Where It Started: Guest Editor Warren Ellis Explains The Origin Of ‘Red’

EDITOR’S NOTE: With “Red” hitting theaters October 15, we’re kicking off the next two weeks of coverage with five days of guest columns from writer Warren Ellis, co-creator of the 2003 “Red” comic book with artist Cully Hamner. Join us all week for original columns from Ellis that will look at the origins of the comic, his favorite scenes, and much, much more! -RM


There’s an old story that’s been doing the conspiracy-theorist rounds since God was a boy, and it goes like this…

When a new Pope is invested, he is taken into a small room and shown footage and other evidence from an actual no-sh*t appearance of the Virgin Mary. This is called a “BVM Apparition” amongst those interested in The Weird, and this particular instance involves the old girl explaining how the end of the world is going to come about and how none of us can do anything about it and we’re all buggered.

The Pope is supposed to leave this room having secret knowledge of the Apocalypse, and he’s not allowed to tell anybody. The notion being, of course, that this is the measure of the man: he knows the worst thing in the world and has to deal with it.

There’s a sort of sidenote to this — an old Bill Hicks gag, where he imagines every new President is taken into a small room and shown footage of the JFK assassination, in Technicolor, from an angle no-one’s ever seen footage of it from before. The people in the room then turn to the new President and say, “Get the message?”

Anyway. That’s where “Red,” the book, started. A new head of the CIA, a political appointee, is taken into a small room and shown the worst things the Agency has done — and is completely unable to deal with it. The measure of that man is taken, and it sets a terrible chain of events in motion.

Buy the book. Please?

I have a family to feed. And if I feed one of them to the other one, then eventually the police will find out and it will be all your fault.

— Warren Ellis

Keep it locked to Splash Page all week for more from “Red” co-creator Warren Ellis. You can also find Warren Ellis online at www.WarrenEllis.com and on Twitter.

“Red” hits theaters October 15, and stars Bruce Willis, Karl Urban, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker, Brian Cox, and Richard Dreyfuss.

Let us know what you think of Warren Ellis’ guest column in the comment section or on Twitter!