ABC Warriors: Mek Files 01 Pat Mills Interview
The ABC Warriors, from the scrap-heaps of Earth to the war-torn plains of Mars, they are the legendary 2000 AD’s disaster squad of distinction!
Being released on the 8th May, The Mek Files 01 collects the material from the unavailable Mek-nificent 7 and Black Hole volumes, along with additional material. Starting from the series’ very beginning, these stories are presented in a stunning hardback volume at the same over-size format as the they were first printed. It also includes, for the first time, the original colour centre spreads - lovingly restored and brought back to their full glory. I haven't finished reading though the pre-release yet as it's huge, but everything so far has been great.
2000 AD describe the ABC Warriors best and I've had a chance to speak with Pat Mills about them and this fantastic collection.
Built to resist Atomic, Bacterial, and Chemical warfare, the Warriors are a mis- matched band of battle-hardened robots that go from battling the Volgan invasion of Europe in our near-future to battling on the surface of Mars. Centuries later, they aid alien freedom fighter Nemesis the Warlock in a bid to prevent the collapse of the huge black hole that acts as a transport gateway for a future Earth, now called Termight.
With veteran kill-bot Hammerstein, foul-mouthed sewer droid Ro-Jaws, cool sharpshooter Joe Pineapples, backstabbing sociopath Blackblood, monosyllabic Mongrol, homicidal Mek-Quake, and many more, their galaxy is one filled with violent, thrilling, touching, funny, and insanely imaginative adventures written by 2000 AD’s creator Pat Mills (Marshal Law).
CBN: The Mek Files 01 contains all the work from "The Meknificent Seven" and "The Black Hole" books - The ABC Warriors from the beginning. Is there anything in there that fans wouldn't have seen before?
PM: The ABC Warriors with the original colour spreads. They were amazing, quite revolutionary at the time and even now, hard to beat: Hammerstein in blue by McMahon, for example. And Kevin’s opening Deadlock spread. He used a colour system there that I don’t think he’s ever used since, even on Marshal Law. I love it.
And the paper and size is excellent, making this a really impressive edition.
CBN: How did you come up with some of the early character designs? Or do you leave that up to the artist’s interpretation?
PM: No, I would often write voluminous notes and send six inch high piles of references which was how I created most of my stories and characters, but would occasionally come across passive resistance from editorial who thought it unnecessary or even rather sacrilegious when I’d tear off the covers of SF paperbacks to give an artist an idea of what I had in mind. Primarily because they had no idea how 2000AD was created. I think they thought it just magically appeared or something. But sending out lots of references was how I got the results I was after. This was so important to me that – in those pre Google images days – I’d insist editorial send me copies of Sturn and similar Euro mags which were lying around the office. They’d grudgingly oblige. There was a lot of inspiration there. At the same time I subscribed to National Geo. Thus Tweak (Cursed Earth) comes from a Tamandua ant eater in the Geo.
The ones I recall sending references on with ABCs:
Deadlock: Lots of knights in armour helmet refs.
Blackblood: A lot of Giger refs.
Mongrol: Can’t recall the exact references here, general machinery I think, and bits of robots, but I remember writing long notes, talking about King Kong, Incredible Hulk etc.
Mongrol was superbly designed. My editorial successor saw it and said, “What is that?” He wasn’t impressed, but everyone else was.
CBN: How do you come up with the names for them? I still love Joe Pineapples as a name. Great name for a robot.
PM: Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein from Rodgers and Hammerstein the musical writers. I wanted a name for a duo. It needs to flow. Thus other names by other writers and artists following this principle are: Ranx Xerox and Black and Decker.
Joe Pineapples. A standard technique in comic creating is to call a hero by a common first name and then add a strange second name. The same almost applies to female characters. Something innocent and follow it up with an ordinary second name. So I knew of Modesty Blaise… hence Purity Brown in Nemesis. Possibly Halo Jones was arrived at with this principle.
Mongrol : He’s a mongrel machine.
Blackblood: The oil inspired his name.
Deadlock: I believe he was originally called Dethlock and Kevin or Nick rightly changed it to Deadlock because of Deathlock the Demolisher.
CBN: Do you have a particular favourite ABC Warrior?
PM: Difficult! It varies, but ultimately it has to be Hammerstein. He’s the ultimate good guy robot. And he looks fantastic!
CBN: Are there any ABC Warriors that you killed off that you would bring back? Any existing ones that you could see killing off?
PM: I think the line up is right now. You’ll see it’s all the originals. Blackblood had to join the bad guys, but otherwise it’s the original team plus Zippo. Mek-Quake is now back with Quartz.
I don’t think the readers or editorial would let me kill anyone off now! And they’d be right. But they can still run into a lot of trouble!
CBN: Absolutely love Clint Langley's work. Will he be doing any more work on the ABC Warriors?
PM: He will be working shortly on ABC WARRIORS RETURN TO RO-BUSTERS which covers the Ro-Busters aspect of the characters. Ro-Busters was rather under-developed because I couldn’t get a regular artist and I wasn’t keen on Pino’s work after episode one which I felt was a little young. So this is a chance to give Ro-Busters the more sophisticated treatment it always deserved.
Clint gave the ABCs that extra visual something with the Volgan Wars. Some of his spreads were mind-blowing!
CBN: What can we expect from the ABC Warriors in the future?
PM: Then it’s back to Mars for the big showdown with everyone!
CBN: Any change that we might see a film sometime? Like a 2000 AD film universe like Marvel and DC Comics have gone for.
PM: There’s no sign of it, alas. I guess it has to happen ONE day. To my certain knowledge, well known film producers – and directors - all seem to like the ABCs but never actually sign on the dotted line. Instead we get films like Pacific Rim. But ABCs have more ‘heart’ than anything else around; I guess that’s something only regular readers would realize, so Hollywood types think the same results can be achieved by creating new robots of the same ilk or in the same genre. Haven’t seen it work thus far.