Warren Ellis

Thank you all for the invigorating discussions that’ve been going on around yesterday’s post. I’ve been having lots of fun. :)

In today’s episode, I talk about how I hate Warren Ellis, which emotion is brought to you by this post: Love Will Kill Us All. It’s a short story; this week Mr. Ellis is doing internet busking, and when I’m done writing this, I’m going to go pay him for his wares, because God *damn* that’s good. It is not pleasant, but nothing he writes is. It *is* beautiful.

Actually, I don’t hate Warren Ellis at all. I admire, envy, loathe, despise and worship him by turns. Three quarters of the time when I pick up something of his and read it, I want to /be/ him, because his writing is just that powerful. In general, he writes comics; Bryant turned me on to his work with Transmetropolitan, a brilliant, funny, sick, twisted story about journalist Spider Jerusalem in a futuristic City that reflects all too clearly on our world.

Issue #8 is the single best comic book I’ve ever read.

Since then I’ve picked up pretty much everything I’ve seen with Ellis’ name on it. He wrote a delicious Authority, about the sorts of superheroes who save the world without really being particularly good guys themselves. Planetary, Stormwatch; those are the Ellis titles I can handle. I didn’t finish Strange Kiss because the horror — the sheer ickiness — is beyond my ability to read. I don’t like horror.

The frustrating thing about Ellis is that he is so damned good that even when I can’t read what he’s presenting, I *want* to be able to, because he’s just that good. He uses horror because you can’t look away — that’s my take, anyway — and then when he’s got you good and hooked, he blindsides you with social commentary or an understanding of human nature or a sudden facet of beauty that takes your breath away, because it’s completely unexpected and very often, so full of raw truth.

Right now he’s writing LISTENER: A book for the internet in sixty entries. The whys and wherefores are here, and it begins here. It’s not nice. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Ellis as a writer, in his entirely different way, is like Guy Gavriel Kay, to me. I want desperately to be able to do what they do. I want to be that good. I don’t know that even on my very best day indeed that I could emulate Ellis; he comes from somewhere I’m not sure I know much about. It’s bleak and scary and funny and bright in his worlds, and people spit acid and it rains blood every day. I want to get there. I don’t know that I want to stay there, but I want to get there. Looking around through what Ellis presents isn’t quite enough for me. Sometimes it’s more than I can handle, but it’s not quite enough.

I have one book, one story, that might be in that place. I re-read the first few chapters (all I’ve got written) a couple of weeks ago, just to see if it was any good, and it was. It’s very good, actually, and when it’s done, it might prove to be my trip into the world that Warren Ellis inhabits, or at least writes from, all the time.

I wonder if he’d mind if I dedicated it to him.

4 thoughts on “Warren Ellis

  1. Guy Gavriel Kay is one of those writer’s who got very very repetitive in his storytelling as I plowed through his books, and so I stopped reading them, but OMG, I love his ‘voice’, the…*way* he writes, which is just so uniquely him and so alien compared to other writers.

    Is that what you mean about Ellis and him?

  2. Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean. Ellis and Kay are otherwise about as alike as a raven and a writing-desk, but their individual styles grab you by the throat and don’t let go. I don’t know that I could mistake either of them for anybody else. That’s *exactly* what I mean. :)

    (Kay’s voice holds me through any other flaws in his writing. He’s virtually the only writer I read whose -ever word- I read.)

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