As Glasgow’s GRANT MORRISON takes over X-Men, he talks about fifth-dimensional pornography, post- human soap opera and summoning up the ghost of John Lennon.
Words: Henry Northmore
rant Morrison is one ol Seotland‘s most w idel)
read writers with an international lollow ing and
sales of o\'ei' l35.llllll per month. So wh_\ ha\ e
."ou never heard oi him'.’ Beeaiise he works in eomies. a hraneh ol‘ pop eulture that gets little serious attention.
Wh} this should he is a iii)\lt‘l‘_\. \Vorld-wide.
Batman is almost as reeognisahle an ieon as .\laril_\n
Monroe. 'l‘he lilni Versions ot‘ popular lines. sueli as .\7
.lleti. Hit/mutt arid the l'ortheoming Spiller/tutti. are the
most eagerl} antieipated mo\ies ol eaeh season. 'l‘he}
are entrenehed in the eolleeti\ e eonseiousness. e\ en il'
i'elatix'el} lew read the souree material. Hut eomies are for kids. right'.’ Wrong. .\lorrison. l‘or one. is grown-up entertainment.
.\l_\' anxiet} ahout reeognising the writer is ptit to rest the moment he enters the har. lintering (iroueho Si .lude's. Morrison looks uneannil) like one ot' his most laiiiotis ereations. King .\loh. Sha\ ed head. sharp hlaek stiit. sharp hlaek shirt and sharp hlaek tie. With a look so like an underworld London operator. his strong (ilasgow aeeent eomes as a surprise despite our pl'CVittllS telephone eoiwersations. la'iendl} and intense. he ptills tip a Vodka and orange. and leaps into passionate eom'ersation ahout his most prestigious eotittitission to date.
Morrison‘s reputation rests on his lel‘tl‘ield interpretations ol' lotig—eslahlished characters. such as Batman and Animal .\Ian and teams sueh as Doom Patrol and the .lttstiee League ()l’ .-\meriea. He took superheroes l'urther down the skewed path pioneered h_\ Alan Moore (\lillt'll/IH’II) and l‘rank Miller (The [Mr/t King/ii Returns). an .idtilt—orientated world hursting with eomplex ideas. metaplwsies and the meaning ol' sell.
.\'ow he‘s taking o\'er .\'-.\Ien. the eomie llttlt|\ll‘_\\ llagship title. :\nd this is huge. It‘s like asking l)a\id l._\‘neh to dii'eet latisili/ii/ers. Reinemher. this is the man who. as part of a sales-hoosting ritual. asked the readers ol‘ 'l'lie lin'i'si/i/es to masturbate siniultaneotisl}.
Prior to the eurrent deal. he had a long and \er} stieeessl'til working relationship with .-\meriean puhlishing giant lX'. The imprint ti'iisted him to take on
one of its most high-prolile assignments: the resetting ol'
./l--\. a series that had heeome hogged down with old— l'ashioned ideas. And it worked. .ll..lt heeame its top selling title. But Morrison's plans to take on .Sii/ii'i‘iiiiiit. along with fellow Seot .\iark .\lil|ar and writers .\1ark “aid and Tom l’L‘}L‘i'. and transform him into a 'weird polymath eharaeter' were just too mueh for the eoiiipaiw. lt rel'tised in no tineeitain terms. ‘\\'e will ne\er let )ttti di'i\'e the family ear.‘ he quotes with \enom.
So he inst leapt o\ er the lenee and hot wired the neighhoui'K motor. mo\ing to \lai\el. l'ttl' tears. .\l;ir\el was the more eonser\;iti\e ot the two i‘i\al lll'lllS. hiit now the lunaties are running the ;is_\ltim. 'l:\er_\tliing ehanged o\ernig|it and .\lar\el heeaiiie this wide open esperiinental puhlishing hothoiise.‘ s;i_\s .\lorrison. 'lzditoriall_\. there is not mueh interlerenee in peoples raw thoughts. ln eomies nohod_\ links with _\ou; il'_\ou write it. it eomes otit on the page.‘
So what‘s he gonna do when he gets his hands on \in .\'-.\/i'ii‘.’ \\'ell. it‘s nothing short ol apoe;il_\ptie. lhe ma\ei‘iek plans a eomplete i'e\amp ol the title l'rom logos to ehai'aeter design. teaming tip with elassiealh trained (ilasgow artist l'i‘ank ()iiitel). But it‘s his plans in!" lllk' eotitettt \\ lit‘l't‘ lltt‘ I'L‘dl t‘lttttlg‘t‘S
'\\t‘.\t‘ I'C\L‘l‘\t‘tl illL' ttl'lglttttl itlt‘u Ul- lliL‘ .\ Xlt‘li: lit‘ s;i)s. "l'he e\tinetion gene has heen diseoxered in the human raee. 'l'lie_\ will he eompletel} replaeed h} mutants; humans are now the outsiders. So the whole thrust ot' it is like a post human soap opera. It‘s more ahoiit the intrigue ol what it would he like to think dillerentl}. ha\e dillerent soeial sti‘tietures. se\iial sti'uetures and moral \L‘hllltS rather than litlsl light ol the month. I want to diteh the superhero stult. the superhero trappings ha\e heeome a iiiillstone. when what we are interested in. as writers. is the tiittire and
human potential. Now I think it would he hettei' to tours in on what would post
i . . If I human people think like. what s then se\
to a like. what‘s their musie like."
girl, I would put it in the comic and I
lle‘s radieall} altering the .\lai'\el iini\ei'se and. in his seeond issue. ‘killing ol't' more mutants than in the histor} ol mutants in just two pages‘. He's also
taking a new appi'oaeh to his writing st_\ le
that "regular readers ma_\ l'ind ;i Mi \mmg“ “ml \l‘illhk‘ illltl “\L‘l‘ lliL‘it‘ lieatls‘.
.'\s intelligent eitunter-eiilture ligui'es sueh
! . as .\lorrison tiio\e into more prominent
positions. eomies reall_\ are growing up.
‘lt‘s mueh more sulwersne to write .//-\ and .\'-.lli'ii and till it with strange ps_\ehedelie properties and til'th—dimensiiinal poi‘tiitgt‘ttplt} than in the o\ertl_\ suh\ersi\ e liii'i'silt/i's.‘ he sa_\s with a i‘ehellious glint in his e}e. ‘I know the seore. I know I ean‘t sa_\ “titek” in the .\'—.l/i'ii htit _\ou ean sa_\ men more per\erted things iising simple words in the right oi'tlei'.'
But it is still The lin'isi/ili's that .\lori'ison is elosest to. .'\ ph_\sieal ehange eomes met him e\ei'} time it‘s mentioned. lle /I't‘i‘(/ [littt hook. “is like he misses itll old triend. ‘l enmeshed nwselt in the narratne.‘ he sa_\ s. 'I got siek alter making the eharaeter lls'ing .\loh| siek. ‘l‘hree months later I'm thing in hospital ot‘ some horrihle disease like he‘s got. I was meeting people who “011‘illiillllgllL‘stii'illCL'Ullilk'. ll. l “Little‘tl It) meet at girl l would ptit it in the eomie and I would meet her three weeks later. William Burroughs talked ahout writing as magie. and I got iiwohed in this whole idea ol writing
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