Transmetropolitan: The intrigue of Spider Jerusalem's brazen debauchery
It’s hard to say whether or not there was anything specific that made me want to be a writer; but I am more than 100% sure that the angst, anger, and aggression I found within the pages of Transmetropolitan, a 1990s comic book series written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Darick Robertson, had something to do with it. Though I was much too young to appreciate it when it was first released, it became immeasurably influential in my life just a few years later.
Set two centuries in the future, the plot revolves around Spider Jerusalem, the unapologetically radical and socially blunt gonzo-journalist — half humanist, half apathetic degenerate — who lives out his days fighting injustice via his writing in a cyberpunk world full of drugs, profanity, sex, and social decline. Much like Hunter S. Thompson (1937 — 2005), whom the protagonist is based on, Jerusalem is a whip-smart anti-hero with questionable personality traits and an uncanny ability to see through mainstream bull; he appears to be riding a never-ending wave of brazen debauchery even (or especially) when confronted by authority.
Published in 1997, Transmetropolitan predicted the tech-fueled society of today as well as foreshadowed the less-than-awesome world we may encounter on the horizon. Though, the thing that is most impressive about it is that easily relates to people now, instead of hundreds of years from now. It’s Spider Jerusalem’s love/hate relationship with the city that made him famous that's really the focus of his narrative; it was the city that made him flee and live in self-imposed exile, only to return to it later as a swearing, smoking, justice-seeking messiah-alternative. His column, “I Hate It Here” speaks to everyone who is currently highly dissatisfied with the status quo.
There is just something so magnetic and intriguing about Spider Jerusalem, it’s hard not to care about him and his world. Though I don’t think I can save humanity with the power of my pen alone, Spider Jerusalem and his journalistic prowess certainly contributed to as well as elevated my own interest in social issues, creativity, futurism, and, of course, writing. Maybe that’s why the comic book series became one of my most beloved works of fiction; Transmetropolitan, and Spider Jerusalem in particular, is and always will be a source of inspiration.