Garth Ennis On Red Team, Police Procedurals And Going Gonzo

Garth Ennis has been on the cutting edge of comics for most of his career. Pushing the envelope in surprising new directions with books like The Boys, Preacher and his run on the Punisher. Jai Nitz chatted with the writer about his Dynamite Entertainment title Red Team.

JAI NITZ: I want to start with a big question.  You're known for Preacher or The Boys or Punisher or any number of projects.  It seems that comics have gone over the edge of gonzo these days and that some of the more extreme writing you did would be considered tame today.  Also, when you were gonzo the rest of entertainment was obsessed with police procedurals.  Now you're eschewing gonzo for a quiet book like Red Team.  What gives?  Why are you always zigging when comics are sagging?

GARTH ENNIS: No idea. I read almost no other comics- only Saga, or whatever Alan Moore gets up to, or oddities like Charley's War or the recent (and very welcome) Best of Milligan & McCarthy. Further, I pay very little attention to people categorising my work as one thing or another. All I do is tell each story the way I feel it should be told, and that comes purely from instinct. So what I'm doing in relation to the rest of the industry means almost nothing to me.

JN: What are some cop or military movies/TV shows that get you interested in realistic action?  My brother loves Strikeback and I love Luther.  I wonder if you're keeping up with serialized fiction like those shows?

GE: As far as Red Team is concerned, the shows that mean the most to me are The Wire, The Shield and The Sopranos- the three truly great American crime dramas of the last fifteen years. I'm also a big fan of Breaking Bad. As for movies, the three that instantly come to mind are Goodfellas, Miller's Crossing and State of Grace. After that, in no particular order- Reservoir Dogs, LA Confidential, The Usual Suspects, Training Day, Out of Sight, Sexy Beast, A Simple Plan, Traffic, Thunderbolt & Lightfoot…  also strange little things no one's every heard of, like Cohen & Tate and The Grasscutter… the list is almost endless. Reigning supreme is still Dirty Harry.

JN: You could take a creator-owned project like Red Team anywhere.  What brought you to Dynamite?

GE: Comfort, really. We've built up a good relationship over the years, and I enjoy working with Nick Barrucci and Joe Rybandt. Simple competence goes a long way with me.

JN: I've been digging Red Team so far.  How would you describe the series?  Is it another long-form piece like Preacher or The Boys, or is it shorter and finite?

GE: First and foremost it's a crime story- a very dirty one, wherein even the best people have a long way to go in their climb back towards the light. There'll be another 7-8 episode series after this one, but beyond that- who knows? I'm very comfortable writing a story like this in miniseries, which suits the developing pace of the narrative much better than something more open-ended.

JN: Craig Cermak is an amazing new talent.  How do you like writing for him?

GE: Craig is terrific- I've quickly come to realise he's not just the perfect artist for Red Team, he's producing some of the best art I've ever seen on one of my stories. Great storytelling and sense of character, equally good at conversation, action and humour. Also very conscientious, even idealistic- but don't worry, we'll soon knock that out of him.


You can check out Red Team #6 on sale now.

Jai Nitz is a writer in his own right having written for Marvel, DC, Image and currently Dynamite on Grimm: The Warlock debuting next month.

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About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.
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