Grant Morrison Writes ... (Part 5)
Nowadays itís become more radical to say,
In an editorial for OVERSTREET'S FAN—the next to last issue—you talked about writing comics for kids again—
—instead of for what you called "an adult readership that never really existed." Now, youíve been extensively involved with books that are "Suggested for Mature Readers"; you used to be the man who was known for Arkham Asylum. Is there a Vertigo Grant Morrison and a DC Universe Grant Morrison as well?
Well, no, itís just that—
I think what I do is respond to the time, and thatís why Iíve kept going more years that I shouldíve.
And it seems that, at the time, I thought Arkham was exactly the way Batman should be done as a psychological entity. As a seeker in the dark. And it got into the newspapers, it got into the stale magazines; it did its job. But those were the Ď80s; the atmosphere was very different then.
[B]ecause of what happened in the Ď80s and moreso [because] ... the kids readership couldnít be high ... we went to an adult market I ... donít think really existed. You know, Watchmen sold well, and then it sort of came to Dark Knight sold well, Arkham did well, and on to an end.
So—even back then, even while I was doing [grim books, I'd] already begun to say I never wanted to do Arkham. I was thinking, "God, I do this dark stuff." And that light-hearted, simple plot with an Animal Man—I felt Animal Man came just to draw us back to [that] edge.
And now it just seems to me that ... the wheel has come right at us again. Youíve got these kids thinking, "Where the hell are ... our heroes?" Thereís too many guys who are mental cases; too many guys shoot people. Itís just gone on too long, and weíve who lost the heroes; weíve lost the child audience. And it seems to me that the time to bring that back, and itís the kind of now is stuff that fires me anyway.
So thatís why Iíve hung around in comics, because this is the time I want to be around in, when things start to get brighter, more imaginative, more optimistic. But at the same time I havenít said I wouldnít want it—the other stuff—not to exist, because we have created a small readership—again, an adult readership or an older teen-age audience—and they deserve some books as well.
So my big fight here at the moment is to be able to do stuff that you can hook kids [with] when theyíre young on something like the Justice League Junior book, which is not available, and bring them in, via Justice League, as a teen-ager, and then either they can drop out and discover girls or they can come back.
[A]nd when they come back with girls, [they can] just go [read] adult comics then, which seems to be a healthy and sane way of making the industry work.
So that, my point is, you are ... right now in this very good stuff.
Iím doing The Invisibles to reach that adult or "pop" audience, basically. I donít know if itís an adult audience, but itís certainly a pop-music audience in that itís—
The strange sort of adults who listen to rock.
Yeah. Yeah, itís the people who, you know, like music are the people who pick that kind of stuff up as part of
the[ir] lifestyle. But at the same time I want to do Justice
League for the teen-age comics fans, to give them something that is good, that they can enjoy, and that will
Well, you seem to have an obvious love for super-heroes. Itís nowhere more evident than it was in Flex Mentallo last summer.
Why is it only now that youíre writing a mainstream super-hero book? Would the market not let you do that until recently, or—?
Yeah, pretty much, because the ideas are harder to market properly if itís the wrong time.
If Iíd tried to do Justice League like this in 1990, it wouldnít have worked because 1990 was again very different. Super-heroes were more violent, more interesting, and more grown up—and that was the look of the time. But I think what Iím going to see is that disappear and the type of stuff that Iím interested in [is going to return].
One of the first things I remember reading of yours was Zenith.
Why is it that Zenith, for all the trappings of a super-hero book, seemed to deviate from that pattern so much? Was it at that point when you were interested in exploring the range of deviations on the pattern, or—?
Yeah, well, still, all I can say [is] it was the time for it. The time seemed right, and there was my super-hero.
They asked me to do a British super-hero, and I thought, "Well, I donít want it to look like—"
You know, Dark Knight had come out, and I said, "I donít want to do that, but obviously peopleís expectations are such that you canít get away with any other kind of super-hero." But, on being noticed, I decided I could get something that was kind of poppy and exciting without being grim—or over[ly] grim. And if I made the super-hero a pop star— [Laugh.]
And because I was into music, and because I was around that age and I was thinking, "If I had super powers, thatís what I would do," you know: I would go out with models; I would get drunk and fly in through the window; and I would never, ever stay clean.
So that, that became a—that was a jumping-off point for that strip. Nowadays itís become more radical to say, "Super-heroes—remember? We used to fight evil?"
And until that is actually radical enough, Iíll get back into it. Super-heroes who fight evil, who save the world, who actually do their stuff and use their powers expecting to fight the good fight and expecting to use their powers to cause what can be done.
Even the Invisibles, who are sort of pop figures—
—are finding themselves in the role of super-heroes battling evil and saving the world from the ... bad guy next door.
Yeah! [T]he stuff Iím doing [in] The Invisibles can wholly be Invisibles, and again that will change as the book progresses, but right now I think Iíve got a good thing going.