Garth Ennis, February 2009
16 January 1970 |
Holywood, County Down, Northern Ireland
Just a Pilgrim
|Awards||1998: Best Writer Eisner Award|
Garth Ennis (born 16 January 1970) is a Northern Irish-born American comics writer, best known for the Vertigo series Preacher with artist Steve Dillon and his successful nine-year run on Marvel Comics' Punisher franchise. He has collaborated with artists such as Dillon and Glenn Fabry on Preacher, John McCrea on Hitman, and Carlos Ezquerra on both Preacher and Hitman.
Ennis began his comic-writing career in 1989 with the series Troubled Souls. Appearing in the short-lived but critically acclaimed British anthology Crisis and illustrated by McCrea, it told the story of a young, apolitical Protestant man caught up by fate in the violence of the Irish 'Troubles'. It spawned a sequel, For a Few Troubles More, a broad Belfast-based comedy featuring two supporting characters from Troubled Souls, Dougie and Ivor, who would later get their own American comics series, Dicks, from Caliber in 1997, and several follow-ups from Avatar. Ennis was later critical of his writing debut, which he describes as "the kind of thing that was doing well at the time. (...) With hindsight, what Troubled Souls really represented was naked ambition. It was a direct attempt to get published. And that was the road that seemed most likely to lead me to success".
Another series for Crisis was True Faith, a religious satire inspired by his schooldays, this time drawn by Warren Pleece. Like the two Troubles stories it was collected as a graphic novel in 1990, but religious protests led to it being quickly withdrawn from sale, apparently on the orders of publisher Robert Maxwell. It was later republished in 1997 by Vertigo.
Ennis shortly after began to write for Crisis' parent publication, 2000 AD. He quickly graduated on to the title's flagship character, Judge Dredd, taking over from original creator John Wagner for a period of several years. Ennis's most notable Dredd stories include Muzak Killer (a pastiche of mainstream pop music), Emerald Isle (a tongue-in-cheek story set in Ennis's native Ireland), and the twenty-part epic Judgment Day. Ennis also contributed the surreal Time Flies (with artist Philip Bond), dealing with time travel paradoxes and Nazis.
Ennis' first work on an American comic came in 1991 when he took over DC Comics's horror title Hellblazer, which he wrote until 1994. Steve Dillon became the regular artist during the second half of Ennis's run. The creative partnership established went on to create Preacher. From 1993 to 1995 Ennis and John McCrea worked on another DC title, The Demon, during which they introduced super-powered contract killer Tommy Monaghan, also known as Hitman, whose own series would allow their creative partnership to continue when The Demon ended. Towards the end of the initial Hellblazer run, Ennis and Dillon collaborated on a one-shot called Heartland, exploring one of the secondary characters of their run. Several years after leaving, Ennis briefly returned for the five-part Son of Man story with artist John Higgins.
Ennis' landmark work to date is the 66-issue epic Preacher, which he co-created with artist Steve Dillon. Running from 1995 to 2000, it was a tale of a preacher with supernatural powers, searching (literally) for God who has abandoned his creation. Mixing influences from western movies and religious themes, it drew plaudits for Ennis from all sections of the media; the Guardian newspaper voted one of the Preacher collections its book of the week, and film director Kevin Smith described it as "More fun than going to the movies."
While Preacher was running, Ennis began a series set in the DC universe called Hitman. Despite being lower profile than Preacher, Hitman ran for 60 issues (plus specials) from 1996 to 2001, veering wildly from violent action to humor to an examination of male friendship under fire.
Other comic projects Ennis wrote during this time period include Goddess, Bloody Mary, Unknown Soldier, and Pride & Joy, all for DC/Vertigo, as well as origin stories for The Darkness for Image Comics and Shadowman for Valiant Comics.
His work has won him a good deal of recognition in the comics industry, including nominations for the Comics Buyer's Guide Award for Favorite Writer in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000. Ennis is also known for his lack of fondness for superhero stories and characters, the dominant style of the American comic book industry. He prefers more "grounded" characters such as the Punisher or Nick Fury. An avid reader of British war comics during his formative years, Ennis did not read superhero comics until his late teens, at which point he found them ridiculous. He has stated : "I find most superhero stories completely meaningless. Which is not to say I don’t think there’s potential for the genre – Alan Moore and Warren Ellis have both done interesting work with the notion of what it might be like to be and think beyond human, see Miracleman, Watchmen and Supergods. But so long as the industry is geared towards fulfilling audience demand – ie, for the same brightly coloured characters doing the same thing forever – you’re never going to see any real growth. The stories can’t end, so they’ll never mean anything. As a World War II aficionado, he finds characters like Captain America "borderline offensive, because to me the reality of World War II was very human people, ordinary flesh-and-blood guys who slogged it out in miserable, flooded foxholes. So adding some fantasy superhero narrative, that has always annoyed me a little bit." Although he has written a number of superhero stories, Ennis has tried to "subvert" the genre as well as he could. He does, however, like Superman and Wonder Woman. In the 1995 one-shot special Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, Ennis has the Punisher kill every single superhero and supervillain on Earth.
After the end of Hitman, Ennis was hired at Marvel Comics with the promise from Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada that he could write The Punisher as long as he cared to. The initial 12-issue maxi-series was illustrated by Steve Dillon, who also did a 37-issue series (even illustrating it and co-writing an issue while Ennis briefly stepped down as writer) which only ended when Ennis decided to change direction. Instead of largely comical tone of these issues, he decided to make a much more serious series, re-launched under Marvel's MAX imprint. This run has inspired several limited series (such as Born and Barracuda) and one-shots (The End, The Cell, and The Tyger). The creators of Punisher: War Zone have attributed Ennis's PunisherMAX run as one of the major influences on the film. While at Marvel, Ennis also wrote stories for Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Hulk, and Thor.
In 2001 he briefly returned to UK comics to write the epic Helter Skelter for Judge Dredd – this series cannot be considered a success, with Ennis himself saying that there is "not a hope" to return to writing Dredd as he was generally not happy with his run. "I'm too close to Dredd, I like him too much. I can't tamper with the formula; nor can I take the piss the way I do with superheroes," he said.
Other comics Ennis has written include War Story (with various artists) for DC; The Pro for Image Comics; The Authority for Wildstorm; Just a Pilgrim for Black Bull Press, and 303, Chronicles of Wormwood (a six issue mini-series about the Antichrist), and a western comic book, Streets of Glory for Avatar Press.
In 2002, an interview with Ennis was published in Writers on Comic Scriptwriting.
In 2006, it was announced that Ennis would write a new creator-owned extended series titled The Boys, originally published by Wildstorm. After six issues, The Boys was cancelled by Wildstorm. Ennis later explained that this was because DC Comics (of whom Wildstorm was an imprint before it was disbanded) were uneasy with the anti-superhero tone of the work. The series was picked up by Dynamite Entertainment. The Boys was illustrated by Darick Robertson, who previously worked with Ennis on the Marvel series Fury: Peacemaker and Punisher: Born. The Boys ran for 72 issues, and concluded in 2012.
Ennis wrote the first arc of WildStorm's Midnighter (a spin-off of The Authority) and one stand alone issue before leaving the title. Ennis has also worked with John Woo on a 5-issue comic book mini-series called Seven Brothers for Virgin Comics.
In 2008 Ennis ended his five-year run on PunisherMAX to debut a new Marvel title, War Is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle. The limited series, with artist Howard Chaykin, features the little-used character Phantom Eagle, a WWI pilot who originally appeared in Marvel Comics during the 1960s. In 2008, Ennis also wrote a new Dan Dare miniseries published by Virgin Comics.
In June 2008, at Wizard World Philadelphia, Ennis announced several new projects, including a metaseries of war comics called Battlefields from Dynamite made up of mini-series including Night Witches, Dear Billy and Tankies, another Chronicles of Wormwood mini-series and Crossed both at Avatar, a six-issue miniseries about Butcher (from The Boys) and a Punisher project reuniting him with artist Steve Dillon (subsequently specified to be a weekly mini-series entitled The Punisher War Zone, to be released concurrently with the film of the same name). He has also worked with Jimmy Palmiotti on Back to Brooklyn, a crime-based limited series for Image Comics.
Ripped straight from the debut of his first-ever writing/directing effort came the ongoing comic book continuation of the acclaimed short film, Stitched, published by Avatar and released October 26, 2011. The release of Stitched was supported by the largest promotional campaign Avatar has ever done. Mike Wolfer, Avatar staple artist, helped birth this taliban/zombie tale.
Garth returned to Marvel, reuniting with artist Goran Parlov, to bring fans another Max series, this time chronicling the life of Nick Fury c. 1954, Indochina. Featuring Steranko-esque covers that capture the spirit of the comic in one piece of art, this 13 issue series explores the character in a new light - stripped of the glitz of SHIELD and rooted in real-world military/CIA situations.
Early 2013, Ennis teamed up with Howard Chaykin to bring fans Red Team, a 7 issue series published by Dynamite. Red Team explores the moral conundrum of taking the law into your own hands.
Possibly the biggest surprise from Garth Ennis to date was his unexpected kickstarter for a project called Erf...of all things, a children's book. It’s a book about self-sacrifice in the name of helping others, about bravery versus cowardice and, in the end, about how we should always remember the people who did have the courage to make those sacrifices.
Showing yet another side to his skills, Avatar published early 2014 the sci-fi horror, Caliban. Ennis states "CALIBAN first began bubbling away when I learned there was going to be an Alien prequel—not just my favorite horror or sci-fi flick, probably my number one suspense movie of all time. Even to this day I find myself idly wondering about various aspects of its story. When I saw PROMETHEUS, I realized they’d gone in a different direction, but I had so many ideas of my own I figured I had enough for something completely new." Ennis' obvious passion for the theme, paired with art from Fashion Beast artist Facundo Percio, combines to create an eerily beautiful comic where characters drop like flies.
DC has announced that they will publish a Six Pack mini-series in 2015, reuniting Ennis with his "Hitman" and "Dicks" partner John McCrea. The book follows the adventures of the supporting characters from Ennis' "Hitman" comic.
Ennis returned to Marvel in 2015 with the miniseries Where Monsters Dwell, part of the Secret Wars event.
- 1998 Eisner Award for Best Writer (for Hitman, Preacher, Unknown Soldier and Blood Mary: Lady Liberty)
- 1999 Eagle Award for Favorite Color Comic Book (for Preacher)
- 1993 Eisner Award for the Best Writer (for Hellblazer)
- 1994 Eisner Award for the Best Writer (for Hellblazer)
- 1996 Eisner Award for the Best Writer (for Preacher and Goddess)
- 1997 Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Award for Favorite Writer
- 1998 Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Award for Favorite Writer
- 1999 Eagle Award for Favourite Comics Writer
- 1999 Eagle Award for Favourite Comics Character (for Jesse Custer)
- 1999 Comics Buyer's Guide Award for Favorite Writer
- 2000 Comics Buyer's Guide Award for Favorite Writer
- 2001 Eisner Award for Best Writer (for Preacher)
- 2001 Eisner Award for Best Serialized Story (for Preacher #59–66)
- 2001 Comics Buyer's Guide Award for Favorite Writer
- 2002 Comics Buyer's Guide Award for Favorite Writer
- 2003 Comics Buyer's Guide Award for Favorite Writer
- Preacher to the converted, The Irish Times, 27 August 2011
- Why Garth Ennis hates superheroes and loves war, scifinow.co.uk, 24 July 2012
- Drinking With the Boys: An Evening with Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, sequentialtart.com, 27 September 27, 1998
- Wizard. Molino, Rachel. "'Punisher: War Zone' Q&A with Ray Stevenson." 8 December 2008.
- Will Cooling, Caught in the Nexus: Garth Ennis, 16 August 2004
- Interview with Ennis about Streets of Glory, Comics Bulletin
- David Pepose (11 November 2010). "Garth Ennis' THE BOYS – 50 Issues of Superhuman Corruption". Newsarama. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
- Garth Ennis on Seven Brothers, interview with Newsarama
- Nick Lowe on Marvel Max's War is Hell series, Newsarama, 7 January 2008
- Laura Hudson, Ennis Moves from Punisher to Phantom Eagle, Publishers Weekly, 19 February 2008
- WW Philly: Ennis Tells Dynamite Stories of "Battlefields", Comic Book Resources, 1 June 2008
- WW Philly: Garth Ennis Brings War Stories to Dynamite, Newsarama, 1 June 2008
- Garth Ennis on Battlefields: Night Witches, Newsarama, 15 August 2008
- Garth Ennis Takes to the "Battlefields", Comic Book Resources, 21 August 2008
- Garth Ennis Writes To “Dear Billy”, Comic Book Resources, 25 November 2008
- Ennis & His Editor – Talking Battlefields and War Comics, Newsarama, 28 November 2008
- Garth Ennis on Battlefields: The Tankies, Newsarama, 20 February 2009
- Garth Ennis Talks "Battlefields: The Tankies", Comic Book Resources, 27 February 2009
- Double-Crossed: Ennis & Burrows talk “Crossed”, Comic Book Resources, 12 June 2008
- WW PHILLY: THE GARTH ENNIS PANEL, Newsarama, 1 June 2008
- Ma's Home! Ennis talks "Punisher: War Zone", Comic Book Resources, 9 September 2008
- Ennis & Palmiotti Go "Back to Brooklyn", Comic Book Resources, 15 July 2008
- Webb, Charles (19 January 2012). "Interview: Garth Ennis and Aaron Campbell On Bringing 'The Shadow' To Dynamite". MTV Geek.
- Comics Alliance
- Comics Alliance
- Comics Alliance
- The religious affiliation of Garth Ennis; Adherents.com; 5 January 2006
- "1997 Comics Buyers Guide Fan Awards". hahnlibrary.net. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "16th Annual Comic Buyers Guide Fan Awards (1998)". hahnlibrary.net. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "17th Annual Comics Buyers Guide Fan Awards (1999)". hahnlibrary.net. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "18th Annual Comics Buyers Guide Fan Awards (2000)". hahnlibrary.net. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "19th Annual Comics Buyers Guide Fan Awards (2001)". hahnlibrary.net. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "2001 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees Winners". hahnlibrary.net. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "20th Annual Comics Buyers Guide Fan Awards (2001)". hahnlibrary.net. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "20th Annual Comics Buyers Guide Fan Awards (2002)". hahnlibrary.net. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "21st Annual Comics Buyers Guide Fan Awards (2003)". hahnlibrary.net. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
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