Creator-Owned Spotlight #2 by Steve Niles

Editor’s Note: With the recent discussions going on around the comics community about creator-owned comics, we’re pleased to welcome one of the voices in those discussions, 30 Days of Night and Mystery Society creator Steve Niles, to Robot 6 for a series of columns on creator-owned comics.

by Steve Niles

Second column and I’m already late! Here’s a creator tip I can’t seem to get through my thick skull: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. That said, here I am again and happy to be here talking about my favorite creator-owned books and creators.

This week I’m going to talk about a creator who dominates the modern creator-owned scene with both his work and his relentless support of other creators.


I wanted to talk about Ellis for many reasons: his talent, his persistence and his vision. Warren Ellis approaches his work with the strategy of a learned zombie killer. Don’t run into the stinky crowd swinging and shooting like a crazy person, find a place to settle in and let them come to you.

Warren Ellis has not only created worlds within his work, but also a world for himself online where you can follow his daily work routine, check out what he’s reading/watching himself, or meet and discuss his and other people's work on the various forums he’s overseen. He has created a perfect fort for all of us Ellis zombies to swarm.

Doing my research for this column, I discovered that Warren has more books out than Hilton has bed-bugs (Yeah, the Hotel too.) He is the award-winning creator of such popular titles as Transmetropolitan, RED, Supergod, No Hero, Desolation Jones, Planetary, Ministry of Space and many others.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that Warren Ellis is one of the few creators in comics whom I would call a Science Fiction writer. Oddly, that's one of the areas you’d think there would be more people working in funny books, but that’s neither here nor there, because Ellis does it and does it well. It is odd though how little good sci-fi there is in comics.

Ellis has worked in just about every medium; not just comics. He is also a novelist and last year we saw a big-screen adaptation of RED, a series Ellis did with the lovely and talented Cully Hamner.

I could go on and on and try to sound really smart, but all I really need to say here is grab an Ellis book, any book, and give it a try. If you have any questions, just stop by warrenellis.com and soon you will be well-informed. Warren has made it very easy for fans to find his books.

Before I close on Warren Ellis though, I really want to underline something I mentioned earlier. Warren has a persona, no doubt. A pretty smart and wickedly funny persona, but he might be one of the most supportive creators in comics as well, and I love him for that. He spends massive amounts of his time and energy helping comics and comics creators. He opens up his websites for people to discuss and plug their work. And if Warren reads or watches something he likes, he shares it. In this market that is huge. Warren has always supported others.

I hope other creators follow in his footsteps both creatively and as an advocate of all things nerdy.


What? Are you crazy? That boy drawls Batman! How’s he fit into creator-owned?

Yeah, well along with doing some astounding cover work for both Marvel and DC, Dave Johnson has established the DRINK & DRAW SOCIAL CLUB. What started as a way to get his married friends out for a night has turned into a weekly activity across the world for all sorts of creators. The idea is so simple: get a bunch of artists to leave their basements and all hang out and just draw.

It seems so basic, but I think Johnson deserves a shot at the Nobel Peace Prize. My own idea DRAWING ON THE BACKS OF PEOPLE’S HEADS AT AA MEETINGS, didn’t really catch on. Dave and his gang deserve huge props for motivating a generation of young artists, giving them an outlet and a chance to hone their craft while working with other artists and getting shit-faced.

Hey, if it works, it works. Check out all things Dave Johnson here: http://devilpig.deviantart.com/ and Drink and Draw here: http://drinkanddraw.com/.

Let’s see, what books am I talking about...? I told you it was a bad idea to write a column. I have the attention-span of a gnat on meth.


Woot! There are many reasons I love this title but one thing I love most is the publisher, Image, getting the book out on a regular basis. This may not sound big, but late books are a problem. The publishers of Skullkickers have planned and worked it out.

One of the things they’ve done is go out and hire some of the best, up-and-coming indy artists in the biz to do filler stories to keep the book on schedule. The “fillers” though are anything but. They're all good, solid, fun, twisted, little short stories about dude, well, kicking some skulls. Check out an issue today (I think #6 hit the stands) or pre-order the first collection.

And last, but hardly least is another creator who has reached outside the comic bubble with his unique style of storytelling.


There are not a lot of Emmy-winning comic creators out there, but Dean has managed to receive the prestigious award for his drawings for the opening sequence of HBO’s Bored to Death. He has also created books for DC and Marvel as well as Image, Dark Horse, Scholastic and even the New York Times and helped pioneer webcomics with the introduction of ACT-I-VATE.COM.

Please check out Dean’s Eisner-nominated series Billy Dogma. He's a remarkable talent. Grab anything he’s done to see for yourself, and I’m sure you’ll be hooked.

I have to keep this week short because I also have some creator-owned books to do, but coming up I’m going to talk about more creators and books like Jill Thompson and I Kill Monsters. I’ll also start pouring through the mail I’ve been receiving and plugging harder-to-find creator-owned books.

Thanks for reading!

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