PopCultHQ Interview: Garth Ennis

This past weekend at New York Comic Con, writing sensation Garth Ennis made an appearance for a signing with AfterShock Comics for his title Dreaming Eagles, a series which is now available in a collected hardcover format. Amidst his brief NYCC appearance, and a major huge shout-out and thanks to AfterShock Comics’ Stephan “It’s not Stephanie!” Nilson who made it all possible, Garth took the time to be interviewed by PopCultHQ.

The Eisner Award-winning writer has a long list of titles to his credit, including 2000 A.D., The Boys, Hellblazer, Crossed, Preacher, Ghost Rider, The Punisher, Judge Dredd, Hitman, and a number of War Stories.

So join us in learning more about the acclaimed writer as he talks about working with AfterShock Comics, how religion has been incorporated into a lot of his work, his love for war comics, and what you can expect in the near future from Garth.


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PopCultHQ: Something that I find intriguing is that I’ve read somewhere that you are a resolute atheist but you’ve produced titles which incorporated religious themes, characters of faith, and/or have had a strong influence from The Bible (from Troubled Souls to True Faith to Preacher). How influential was your upbringing in the titles you’ve created, and brilliant stories you’ve told, in the pages of these comic books?

Garth EnnisTo talk about how harmful and divisive religion can be, or what nonsense the idea of god actually is, you obviously have to incorporate exactly those themes into your work. So Preacher, for instance, features the weirdly schizophrenic god we see in the bible- the spiteful racist monster of the old testament combined with the allegedly loving, forgiving version of the new. Preacher has plenty of fantastic elements to begin with (angels and demons, vampires, visits to hell and heaven) so god is not at all out of place.

I had no religious upbringing at home, so I first encountered the idea in school as a little kid, and was simultaneously frightened and repulsed. After that it became clear that religious instruction was just another subject that I had to try to do reasonably well in- even if I thought it was all a lot of balls- and thus avoid another black mark on the report card. You grit your teeth and get on with it, the way I later did with chemistry and biology (too much minutiae to commit to memory), although curiously enough I always did quite well at physics.

dreaming-eagles-1PopCultHQ: You have a huge signing appearance this [past] weekend with the awesome team at AfterShock Comics for NYCC 2016 of your series Dreaming Eagles collected into a HC format. How has it been working with AfterShock on this series and are there any future plans with the publisher?

Ennis: AfterShock have been very good indeed- just the right blend of a decent deal, good people and simple competence, so I’m more than happy to add them to my usual rotation of Avatar and Dynamite when it comes to creator-owned properties. I will indeed be doing another series with them, hopefully starting early next year.
PopCultHQ: In creating/writing Preacher, from where did your influence originate? Was it from your work writing Constantine?
Ennis: It came from all over the place, mostly cinema (westerns, action flicks, horror) and novels (Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, Stephen Hunter). What I got from my time on Hellblazer was probably that general Vertigo notion of hell and heaven being real places, and of their denizens being able to enter our world at will- as demonstrated brilliantly by Alan Moore during his time on Swamp Thing. And, of course, I did lift the idea of the demon-angel crossbreed directly from one of my own Constantine stories. Worked out rather better second time round, as I recall.
Ennis at the AfterShock Comics booth at NYCC 2016.
Ennis at the AfterShock Comics booth at NYCC 2016.

PopCultHQ: There was a dynamic chemistry seen in the pages of Preacher between you and artist Steve Dillon. Have the two of you discussed reuniting for another series?

Ennis: Many times. We had quite a successful run on The Punisher, and may have something else lined up when Steve’s finished his current commitments.

PopCultHQ: You had mentioned a few years back in an interview that comic book titles so easily can get canceled and that, “…the main victim is going to be mature readers material, as in non-superhero material.” With Marvel’s recent darker tone in their Netflix original series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage), titles like The Walking Dead, Preacher, The Strain and soon The Boys, being adapted for television, and the current success of numerous titles outside the superhero genre, how do you perceive the current climate of fans’ desire for entertainment?

Ennis: To be honest I think less and less about the current climate in entertainment and try to simply focus on my own work, never having been a particularly keen comics/film/TV/etc pundit- as proven by my lack of skill with a crystal ball. But the time certainly appears to be right for more and more adaptations- I expect my own interest in each one will depend on both subject matter and level of talent brought to bear.

PopCultHQ: With your love and extensive knowledge of history and war emanating from a lot of your work (Battlefields, War is Hell, Dreaming Eagles), are there still stories which you still want to tell or that we can expect from you in the near future?

war-storiesEnnis: Many. War comics remain my all-time favorite genre; if you told me that I’d spend the rest of my time in the industry writing only those, I’d be very content indeed. Currently running in Avatar’s War Stories series is Vampire Squadron, which deals with the Royal Air Force’s night fighter defense of London during the Nazis’ aerial assault on the city. After that there’ll be The Flower of my Heart, a rather peculiar love story set during the mediterranean campaign in 1943-44, and then a six-parter called Out of the Blue, a sequel to one of my own favorites, Archangel. I’m also talking to a new publisher about another story, a savage little tale set on the Russian front. Finally, Dark Horse are currently putting out the World of Tanks comic, which all involved seem very happy with.
Longer term, War Stories will of course continue, and one day I’m going to do a story about the Battle of Britain- which I think will be the most important thing I ever write.

PopCultHQ: Who are you reading right now (comic or not)? Who currently active in the comic book industry do you admire or are excited about?

Ennis: Recently I’ve enjoyed Alan Moore’s Jerusalem, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, and the second volume of Shelby Foote’s monumental Civil War history. In comics it’s Providence and anything else by Alan, who I still consider the best there is, and a good deal of Brian Vaughan’s work- I thought The Private Eye was quite exceptional. And I was lucky enough to get a preview of Hook Jaw by my good pal Si Spurrier- a meaty read, and just what the doctor ordered.


Be sure to check out Garth Ennis’ Dreaming Eagles, whose hardcover format is now available on comiXology!

garth-ennis-picGARTH ENNIS

Garth Ennis is a multi-award winning comic book writer  known for his love of graphic violence and black comedy. After taking over the reins of Judge Dredd, British Comics’ most recognizable character, from legendary Judge Dredd creator John Wagner, he exploded upon the American comic book market with credits that include  Hellblazer, Hitman, Punisher, Fury, Crossed, Battlefields, War Stories, and The Boys.

His legendary and hugely-influential DC Comics’ series PREACHER, which he co-created with artist Steve Dillon, has recently been given a pilot treatment by AMC. Sam Catlin (Breaking Bad) will serve as executive producer and showrunner, while Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (This is the End) will executive produce and direct the pilot.

Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he now lives in New York City with his wife, Ruth.

*** Garth Ennis creator bio and images courtesy of aftershockcomics.com

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About Jason Bennett 2449 Articles

Jason Bennett is PopCultHQ’s chief editor, a contributing writer, and comic book reviewer/reporter. One with the Force. Browncoats Unite! So say we all!

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