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Art by Chip Zdarsky. Copyright 2002.

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Grant Morrison: Master & Commander
PART 4: Highway X

Introduction
Interview - Part 1
Interview - Part 2
Interview - Part 3
Interview - Part 4
Interview - Part 5
Interview - Part 6
Interview - Part 7
Interview - Part 8



In 2001 Grant Morrison's New X-Men was launched into the public as a part of a revitalization of the X properties. Cashing in on their cultural popularity, fashioning a highly stylized, sexy and stimulating new direction, aptly captured below in this piece of New X-Men inspired artwork by Kalman Andrasofszky. The work of Grant and others brought a level of acclaim, high ideas and attention to the X-Men comic properties rarely ever seen before. Then Grant left and the X-Men put on some spandex and played baseball.

Click For Larger Image


When working on titles featuring high profile characters, do you pay attention to the fans at all? Or for that matter, comments by other creators? I found it really disheartening to hear comments made by John Byrne towards your New X-Men run, particularly considering you essentially spent a lot of time paying homage to his work.

I didn't read John Byrne's comments and never want to but I'm absolutely sure that, no matter how it sounded, what my teenage art hero actually MEANT to say was that he just about LOVED my run on New X-Men!

In a far more magnanimous gesture of artistic solidarity, I heard from DC recently that Arnold Drake, the gentleman creator and brilliant writer of the original DOOM PATROL stories (among many other things), cited my version of the book as the one most faithful to his own creative vision.

Thank YOU, Mister Drake. I tried very hard to update and preserve the soul of the book and it's nice to be appreciated by the originator of these fascinating and enduring characters. Check out the trade paperback collections later this year.

Yo momma.

Did you see New X-Men as a sigil or can that now be said of all your work? I remember an interesting article a fansite had did examining the number of times the word 'sex' appeared in the art.

That says more about the fans than it does about me.

Or does it actually say more about 'Erotik' Ethan Van Sciver and 'Filthy' Frank Quitely, who filled the book with subliminal penises and hidden sweary words, like two giggly wee boys drawing hairy fannies in their physics textbooks. Those merry pranksters are 'dirty' like Christina's soiled thong.

All the comics are sigils. 'Sigil' as a word is out of date. All this magic stuff needs new terminology because it's not what people are being told it is at all. It's not all this wearying symbolic misdirection that's being dragged up from the Victorian Age, when no-one was allowed to talk plainly and everything was in coy poetic code. The world's at a crisis point and it's time to stop bullshitting around with Qabalah and Thelema and Chaos and Information and all the rest of the metaphoric smoke and mirrors designed to make the rubes think magicians are 'special' people with special powers. It's not like that. Everyone does magic all the time in different ways. 'Life' plus 'significance' = magic. See Pop Mag!c for more.

There were a number of issues with late artists, do you feel you collaborated well with them? Anyone particularly so?

Quitely, Silvestri, Jimenez and John Paul Leon did my favourite stories.

Click For Larger ImageHow do you feel about the use of characters you created after you've gone? Fantomex and Dust for example? Didn't you originally plan to do more with the Dust character?

They can do what they like with them and will, I'm sure. I'd originally intended to have Dust play a more prominent role but in the end, she just didn't fit very well with the way the story was developing into the available page count.

When I planned to continue NEW X-MEN with Scott and Emma as head teachers (this was before the decision to quit, and I'd plotted six issues of 'new direction', following on from issue 154, with the return of the school uniforms etc. The opening story was about the first human student at Xavier's - he gets mercilessly mocked as a throwback by the pupils until it turns out he's the best guitarist anyone has ever heard - so good that his talent might just as well be regarded as a mutant power...and so prejudice is defeated and everyone bursts into song. Gag. If I was doing it now I'd make it more realistic; the new student would be a pedigree hamster who could play the piano like Richard Clayderman but only on the three nights of the full moon) the plan was to have Dust in a very prominent role as one of the new term's intake of students. The X-Men stories are set in an ongoing soap opera continuity so I knew that I could safely leave a few character threads dangling and perhaps help to enrich the franchise. I'm sure the new writers will have plans for her - she has a great power and immense possibility as a character.

So you were going to return the uniforms? That's interesting 'cause when they announced the decision to do so after you left I thought it was a huge step backwards from what you'd done with the characters.

It wasn't my idea; Marvel made the decision to go back to bright superhero style costumes, partly as a way of appeasing licensors - I was asked to find a way to make it convincing and then, in the end, I didn't have to and it became Joss Whedon's job to find a way to make it convincing. Which he's done quite effectively.

One line of dialogue that stood out to me in New X-Men was a comment made by Fantomex to Magneto. "Is everything you say a clichés?" was this perhaps a critique of the way the character was written? Or a comment made concerning the rising popularity of 'decompressed storytelling,' which often involves quick action mixed with clever, well placed single lines of dialogue? Some of which often are, or become, clichés.

The 'Planet X' story was partially intended as a comment on the exhausted, circular nature of the X-Men's ever-popular battle with Magneto and by extension, the equally cyclical nature of superhero franchise re-inventions. I ended the book exactly where I came on board, with Logan killing Magneto AGAIN, as he had done at the end of Scott Lobdell's run. Evil never dies in comic book universes. It just keeps coming back. Imagine Hitler back for the hundredth time to menace mankind. So, in the way that something like 'Marvel Boy' had that insistent 'teenage hard on' engine driving its rhythms, 'Planet X' is steeped in an exhausted, world-weary, 'middle-aged' ennui that spoke directly of both my own and Magneto's frustrations, disillusionment and disconnection, as well as the endless everything-is-not-enough frustrations of a certain segment of comics aging readership. In hindsight, I think I overdid the world weary a little but, you know, my loved ones were dying all around me while I was working on those issues, so I'm entitled to a little stumble into miseryland. Fantomex's line summed up my own cynicism at that moment, definitely and seems justified by subsequent plot developments. In my opinion, there really shouldn't have been an actual Xorn - he had to be fake, that was the cruel point of him - and it should have been the genuine Magneto, frayed to the bare, stupid nerve and schizoid-conflicted as he was in Planet X, not just some impostor. There's loads of good stuff in Planet X - it's just that miasma of bleakness and futility which hovers over the whole thing.

What people often forget, of course, is that Magneto, unlike the lovely Sir Ian McKellen, is a mad old terrorist twat. No matter how he justifies his stupid, brutal behaviour, or how anyone else tries to justify it, in the end he's just an old bastard with daft, old ideas based on violence and coercion. I really wanted to make that clear at this time.

Introduction
Interview - Part 1
Interview - Part 2
Interview - Part 3
Interview - Part 4
Interview - Part 5
Interview - Part 6
Interview - Part 7
Interview - Part 8

 


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