Warren Ellis

Warren Ellis has got me thinking about Point of Contact again

Warren Ellis » SPACEGIRL And Why Your Funny Webcomics Bore Me.

Wouldn’t this be a demented, lovely, quixotic thing? If a bunch of people said fuck all you people who do nothing but newspaper comedy strips on the web, we’re going to do newspaper dramatic strips and do crazy stuff.

I didn’t do an adventure strip, but I did try to do an adventure serial with US comic size pages. Point of Contact fell victim to my usual lack of time/discipline and an uncertainty about where the story was really going. I came in with a plan for hundred plus page tale, but began to lose my way quite quickly.

I still want to do some graphic storytelling, and maybe I’ll make Mr. Ellis’ day by having it be a newspaper strip (or blogstrip, sized more appropriately for screens and the three column layout I prefer). I certainly have a bunch of half ideas ready to throw at one another. Whilst unpacking I’ve been stopped by Timularo and Akira and want to do something crazy and apocalyptic.

Possibly with ninja. And zombies.

Let me see how soon I can clear space for the drawing board.

Licence renewed

Warren Ellis on the hero-coming-out-of-retirment subgenre. He’s talking about the film version of his comic Red, which I’m looking forward to. I read the first two issues of the comic then, for one reason or another, completely missed the rest of it. Plus the film version has, as Ellis kept pointing out, Helen Mirren with a sniper rifle.

The Irwin tales fall into the unretired spy genre, after a fashion. Irwin has retired from MI6, though he did it far younger than Bruce Willis’ character in Red. After being injured one time too many he called time on a career that was trying to kill him, and has managed to find some less dangerous pastimes to take up his time. Of course, as the Irwin stories unfold, we’ll see him being dragged back in, as well as getting into dangerous situations entirely of his own accord.

Learn something new every day

In early 1977, Joost Swarte defines what is probably the most important comics art style to have come out of Europe. No-one had a name for it before: the ligne claire. The Clear Line. The style of Herge, of Tintin. I’m sure you can picture it. The style where all extraneous lines are eliminated, and only the lines that do work remain. A single line of exquisite clarity and control, producing deceptively simple and open figures in a method that is in fact extremely hard to do. You can’t hide anything, in the Clear Line. Every shape must be rendered in the minimal amount of ink, but not at the expense of detail. There’s little or no weighting on the line – making the line thicker or thinner to create spatial bias in the panels – no crosshatch, no shading, and no skimping on the realism of backgrounds. The characters, especially in Herge, tend to be a little cartoony: in combination with the detailed background work, the effect defined by Scott McCloud as “masking” comes into play.

I knew what ligne claire is, I’m trying to take my art in that direction a bit. I didn’t know who named it.

From Warren Ellis’ Do Anything column at Bleeding Cool.

Review – Crooked Little Vein

Warren Ellis’ first novel is full of subject matter that should be familiar to you if you visit his blog regularly. Started, he insists, as something of a joke to appease his agent he had to finish it when she managed to sell it almost immediately.

Mike McGill is a private investigator fallen on hard times and with a knack for getting the most screwed up cases. When his new client describes him as a “shit magnet” he can’t even argue with them. That client is the President’s chief of staff and he wants McGill to track down the alternative Constitution of the United States, a book that will help reboot the country’s morals to those of a simpler, more repressed age.

With a half million dollar expense account and a polyamorous assistant along for the adventure McGill sets off for a trawl through America’s underbelly, where the Constitution has become a form of pervert currency. Along the way he has to deal with testicular saline injectors, cattle mutilators, porn barons and serial killers and then decide whether he should even hand the book over if he finds it.

Crooked Little Vein is a short book, Ellis’ prose is sharp and trimmed down, but it’s packed with dark humour with some hilarious one liners and set pieces. I read it in a few hours whilst waiting to do some extra (sorry, Supporting Artiste) work on Friday and was lost to the world for a few hours.


It’s always a risk with a film about a school shooting, but it was still creepy to surface from watching Elephant to hear about events in Montreal. As with the shooters in the film we’re still at the stage with yesterday’s events where we don’t really know or understand what drove a man to walk into a school and kill one and injure nineteen others.

Elephant doesn’t offer any explanation for the two young gunmen. Sure they play violent (but very simple looking) video games, have a fascination for guns and watch a documentary on Hitler whilst waiting for their weapons to arrive. They’re also gay, or at the very least experimenting, and one is a fairly talented pianist. However, these factors are given as much weight as the fact that one of their schoolmates is a keen photographer and another has a drunken father. They might be important or they might not, it’s up to the viewer to decide.

The film’s style is non-mainstream. Long tracking shots follow characters as they walk the halls and go about their everyday lives. More than once we loop back to see a scene from a different perspective. For an hour we’re getting to know a little about these kids, like we’re watching some sort of documentary. But the viewer knows what is coming and, as with the old school ensemble disaster movies, can’t help but wonder who will live and who will die. That their troubles are, mostly, so trivial makes them more real than having a gang of OC types with story arcs that can only be resolved by the sudden arrival of a skinny geek with a Tec-9.

Overall, not for someone who wants to be told why America’s youth keep killing each other or is looking for slick storytelling and pat characterisation. However, if you want something more this is for you.

On the same subject, but very different- the essential Bowling for Columbine, Warren Ellis’ Hellblazer issue “Shoot” (which I don’t think was published).

Technorati tag: , ,

The genius sperm bank

Did this guy talk to my old English teacher?

Robert Klark Graham, inventor of the shatter-proof spectacle lens, was so worried that untermenschen “retrograde humans” were breeding too much that he set up a special sperm bank. This genetic repository would only hold the seed of geniuses.

Graham wanted to recruit the choicest sperm he could find. He initially convinced three Nobel Laureates to donate, including the notorious racist William Shockley. But elderly sperm – albeit eminent – was not good for freezing, so he decided to cast the net wider.

via Warren Ellis

Technorati tag: , ,

Global Conspiracy

Global Frequency is the pilot episode of what was going to be a five season TV drama series, based on the comic books by Warren Ellis. Sadly, shortly after the pilot episode was filmed, there was a management change within Warner Bros and it was never broadcast. Filming for subsequent episodes was also cancelled.

However, the pilot was somehow leaked onto the internet where thousands of people around the world have since downloaded and watched it. Global Frequency is now arguably the internet’s most viewed TV episode.

If you have managed to see it, you’ll understand my use of the word “sadly” above. It isn’t very often that a TV series is created which I think I could watch, but this has all the hallmarks of being great, despite having the handicap of being written by the man behind the worst film we ever had the misfortune to waste 3 hours of an Orange Wednesday on. The internet being what it is, there is now a site starting a campaign to persuade another company to pick up filming.

I live in hope.