Finding A New Home With Image Comics: A Garth Ennis Interview
Recently, we had the opportunity to discuss some upcoming titles with their creator, Garth Ennis. Now moving to Image Comics, Garth took some time to talk about this transition and the titles that he’ll be working on while there: Bloody Mary, Adventures in the Rifle Brigade, and Pride & Joy. Not only did we gain some insight as to his reasoning behind the shift but also how he plans to implement his upcoming works as well.
Geeks WorldWide: At this point in your career you’ve produced a lot of material between companies like Marvel, DC, and Vertigo. What has lead you to now shift towards working with Image as opposed to those you have prior? Are there any specific opportunities you’re seeking while there?
Garth Ennis: I should point out that all three books are ex-Vertigo projects published in the late 90s/early 2000s. Once I got the rights back from DC I started looking for a new publisher, and thought it might be a good opportunity to dip a toe in the Image waters- on the theory that if this goes well, I might do a new project for them next. Creatively there’s no difference between Image and Dynamite or Avatar, where I’ve done the bulk of my work for the past ten years- but it’s a chance to test them out, as I say. I look at deals, rates, competence, things like that- no complaints so far.
GGW: Looking at the titles you’ll be working on while at Image, it seems as though you’ll be working with Carlos Ezquerra quite a lot between Bloody Mary and Adventures in the Rifle Brigade. What can you tell us about the creative process alongside an artist like him or John Higgins, who will be alongside you on Pride & Joy?
GE: My creative process rarely changes from artist to artist; I write a simple script and they draw it, each of us trusting the other to get on with the job. Carlos and John are both highly experienced and need no particular additional input from me- they both worked on some of the comics I read as a kid, which I enjoy reminding them of at every opportunity.
GGW: Having read your work before, conflicts of wars and assassins
certainly seem within your wheelhouse. What do you feel it is that sets the protagonist of “Bloody Mary” apart from what you’ve produced in the past?
GE: She’s an odd one, Mary- twenty years of extremely brutal experience have left her almost burned-out, but she still has some specific scores to settle. She manages to remain very human, unlike the almost robotic Frank Castle or combat junkie Nick Fury. Equally, she’s not some unlikely hot chick running around a battlefield with a tiny costume hanging off her, Carlos manages to draw her as a believable person.
GGW: Regarding the setting for “Bloody Mary,” it’s described as taking place in “a world only slightly worse than our own.” In what ways has the world been reimagined, and what has triggered the third European conflict that occurs in this series?
GE: The EEC has become an economic superstate- but Britain, unable ever to make her relationship to the rest of the continent really stick, has opted out and gone with the USA instead. So it’s a war for control of resources, like most of them, with the rise of the political right complicating matters- distrust of refugees and immigrants has paved the way for fascism to return to the mainstream.
GGW: The description for this title also mentions “a man who cannot die” and “a crazed cult leader.” Could you lend us any insight as to what have these two have done to have Bloody Mary sent after them?
GE: Sergeant Anderton is Mary’s old boss; she wants to kill him in ways you can’t even imagine. That “cannot die” business is going to be put to the test, and then some. The Reverend Achilles Seagal is a complete maniac-at first he seems like more of a regular assassination job for Mary, but things soon get more complicated than that.
GGW: “Pride & Joy” certainly stands out considering the content of your other two titles. What motivates, or perhaps inspired, you to tell this story?
GE: I wanted to write a straight crime story, with no horror or mystical elements- these were extremely prevalent at Vertigo at the time, and I felt the need to use the imprint’s creative freedom to stretch the medium a bit, at least in the mainstream.
GE: Jimmy was no great criminal mastermind; he was strictly small time, but he happened upon a larger score that led him into the worst circumstances imaginable. He committed a dreadful act- largely by accident, but there’s no doubt that his criminal actions put him in the wrong place at the wrong time. Later he rationalized it, and buried it- but the past has a habit of not letting go.
GGW: What kind of story can we come to expect from “Pride & Joy?” Your other works seem a bit more self-explanatory, but this be one seems to have much more potential to go a number of ways.
GE: It’s essentially a chase story, with the villain determined to track Jimmy down- and torment him to as unbearable a degree as possible while doing so. Complicating matters are two of Jimmy’s old criminal associates, who are frankly less than competent- and his teenage son and young daughter. The former in particular will make things even harder for our hero.
GGW: Since you’ve worked with the Rifle Brigade before, do you feel that your fans may have any expectations when approaching your most recent work on the title? If so, do you have any notions to shake things up for the more seasoned readers? Similar to the last question, since this isn’t the first time you have worked with these characters what new plans or adventures do you have in store for the team?
GE: Like Bloody Mary and Pride & Joy, Rifle Brigade is an ex-Vertigo project- it originally saw print in two series around 2001 or so. It’s one of my favorites (again like the other two) and I hated the thought of it languishing in limbo, so it’ll be great to see it back in print after so long. With these three projects available again, and the two volumes of ex-Vertigo War Stories also in print with Avatar, I feel like I’ve got everything back just as it should be.
GGW: How has writing in a more historical sense impacted your writing? Do you feel that writing about a particular era or period of time comes with its own benefits or constraints?
GE: The majority- or at least of a good chunk- of my work these days is historical, sometimes tinged with horror and sometimes not, so I’m very comfortable writing material like this. It’s worth noting that Rifle Brigade is actually a larger than life comedy, so although the settings, uniforms and hardware are all accurate (thanks to Carlos), the goings-on are something else again.