"Alan Moore once told me he works the nine-pic grid because it's cinematic. I told him I work the six-grid pic because it's television. I should think more on that some time."
— Warren Ellis
Warren Ellis is a British author of comic books. He is known for introducing transhumanist elements to his books, and for complex stories, including Continuity Nods, expies, and Lawyer Friendly Cameos. Like other Britwave authors, Ellis often operates as a one-man Deconstructor Fleet.He began working for Marvel Comics in the mid-nineties, on titles such as Hellstorm, Marvel 2099, Excalibur, and Thor. He moved on to DC and Image, writing for Stormwatch and then spinning that series off into The Authority, the title which gained Ellis his first real notoriety.The comic, with characters created by Ellis, featured Black and Gray Morality, Violence Really Is the Answer, and This Is Your Premise On Drugs, all of which would come to be featured in his increasingly popular future series.However, this series is rather more Anvilicious than the later variants. The Authority also featured an expansive and epic art style Ellis dubbed "widescreen comics" as well as inspiring the Decompressed Comic movement, which Ellis would later avert in Fell.Ellis then began the work for which he is most famous, the Hunter S. Thompson inspired Cyber Punk series Transmetropolitan. The series ran from 1997 to 2002, finishing a 60-issue run and proving one of the best-selling titles on the Vertigo Comics imprint.During Transmet, Ellis also wrote another original series, Planetary, and did a stint on Hellblazer. He also went back to Marvel, along with Steven Grant, Ian Edginton, and Brian Wood with the intent to revamp several poor selling X-Men satellite books (X-Force, X-Man, and Generation X) under the "Revolution" banner. While their work on Generation X and X-Man gained critical praise (X-Force was panned), sales didn't improve enough and both books were cancelled as part of the 2001 purging of the X-Men spin-offs.Ellis would return to his creator-owned work, most notably Global Frequency, a 12 issue creator-owned miniseries that garnered critical praise and was remade as a (failed) TV pilot starring Michelle Forbes of Star Trek: Next Generation and 24 fame.With major writing talent behind it (including J Michael Straczynski), the pilot was leaked onto the internet when the network refused to air the pilot to build interest in the series. As 'punishment', the network scrapped the show, despite considerable positive internet buzz. Recently, the CW has announced it is resurrecting Global Frequency for television, with Scott Nimerfro in charge of scripting.Ellis went back to creator-owned comics, doing a string of mini-series projects for Avatar Press, a company primarily known for soft-core porn comics... until Ellis arrived and was given free reign to produce such titles as Black Summer, with Juan Jose Ryp. Now they're "The guys who print those awesome Warren Ellis comics no sane publisher would touch with a cattle prod."He also created Apparat Singles Group, his own line of comics that he feels fill an empty niche in the mainstream: pulp adventure.However, mainstream comics would call to Ellis, first with a run on Ultimate Fantastic Four, which saw him Rescued from the Scrappy Heap the Ultimate Dr. Doom with a storyline that revealed family ties between Doom and Dracula. Nextwave starred a team of super rejects, including Machine Man, the second Captain Marvel, Boom Boom, fighting evil terrorists, Fin Fang Foom, Baby Modoks, and a super-intelligent super-terrorist version of Devil Dinosaur in a Crazy Awesome satire of the form of crazy Widescreen Comics that Ellis popularized. He followed it up with a critically acclaimed run on Thunderbolts. He also wrote the critically acclaimed Iron Man: Extremis, which formed the basis for both the recent Iron Man anime series and Iron Man 3.His recent works include the spy comic Desolation Jones, a film adaptation of which is currently in Development Hell, and Fell, a Black and Gray Morality detective series. He took over Joss Whedon's X-Men reboot Astonishing X-Men after Whedon left, but left after 10 issues and a mini-series.He has also worked in other media, a novel, Crooked Little Vein, with a second on the way, and the script for an animated Castlevania movie.He recently finished an ongoing webcomic, FreakAngels, which updated weekly. Another graphic novel of his available online is Superidol. He has noted on his website that April 2012 is the first time in almost fifteen years that he doesn't have some project either in development, due for publishing, or ready to be released, and says that he finds this both strange and refreshing.Recurring Author Appeal / Author Tracts include nanotechnology, evil corporations, space exploration, people behaving badly, as well a rather unsympathetic view of America. None of the above makes his work any less inherently readable.Also known as one of the very few British comic writers to have never worked on 2000 AD, though it's certainly not out of disgust.Not to be confused with the Warren Ellis who plays violin for The Bad Seeds.Notable Works:
Do Anything: A book of short essays where Warren takes advice from the cybernetically preserved head of Jack Kirby.
Doom 2099: Doctor Doom takes over the united states, gets injected with alien drug blood, goes crazy, gets involved in a nanotech deus-ex-machina arms race with a proto Spider Jerusalem Corrupt Corporate Executive and his insane cannibal Captain America clone, becomes a plasma-shotgun toting cyberpunk revolutionary and saves the future from itself.
Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising. Digital backups of dead soldiers are uploaded into tanks, helicopters and other vehicles. Nano Tech is used to stop a cabal of corrupt corporations who aren't happy about the world being at peace. Most notable for being, well, a video game written by Warren Ellis and narrated by Tom Baker.
Ultimate Comics Armor Wars: Tony Stark tries to find his stolen tech, while Warren Ellis is having fun.
Secret Avengers: A six-issue run (so far; he's stated that he'd be willing to write more). If you thought Astonishing X-Men was Crazy Awesome, you have yet to meet the gleefully insane Moon Knight and Pilot Marko. Not to mention his Beast.
Hank McCoy: I can't fire a gun! I have paws!
Tropes associated with Warren Ellis and his works:
Atheism: Ellis does not believe in God or gods, nor do most of his characters. Especially his Author Avatars like Spider Jerusalem.
Attention Deficit Creator Disorder: It varies, but this often turns out to be a good thing; some of his best work is stuff he came up with and wrote while he was supposed to be writing something else. Avatar Press probably has a red phone just for him: "What's that, Mr. Ellis? You want to have SuperIron Man kill the POTUS? Shoot it on over and we'll print a run, see how the fans like it. We'll keep the presses warm, too, because they probably will."
Wonder Woman: J'onn, this is Wonder Woman. I need a consultation.
Green Lantern: J'onn, this is Green Lantern. I could use some extra brains here.
Martian Manhunter: I Hear You All. This is J'onn J'onzz on the Lunar Watchtower, activating the Justice League Telepathic Link.
Oracle: This is Oracle in the Gotham Watchtower. Information mining system on. You Are On The Global Frequency. Justice League Is Go.
Secret Avengers also bore a lot of similarities to Global Frequency, complete with "mini-teams" similar to the GF teams.
He's also very interested in space-flight, trans-humanism and the Singularity, all of which tend to pop up in his works to some degree.
Nanomachines and corrupt mega-corporations pop up all over the place in his work.
Author Avatar: Several characters, who share some of his points of view or thoughts - Eliah Snow in Planetary, Jenny Sparks in Authority, Pete Wisdom in Excalibur and Ultimate Human, Spider Jerusalem in Transmetropolitan
Author Filibuster: Related to author avatar above, as the said characters are always ready to explain at length their views, sometimes at odd moments.
Berserk Button: Holy shit, does he hate dogs. Ellis will rant about this on his website or Twitter if given an excuse, but he finds a lot of reasons in his work for dogs to die in ways that he finds funny: accidentally crushed underneath a falling unconscious goon, "culled" for being feral and sentient, infected with a zombie gas, etc.
Beware the Superman: He has to like this trope very much - Black Summer, No Hero, Supergod are all about it, echoes of it can be found in Planetary, Authority and Thunderbolts, and one of his first Storm Watch stories quoted it explicitly.
Deconstruction: He wrote a whole trilogy which is deconstructing Super Hero genre, telling what would happen if superheroes were too human (Black Summer), crazy assholes (No Hero) or have no humanity at all (Supergod).
Doing It for the Art: Pretty much his entire work on Avatar Press. While their sales are extremely miniscule in comparison to even the most unpopular mainstream comic, Ellis manages to publish some of his most distinctive work for Avatar.
Eagleland: Any of Warren's works set in America will feature people who are either selfless, heroic martyrs, or abusive, misanthropic jackasses; and locations ranging from a splendid New York City to the most rundown trailer park imaginable. Ellis has said in Q & A's that his feelings on America are mostly that while he thinks it is the greatest country in the world, he also feels it has the potential to be far greater, and is annoyed by this.
Somewhat inverted in his Secret Avengers run: Americans ends up being the only people moral enough to step in and stand up for some African villagers being hunted and abducted, and in the end of the issue it turns out the ones responsible for the abductions were all British, with Steve suspecting they may have government ties.
Executive Meddling: Averted when he wrote GI Joe: Resolute. According to him, the Hasbro executives were generally easy to work with and while they didn't allow Cobra Commander to wipe out Beijing as his original plan, they let him wipe out Moscow.
Fandumb: The consistent belief that Ellis 'hates' superheroes - Often due to people looking at something like the Authority (when Ellis' run was much, much less severe than say, Mark Millar's) and getting the wrong impression entirely. Either that, or they confuse him with Garth Ennis.
A column from Ellis shows that it's not that he hates superheroes, but rather that he never grew up with them the same way other comic fans did. Thus, his view on characters like Batman or Superman would mirror how a man would suddenly discover manga or pulp comics.
See this very page for many repetitions of the idea that Planetary #8's John ConstantineExpy was transformed into Spider Jerusalem by Ellis. Word Of God is that Ellis' intent was to have the character turn from John Constantine into King Mob. It was Cassaday who decided to keep going and make him Spider. (Not that Ellis didn't enjoy the idea, but it wasn't his.)
I Want My Jetpack: Warren Ellis desperately does. Every one of his heroes brings up at least once that the world used to be amazing, specifically because we used to do amazing things on a regular basis.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Warren himself and by proxy most of his heroes usually tend to come across as this. In his blog, on the surface he comes off as pretty grumpy, but there are plenty of entries that show he loves his fans, and he is very supportive of many young and independent comic book artists and other creative people, by bringing larger attention to them.
Knight in Sour Armor: His favoured protagonists tend to be world-weary and cynical chain-smokers living in Up to ElevenCrapsack Worlds who nevertheless possess rigid moral cores and a commitment to doing the right thing despite themselves.
Name's the Same: Ellis shares the exact same name with an Australian music artist who frequently works with Nick Cave. It's gotten to the point that several times a year he posts and Twitters a message that usually goes along the lines of "Once again: I am NOT the Warren Ellis who plays with Nick Cave. I am a comic book writer."
Ellis claims that he occasionally gets phone calls from a drunken Blixa Bargeld (a bandmate of the other Ellis), making this same mistake.
Papa Wolf: There are legends about how he scared the hell out of people at 4chan who had unhealthy interest in his daughter. To this day people sometimes talk about what he said he's going to do with them if they didn't stop.
If we're talking about the same thing, here it is in all it's glory:
I do like those people.
Also, I like their belief that I have more than one cock.
Also, pedotards stay away from my daughter or Iíll smear your tiny dicks off with the sole of my boot.
Schedule Slip: When reading his ongoing work, prepare to wait months, if not years, for the next issue to come.
According to Ellis via his message board, his main writing computer and backups failed back in late 2007 (the computer going out in a puff of smoke soon after the backups died), and the data-recovery company that he sent his hard drives to promptly vanished off the face of the Earth after the owner died while on an operating table in Europe and the employees scattered to the four winds, leaving behind only a boarded up empty space where the offices used to be. Many of Ellis's current projects were on those hard drives, including Fell and newuniversal. He has since then set up a FAQ thread on the Whitechapel forums where he explains the fate and (possible) future of many of his projects that were directly affected by the crash.
Spiritual Antithesis: Ellis himself put his Black Summer in contrast with Mark Millar's Civil War, saying that latter is watered-down vision of conflict between superheroes and government and the former is what would really happen. And he has a tendency to respond to every installment of Kurt Busiek's Marvels with a extremely depressing miniseries.
His Switchblade Honey is this to Star Trek - it shows a future where the exploration of space is handled by a bunch of insane egomaniacs, which leads to a war with a much more powerful enemy, which humanity is losing. Heroic idealists, who would become great heroes of Starfleet in Star Trek, here end up in prison for opposing the corrupted system.
Status Quo Is God: Criticized a lot, especially in Planetary, which really strongly criticizes Reed Richards Is Useless and similiar tropes used by editorial mandate to make their worlds closer to our and preventing any changes. Even John Constantine has been criticized for not really changing since his first apperance (oddly Ellis suggested Constantine should become more like Spider Jerusalem).
They're also hilariously ineffective, as seen in The Authority and Planetary; In the former, no government or political power can stand against the threats he lines up, and in the latter, the world's progress is actually controlled and allowed to progress at a snail's pace by an evil pastiche of a popular superhero group.
Also in Global Frequency, where The Government has usually created the threat of the week but fucked it up to such a degree that they're unable to handle it when it gets out of control, and thus have to rely on the global civilian network to clean up their messes.
He occasionally causes controversy when he does work for hire, because Ellis flatly refuses to write a character with an iron-clad code against killing. The closest he comes is Swift in The Authority, who under his pen will kill if necessary but doesn't want to. (This was not a trait that later writers adopted.) There was a mild controversy after Ellis's first issue of Secret Avengers, after he had Hank Mc Coy make an impossible choice: either use an improvised dirty nuke to kill a few hundred members of the Shadow Council, or lose the city of Cincinnati to a weaponized time machine.
As a matter of fact, it transpires that this was, if not impossible, than at least hard to swallow: in order to make Stark more badass, Ellis first made him a bitch. Extremis in a nutshell - a Right Wing Militia Fanatic shoots up with Nanomachines, and the resulting Hulk-level sociopath Curb Stomps him. The hero who once flew a nuclear reactor the size of a city block in the process of meltdown out to sea ends up in severe danger of being killed by a redneck using a car as an improvised sledgehammer. Stark survives to shoot up on nanomachines himself, enabling him to plug his brain into a brand-new suit, then goes back in swinging an earthmover bucket like a foam rubber bat.
Writing for the Trade: Averted as all hell. While noting that he probably has more trades out than any other writer (it's not uncommon for comic book shops to have an entire shelf of his work), Warren has strived to make his comics such as Fell, Planetary, or Global Frequency as self-contained within each issue as possible.
You Keep Using That Word: In at least two instances(JLA Classified: New Maps of Hell and Planetary), Ellis has used "ancestors"(those you're descended from) when the text clearly should have used "descendants"(those descended from you).