If you made it to the San Diego ComicCon this year, you might have had a chance to see a few peeks of Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts, the forthcoming documentary directed by Patrick Meaney and co-produced by Respect Films and Sequart on the life and work of the legendary creator of Transmetropolitan, Planetary, Doktor Sleepless, Freakangels and Fell. While some of us here at NerdBastards (namely our Fearless Leader Luke, the bastard) made it to the con, we weren’t able to make that particular panel. Luckily, the director himself was kind enough to send me his SDCC clip reel.
I’ve been stoked for this flick ever since I saw Respect’s first documentary on a comic book creator, Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods, and the clips the filmmakers have let out of the bag don’t disappoint. If you’re not familiar with Warren Ellis, and you’re into comics or media or really having a brain on your shoulders, you’re missing out. He’s an internet messiah, a groundbreaking writer who pushes the boundary of the graphic form with nearly every new work he releases, an internet presence for the ages and a voice of the future. To quote one of the film’s interviewees: “Warren Ellis will fuck you with the future and make you say thank you.”
The clips – compiled from footage of candid interviews with Ellis himself, along with friends and collaborators including Matt Fraction, Phil Jimenez, Ben Templesmith, Molly Crabapple, Darick Robertson and Joe Quesada – showcase everything from Ellis’ childhood, to his controversial Hellblazer issue that was never published, to Doktor Sleepless, Transmetropolitan and the perils of living in a current future (no, that’s not an oxymoron), whether we understand it or not.
Among the most endearing sequences: a collection of clips of Ellis’ friends, admirers and cohorts describing his Crotchety Old Uncle of the Internet persona, and then going on to insist that he’s actually a very nice person. Ellis responds to this with a slightly tongue in cheek rant, promising to “piss in their beds,” then takes a drink of whiskey.
There are also moments of surprising poignance amid all the cursing and swilling of Red Bull, like a discussion on the role of the writer, which Ellis describes as a duty to say “Look up, because you’re here too. Don’t just take my word for it.”
Also, there’s a Warren Ellis puppet. We will get to the bottom of this, I assure you.
It’s a brief glimpse, but one that promises a brilliant full length film on one of the most influential and daring comic book writers working today. The flick is set to be completed later this year. For now, check out the trailer: