Garth Ennis is one of the most twisted minds writing comics today. His work on books like “Preacher”, “The Boys”, and “The Punisher”, has consistently pushed the boundaries of storytelling in the comics world, while forcing readers to examine the harsh realities of war, violence, sex and religion.
In 2008 Ennis launched his now infamous horror series “Crossed” with Avatar Press. The series follows a group of survivors struggling to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic world where a virus has turned the majority of the population into murdering sadistic monsters. Once infected by the virus they are completely stripped of their moral inhibitions and are now out to rape, torture, and kill anything they cross paths with. Nothing is off limits when it comes to the world of “Crossed” and the series has given audiences terrifyingly tales of rape, incest, and extreme torture, that have forced readers to run screaming for confession. “Crossed” is quite simply not for the faint of heart, and is one of the most extreme books out there in the market. What makes “Crossed” so fascinating is not the stomach curdling depictions of violence or the scenes of torture, but the extreme measures that the survivors will take in order to guarantee their own safety.
Bloody-Disgusting was fortunate to get the opportunity to talk to Ennis about everything that he has planned for “Crossed” in the coming months, Eincluding the live-action webisodes, his criteria for selecting writers, and what he has planned for the landmark “Crossed: Badlands” issue #50.
Bloody-Disgusting: Let’s talk about the live-Action “Crossed” episodes that you have coming up. Will they be adapting any of the storylines from the series or they brand new ‘Crossed’ stories?
Garth Ennis: We are in the early stages, but we just got in the artwork for the web comic, but that will be part of the fundraising efforts. That should be going live fairly soon, because the artist has drawn a fair bit of it. That will allow us to start raising the money for the episodes, which hopefully we
will start working on next year.
BD: Will it be a Kickstarter campaign?
GE: That style of thing, but we’re doing our own campaign through Avatar.
BD: Can you offer up any insight into the episodes themselves and any source material you will be adapting?
GE: They will follow six separate survivors through their own origin stories, and by that I mean you will see how they survived the initial outbreak and the circumstances that really overtook them. At the beginning and end of the episodes you’ll see the ongoing storyline that they are going to be a part of.
BD: You are directing these live-action webisodes. How different is it for you as a creative person directing actors on a set, vs. writing them into a script as a writer?
GE: It’s been very gratifying and a new creative challenge. I’ve enjoyed it very, very much. The writing is fundamentally the same, you write the script and there are slight differences in format. What happens after that is completely different, and rather than directing an artist with the script you’re directing actors. That’s a very different type of fish, but still very enjoyable.
BD: Could you see yourself doing more of this type of work in the future?
GE: We’ll do this and see how it goes…
BD: So go back for a second to when you wrote that initial “Crossed” story-arc. Did you conceive it as a finite story or envision it as a larger world?
GE: As a matter of fact when I thought it was just going to be ten issues, I wanted it to kind of be a punchy little statement on horror. I figured I would do it, finish it and then get out. The series went over really well and William Christensen from Avatar said that he really though it had legs and it could go a lot further. He thought that we could build it into a franchise, but that would mean we would have to bring in other writers. I said ok, but I didn’t want to be editing them or directing other writers creatively, so I set some ground rules and got out. As long as the other writers followed the ‘series bible’, then I would have no problem with it. The only thing I really said I wanted was the right to say yes or no to particular writers, because I felt like there was a standard of writing on ”Crossed” that I felt like we needed to maintain. That doesn’t mean going after horror writers specifically, but just guys that I thought were talented enough, like for instance Jamie Delano and Si Spurrier. Si for instance has done a fantastic job with the webcomic ”Crossed’: I Wish You Were Here’ and I think if there was a reason for carrying on the ”Crossed” series he provided it. Also since I started the series, I would drop back in every year on what we like to call ‘C-Day’ for issue #25 and #50 to tell another story.
BD: “Crossed: Badlands” issue number 50 is looming on the horizon. What can you tell us about the upcoming “Patient Zero” story you have planned?
GE: Well that’s called “The Thin Red Line” and it’s a seven part story that kicks off in March with issue #50 of “Crossed: Badlands”. The artist will be Christian Zanier and he’s doing tremendous stuff. it’s the story of the initial outbreak at a government or a senior level, and we’ll see how things fell apart from the top down. You’ll see the characters from the “Fatale Englishmen” arc, which ran earlier this year and you’ll see what they were doing back at the beginning of the initial outbreak. I think that their occupation back at that time will surprise a lot of people.
BD: David Lapham has done some crazy things with “Crossed” and he was never really known as a horror writer before he came on board.
GE: He is now, but back then I really sort of thought of him as the ‘Stray Bullets’ guy. I must say that David in particular has gone further on “Crossed” than I would be comfortable going myself. One of the things about working with Avatar is that I run into my own limits before I run into publisher William Christensen’s limits. That’s ok, because the beauty of having creative freedom is being able to take things as far as you want to go. David’s stuff has been extreme and he took things to a level that I certainly wasn’t expecting, but that’s ok because as I told you I didn’t want to edit anyone.
BD: I thought Christos Gage did a great take on the series and really added a new dimension to the series with his recent run.
GE: I really like what he did, because I think he joined a couple dots in an interesting way. He referred to the teams that were sent out to close down the nuclear facilities from my original storyline, and then he referred to the two ‘Crossed’ twins from Jamie Delano’s storyline. I think that a little bit of that will spice things up a bit, as long we don’t get too bound down with continuity and it doesn’t become an end in itself like they do in superhero universes. I was glad to see him do that.
BD: So then, is there anything that’s off-limits in “Crossed”?
GE: In terms of the extremity of the scenes no, that is basically up to the conscience of the writer and artist. The only things I set as limits were that there was no going back to the original storyline and that the survivors of that story are to be left alone. I also wanted to limit the amount of what I like to call more developed ‘Crossed’, or I think in recent stories they sort of began the Alpha ‘Crossed’, but the ones that actually restrain themselves enough to cause more havoc later, because I think once you make the ‘Crossed’ smart then the survivors don’t stand a chance. I wanted to limit the number of those, but in terms of what can be shown that is up to the individual writer and artist.