Garth Ennis

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Garth Ennis (born January 16, 1970 in Holywood, Northern Ireland) is an Irish comic writer, who wrote the Star Wars Tales comics Trooper and In the Beginning. He is best known for the DC/Vertigo series Preacher and his successful revival of Marvel Comics' The Punisher franchise. His work is characterized by extreme violence, black humor, profanity, an interest in male friendship, a disdain for organized religion, and contempt for superheroes.


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.

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the two Troubles stories it was collected as a graphic novel in 1990, but religious protests led to it being quickly withdrawn from sale, apparently on the orders of publisher Robert Maxwell.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, dealing with time travel paradoxes and Nazis.

His 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 Earth. 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 goofy humor to a surprisingly tender 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 and Shadowman for Image Comics.

After the end of Hitman, Ennis was lured to 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 is currently ongoing, approaching issue #60, which is said to be the last written by Ennis, and has also inspired several limited series (such as Born and Barracuda) and one-shots (The End, The Cell, and The Tyger). While at Marvel, Ennis also wrote stories for Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, The 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. [1]

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.[2]

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.

Unexpectedly, in 2006, it was announced that Ennis would write a new creator-owned extended series entitled The Boys, originally published by Wildstorm. After just six issues, The Boys was canceled by Wildstorm, despite high sales and with no reason given. The series was picked up by Dynamite Entertainment, and is now ongoing. The Boys sees Ennis reunited with artist Darick Robertson, the two had previously worked together on the Marvel series Fury: Peacemaker and Punisher: Born. The Boys is expected to run for sixty issues.

Ennis wrote the first arc of WildStorm's Midnighter 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.[3]

In 2008 Ennis ended his five-year run on Punisher MAX to debut a new Marvel title, War is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle. The limited series features the little-used character Phantom Eagle, a WWI pilot who originally appeared in Marvel Comics during the 1960s.[4] [5] 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 an ongoing war series called Garth Ennis: Battlefields for Dynamite, another Chronicles of Wormwood mini-series and Crossed[6] both at Avatar, a six-issue miniseries about Butcher (from The Boys) and an Punisher project reuniting him with artist Steve Dillon.[7] [8] He has also worked with Jimmy Palmiotti on Back to Brooklyn, a crime-based limited series for Image Comics.[9]

Star Wars bibliographyEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  2. Interview with Ennis about Streets of Glory, Comics Bulletin
  3. Garth Ennis on Seven Brothers, interview with Newsarama
  4. Nick Lowe on Marvel Max's War is Hell series, Newsarama, January 7, 2008
  5. Laura Hudson, Ennis Moves from Punisher to Phantom Eagle, Publishers Weekly, February 19, 2008
  6. Double-Crossed: Ennis & Burrows talk “Crossed”, Comic Book Resources, June 12, 2008
  7. WW PHILLY: THE GARTH ENNIS PANEL, Newsarama, June 1, 2008
  8. Ma's Home! Ennis talks "Punisher: War Zone", Comic Book Resources, September 9, 2008
  9. Ennis & Palmiotti Go "Back to Brooklyn", Comic Book Resources, July 15, 2008

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