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Warren Ellis no longer exclusive at DC

by  in Comic News Comment
Warren Ellis no longer exclusive at DC

This afternoon Warren Ellis announced on his Bad Signal mailing list that the exclusivity deal he signed with DC Comics two years ago has ended and the writer has opted not to renew after DC had offered an extension. Ellis explained that his decision should not be taken as a slight to DC, rather he feels it’s time to stretch his wings a bit and work with other publishers for a while. Ellis went on to explain that he would be open to discussing DC exclusivity again in six months.

The full text of Ellis’ e-mail is found below. To subscribe to his list, click the link above.

I just handed over another forty-four pages of one of
my new projects to DC. That, by everyone’s calculation,
takes me over the 1100-page volume of my exclusivity
at DC.

Therefore, as of now, I’m no longer exclusive to DC Comics.

(Dan Didio thinks I hit the limit earlier in the week,
but I wanted to be certain.)

Dan, whom I like immensely, has offered me an extension
on my exclusive period. And I’ve turned him down. Or,
more correctly, have deferred the conversation for six

This is no slight on DC. This isn’t the usual mainstream
comics thing of Fuck these guys, I’m going across the
street to work with the other guys, until I get bored with
them and go back to DC again. This has been the standard
dance in commercial comics for thirty years, people
shuttling between DC and Marvel like they’re the only two
games in the world. DC is the only New York publisher
I’m interested in working with, because they’re the only
ones supporting original creator-owned work. And I
will continue to work with them until they’re sick of me.

So why even leave an exclusive berth at DC? Well, I
can’t deny a certain bloody-mindedness. Two years ago,
I was the first writer focussed solely on creator-owned
and original work to sign an exclusive with DC, and
among the first writers to go with them in this current
cycle of obtaining exclusive services at DC. Now, of
course, it seems that everyone in commercial comics
aside from the core Marvel writers like Millar and
Bendis have gone with DC. I skimmed the news services
last night before sleep, and I guess another two or
three people have gone to DC since I last checked.
And my career-destroying instinct has always been to
go in the other direction from the general flow. If
I go with DC again, I’m just Writer Number Twenty-Six
in the stable. If I feel like being my own devil’s
advocate, anyway.

So there’s that. But, mostly, it’s a need to stretch
my legs a bit. There are a whole bunch of things I want
to try that I can’t do at DC. I’d like to try an online
comics serial. I’d like to work in Europe, and create
books specifically for the bookstore market. There’s
anthology work I’ve been offered that I’ve been unable
to do over the last two years. I want to get the novel
done, and think about another one, which means I want
less comics work, or at least less deadline-intensive
work. I’m not fleeing DC for another gig. I just want
the space to consider new things.

I don’t have any projects to go to. The point of being
exclusive is that you’re exclusive, you don’t deal outside
that. So it’s only this week that I’ve been opening up
conversations, and only today do I start placing phone
calls and the like. Right now, I have no idea what will
happen. There have been approaches from Europe over the
last year — I had to pass up the chance to work with
Tardi this past summer, which was torture. Recently,
there was the possibility of working with Suehiro Maruo,
and obviously I had to turn that down too. I may just
piss off to Europe and stay there, I don’t know. I
like Paris.

I have a lot of work coming out from DC over the next
twelve months in any case. I’ve written the first eight
issues of a new book for DC’s main line. The first two
scripts for DESOLATION JONES are in. I wrapped the script
for PLANETARY #21 (The Nineties Drugs And Science Issue)
over the weekend.

But, yes, I’m freelance now. Again. DC have very kindly
kept my page rate the same, which they were certainly under
no obligation to do.

In the last week, I’ve started thinking about new books
again. There’s a pile of notes on this handheld that
constitute two new graphic novels with the working titles
of SUPERNAUT and STRANGE ATTRACTOR. The latter is a very
very working title that I expect to survive about ten
minutes into the pitch-writing process. I’m eleven thousand
words into a new novel idea, and I’ve got a framework for
the spoken-word CD, part reading and part ramble, which I
believe we start recording at the end of the month while
completely pissed in a warehouse in Bethnal Green after
the CorpGoth event at Electrowerkz. Oh, and I’m writing
an episode of a cartoon, while quietly consulting on the
script development of GLOBAL FREQUENCY (that sound you
can hear is screenwriter John Rogers literally beating
his brains out over the pilot script).

So that’s all the news, I think. Not much of a headline,
I’m sure, but there it is.

New column up at,
by the way.

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