Grant Morrison is having a busy month. Two weeks ago he headlined his very own convention, MorrisonCon and in only two weeks he has an appointment to meet the Queen of England. Friday afternoon at New York Comic Con he spoke with fans about his life, career and slate of upcoming projects including “Happy!” and the recently announced “Annihilator.”
“Happy!” is a creator-owned book by Morrison and Darick Robertson at Image Comics about Nick Sax, a cynical ex-cop who partners with a cartoonish, constantly upbeat Pegasus named Happy. “It’s ultimate buddy movie idea,” said Morrison.
“Happy!” is based on the song “Pegasus” by The Hollies which Morrison said “is particularly creepy. It’s about a flying horse and if you take drugs you see this flying horse.”
Morrison recently met with Wu-Tang Clan member and “The Man with the Iron Fists” director RZA in Los Angeles about a potential big-screen adaptation of “Happy!” He recalled how as soon as they sat down together, the two began talking about UFOs. “We were instantly bonded from then on,” said Morrison. “He’s obviously a cool guy and interested in a lot of the same stuff I am.”
“[RZA] had a take and viewpoint on the material I really liked. He’s attached to it now and we’ll see what happens next. It’ll be interesting.”
“Happy!” is a bit of a departure in genre for Morrison, who is best known for burning down and rebuilding superheroes. “I think I identity with superheroes. I think anyone identifies with superheroes if you think about it enough. In our own stories, we all feel like superheroes. Our love stories are the greatest love stories ever.
“To me, superhero stories are social realism — Realism can’t handle it, realism can’t deal with the fantastic worlds inside our heads.”
Morrison mentioned how Superman, a character he is famous for writing in both “All-Star Superman” and “Action Comics,” is a reflection of the times when he is written; In the ’30s Superman was a socialist fighting for justice, in the ’40s he fought the Axis Powers and in the ’70s both Superman and Batman became “surprisingly macho.”
“He’s responded, in each case, to our idea of what was the ultimate man and Superman has always played that part,” Morrison continued. He described our current Superman as “half Christ, half Martin Luther King. It’s a very strange idea, that this is what we look up to now.”
The versatility of characters like Superman and Batman will allow them to outlive all of us. “Guys like Superman and Batman have the potential to exist for centuries. Batman is such a perfect archetype, such a refinement of an archetype, there’s a chance it will last like Robin Hood and King Arthur.”
“Multiversity,” Morrison’s upcoming epic for DC Comics, has been in the works for six years now. “I’m hoping it doesn’t sound like ‘Chinese Democracy,'” joked Morrison, referring to the long-in-development Guns N’ Roses album that debuted to mixed reviews.
Morrison began to riff on the different versions of Superman that might exist in the multiverse, including a raccoon Superman and a tree Superman. He expanded the latter idea to an entire “Justice League of Ents,” riffing off of the sagacious race of tree people in Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” rapidly scribbling notes for a new story about “modern day Ents” who have to live in apartments and pay rent.
“Multiversity” will last eight books, with “six or seven of them probably in different universes,” Morrison said. “There’s a Nazi Justice League, and the Charlton heroes done in the style of Watchmen, and there’s Captain Marvel stuff. There are two bookends which function really well because we’ve been working on it for six years.”
Morrison’s most recently announced project is “Annihilator,” published by Legendary Comics. In “Annihilator,” a screenwriter is given the chance to write a huge tent-pole movie, but is shocked when the FBI informs him the hero from his story, Max Nomax, has suddenly appeared in a black hole.
“We wanted to do something that was as cool as Batman for the character of Max Nomax. He’s Batman plus.”
The floor then opened up to questions from the audience.
Morrison doesn’t feel the DC New 52 relaunch means the character of Mandrakk from “Final Crisis” achieved his goal of erasing the multiverse from existence. “I think things have to change and move on. I don’t think Mandrakk won because DC hired Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire, who are amazing new creators, out of this thing. Mandrakk can never win as long as people keep telling stories. He only wins when you run out of stories to tell.”
He’s written the first issue for a new series of “Seaguy” and is working on the second issue now. “Cameron Stewart is doing one of the ‘Multiversity’ issues — I really want him to do the Captain Marvel one, so it’s a case of juggling those two books but it’s under way.”
Morrison finally revealed the green monster over the shoulder of Bat-mite in “Batman: RIP” to be what Bat-mite actually looks like in the fifth dimension peeking out.
“I had this idea the creatures in the fifth dimension were so appalling to look at, they couldn’t show themselves to humans. It’s not because they’re bad, it’s just because if we were to look at them we’d fall apart and shit ourselves. Bat-mite very kindly disguises himself as a child-like version of Batman. What you see is the face of something in the fifth dimension.
“The imagination is the fifth dimension. I was proposing the notion the fifth dimension is in your mind.”
Morrison said he wouldn’t do a sequel to “Joe the Barbarian,” although he did come up with an idea where Joe’s entire school would be taken over by creatures.
When asked about the controversial actions of Scott Summers in “Avengers vs. X-Men” Morrison said he “hasn’t actually seen it. I read about it online. That ain’t my Scott Summers. That ain’t my guy. The guys working on those characters are trying something new, trying to push the story and I’m fine with it but I didn’t recognize him and I don’t think he’d do any of those things. Maybe he’s been possessed — he’s always getting possessed, that guy. Maybe he likes it.”
Jack Kirby is one of Morrison’s favorite creators because “that’s the way comics should be. Every single sentence should inspire another ten thousand stories and everyone who reads that should want to write it.”
Morrison isn’t sure when you’ll see a Hollywood movie with his name attached. “Ask Hollywood. I’ve written like three movies, been paid for them, been paid quite well for them, but they’ve never been produced. I also just finished up the ‘Dinosaurs vs. Aliens’ screenplay with Barry Sonnenfeld so we’ll see what happens, but these guys have been quite resistant to me. I don’t know why. I’d love to see a ‘Seaguy’ movie or a ‘Filth’ movie.'”
Dr. Hurt will indeed make an appearance in a future “Batman, Inc.” story. “I said this in Las Vegas and everybody said ‘Oh god, there’s going to be a big Dr. Hurt story,’ but it’s not really a big story.”
Morrison admitted he juggles so many projects at once with the help of his wife, saying, “I just do my stuff and send it in. My wife does all the hard work with juggling that stuff. I just sit in my room and write. It’s just kinda easy for me to do.
“You just keep saying yes and, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself with twenty things to do. You don’t go to sleep for seven days and you stay up and drink lots of vodka and become miserable. Everything becomes about the art and not your personality. You forget yourself.”
Morrison was working on around 15 projects in 2010 at once and was “on the verge of actual mental illness.”
“I’ve never liked the concept of the Red because it’s borrowing from Swamp Thing. Animal Man already had the morphogenetic field and this scientific explanation for his powers. I didn’t like the fact they made him into a kind-of sub-Swamp Thing. It’s an unappealing concept and I wish they would just get rid of it.”
He was not approached at all to help with the latest volume of “Animal Man.”
Morrison is particularly proud of his Batman trivia knowledge. “I was given this book by Alan Kistler, who writes stuff on Newsarama, a book of Batman trivia. I also got a book of Marvel trivia a few months ago and I couldn’t answer a single question. I went through the Batman trivia book and I think I answered 80% of the questions. I was quite pleased with myself.”
Morrison’s favorite Batman creators include Denny O’Neill, Brian Bolland, Len Wien, Frank Miller and Bill Finger. “I love Adam West, I love fucking Schumacher. I love anything to do with Batman.”
There are no plans for a sequel to “Flex Mentallo.” The first volume, with artist Frank Quitely, was the result of “ecstasy and mushrooms. It was the ’90s man. I really got in to that whole rave culture stuff.”
The panel took a left turn when Morrison was asked how to deal with literally conjured up demons. “You deal with it the same way you deal with anything else. I’ve conjured up stuff in to the room I really didn’t know how to get rid of. It was very, very frightening. If you actually read ritual magic and you come up against something that gives you the shits, the way to defeat demons is to use logic. They have real trouble with logic. They don’t like shapes; they don’t like being put in to things. In traditional ritual magic, they tend to make a triangle to trap the demon in, because demons hate lines and they hate logic. If you can give a demon a shape, it doesn’t like it. That’s how I used to deal with them. You basically talk them down. They’re really easy to talk out of existence if you apply logic to them.”
Morrison would love to revise “18 Days,” although he is “not pursuing it right now.” He has heard some of his collaborators are trying to get a movie off the ground, however.
Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance and “The Umbrella Academy” fame is a good friend of Morrison’s but, although they might collaborate on music-based projects in the future, they probably won’t be comic book related. “He doesn’t really need me, that guy’s smart.”
Morrison has no plans for Renee Montoya, who was The Question before the New 52 relaunch. “I always felt she was Greg Rucka’s character. He put a lot of himself in to it and I didn’t feel it was something I would want to change or push around.”
A fan asked whether it was appropriate to discuss Batman’s sexuality, citing Morrison’s infamous “Batman is gay” comments. “Absolutely. Of course, Batman isn’t any of these things because he’s a fictional character who’s an adventure hero. He’s not a porn character. He’s not a sex story character. It’s unimportant — you can tell 80 years of Batman stories and never mention his sexuality. Of course, ‘Playboy’ wanted to go for the big headline and it was ‘Batman is super, super, super, super gay says Grant Morrison’ and now I have to defend this!”
Morrison revealed “The Filth” is his favorite of his own works and if he had to choose one core message or theme from all his work, it would be “Find the others, spread the love. Take whatever you got from me and pass it on and pass it on and keep passing it on. That’s all it’s about. I inspire you, someone inspired me and you inspire the next guy.”