Sunday, 03 July, 2022

Shipwreck by Warren Ellis & Phil Hester

shipwreck by warren ellis

I was sold on the book from the first image I saw of it. I buy and read pretty much everything Warren Ellis writes, so I would have found it anyway, and I subscribe to his letter, which is an early warning system to make you aware of his thinking before the works arrive.

It made me think of Desolation Jones, and Lazarus Churchyard, and the central figure Jonathan Shipwright also calls to mind Antonius Block from The Seventh Seal.

It says Vol 1, but it is perfectly self contained, so where it would go from here would be interesting to find out, but entirely unnecessarily.

Warren Ellis is one of the few writers I read where I feel that he gave the artist more than enough room to breathe. I know Ellis is very design oriented, and very carefully employs panel structure to drive and fragment narrative in interesting ways, but this book really feels like artist and writer are a pairing of jazz musicians. The silence as the scene plays out is a comic version of the silence used so expertly in this last season of The Handmaid’s Tale; it gives you a canvas to look at, but also one to project onto. It is a skill not every story teller has – that quiet observation.

It is interesting to see how these works emerge from the thinking and interests that Mr Ellis shares every week in the newsletter, and it is sometimes interesting to reverse engineer them as much as you can. I like that the album that came out of the speakers didn’t match the cover though – the dodge and set up is welcome; to not always know what to expect from a story.

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