Warren Ellis & Tula Lotay Embrace The Harpoon Supreme

by Vince Brusio

Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay have a new book out for Image Comics, and it’s set the Internet on fire with rumor, speculation, and all-out geek meltdowns. Everyone wants to know what the inside dirt is on Supreme: Blue Rose (MAY140571). So PREVIEWSworld set out to ask a few questions of both creators in the hope that a little more light would be shed on the book that has a cover we’re all trying to interpret.


PREVIEWSworld: The solicitation text for Supreme: Blue Rose in the May PREVIEWS catalog states that the both of you “re-introduce the central Image Comics character.” This may have some readers think, what did they miss? A re-introduction? For the benefit of our PREVIEWSworld readers that may not be familiar with the Extreme Studios/Image Comics/Awesome Comics history, could you elaborate a little on the nature of your  re-introduction?

Warren Ellis: I could, but that would kind of defeat the point of buying the book.  If you've read Supreme before — or have access to the Internet to look it up — I can say to you that there's been a new revision, and you'll get it.  If you haven't or won't, then, really, you're going to have no problem coming in cold, because you're going to be told a mystery story about the nature of the universe and its agents of stability. Also there are a couple of people who don't really have heads.  It's fine.  You'll be fine.

Tula Lotay: As Warren mentions, we don't want to give too much away right now. The book will be very different to anything you've seen in Supreme before.

PREVIEWSworld: Warren, you’ve been quoted in previous articles as saying that the idea for this book (which “came out of nowhere”) is “a new floor on top of Alan Moore and Rob Liefeld's house.” Could you go into a little more detail as to what you implied by that metaphor? Is that floor the 13th floor?

Warren Ellis: It's the floor without any numbers on it, which shouldn't exist, and if you get off at that floor you'll never be seen again.  Hell, I don't know.  The idea is essentially that Liefeld and his collaborators' takes on the property were one way to do superhero comics, and Alan's was another, and mine perhaps combines those while floating the thing up into the thin air of science fiction.  

When we were working on the first TV version of Gun Machine, I was trying to get the writer, Dario, to really go into the weirdness, and wrote an odd scene involving a Norwegian harpoon rifle.  At some point I shouted "Embrace The Harpoon" at him.  He just told me today that when he needs his current writers' room to get weirder, he says "Embrace The Harpoon " to them.  Supreme: Blue Rose is all about embracing the harpoon.

PREVIEWSworld: Tula, Warren has referred to you as his friend, and has said that your work will be “a revelation to people." So you’ve obviously been sharing with him preliminary layouts and sketch concepts, yes?  What sort of conversations went back-and-forth in those visionary brainstorming sessions between the two of you? Can you give us a sound bite? Fans would love to know a little about the working relationship you both have on this project. We’d very much like to see the people behind the power.

Tula Lotay: Warren and I had been working together for a while before Supreme came about, and I think the conversations back then have informed how the both of us have approached Supreme. We've talked lots about movies and music.

We have pretty similar tastes. Warren knows I'm a big fan of cinema, especially the more unconventional movies of Lynch, Kubrick and Tarkovsky, and I know he's fed those influences into the story for me. It's a pleasure working with him, I know he's taking in everything I'm doing, he spots the scenes that I've enjoyed working on the most and feeds more of that back into the story for me. He's created this intriguing, surreal landscape, and has been kind enough to just let me take it from there. I've had a lot of freedom to play around with these characters. I've loved it.

PREVIEWSworld: A lot of the buzz on the web for this series focuses on who the character is in the teaser image. Fans are reiterating that Ethan Crane is AWOL, so they’re wondering if this is the new Supreme. Congratulations on driving everyone nuts with anticipation! But rather than focus on the obvious question (who is that?), can we ask what do each of you, as creators, hope to birth? What button do you want to push? What kind of fan banter would you like to see people rattle off at the comic shop?

Warren Ellis: I never think about that, personally.  I think that probably leads to bad writing, trying to pull an imaginary comics-store audience around by the nose like that.  I'd rather surprise people. Which is why I am answering all of your questions so badly, Vince.

Tula Lotay: So far it's all a mystery. I'm just trying to focus on bringing as much personality and emotion in to these characters as possible. That's always the most important aspect for drawing for me. Warren's writing is brilliant and I want to service that as much as possible by creating characters the readers are invested in. I'd love for people to buy into this story so much that the mystery drives then nuts. I think all great stories have that effect on readers. Storytelling for me is always about the journey and the anticipation of what comes next. That's what I want people to get from Supreme.

PREVIEWSworld: Are either of you making any appearances at cons this year? Or would fans do better to monitor your social media accounts and web sites for upcoming news/teasers on Supreme: Blue Rose? And if we could ask you both a last question: what is it about this project that left you feeling satisfied?

Warren Ellis: If people want me, they should look for me on Twitter or Instagram as @warrenellis, or, for more detailed stuff, subscribe to my newsletter at orbitaloperations.com.  I don't really do conventions.  If you subscribe to the newsletter, though, you'll hear about my occasional public events.

What satisfied me about Gun Machine?  Getting the idea out of my head, for one, but chiefly getting to write for Tula and being constantly surprised and delighted by her pages.

Tula Lotay:  I'll be at SDCC this year, and hopefully Image with have a supreme surprise there! And I'll be at Thought Bubble in the UK too. I'm still bolting down other shows so it's best to keep an eye on my Twitter and Instagram - @tulalotay.

For me I feel very satisfied that both Warren and Eric Stephenson have given me the time to play around with these characters. Warren knows my art, which is quite free and loose, and felt it would fit the story he wanted to tell. That creative freedom really appealed to me. Indeed throughout the creative process if Warren thought I was trying to create panels that had a more 'finished' feel he would say 'you're not drawing for yourself, you have to relax and enjoy it' - some of the best advice I've ever had. Having the freedom to draw how I want made me very happy. I feel really proud of Supreme. Embrace The Harpoon!

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