Grant Morrison

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Grant Morrison

Grant Morrison at Comic-Con 2008
Born January 31, 1960 (1960-01-31) (age 49)
Glasgow, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Area(s) Writer & Artist
Notable works Animal Man
The Invisibles
The Filth
New X-Men
Seven Soldiers
Final Crisis
Batman R.I.P.
[ Official website]

Grant Morrison (born January 31, 1960) is a Scottish comic book writer and artist. He is best-known for his nonlinear narratives and counter-cultural leanings.


[edit] Biography

[edit] Early years

Grant Morrison was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1960. His first published works were Gideon Stargrave strips for Near Myths in 1978 (when he was about 17[1]), one of the first British alternative comics. His work appeared in four of the five issues of Near Myths and he was suitably encouraged to find more comic work. This included a weekly comic strip Captain Clyde, an unemployed superhero based in Glasgow, for The Govan Press, a local newspaper, plus various issues of DC Thomson's Starblazer, a science fiction version of that company's Commando title.

[edit] 1980s

Steve Yeowell's cover to Zenith Book one.

Morrison spent much of the early and mid-1980s playing music with his band The Mixers while writing for UK ventures. However, after writing The Liberators for Dez Skinn's Warrior in 1985, he started work for Marvel UK the following year. There he wrote two three-part and one one-part eight-page comic strips for Doctor Who Magazine (his final one a collaboration with a then-teenage Bryan Hitch as well as a Zoids strip in Spider-Man and Zoids. 1986 also saw Morrison start to write several Future Shocks (normally short two- or three-page comic strips) for 2000AD.

Morrison, however, wanted to write a continuing strip rather than short stories. He got his wish in 1987, when he and Steve Yeowell created Zenith, an early example of deconstructing the superhero genre.

Morrison had been sending proposals to DC Comics for revamping various characters during this time. He had several proposals ignored, including Second Coming, but his work on Zenith got him noticed by DC. They accepted his proposal for Animal Man, a little-known character from DC's past whose most notable recent appearance was a cameo in the Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series.

Animal Man placed Morrison at the head of the so-called "Brit Wave" invasion of American comics, along with such writers as Neil Gaiman, Peter Milligan, Jamie Delano and Alan Moore (who had launched the invasion with his work on Swamp Thing). Morrison had himself a hit with Animal Man, even writing himself into the story as a character in his final issue, #26.[2]

Morrison's uniquely surreal take on the superhero genre proved such a success that he was given Doom Patrol to write, starting with issue #19 in 1989. Previously, Doom Patrol had been a fairly formulaic superhero title. Morrison introduced more surreal elements, introducing concepts such as dadaism into his first several issues.

1989 was also the year DC published Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, a script he had written in 1987. Painted by Dave McKean, Arkham Asylum was a Batman graphic novel that featured uses of symbolic writing not common in comics at the time. (The story was to have included a transvestite Joker, an element toned down by DC.) The book cemented his reputation as a major talent in the industry. Morrison also wrote various other titles for DC at this time, most notably issues 6-10 of Legends of the Dark Knight called Gothic, another of DC's Batman titles.

He also kept working for smaller publishers, most notably writing St. Swithin's Day for British publisher Trident Comics. St. Swithin's Day proved to be controversial due to its anti-Margaret Thatcher themes, even provoking a small tabloid press fury and complaints from Tory MPs such as Teddy Taylor.

He was also still writing for the 2000AD spin-off title Crisis. It was in Cut magazine in 1989 that he would experience controversy again with The New Adventures of Hitler - due to its use of Adolf Hitler as its lead character.

[edit] 1990s

The early 1990s saw Morrison revamping another old DC character, Kid Eternity, with artist Duncan Fegredo. He also updated Dan Dare, with artist Rian Hughes, to be set in the era of Thatcherism in Revolver.

In 1991 Morrison wrote Bible John-A Forensic Meditation, a comic book series drawn by fellow member of The Mixers Daniel Vallely, which appeared in the anthology title Crisis #56-61. It was based on an analysis of possible motivations for the crimes of the serial killer Bible John and was also an analysis of evil. It has been compared to Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell as it covers similar themes. The story was highly experimental in terms of story and art, with Vallely and Morrison claiming to have used a Ouija board to write the script and Vallely using a series of collages rather than conventional panels to tell the story. The term "Forensic Meditation" refers to Morrison's mixture of science and magic in order to tell the story. The rumour is that Vallely destroyed most of his work after this collaboration and left the comic industry. Bible John has not been reprinted since.

In 1993 Morrison and fellow Glaswegian comic writer Mark Millar were "given" 2000 AD for an eight-week run called "The Summer Offensive". Morrison wrote Judge Dredd and co-wrote with Millar Big Dave, a highly controversial strip that helped give Morrison and Millar some brief fame outside the world of comics.

DC Comics also began in 1993 its Vertigo imprint, which published several Morrison titles, such as the steampunk mini-series Sebastian O and the graphic novel The Mystery Play. Later Morrison would write Flex Mentallo, a Doom Patrol spin-off with art by Frank Quitely, and Kill Your Boyfriend, with artist Philip Bond, for Vertigo.[3] He also returned briefly to DC Universe superheroics with the critically acclaimed but short-lived Aztek, co-written with Mark Millar.

In 1996, Morrison was given the Justice League of America to revamp as JLA, a comic book that gathered the most powerful superheroes of the DC universe into one team. This run was hugely popular and returned the title back to best-selling status. It was also influential in creating the type of "widescreen" superhero action later seen in titles such as Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch's The Authority.[citation needed] He also handled DC's crossover event of 1998, DC One Million, a four-issue mini-series with multiple crossovers, as well as several issues of The Flash with Mark Millar.

It was with The Invisibles, a work in three volumes, that Morrison would start his largest and possibly most important[4] work. The Invisibles combined political, pop- and sub-cultural references. Tapping into pre-millennial tension, the work was influenced by the writings of Robert Anton Wilson, Aleister Crowley and William Burroughs and Morrison's practice of chaos magic.[5] At DisinfoCon in 1999, Morrison said that much of the content in The Invisibles was information given to him by aliens that abducted him in Kathmandu, who told him to spread this information to the world via a comic book. He later clarified that the experience he labeled as the "Alien Abduction Experience in Kathmandu" had nothing to do with aliens or abduction, but that there was an experience that he had in Kathmandu that The Invisibles is an attempt to explain.[6] The title was not a huge commercial hit to start with. (Morrison actually asked his readers to participate in a "wankathon" while concentrating on a magical symbol, or sigil, in an effort to boost sales).[7] The first issues were critically acclaimed[citation needed], but many readers found the second arc in issues 5-8 too confusing or lacking in action[citation needed]. The title was relaunched as Volume two as it moved to America and became intentionally more "American", featuring more action while still maintaining Morrison's ideas and themes. Volume three appeared with issue numbers counting down, signaling an intention to conclude the series with the turn of the new millennium in 2000. However, due to the title shipping late, its final issue did not ship until April 2000. The entire series has been collected by Vertigo as a series of eight trade paperbacks.

[edit] 2000s

In 2000, Morrison's graphic novel JLA:Earth 2 was released with art by Frank Quitely. It was Morrison's last mainstream work for DC for a while, as he moved to Marvel Comics to take over the writing of X-Men (which was renamed New X-Men for his run), with Quitely providing much of the art. Again, Morrison's revamping of a major superhero team proved to be a critical and commercial success[citation needed]. However, his penultimate arc, 'Planet X', is the subject of much controversy[citation needed]. In it he depicted the classic villain Magneto infiltrating, in the guise of new character Xorn, and defeating the X-Men, as he became a raving lunatic (the result of an addiction to the power-enhancing drug "Kick"). This has since been retconned by other writers and Morrison's Xorn is said to be a new character distinct from Magneto.

Morrison in 2006

Morrison had one more project for Vertigo during this time: The Filth, drawn by Chris Weston and Gary Erskine, a 13-part mini-series,[8] said by Warren Ellis to be heavily influenced by Chris Morris's Blue Jam radio series.

Morrison also wrote the six-part Marvel Boy series, as well as Fantastic Four: 1234, his take on another major superhero team. Morrison helped challenge Marvel's reputation for being closed to new ideas[citation needed], but after finishing his New X-Men, he returned to DC Comics to work on several titles and help revamp the DC Universe.

Starting in 2004, Vertigo published three Morrison mini-series. Seaguy, We3 and Vimanarama involve, respectively, a picaresque hero in a post-utopian world that doesn't need him; cyber-enhanced pets running from their captors in what Morrison calls his "western manga"; and ancient Hindu/Pakistani myths translated into Jack Kirby-style adventures. We3 came in for particular praise for its bold storytelling techniques and artwork by Frank Quitely. Morrison also returned to the JLA with the first story in a new anthology series, JLA Classified, tales set within the JLA mythos by various creative teams.

In 2005, DC Comics started publishing what was dubbed the first ever "megaseries". The Grant Morrison-scripted Seven Soldiers features both new characters and reimagined obscure DC characters: The Manhattan Guardian, Mister Miracle, Klarion the Witch Boy, Bulleteer, Frankenstein, Zatanna and Shining Knight. The maxi-series consists of seven interlinked four-issue miniseries with two "bookend" volumes — 30 issues in all.

Dan DiDio (current editorial vice president of DC Comics) was impressed with Morrison's ideas for revamped characters. Giving him the unofficial title of "revamp guy", DiDio asked him to assist in sorting out the DC Universe in the wake of the Infinite Crisis.[9] Morrison was also one of the writers on 52, a yearlong weekly comic book series that started in May 2006 and concluded in May 2007.[10]

In November 2005, DC started publishing a new ongoing Superman series, starting with a twelve-issue story arc by Morrison and Frank Quitely. Called All Star Superman, the series is not so much a revamp or reboot of Superman, but presents an out-of-continuity "iconic" Superman for new readers. All Star Superman won the 2006 Eisner Award for Best New Series, the Best Continuing Series Eisner Award in 2007 and several Eagle Awards in the UK.

In the same year, Morrison and Quitely worked on pop star Robbie Williams' album Intensive Care, providing intricate Tarot card designs for the packaging and cover of the CD.

In 2006 Morrison was voted as the #2 favorite comic book writer of all time by Comic Book Resources, beating Neil Gaiman at #3. (Alan Moore was #1.)[11] That same year, Morrison began writing Batman for DC with issue #655, continuing to be the series writer into 2008. As well, he is authoring the relaunches of The Authority and Wildcats (with the art of Gene Ha and Jim Lee respectively) for DC's Wildstorm imprint. However, neither have seen a release for several years and are still on hiatus, with a fill in Authority mini-series having been run.

Since 2003, writer and journalist Craig McGill has been working on an authorised biography of Morrison. [12]

At the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con, DC Comics announced that Morrison would write Final Crisis, a seven issue mini-series slated to appear in 2008. Artist J. G. Jones will draw the series. Morrison also says that later in 2008 he will hand over the follow-up to 2004's Seaguy called Seaguy 2: The Slaves of Mickey Eye, the second part of a planned three part series.[13][14]

At the "Spotlight on Grant Morrison" panel, part of the 2008 New York Comic Con, Morrison revealed that Wildcats would continue when Jim Lee was ready but The Authority's future is less certain: "Authority was just a disaster." It was running late and conflicted with the start of 52 but the last straw was when he read the reviews: "I said fuck it."[15] Wildstorm editor Ben Abernathy has said the problems were caused by a perfect storm of events, but both series will get finished - Keith Giffen will be completing the twelve-issue run on The Authority.[16]

At NYCC Morrison also announced a new title coming in 2009, War Cop, which he says is "a very psychedelic thing and it'll be a little bit more back to being me again."[15] At NYCC it was also revealed Morrison would working with Virgin Comics to produce "webisodes" (short animated stories) based on the Mahābhārata; he said it wouldn't be a direct translation but "Like the Beatles took Indian music and tried to make psychedelic sounds… I'm trying to convert Indian storytelling to a western style for people raised on movies, comics, and video games."[17] Other upcoming work includes The New Bible, a creator-owned title for Vertigo, with artist Camilla D’Errico, [18] and a Vertigo title, with Sean Murphy, going by the working name of Joe the Barbarian.[14]

Morrison is also a fan of Geoff Johns' current work with the Green Lantern mythos, and thus made certain to reserve a significant role for the Corps in Final Crisis. In particular, one of the new Alpha Lanterns features prominently in the early issues of Final Crisis, and the fallout of those events will reverberate back through the upcoming event The Blackest Night in 2009. [19]

Morrison will again be working with Frank Quitely on the new Batman and Robin title, which will be published in June 2009 after the Battle for the Cowl event.[20][21]

[edit] Appearances as a comics character

Grant Morrison first appeared as a comics character with a cameo in Animal Man #14. He made a full appearance at the end of issue #25, and spent most of #26 in a lengthy conversation with the comic's title character, particularly on the topic of how realism has to be part of comic books somewhere. Nevertheless, in the end, Animal Man's family returned from the dead due to 'his' influence.

Shortly afterwards, a Morrison-resembling character called "The Writer" appeared in issue 58 of the DC Comics title Suicide Squad (written by John Ostrander).[22] This issue was part of the War of the Gods storyline. He was seen protesting that other "writers" had taken control of his fate now that he was part of "the continuity". He demonstrated his skills by writing down dialogue onto a laptop. This text was attributed to specific, gathered, super-hero allies. Moments later, the allies then said those very words. He then participated in the attack on the stronghold of Circe. He eliminated a few enemies by writing of their deaths, which then happened. Writer's block then hit and he was killed by a bestial humanoid.

Morrison would later be counted among the Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp, the body of "reality engineers" seen throughout the Seven Soldiers miniseries event, all of whom look exactly like him. During the series, one of these - referred to as the "Eighth of Seven" - went rogue, consolidating magical power for himself, releasing the Sheeda warrior-race on their Twenty-First Century ancestors, and becoming the silver-age character Zor, "The Terrible Time Tailor", a figure who looks exactly like Morrison but also wears a magician's outfit, as well as sporting dark hair and a self-described 'magnificent beard'; this Zor was introduced in the original Spectre adventures in More Fun Comics #55 before he was re-invented in Seven Soldiers. Zor is conquered by Zatanna and captured by his fellow Time Tailors who 'Judge' him; Morrison himself, bearing a Dc Comics-logo tie-clip becomes the narrator of the final chapter, treating the reader as if they were Zor himself. Zor is eventually dressed to resemble a pedophiliac miser named Cyrus Gold, killed by an angry mob. [23]

He has also appeared in an issue of Simpsons Comics, where he is seen fighting with Mark Millar over the title of "Writer of X-Men".[24]

In the notes to the Absolute Edition of DC: The New Frontier, writer Darwyn Cooke mentioned that this version of Captain Cold was visually based upon Morrison.

In We3, Morrison has a cameo as a shady government figure listening to a cell phone prior to the final battle between Weapons 1, 2, 3 and the bestial Weapon 4; in this appearance he has no dialogue.

In the Doctor Thirteen story found in Tales of the Unexpected, Thirteen encounters the self-proclaimed Architects of the DC Universe. This foursome wear Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Flash masks, and could be interpreted as the writers of DC's 52. The Batman mask-wearer bears more than a passing resemblance to Grant Morrison.

In Mad Magazine, he is referred to as Jim Morrison in a review for a comic book he supposedly wrote.[citation needed]

It has also been suggested the near-future Batman depicted in issue #666 of the comic book of the same name is based on Morrison: "Oddly, the shaved-headed Batman in the trench coat looks a bit like Grant Morrison and he has a cat named Alfred. In other words, it looks like Morrison (who is known to love cats) made himself Batman in this story. Of course, in Animal Man, Morrison appeared as himself as the teller of tales of Animal Man's life; in Seven Soldiers, the tailors who tell the tales of the universe looked like Morrison; and now he seems to be the Batman of the not-too-distant future."[25] However, Morrison has stated that the decision to base the appearance of the future Batman on him was one taken solely by the artist, "I had written him as having a buzz cut, I think, but Andy drew him bald. I think a lot of people just assumed that I stuck myself into a comic again, but that was never intended."[26]

Similarly, in Morrison's The Filth, the central character, named Greg Feely, becomes acutely physically similar to Morrison at the exact same time that his cat dies under the care of a malicious body double of his; Feely's care for the cat mirrors that which Morrison has claimed he felt for it.

Morrison has received praise for his work's various portrayals of Lex Luthor - a character who is bald, and often wears clothing with a high collar, similar to his signature trench coat - in particularly All-Star Superman, wherein the iconic elements of the character such as his insanity, genius and representation of infinite human potential are highly emphasized.

During a period of highly tragic events during his life, Morrison portrayed Professor X - the closest character to himself, visually, with his run on New X-Men - as imprisoned by his greatest enemy, naked, gagged, tortured and made to believe his friends were dead and his dreams shattered.

[edit] Screenwriting and Playwriting

Morrison has become more involved in screenwriting and has written numerous scripts and treatments.

His screenplays include Sleepless Knights for Dreamworks, WE3 for New Line (both in development with Don Murphy producing) and most recently an adaptation of the video game Area 51 home console game [27] for Paramount (in development with CFP Productions producing).

Morrison provided outline story and script work for two video games (Predator: Concrete Jungle and Battlestar Galactica) both by Vivendi Universal, though the finished products often didn't contain all his contributions.

He has also been a successful playwright, with two plays written for and performed by Oxygen House at the Edinburgh Fringe. The first was Red King Rising in 1989, about the (partly fictional) relationship between Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell and the second in 1990, Depravity about Aleister Crowley. Both plays were critically acclaimed and won between them a Fringe First Award, the Independent Theatre Award for 1989 and the Evening Standard Award for New Drama. A film adaptation of Red King Rising is in discussion. Both plays were collected in his collection of prose, Lovely Biscuits released in 1999.[28]

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ YouTube - DC Comics Grant Morrison interview
  2. ^ Irvine, Alex (2008), "Animal Man", in Dougall, Alastair, The Vertigo Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 27, ISBN 0-7566-4122-5, OCLC 213309015 
  3. ^ Before All Star - Grant Morrison on Kill Your Boyfriend, Newsarama, November 6, 2008
  4. ^ CBR's #2 & #1 All Time Favorite Writer, Comics Bulletin
  5. ^ Irvine, Alex (2008), "The Invisibles", in Dougall, Alastair, The Vertigo Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 92-97, ISBN 0-7566-4122-5, OCLC 213309015 
  6. ^ Barbelith Interviews: An Interview with Grant Morrison
  7. ^ Barbelith Interviews: An Interview with Grant Morrison
  8. ^ Irvine, Alex (2008), "Filth", in Dougall, Alastair, The Vertigo Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 83, ISBN 0-7566-4122-5, OCLC 213309015 
  9. ^ Grant Morrison on Being the DCU Revamp Guy, Newsarama, 2005
  10. ^ THE 52 EXIT INTERVIEWS, Newsarama, May 12, 2007
  11. ^ Comic Book Resources - CBR News: CBR's #2 & #1 All Time Favorite Writer
  12. ^ Comicon.Com: Totally Grant Morrison
  13. ^ All Star Grant Morrison III: Superman, Comic Book Resources, April 17, 2008
  14. ^ a b Morrison on the Return of Seaguy!, Comic Book Resources, March 20, 2009
  15. ^ a b NYCC '08: The Grant Morrison Panel, Newsarama, April 19, 2008
  16. ^ Wild at Heart: Ben Abernathy, Newsarama, May 19, 2008
  17. ^ NYCC: Virgin Comics Announces Grant Morrison Webisodes, Comic Book Resources, April 18, 2008
  18. ^ Camilla d’Errico Feels the "Burn", Comic Book Resources, May 22, 2008
  19. ^ Alpha Lanterns Corps, Newsarama, July 21, 2008
  20. ^ Morrison discusses Batman and Robin, IGN Comics, March 11, 2009
  21. ^ Grant Morrison Talks Batman & Robin, Comic Book Resources, March 19, 2009
  22. ^ Grant Morrison. ""Pre Ink"". Retrieved on 2007-02-11. 
  23. ^ ""Seven Unknown Men"". Barbelith. Retrieved on 2007-01-22. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ Review of Batman #666, Comics Bulletin
  26. ^ Talking Batman with Grant Morrison, Newsarama, February 22, 2008
  27. ^ "Grant Morrison Goes Hollywood"
  28. ^ Journalism

[edit] References

[edit] External links

[edit] Interviews

Preceded by
Jamie Delano
Hellblazer writer
Succeeded by
Neil Gaiman
Preceded by
JLA writer
Succeeded by
Mark Waid
Preceded by
Scott Lobdell
X-Men (vol. 2)/New X-Men writer
2001 – 2004
Succeeded by
Chuck Austen
Preceded by
James Dale Robinson
Batman writer
2006 –
Succeeded by
Current Writer
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