Recently, I found a website designed to put old school friends back in contact with each other. It was deeply depressing. A significant number of people had stayed in all the old places. Still played football with each other on the common every Sunday. Pacing around the village with each other in small circles, doing the same jobs, meeting the same girls, haunting the same pubs. No longer even waiting for something. They're all in their mid-thirties, now. They don't remember what it's like to feel locked in. Maybe they never knew. Maybe it got to them too soon, and that beaten look in their eyes at eighteen wasn't just the pressure of the Eighties.
Sean McKeever's THE WAITING PLACE is the same as mine. Same people. Same appalling pressure of an empty town that someone's slammed the lid on. Its brilliance is in making me care again about beaten people who can see their entire lives running away from them, straight and black and hard and stopping dead at the horizon they'll never crest. They're not dead people. They still have spark and passion. But it's small, as it can only be, and it's clouded every day just by the act of looking around; of knowing, with no escape, that you'll know these people around you all your lives, and you'll only ever walk these streets. That, as much as you tell people you're waiting, you'll never get out. Mike Norton's emotional figures, standing in their sparse and joyless spaces, reinforce it with wondrous subjectivity. His people make you want them to win.
I read this again, this fine collection, still wanting them to win. That is the marvel of this extraordinary work.
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. He's on the web at warrenellis.com and diepunyhumans.com.