illustration (c) Josť Villarrubia 2000 digital
illustration (c) Josť Villarrubia 2000
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Art by Chip Zdarsky. Copyright 2002.

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Pop Will Shit Itself with Grant Morrison
Grant Morrison Is..., an interview by Jonathan Ellis.

Getting to Know Your Messiah - Part 1
Deus Ex Machina - Part 3
Sin-e-ma in-va-zhon - Part 4
Occult Eroticism and Techno Zen - Part 5
Enchanter - Part 6

Will you be going back to playing in bands now that you've thinned down your workload?
** [Grant had his part in such bands as The Mixers, Jenny and The Cat Club, The Fauves, Super 9, and more] **

I don't want to play in bands. I may still be gorgeous but I feel way too old to be a teenage tribal guitar hero anymore. Having said that, I do like making music and will continue until I die. By that time it'll only be farts and burbles but I like to think they'll break new ground. Prior to dying, I have a CD coming out from Re: the label run by Steven Severin ex of the Banshees. That'll be spoken word with music and I've already done some of it. The 'Eulogy For Mickey Mouse' is worth the price of admission alone.

Looking back I see you've written two plays, were they small stage theatrics? Were they well received, and what were the stories behind the plays?

The plays were performed at the Edinburgh Festival to full houses. 'Red King Rising' in 1989 won a Fringe First and the Independent newspaper's prestigious Drama Award. 'Depravity', in 1990 won the Evening News Drama award. Both plays can be found in 'Lovely Biscuits' a collection of prose work from 1989 - 1999, published by Oneiros Books.

Didn't you once have a self-publishing imprint? "Snobbery With Violence"? How'd that come about?

It was just me and James Hamilton of Forbidden Planet fucking around with a funny name and a joke bank account. I ended up wasting thousands of pounds which made the joke so much more amusing, like our version of the KLF burning a million quid. The idea was to self-publish stuff like the collected 'New Adventures of Hitler' or 'Bible John' and a self-drawn thing called 'Doctor Mirabilis' which I was tinkering with at the time. Nothing ever came of it, rather like Communism.

Speaking of your artistic skills, will you ever do anymore artwork for comics?

Not at this stage. Possibly in the future, if time and circumstance allow. It's sure to happen in the end.

"We've just beaten the shit out of a pensioner and I feel like Superman."

- Grant Morrison
Excerpt from 'THE IF'.

KILL YOUR BOYFRIEND, was 'inspired' by Brian Bolland, a book that HE could draw, but unfortunately time just wasn't there. Now that the stories been done and you could actually have Brian draw a book for you, what would it be about?

It would be about the very slow passage of time as we all sit around watching and waiting to see if Brian's life will last long enough for him to finish an entire comic book ever again. I think the Master is happy doing covers, and no wonder, but I would like to get him to draw at least a short piece sometime.

Wait and see.

What differences have you noticed when working in the U.K. market and the North American market?

Quite a few. American mainstream comics are simply less anarchic or 'punk' than the average British comic. Our stories tend to feature tough, ugly, rebellious working class kids. We have the Bash Street Kids, America has Archie Andrews and his gang. Our traditional super-characters are all like the Steel Claw or the psychopathic Spider, morally ambiguous figures, often working on whatever side of the law suits a given story.

Ours is a country in magnificent decline, under almost total surveillance and brimful of bullshit. Sick, ironic humour is very cool here. People are poor, drunk and vibrant with twisted creative energy. Taboo-smashing is an artistic pasttime that's become almost passe. We're an angry breed and we need outlets for our spit and spite and when we outgrew our own market, comics writers turned westwards like Vikings contemplating rape. It's no surprise we've produced so many spiky, brilliant, politically-motivated creators like Pat Mills, Garth Ennis, Jamie Delano or Warren Ellis. Alan Moore, Mark Millar and I are almost unique among our peers in our genuine fondness for American superhero characters. Otherwise, British writers pretty much HATE superheroes to a man, preferring ultraviolent soldiers, hi-tech vigilantes or kid gangs. In the saccharine world of 80s mainstream US titles it's probably easy to see in hindsight why the British Invasion of the 80s and 90s was so invigorating.

"You're running around shooting people like they're Nothing. You're Fucked up, Gideon. You're not cool, you're not a hero, you're just a Murderer."

-Grant Morrison

However, having given the whole thing five minutes thought, in the end I think the major difference between the British and American approach to comic book storytelling at the root and lies in the training we receive. Most British writers came in via 2000AD and learned their craft by writing two to six page stories for weekly magazines. American writers have 22 page monthly magazines to produce and can often spend issue after issue spinning out the same story ad nauseum. I've often been criticized for having too many ideas in my comics, which always reminds me of the King in Amadeus admonishing Mozart for using 'too many notes'. I think this stems from the fact that the British style is to plot very very tightly and then condense as many good ideas as possible into a few pages. It's the difference between the vast sprawl of the recent Emperor Joker story in the SUPERMAN books and my two-panel version of the same idea on page 26 of JLA 15 three years ago. Or why ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN uses up more than a hundred pages to replay a sequence of events Stan Lee managed to fit perfectly into eleven. If people are buying it, fine - comics need the business - but my own feeling is that they're being short-changed by the reading material they're getting for their three bucks. Too many American comic stories are too fucking long and drawn-out. No wonder these guys can write so many books.

So I have to admit that my own taste in comic books is for lots of big ideas and lots of things happening. I couldn't help noticing that it was the old men and continuity freaks who hated the high-octane nature of my JLA stories and complained that I wasn't paying enough attention to Wonder Woman's deep inner doubts or Green Lantern's desire for validation in the eyes of Aquaman but I was much more interested in making the book SELL for the first time in a decade. 100,000 people were buying a monthly book which had been selling in the low 20s when I came on board so I feel justified that my approach was the right one for those particular times. It's in the interests of my livelihood and the health of the business to disregard the misinformed opinions of Internet critics and get on with the business of selling comic books and raising the profile of the industry I love.

Coming up you'll be meeting with Douglas Rushkoff [***Douglas Rushkoff is the author of such books as MEDIA VIRUS, CYBERIA, COERCION, and many more titles. You may have also noticed Douglas from serving as consultant to shows like MediaTelevision, SexTV, and Frontlines 'Does Television Kill?' episode. Learn more on Douglas at***] and Genesis P. Orridge [***A 'Cultural Engineer' and 'Master of all Media.' Most recognizable for founding the visionary Performance Art and Behavioural Aberration group COUM TRANSMISSIONS, founding Psychic TV and being involved with so much more that you can only find out about it at Genesis P***] to talk about metaphysics and magic, AND you'll be taping the conversations. What will come of this? Are you two planning any projects together? The three of you being akin to 'pop culture icons [but in a good way]', I and the rest of the PopImage staff really look forward to what comes out of this. How did the three of you come together?

I met Doug a few years ago. I'd read 'Cyberia', he'd read THE INVISIBLES and he sent me a copy of his first novel 'The Ecstasy Club' which I loved so we ended up talking and found we got on.

We both spoke at the Disinfo Con earlier last year and a lot of our ideas cover similar ground. Through Doug and Richard Metzger, I met Genesis P. Orridge at that event and it was an instant collision of minds.

Thus the plan was hatched and Doug and I are getting together with Gen next week to spend five days brainstorming in New York State. Each day we'll record our conversations about the future, magic, science, society etc. and the intention is to produce a book for 2001 - the year of astronaut Dave Bowman's ascension to cosmic childhood - a Pop Bible or Little DayGlo Book of our thoughts on the impending 21st century technocculture.

"Your heads like mine, like all our heads;
big enough to contain every God and Devil there ever was.
Big enough to hold the weight of oceans and the turning stars.
Whole Universes fit in there!
But what do we choose to keep in this miraculous cabinet?
Little broken things, sad trinkets that we play with over and over.
The world turns our key and we play the same tune again and again
and we think that tune's all we are."

-Grant Morrison

Getting to Know Your Messiah - Part 1
Deus Ex Machina - Part 3
Sin-e-ma in-va-zhon - Part 4
Occult Eroticism and Techno Zen - Part 5
Enchanter - Part 6

Jonathan Ellis is Interviews Editor for PopImage.

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