When it comes to mainstream comics, perhaps the most exciting writer today is Grant Morrison. At least for me. I’ve been a big fan of Morrison’s work for awhile, and I really enjoy both his off-beat, mind-bending, and metafictional work (e.g., Seaguy, The Invisibles, The Filth, Animal Man) as well as his more traditional superhero comics (such as his run on Batman, All-Star Superman, X-Men, and Justice League of America). I find the latter to be more tame and conventional than the former, although words such as “tame” and ”conventional” take on a whole different meaning when applied to Morrison’s writing. And Morrison’s contributions to the 52 series that I just finished rereading was definitely palpable. Sobek, Osiris’s alligator sidekick, and the mad professors on Oolong Island were two of the most imaginative parts of that event, and pure Morrison. Now the comics author has written a non-comic work, Supergods: What Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us about Being Human, and I’ve just started to read it. I’ve gotten through most of the first section, a discussion of Golden Age figures, and so far I really like the book. Some may read this and mistaken it for a history or a survey of American comic-book characters. This is in no way a history, but a personal look at the many comic-book figures that have meant a lot to Morrison. His take on classic characters is at times idiosyncratic, and his way of describing and contextualizing these heroes are completely his own. From what I’ve read so far, Supergods is a way inside Grant Morrison where we can see what makes his comic genius tick by looking at what has inspired him and what makes him a devoted comic-book reader. He begins with a look at the big two, Superman and Batman, and then moves on to some of the other major figures of the 1930s and 1940s. Captain Marvel, or Shazam, and Wonder Woman make up the bulk of the next two chapters, although he does say a few brief words on Timely/Marvel characters, Prince Namor and Captain America. In fact, I was surprised how little he has had to say so far on the Marvel characters, but this will change I’m sure when I get to the next section on Silver Age comics. That’s when Marvel hit its stride, and looking ahead in the book I can see he’ll discuss the work of Kirby, Ditko, and Lee. Still, in flipping through the book, I get the sense that the DC universe holds much more fascination for Morrison than does Marvel. I guess I’ll see as I read on. One of the joys of this book will not only be discovering what Morrison finds interesting in comics, but what goes into Morrison’s decisions and the choices he makes as a writer. And after this I’m sure I’ll want to go back and reread some of those Morrison narratives I love, like Animal Man, The Invisibles, and The Doom Patrol. And then there’s Timothy Callahan’s Grant Morrison: The Early Years, which I have on my shelf waiting to be read.
Back in August Grant Morrison gave an interview to the Website Goodreads. It was a great interview. In fact, I was even a part of it. The people at Goodreads contacted some of their members, those who were fans of Morrison’s work, and I was one of them. I submitted a question about the two kinds of writing I mentioned earlier–the weird metafictional comics and the more mainstream stuff–and he responded. Thanks, Grant!