Thursday, April 3, 2008

Grant Morrison: Fruit Loop or Genius?

Say what you like about Grant Morrison, he's one of the most important comic book writers of our time. Top five, for sure. He writes some of the most challenging and ambitious material available, and he does it with his own off-beat style.

He can dazzle you with the subtle symbolism, blow your brain away with his metaphysics, and tell a fantastic action yarn to boot. This is not just the guy who made you scratch your head with Batman: Arkham Asylum, this is the cat that turned the JLA into must reading again.

Grant Morrison writes interesting characters, but the most unique character in comics might be Morrison himself. He's a card carrying chaos magician, philosopher, and drug ingester.

If you want to learn more about him, you'll need to read something other than comics. I know that sounds like blasphemy, folks, but just hang with me for a second. If Joyce's Ulysses isn't your cup of tea, well, I understand. It's a bit of a goddamn mess, frankly.

But I'm not asking you to to try and parse some stream-of-consciousness fiction - let's talk about reading some books about Grant Morrison!

Book # 1: Masters of the Medium Volume 1 - Grant Morrison: the early years

ISBN: 0615140874

Here Timothy Callahan carefully disects everything Morrison wrote between 1987-1992. He spends the most time and obviously has the most love for his Doom Patrol work. Also covered with some real insight are Zenith, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Animal Man.

You'll have to use your noodle a bit to plow through this, and that's a good thing. It helps to have a familarity with close reading and literary terminology, of course. But if you've read and enjoyed these works, you'll absolutely get more out of them after reading the book regardless of your academic background.

I found the Animal Man section to be the most compelling. Morrison was just beginning to grow into his wings on that book, (and just beginning to experiment with drugs as well) and Callahan helped me appreciate just how unprecedented that run really was.

Callahan also conducts an interesting interview with Morrison himself, which makes for a nice segue into my second selection....

Book # 2: Disinformation - The Interviews

ISBN: 0971394210

Richard Metzger is a bit of nut job who actually got a TV show on the BBC for a bit so he could broadcast his most radical ideas to the most stodgy of Brits. And they actually let him do that...for awhile.

The show was supposed to be picked up by the Sci-Fi channel here in the states. Legend has it the brass watched two episodes and told Metzger he could keep his show. The episodes that were created are available on DVD, (currently available on Amazon for about $20) but they'll probably never be broadcast here.

What's this got to do with Grant Morrison? Well, Disinformation was about tackling mind expansion, and Metzger sought out Morrison for one of the show's episodes. And this book is basically just a transcript of the Disinformation TV interviews, uncut and uncensored.

And what a trip it is to read the Grant Morrison interview! I don't want to ruin too much for the curious reader, but topics covered included are his practice of magic, deeper insight into The Invisibles, how writing comics caused his face to be eaten by disease, and his abduction by being from the 5th dimension while travelling to India.

As a special bonus, there is another comic book writer with an interview in the book: Testament scribe Douglas Rushkoff. Grant Morrison a fruit loop or a genius? Check out these books and decide for yourself.

Morrison Market Spotlight: Marvel Boy TPB

ISBN: 0785107819

You didn't think I was just going to get all pretentious on your ass and not show you how to make a sleazy dollar, did you? Get real, folks.

You may have noticed that there's this Skrull invasion happening in Marvel right now? Well, one of the featured players in that series is Marvel Boy, aka Noh-Varr of the Kree empire.

Grant Morrison did a Marvel Knights mini-series of the character back in 2000. You can still get the floppies for a reasonable price, but the TPB is long out of print and fairly scarce. Right now it's pretty impossible to grab it for less than $30 on the open market, but if it's sitting in your local comic shop you can get it for $15.95

As interest in Secret Invasion and Marvel Boy pick up, it isn't hard to imagine that this book sees $50 easy, and perhaps we even see an Astonishing X-Men: Deathwish situation where collectors really go crazy and push it up to $100 or more.

Happy Hunting!


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