Grant Morrison

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Everyone does magic all the time in different ways. "Life" plus "significance" = magic.

Grant Morrison (born 31 January 1960) is a Scottish comics writer whose writing includes The Invisibles (1994–2000) and The Filth (2003).

On comics[edit]

  • I love to work in the comics medium -- I really do -- and I've realised that a total contempt for the intelligence of the audience is the key to success. You know that Doom Force thing I did recently for D.C.? -- the pisstake of X-Force, right? Well, eighty percent of the people who sent letters of comment in on the story actually took the thing seriously! They didn't see the joke! It's horrific. Tom Peyer phoned me up and read page after page of these insane letters. That was the turning point. That is the moment that I became a super-villain. (1992) [1]
  • I see no reason why children as young as six, seven, or even three shouldn't be allowed to produce corporate comic books to relentless monthly deadlines. And have to write several titles at once to make a decent living. That's what a proper childhood's all about isn't it? This is the 21st century after all and these unruly little bastards have been milking post-Victorian sentimentality for all it's worth for way too long. Time to get kids back where they belong - up chimneys, down mines, and tied to the printing presses! If you can pick up a brick to smash a car window, then you can build me a textile factory, son ... here's a whole half dollar for your day's labor. Now put down that Justin Timberlake bio-comic and get back on the production line! (2003) [2]
  • Let's face it; regular monthly superhero comic books have taken on the look and smell of old men's pants. It's hardly a surprise comics lost the teenage audience or that the adult audience is now bored and irritated by the endless recycling of images they've already seen and words they've already read. (2003) [3]
  • Truthfully, the job security in this business is uncertain, the hours are long, long and lonely, the audience is increasingly small, fickle and dissatisfied, like 3 of the 7 Dwarves. Respect is nonexistent, success fleeting; you'd be better off in a boy band, where at least you'd get laid before they made you obsolete. (2004) Popimage interview
  • Most of the people who do this kind of work, do it out of love, like the love you'd show to an ailing friend. (2004) Popimage interview
  • The comics medium is a very specialized area of the Arts, home to many rare and talented blooms and flowering imaginations and it breaks my heart to see so many of our best and brightest bowing down to the same market pressures which drive lowest-common-denominator blockbuster movies and television cop shows. Let's see if we can call time on this trend by demanding and creating big, wild comics which stretch our imaginations. Let's make living breathing, sprawling adventures filled with mind-blowing images of things unseen on Earth. Let's make artefacts that are not faux-games or movies but something other, something so rare and strange it might as well be a window into another universe because that's what it is. (2004) Popimage interview
  • As for all this talk I keep hearing about how 'ordinary people' can't handle the weird layouts in comics - well, time for another micro-rant, but that's like your granddad saying he can't handle all the scary, fast-moving information on Top of the Pops and there's really only one answer. Fuck off, granddad. If you're too stupid to read a comic page, you shouldn't be trying to read comic books and probably don't. (2004) Popimage interview
  • (On Frank Miller's comic book 'Holy Terror, Batman!') Batman vs. Al Qaeda! It might as well be Bin Laden vs. King Kong! Or how about the sinister Al Qaeda mastermind up against a hungry Hannibal Lecter! For all the good it's likely to do. Cheering on a fictional character as he beats up fictionalized terrorists seems like a decadent indulgence when real terrorists are killing real people in the real world. I'd be so much more impressed if Frank Miller gave up all this graphic novel nonsense, joined the Army and, with a howl of undying hate, rushed headlong onto the front lines with the young soldiers who are actually risking life and limb 'vs' Al Qaeda. [4]
  • (On DC: One Million) I just read it again and liked it a lot. Comics were definitely happier, breezier and more confident in their own strengths before Hollywood and the Internet turned the business of writing superhero stories into the production of low budget storyboards or, worse, into conformist, fruitless attempts to impress or entertain a small group of people who appear to hate comics and their creators. [5]
  • People say kids can't understand the difference between fact and fiction, but that's bullshit. Kids understand that real crabs don't sing like the ones in The Little Mermaid. But you give an adult fiction, and the adult starts asking really fucking dumb questions like 'How does Superman fly? How do those eyebeams work? Who pumps the Batmobile’s tires? It's a fucking made-up story, you idiot! Nobody pumps the tires! Grant Morrison: Psychedelic Superhero, 2011
  • Superhero science has taught me this: Entire universes fit comfortably inside our skulls.
    • Supergods, 2011; chapter 9 (p. 116)

On The X-Men[edit]

  • 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. (2004) Popimage interview
  • 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 (when writing New X-Men). (2004) Popimage interview

On magic[edit]

  • 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.
  • Everything is literally entangled, it can all be communicated with and affected 'at a distance' because there is no distance, only a simulation of apparent separation which our limited consciousness feeds us second by second at 11 bits. The 'telepathy' which brings people together is no more or less supernatural or unlikely than the 'telepathy' which brings two of your fingers together when you think about it. Patience, participation and constant close observation of what's going on, on the inside and on the outside will soon make you a fine sorcerer, if that's what you want to be. (2004) Popimage interview
  • I got so enmeshed in (The Invisibles) that I was producing holographic voodoo effects and found that I could make stuff happen just by writing about it. At the conclusion of volume one, I put the King Mob character in a situation where he was being tortured and he gets told that his face is being eaten away by bacteria and within a few months my own face was being eaten away by infection. I still have the scar. It's a pretty cool scar too but at the time it was really distressing. Then I had the character dying and within a few months, there I was dying in the hospital of blood poisoning and staph aureus infection. As I lay dying, I wrote my character out of trouble and somehow survived. I used the text as medicine to get myself out of trouble. Writing became a way of keeping myself alive. As soon as I was out of hospital I made sure my character had a good time and got a laid a lot and within months I was having the time of my life. (2005) [6]

On life[edit]

  • "Real life?" What's that? (2003) [7]
  • I'd say to myself or whoever I was with, 'It'll look good in the biography.' and then I'd go ahead and do whatever daft thing it was - like taking acid on the sacred mesa or doing the bungee-jump, getting the haircut, dancing with the stranger, talking to the crowd - whatever I was 'scared' of mostly, or fancied doing, or never dared before, I'd try it on the basis that it would make for a more interesting read one day. (2004) [8]
  • When Nietzsche said God is dead, he forgot to mention that Satan died in the same horrific accident. [9]
  • Otherwise, I know I’m often wasting my breath and electronic ink saying this, but the “real-world” is a pretty weird place where lots of inexplicable things happen all the time, and I like to catch the flavor of that too. It just seems more modern and authentic to me as a storyteller. The “real world” doesn’t come with the neat three-act structures and resolutions we love to impose on it, and if repeated doses of movie and TV-storytelling have convinced anyone that it does, it‘s time to get out and about a bit. The real world is filled with ghost stories, non sequiturs, inexplicable mysteries, dead ends and absurdities, and I think it’s cool to season our comfortable fictions with at least a little taste of what actual reality is like. [10]
  • Most human lives are forgotten after four generations. We build our splendid houses on the edge of the abyss then distract and dazzle ourselves with entertainers and sex while we slowly at first, then more rapidly, spin around the ever-thirsty plughole in the middle. My treasured possessions -- all the silly little mementoes and toys and special books I’ve carried with me for decades -- will wind up on flea market tables or rot on garbage heaps. Someone else will inhabit the rooms that were mine. Everything that was important to me will mean nothing to the countless generations that follow our own. In the grand sprawl of it all, I have no significance at all. I don’t believe a giant gaseous pensioner will reward or censure me when my body stops working and I don’t believe individual consciousness survives for long after brain death so I lack the consolations of religion. I wanted Annihilator to peek into that implacable moment where everything we are comes to an end so I had to follow the Black Brick Road all the way down and seriously consider the abject pointlessness of all human endeavours. I found these contemplations thrilling and I was drawn to research pure nihilism, which led me to Ray Brassier’s Nihil Unbound and back to Ligotti. I have a fundamentally optimistic and positive view of human existence and the future and I think it’s important to face intelligent, well-argued challenges to that view on a regular basis. While I agree with Ligotti that the universe is, on the face of it, a blind emergent process, driven by chance over billions of years of trial and error to ultimately produce creatures capable of little more than flamboyant expressions of the agonizing awareness of their own imminent deaths, I don’t share his slightly huffy disappointment at this state of affairs. If the universe is intrinsically meaningless, if the mindless re-arrangement of atomic debris into temporarily arising then dissipating forms has no point, I can only ask, why do I see meaning everywhere, why can I find a point in everything? Why do other human beings like me seem to see meaning in everything too? If the sun is only an apocalyptic series of hydrogen fusion reactions, why does it look like an angel and inspire poetry? Why does the flesh and fur-covered bone and jelly of my cat’s face melt my heart? Is all that surging, roaring incandescent meaning inside me, or is it out there? “Meaning” to me is equivalent to “Magic.” The more significance we bring to things, even to the smallest and least important things, the more special, the more “magical” they seem to become. For all that materialistic science and existential philosophy tells us we live in a chaotic, meaningless universe, the evidence of my senses and the accounts of other human beings seem to indicate that, in fact, the whole universe and everything in it explodes second-to-second with beauty, horror, grandeur and significance when and wherever it comes into contact with consciousness. Therefore, it’s completely down to us to revel in our ability to make meaning, or not. Ligotti, like many extreme Buddhist philosophers, starts from the position that life is an agonizing, heartbreaking grave-bound veil of tears. This seems to be a somewhat hyperbolic view of human life; as far as I can see most of us round here muddle through ignoring death until it comes in close and life’s mostly all right with just enough significant episodes of sheer joy and connection and just enough sh-tty episodes of pain or fear. The notion that the whole span of our lives is no more than some dreadful rehearsal for hell may resonate with the deeply sensitive among us but by and large life is pretty okay generally for most of us. And for some, especially in the developed countries, “okay” equals luxurious. To focus on the moments of pain and fear we all experience and then to pretend they represent the totality of our conscious experience seems to me a little effete and indulgent. Most people don’t get to be born at all, ever. To see in that radiant impossibility only pointlessness, to see our experience as malignantly useless, as Ligotti does, seems to me a bit camp. (2014) [11]

On writing[edit]

  • We're so familiar with written language that we sometimes forget how outlandish a concept it must have seemed to our ancestors. Writing allowed people to copy and transfer their thoughts and their tribal codes of conduct to others, even unto generations they themselves would not live to personally instruct, affect or control. The words themselves must have seemed alive and immortal and as "holy" as ghosts. Written law was thus a way of mastering time and influencing the future, a weapon greater than fire and steel, I hope you'll agree. When read, the written word made the head buzz and ring and fill up with voices and commands from nowhere, as if God Himself had come thundering down through the symbols, off the page and into the room, fertilising and impregnating the mind with his Ghostly, unmistakable presence. (2005) [12]

On The Matrix[edit]

  • It's really simple. The truth of that one is that design staff on The Matrix were given Invisibles collections and told to make the movie look like my books. This is a reported fact. The Wachowskis are comic book creators and fans and were fans of my work, so it's hardly surprising. I was even contacted before the first Matrix movie was released and asked if I would contribute a story to the website. (...) I'm not angry about it anymore, although at one time I was, because they made millions from what was basically a Xerox of my work and to be honest, I would be happy with just one million so I didn't have to work thirteen hours of every fucking day, including weekends. (2005) [13]

On themselves[edit]

  • I use media exposure as a means of playing with multiple personalities. Each interview is a different me and they're all untrustworthy (2000) [14]
  • My work ethic is rigorous, brutal, and uncompromising. I've had my pension plans in place for a long time and I never spend more than I have or forget to pay my tax bills. My repressed, inner Protestant is an absolute Godsend in that respect. I also have lots of highly-paid and well-regarded work outside the comics field now and with Jupiter in the second house on my horoscope, I shouldn't have to worry too much about my dotage. I love the future and it loves me. (2003) [15]
  • I must admit to being increasingly deranged by the kinds of bizarre myths which have grown like moss around my name in comics fan circles - I keep coming up against this idiot savant image; me reflected back at myself as a shambling, incoherent drug addict, wanking and drooling out meaningless gibberish which can only be understood by 'those lying bastards' who claim they can see 'Magic Eye' 3-d pictures and wee men reading the news on the TV. (2004) Popimage interview

External links[edit]

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