I’ve been doing a bit of work this week on a piece for a comic book encyclopedia. This line of work is strange in that you get to research and write about things you’ve never really given a lot of thought to before and then publish the result almost immediately. Comic books are one of those. I’ve read a few of the big ones–Maus for example–and I read Martin Rowson’s take on T.S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland via Raymond Chandler when I was writing my PhD thesis on American crime fiction. But this week I’ve been reading and researching Warren Ellis, a British graphic novel writer known for his Transmetropolitan series. I’m impressed. A lot of Ellis’s work is brutal stuff and probably offends a lot of people, but he’s doing really great things with ideas about history and the way it gets syndicated. That makes me feel a little guilty, because writing encyclopedias for a living I’m part of the syndicate.