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Do Anything 003 by Warren Ellis



So perhaps I encode Philippe Druillet into the robotic head of Jack Kirby that sits on my desk and gobs bits of tobacco leaf at me, too, because Druillet is Jack Kirby from the future. Or a future, a weird mirrored alternate future where Kirby became fully a part of the cultural conversation. The world where, in France, the New Wave of science fiction crested higher in comics than in prose, and Druillet, and Moebius and Bilal and all designed the visual future that reached Anglophone shores as the sf films of the Eighties and Nineties.

(I should also mention here Jean-Pierre Dionnet, the grinning Angel Of The Odd — as his blog is entitled — comics writer and editor of the seminal French sf comics anthology METAL HURLANT, who introduced me to my Paris hotel suite with: "you will like this place very much. This is where I lived for a couple of years after my wife threw me out." It was palatial, within a few minutes of the Arc De Triomphe and around the corner from the Champs D'Elysee. At night I could sit outside wonderful cafes with coffee and cigarettes, writing on a handheld computer and watching Paris flow and skitter and clatter by. Important to note that I was not, unlike Grant Morrison, composing miserable poetry in a notebook. Although I did kind of smile and suspect that his spectral electromagnetic imprint wasn't far away, probably fucking up someone's computer as it sat there glittering in the dark, the Kirlian traces of Grant wearing depression like a well-cut new jacket that he could shrug off the moment he was bored with it. You could encode a wall of graphic novels and a stack of hard drives full of interviews into a form readable by Google Maps and spit out a KML file of every city street in the world where at one time Garth Ennis has been in a booth at the back with a beer, Grant's been at the window with a vodka and a notebook, and I've been outside with a handheld computer and a cigarette.)

(One day I will connect the head of Norwegian comics editor Iselin Evensen to that same machine, and it will emit a set of informatics showing the different paths taken around the Viking museum in Oslo by myself, Neil Gaiman and Brian Wood when, on three separate dates, she led each of us around the place. Brian said to me the other day, of the Viking longships, "those fuckers were big. You don't realise." But the biggest Viking longship ever seen was designed for an issue of THOR by Jack Kirby.)

(Jean-Pierre Dionnet returned to comics writing not long after I left Paris, revisiting his EXTERMINATEUR 17 cycle with a sequence entitled THE ELLIS TRILOGY.)

(He introduced me to director Olivier Dahan, a wonderful guy. We were going to make a science fiction film together, an adaptation of the anime CAPTAIN HARLOCK. He's currently making a film with Forest Whitaker, who was in a science fiction film called REPOSSESSION MAMBO, that hasn't been released yet. One of the concept artists on that film was Rob McCallum, who started out on the anthology comic ELECTRIC SOUP with Frank Quitely and who also did some work with Marvel and I think maybe I got drunk with him and Simon Bisley and four other guys in a hotel room many many years ago. The other concept artist on REPOSSESSION MAMBO was a guy called Ray Lai, who's worked on many films, including FANTASTIC FOUR and the X-MEN trilogy, based, of course, on comics co-created by Jack Kirby.)

(I've never worked with Frank Quitely, but of course Grant Morrison has, perhaps most popularly on X-MEN, retitled as NEW X-MEN, which is a weird mirrored palindrome. X-MEN is a series about genetic mutants. Palindromes occur naturally in genetic structure, creating hairpins or "stem-loops" that can cause mutation.)

Jack Kirby's head speaks with Druillet's voice, spitting out a line from Druillet's graphic novel NOSFERATU: "Comment était-ce, la vie? We had to change, we, those of the surface. Mutation, nourriture… Mutation, food …"


Some books you should investigate. Use the Google to find things out. MILITANT MODERNIST, Owen Hatherley — nowhere near as dry and forbidding as it sounds. Funny and angry. BIOREBOOT: The Architecture of R&Sie(n): not out til September, but start investigating now — this is the work of Francois Roche, whom I talked about in 002, and his partner Stephanie Lavaux. TOTALLY WIRED, Simon Reynolds — the interviews that formed the research spine of Simon's superb book on post-punk music, RIP IT UP AND START AGAIN, which you should also own if you don't already, and which I will likely ramble about in later episodes.


I can be sent things via Avatar Press at Avatar Press, 515 N. Century Blvd., Rantoul, IL 61866, USA, but I cannot promise a response or a review. Although, let's be honest, it's fairly likely, as eventually the ANYTHING section will need to be about comics. You can email me at, but I warn you, it's a dump address, not my regular email address, so it can take me a few days to check it.

DO ANYTHING is © Warren Ellis 2009, all rights reserved.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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