In June 2020, the website SoManyOfUs.com collected and collated dozens of accusations of grooming young women by the comic book writer Warren Ellis over the past two decades. Further coverage saw them record, even more, over a hundred. In the wake of this news, and despite the site stating they did not want Warren to be "cancelled" but to learn, a number of projects (but not all) dropped Ellis as a contributor, or he pulled out. In February 2022, Warren Ellis relaunched his Orbital Operations newsletter, from a new provider, Button Down in which he linked to the So Many Of Us update and website. There have, however, been no updates for some time.
This weekend on his newsletter, Warren Ellis revealed that one of the projects he had been writing, and referring to as Project Whittle, is a series of audio drama podcasts, the details or which have not been revealed. But this is what he said about it previously.
SO the Main Project, previously referred to as The Mad Idea, is now PROJECT WRITTLE. I'm locking down episode 4. Episode 3 was the halfway point, and that triggered pre-production activities which, thankfully, I don't have to deal with.
PROJECT WRITTLE is intended to be more than one thing. I've been told to think about it as a "label." It only has one piece so far, and we're aiming for three. I'm doing construction in my head.
I did get PROJECT WRITTLE written. As you read this, the contracts should be closing, the person I had in mind for it when I conceived it seems to have agreed to do it, we're making a start on the key-art generation process, and we're just waiting to see if we need to clear one pre-production hurdle before marching forward. We're probably looking at a go-time of a couple of months from now. At which time I should be able to talk about it in a little more detail. Which I'm looking forward to, because it's a new kind of thing for me and the process and learning has been interesting.
PROJECT WRITTLE has been my main focus for the last several weeks. It now comes in three phases – three stories, in fact. So now I'm breaking it down a bit. WRITTLE 1 is into its rewrites phase, which is all of the coming week. WRITTLE, in its entirety, is a medium that I haven't, strictly speaking, worked in before, so there was A Plan for WRITTLE 1. The plan was: Deliberately Carelessly Bad First Drafts. In this method, the goal is to just get to the end while having everything make some kind of vague sense. Once you see the script as a whole, you can fix it up, but you have to get to the end of the script first without constantly second-guessing yourself as to whether you're nailing it or not.
I wrote WRITTLE 1 with a particular collaborator in mind. On Thursday that collaborator confirmed that they were on board. So I need to get these scripts rewritten now now now, because that collaborator's role was the major switch that needed throwing.
So that's daytime work for the next week set. Night-time work is writing the full outline for WRITTLE 2, which has been agreed in principle but requires an extremely detailed and tight outline. It's a crime/thriller thing, and I can't wing those. I need to attend to the machinery of the plot and the fullness of the characters. Can't leave much to chance: in that kind of story, the cogs all have to turn smoothly and in order when you crank the handle.
I am also still writing the PROJECT WRITTLE 2 outline, which got so bloated and muddled that I lost my way in the middle of it and started again with a simple beat outline. A beat outline is simply breaking down the plot in short single sentences. The most minimalist way of describing a story. Like distilling two or three chapters of MOBY DICK into "Ishmael goes to the pub and meets Queequeg, harpooner and cannibal island royalty, who he has to share a room with." Just horribly basic shit you'd never show to anyone else. Sometimes the map of a territory has to be turned into a Tube map so you can find your way through it.
And in his most recent newsletter, he revealed those details.
PROJECT WRITTLE is a slate of audio drama podcast series created and written by me. Titles, collaborators and other details to be announced soon. Do I know how to write audio drama? Of course not.
Bleeding Cool reported two years ago that Declan Shalvey had pulled out of a new digital-first Batman comic book project that would have been written by Warren Ellis, as a result of the So Many of Us revelations. They both also created the comic book series Injection with Jordie Bellaire, published by Image Comics. Warren also wrote;
A few people have asked me about plans for INJECTION recently. All I can tell you right now is that we are waiting for the stars to align to be able to finish our story, and it's something that, last time I checked, we all want to do. Just hang on with us, and hopefully timings and schedules and the elements will allow us to get it done in the near future.