Patt Mills (1949) is a British editor and writer of comics (as well as a prolific blogger), mostly known for creating 2000 AD, Toxic!, and helping to develop “Judge Dredd.” Mills often writes comics with a focus on anti-authoritarianism, counter-culture and the subversive. He has also identifiedthe influence of early comics as challenging authority, and continues to embrace similar themes in his writing. In addition to his notable works in Europe, he has also written for many American comics, such as Marvel’s “Spider-Man 2099.”

Mills started his early comics career with DC Thomson, but left after meeting John Wagner (1949). After some freelance work, Mills and Wagner found work at IPC writing for girls’ comics. In 1975 they(along with Gerry Finley-Day) created Battle Picture Weekly, an action comic featuringsoldiers encountering violent battles set mostly during World War II. The first issue launched 8 March 1975 and ran until 23 January 1988 when it was absorbed by Eagle. Mills resigned as editor early on in the publication, but still contributed “Charley’s War” to the title from 1979 to 1985.

In 1975, IPC asked Mills to develop a science-fiction comic, which would later become 2000 AD. Together with Wagner, Mills created a plethora of characters and stories that were widely successful due in part to their action-oriented nature, as opposed to competitors’ more ridiculous and outrageous stories. Though some speculated that 2000 AD would not do well, Mills was confident that what the creative team did would be different and successful.The first issue of 2000 AD was published 26 February 1977 and it is still ongoing. Early issues featured a newly revived version of “Dan Dare” which was written by Pat Mills and Ken Armstrong.

One of the characters that was developed for 2000 AD was the iconic “Judge Dredd” which came from the creative minds of Mills and Wagner. The character was so successful, he received his own publication, Judge Dredd: the Megazine which was launched in 1990. Two movies: Judge Dredd (1995) and Dredd (2012) were also released along with a plethora of video games and other merchandise.

While the subject matter of most of Mills’ comics tend to focus on challenging authority, he has also identified the particular usefulness of comics themselves as the medium of this message:

If you think back to the very first episode of the Bash Street Kids in 1953, Leo Baxendale had his characters hijack a tank and take over a police station. There’s that great cliche of teachers confiscating comic books from children, and it’s true, because teachers identified comics – rightly, in my opinion – as a source of challenge to their authority (Mills, 2010).

Mills remains active in the comic and science-fiction community, and has created and worked on many titles including: “Accident Man,” “Sha,” “American Reaper,” and has even written several audio dramas for “Doctor Who.”

— Michael Baker

Further Reading

  • Mills, Patt, interview by Eion Butler. “’Comic Books Should Strive Always to be Subversive'” The Irish Times(July 31, 2010).
  • Mills, Pat. Millsverse. July 31,2010. http://www.millsverse.com/.