I got some good feedback from the look we did at Crossed (and I do wish that more of the feedback was being posted here to start some good discussions, but too many of the readers seem to prefer to contact me directly. I don't mind, but it would terrific to get some good discussions going here guys!) and as a part of one of those conversations Cameron and I started to discuss whether or not there were common threads that worked their way through the works of Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis. We even thought that we might challenge readers out there to do a brief review/study of some of the works the two men have put forth and then raise the issue as an open debate right here on the blog. So let's ask the questions:
1. Is anyone interested?
2. Does everyone know their works?
3. If we could only pick six things to review for each person, what would it be?
With the questions out there, I'll wait to see what kind of responses we get before I press on in that vein.
Today though, I thought I would spend a little more time talking about one of my all-time favorite writers. Before I get into it though, I wanted to point out that I find myself most fascinated by non-traditional super-hero comics that are written by writers to have come out of the British Isles. Coincidence or is there something in the water? Ellis. Ennis. Gaiman. Moore. Millar.
Now, while I love a good super-hero tale as much as anyone, I'm also impressed by writers who can keep me interested in comics with other genres, and few people have done that better than Garth Ennis. A quick look through his bibliography on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garth_Ennis_bibliography) will show you just how much time he has spent outside of the core market of comic books. Compared to most, you would be hard pressed to understand how exactly he has become such a success. The truth is that super-hero comics are what pays the bills, and those people who abstain from them with the regularity that Garth does foten cannot get a proper foothold in the industry.
Because his work with DC is probably his most extensive mainstream North American work, I thought I would take some time to walk those of you unfamiliar with it through the various books and demonstrate what I think is a pattern of avoiding traditional super-hero writing.
Anyways, I could walk through numerous more titles, and continue to illistrate how little work Garth did for DC in the hero genre, but the pattern would remain the same. From time to time he would do some hero work, and when he did it it was often exceptional. But the breadth of his superior writing was often saved for other genres, and he has put together terrific character studies that are well worth the read. Even just a quick glance over his other work at DC gives you....
1. Bloody Mary
3. Pride & Joy
5. Enemy Ace
6. War Story (multiple tales taken from wartime)
7. Unknown Soldier (a very grim take - I liked it)
Getting outside DC, he has two other books that I think are "big." The Boys & Punisher. Both appear at first glance to be hero genre books, but if you read a little bit deeper I think you'll see that neither of them really is. The Boys is, on many levels, an assassination of the super-hero genre, while his epic Punisher run was so far removed from the anti-hero with a gun feel of standard Punisher books that it got a mature rating and moved to a different imprint to distinguish it. I recommend both of those titles, and I suspect that once you read Garth's Punisher you'll have a hard time taking anyone else's as seriously.
Garth just seems to really like working on stories that give him a real chance to delve into people and their issues, and he appears to prefer to do it in less common genres. He's done terrific books in a variety of genres like war (Battlefields), the apocalypse (Just A Pilgrim), horror (Crossed), religion (Chronicles of Wormwood), science fiction (Dan Dare), western (Streets of Glory), mafia (Back To Brooklyn) and others, and he never fails to deliver.
But you have to wonder, given his industry and his surroundings.......
does he just not like super-heroes?