I've known Grant Morrison ever since I got involved in creating comics. Don't see him much - haven't clapped eyes on the scrawny Glaswegian git since last summer, in fact, when we spent two weeks in New Zealand and Australia. And before that I think the last time I'd seen him was in San Francisco in 1997. But reading his comics always feels to me like him giving me his half of a continuing conversation. Whether it was DOOM PATROL or JLA or the brilliant THE INVISIBLES, I knew what books he was reading, who he was seeing, where he was travelling to. Often, I could tell who he was fucking, and who he wanted to fuck.
Grant is one of comics' few genuine pop stars. He's also a long-time practising magician who makes his art his magic; magic is a thing that demands a lot of your life, and Grant solves that by making the act of writing an act of magic. This is not to be confused with the infamous save-THE-INVISIBLES sigil Grant worked and placed in the comic's letter column, insisting that his entire readership masturbate ferociously over the thing at an appointed time.
Grant Morrison's work is a conversation with himself, a conversation with his peers, a conversation with his audience and with the world. And this is a conversation with me:
Last time I interviewed you was ten years ago in Glasgow. I figure you've changed identity at least three times in the last decade. Who are you today, and how do you differ from the version I published ten years ago?
Every single one of the atoms comprising my physical body has been replaced during that time but the organising field which maintains the integrity of my timesuit seems still to have some indefinable 'Grantiness'. All the daft shite I discussed in that interview with you back then is still a part of my current agenda. The ideas expressed there - of comic books and comic book universes as functioning autonomous continuuaaaaaa, the potential for magical manipulation of reality using fiction etc - have all moved to the forefront of my work in the 90s , particularly in the forms of the incredibly potent supersigils called FLEX MENTALLO and THE INVISIBLES.
Two of my cats died, I moved house, I split from my long-term girlfriend, I travelled round the world, learned to drink and take drugs, practised transvestite shamanism, went to 'raves', was seemingly abducted by aliens, almost died of blood poisoning and pneumonia, stopped being miserable and pessimistic, split from my girlfriend, cured two cases of cancer using magic, shagged around in Paris, Venice, LA, lived in New York, appeared in 'Vogue', met the girl of my dreams... I've finally become one of my own characters. In fact, almost everything interesting in my life has happened since the last time you interviewed me, Warren. What the fuck d'you think that's all about?
At one point last summer I knocked on your hotel room door to see if you wanted to watch me drinking again and you emerged in a vast cloud of dopesmoke, wrapped in a sheet and giggling that you were having ideas and that they were serious breakthrough stuff. I'm not going to ask you what those ideas were -- we'll see 'em in MARVEL BOY soon enough -- but I'm wondering how you perceive comics right now. Your ideas for comics stories tend to reflect the way you perceive the medium. What's your ideal comic right now?
There was LSD involved as well. I can admit that now that I'm Straight Edge and back at the Jeet Kune Do classes three times a week. Shortly after you leave, there am I drooling and buzzing in the presence of seven times seven times seven deranged Bizarro beings all boiling in the interference moire of the SELF/NOT SELF boundary. Intravenous concept jelly overload followed by a bath (water spiralling in the wrong direction, coriolis force all fucked backwards). A lot of the direct transmissions go straight into INVISIBLES volume 3 #5 which I'm writing in Australia at the time you're knocking on the door.
The real breakthrough business stemming from that night (and that whole journey to the Antipodean realms) appears in purest form as ideas in the IF, the novel I'm writing, but there are hints of my new theory of everything all through the last issue of THE INVISIBLES and more echoes through most of the new stuff I'm working on.
As for Marvel Boy. Not only am I working with one of the best comics artists ever, the colouring gauntlet has been thrown down once again with the most incredible video game lighting and atmospherics. The whole thing really becomes something new with issue 3, however, which I'm unusually proud of. Apart from the fact that the potentially impenetrable central idea (HEXUS, THE LIVING CORPORATION) wound up beautifully simple, original and ridiculous all at once, that was the issue I really began to utilise J.G. Jones' preposterous genius to its best effects and decided to rethink the prevailing vogue for cinematic/money shot panel structures and page layouts. Marvel Boy's visual style becomes more like MTV and adverts; from #3 on it's filled with all kinds of new techniques; rapid cuts, strobed lenticular panels, distressed layouts, 64 panel grids, whatever. We've only started to experiment but already MARVEL BOY looks like nothing else around. Some of the stuff J. G. is doing is like an update of the whole Steranko Pop Art approach to the comics page. Instead of Orson Welles, op art and spy movies, J.G.'s using digital editing effects, percussive rhythms, cutting the action closer and harder, illuminated by the frantic glow of the image-crazed hallucination of 21st century media culture and all that. Comics don't need to be like films. They don't need to look like storyboards. This is not to dis the many great comics which have used filmic narrative techniques but I wanted to go back and explore some of the possibilities of comics as music.
I'm doing MARVEL BOY and whatever else in a Utopian 21st century spirit - I'll aim the comics at a wide, media-literate mainstream audience and slowly but surely help generate that audience, just like you. I'll continue to act as if being a comic book writer is the same as being a pop star. I'll continue to learn from stuff I think breaks new ground. If at the moment I think comics aren't being sexy enough or FuturePop enough or incendiary enough, I'll attempt to fill the gap with the sort of thing I want to read. Whatever happens, I know I'll sell more comics than the crawling half-men who believe we're all doomed in a 'shrinking market'. Look out of the window at the planet you live on, morons! There are billions of those bipeds and they keep making more of them! How much bigger does the market have to get before we're eating Soylent fucking Green ? Get out and sell comics to these people! In the same way some idiot savant managed to convince them they needed Pokemon more than oxygen.
I'm busy writing my way out of the slump like most of us freelance folk. But someone has to start making some sane adminstrative and marketing decisions to back up the sterling work of the talent pool.- Grant Morrison