Grant Morrison S/D

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Cliff and Jane works because it's two completely fucked-up people who get closer slowly and obliquely, and yes it's good characterisation but the characters are so far out that it still lacks the 'identification' thing that Marvel brought to comics.

The JLA thing - the big sentimental moments in that are huge saves-the-day widescreen stuff, which yes is a third category of sentimentality but still isn't really much to do with character interaction.

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 17 May 2005 09:26 (fifteen years ago) link

nearest thing Zenith has to a subtext is something like "look-where-the-idealism-of-the-60s-got-us" but this mostly gets pushed aside so that morrison can play superheroes

morrison's 'position': does he cultivate it? can you ever imagine him actually escaping it?

i don't really read for characterisation (or at least i certainly don't read comics for characterisation) so when i actually find a character interesting often as not it is a broad type (e.g. i find morrison's version of the beast GRATE but anna karenina a bore)

tom west (thomp), Tuesday, 17 May 2005 11:16 (fifteen years ago) link

i can't find the new x-men thread i was going to go on about characterisation in! oh well

tom west (thomp), Tuesday, 17 May 2005 11:27 (fifteen years ago) link

Which supehero writers can do characterisation, though?

I can think of maybe Peter David, DeMatteis, BK Vaughn, Bendis, Alan Grant...

Okay, that's quite a few, but still...

Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Tuesday, 17 May 2005 13:22 (fifteen years ago) link

Well, Alan Moore writes superhero comics. Is he different? Is it a matter of intellectual street cred? Though come to think about, he's not exactly a cottage industry in the same way...

I don't think GM is bad at characterization, I just think that (1) it doesn't interest him and (2) comics are a serial medium so characterization doesn't work the same way as in a film or novel. So (1) his interest is clearly in creating action movies of ideas and probably plots and thinks this way too. (Are there enough ideas-per-page, etc.?) If ideas = intellectual, then there is a way that characterization is anti-intellectual, in that it requires plodding plot construction. In this way, GM is similar to Kafka, Borges, and Murakami, in that he's less interested in the literary homework and more in just getting right to the metaphysical candy. (2) The problem with serial comics (I might be plagiarizing this from a hellblazer forum) is that the protagonist is really a shared convention, so you can't really change him that much w/o abandoning the conventions of the series. In this sense, GM does great characterization, but it's a serial (or comics) specific form of characterization, where charactization means people being always themselves: the people are all unchangeable icons. In that sense, his Batman, Lex Luthor, Jean, Cyclops, Wolverine, white queen, etc., for example, seem to perfectly embody their archetypal selves. But they never change and we never really know their interior life. Since superheroes are so uncomplicated in the first place, I'm pretty happy with this Silver Age version of charactization; I think when people don't do this (like some of the people you mentioned, such as peter david) characterization just ends up meaning mundane stories filled with unfunny jokes. GM's way seems more like mythology: we don't know the characters aside from what they do in the story, but we have a pretty good idea of what kinds of things they would and wouldn't do.

That said, there's usually the obligatory "John Constantine goes to the bar or confronts his dead father" issue and GM hasn't written anything like that as far as I know. I think the problem is that his emphasis on ideas makes him a sort of shallow writer, in the sense that he doesn't ever give his characters texture or subtext. Usually, I love that, b/c the stories end up sleek and graceful. But it can make his characters too generic (king mob and fantomex).

(Thanks for the great posts--especially chris!)

kenchen, Tuesday, 17 May 2005 15:02 (fifteen years ago) link

I dunno about this NXM talk about "archetypal" revisiting - GM did a LOT of work re: Beast & Cyclops & White Queen, 3 characters that (to my knowledge) were mostly treated as stereotypes of themselves - Cyclops = "he's lantern-jawed and a leader!"; Beast = "he's smart and furry!"; White Queen = "she's wicked and wears a bustiere as regular clothing!" Even w/ Jean Grey, turning her from a super-powered dud into a sympathetic and caring megalomaniac.

If I'm restating something from before, forgive me (esp. Ken, as this might be what he's getting at), but GM's knack for characterization seems to be his ability to get at charcter details while (or by) painting in these broad archetypal strokes. cf. those moments in JLA when the universe is going to shit and Batman has this one line that embodies his Batmanness (as GM sees it) so perfectly while at the same time not distracting from the grandeur of the moment happening around Batman's one line. Or, hell, that line from Emma Frost near the start of his NXM run - something like "The whole world is watching; we must be nothing less than fabulous." That's her right there.

As for continuity-related boggins, I think some of it (the unintentional stuff) has been publically classified by GM as communication breakdowns between Marvel editors and him, like the bit in "Return to Weapon X" where Sebastian Shaw talks about reading minds.

David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 17 May 2005 15:16 (fifteen years ago) link

In this sense, GM does great characterization, but it's a serial (or comics) specific form of characterization, where charactization means people being always themselves.


Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Tuesday, 17 May 2005 16:54 (fifteen years ago) link

three months pass...
Pay my telephone bills
Pay my automobills
Pay my head wax bills

David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 6 September 2005 14:10 (fourteen years ago) link

not short of cash though is he, our boy grant?

Slumpman (Slump Man), Tuesday, 6 September 2005 14:47 (fourteen years ago) link

So, uh, what was GM's contribution to this?

Huk-L (Huk-L), Tuesday, 6 September 2005 14:49 (fourteen years ago) link

Writing a treatment for a series of interlocking storylines involving Angel Robbie, Devil Robbie, Naked Robbie, and Gorilla Grodd?

Jordan (Jordan), Tuesday, 6 September 2005 15:00 (fourteen years ago) link

Gorilla Grodd is revealed to be Gary Barlow in disguise.

O'so Krispie (Ex Leon), Tuesday, 6 September 2005 15:11 (fourteen years ago) link

I seem to remember RW crashing a GM signing in LA.

Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Tuesday, 6 September 2005 16:50 (fourteen years ago) link


kit brash (kit brash), Wednesday, 7 September 2005 02:14 (fourteen years ago) link

so i've never read any morrison - should i start with one of the doom patrol books?

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Wednesday, 7 September 2005 05:05 (fourteen years ago) link

you could do much worse!

(but make it the first one)

kit brash (kit brash), Wednesday, 7 September 2005 08:14 (fourteen years ago) link

I'd say start with Invisibles. The first volume (collected in the first three trades, I think) is ace, but be prepared for a decline in quality halfway through the second.

chap who would dare to thwart the revolution (chap), Wednesday, 7 September 2005 11:40 (fourteen years ago) link

i recently finally read the invisibles in full (having read bits & pieces earlier, years ago)... i mostly liked it but boy does it ever spiral into wtfness.

s1ocki (slutsky), Wednesday, 7 September 2005 12:23 (fourteen years ago) link

I am one of those rare people who thinks that the first couple of books of The Invisibles are pretty weak (if necessary to understand the later stuff) but that it keeps getting better and better as it goes along, and that the end is unbelievably brilliant.

Douglas (Douglas), Wednesday, 7 September 2005 14:25 (fourteen years ago) link

I'd like to read it, but the main character (King Mobius?) has such a nerd's-wet-dream-of-cool-look, it's always put me off.

Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Wednesday, 7 September 2005 15:35 (fourteen years ago) link


s1ocki (slutsky), Wednesday, 7 September 2005 21:49 (fourteen years ago) link

Williams was indeed at that signing/talk/thingy. I didn't recognize him at first. He looks so much taller on TV...

re: INVISIBLES, I thought the beginning was great, got a little flabby in the middle and shaped up nicely at the end. And Chuck, the whole point of King Mob was to be a wet dream of cool. But it's okay, he gets better at the end.

Matt Maxwell (Matt M.), Thursday, 8 September 2005 14:25 (fourteen years ago) link

I loved the Invisibles, though I read the whole of it before I turned 20 years old, and I did all of my re-readings before I turned 21; now I'm 25 and the trouble is I loved it so much that I'm afraid of going back to it and finding it dissappointing. But it's a great mind-opener, to say the least.

I'd say Doom Patrol or Animal Man are the best starting points, but I might be biased because that's where I started.

iodine (iodine), Thursday, 8 September 2005 16:09 (fourteen years ago) link

I read all of INVISIBLES when I was far older than that, mostly for the first time, too. Held up in spite of that. Now, SCOTT PILGRIM, on the other hand...

I'd agree that DOOM PATROL is the best place to start with Morrison. It stats out as a semi-traditional superhero work, but doesn't stay there for very long at all. Morrison's kinda tough to sell to non-superhero readers, as a lot of his best work has been firmly set in that genre/trope/whatever.

Matt Maxwell (Matt M.), Thursday, 8 September 2005 16:26 (fourteen years ago) link

I would de-recommend The Invisibles, JD - some of my least-favourite Morrison ever.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Saturday, 10 September 2005 11:09 (fourteen years ago) link

I'll re-recommend it then:) It's basically the main Grant Morrison story, that all the others are chipped off.

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Saturday, 10 September 2005 15:51 (fourteen years ago) link

Can I rederecommend it then? Or dererecommend or something...? (Andrew is right - I'm sure it's the one Grant would most wish anyone to read - but I still don't like it all that much.)

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Saturday, 10 September 2005 16:05 (fourteen years ago) link

SO MANY better places to start than Invisibles

kit brash (kit brash), Saturday, 10 September 2005 21:06 (fourteen years ago) link

Is his full run on doom patrol fully collected by now?? i have money coming my way and i want to sort of go nuts on a whole series

dave k, Saturday, 10 September 2005 21:32 (fourteen years ago) link

I don't think so, but they are bringing them out. I think they're only a few volumes in, but I might be out of touch.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Saturday, 10 September 2005 21:49 (fourteen years ago) link

I think they are in the middle of the whole thing. Next volume should be the trickiest one: Flex Mentallo, My Greenest Adventure, etc.

I read all of INVISIBLES when I was far older than that, mostly for the first time, too. Held up in spite of that.

Sooooo glad to read that! Someday I might gather the courage to go back to it...

iodine (iodine), Saturday, 10 September 2005 22:53 (fourteen years ago) link

Destroy: I wouldn't really destroy anything by Grant because I agree with Chris F., for better or worse, all of his works have something to add to the big picture.

But if I was forced to say at least one thing I could do without, that would most probaby be his Spawn mini.

And, yeah, Arkham Asylum hasn't aged well either.

iodine (iodine), Saturday, 10 September 2005 23:17 (fourteen years ago) link

so should i just start at the beginning of his run on doompatrol then? his three-issue run on spawn was the first stuff of his i read - well before i had heard of him; i thought of him as just a fillin - and it was pretty rub, but the art was pretty good,

dave k, Saturday, 10 September 2005 23:40 (fourteen years ago) link

This is the first I've heard of the Spawn thing!

I'm reading Doom Patrol now as the trades come out, and loving it.

Jordan (Jordan), Sunday, 11 September 2005 01:34 (fourteen years ago) link

He just did an unheralded fill-in run with Capullo on the regular title, within a year of the four "guest star" issues (maybe 16-18, to the others' 8-11?). As unmemorable as most of Moore's multifarous Spawn series.

kit brash (kit brash), Sunday, 11 September 2005 05:21 (fourteen years ago) link

I remember him telling me about it - they paid him an absolute fucking fortune, over £100,000 I believe he said, and he did the work in one day.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 11 September 2005 09:08 (fourteen years ago) link

I don't agree completely with Arkham Asylum, I read it recently and I think it's pretty good. It's something weird for Morrison, because it's him doing all the "grim n gritty Batman" that followed the DKR but it's okey. I agree that is far from his best work, but even middle of the road Morrison is better than most anything else.

And I have to re-read Invisibles complete someday.

Amadeo (Amadeo G.), Monday, 12 September 2005 04:43 (fourteen years ago) link

sigh, i wish i had lots of spending money, so i could buy something like the complete invisibles, which i don't think i'll love based on the first tpb but am certainly curious about how it all turns out

dave k, Monday, 12 September 2005 05:13 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm surprised no one has mentioned We3 on this thread yet. I'm a big Morrison fan, but I was very pleased to see him cut back on his wordiness and stick to a tight story arc, as opposed to the babbling sprawl of the Invisibles.

elmo (allocryptic), Monday, 12 September 2005 20:22 (fourteen years ago) link

Well that's because everybody loves We3 by default (me included)

iodine (iodine), Tuesday, 13 September 2005 15:14 (fourteen years ago) link

Jessica Callan, Eva Simpson And Caroline Hedley

ROBBIE Williams is expecting a Close Encounter of the Third Kind.

The 31-year-old singer reckons an extra-terrestrial invasion is inevitable, saying: "I've been dreaming every night about UFOs, every night. I can't wait to go to sleep because my dreams have been so brilliant.

"I think they are definitely on their way, seriously. Mark my words. From now until 2012 - watch out, kids."

Haven't we already seen this somewhere?

iodine (iodine), Tuesday, 20 September 2005 13:04 (fourteen years ago) link

Grant you bad man.

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 20 September 2005 13:09 (fourteen years ago) link

I've just finished re-reading The Filth, and I still don't know quite what to make of it. There's some stunning imagery (the giant sperm, the desert of dead skin) and memorable characters (Slade/Feely, that space monkey), but it quite often veers into prog rock album cover territory, and everyone talks in post-modern slogans.

chap who would dare to thwart the revolution (chap), Tuesday, 20 September 2005 14:42 (fourteen years ago) link

If only Seaguy #3 wasn't so horribly dark, I would have given in to everyone in the world. My partner now refuses to read any Grant Morrison after she read that.

We killed Chubby by not buying enough of issues of Seaguy to ensure the whole story gets told.

DV (dirtyvicar), Tuesday, 20 September 2005 16:19 (fourteen years ago) link

Leave me out of that "we", maestro-- I bought the series in singles AND the trade. I sure wish it wasn't true, though, as I'd much rather have had six more issues of Seaguy than the forty issues of Seven Soldiers we'll be getting, judging from the way things've been going so far. Shining Knight was utterly useless, Guardian was really only good for Stewart's art, Zatanna's been pointless, and Klarion's been pretty good, except I keep forgetting what I read in the last issue by the time the next one comes out. Come to think of it, Vimanarama was utterly shit, too. I think GM's been overextending himself in his effort to be a one man Stan Lee/Jack Kirby idea factory or whatever it is he's trying to be (other than employed) with all this production. Not that I'm not used to him overreaching himself by this point anyway, but it's still been utterly depressing to have spent all this money on new GM stuff only to realize that I don't really care about ANY of it. Plus, I've read lots of Weisinger Superman and I've read Flex Mentallo already, so I dunno what the point of my reading All-Star Superman will be either. It seems like The Filth was the last thing GM did that was really worth reading, cat/dog/rabbit interactions from We3 aside. As the halcyon days of Animal Man and Doom Patrol get farther away, I'm starting to relate less to his writing as a fan, and ironically enough it's since he's entered the "mature" phase of his career and his personality foibles and Weltanschauung have become most prominent in his writing. I'll be interested to see what his next "serious" project is, but I guess I'm no longer enchanted with him as a writer. Dunno if I've just outgrown that attitude, or if I've outgrown giving a shit about what he does at all, or what. Nevertheless, the day I sell/throw out/give away my fricking GM Doom Patrol collection will still be the last day I ever read a comic book.

it quite often veers into prog rock album cover territory, and everyone talks in post-modern slogans

Was this your first time reading a Morrison series, Joe? (Sorry, I just found this amusing.)

Chris F. (servoret), Wednesday, 21 September 2005 03:14 (fourteen years ago) link

Vimanarama was great!

Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Wednesday, 21 September 2005 03:18 (fourteen years ago) link

The Filth was completely over-the-top bizarre anti-narrative stuff. But the chapter on Satan's jizz is all sorts of awesome.

Leeeeeeeee (Leee), Wednesday, 21 September 2005 03:19 (fourteen years ago) link

Vimanarama was bomb fuckin' awesome.

kit brash (kit brash), Wednesday, 21 September 2005 03:30 (fourteen years ago) link

it quite often veers into prog rock album cover territory, and everyone talks in post-modern slogans

Was this your first time reading a Morrison series, Joe? (Sorry, I just found this amusing.)

-- Chris F. (nieman...), September 21st, 2005.

Ha ha, that could actually be an unkind summary of his entire career, couldn't it? I've actually read quite a bit of Morrison, and I do prefer his less self-indulgent, more narratively traditional work (Zenith, Invisibles Vol 1, Seaguy), staid old square that I am.

chap who would dare to thwart the revolution (chap), Wednesday, 21 September 2005 13:46 (fourteen years ago) link

Quitely he brought himself; Stewart campaigned to get his Invisibles fill-in.

quelle sprocket damage (sic), Saturday, 8 June 2019 09:05 (eleven months ago) link

Just checked, and Morrison invited Burnham to do his first 7-page fill-in after seeing Officer Downe; DC signed Burnham to a 2-year contract after his first full issue. Shoulda figured.

quelle sprocket damage (sic), Saturday, 8 June 2019 09:12 (eleven months ago) link

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