Since making his comic debut at the age of 19, Garth Ennis has gone on to enjoy a prolific career spanning several decades. His work has been praised for its extreme violence, black humor, profanity, grim morality, and general disdain for conventional superheroics. As Ennis prepares to join Baltimore Comic-Con 2019 as a special guest, now seemed an opportune time to track the history of this multiple award-winning creator.
The Northern Irish comic writer first made a name for himself working on the 1989 series Troubled Souls. This series was published in the critically acclaimed British anthology Crisis and featured painted colors by John McCrea. Troubled Souls told the story of a young protestant man who is coerced into planting a bomb by IRA volunteer Damien McWilliams. Ennis later released a comedy follow-up, For A Few Troubles More, starring two of the series’ supporting characters, later spun off into a series called Dicks.
Shortly thereafter, Ennis began to write for Crisis’ parent publication, 2000 AD, and took over duties for the title’s flagship character – Judge Dredd. Among his most popular Dredd stories is the pastiche of mainstream music Muzak Killer, the surreal Time Flies, the tongue in cheek Emerald Isle and the 20 part epic Judgment Day. In 1991, Ennis broke into the American Comic scene in 1991, taking over DC Comics’ horror title Hellblazer. During the second half of Ennis’ Hellblazer run, Steve Dillon became the regular artist. This creative partnership later launched the 66-issue epic Preacher, following a preacher with supernatural powers in his search (literally) for God. Preacher was adapted into a popular live-action television series on AMC, which was recently renewed for a fourth season.
Around this time, Ennis also wrote The Demon, Hitman, Goddess, Bloody Mary, Unknown Soldier, and Pride & Joy, all for DC/Vertigo, as well as origin stories for The Darkness for Image Comics and Shadowman for Valiant Comics. Ennis is known for his lack of fondness for superhero stories, preferring “grounded” characters like the Punisher, John Constantine, or Nick Fury. In 1995, Ennis penned the one-shot special Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, in which the Punisher kill every single superhero and supervillain on Earth. Along with the Punisher, Ennis also wrote stories for Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Hulk, Fury and Thor for Marvel Comics.
Later on, Ennis created The Boys for Wildstorm. However, after six issues, Wildstorm cancelled the title due to its graphic content and dark humor. The title was based in a world where superheroes exist, but have been corrupted by their celebrity status. Dynamite Entertainment quickly picked up the title with #7 and it ran for a total of 72 issues. Amazon Studios recently greenlit an eight-episode order for a live-action adaptation of The Boys, set to be released on July 26, 2019
Throughout his career, Ennis has earned a great deal of recognition, including nominations for the Comics Buyer’s Guide Award for Favorite Writer in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000. He was also nominated for eight Eisner Awards, winning Best Writer and Best Single Issue in 1998, along with three Eagle Award nominations, taking home Favorite Color Comic Book in 1999. To this day, Ennis remains a formidable writing force within the comic industry and a popular creator.