illustration (c) Josť Villarrubia 2000 digital
illustration (c) Josť Villarrubia 2000
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Art by Chip Zdarsky. Copyright 2002.

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PROFILE: Warren Ellis Interview
by Christopher Butcher

Life and Times - Part 1
Warren Ellis and the Comic Book Industry - Part 2
Avatar, Image, and the Pop Comics Manifesto - Part 3
Spider Jerusalem Gets the Message Out - Part 4
The Future - Part 5

But first, an anecdote.

I ended up going to meet Warren Ellis at the Columbus Ohio stop on his recent OCTOBER REVOLOUTION TOUR, which criss-crossed all of America. Warren travelled from his home in Southend, England to six American cities in ten days, visiting comic stores and giving lectures in support of his upcoming line of creator owned comics at Image.

Warren, for those of you that aren't familiar with his work, is the writer of a number of comic books - illustrated fiction really. Starting with self-published work just out of school, to works like LAZARUS CHURCHYARD and SUGARVIRUS for Tundra UK in 1992. Shortly thereafter he began to do a number of works for Marvel Comics, most notably being EXCALIBUR, which many say introduced the concept of actual, definable evil to Marvel's X-Men line, and DOOM 2099, which went from being a fairly typical superhero book to taught political fiction that set the stage for his future works, like STORMWATCH for Wildstorm. STORMWATCH was a superhero book that was very politically motivated, it paid sharp attention to the political climate of the world, and behaved rather intelligently. It, over time, became the AUTHORITY, perhaps the biggest, loudest, fastest superhero series ever. Authority, along with Warren's PLANETARY, re-invigorated Wildstorm, and have set a new standard for all superhero books.

So I and an associate who I managed to con into splitting the cost of the trip with me make the 7 hour drive from Toronto, Canada to Columbus, Ohio, and from the outset the trip is strange. The guy at the rental place said he'd knock $150 off the cost of the car rental if we brought him back a case of beer. Rolling Rock Pale Ale. Alcohol in exchange for services. It's a Warren Ellis kind of trip.

The Columbus stop is being hosted by The Laughing Ogre, a truly impressive comic store that focusses on... comics. It has a huge graphic novel and trade paperback selection, a good back issue collection, and is staffed by some friendly, intelligent people. The signing goes off without a hitch, and in introducing myself to Warren his demeanor changes from friendly-but-slightly-tired signing mode, and a burst of energy fills him and he reaches over to shake my hand. It's impressive, he's actually as people have described him. He's got this mad glint in his eye, and yeah he's a little intimidating (his fans call him Stalin), but he's also this warm, friendly, charming man. Talking with him is a joy, and (not wanting to abuse my place in line) I quickly put together an interview time, that being at the bar of his hotel, after dinner. It was then that I turned on the tape recorder.

"So now it's nearly 9pm. I'm at the Columbus Ohio Embassy Suites hotel, to interview Warren Ellis for posterity. With any luck he'll make it here on time. The interview is taking place in a bar, which should come as no great surprise to anyone [laughter]."

"We're all sitting and waiting for Warren. One of the nice guys from The Laughing Ogre relayed to me a story about people burning down information kiosks at the local campus, and how this is sort of a regular thing there. I find that troublesome."

There were about fifteen people waiting for his arrival at the bar, for he had promised to drink with his fans. All of the people there were intelligent conversationalists, and it was a really rather interesting time. The folks from the Ogre were buying rounds of beer, and everyone but me was gladly accepting them (for you see, I had to drive home. Wank.) I did, however, have to resist the urge to start mocking a fellow reporter from WIZARD magazine that was in attendence. That would have been unprofesional. It was at that point that Warren entered the bar. Warren had no shoes on. As soon as he entered, faces brightened to greet him. Within a minute, he owned the place, he was holding court.

"Awright, Christopher Butcher. I owe you an interview, let's go."

People stared at me, I was taking Warren away from them. I was a little scared.

"Hey, can someone get me a drink?" We're about to do an interview and Warren would like a drink. This was probably going to be a good interview.

"Sure, what'll you have Warren?" I think it was the owner of The Laughing Ogre, but it was hard to tell who owned the Ogre exactly. There were a lot of people who seemed to work there.

"Can I get a beer that doesn't taste like dog piss here in Columbus?"

The natives looked a little sheepish and said nothing. Warren looked over at the bar carefully, to see what was on tap.

"Just get me a Jack and ice then. I'll be right back."

And a quick change of socks later, we began our interview. Next Page.

Life and Times - Part 1
Warren Ellis and the Comic Book Industry - Part 2
Avatar, Image, and the Pop Comics Manifesto - Part 3
Spider Jerusalem Gets the Message Out - Part 4
The Future - Part 5 - Warren Ellis' homepage, filled with biographical, bibliographical, and other interesting inormation. - The Warren Ellis Forum, a place for fans, readers, and critics of Warren's work to discuss current events. - The Slush Factory. Comics review and discussion. Thanks to Ed Matthews @ Slush for the photos. - The PopImage Forum. Discuss this article there.

E-mail Us. - Send us an e-mail, commenting on this article.