If you’re an avid comic-book reader odds are that there will be writers or artists that you have a preference for, one of my favourite writers is undoubtedly; Warren Ellis.
I won’t go into detail about his childhood and whatnot, I’m just going to talk about why I like Warren Ellis. If I recall, Transmetropolitan was the first work of Ellis that I came into contact with and it remains to this day one of my all-time favourite science-fiction stories in comics. Transmetropolitan is perhaps Ellis’s most renown work; set in a cyberpunk future world where a foul-mouthed ‘renegade gonzo journalist’ named Spider Jerusalem takes on two successive United States presidents in an effort to stamp out corruption and the abuse of power for fear of turning the world into a horrid dystopia, together with his two ‘filthy assistants’ and armed with his ‘bowel-disrupter’ Jerusalem gets up to some of the most darkly humourous things I’ve ever seen. Transmetropolitan was a limited series consisting of sixty issues and ran from 1997 – 2002. Warren Ellis did a fantastic job crafting the characters for Transmetropolitan, Spider Jerusalem has an awesome presence in the story and is filled with so much attitude and blatant disregard for petty rules, that he’d do anything to make himself heard, which he does in his infamous column entitled ‘I hate it here’. Spider Jerusalem has so much depth and character and it’s thanks to the superior story-telling of Ellis. The other thing to note about Warren Ellis, is that invariably his stories are filled with plenty of swearing, sex and violence but he manages to pull it off without it ever becoming overly excessive or forced. Warren Ellis proves that not all comics have to be about brightly coloured, spandex-wearing superheroes and that despite what some people may think, the whole ‘dark thing’ (as one idiot that I have the misfortune to know, once said) does indeed work.
Other notable works of Ellis include; Black Summer, No Hero, Ignition City and FreakAngels. FreakAngels is actually a web-comic that as far as I know has already been made into two volumes available for purchase. FreakAngels falls under the steam-punk genre about a time where London has been flooded and a group calling themselves the FreakAngels occupy ‘Whitechapel’. The characters are rich and fleshed out and all seem to display some sort of telepathic ability (Ellis is known for incorporating such things as telepathy, human-enhancement, cryonics and nanotechnology into his work).
Amazing character development and plot are two key factors that I think make Warren Ellis standout from the pack and the fact that most of his works fall under the ‘limited series’ category means that his work never becomes stale as the stories have a beginning and an end, once he’s done with a particular project he moves on to something else. When I see ‘Warren ellis’ printed on the cover of a comic-book I know that I can look forward to reading something off-beat, humourous and gritty.
A lot of Ellis’ more recent work falls under the Avatar Press label, it’s quite obvious that the company is the optimum choice for Ellis as they allow him to get away with far more risque themes, such as sex and vulgarity, two things that are usually unseen in most mainstream comic-books, Sure Marvel Comics has its Icon subsidiary & Marvel Knights label but they don’t really compare. Besides, how long do you honestly think Marvel will be able to use the aforementioned labels before Disney turns around and objects as it’s not ‘family friendly’. I’m not saying you have to be an elitist who only reads indy comics, or comics from lesser-known, smaller companies to enjoy Ellis’ work, if you’re a comic-book fan and you’re looking for a different kind of read, give Warren Ellis a shot.