Here are some recommendations for any of you who want to read some Hellblazer, courtesy James at the insane rantings forum. And there are notes as to which may or may not be related to the film for those of you who are avoiding that type of thing.
ORIGINAL SINS by JAMIE DELANO (collects issues 1-9) ---The first nine issues, of which some plot ideas (Papa Midnite, the fly demon) have been borrowed. I doubt that the actual PLOT will have much to do with it though. As for the quality of the book: too much purple prose, but fine stories all the same. Sadly, Delano's later, better stories (Mourning of the Magician for example) were never collected. The first plot arc ran from issue 4 to issue 12 so the book ends on an unresolved cliffhanger. Also, some plots interweave with the Swamp Thing comic that was out at the same time. Not recommended for beginners.constantine | from inside the mind of krix at September 17, 2003 03:44 PM .
DANGEROUS HABITS by GARTH ENNIS (collects 41-46)
---John Constantine discovers that he has terminal lung cancer. But when you're hated by both Heaven and Hell, where do you turn? +++Great story; the basis for part of the plot of the film.
FEAR AND LOATHING by GARTH ENNIS (collects 62-67)
---After forty years of dabbling with the occult, John's grown weary of constantly watching his back. Now he's forsaken magic for the love of his life, Kit Ryan. But trouble has a habit of seeking out Constantine, and amateur magicians, questioning angels and neo-Nazis threaten to tear his life apart. Can Constantine escape with his body, soul and heart intact? +++The TPBs miss out 16 issues of Garth Ennis' run, which means you'll miss out on the growing relationship between John and Kit. Ellie appears a bit in this one (it contains the birthday issue with Mange), as does Gabriel. I doubt much of this plotline will make it to the movie, however.
TAINTED LOVE by GARTH ENNIS (collects 68-71, Hellblazer special 1, Vertigo Jam story)
---Homeless and helpless on the streets of London, John Constantine soaks his sorrows in cheap booze and tries to forget his past. But his past has not forgotten him, and The King of the Vampires is stalking the streets in search of the fallen magus...+++Great storyline that probably won't make complete sense unless you know that John had a transfusion of blood way back in the Original Sins book. Also, The King of The Vampires first appeared in issue 50, one of Ennis' uncollected issues. None of this will be in the movie, I'm sure.
DAMNATION'S FLAME by GARTH ENNIS (collects 72-77)
---After pulling himself together, John Constantine heads for a much-deserved break in New York. But the Big Apple has a rotten core, and an old foe named Papa Midnite is about to send John on a vision quest into America's dark shadow. With his soul lost in limbo and his body at the mercy of street thugs, Constantine will have to procure the help of a VERY dead Kennedy to survive.+++Papa Midnite returns, but in a plot which seemingly has nothing to do with the movie (here he's a very sinister villain, whilst the movie seems to want to use him as a good guy). An excellent allegorical tale. Also contains two other stories, neither of which are involved in the movie.
RAKE AT THE GATES OF HELL by GARTH ENNIS (collects 78-83)
---London's burning, and the Devil has come to take his due. Race riots, lost loves, gruesome deaths and bad poetry come together in this final arc by Garth Ennis. With help from a young girl Constantine accidentally condemned to Hell many years ago, The First of the Fallen has found a way out of the deadlock John tricked him into, and he intends to take the magus' soul in the most gruesome way possible. +++THIS VOLUME IS NOT YET RELEASED. It should be out by now, but I think the cover artist is taking his time. Hopefully out next year. I suspect that several plot points from the Constantine movie are taken from this book, though I don't know enough to confirm or deny that suspicion. Generally speaking, if you want to remain unspoiled for the movie - give this one a miss, whenever it comes out. Definitely worth reading once you've seen the movie and read the rest of Ennis' stories though.
HAUNTED by WARREN ELLIS (collects 134-139)
---A freak coincidence puts John Constantine on the cae of a mutilated and murdered ex-girlfriend - but as he travels further and further into London's magical underground, it becomes clear that he is as much responsible for her death as the man who did the deed...+++Dark, dark stuff. Not connected with the movie in any way whatsoever, so definitely worth reading if you're interested in the character. Not for the squeamish, though.
HARD TIME by BRIAN AZZARELLO (collects 146-150)
---No smokes, no power, no money... no chance? John Constantine faces up to life in an American prison after being brought down on a murder charge. But who did he kill, and why? And will he live long enough for us to find out?+++Okayish plotline from the worst Hellblazer writer. English readers will wince at the Dick-van-Dyke accents, but fans of prison dramas such as Oz may find some enjoyment. Nothing to do with the movie.
GOOD INTENTIONS by BRIAN AZZARELLO (collects 151-156)
---Hoping to find some peace from the ghost that follows him, John Constantine travels to the little town of Doglick, West Virginia. Here, John hopes to make peace with the wife of Lucky, the man whose death sent him to prison. But Doglick holds man dark secrets... the kind men would kill over.+++Absolutely preposterous plotline. Nothing to do with the movie, but not worth buying. Get Freezes Over (below).
FREEZES OVER by BRIAN AZZARELLO (collects 157-163)
A mythical killer stalks the trapped residents of a backwoods saloon, and the only one who seems to know what's really going on is John Constantine...+++Good collection this; the Freezes Over storyline is solid, and the two-part second story ("Lapdogs and Englishmen") is entertaining too. Nothing to do with the movie, so highly recommended.