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Warren Ellis has written around thirty graphic novels, comics, prose fiction, journalism, videogames and screenplays. Sometimes he take photographs. He also creates and co-creates websites, including this one. He has awards and stuff, he's been in big magazines and newspapers, and he's been published in NATURE, which he always mentions because it makes him laugh.

Warren Ellis is represented by agent Angela Cheng Caplan at Writers & Artists and manager Aaron Michiel. He's a consultant to artbomb.net and opi8.com He's on the web at warrenellis.com, strangemachine.com and diepunyhumans.com. He's thirty four and lives in England and he never ever sleeps. Never.

Recent Columns:

Missed a column? Here are links to recent Brainpowered's:

36: Things Online That I Am Sick Of

35: A Foul Collection

34: Monetising The Fringe

33: Walking Camera

32: Microcast

31: All You Need Is Hate

30: Nothing Happened

29: New Spectator Sport

28: While I've Been Gone

27: Webcomics' Second Coming

26: Grey Fog

25: Notes From the Futureground

24: Saving Fantagraphics

23: Manhwa

22: Turning Point - The Anatomy Lesson

21: Planet Artbomb

20: The Ducks

19: Moving Books

18: Searchlight

17: Online

16: Singles

15: "03"

14: Nowhere Girl

13: The Full Head Tingle

12: Alternity

11: NoCal

10: Land of the Lotus Eaters

09: Five Thousand Miles

08: Norway

07: Nearly a Revolution

06: Mists of Time

05: Closing the WEF

04: Speed

03: Haircut Boy

02: The History Man

01: Firing Up

 

05: On Closing The Warren Ellis Forum


I have in my possession a videotape of one of comedian Bill Hicks' final performances. It may even be the last one, I don't know. One of the attendees shot it with a camcorder. The first time I saw Bill Hicks on TV, he was working one of the big comedy festivals, Montreal or the like. By the time everyone else noticed him, he was doing big London venues, professionally shot for video-sales posterity. A big man, clean shaven, haloed with the half-mad stage confidence of the religious and impassioned.

On this tape, he is thin, misshapen-looking in a rumpled babyshit-green suit. Scraggly beard, hair long and greasy. He looks broken. It's a small club, chairs arranged around a meagre pit of space. In LA somewhere, I think. He used to joke about ending up playing The Comedy Pouch in Possum Ridge, Arkansas. He used to prowl a stage like a panther, thrash, bend double and scream into the mike. He doesn't have a mike here. He could probably spit to the back wall of the club. His entrance/exit music is on a tape deck balanced on a stool behind him. He has to turn it on himself when he finally leaves his little pit. He stands there and vomits out the last of himself, one last shot at making people listen to what he has to say. He's dying, right there in front of those people. A few weeks later, cancer will kill him, at age 32. They don't know. I do, watching this tape. It's a heartbreaking piece of film.

He had so many things to tell these people. But they just laughed at him. And he had to play his own exit music, for a couple of dozen people. No one to turn the lights down. Two dozen pairs of eyes on his bent back as he staggered off.

Never, ever leave the stage like that.
 

On Finishing TRANSMETROPOLITAN

In 1996 I sat there writing a plot document thinking, I'm never going to get the five years I need to finish this. A 1300-page graphic novel, serialised in 22-page episodes over five years. A science fiction graphic novel, even -- sf comics have been a signal failure in American comics over the last twenty-odd years, and this was being written for the American market. Worse, its intent was British -- the science fiction novel as social novel, right out of HG Wells, as followed through by the New Worlds authors of the Sixties and pretty much left for dead ever since. There haven't been many American sf writers of a left, humanist political bent -- Alfred Bester, Norman Spinrad and Bruce Sterling are among the better-known -- and fewer still prepared to get as emotionally dirty as I wanted TRANSMET to be. Bester was as bad with people on the page as any Fifties sf author. The cyberpunk authors carefully rendered their characters as emotional blanks, powerfully influenced by the New Worlds school (especially Michael Moorcock's JERRY CORNELIUS sequence), where the moral and ethical questions of the worlds they inhabit are simply taken as read. I wanted to write something involved. I wanted to use the future as a tool with which to examine the present.

And, God help me, I wanted to write a complete longform novel for comics.

The eighth collection will be available in March 2003. The tenth and final collection will, at the current speed, be out in early 2004.

But the initial serialisation is done, now. Sixty chapters. It was a horrible fucking struggle, the single longest and biggest job I've ever done. It's going to be a long time before I attempt something of that size again. But now I'm part of a weirdly select club. I've completed a closed work of more than one thousand pages. In a market not designed for finite works, and a market that "doesn't like" sf comics, according to the Received Wisdom. If the work has achieved nothing else, I'm proud of having achieved that.

Now I just need to decide what's next.
 

On What's Next

No more internet communities for me for a long while, if ever again. There's not going to be any Artbomb Forum. I am consultant to two communities - Opi8 Forum and ComicsPro, a gated community for comics professionals -- and I'll look in on those two semi-regularly, but that's about it. Time to do something else.

Incidentally, if you do work in comics professionally - creative and editorial, marketing and publishing, retail and distribution - and you'd like entrance to ComicsPro, email Forum Director Amanda Fisher at phelps@bigsky.net with your bona fides.

All my new works are either serial-to-collection or original graphic novel. But nothing on the order of 1300 pages. A couple of hundred is my limit for a while. I feel like a marathon runner who really doesn't want to do anything more dramatic than walk to the pub for a while. Small, self-contained, affordable works. Nothing wrong with that.

I am so tired.

-- Warren

 
Warren Ellis can be reached at brainpowermail@aol.com. BRAINPOWERED is copyright (c) 2002-2004 Warren Ellis. All rights reserved.
 


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