I can see you.
"I'm the evil mastermind behind the scenes. I'm the wicked puppeteer who pulls the strings and makes you dance. I'm your writer."
Grant Morrison, MBE
, is a Scottish writer, best known for the complex use of meta-fiction within his stories.
Morrison's first published comic book work was Gideon Stargrave in 1978. After a few attempts at Marvel UK, he started writing Zenith
for Britain's Two Thousand AD
magazine. Like pretty much every superhero comic by English/Scottish/Irish writers during the eighties, it was both a superhero deconstruction and an excuse to take shots at Margaret Thatcher
. It was because of Zenith that Morrison was hired to do a comic about Animal Man
, a character few knew and nobody cared about, and started his long tradition of taking total losers and transforming them into something completely awesome. Next was the Doom Patrol
, turning them into the greatest constant Mind Screw
ever put into Four Colored pages.
After those critical successes, he wrote Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
, which became the best selling graphic novel up to that point, and featured selected members of Batman's rogues gallery - as well as the Dark Knight himself - as different aspects of non-comic book, medical insanity, such as schizophrenia and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. He then wrote several miniseries in Britain and for Vertigo Comics
, and rose to stardom with the relaunch of Justice League of America
, which featured DC's big superheroes together again for the first time in years. Besides being aptly described elsewhere on this website as "made up of back-to-back Crowning Moments of Awesome", Morrison's JLA also served as inspiration for the DCAU
's Justice League
, usually made up of back-to-back Crowning Moments of Awesome itself. At the time he was writing JLA, he was working on Vertigo Comics
' The Invisibles
, his most personal world, which he described as information given to him by Aliens during an abduction in Kathmandu.
Since then, he has worked with Marvel Comics
, writing the controversial New X-Men
run, and the Marvel Boy
and Fantastic Four: 1234
miniseries. He returned to DC, and wrote The Filth
for Vertigo before cutting loose in the DC Universe
with the seven Seven Soldiers
miniseries and the universally beloved All-Star Superman
. He proceeded to yet again redefine the mindscrew in his Batman
run, attempting to reconcile the character's 70 years' worth of interpretations, and finally realized his life long dream of somehow making the DC Universe a sentient being in Final Crisis
. He then went on to work on the new Batman Incorporated
and Action Comics
He also tried to kill Magneto
once, but unsurprisingly, it didn't stick
He also wrote Joe the Barbarian
, which ran 8 issues from March 2010 to March 2011. The story is about a diabetic boy who becomes hypoglycemic, and enters a fantasy world due to hallucinations.
He is the author of the non-fiction 2011 book Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero
, a mix between a critical history of superhero comics as he had seen it and autobiography.
Whether or not his stories are good is a topic of much debate. Some people love them, some people believe he's just some wacky guy who can't write a story without severe Writer on Board
and whose constant forays into This Is Your Premise on Drugs
end up dominating his books to the detriment of plot and character. He did once state in the letters page of The Invisibles
that his protagonist, King Mob, a Tuxedo and Martini Obi Wan Author Avatar
only got laid all the time because the comic book was a magic spell Morrison was casting, and so making his main character get laid would get him laid
. And if you think he's joking, you haven't read ''Supergods''…
Recognizable in real life by his shaved head and his already difficult to follow topics being uttered in a nearly incomprehensible accent. In an anecdote in the first volume of 52
, his conversation with the other writers and editor goes like this:
Grant: "[something in a barely intelligible Scottish accent] space heroes [Scottish, Scottish] Styx, yeah."
While Grant has, as of this writing, officially stepped away from writing for ongoing superhero comic series for DC, he still has a couple of free-standing projects on his plate:
Works by Grant Morrison with their own trope pages include:
Tropes associated with Grant Morrison:
- All There in the Manual: Anarchy for the Masses for one thing offers a mighty effort at deciphering The Invisibles. Most notably insightful are the numerous interviews with Morrison and crew. Otherwise tends to give away tons of more or less required information about his work in interviews, which usually end up unread on obscure corners of the Internet.
- Final Crisis Sketchbook, essentially a collection of notes and "behind the scenes" comments on the creation of Final Crisis, contained tidbits of information that never appeared in the actual comic ... like, say, the identities of some of the characters.
- The later chapters of Supergods also contain a fair amount of Word Of God, especially regarding the genesis and intended meaning of The Invisibles and Final Crisis.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Invisibles revolves around them.
- Author Avatar: King Mob, Mo G., "The Writer" * , No-Beard, both Wally Sages, Mind Grabber Man, Professor X, The Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp, the "Batman" architect from Tales of the Unexpected * , and many more.
- As The Invisibles was collected without the letter columns from the single issues, one deeply odd fact about Morrison has been mostly lost to memory. After his representation in the comic, Kirk Morrison/Gideon Stargrave/King Mob, spent a few issues slowly dying of a gunshot wound to the stomach, Morrison himself nearly died from a collapsed lung. Morrison draws a straight line between what happened to King Mob and what happened to him, which may explain why King Mob spends most of volume 2 balls-deep in Ragged Robin...
- Author Guest Spot: Famously in Animal Man. Hilariously, fellow DC writer John Ostrander realized not long after that by writing himself into a comic Grant Morrison had put himself in continuity, and made "the Writer" a member of the Suicide Squad for one issue.
- Author Stand-In
- Author Tract: Morrison pretty much likes to either add himself, or characters who act as him, in a large amount of his stories.
- Bald of Awesome: Adopted sometime in The Nineties. When Morrison made his Creator Cameo in Animal Man #26 he had a kind of mod pageboy.
- Bittersweet Ending: We3. Period!
- Blue and Orange Morality: Kill Your Boyfriend!
- Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: Deconstructed in a lot of his work, especially The Invisibles. Unsurprising since Morrison himself is also an anarchist.
- Canon Welding: The concept/character of "Qwewq" or "Earth-Q" has shown up in almost all of his DC work. It was a miniature universe created as an experiment by Superman with no superhuman elements. It was "poisoned" by the intrusion of a supervillain named the Black Death and the Ultramarines were sent in to restore order, but it was too late and the Sheeda manipulated it into becoming Ne-bu-loh AKA The Nebula Man. It was eventually impaled by Frankenstein. It's also implied that this is the "Real World" that Animal Man and the Doom Patrol visited, and may also be the "caged baby universe" powering The Authority's shiftship. If you're feeling particularly philosophical, you could make the case that it's supposed to be our universe, meaning that Superman created us and our universe is destined to become a supervillain due to humanity's overwhelming cynicism.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Morrison seems to have a liking for villains who are openly and exultantly evil: Darkseid in JLA and Final Crisis, the Black Glove in Batman RIP, Luthor in All-Star Superman, Leviathan, a.k.a Talia al Ghul in Batman Inc, etc.
- Cloudcuckoo Lander: To say the least.
- Continuity Porn: Morrison is known for bringing back obscure (and even unpopular) ideas. Some dislike this and believe these ideas are best forgotten, while others think he makes these concepts work much better than before.
- This is a reflection of his personal belief that EVERYTHING that has ever been published is somehow still in continuity.
- His Sixth Doctor comic "The World Shapers" from Doctor Who Magazine features the return of the Voord who evolve into the Cybermen and Jamie McCrimmon as a mad old man who gets killed. This is all based on a throwaway line from The Invasion about the Doctor and Jamie having encountered the Cybermen on "Planet 14".
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Seaguy is pursued by an evil corporation, and Morrison's portrayal of Lex Luthor in his JLA run was explicitly based on this.
- Cosmic Deadline: The Filth, The Invisibles, Seven Soldiers, Final Crisis. It's practically his style.
- Deconstructor Fleet: Most of Morrison's work revolves around deconstructing, subverting, and mashing together as many tropes and genres as possible. Sometimes this covers a staggering variety of things (see The Invisibles), and sometimes his focus is narrowed to merely the entirety of the DC Comics universe (see Final Crisis) or the history and mythos surrounding a particular character (see All-Star Superman, his run on Batman), but he's always doing it in one form or another.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: While he did start writing comics in his late teens, it took him a while to see it as his true calling. At one point, he was even a filing clerk for about a year.
- Deus ex Machina: He handwaves most of his run in Animal Man himself.
- Everyone Has Standards: He might have experimented with drugs in the past, but he claims to have never indulged in anything as severe as crack cocaine.
- Gainax Ending: As of this writing, there are eight entries in the "Comic Books" section of this page and four of them are about comics he wrote.
- Genre Savvy: Both Grant himself and his characters know how death works in comics. He made no attempt to convince people Batman wouldn't return from the dead. When Metamorpho died, the implication was that he was most likely going to come back. Even Jean Grey's tombstone states "She will rise again."
- Gentleman Thief: Fantomex from his New X-Men run is based on Italian comic book thief Diabolik and the French crime fiction character that inspired him, Fantômas.
- Gentleman Wizard: Grant himself. He may have accepted female fans taking him dancing once in a while, to make them a little happier, but unlike lots of other celebrities, never takes advantage of them.
- A God Is You: The Invisibles, The Filth and his DC superhero writing all contain examples of unique, bizarre or transcendent self-empowerment.
- Government Conspiracy: Again, from The Invisibles.
- Higher Understanding Through Drugs: Morrison has talked candidly about epiphanies he's had while on drugs, and he often included this trope in his works.
- Kind Hearted Cat Lover: The death of his pet cat impacted his writing of Animal Man, and he discusses it in his appearance during the final issue.
- Lost Technology: Maggedon from his JLA run is an ancient, universe-ending weapon.
- Mind Screw: At least one per issue.
- No Fourth Wall: Some creators like to break the Fourth Wall. Morrison likes to use a grenade launcher on it.
- Old Shame: Never, ever mention his time on the UK Zoids comic. It tends to be "conveniently forgotten" by his biographers and fandom, and he seems to prefer that it remains obscure. However, Zoids fans who know about it generally rate it high and wish the ending was known...
- Order Versus Chaos: A common theme in his work.
- Porn Stash: According to a comment by Julian Darius in 2011: "Grant Morrison has confessed (in our documentary Talking with Gods) that he used to draw super-heroes having sex." You know he didn't throw those drawings out, they're hidden in a box somewhere, famous Rule34 waiting to happen.
- Reconstruction: Morrison likes to put things back together as much as he enjoys pulling them apart, even if he does put them back together in very different ways than they started out; in particular, his recent superhero works have been largely an attempt to bring back Silver and Bronze Age superhero tropes after the lengthy process of deconstruction they've been subject to, albeit in a way that works post-Dark Age.
- Recursive Reality
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: In his superhero work, he's usually high up the idealistic end. His other work can vary, but has a strong tendency towards the optimistic.
- The Unintelligible: According to the notes included by other members of the 52 writing staff in one of the TPBs, Morrison himself.
- 'e's got a crackin' wee scot accent, I tell ya.
- An anecdote in Bryan Talbot's book The Naked Artist has Morrison appearing on-stage at an Italian comics convention, and needing a volunteer Scottish interpreter to translate him into standard English for the official Italian interpreter.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Morrison writes believing this wholeheartedly. Of course, your opinion, as stated above, may vary.
- We suspect if you've read Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger trilogy then you'll get most of Grant's references.
- Walking the Earth: After earning a large amount of money from the sales of Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Morrison proceeded to travel around the world for a while.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Invisibles as a group are that.
- What Could Have Been: Supposedly, My Chemical Romance wanted him to make an appearance in the music video for "Mama" that never got made, where he would have played Satan opposite Liza Minnelli (who would have played the Virgin Mary). Though the "Mama" video never came to be, fans later got a consolation prize when he played the Corrupt Corporate Executive Korse in the videos from Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.
- What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Animal Man and most of the early issues of his Doom Patrol were made before he even tried experimenting with alcohol and drugs.
- There was, however, one later arc in Doom Patrol that was inspired by many psychedelic mushroom trips.
- Writing for the Trade: Morrison has stated that his run on Batman is to be divided up into "separate books" that all go together. This makes some of the more unusual issues make more sense. Final Crisis also becomes much more comprehensible when reading it as a trade rather than individual issues being released each month (which has contributed much of the Fan Dumb against Final Crisis itself).