It was very weird to learn that James Gunn is planning a movie based on THE AUTHORITY, the comics series I created with and for Bryan Hitch. (I got phone calls from Jim Lee and everything.) Apparently these characters are going to be all over the first phase of James’ DC Comics film sequence.
Here’s the short version of how and why I did THE AUTHORITY.
I’d been doing a book called STORMWATCH for Wildstorm. We relaunched it once. Bryan Hitch came in and did a few issues of the second run with me, which is where we created Apollo and The Midnighter.
(Apollo, because the sun-god metaphor made connections with Superman. The Midnighter, because Batman was once called “The Darknight Detective” and because my dad, in his youth, was a drummer in a band called The Midnighters.)
Bryan and I gelled really well on those issues. We were talking regularly, and I started wondering what else we might do together and what I could write specifically for him. Around that time, I happened to find out the actual sales figures for STORMWATCH, and called the office in horror. The sales figures were like negative eight hundred. It was an actual comics black hole that reversed the laws of capitalism, the sales were so bad. “Why are you still paying me for scripts?” I asked. “Why are you still publishing them?”
What happened next tells you a lot about what kind of people worked at and ran that company, including Jim Lee and Scott Dunbier. This was twenty-five years ago, but their response was something very much like “We really like it and we always want to find out what happens next, so we’ll keep publishing it until you don’t want to write it any more.”
I was gobsmacked and MORTIFIED. I felt so fucking guilty I just sat there in my chair for hours.
And then I started coming up with a plan to repay them by coming up with a version of the property that actually made them some money. In the next moment, I realised Bryan was going to be the perfect partner for that, so I wrote it very much for him. I already had one of the five best colorists in the world at that time, Laura DePuy. All I had to do was convince her to stick with me a little longer and give her space to push the envelope of what was possible at the time.
And that’s how THE AUTHORITY happened. We did twelve issues, and then I told my editors to hire Mark Millar and Frank Quitely to replace us, which they did. And, with that hiring, actual comics history was made, and I repaid my debt to my wonderful publisher. (Aside from the debt of gratitude I will always owe to Scott and Jim and everyone else there.)
THE AUTHORITY by Warren Ellis, Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary and Laura DePuy Martin is back in stores.
(A version of this previously appeared on my free weekly newsletter)