The 2014 Occult Detective Awards: The Wellman
THE MANLY WADE WELLMAN AWARD
John Constantine? The Manly Wade Wellman Award is being given to a bloody fictional character? Yeah, well, don’t say that to Alan Moore or a handful of others who have laid eyes on him. Moore actually met Constantine on two occasions, but to my knowledge, Moore’s the only one who ever exchanged words with him. The story, as they say, goes something like this —
“One interesting anecdote that I should point out is that one day, I was in Westminster in London — this was after we had introduced the character — and I was sitting in a sandwich bar. All of a sudden, up the stairs came John Constantine. He was wearing the trenchcoat, a short cut — he looked — no, he didn’t even look exactly like Sting. He looked exactly like John Constantine. He looked at me, stared me straight in the eyes, smiled, nodded almost conspiratorially, and then just walked off around the corner to the other part of the snack bar. I sat there and thought, should I go around that corner and see if he is really there, or should I just eat my sandwich and leave? I opted for the latter; I thought it was the safest. I’m not making any claims to anything. I’m just saying that it happened. Strange little story.”
“Years later, in another place, he steps out of the dark and speaks to me. He whispers: ‘I’ll tell you the ultimate secret of magic. Any cunt could do it.’ “
In many ways, 2014 felt like the year of the Conjob. He was starring in three comics; his own title, Constantine, plus Justice League Dark, and Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three (though none of them hold a black ritual candle to the late, great Hellblazer series) and, of course, there’s the television show.
The idiot box version had a rocky start but actor Matt Ryan has done a stellar job throughout. The writers have seemingly found their groove, mainly by mining the original source material for the juicier bits, and the supporting cast has settled into their roles. Ratings could, honestly, be better, but it is performing solid enough considering it’s been playing to a 10pm Friday night audience.
Will the series make the leap to a second season? Only the fates can say, but I’m pulling for it… and I’m sure John is too, wherever he may be.
They’ve since decided to bump the show to the 8pm hour. Sure, it’s still on Friday night, but this gives them a fighting chance at least.
I’ve a sneaky suspicion that if John Constantine wants to be on television, he will be on television, regardless of what the rest of us might think.
So, here’s to you, John bloody Constantine, you rotten, spellcasting bastard. You’ve managed to con your way into our living rooms and have taken up root on our spinner racks. You’re even a god damn action figure. Good on ya, mate. I’m sure you’re reaping the benefits in some fashion or another. If there’s an angle, you’re working it, to be sure.
And if I’m tipping my hat to you, I guess I’d best tip it as well to Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Paul Jenkins, Warren Ellis, Brian Azzarello, Mike Carey, Peter Milligan, and all the rest who helped spread your stories to an unsuspecting world.
Look, the Wellman Award is meant to honour those who have made a positive impact on the occult detective gene. Last year’s recipient, Tim Prasil, earned his award for the amazing research he did and continues to do, delving into the genre’s rich and storied history and shedding new light on the past. Conjob’s nod is because he represents not where the genre comes from, but where it’s going.
So, here’s your sodding award, John Constantine — a replica of John Thunstone’s cane sword. Keep it close. Treat it well. And be sure to wipe the bloody demon gore off the damned thing or it’ll take to rust.
Best of luck, chief, and if you’ve any black magic left up under that ragged trenchcoat, could you possibly #SaveConstantine?