Heavy Lifting

Orbital Operations for 9 July 2023

Apparently ABSOLUTE TRANSMETROPOLITAN Vol 2 has been reprinted. Three crates of these monstrosities arrived, and they were bloody heavy.

The ABSOLUTE format was created by Scott Dunbier for THE AUTHORITY. ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY was meant to be followed up by a reprint of PLANETARY in the same format, and its prefix was going to be a word beginning with P - I can’t remember what. But the word ABSOLUTE stuck for the format.

Every time I look at those books, I think: that format was invented for me and my friends. Probably not a lot of people can say that.

Hello from out here on the Thames Delta. I’m behind schedule on literally everything.

For those who have been following along: my daughter’s partner had their operation, and immediately gained dexterity and energy, their bloods almost instantly dropping back into normal ranges. Thanks for the kind notes I’ve received - we’re all cautiously optimistic at this point that the worst might be over.

I had a whole thing here on the week’s work written, but it seems to have vanished somehow, which is bloody annoying. I picked up a new gig this week, working with an artist whom I’ve collaborated with before, and I am very excited to get into it. I have things out in the world, Zoom calls - what was wrong with the bloody phone? - scheduled, and things happening here, there and everywhere. I’m sure I’d written something wiser and funnier about all that, but it’s gone now, for no good reason.

My problem is that I really just want to sit outside with my plants, a good drink, some music and a book. I’m eating sun-warmed raspberries right off the cane, for god’s sake. There are significant outside stresses, but. minute to minute, life is really kind of rich and lovely.

I’m assuming the sudden heat is making me lazy. I was wearing three layers of clothes and a hood outside until the second week of June, and then BAM thirty degrees Celsius out of nowhere. Always been more of an autumn person. So now I’m having to make a real effort of will to be productive and nimble. All of which will start as soon as I eat some apricots and listen to some new records and read some more of this book about John Coltrane.

“Any successful style is a spell whose first victim is the wizard,” the critic Clive James has written.

Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, Ben Ratliff

Writing’s what I do, and it’s been pretty good to me so far. Nobody said it’d be easy, or that the conditions or challenges would remain the same. That’s the creative life. If you have a career that lasts longer than a decade then the playing field is bound to change and shift during your span as the world spins and progress happens, for better or worse. Both streaming and AI are merely the next challenges to either overcome or work through.

I mentioned Matt Kindt-authored graphic novel MISTER MAMMOTH a while back. This week I discovered he’s serialising two new projects for a very reasonable sum on a Patreon called FLUX HOUSE.

Let’s just get straight to it. Comics is very often a lonely business and it feels like you’re working in a vacuum. So I’m creating this Patreon to hopefully include any and everyone out there that wants to follow along and read my next few books AS I create them. I’m EXCLUSIVELY sharing process videos and photos as well as some livestreams and also finished pages. I’m going to serialize my next few books right here.

Looks to me like you’ll be getting at least 32 pages of comics a month for your 4.50 yanqui dollar.

It sometimes occurs to me that this is the sort of of thing I would have loved to have attempted if I’d had someone else to handle the money and if there was a way to turn the damn comments off. Just a little studio that generated enough money from early readers to get new things made. Nothing fancy, no empire building, just a small theatre of our own that paid enough to put different things on stage. I love that other people are doing it.

My name is Warren Ellis, and I’m a writer from England. These newsletters are about the work I do and the creative life I try to lead. I send them every Sunday to subscribers. Feel free to send your friends to orbitaloperations.beehiiv.com , where they can read the most recent letters and subscribe for their own.

I’m represented by Angela Cheng Caplan at the Cheng Caplan Company and David Hale Smith at Inkwell Management. Please add [email protected] to your email system’s address book or contacts.


Well, according to all the newsflashes on my phone, Twitter died. The Tweetdeck desktop app is going behind a paywall, the Twitter Blue pay tier that also currently allows one to view 6000 tweets a day. Paid accounts get precedence in the viewing order. According to the news, by the time you read this, Meta’s competitor, Threads, will be up and running and connected to Mastodon. Probably some people you know have been seen screaming for Bluesky invites.

May I suggest: don’t?

Here’s an interesting take on the years of what felt like “everyone together in one place” - “Where are we all supposed to go now?” It is, in part, an exercise in the author not wanting the answer to be the clear one in front of them - that era is now over. Let it be over. Find ways to keep your real friends close, and get your attention back.


Within hours of launch, Threads accounts seen by Reuters were posting about the Illuminati and "billionaire satanists," while other users compared each other to Nazis and battled over everything from gender identity to violence in the West Bank.


WARRENELLIS.LTD is my personal notebook, in which I make new entries several times a day. Think of it as all the things I can't fit into this newsletter, from links and bookmarks to reviews, random thoughts and life notes. If you use a RSS reader, it generates a feed at https://warrenellis.ltd/feed/ .

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Okay, I’m off. Things to do and not enough time to do them all in. You take care of yourself. Take your time, take a breath, let things happen on your own terms and in your own time as much as you can. Time’s all you’ve got, and you get to decide how to spend it. See you next week.