Warren Ellis was born in Essex, England in 1968. He attended South East Essex Sixth Form College where he contributed comic strips to the campus magazine Spike. Prior to starting his professional writing career, Ellis held a litany of jobs, including such auspicious work as throwing manure bags.
Ellis is a prolific writer with a well established internet presence. He has created several forum based internet environments over the years, all of which tend to become gathering places for creative people including many of his peers in the comics business. He has directed serial webisodes, was an early play tester for Second Life, keeps a blog, and moderates several websites, including his own. Warren Ellis the writer should not be confused with the Australian musician of the same name who sometimes collaborates with Nick Cave.
Like many comics fans who later became writers, Ellis started out writing letters, one of which appeared in the letter column of Warrior #4, 1982 wherein he sings glowing praises for many of the magazine's features, including Alan Moore's V For Vendetta and Marvelman. His first actual published comics story appeared in Deadline #24 in 1990. Titled "United We Fall" it was a six page short story with art by Nigel Dobbyn. Ellis refined his writing chops in the elite proving ground of classic British titles like Doctor Who Magazine, Speakeasy, and Judge Dredd Magazine. In 1991, he began a monthly serial of his first recurring character Lazarus Churchyard with artist D'Israeli in Blast! Magazine. Many years later the Lazarus Churchyard stories would be expanded and updated in the Lazarus Churchyard: The Final Cut graphic novel by Image.
In 1994 he was recruited by Marvel to take over Hellstorm: Prince of Lies. His run lasted from issues #12-21 and gave him an excellent place to explore various horror themes which would show up in his later works. That same year he began what would become his legendary run on Excalibur, revitalizing a title that was forgotten by all but the most die-hard X-Fans. In 1995 Marvel gave most of the remains of its dying 2099 line to Ellis, this inspired him to write two issues of 2099 Unlimited, which later led in to his run on Doom 2099. Ultimately Marvel scrapped the entire project, but not before Ellis turned in some fascinating stories. Ellis created several mini-series during this time period including Druid, which allowed him to collaborate with his Hellstorm artist Leonardo Manco, a Starjammers mini-series with Carlos Pacheco, Storm with Terry Dodson, and Pryde and Wisdom which allowed him to finish out several plotlines from Excalibur. He continued his tenure at Marvel through 1996, finally ending his run on Excalibur with issue #103, and leaving Marvel to take over Stormwatch for Image Comics. Ellis would return to Marvel many times over the years, taking on series for brief story arcs and leaving again when the story was finished. Some stories of note during his later Marvel tenure include Invincible Iron Man (4th series) 1-6 (2005) (especially noteworthy because the armor design by Adi Granov and the central storyline about the Extremis serum formed the basis for the third Iron Man movie.)
Image/Homage/Wildstorm and DC
In 1997, Ellis signed an exclusive contract with DC. Under the contract terms he was allowed an unprecedented amount of creative control which extended to Vertigo, Wildstorm and Homage titles, as well as allowing him the freedom to finish up any of his outstanding projects for other companies. Ellis started out his tenure with Image by taking over Jim Lee's second tier superhero title Stormwatch. Ellis ramped up the action and fleshed out the character backgrounds, but ultimately grew dissatisfied with the series. This led to his killing off most of the established cast, and reconfiguring the title with new characters into The Authority.
His next major project would be Transmetropolitan for DC which began under DC's aborted Helix imprint. With the help of series artist Darick Robertson, Transmet proved so popular that when the Helix line was scrubbed, DC moved it under their Vertigo banner.
Ellis started Planetary (for Wildstorm) in 1999. Created as a love letter to pulp and comics fiction, the series developed a complete world populated by thinly veiled analogues of many pulp characters, from Tarzan to The Shadow, to a stunningly evil version of The Fantastic Four. With gorgeous artwork from John Cassaday, Planetary ran 27 issues.
Ellis took over Hellblazer under the Vertigo imprint with issue #134. He was slated to do several years worth of stories, however his script for issue #141 which involved a school shooting as the central plot line, had the bad timing to coincide with the Columbine school shootings and DC surpressed the story. Ellis left the series as a protest but managed to keep a good working relationship with DC.
In 2000 Ellis came back to Marvel for a brief time, taking over the second-tier X-Books in an attempt to revitalize the line. Ultimately the attempt failed and Ellis went back to DC, continuing his Transmetropolitian series and creating Global Frequency.
In 2000 Ellis started publishing Strange Kiss, Atmospherics, and Threshold for Avatar. The company gave him complete freedom to publish stories with no editorial censorship, and paired him with artists like Mike Wolfer and Jacen Burrows, both of which have enjoyed long working relationships with him.
Strange Kiss eventually turned into Ellis' longest running project for Avatar, spawning several follow-up mini-series starring the main character William Gravel, including: Strange Kiss (1999), Stranger Kisses (2001), Strange Killings (2002), Strange Killings: The Body Orchard (2002-2003), Strange Killings: Strong Medicine (2003), Strange Killings: Necromancer (2004), and culminating in the Gravel ongoing series which started in 2007.
The Apparat books were designed to be an imaginary line of comics that answer the question, "What if pulp stories transitioned into comics without spawning superheroes?" Ellis proposed a series of one-shots that would represent the first issue of an imaginary comic book series. He has since continued writing the Apparat stories, however, in practice, it's a publishing imprint under the Avatar Press umbrella. To date the line includes: Angel Stomp Future, Frank Ironwine, Quit City, Simon Spector, Aetheric Mechanics, Crecy, Frankenstein's Womb, and the ongoing series Doktor Sleepless.
From 2008 to 2011 Ellis along with artist Paul Duffield, created an ongoing web comic called Freakangels. Originally published online for free, the serial was published in six page installments, eventually totaling 144 episodes. Freakangels was finally compiled into a six volume graphic novel set by Avatar Press, beginning in 2008.
In 2010, Ellis wrote a unique mail order only comic published by BERG Design Group called SVK. It came packaged with a UV flashlight as some of it is written in invisible ink that shows up only under a black light.
Other Media Work
- 2010 Red (Based on Ellis' comic for Homage)
- 2013 Red 2 (Nothing to do with Ellis' second Red comics series but still loosely based on characters he created with Cully Hamner.)
Role Playing Games
- 2002 Adventure (Ellis wrote the back story and contributed a short story to the game book by White Wolf)
Crooked Little Vein
Burned-out private dick Michael McGill needs to jump-start his career. What he gets instead is a cattle prod to the crotch. The president's heroin-addicted chief of staff wants McGill to find the Constitution—the real one the Founding Fathers secretly devised for the time of gravest crisis. And with God, civility, and Mom's homemade apple pie already dead or dying, that time is now. But McGill has a talent for stumbling into every imaginable depravity—and this case is driving him even deeper into America's darkest, dankest underbelly, toward obscenities that boggle even his mind.
July, 2007 William Morrow & Company ISBN: 0060723939 (ISBN13: 9780060723934)
After a shootout claims the life of his partner in a condemned tenement building on Pearl Street, Detective John Tallow unwittingly stumbles across an apartment stacked high with guns. When examined, each weapon leads to a different, previously unsolved murder. Someone has been killing people for twenty years or more and storing the weapons together for some inexplicable purpose. Confronted with the sudden emergence of hundreds of unsolved homicides, Tallow soon discovers that he's walked into a veritable deal with the devil. An unholy bargain that has made possible the rise of some of Manhattan's most prominent captains of industry. A hunter who performs his deadly acts as a sacrifice to the old gods of Manhattan, who may, quite simply, be the most prolific murderer in New York City's history.
January, 2013 Mulholland Books ISBN: 0316187404 (ISBN13: 9780316187404)
Dead Pig Collector
DEAD PIG COLLECTOR introduces readers to Mister Sun, a very proficient businessman whose trade is the murder and spotless removal of human beings. Like any businessman, he knows each transaction is only as good as his client - and today's client, in Los Angeles, has turned out to be so dangerously stupid that Mister Sun's work and life are now in jeopardy... (Note: This is a 29 page ebook. Ellis has an excellent working relationship with the publisher FSG Originals and is currently working on a new non-fiction book for them, tentatively titled Spirit Tracks.)
July, 2013 FSG Originals (ebook) ISBN: 0374711879 (ISBN13: 9780374711870)
Some people call it “abyss gaze.” Gaze into the abyss all day and the abyss will gaze into you.
There are two types of people who think professionally about the future: foresight strategists are civil futurists who think about geo-engineering and smart cities and ways to evade Our Coming Doom; strategic forecasters are spook futurists, who think about geopolitical upheaval and drone warfare and ways to prepare clients for Our Coming Doom. The former are paid by nonprofits and charities, the latter by global security groups and corporate think tanks.
For both types, if you’re good at it, and you spend your days and nights doing it, then it’s something you can’t do for long. Depression sets in. Mental illness festers. And if the “abyss gaze” takes hold there’s only one place to recover: Normal Head, in the wilds of Oregon, within the secure perimeter of an experimental forest.
When Adam Dearden, a foresight strategist, arrives at Normal Head, he is desperate to unplug and be immersed in sylvan silence. But then a patient goes missing from his locked bedroom, leaving nothing but a pile of insects in his wake. A staff investigation ensues; surveillance becomes total. As the mystery of the disappeared man unravels, Dearden uncovers a conspiracy that calls into question the core principles of how and why we think about the future—and the past, and the now.
November 4th 2014, FSG Originals (ebook) ISBN: 0374534977 (ISBN13: 9780374534974)
- 2001 Eagle Award for Character most worthy of ongoing title, Elijah Snow
- 2001 Eagle Award for Favorite reprint collection, The Authority: Under New Management
- 2006 Eagle Award for Favorite comics story published during 2006, Nextwave 1-6
- 2006 Eagle Award for Favorite comics villain, Dirk Anger (Nextwave: Marvel)
- 2006 Eagle Award for Favorite comics writer
- 2006 Eagle Award for Favorite new comic book, Nextwave
- 2006 Eagle Award Roll of Honour
- 2010 Eagle Award for Favorite Writer
- 2010 Eagle Award for Favorite web based comic, Freakangels