewhere else. Somewhere outside of that. Another dimension maybe. Our lives, the feed wasn’t safe anymore.
Caution has been advised. A public warning has been issued to stay indoors. Experts are trying to decipher what the creatures are trying to communicate …
I’ve never seen anything like this. Not since Henry Falk invented the feed. I thought this was all in the past …

P3 Int: Nathan from the front, staring on, as his mother and father are tugged screaming, into nothingness by two creatures appearing behind them.

We weren’t safe anymore. We were being taken by these invaders to somewhere. Somewhere no one knew.
SOOCH En shahm

P4 Int: Nathan doubled over on his knees, traumatized and eyes full of tears.

That message we had sent out so long ago had finally been heard.
Oh, no. No. Why did you take them? Why! Why are you doing this?

P5 Int: Nathan turns to see a creature reaching through the void to take him.

We thought we were safe. Safe from any threats. Life was good in the feed. No one died in the feed. Until …
Soh sahyad. We Camme 2 …

P1 Int: Inside a massive storage facility – strip lit and full of dust and death – the almost fossilized remains of a child are being extracted from a VR unit by two large aliens, while other aliens cart away corpses on hover carts in the background. The child is Nathan. He is one amongst millions of units holding mummified humans that layer the inside of the facility, hive-like.

… Too late. Yes, it’s so sad.
How long do you think they’ve been plugged in like this?

P2 Int: One creature turns to the other and points at the ancient innards of the store-house behind – the VR units are hooked into an expansive line of similar and seem to go on forever in strip lit tunnels.

To the feed? I don’t know. A century maybe. They’ve been dead that long at least. It took us that long to get here. After hearing their message. It seems in the meantime they destroyed themselves.
And these people are what, the last remnants?
Refugees. Living on as avatars in the feed.

P3 Ext: Outside of the facility – a rectangular shelter in the remnants of a nuclear wasteland – a ruined cityscape hanging in the background – the creature’s saucer ship hanging over the facility. The world is burnt red shell. A dead planet.

It seems they used all of their worlds resources then fought over the scraps. They used nuclear technology on each other. Poisoned the planet and got stuck here. They never developed faster than light travel.
So instead of starving they plugged themselves in?

P4 Ext: the earth from afar, saucer ships approaching.

Yes. They died hopeful. Living on as ghosts in the feed. Preserving their dream. Time to put them to rest now.
Such a shame we came too late.