March 14th will see Garth Ennis returning to the rotting, violent, and cruel world of Crossed, with the release of the anthology format Crossed: Badlands. Ennis will be writing the first story, with other creators like David Lapham and Si Spurrier telling tales of the Crossed—those infected with the viral madness that causes them to act out each and every sort of depravity.
Ennis spoke to us about returning to the world of Crossed, finality, and a little of what's in store for the series.
MTV Geek: Could you tell us a little about your story for Crossed: Badlands?
Garth Ennis: High in the Scottish highlands, a little band of ragtag survivors are making their way south. The extreme cold of the conditions tends to finish off any Crossed who chase them into the high country, but they still need to come down to forage for food. This is one such expedition, made more perilous by the pregnancy of one of the group. And along for the ride is a rather odd V.I.P., a possible royal personage.
Geek: Why did you choose Scotland for your setting?
Ennis: I happened to be there while the story was coming together in my head. Nice bit of country up there—sometimes rich, sometimes bleak, always beautiful. And it's interesting to write a story outside America, in a place where firearms are nowhere near as common and survival becomes that little bit harder as a result.
Geek: You’ve been away from the material for a little while. Was there ever a sense that you had to escape the world you’d created or are you ever affected by your own fiction like that?
Ennis: It varies from project to project. Crossed, I knew I'd come back to, because we have an instant self-contained world where you can tell countless stories. Likewise Battlefields. Something like 303, on the other hand, is a one-off, done deal that I'll never return to. Likewise Preacher—and when it's finished—The Boys, which despite their length are definitely finite stories.
Geek: What was the search like for other creators for Badlands? Who had maybe the sickest, nastiest idea for a story?
Ennis: Not really how we judged it. William Christensen and I decided that there should be a certain level of talent on Crossed, a level that we just wouldn't compromise on. Once you get people like Jamie Delano, David Lapham, Dave Hine, and Si Spurrier, the details tend to take care of themselves.
Geek: Your story also deals with the characters attempting to protect an unborn child, and unborn kids, or small kids in need of protection are a staple in a kind of redemptive apocalyptic story. Can we assume you’re going to pull the rug out and give us the first Crossed baby?
Ennis: Read it and see. The lead character, Ian, has some thoughts on the notion of redemption in the first issue.
Geek: With some of the previous books in the series, the focus seemed to be on figuring out how to survive when it all goes to hell—how to stay human. But Badlands seems to be about how to hang on until it’s time to die. Am I misreading where it looks like some of the themes are headed?
Ennis: Obviously, it'll vary from story to story. They're set at different times after the Crossed outbreak. Si Spurrier, for instance, has been talking about one set right at the start. Mine is a couple of years later, when people are indeed beginning to wonder what they're surviving for. But the instinct for survival is a strong one; there are people who'll keep going no matter what.
Crossed: Badlands #1 will be available on March 14th as part of Avatar Press' "C-Day" event. You can find out more on Avatar's site.