Joss Whedon and Warren Ellis talk Wastelanders, their new internet based science fiction series

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I am such a gargantuan comic book nerd when it comes to these two men, that there’s a significantly large probability that while typing up this story that I will effectively just… what’s the professional term, now again?… Ah, yes. Lose my sh#t.

So to properly convey my emotions without the risk of gobbledygook (oh my word, it’s started, I just used “gobbledygook”), I am going to rely on that most nerdy of crutches: Maths!

Joss Whedon (Twisted end of the World story) + Warren Ellis (Nasty science stuff) x Internet release – singing = Geek brain Aneurysm!

Speaking to Forbes, Whedon explained how Wastelanders fits into his post-Avengers world:

“My wife and I created [so-called “microbudget” studio] Bellwether last year, right after we finished [production on] “Avengers”. The first thing we shot was “Much Ado,” and “In Your Eyes” is under the same banner, and “Wastelanders” might be as well. At some point I’d like to do more “Dr. Horrible.”

I have a notion that I had and was trying to put together with Warren Ellis right before “Avengers” came in an usurped my life for two years, and that’s what I want to go back to. It’s called “Wastelanders.”  It’s riskier than “Dr. Horrible.” There is no soundtrack album. It’s not kid-friendly. It’s kind of a darker piece. But I’m in a position to take some risks and I feel very strongly about the material…

With “Wastelanders,” my intent is to put it on the internet. That’s the notion, to create an entertainment for people that works as a series and then comes together as a movie. The internet is interesting to me as a destination. A lot of people — including “Quarterlife”; I keep coming back to that — they make these things in order to get them on TV. For me, that’s not a way to play. I don’t write a comic so it can be a movie. I don’t write a TV show so it can be a movie even though one did. I don’t write a movie so it can be a TV show, even though one did and then became a TV show after that. You focus on one goal.”

And here’s the comic book world’s resident madman and self-proclaimed “Internet-Jesus”, Warren Ellis talking about the project on his own website a short while back:

“So Joss and I had just finished the second or third day of sitting in a hotel bar and beating out the rough shape of WASTELANDERS, a story idea he’d had that he invited me to co-write with him because it had Science Stuff and Nasty Stuff and those things are more me than him, and I demanded Meat because I really can’t run my brain for more than ten minutes before bits of it start breaking off and I think I mentioned that we’d been at this for two or three days and so we went to a steak restaurant that scared Joss because all the lighting was red and the walls were covered in cowhide and we’d just started on the beer in this Room Of Meat Terror when Joss said : “I’ve been asked to write and direct the AVENGERS film. What do you think ?”

WASTELANDERS was being devised as a five-part series that we’d do as “internet television,” in the mode of DR HORRIBLE, only without the singing. Joss was worried about the lack of singing. I’d hoped that directing an episode of GLEE had gotten it out of his system. I wasn’t sure who I’d have to hurt or kill to secure the situation, but we were solid enough with the outline that we’d be ready to shoot in two or three months.

“You have to take that job,” I said. “Even though it’ll probably be insane. It’s a tentpole movie. You’ll be able to print your own money afterwards. You’ll be able to do anything you want. Take it.”

No good deed goes unpunished. He took the gig, and then the start date got moved up, and three or four other horrible things happened, and suddenly the space to do WASTELANDERS was erased.

I saw Joss the other week. It took us a few hours to get around to WASTELANDERS, because we’re ferociously polite and respectful to each other (if to and about no-one else) and I think neither of us wanted to broach the subject. And when we finally did, I said to him ; once you’re on the other side of AVENGERS, email me, and we’ll finish the bastard off. I’ll wait.

So that’s what we’ll do. And that gives me time to terminate anyone whom he might secretly work on musical numbers with.

A few notes. WASTELANDERS is not, as some people who can’t read have commented, the same as Antony Johnston’s WASTELAND. WASTELANDERS is Joss’ idea and Joss’ title. WASTELANDERS also has no connection to DR HORRIBLE. WASTELANDERS is where Joss’ sense that too few people followed the example of DR HORRIBLE meets my obsession with the QUATERMASS serials, which were half-hour episodes. Short-form genre serials of the kind that tv just doesn’t make anymore. What we eventually came up with was very much a fusion of British and American styles, and very much a fusion of my style and Joss’ style. And full-on science fiction.

And the plan is that you’ll see it once Joss has made the AVENGERS film.

(Which, by the way, is going to be really f–king good. I have Sekrit Knowledges. Also worth noting : Joss has nothing but good things to say about Kevin Feige, which bodes extremely well.)

WASTELANDERS is sort of a funny horrible story about the end of the world. I look forward to finishing it.”

My geeky atoms are positively buzzing with the thought of two of my most favourite creators collaborating on some crazy science fiction series, unfettered by studio mandated limitations or (in the case of Ellis) accepted human decency. I cannot wait.

(Thanks to BleedingCool for the tip and featured image)

Last Updated: May 14, 2012

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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