On June 16th, 2020, several women came forward to discuss Warren Ellis' emotional abuse. I believe them. Since I didn't want to leave a fan site up without noting the issue, I added my commentary and some links to the front page.


The Underappreciated

Let's take a moment before we hit the meat of the page to give Nathan Eyring and Clem Robins proper credit here. They're the colorist and letterer, respectively. The colors in Transmetropolitan are excellent, with a lovely range; issue #3, for example, was all dark reds and blacks and gloom, while issue #4 opened up into what's practically a pastel color scheme. It fit the mood. Nice. In the meantime, Mr. Robins hasn't been doing anything spectacular, no cute tricks with different letterings for different characters, but God knows I'm glad this book isn't lettered by computer and the work is solidly competent. Here's to the underappreciated colorists and letterers of the world.

The Writer

Now that I've made you wait...

Warren Ellis is the writer of Transmetropolitan, and it's a creator-owned title, so we don't have to worry about anyone else taking over and mucking up a good thing. He's one of the mad Brits who've been providing a needed shot in the arm to American comics for the past fifteen years or so. Most of us probably noticed him first for his work on Excalibur for Marvel Comics; he also wreaked bloody havoc on the Marvel universe with Hellstorm (which was cancelled out from under him) and Druid (which was cancelled out from under him after four issues). He also did quite a few issues of Doom 2099.

Excalibur made his skill with the superheroic genre clear, while Druid and Hellstorm demonstrated all too clearly that he was in tune with the darker corners of the human psyche. Warren's horror comics are notable in that his protagonists are utter bastards who often do the right thing but don't much care who they fuck over in the process. Doom 2099 showed what happens when you let the man help define your universe. He'll take it and shake it up until you're dizzy, then spin things again, and it'll all be rock solid writing.

Following those Marvel years, he wandered over to Wildstorm to write the first six issues of DV8 and take over Stormwatch, one of the two flagship Wildstorm titles. His DV8 run was brutal, blunt, and moving; his Stormwatch run, which still continues, thrust superheros into the age of political conspiracy. Look them up.

Now he's writing Transmetropolitan for DC Comics, and I'll admit I wish he'd do more work for them. He's done a bit of Wolverine recently, he was going to do Satana as a followup to Hellstorm but Marvel's owners wanted it to be Code, and there's something called Panic Nation coming from Top Cow. There are rumors of something called The Wild Storm for Wildstorm, and some sort of millenial project for Marvel, and I wonder what it says that he's got his fingers in the millenial projects for two of the major comics publishers?

It's also worth looking up his earlier work and his indy work. Lazarus Churchyard is a very fine cyberpunk graphic novel, for example, and there's more. Check out Smoke Damage, his personal Web page, for lots of details and a new column by the man himself every month.

The Artist

OK, this is embarassing. I don't know as much about Darick Robertson as I do about Warren Ellis, not by a long shot. It's the man's own fault for not having his own Web page (although there is a fan page out there). Plus I'm not a Marvel reader, which appears to be where most of his work to date has been, with the exception of the DC stuff he did which I didn't read either.

I do know that he used to live in San Francisco, an excellent city, but has recently moved to Florence, Italy. I met him at the legendary Mad Brit signing at Comix Experience (Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, Darick Robertson, John McCrea, Matt Hollingsworth, fuck me but it was a frightening sight), and he seemed pleasant enough for the kind of raving maniac who'd draw Spider Jerusalem.

The first time I saw his work, it was in JLA: A Midsummer's Nightmare. It did not, shall we say, stick with one long after one set down the comic. Mind you, one could say that about the writing as well. Prior to that, my sources tell me he did a bunch of New Warriors for Marvel, and some Justice League Europe for DC. The Usenet buzz is that his work's improved by leaps and bounds since he got onto Transmetropolitan, which is what you get when you let someone work on something they care about, yes?

Darick and Warren work closely together; for example, the kicker in issue #5 was all his fault.

The Inkers

They're a motley crew. For the first five issues or so, DC had trouble getting a steady inker, although reportedly this has changed. Luckily, the styles have all meshed very well -- I'm guessing that Darick's detailed pencils are pretty easy to work with, although what do I know about it?

My vote for the nicest inks so far go to Kim DeMulder, who's got a light touch and clean lines with a nice eye for detail. In issue #4, the inks flattered the detail of Darick's lines to perfection.

Rodney Ramos, who inked issue #5 and #6, is the regular inker. That would be OK. He's also done both pencilling and inking for the old Valiant and maybe the new Acclaim/Valiant, some fill-in inks for Milestone, and various other work. It's bloody hard finding inker credits.

The Cover Artists

Geof Darrow did the first three covers; Frank Quitely did the next two and will be doing the cover for issue #6 as well. Issue #7 will be Darick's. No clue where it goes from there.

Geof Darrow is most often linked with Frank Miller; together, they did Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot and Hardboiled. The latter won an Eisner Award for Best Team. He's also done a lot of covers and a Magic card or two.

Frank Quitely is one of the numerous talented artists and writers who've emerged from the pages of Fleetway Publishing's Judge Dredd. Don't laugh; everyone in British comics seems to have worked for them at one time or another. It's an anthology type of comic, I believe. Quitely's first big job in the US was Grant Morrison's Flex Mentallo, and he's done some other stuff with Morrison since. His British work includes drawing the first story for Gordon Rennie's Missionary Man, which is a Clint Eastwoodesque western piece, and a 3-issue story for Shimura, a story about a ronin in a future Japan.

Both of them have a line drawing-ish style that works well with Darick's art; I'd be hard-pressed to say whose covers I like better.


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