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Ask Warren Ellis 152

Warren Ellis has agreed to be our next victim for a Slashdot Interview. Probably best known as the creator of the awesome comic Transmetropolitan. If there is a required reading list for Slashdot, Transmet has to be at the top. His recently released Mek series was the first comic I've ever read to actually mention the EFF. His Global Frequency book makes for great reading as well- #7 is out next week. Warren's work contains great dialog, observations on humanity, and is quite frankly just great SciFi. Besides comics, you can read his blog at Die Puny Humans and his weekly graphic novel evangelism column BRAINPOWERED. Standard Slashdot Interview Rules apply: Post questions here. We'll select from the highly moderated ones, and Warren will answer in a few days.
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Ask Warren Ellis

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I always thought it was more like...
    1. JRR Tolkien
    2. Bruce Sterling
    3. Kilgore Trout... :)
  • by Cyclops ( 1852 ) <rms@NOspAm.1407.org> on Monday April 21, 2003 @10:15AM (#5772976) Homepage
    Hello,

    I'm a huge Portuguese fan of yours, and I've bought many books without any other references other than having your name, up untill now without disappointments. To me you're on a place I reserve for great comic book writers. You're up there, right besides Gaiman, Moore, Morrison, etc... Your take on X-Counter was awesome (a pity nobody really stood up properly on your shoulders). It elevated the way the X-Books were going, and proved that it was worth investing in good writers (just look at the current portfolio with the exception of Austen ;)). However, most of I have written by you is in trade paperbacks of old collections.

    Enough flattery. If i can have the choice, I much rather buy the tradepaperback to get a "full" storyline without the stress of waiting for the next month. It's also a much better way to appreciate story, drawing and inking.

    SO, do you feel that the grwing trend from fans of prefering trade paperbacks (and Marvel seems to be grabbing a hold on that market too) is beneficial for you? If not, why? :)
  • Unknown Stars? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alwayslurking ( 555708 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ereissiob.nosaj)> on Monday April 21, 2003 @10:17AM (#5772986)

    Anyone who's continued obscurity baffles and confuses you? Writers or artists.

    How about the same question for success? No need for diplomacy, what gets said on Slashdot stays on Slashdot

    • what gets said on Slashdot stays on Slashdot

      Heehee! Yeah, it's just us guys. You can talk...
      <META HTTP-EQUIV="Cache-Control" CONTENT="Public">
      <META HTTP-EQUIV="expires" CONTENT="Sat, 26 Aug 2028 18:56:18 EST">
      <META NAME="GOOGLEBOT" CONTENT="ARCHIVE">
      ... I'm sorry, do go on! ;-)
  • Planetary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dionysus ( 12737 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @10:19AM (#5772995) Homepage
    Even though Planetary is a "Secret history of the Wildstorm Universe", you bring lots of elements from the history of Marvel and DC. Has the direction of Planetary change since your initial proposal?
  • My Question... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by redheaded_stepchild ( 629363 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @10:19AM (#5772999)
    If there is a required reading list for Slashdot, Transmet has to be at the top.
    Since I'll obviously have to read your works to continue reading /., what would be your pick for best series/book/compilation of your work to read for the first time? (Is it really 'Transmet'?)
    Also, do you feel that good artwork is as essential to a comic as a good story?
  • how to get the norms (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bernz ( 181095 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @10:20AM (#5773005) Homepage
    So I've been reading comics for years. A big part of my reading is graphic literature. I've brought many people into the fold from many many walks of life. It is hard to convince people that it's not comics they hate, just superheros (as you wonderfully point out in COME IN ALONE).

    Anyhow, I have generated a list that I use to get people into comics. The 5 or so graphic novels that I actually use to start people changes between people, but the rest of the list tends to remain the same. I have my list.

    But someone approaches you. They've just read Kavalier and Klay or maybe they've read about Maus or read Gaiman's successful book in transition from Stephen King. Or even better, they see you reading Alias on the train and wonder what a comic book is doing saying, "Fuck." Where do YOU, Warren Ellis, point them to?

    And don't say Watchmen, cause that's (fantastic) genre crud.

    • So what's the list? Gimme some leads!
      • I usually point the most uncomic oriented at Maus first, because it's not fantastical adolescent fantasies and it's well known and commented on and accepted. So Maus by Art Spiegelman.

        After that, I go to Bendis' Torso, because it's so very different, but still a "true crime" story that few know about but it's easy to get into. It also starts people thinking about layout and how comics work, because like Torso or not, the art is very striking. That's by Brian Bendis who now writes Powers, Daredevil, Spider-
        • imagine that 90% of all books that come out are romance novels about nurses. Occasionally there REALLY might be a great one in there, but at that point, who really wants to read about nurses?

          Lots of people. Just the same way that lots of people want to read superhero books. Almost exactly the same way, in fact. And as you say, there are plenty of excruciatingly fine superhero books which aren't just adolescent fantasies in spandex with the underwear on the outside. Powers. Planetary. And many others tha

      • Strangers In Paradise. I've not met anyone who could stop reading Strangers in Paradise once they started.
        • Strangers In Paradise. I've not met anyone who could stop reading Strangers in Paradise once they started.


          Now you have. Let me know when Terry Moore comes up with a new story; the cute pictures just don't do it for me anymore.

    • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs@nOspam.ajs.com> on Monday April 21, 2003 @12:01PM (#5773674) Homepage Journal
      And don't say Watchmen, cause that's (fantastic) genre crud.

      "genre crud"? I can agree with "genre", since of course everything either *has* a pigeon-hole or *makes* one. "crud"? Hmmm.... nope, I don't think so.

      So, what's "genre crud" to you? Did you dislike Watchmen because it had superheroes? Because it had... well, what it had at the end that I shouldn't spoil if folks haven't read it? When I hear "genre crud" it makes me think of something that sits comfortably within the lines defined by its genre, and Watchmen certainly did anything but! Granted, today it would be somewhat difficult to explain WHY that was the case, but that's because we have different expectations now.

      My feeling is that Watchmen, The Dark Knight ("DK2".... *shudder*), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sandman, Astro City, and many other titles between the mid 80s and the mid 90s helped comics readers to explore what it was that they wanted to get out of their superheroes, and each contributed to the genre significantly. Later works such as Top 10, The Authority, Planetary, Rising Stars and many others would never be mainstream (is Top Cow mainstream? Not sure) without the contributions of those books.

      That's not to say there isn't "genre crud". I look at the recent Green Arrow series, and I see a few brilliant ideas up-front that Kevin Smith always brings to the table (though honestly the first few pages felt a bit like Dogma with superheroes) and then a few issues later... it starts to get bogged down in the need to introduce a villain and a "someone could die" moment right before the end of the issue.

      Lucifer also started out with some interesting ideas and stalled. Granted, it made good reading for the first 15 or so issues, which is more than I can say for most sequels.

      Then there's the flagship books. Every now and then I pick up a Superman or an X-Men, and I'm reminded that superhero story telling isn't always about telling a coherent story... Sometimes it's just about setting up a big fight, angsting over some "relationship issues" and beating the bad guy to a pulp while reciting a "truth and justice shall prevail" littany.

      How such sorry, tired cruft could be compared to Watchmen, I'm seriously confused on.
      • I love watchmen. I just think that the average person doesn't want to read about superheros. If i'm starting someone out who says, "I don't like comics." Watchmen is the last thing I'd give them. It's an amazing superhero book. But it's a superhero book. When people say, "I don't like comics." they mean, "i don't like superheros." you're not going to turn them on by giving them a (really good) superhero book. My question for Warren was how do you get the people who don't like (or know) comics...
        • Ok, that makes sense. Thanks.

          In that case, it would depend on who they are. If they're young and male and not prone to being shocked by sexuality (and you're not worried about the implications of recommending such a book), I'd say start them off with XXXenophile. The sex usally gets them interested and the humor gets them interested in more ("that glow tells you it's working!") I use humor to indtoduce folks to SF (Hitchhikers, Men Who Killed Mohamed, etc.) and Fantasy (Discworld, Myth, etc.) all the time.
        • if they'll read sf, your job is a lot easier... in no small part because you can start them in on transmet. :) and also cerebus, preacher, sandman, the filth, hellblazer, global frequency, the invisibles, v for vendetta... if your reader doesn't want superheroes, but can tolerate weirdness, you're only half a step away.

          i'm not so conversant with the more mimetic stuff. strangers in paradise and love and rockets have been mentioned elsewhere; you might manage to slip zero girl in... yeah. i imagine there's

    • I don't know if people who don't like comics don't like superheros. I'd assume they don't like the poorly presented superhero comics that are so common.

      Theres a lot going on in Watchmen. I can't imagine many people who given the patience to read it wouldn't see comics in new light.

      I do agree its not the best book to introduce a new person to, if only because its long read.

      I'm not Warren Ellis, but a great book to get people to realize what comics can do, that I'd recommend, is Birth Caul by Alan Moore
  • by perry ( 7046 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @10:20AM (#5773006)
    So, I hate to ask this, but Planetary has been coming out at a very slow crawl, and some of us are waiting desperately for the next issue. When is it likely to come out? And is the slow pace just because you have so many projects going at once?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How can I procure anti-cancer drugs that will allow me to smoke as much as Spider Jarusalem?!?
  • Are they any good? What would you recommend?
  • by Glytch ( 4881 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @10:34AM (#5773070)
    For a second I thought that read "Brain Powerd". I've never been so glad to see an "e" in my life.
  • re: Transhuman Fun (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zonk ( 12082 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @10:36AM (#5773082) Homepage Journal
    Mr. Ellis, your books entertain to no end. One of the aspects of Transmet that I enjoy a great deal is your poking at the idea of transhumanism. "Uploading", the gene-fad victims, the reanimated cryo folks, all are human, but a humanity that is to one degree or less, removed from the humanity the rest of us experience.

    Where do you think our species is going in regards to current "transhumanist" ideas? Do you really think someday we'll be uploading our conciousness to a digital point of view, or swapping out yesterday's cheetah spots for tiger stripes as the mood strikes us?

    Thanks for your time.
  • by Mr. Bad Example ( 31092 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @10:36AM (#5773089) Homepage
    ...I just started rereading Transmetropolitan last night. (I want to be Spider Jerusalem when I grow up--of course, I'll have to drop about eighty pounds, laser off all my body hair, get several tattoos...on second thought, forget it.)

    Anyway, my question is this: I just finished "Year of the Bastard" and I'm reading through "The New Scum", and I was struck by how many parallels there are between the election in the books and our current situation in the US--particularly the gradual loss of civil liberties, the peevish, grudge-holding President, and so on.

    Did you have any kind of feeling that the country was heading in this direction at the time you were writing Transmetropolitan? Or is this just a case of art (sadly) imitating life?
  • ...Ellis' almost-daily mailing list.

    Wanna subscribe? Send a blank email to:

    badsignal-subscribe@lists.flirble.org
  • Warren used to run a regular forum. This was the Warren Ellis Forum . A lot of questions have been previously very hashed over there. It was a reasonably high content forum but still had some of the usual drivel. The forum basically lasted the life of Transmetropolitan and was some sort of feedback for that effort. People could do searches of that for some more background on some of the issues. The forum was used by Warren for a fair bit of research into "floppies" vs trade paper backs and superheros vs
  • I was just wondering, was former Senator Longmarch supposed to look like Mao, or was his name and my thinking he looked like Mao just a coincidence?
  • by lost_n_mad ( 521867 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @10:58AM (#5773246)
    I have grown up on comics since the late 70's. I have seen some good writers come and go, but through out the 90's their have been some truly great writers on par with the Golden Age of comics. Thanks to a more liberal sense of media, comics have thankfully grown out of the American Comics Approval Code (the most loathe-some piece of legislation ever written in my mind).
    My question is this, through out your own career, have you received the respect as a writer you have earned? Or do you tell people at cocktail parties that you write "serials"?
    More or less, I am asking, do you think comics are finally getting the respect as literature they deserve, Gaiman's awards aside.
    • There is no "American Comics Approval Code" legislation and there never was. The Comics Code Authority [geocities.com] was an institution created voluntarily by the comics industry in response to the Senate hearings occasioned by Frederic Wertham's "Seduction of the Innocent." It was loathesome and cowardly self-censorship, but it wasn't a law.
      • Might as well have been. It killed all the best ideas in comics and left only the most Juvenile thoughts behind. I remember a time in the late eighties when a local shop wouldn't carry anything without the seal of approval. Take a look at those old Sandman, or Transmet issues, it ain't there, and it ain't in that shop in my hometown. It may have not been law, but it killed things for writers, and their distribution networks.
  • Did anybody else think of the anime [scifi.com] when they read "BRAINPOWERED"?
  • Will the rest of Transmetropolitan be collected as paperbacks? I put off buying the individual issues waiting for the collections, but they seem to be a little slow in coming.
  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @11:09AM (#5773324)
    Given the revival of Hollywood's interest in comic books, and the general public's interest in Hollywood's treatment of same, how much of your character/world-building is influenced by the prospect of birthing the next big Happy Meal franchise? Do you give any thought at all to how such-and-such a notion might play and/or be accepted "cinematically," when creating (ostensibly) for the comic book medium?

    ...oh, and Warren, even though this is SlashDot, it's OK to admit to wanting to make money -- lots and lots of money. I'm interested in knowing how that prospect influences the creation, or whether it is more meaningful (and maybe more profitable, long-term) to ignore such-and-such a trend that could make you a bajillionaire...

  • 1. Do you read slashdot?
    2. How Frequently?
    3. What do you think you'll be doing in five years; more of the same Mek/Books/SciFi comics, or ...

    Best
  • by 16977 ( 525687 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @11:37AM (#5773496)
    Warren, I used to read comic books, like most kids, before I was a teenager. But after I got older, I looked back and realized that it was embarrassingly juvenile. Most comics were basically male power fantasies with gratuitous violence and pretentious dialogue (e.g., "although that regrettable ontogenetic experience may have dissuaded you from answering, Logan..."). And that still hasn't changed. You have "adult" comics which add gratuitous sex and profanity to the gratuitous violence; webcomics and 'zines that replace the pretentious dialogue with pretentious avant-garde layout; and "socially conscious" comics that are essentially the same male power fantasies with politically incorrect villains.

    The overall perception of comics is of an industry that just hasn't grown up, and comic book enthusiasts are seen as adults who can't let go of their childhood. This is especially true in the case of hentai and furry porn, where adult themes are combined with "childish" cartoon artwork. But although I have seen writing that does fit this description, I have also seen examples of competent, mature writing, and I know that comic books can be as effective a form of art as any other.

    I want to know what you, having worked in the mainstream comics industry, have to say about this. If you know of comics out there that are truly great -- not amateur, pretentious, or immature -- I would like to know what they are. I gave up on comics years ago, but I have hopes that one will come along that will change my mind.

    • I'm no Warren Ellis by any means, but I think I know of some comics you may want to check out. In my opinion, all of the following either ignore or rise above the male power fantasies that you percieve:

      - Box Offic Poison by Alex Robinson

      - Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore

      - Bone by Jeff Smith

      - The Cartoon History of the Universe by Larry Godnick

      You should be able to find more information on any of these books by googling for it.

      Like any form of literature, art, or media in general comic books cannot

  • Hostile Waters (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RupW ( 515653 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @11:41AM (#5773525)
    You acted as a creative consultant for Rage's Hostile Waters game, and it showed: the story line is a cut above anything I've played for some time and the cut-scene narratives beautifully eloquent.

    How satisfying did you find the experience? (Did you get a say in the voice cast?) Would you do it again?

    If you could try another media to work with, which would it be?

    "What human invention gives with one hand it takes with the other: hell lies implicit in a gift of Eden."
  • First, let me state that I am a huge fan and all those things. The official Transmet T-shirt (big smiley in front and "I hate it here") even got me fired once. Anyway, I have two questions:

    1. Why did you end the Transmet comics the way you did? It's been great fun while it lasted, but having such an open-ended last issue makes me think that there is a possibility of another run, which, quite frankly, I would not want to see. (Most classics ended and never were resurrected.)

    2. I consider Global Freque

    • (reply to the poster, not a question for Mr. Ellis)

      Two issues of GF were the first comic books I'd bought for years (not counting a beat-up second-hand copy of Gaiman's Death: The Time of Your Life). I picked up #2 (the military cyborg) and #3 (the alien memetic virus) after reading extensive good words about the series on the internet. To be honest, I was disappointed. The physical and visual quality of the books was very good - excellent printing quality and I quite liked the art in both cases - but I
      • I think it's a matter of taste. True, the first few issues weren't all that awesome, but the last two gave me a boner every time I read them. (I know, I need to see a sex therapist.) Anyway, I don't consider the art to be particularly sexy - that's the domain of various Crossgen books. However, the writing, which created a certain tension between the characters deffinitelly adds a certain sexy quality. If you feel like giving the series another shot, check out No. 6. For my tastes, that was the pinnacl
  • First of all, I'd just like to say that I absolutely love Transmetropolitan. I'd never read a single comic before it, or any other since. But that's not the point.

    My question is, I've noticed at least two fairly obscure pop culture references in the artwork. The first is that the Diner in #32 (The Walk) is modeled after Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks [assumption.edu]" painting. The other, and my favorite, is that in #33 (Dancing in the Here and Now) there's a frame in which a man seems to be impersonating Tom Waits in a phot [kicoz.nu]

  • Back to the future (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ur@eus ( 148802 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @11:46AM (#5773569) Homepage
    I have read a lot of your stuff ever since you started doing Hellstorm many years ago. I really loved what you did with Hellstorm, and was impressed what you manage to do even within the gagging limitations of the comics code. I read much of your Marvel stuff and was very pleased when Transmetropolitan came out under the Helix/Vertigo imprint.


    And while I have always enjoyed Transmet I do miss the even darker strain that was evident in Hellstorm. Any plans to do something more along the lines of Hellstorm again? Something more dark and occult in the lack of a better description. (but of course this time maybe something of your own without the restraints of suffered doing Hellstorm.)

  • how much for the ape?
  • Hunter S. Thompson (Score:4, Interesting)

    by oooga ( 307220 ) <oooga@usa.nUMLAUTet minus punct> on Monday April 21, 2003 @11:54AM (#5773624)
    I read somewhere that Spider was modeled after Hunter S. Thompson. This makes sense to me, but was it your intention? Besides the similarities in their characters, the only overt connection I have found is that in #13 (Year of the Bastard) one of the books on Spider's desk is a book by Hunter S. Thompson. So, what is it? Same person, or coincidence? And, if Spider is modeled on Thompson, do you know how he feels about this?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      check out http://www.gonzo.org/hst/transmetropolitan.html

      there is a recent pic of HST out there where he has a toy spider pinned to his hat. One of the frames in an issue (I believe it was 9 or 10 or 11) was a dead ringer for the portrait of HST on the old cover of The Great Shark Hunt
  • by SpiderJ ( 471622 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @11:55AM (#5773633) Homepage
    Mr. Ellis,

    Roughly about a year ago, I heard that two more Trans titles (TransOceanic & TransContinental) were in the works. One would be about Yelena, taking up Spider's job in the City. The other would be a pre-TransMet storyline, filling in all the details about:

    ~ The War of the Verbals,
    ~ The night of the phone calls in Prague,
    ~ First introduction to the Beast, etc, etc.

    So is there any Truth to these rumors?
  • Patrick Stewart, being a vocal Transmet fan, has expressed interest in starring in a Transmet movie or TV (mini?) series. I think you too have expressed interest in this kind of venture. Basically, my questions are:

    1) What is the status of a Transmet movie or TV series? Have any studios shown interest in this kind of project?

    2) What kind of role would you play if such a project was green-lit? Which story arc from your comics do you think would be best suited for the big screen, or would you develop an entirely new arc?

    3) Are you friends with Patrick Stewart? I honestly can't picture him either reading Transmet or portraying Spider in a movie. That being said, I would love to see how Patrick Stewart would interpret Spider Jerusalem.

    I hope you continued success. To me, people like you and Garth Ennis represent the new breed of comic writers who are and will continue to expand the art just as effectively as writers such as Frank Miller and Alan Moore (who also continue to do their own thing, and are far from retirement :) ).

    Cheers,
    -Mani
  • Ever since getting turned on to Transmet I have loved every piece of work by Warren Ellis I can get my hands on. I am about to begin reading the graphic novels of The Authority which I grabbed last night not to mention trying to read as many of the Transmet back issues I can get.

    I loved Mek. I loved it so much I bought to copies one I could read and read again and another to put in my "crazed comic collector" collection. However reading Mek I keep getting a feeling I was reading something like Johnny Mn
  • Hellblazer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sandman1971 ( 516283 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @12:19PM (#5773811) Homepage Journal
    There was a lot of controversy on your run of DC's Hellblazer, which seemed to start with the (understandably) cancelled Columbine-like issue. What can you tell us on what's happened (without naming names) and how does it affect your relationship with DC to this day?

    Second question, if I may. We often hear about which book/character that a comicbook writer would love to work on. What character or book from the big 2 wouldn't you touch with a 10 foot pole?
  • by Old Man Kensey ( 5209 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @12:31PM (#5773887) Homepage
    One of the things that resonated with me when I read Transmetropolitan was the journalism angle, since I was coming off a 2-year stint as a tech columnist in a small central Virginia city. Even in such a small market I was amazed -- you got all the same duplicity, heart, good and evil as what you read in the Washington Post or the New York Times, just on a smaller scale. There were people who tried to smear my reputation and people who passed the word that I was giving the straight goods with no bull.

    Where do you see the quality of journalism going in our world in the next hundred years? Are we on an unstoppable downward spiral to the point where real journalists have to go underground like Spider on the Feed, or do you think there's a point coming where the public suddenly wakes up to the (lack of) quality of the pap they're getting fed every night on TV?

    Where do you get your "real news" from -- are there certain small magazines and papers you read regularly or do you have to just puzzle out the real story from reading between the lines in the articles the big guys print?

    And in the current events category, what's your take on the whole SARS flap?

  • If there is a required reading list for Slashdot, Transmet has to be at the top.

    If you tried to read all of the material that people think should be on the slashdot required reading list, there would be no time to bathe or have sex. Well I guess that explains a few things..
  • Why are the best comics, an American medium, written by Brits?
  • Although much of the conversation centers on the sci-fi work of Transmetropolitan, I've got a few observations on other projects. 1) Do you believe that the market for graphic novels and comics is charging a fair price? To get the complete Transmetropolitan, for example, would require an investment of well over $75 dollars on my part, and I find myself unable to get into it because I know I'll never be able to afford to find out how the story ends. 2) About Planetary: Many of the Planetary stories have i
  • what pop culture? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by agilliland ( 657359 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @12:35PM (#5773914)
    Warren, you are always talking how you immerse yourself in pop culture, using it to feed your ever growing imagination. This has always troubled me because I can only take so much American Idol and Britney Spears before my brain begins turning into coal and everything ends up looking hazy violet. I'd like to hear what you mean by pop culture. What sources do you most commonly draw from now? There is practically nothing mainstream worth the effort anymore, so where else do you turn?
  • by YuheiCarreau ( 667477 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @12:36PM (#5773922)
    Mr. Ellis, In recent years, there has been a minor trend of comics which feature updated or slightly reworked versions of the heroes and villains from old pulp novels and radio dramas. Many of these characters were created in and for the consumption of a society than was sexist, racially biased (if not outright racist), and generally more spiteful and discriminatory than modern society. Many of these characters' stories were filled with ethnic and racial stereotypes that have been (in most cases) culled from their representations in contemporary comics; however ignorance and hate remain a part of their past. In talking about this issue with some friends, it was pointed out to me that characters like Tarzan and Fu Manchu are archetypes (the wild man and the evil genius) which are present in many cultures ? that may be so, but the fact remains that those specific characters are also stereotypes (the great White hunter and the Yellow Peril). Considering that you have featured a Tarzan-like character in Planetary, and a Fu Manchu-like character in both Planetary and the Authority, how do you draw the line between using an archetype and using a stereotype? Is it even necessary to use those specific characters, when the archetype can be used to create a new character that is not tied to the close-mindedness of the past - or do you believe that reworking the character to remove those ties exonerates the character from its past? Do you plan to address this issue in Planetary or any other comic where you use pulp characters, and do you believe it is something other creators should consider?
  • Signal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs@nOspam.ajs.com> on Monday April 21, 2003 @12:36PM (#5773925) Homepage Journal
    I've been reading your columns and I'm pleased to see that there are those working in the comics industry who actually think about what they're creating and refuse to lend a helping hand to reversing the story-telling progress that was made in the 80s and 90s.

    However, I have to disagree with you on The Authority. I don't think the sexuality of Superman and Batman... er, Apollo and Midnighter ;) had anything to do with the decline of the book. Yes, the book then side-tracked too often toward that topic and yes, the original setup gave depth to the story without having to be a "gay superhero" thing.

    But, do you think they could have been overtly gay and still managed to be "just another couple of members of the team"? To put that another way, if there had been a wealth of plot and character development available (as there was when you were writing it), can't you imagine simply dropping the answer to the question and moving on to other stories? Is it an inescapable trap or just an obvious one?

    Ok, three question marks is too many in a Slashdot interview, even when they're really all the same question. So thank you again for great story telling, and good luck!
  • "But Aquaman, you cannot marry a woman without gills, you're from two different worlds."
    ...
    "Oh, I've wasted my life."
  • We love your stuff, and I figure they'll be plenty of questions about them in general.

    1) But whose work (outside of comics) are you interested/intrigued by? What's the last book or cd that you had to run out and buy?

    2) And since your work is always seemngly so current, what do you use for your news? Anything you turn to first thing in the morning that you read first, or an assortment of things equally?

    and alright, I can't help it...a straight comic question:

    3) I really enjoyed your run in the Authority
  • and these aren't joke questions. They're serious.

    1.0 How do I become you?

    2.0 If I become you, do I have to use Windows?
    • You know, mods, whenever I ask a real question, I get modded down, but whenever I'm being a butthead, I get +5, Informative. Goatse must have hit his Karma cap years ago.

      Here is my previous post in simple straightforward English for you slower, *stupider* mods:

      What steps would you recommend a young creative genius like myself take in order to get started in your noble profession, Mister Ellis? Thank you for your assistance. And I was wondering (this being geeky Slashdot and all) what computer equipment do
  • Comedy, or realism? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Draconix ( 653959 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:25PM (#5774314)
    After reating through a great deal of Transmetropolitain, I cannot help but note that (And I've read many visions of the future) it is by far the most realistic portrayal of the future of our civilization I have yet to come across, and yet ot obviously has satirical and comedic undertones. My question is, when you originally envisioned this society of the future, were you thinking more along the lines of parodying our own society, or extrapolating on its development?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Mr. Ellis-

    This sounds a little silly, but it's a debate I've had with some friends. We all noticed that what Spider looked like on the mountain, and what you look like, were similar.
    Did you ever feel like Spider was just a characature(sp?) of yourself. I always liked to think that the loss of hair was somehow symbolic of him losing what little inhabition he had left.
    I guess the question is, do you see Spider as a reflection of your own personality and your own frustrations? Is he just what y
  • by ReverendJake ( 667502 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @01:31PM (#5774356)
    I was always a little disappointed by the ending of "Transmetropolitan." As much as I like the thought of Spider making it out of the city and living happily in his garden, it just didn't seem to fit the tone of the series.

    A friend of mine (a journalistic bastard in his own right) introduced me to Transmet, and had his own theory about the end of the series---Spider discovers, in a wave of revelation, that the city itself is a cultural reservation, and he escapes to the outside (presumably even worse than the city).

    My question is this: Why end the series with such a hand-of-God maneuver? Spider's in remission, he's happy in the garden, everyone lives happily ever after? It was definitely a payoff, but not the one that I (and many other readers) had been expecting or waiting for---it seemed a little incongruous with the rest of the series.
    • To be honest, it always seemed ridiculous to me that any society that had the technology to convert people into nanotech gods couldn't cure something as simple as the problem Spider had...
      • Good point---hadn't thought of that one. After all, they were able to completely rebuild the brains of people who were horrendously damaged by cryogenics.

        Maybe Spider decided to go all Luddite on us at the end?
  • How much of you is Spider Jerusalem? What do you two have in common?
  • why the U.S.? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by justins ( 80659 ) on Monday April 21, 2003 @03:02PM (#5775022) Homepage Journal
    I've always been curious why you and Garth Ennis, among others, spend so much time with stories set in the U.S.?

    If the main reason is simply that you sell more of the stuff that way (and I'm not trying to be offensive), what are some of the other reasons?
  • This is really a question for Darick Robertson but he's not here.

    Why are Yelena and Channon drawn differently in the final issue? They're lean in all of the previous issues and kinda puffy in the final issue.

  • What's your opinion on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund [cbldf.org] (anti-censorhip organisation of comics writers & of people working in this field) ?

    Furthermore, do you think that clear and direct political content can be present and "efficient" (i.e. thought provoking) in *mainstream* comics ?
  • Hi Warren, I am wondering what's your take on digital comics? Are you reading any? Do you think that sequential art can work in a digital environment? Why does it seem like traditional comic publishers lack the drive to experiment with this new medium? * I know this question seems obvious, but I want to get a pro's perspective on it. Is there a future for digital comics? What would compel you to read or even create one? Sorry for the million and one questions, but it seems like their is a lack of
  • from a formal standpoint -- that is, state of the industry aside -- what do you find liberating or enabling (or frustrating or restrictive) about working in comics rather than, say, prose or film or whatever? are there stories you've wanted to tell that comics wouldn't let you?
  • by jamie ( 78724 ) <jamie@slashdot.org> on Monday April 21, 2003 @05:41PM (#5776127) Journal
    Warren,

    In Transmet you never really question the power of the press.

    The people of the city are overwhelmingly shown as self-absorbed, Epicurean, sadistic fucks, barely able to hold a whole idea in their head at once, much less aspire to things like altruism or civic duty. When they're not actually the johns fucking little kids, they're lost in their own worlds of drugs, body manipulation, sex, or often all three at once.

    So it seems anachronistic that a president still holds press conferences, that a journalist can be universally loved, and that a column feed can stop a riot.

    Transmet drew details from current events, but not the big picture. In a year where one news corp. runs attack ads against another for not being pro-administration enough, and Helen Thomas is sent to the back of the bus for not being a simpering twit, the most famous journalist today is... Geraldo. What makes you think a competent muckraker will have any kind of influence at all, starting, let's say, negative ten years from now?

  • Manga is becoming more and more popular lately. Finite series in trade paperback form are selling very well outside the traditional comics market, most notably at bookstores. How much of this did you see coming, and do you feel it justifies your, er, contraversial statements on the Western comics industry in the past?
  • Between you and Garth Ennis, are there any possible Pogues / Shane MacGowan references that haven't been made in comics? If so, are there any that you really want to use? Once you're through with MacGowan, who's next?
  • I know much of the previous comics you worked on were of characters owned by Marvel or DC or whoever, and I was wondering what runs through your mind when you see the directions that later writers take the characters in.
  • Hookups (Score:3, Interesting)

    by skia ( 100784 ) <(skia) (at) (skia.net)> on Monday April 21, 2003 @11:26PM (#5778463) Homepage
    I know a number of people who are interested in graphic story-telling. Unfortunately, not many people are as equally gifted artists as they are writers (or vice-versa). As graphic novels are a medium that require both these skills, what would you advise would-be collaborators do to find each other?
  • So you were so right about much of your dystopic future...

    So, what about SARS? What will life be like during and after the great SARS pandemic of 2003/2004?

  • Questions for Warren Ellis -- Do you consider your work to be optimistic or pessimistic? Which works in particular? Would you name any specific work as the most depressing or most hopeful work you have done? Do you think of yourself as a hopeful person, or as a glass-half-empty, and it's-full-of-poison-anyway kind of guy?

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