English Apocalypses and Robot Skateboards: Warren Ellis’ Futures
The 'Future' as it appears in any cultural artefact (book, film, comic...) is always polysemous; it can be prediction, speculation, warning, aspiration, and any number of other possible things. This chapter offers an examination of the work of Warren Ellis, who has employed the future throughout his career in comics and prose fiction as a critical lens for the examination, not just of what might be, but of where we are now, and the various forces and influences that shape our reading of the present and our visions of 'Things To Come'. Ellis is first and foremost a British writer, and his work continually displays the influence of such British futures as Thunderbirds (the inspiration of Global Frequency), Dan Dare (transformed into the darker, more acerbic vision of Ministry of Space) and above all 2000AD. However, in more recent work, such as Injection, Supergod, and the series of talks collected in Cunning Plans, he has begun to develop a distinctive vein of futures rooted in the British past, where ancient gods and mythologies return from history to shape (generally apocalyptic) narratives of what lies ahead. It is impossible to speak of the 'future' as presented by Ellis; he runs the gamut of possibilities, from extrapolations of contemporary reality (as in Transmetropolitan) to more complex, elegiac examinations of the future that never came to be (an important theme in Planetary). This study presents an overview of the various futures Ellis develops in his writing and a study of the underlying message he presents, namely that as a species, we need dreams to drive our culture and civilization forward, and speculative/imaginative, non-realist art can act as a spur for innovation and hope.
Citation : Scott, K. (2017) English Apocalypses and Robot Skateboards: Warren Ellis’ Futures. In: The Future in Comics (eds Franco Allessandro-Ursini and Frank Bramlett): McFarland.
Research Institute : Media and Communication Research Centre (MCRC)
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- School of Humanities