Monday, August 22, 2011

Grant Morrison in Rolling Stone: The Toilet Paper of Angels

I picked up a copy of Grant Morrison's new book Supergods last week and my first thoughts at a glance were that it is surprisingly coherent. In fact in many ways Grant Morrison the critic/comics historian/biographer reads a bit like Douglas Wolk (who virtually worships the druggy incoherence of Morrison's The Invisibles). So anyway, I haven't read Supergods yet but was pleasantly surprised to see an interview ith Morrison in the brand new Rolling Stone. Here are the best revelations (which may be old hat of diehard Morrison-heads).:
Grant's comic book scripting and occasional screenplays have now afforded him FOUR homes. He tours the RS writer Brian Hiatt through his 130-year-old town house situated in a "wealthy enclave known as 'Millionaire's Row.'"
Morrison is pals with Deepak Chopra, which explains why Chopra gave him a blurb for Supergods.
Morrison is pals with My Chemical Romance's singer Gerard Way (who seemingly idolizes Morrison).
Morrison was in a band that once opened for The Jesus & Mary Chain (which is pretty solid rock & roll cred, especially for a comic book scribe).

Morrison with Nine Inch Nails' superhero Trent Reznor (center) and Morrison's wife Kristan

People say kids can't understand the difference between fact and fiction but that's bullshit. Kids understand that real crabs don't sing like the ones in The Little Mermaid. But you give an adult fiction and the adult starts asking fucking dumb questions like "Why can Superman fly?" How do those eyebeams work? Who pumps the Batmobile's tires? It's a fucking made-up story, you idiot! Nobody pumps the tires!"
There is also a clear reason why Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman books were among the best mainstream comics in recent memory, while his grim ugly and tedious All-Star Batman is decidedly not. "When I write Superman it was like contemplating the Buddha. I really felt elevated. Everything seemed more beautiful, more precious. Batman is different.  I try not to go into Batman that much because he's nutty, and I don't really want to feel like Bruce Wayne. "

The joy in his Superman story is as evident as the gloomy distance he maintains from Batman.
On the popularity of the superhero narrative in general: "How do we fight against the idea that we are doomed? We are fighting against it with the superhuman story. You may look at superheroes and see trash, toilet paper. I'm looking at them and seeing William  Blake angels."
“Good comics are as good as your favorite movie, as good as your favorite record, as good as your favorite TV show and are well worth [entering] the pop culture diet of any smart adult who’s living in the 21st century."


Ink Busy said...

good shit RY. So this book is actually worth picking up?

I can never pin my decision on Morrison completely. Many of his books are transcendent and utterly unique. Some of his are just shit. His Batman runs were somehow both simultaneously. I especially hated his old Batman: Gothic run, even though it's one of my best friend's favorite comics.

I took me roughly 5 years to appreciate The Invisibles. At this point I overload it with praise, even if I understand roughly 40% of it. The Filth was also a very strange but rewarding blossom.

That being said, you think this is a text worth picking up?

robert why said...

I haven't read that much of Morrison's output. The Invisibles was alternately fascinating and mindnumbingingly inscrutable and 40% is probably a far bigger % of it than I understood. Meanwhile I thought his All-Star Superman was transcendent and it was one of the few superhero books of the past 10 years that actually kept my interest.
As for Supergods: It's non-fiction history and commentary about the superhero mythology and thus a completely different animal. It's very well-written and Morrison's non-fiction prose is smooth and entertaining and not nearly as psychedelic as I feared it would be. But it's not something to run out and buy simply because you like Morrison's comics, but rather only if you really want his take on the history of the superhero. I'd say if you liked Douglas Wolk's book Reading Comics you'll probably like Supergods.