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WAITING FOR TOMMY: WARREN ELLIS
By Richard Johnston

RICHARD 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.

I think 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.

RICHARD: 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.

 

PLANETARY: ALL OVER THE WORLD TPB

It's not 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.

RICHARD: 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?

WARREN: 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.

It's 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...

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 Continued Here...

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