FORCED INTO A CONFRONTATION WITH HIS LIMITATIONS AS A SCREENWRITER
While the rest of the comics world is in New York, getting turned away from their own convention, Grant Morrison appeared in Los Angeles last night to give a talk as part of the ArthurBall in Echo Park. He’s just as entertaining in person as you’d imagine from reading his interviews. A few random tidbits:
He opened his talk by reading a surrealistic short story that, as far as I could tell (Morrison’s Scottish accent takes some getting used to, plus he was practically shouting into the microphone), was about Lee Harvey Oswald traveling back in time to tell a crowd at a poetry reading about why he was going to shoot Kennedy (something about a bullet impregnating Kennedy and growing to riflehood or something) . It was exactly the kind of thing you’d expect to read in, say, Shade the Changing Man in 1991, what with the Kennedy/Oswald stuff, plus guest appearances by Baudelaire and Buzz Aldrin. But it was chock-full of quotable lines, which I would be quoting if I could remember any (see the title, above, for one), some good jokes, and one instance where Morrison took everybody by surprise by screaming something about angels of the apocalypse. Good times. And the setup was ultra-dramatic–just him with a small spotlight on a C-stand illuminating his manuscript (from which he ripped the pages and threw them to the ground as he finished reading each one) and casting his shadow on the blank white wall behind him.
Q&A followed. He talked about his “alien encounter” (which he qualifies as being more of a perception shift than an actual encounter, though he did say it was “more real than this,” by which I guess he meant his current waking life and not specifically the Jensen’s Recreation Center in Echo Park) and the time he met Superman in San Diego, both of which are old news to anyone who’s read a few interviews with him, but no less interesting to hear about in person. He also talked about how The Invisibles was a hypersigil, and how his life and the fictional life of King Mob started to blur as he was writing it. This is important a few bullet points later.
Morrison said his next big project for Vertigo is called Supertrendy Young Doctor, inspired by someone asking him, as he rushed in a cab toward his dying father in a hospital, whether he was a doctor, and his subsequent thought that it must be really cool to be a doctor, always rushing off in taxis to perform brain surgery. He said it wouldn’t be a long series. No word on an artist, or whether he joking.
He’s “channeling” Batman for his upcoming run on the title, running up some huge hill behind his house every morning in single-digit-degree weather to get in the proper mood. His Batman “likes to fuck girls, has a dark sense of humor, and looks down on everybody else.”
Yes, someone asked if Flex Mentallo is ever going to be collected. No, Morrison doesn’t know. Yes, someone asked how to break into comics. No, it wasn’t me.
A young woman asked if he believed in faeries (I’m guessing, but you just know she spells it with an “e”), and his answer was basically that if you take enough drugs out in a marsh, you’ll probably see something more-or-less fairylike, so sure, he believes. Though, he said, “I don’t believe they’re out there spinning cobweb dresses for me.”
According to Morrison, the next big trend in pop culture is “goth psychedelia.” Order your corset and get in on the ground floor now.
I asked if, since he’s met Superman, and since he’s already a character in the DC Universe thanks to Animal Man, if he had considered doing an Invisibles-style hypersigil series about himself in the DC Universe, to try to imprint that reality onto our own, particularly considering his own statements that the DC Universe has achieved sentience. Though I didn’t ask it quite like that–I just made some stupid joke about “Superman’s Pal Grant Morrison,” and he said he’d thought about it but not in such an obvious way, and then joked that he’s actually the “Unknown Superman,” which I guess is coming up in All-Star Superman, so spoiler, maybe?
Anyway, if you take his “channeling Batman” statement seriously, then maybe his Batman run will be a sort of hypersigil, and the line between Morrison and Bruce Wayne will start to blur. He’s still in his late-period King Mob/James Bond mode (shaved head, dark suit, flashy tie), and it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch for that to become Bruce Wayne, especially considering his girlfriend was all decked out in punk-Catwoman leather.
I kind of jokingly considered that maybe he was Lex Luthor, but he squashed that idea. But if you consider that he remade himself physically to resemble King Mob, then it’s not too much of a stretch to think that Professor X in his New X-Men run was also an authorial stand-in (note that many of the changes Morrison wrought upon X-Men were also wrought upon the X-Men by Professor X). And now he’s writing another series with another bald supergenius? You’ve gotta consider the possiblity, at least.
Anyway, it was an enjoyable evening, and if Grant Morrison ever comes to your town for a reading, I heartily recommend you go.