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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Good News/Bad News

posted by on February 19 at 15:25 PM

The good news is that Warren Ellis has a new, free weekly webcomic that starts right here.

The bad news is that it starts with a woman waking up and saying “Uurrgg. I feel like someone parked a car on my brain. What did I drink last night?” I think every comic that Ellis has written in the last ten years has begun that way.

Seriously: I would pay good money to read a Warren Ellis comic book where the main character is a teetotaling nonsmoker who really hates swearing. At least then he wouldn’t be able to use his “Lost soul finds purpose and a reason to live but stays a hard-drinking-and-smoking wiseass because it’s supercool” routine.

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I'm thinking that we've got maybe three installments before we meet the jaded, no nonsense uber-cynical authority figure who may or may not be clinically insane and hates the world (cf. John Dashwood, Spider Jerusalem, the vice-president in his novella, and every bloody character in NextWAVE).

Ellis does good work, but he's been driving these character types into the ground since Planetary started.

Posted by Chris B | February 19, 2008 3:33 PM

Ellis may have some recurring tropes, but damn if he isn't prolific. Does your glib summary of his work cover Orbiter, Ocean or Fell?

The art on Freakangels is crazy beautiful so far...

Posted by Peter F | February 19, 2008 3:40 PM

Don't forget the phone/pda fetish that Ellis has. God forbid if any of his stories were to omit that particular trope.

Posted by Dave | February 19, 2008 3:44 PM

I get the impression Warren is just writing formula stories to pay the bills lately.

His promotional skills have always been stronger than his actual stories. That's why he has to spend so much time maintaining a strong web presence in comparison to contemporaries like, say, Grant Morrison or Neil Gaiman.

Posted by Tom X. PDX | February 19, 2008 3:51 PM

It covers Ocean, certainly. I have Fell on hold through the library.

And I have to say I like a lot of what he writes. I'm waiting for the final collection of Planetary with bated breath, Transmet was really cool and I'm enjoying Desolation Jones.

But I cringe a little bit whenever a character is introduced with some variation of "I crap bigger than you." And his novella was a weak "mystery" hiding behind a smoke screen of transgression.

Posted by Chris B | February 19, 2008 3:54 PM

the world ended but this bitch has a personal helicopter bike.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 19, 2008 3:55 PM

do you need to turn off your brain to enjoy comics?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 19, 2008 3:57 PM

While Transmetropolitan and Nextwave are great roars, Warren Ellis has spent his whole career chasing the dragon of Alan Moore's John Costantine archetype with tech-fetishism and Grant Morrison pastiche.

Posted by Fawkes | February 19, 2008 4:14 PM

Oh, Bellevue Ave, no. No. Just some of Warren Ellis' comics lately. There's lots of good stuff out there. I agree with Chris B, though: he used to be an interesting, innovative comics writer. But that's starting to look like a long time ago, now.

Posted by Paul Constant | February 19, 2008 4:14 PM

I am very pleased that there will now be some comic slogging.

Posted by Baxter | February 19, 2008 4:14 PM

All slogging is comic slogging.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 19, 2008 4:17 PM

Comics are fun. Graphic novels doubly so.

Web comics are fun too, but more like wallpaper. They feel more ephemeral, less substantial ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 19, 2008 4:50 PM

Oh, c'mon guys (I don't see any gals names amidst the collective snarkage, so I'll assume for the moment this is a purely geek-boy enclave) - Fell is probably one of the most interesting pieces out there right now - a stand-alone single-issue comic for less than $3.00 that ISN'T about "spandex perverts with superpowers". The guy practically owns the store when it comes to creator-controlled work, and ideas apparently continue to pour out of his skull with alarming regularity.

And you haven't even covered some of his better work: Global Frequency was a great short-issue release, as was Planetary, although granted it took bloody forever to get to the end (Will 27 EVER come out?), and Nextwave was one of the funniest things to come out of mainstream comics publishing in years! And that doesn't even include Black Gas, Crecy, the Aparat Singles, the Switchblade Honey one-off, or more recent work such as the jaw-dropping Black Summer, Doktor Sleepless, Desolation Jones, Gravel, plus all the contract stuff he's been doing the past couple of years on Iron Man: Extremis, or New Universal, Ultimate Galactus, or his new stint on Astonishing X-Men, etc., etc.

Face facts, if he weren't so bloody popular, not to mention prolific, he wouldn't be where he is today. And this from a guy who is apparently either deathly sick, or stupidly drunk about half the time.

We should ALL be so fucking talented.

Posted by COMTE | February 19, 2008 4:50 PM

Sorry, Warren. Something Positive beat you to it.

Posted by Greg | February 19, 2008 5:54 PM

I just finished "Crooked Little Vein" yesterday, and I'm sad to say that the opening scene isn't much different. A PI wakes up naked in his office trying to figure out what he's doing as he watches a mouse that won't die take a satisfying shit in his coffee mug.

It's a great first novel, but the point is sure, his stuff opens the same, but it's not for us fans. It's an accessible way to start a story for non-fans, and helps the audience identify with the characters, because in most ways they're types it's hard to be empathetic with. (Spider Jerusalem carries a weapon that makes people shit their pants to get what they want. ew.)

ALSO: Why the fuck isn't there a comic book shop on capitol hill? WTF.

Posted by Matt Fuckin' Hickey | February 19, 2008 6:00 PM

Greg, Something Positive is nothing like FreakAngels. For one, Something Positive is good.

Posted by Aislinn | February 19, 2008 6:06 PM

@13: It's not all boys here. I haven't been able to keep up with his stuff over the last few years but I'm still on his email list and receive his rantings a couple times a day. Love the guy to bits. I have the entire run of Transmet and The Authority (I'm not normally a superhero comics fan), and the first dozen or so Planetary issues, etc. Someday when I have the time and money I'll catch up on his work I missed through their tpb collections.

Posted by Kristi in Kitsap | February 19, 2008 7:08 PM

I agree with COMTE, one million percent.

All y'all are haters!

Posted by Soupytwist | February 19, 2008 7:16 PM

Bellevue Ave, you ignorant slut. Read Promethia and see if you can ask that question again honestly.

But Strange Kisses had something entirely different, the world's first combat magician. Jack Cross definitely fits the definition of anti-hero, but didn't smoke, drink, or swear. Orbiter had an aeronautical engineer, a traumatized astronaut, a biologist, and a quiet psychologist as the heroes and protagonists.

So, yeah, he's got a lot of cynical drunks, but he goes outside that as well.

Posted by Gitai | February 19, 2008 7:50 PM

Gitai, im still trying to reconcile the end of the world allowing for helicopter bikes ridden by "sexy" heroines.

i swear that comic book writers should come up with characters like AD&D or at least S.P.E.C.I.A.L where you have a limited point pool to develop characters.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 20, 2008 12:16 AM

It's funny because it's true.

Posted by Donovan | February 20, 2008 2:44 AM

Gee, I don't recall any complaints about the "helicopter bike" (actually an autogyro) in "The Road Warrior", but suddenly, we're getting all uppity about a post-Apocalyptic world where a chick rides a STEAM POWERED helicopter?

It's called: FUCKING SCIENCE FICTION, freaks!

Get over it.

Posted by COMTE | February 20, 2008 9:52 AM

science fiction actually uses the implications of futuristic science to move a script or plot forward. i dont see how a badass chick on a steam powered helicopter bike is sci-fi.

its why star trek is sci fi, and star wars is fantasy space opera

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 20, 2008 10:38 AM

Because, ST is grounded in at least some minimal scientific plausibility, as well as being extrapolated from contemporary socio-political dynamics and structures.

SW (and IMO "fantasy space opera" should be considered a sub-genre of SF, rather than as a completely separate genre) OTOH, has little in the way of plausible scientific or historical grounding.

And getting back to Freakangels - it's really funny to me that so many people believe they have an absolute LOCK on the style, substance, genre, story line, et al of the piece - based on a GRAND TOTAL of 22 panels spread over 6 pages.

I presume these are the same sort of people who judge the merits of a book solely based on the cover art...

Posted by COMTE | February 20, 2008 12:55 PM

Paul @9: the trouble is that comics attracts so few good writers, that whenever one appears on the scene, their every pitch becomes gold, and they quickly become the over-exposed flavor of the month. cf Alan Moore, Brian Bendis, Grant Morrison.

I still enjoy Ellis' stuff. Yeah, his style is definitely recognizable, but largely because we've seen so much of it published in the last decade.

Posted by Ivan Cockrum | February 20, 2008 2:50 PM

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