Better Living Through Graphic Storytelling
A Comics Blog About Shit We Like
15 March 2007
Your Warren Ellis Moment of the Day

So over on Comic Book Resources, Arune Singh talkto Warren Ellis about his upcoming political super hero epic, Black Summer, which Rich Johnston has slowly been leaking info about on his Lying in the Gutters column (whew, that's a lot of links to the same page in one paragraph). Since then Ellis, the one man hype-machine, has been posting info on the book on his website and on his message board.

Now, I have to admit that I'm pretty wary of this book. I love a lot of Ellis' work, but so much of it falls flat for me. He's certainly one of the more interesting "idea-men" in comics today, but it often seems like the level of craft that he pours into his books generally depends on his level of interest in exploring the subject matter at any given time. He seems to do his best work when he has much fewer distractions on his plate. His better known creator-owned work Transmetropolitan, Planetary, and Desolation Jones are among some of his best, but people often forget how prolific he really is, and tend to dismiss the crap that the occasionally puts out.

So why should I check out Black Summer?

Let's ask Ellis:

On Character Motivation

He's been asking himself the question that informs the book: where do you draw the line? If you're totally committed to the idea of covering your face and taking on a fake name and standing outside the law in order to fight for justice where do you stop? Crime pervades society. We're all aware of corporations that behave in a criminal manner. Is that as far as you go?

Wait. You know the 90s are over right? We don't need to deconstruct super heroes anymore. Now we need to do continuity laden (or reference laden) homages with nothing but reverence. Oh and it wouldn't hurt if you included some Mammet-esque dialog and pregnant pauses.

On the Conceptual Process

and I have an easy, longtime friendship and we do this a lot," revealed
Ellis. "And he bet me I couldn't come up with a high-concept superhero
'event' book that naturally featured all new characters and ideas, but
also hit some of the notes of a standard Big Two event program."

Couldn't you just finish the last issue of Planetary?

On Inspiration

when this hit me and I'm pretty sure I was standing in my garden at
three in the morning with a glass of whisky, smoking furiously and
swearing at the sky, reduced to waiting for the thunderbolt to hit it
spoke to me not only of the reasons why someone might put on a helmet
and find justice their own way, but also why we read these myths of
social justice ourselves.

Oh.... That's why you weren't working on the final issue of Planetary.

On the Jungian Dichotomy

the potential audience is going to see John Horus as the bad guy, and
that's not without merit. Half the audience is going to see him as the
Good Guy, and I can see where they're coming from too. I take no public
position.I'm writing it from both angles at once and letting people
make up their own minds.

So it's like Civil War, one will buy it. Explosions are pretty.

On The Future

these things are cyclical. And I'm not sure you can characterize DC's
current output like that, they seem really focused on classic
broad-sweep superheroics right now. It comes down, I think, to what I
said before: what are the questions left to ask? And a lot of the
questions left to ask are sociopolitical. It's an aspect of these
decadent days we find ourselves in. Pigs with two heads are abroad in
the land. The British military is trying to loft a communications
satellite grid called Skynet. These are the End Times.

Wow. "Skynet"?! That's so badly cyberpunk it doesn't even come out the William Gibson story - it comes from the adaptation.

Honestly, I still love so much of Warren Ellis' work, but he really needs to stop letting people talk him into doing any work remotely related to super heroes anymore. And the fact that this is another book that comes out of one of his bets with William Chrstensen leaves me with little hope. I mean, did anyone else read Wolfskin? There was a reason Ellis had to stop working on it. It was awful. It made me dumber just by reading it. I can only imagine what it did to Ellis, who was writing it.

It's been a while since he's done anything that's truly blown my mind the way Transmet or Planetary did, but maybe I'm just too far along for that stuff to effect me the same way. Desolation Jones could possibly be his next great work if Marvel would stop asking him to write books that mock their entire companies publishing line.

Although, I have been really enjoying newuniversal.

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