Exclusive Interview: Garth Ennis

10 Questions with Acclaimed Comic Book Author Garth Ennis

Image depicting comic book author Garth Ennis at Midtown Comics NYC signing.
Comic book author Garth Ennis. Image © Luigi Novi & available via CC BY 4.0 license. Originally featured on Garth Ennis” Wikipedia page. Image has been scaled down from the original.

Not that he needs any introduction, but Garth Ennis has written for numerous comic book titles. These titles include The Darkness, The Punisher (both main canon and MAX imprint), Preacher, The Boys, and (coming soon!) The Stringbags. You may view my review of The Stringbags here. Some of his work has made it into video games, television shows and film. Mr. Ennis was gracious enough to participate in a written interview for CoolComicReviews.com. Enjoy!

Dana: It is known that you’re a World War II enthusiast/student. What would you say is the one major aspect of WW2 that keeps your interest? You’re welcome to expand if you can’t put your finger on one thing.

Mr. Ennis: Ultimately it’s that I can write stories based on things that happened to real people. There are other factors- an interest in the hardware, in the effects the war had on our world and the reverberations still felt- but more than anything else, we’re talking about human beings coping individually and singly with the most catastrophic event in human history. Fascism, Communism and Capitalism go to war, and in just a few short years sixty million people die.

Dana: The Stringbags is a fantastic piece of work. Did you have any say in deciding whether or not to present the final story in black and white instead of full-color? EDIT: The last story in the review copy I received was black and white. I submitted my questions before it was brought to my attention that the final print will all be in full-color. I included this question because Mr. Ennis took the time to answer it, despite my inaccuracy.

Mr. Ennis: I think you might have read the preview Dead Reckoning sent out; if you take a look at the intro you’ll see it was sent as an uncompleted promo proof while the coloring was still in progress. The Stringbags will be released as a full color graphic novel like any other.

Dana: What was your biggest inspiration in your early life that helped drive your work as a creator?

Mr. Ennis: In my early life, reading and watching. All of it, really- books, comics, movies, TV. I was absorbing stories, gradually coming to the realization that I wanted to tell my own.

Dana: In another dimension you might not have become an author. In this case, what would your dream job end up being?

Mr. Ennis: Hard to say. When I was a kid I wanted to be a fighter pilot- but then again, I also wanted to own my own dinosaur. 

Dana: You obviously went through great lengths to make sure The Stringbags was historically accurate. Would you recommend The Stringbags for use in a classroom setting, such as High School World History classes? If not, why?

Mr. Ennis: It’s not something I know a great deal about, but I don’t see why not. So long as it’s made clear that this is fiction based around fact, and the students are made aware of which is which- and that the story contains instances of violence and profanity appropriate to a war story, so that we don’t get some pain-in-the-neck parent yelling bloody murder about it.

Dana: Archie, Ollie, and Pops were fictional characters that kept a flow between the three stories in The Stringbags. The reader is bound to grow fond of them while reading the graphic novel. Do you think this connection would have been possible if you had decided to use different sets of pilots for each story?

Mr. Ennis: Not really. One of the points I make in the afterword is that the historical events concerned are so epic, so dramatic, that they’re going to overwhelm all but the strongest characters. And as no one real-life Swordfish crew took part in all three actions concerned, I needed a fictional crew to serve my purposes. It would have been disrespectful to take real people and put them in places they never were, have them say things they never said- to take one of the pilots from the Taranto operation and involve him in the Channel Dash, for instance.

Dana: Maybe I should know this already, but are you a gamer at all? If so, what are your top-five favorite video games? Also, how do you feel about games based on World War II, such as Call of Duty: World at War?

Mr. Ennis: Last computer game I played was Pac Man, in a bar outside San Francisco some time in the wee small hours of the morning. It was one of those ones where you sit across the table from the other player and take turns. That’s really where my interest in gaming ended.

Dana: Your work, such as The Darkness and The Punisher, has been adapted into video games in the past. Have you ever put any thought into writing a new intellectual property specifically for a video game?

Mr. Ennis: See last answer.

Dana: If you had to pick any superhero to ground or make non-super, and then write for, who would your #1 pick be?

Mr. Ennis: I honestly wouldn’t bother. None of the existing characters I want to write are superheroes, and if I was doing something new I wouldn’t use the genre as a starting point.

Dana: The Stringbags was produced for the U.S. Naval Institute. How exactly did this come about?

Mr. Ennis: Editor Gary Thompson reached out to me when he set up the Dead Reckoning imprint. It sounded like the ideal home for one of my war stories- with access to an audience already interested in military matters.

Many thanks to Garth Ennis for participating in this written interview. I’ve been a supporter of his for many years, and he authored my favorite versions of my favorite comic book character (The Punisher). Also I’d like to thank Dead Reckoning for setting up the interview and allowing me to review The Stringbags before its release. I hope you have enjoyed this interview!


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