FOR TOMMY: WARREN ELLIS
JOHNSTON: You've recreated two companies in your image,
Wildstorm and Avatar. Unlike Alan Moore and Vertigo, you've
continued to work for both. Do you see yourself changing either
company further, and are there any other publishing companies
you'd like to sort out with your bare hands?
WARREN ELLIS: That's a very kind way of looking at
things, Rich. Certainly neither company needs me any more,
if indeed they ever did. I don't really see there being anywhere
to go in American publishing, because I need paying for my
work, and pretty much everyone who's left would require me
to either reduce my rate to nothing or operate on royalties-only.
All of which probably sounds callous and mercenary, but I'm
a working writer and far from independently wealthy.
you'd have to look pretty hard to find an American company
capable of paying a page rate who'd want to invite me in to
f*ck around under their label. Particularly on my terms of
wanting a creator-ownership deal.
Jack Cross is a new series that's yet to be properly announced
- but it seems to feature a red haired lady called Lauren...
what's your fascination with the real-life Lauren and what
inspiration has she given you for the book?
WARREN: Oh, you're talking about Lauren Martin. You
know Lauren, Rich -- she was one of the first people to write
to me about TRANSMET, way back when, and became one of the
army of moderators on the Warren Ellis Forum. I wasn't really
thinking about Lauren when I wrote that -- for one thing,
I still think of Lauren as a blonde. The name and the one-line
description are mostly just placeholders -- we're months away
from getting an artist on that, but I wanted to get the story
down while it was still hot. If the character's a redhead,
then it's likely just to create in-panel colour variance against
Cross' black-and-white visual (I use a similar trick in DESOLATION
JONES -- Jones' visual is grey and orange, so Robina Shiva's
hair is blue. This is the crap you have to think about when
writing comics for colour). The one-line description gives
the artist space to build their own visual, creating a character
they're comfortable with drawing over four issues. Which they
can't do with Jack Cross, the protagonist -- we're changing
artists every four issues, so he has to remain a consistent
visual. I like to make space, in that sort of situation, for
the artist to generate a major element that's theirs.
unusual for me to use people I know as visual anchors for
a character, but they rarely survive to publication. They're
starting points. Almost all scripted visuals are. Lazarus
Churchyard started out more like Iggy Pop. Spider Jerusalem
didn't work until Darick put the shades on him.
I've heard bits about Ocean or Oceans, a series with Chris
Sprouse for Wildstorm, possibly? Is that the same project
that you were once working on as a screenplay, what happened
with that, and what's the pitch?
That's OCEAN, a six-issue serial with Chris Sprouse, yeah.
Cutting a very long story short, I had been prevailed upon
to knock it out as a screenplay, very fast, a few years ago
-- actually my second screenplay, as before that I'd been
commissioned to adapt the Joe Haldeman novel MINDBRIDGE as
an animated feature. In any case, it was laying there doing
nothing, it was way too expensive to be a movie, and I started
liking it more and more as a 150-page-ish graphic novel. And
then I did an issue of GLOBAL FREQUENCY with Chris, which
he did a stunning job on, and Wildstorm told me that he loved
the job and was looking for a project to move on to. So I
converted OCEAN into comics script and we were off.
a big splashy sf thing about a United Nations weapons inspector,
frozen weapons floating under the ice of the ocean moon Europa,
and the true history of the human species in the solar system.
It was fun to write. It was through the banging-out of the
screenplay that I met John Rogers, who's just now finishing
the pilot script for the mooted GLOBAL FREQUENCY TV series...
such an incestuous game, comics...
1 | 2
| 3 Continued