Ennis on "The Boys," "The Shadow" and "ERF"

Garth Ennis has a lot going on these days.

Whether it's bringing the penultimate arc for his long-running series "The Boys" to a close, picking up writing duties on Dynamite Entertainment's "The Shadow" or Kickstarting a drive for an original children's book, there's no denying the writer is a busy man. With the drive for "ERF," Ennis' kid's book, wrapping mid-March, the writer then concludes "Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men" in "The Boys" #65 with artist Russ Braun and begins his run with "The Shadow" #1 with artist Aaron Campbell in April, smoothly launching the latter title as he ramps up for the conclusion of the former.

"The Boys" #65 finishes out the "Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men" with a showdown that's been building since the inception of "The Boys" -- a Butcher and Homelander face-off, something the writer told CBR News was a lot of fun to finally put to paper. "Writing it was a blast. Seeing Russ Braun's art come in has been an absolute pleasure; he has a tendency to nail exactly the images I imagine when I write. [I] Had my heart in my mouth a couple of times, looking at what he drew on this one."

While the writer couldn't give much away about the encounter between Butcher and Homelander, he did cryptically tease, "in the end, it does indeed all come down to faces." He further stated that none of Butcher's encounters against other supers has truly prepared him for his showdown with Homelander. "That was all work, tinged with the occasional good laugh," he said. "This is more what you might call a passion project."

Though it may surprise longtime readers of "The Boys," the Butcher/Homelander throwdown doesn't signal the end of the series, with Ennis making it clear that "[Butcher] has another six issues worth of work to do after #65." As for Hughie, who recently tasted his own flavor of revenge against A-Train for killing his girlfriend in "The Boys" #1, the writer was tight-lipped on the psychological implications killing the cape might have on him. "Read it and see. A guy like Hughie doesn't boot someone's head off and walk away from it mentally unscathed."

The rest of The Boys will have their own roles to play in the conclusion of "Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men," including Mother's Milk, whose secret history lesson will reveal what Ennis refers to as "all the answers," with developments for the still-enigmatic Frenchman and the Female.

As Ennis prepares readers for the final seven issues of "The Boys," he hinted that even though it may seem they can't get any higher, the stakes are about to get raised once again. "It's a lot more serious," he told CBR. "No more messing about with idiots in colored tights; this is where the stakes are at their highest. Remember what Frenchie said about Terror's death: 'The first bad day. Just the first.'"

And while Ennis is proud of his work on "The Boys," wrapping the story is somewhat bittersweet. "There's a great sense of achievement in bringing it to a close, in that it's one of my all time favorite stories featuring probably my favorite character out of all those I've created: Butcher," Ennis said. "There's an element of sadness, too, knowing that I'll never write either him or Hughie ever again."

Even as "The Boys" comes to an end, Ennis picks up writing duties on "The Shadow," premiering in April from Dynamite. The writer describes his take on the book as having "an element of high adventure to it, and a certain degree of mysticism. Otherwise, I like to think it's reasonably historically accurate."

In terms of origin, Ennis has decided to veer from settling on a single source of previous "The Shadow" incarnations and will instead lay the possibility of giving the pulp hero his own original origin. "I liked the [Howard] Chaykin stuff," Ennis said. "Beyond that, I tend to focus more on the potential I see in the Shadow -- in any established character I write -- rather than whatever's been established in his previous appearances."

Joining Ennis on "The Shadow" is "Green Hornet: Year One" artist Aaron Campbell, who the writer complimented on his storytelling abilities and artistic talent. "He's a great storyteller, fine attention to detail, does his research," Ennis said. "Good faces. And extremely professional, which experience has taught me is a quality to treasure."

While they approach the genre from different angles, there's still some level of similarity between "The Boys" and "The Shadow," but the project for which Ennis campaign on Kickstarter to fund is a different animal altogether. Developed with illustrator Rob Steen, "ERF" is the story of four friends at the dawn of time and is described as "an evolutionary tale of love and loyalty for children aged four and up." Launching with a goal of $12,000, "ERF" is now fully funded and pledges are still climbing, with the drive ending March 18.

Ennis is keeping major details on "ERF" close to the chest for now ("I don't want to give away any of the details about 'ERF' until we've got it out there."), but he was happy to share how the project came to be and how he decided on Kickstarter as the best way to get the book off the ground.

"The initial impetus went no further than having the idea and wanting to use it," he said. "I hate to let a good idea go. I was also very keen to work with my good friend Rob Steen, whose art I love. After making inquiries at a couple of children's book publishers, we decided Kickstarter was a better option, just to guarantee us total creative freedom. As usual, it's me being bolshy, not wanting to be edited."

"The Boys" #65 and "The Shadow" #1 hit in April from Dynamite Entertainment. "ERF's" Kickstarter donation drive ends March 18.

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