September 30th, 2006 | admin
If all has gone to plan, then, courtesy of the wonderful Ariana and new website host Dreamhost, warrenellis.com is back.
September 29th, 2006 | Uncategorized
September 29th, 2006 | Work
I’ve been listening to nothing but singles all day.
I’ve been going on about singles in my mailing list on and off for some months. Singles have informed my thinking about certain types of comic for ages, and they’re going to be a big part of the intent behind a new monthly project I’ll be launching next year.
Complete experiences in three minutes, that you can replay again and again.
Listening to “500″ by Lush at the moment. That big, plangent guitar with a hint of mythic echo on it, picking through the central riff, and then Miki Berenyi (and all great pop is sung by women like Miki Berenyi) opening up one of the greatest lines of the last twenty years, Emma Anderson’s perfect-pop apotheosis: “Shake baby shake/you know I can fit you in my arms.”
The singles mix I have on right now goes from there to “Maps,” a song that I spent the better part of a week obsessed with. I do this. Writer’s disease: if something affects you, you spend an obscene amount of time picking it apart to find out how it achieved the effect and whether it can be adapted and replicated. I did that the other week with Johnny Boy’s “You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve.” To get near that faux-Phil Spector sound, you’d have to be out on a city street at night, and there’d have to be something like the theatre’s Greek Chorus in the background. Pixies’ “Hey”: “And the whores like a choir…”
But “Maps”: “Wait. They don’t love you like I love you.” If that doesn’t knock you flat, you’re already dead.
I always loved Lauren Laverne’s voice. She does the vocals on Mint Royale’s “Don’t Falter.” Please. Stay with me. And never miss a chance to kiss me.
These are the things that get past your forebrain and all your filters and reach into your chest. Like the first time you hear the Polyphonic Spree’s “Soldier Girl,” or Sigur Ros’ “Svefn-G-Englar.” That the majority of the words are gibberish, or, in Sigur Ros’ case, somewhere between Icelandic and a language the singer made up, doesn’t matter a bit. There’s always that sound and that sharp little line hiding inside it, like a razor in a chocolate.
In this sort of mode, there’s two quotes that tend to loiter in my head. Nik Cohn on rock’n'roll, lauding what was for him the indispensable aspect that made it Great: “the glorious burst of incoherent noise.” Awopbopaloobop. And Phil Elliott, talking about his work: “I just want to make comics that strum at the heartstrings.”
After a while, I start typing in rhythm. Oasis’ “She’s Electric” is much reviled as their “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” but I’m fond of it. It’s the kitchen-sink, strange-domestic version of what Kieron Gillen called their “triumphalism”: it’s the sound of having the best girlfriend in the world. I had a girlfriend who I’d go to a lot of gigs with — a dancer and singer, red-headed Irish with a soprano show voice and a body that showgirls spend small fortunes on replicating — and she once told me that after a while I start kissing in time with the music. I can’t hold a note to save my life — I once lived with another singer, who admitted she’d rather smother me than hear me even hum bars while I worked — but my head locks on to a beat like a missile. Grant Morrison once described my stuff as “very musical and percussive.” My dad was a drummer, in his youth. One night in the early Sixties, he was approached by two Liverpudlians who said they needed a drummer, and they might have some gigs in Germany… he told me this not long before he died, and I remember him sitting over his cup of tea, staring into space: “I swear it was them. I can’t think about it too much, though.”
I just switched cadences. The Pixies’ “Levitate Me,” the song I intend to have played at my funeral. My dad had some thing by Jon Anderson played at his funeral. Jon Anderson’s voice hurts my head. I wanted my dad to get out of his coffin so I could smack him, but I realised he would have been laughing at me too hard to mind. So that was okay. So I sat there running the conversation we would have had in my head, trying not to laugh, while my brother and step-brother dissolved into tears. The men in my family tend not to last much past sixty. We run too fast, do too much, stay up too late, shoot around the world and leave blackened bones. It’ll be my turn soon.
You’ll think I’m dead, but I sail away… on a wave of mutilation…
(You know I can fit you in my arms.)
(Written October 2004, previous to the devising and launch of FELL. Â© Warren Ellis 2004, 2006)
September 29th, 2006 | brainjuice
My thumb finds your hood and gently pins it back. My tongue flicks at you, teasing, bringing you out. My other hand closes around your slim thigh, holds your leg open. I need you. Need you to feel this. I begin to suck, slow and relentless. You convulse a little under my lips. Electricity sparks across your heart. I breathe through my nose in time with the whirr and thump of the pump’s motor, exchanging fresh blood for the scabby mess that lays prone in your veins. A muscle in your leg jumps as the cardiac pads spill voltage across your chest again. Your soft lips fall open as the electrodes I screwed into your head, under your beautiful hair, shoot current into your brain.
Weeping, I press my mouth to you, fooling myself that I’m not tasting a dead girl.
(Written August 2004. Â© Warren Ellis 2004, 2006)
September 28th, 2006 | Uncategorized
September 27th, 2006 | Uncategorized
September 25th, 2006 | mobilesignals
Sitting in a Helsinki bar, killing a couple of hours before heading out to the airport and home. I am really looking forward to shifting back two hours: being plus-seven out of ET and plus-ten out of PT in particular are a real bitch.
Despite my knee playing up in the transitional weather, I got to see something of the area. Some parts of the Helsinki suburbs look disturbingly post-Soviet in their industrial rust, and the prevalence of dun knitwear and beige buildings go some way to explaining the suicide rate. Artistically, it’s a lively town, though (in my brief glimpse) appearing to contain more than its fair share of bitterly pseudy boys in bad spectacles, short-sleeved shirts and ties. The kid who played at Dubrovnik with a guitar and pedal drum Sat night looked like Dennis Franz fucked The Arcade Fire.
The two kids who turned up at the festival dressed as anime characters looked very lonely. I recognised one as Revolutionary Girl Utena, couldn’t place the other one. The attendance was all fanboys and goth girls, the latter outnumbered the former by about ten to one, which isn’t bad. The whole thing was superbly organised, and from my perspective ran incredibly smoothly. They got a record attendance of some six to seven thousand people. I think they’ll have to change venues next year — not unusual for the Helsinki Comics Festival, as in the past one of their previous venues has actually burned to the ground.
Just sitting here watching Helsinki go by, for another hour and a half.
September 24th, 2006 | mobilesignals
Sometime past midnight. Back in the hotel room. Leg started complaining, and it’s been a long day, topped off by upsetting a fan artist who was too mumbly to be understood and I suspect too drunk to understand me.
The convention location is long and narrow, and very much in the hand-crafted, small press inflected tradition of the other Scandinavian festivals I’ve done. Despite the bottleneck of getting bodies into the site, everything seemed very smooth, very organised, no hiccups.
The stage is actually in the dealer’s room, which is wired for sound, so people were listening to me both in the fifty or so seats on the stage and in the main room as they walked around. And also in the circle above the stage. Very interesting way of doing it, and I was kept talking by questions from the audience for far longer than expected.
After an excellent, leisurely and somewhat riotous meal, I attended the festival party at a club called Dubrovnik, where my leg started killing me, I ran out of cigarettes, and I was descended upon by said artist (who was pretty good, in a Teddy Kristiansen/Ted McKeever/Ben Templesmith style, but he couldn’t understand that I was telling him his pages were good) and his buddy, who managed to kick me in the leg three times in the act of sitting down and begging cigarettes. “Why are you alone?” he said. “I don’t know anyone here, it’s been a long day, and I really just wanted to sit on my own, have a drink and listen to the bands,” I said. So he sat down, pointed at his friend’s folder of art and said “Look at it!” Doubtless there’s going to be a Finnish LiveJournal entry about how I’m a prick tomorrow.
I did a shot with a local rock star called Jyrki, of the 69 Eyes, before leaving. I should have gone back, really, but the place was packed and my knee was screaming. Hoping I’ll see him tomorrow for drinks, as he’s a good guy.
Tomorrow I have to give the festival’s closing speech. I have no idea what I’m going to say. I don’t even have an old talk with me to fake it with. Sacrifice a goat, or a bottle or something, for me.
September 22nd, 2006 | mobilesignals
It’s a cloudless crystal blue day in Helsinki. “It’s too hot,” says Tiina, walking me to a Nepalese restaurant for lunch. “I went for a sauna this morning. I think it was a mistake.” It’s 20 degrees C. Most Finns seem to be resolutely wearing their sweaters and jeans, defying the weather to return to normal. “It should be 15C and raining,” Tiina says, glaring at the sky.
Three hours of press today. Naturally enough, it was the one guy in the room with long hair, tattoos and black fingernails who was there to interview me first, and the guy with lip piercings to interview me second. The regular press, all dressed for days in regular offices, didn’t come near me. And I wore my good suit and everything.
The girl behind the bar has a bad tattoo under plastic sandwich wrapping and yellow masking tape on her shoulder. She doesn’t look happy. Nor should she. I’m in a place called ALE PUB, washing down the lamb and ginger from the Nepalese place with another local energy drink, called BATTERY. Which makes a little more sense than yesterday’s, which was called ED.
Tonight I go to some art event and then an opening party for the festival. Iselin just emailed to ask if I was drunk yet. Not yet, Ise. But soon. Very soon.
September 20th, 2006 | mobilesignals
I’m taking off for Helsinki at the crack of bloody dawn tomorrow, for a guest-of-honour gig at the Helsinki Comics Festival. I’m not remotely prepared for it, so this is going to be interesting. Work has just been insane of late, and I’m barely even sleeping, let alone readying for a trip.
So I take off Thursday morning, and I’m not back until Monday night. Please don’t email me links or pictures or files — my mobile AOL system, on my handheld, doesn’t handle any of these things, it’s plain text only. Great for work communication, lousy for anything else.
Will attempt to blog from the road a little bit. Flickr’s conflicting with something on the site right now, but I have a working foldaway keyboard for the phone, so I may try posting photos from the phone to the site.
September 19th, 2006 | Work
For those who might be just joining me:
My name’s Warren Ellis. I write comics and graphic novels, among other things. I’ve done quite a lot of them. I have several comics works floating around on the internet for free:
I’m guest of honour at the Helsinki Comics Festival September 23-24.
These are the places you can find me on the internet. There’s a fair few of them, too:
Bad Signal is my email journal. It’s announcement-only style, which means you only get email from me, not the 10000 readers and counting who are on the list. I use it for thinking out loud. Sometimes you won’t hear from me for a week. Sometimes you’ll hear from me five times a day. Often I will be drunk. Sometimes I will be naked. People on Bad Signal tend to cry a lot.
http://www.myspace.com/warrenellis = I add anyone, me. I also abuse the bulletin system terribly. I’m tempted to start a religion there, but Rupert Murdoch would come for me. And nobody needs that. In any way.
http://www.flickr.com/people/warrenellis/ = where I store my photos. My friends-and-contacts list there is usually full of interesting stuff, as I know many
mentally ill lovely people.
I run an online community. THE ENGINE is devoted to comics (and music and other stuff).
http://www.bloglines.com/public/warrenellis = my daily reading list.
I don’t use IM. I can most easily be found on warrene @ aol.com.
September 17th, 2006 | Uncategorized
September 16th, 2006 | Work
September 16th, 2006 | brainjuice
Below, a random person I spotted in Transylvania two minutes after the grid went back up earlier today. In her eyes, you can make out part of an error message, denoting that a graphic or script from her customised “avatar” or representative form in Second Life is missing. It means that the system, that’s been crashing and hiccuping constantly since an upgrade on Wednesday, is failing to find and/or process the entirety of her body. Elsewhere, I’ve seen people wearing that message over swathes of their skin, projected there by the system.
The girl with error-message eyes.
I almost wish someone would conjure a Philip K Dick in Second Life, like the missing android of a year or two back. He’d enjoy the girl with error-message eyes: someone blinking around the evidence of fake reality. Second Life is very much the Philip K Dick experience, some days. He had a comedy notion that everything is fake but you, and the massive team of builders constructing the world around you — that it takes 12 hours or whatever to fly to Japan because the builders have to get there first and construct it for your arrival to keep the illusion going. If you fly fast in Second Life, you eventually reach the point where you’re travelling more swiftly than the system can deal with — and, as you look around, you see that the world hasn’t quite assembled around you yet. You’ve outpaced the builders, and they’re having to work double-time to get the walls up and the road down before you notice…