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Grant Morrison & The Fan Entitlement That Wasn’t

September 18th, 2012 by | Tags:

Coming to the end of a five-year run on various titles starring the caped crusader, the Batman brand has cemented Morrison’s reputation as one of the top writers in his field. That fame though has come with the price of becoming a figurehead for the industry, a responsibility that he is happy to escape when he steps away from superheroes next year. Morrison stresses again and again that he sees himself as a “freelance writer” rather than a cog in the corporate publishing machine, yet his words are pounced upon, dissected and recycled by fans and critics alike.

“They try to find some hidden darkness or something like that,” he sighs, “or ‘this proves, this proves!’ – naw, it just proves I said something that day, you know, which either I still agree with or don’t. Why do I have to defend all of this? I think people just want to be mad and want to fight all the time, so I’m gonna join in now!”

New Statesman – Grant Morrison: Why I’m stepping away from superheroes

From my position as someone who has gone from stannish to uncomfortable to frustrated and on down to fed up with Morrison’s public persona, this is an utterly gross interview on both sides. The interviewer, Laura Sneddon, is clearly a fan of Morrison, which is fine. I interview people I’m a fan of, too, and I don’t hammer them on things. Not every interview has to be hard-hitting, obviously, but there’s a difference between a friendly, fun interview and one that puts the subject over at the expense of everyone else.

Sneddon, when asking about contentious points, minimizes and turns complaints against Morrison into easily-dismissed strawmen. She mentions that it seemed “like many of the detractors were coming from a distinctly middle class perspective” and Morrison agrees with her and goes on about middle class prejudices against the “trappings of high privilege.” (what?) Earlier in the interview, she writes: “Is it a slightly classist thing, I wonder, the idea that you can just drop your job at work as a protest?” (what?) She asks Morrison about comics critic Matt Seneca grilling and eating (part of) a copy of Morrison’s Supergods. Instead of Seneca’s weird performance being an act with some type of point, it’s used as evidence that “Fans are crazy and cynical and stupid.” Dissent is never treated as reasonable, only as aberration, and a de-fanged aberration at that.

This approach is tainted to me, because it’s a journalist once again taking (sometimes) reasonable dissent and painting it as babytown frolics, instead of something people actually care about. The Seneca point is an extreme example, of course, but that feeling permeates the piece. “These guys are dumdums, aren’t they?” instead of “So what’s up with this?” It feels like whenever fans or critics are mentioned, it’s about how they’re hurting comics or doing terrible things to a nice old comics writer.

The most aggravating part of the interview is the quote at the top of the post. That is a grown man asking why people believe the things that come out of his mouth. He wants to know why, after he says things, people care about them and hold him to his word. “Why can’t I just say things willy-nilly without having people look at my position?” he’s essentially asking here.

That is laughable, because he has built a career, in part, on people paying attention to, falling in love with, and believing his words. He set himself up as a counter-culture type of guy by producing works that embraced the counter-culture and drew on classic counter-culture subject matter and authors. He’s given at least one rock starred out speech at DisInfocon, and his letters pages let interact with a specific subset of comics readers.

He built this personality, this image of Grant Morrison-as-King Mob. That didn’t come from the fans or critics cruelly picking apart his words. No, we took him at his word and at his work, just like we’ve done with everyone from Stan Lee to Frank Miller to Dave Sim to Alan Moore. When confronted with the fact that King Mob prefers to defend a corporation over creators, describes a certain subset of fans as “voluminous Goth girls, victims of some unspeakable abuse,” and generally isn’t who he sold himself to be, I (and others, sure, but this is all about me-me-me-me-me) reacted with surprise, and then frustration.

It’s my fault, of course. I believed the hype. I believed in what Grant Morrison said and wrote, so I just set myself up for disappointment. Judging by this interview, what I should have done, were I not a weary cynic ready to burn down the temple (“the temple!”), was to assume that Morrison was just a cog in the machine and not take him so seriously, I guess.

But the thing is, I’m not a weary cynic. I’m a fan. I’m a fan who followed Morrison’s writings in comics and elsewhere, looking for and generally receiving knowledge jewels or great laughs. I’m not a cynic or critic that’s just aching to throw a sacred cow on the rack. I’m disappointed that the persona this guy sold me was a smokescreen, and that the real guy is someone I disagree with on a lot of different things. I feel played, if anything.

Later in the interview, Morrison says that he “still feel[s] the same way I do about the monarchy, the class system, about everything I’ve ever written, about everything I will write.”

Word?

We don’t believe you. You need more people.

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79 comments to “Grant Morrison & The Fan Entitlement That Wasn’t”

  1. I saw Morrison speak (mostly a Q&A) at Meltdown Comics a few years ago, and I have to say that I’ve never looked at him the same way. He was absolutely nothing like this persona that has been built up around him over the years. In fact, he did nothing to even pretend like he was some counter culture guru. He was just a guy answering questions about comics.

    Since then, this idea that he has somehow created this image in some deliberate way has always fallen flat for me.

    Regardless of which side they fall on, people seem to think that what Morrison says about any given issue is incredibly important. But it really isn’t.


  2. Sorry, I’ve been a fan of yours (and this blog) for quite some time, but perhaps it should be said: It might be time for you to stop caring about comic books. Your anger has become palpable in almost every post (even the “happy birthday, Jack Kirby” post on Comics Alliance had its share of negativity) and it’s… it’s exhausting.

    That said, this interview was kind of weird and brought up many things that are worth examining. But his off-the-cuff remarks don’t strike me as any more frustrating than this kneejerk negativity.


  3. @M.U.P.: Stop reading if you’re so exhausted. Oh my god even this comment has it’s share of negativity! You idiot.


  4. I’ve also seen G’Mo speak at various signings and cons and he does seem like a down-to-Earth, dare I say “humble” guy, who just speaks intimately about his upbringing, his approach to stories, etc., no GOD OF ALL COMICS persona whatsoever.

    Yet, every time I see an interview online I can’t help but feel like there is some type of hypocrisy at work. The counter-culture outsider has turned into an insider cog. Like he made a career for himself railing against the very thing he’s now become. Oroboros indeed.


  5. @plz kill me: I mean, I don’t really see why this sort of response is warranted. I’ve been a fan of David’s writing and I offered comment on a turn it seems to have taken. He can take or leave that comment, but why shouldn’t a writer want to hear this sort of feedback from readers if they continue to publish work? No need for pejoratives.


  6. @M.U.P.: Genuine question: where are you seeing the negativity in the Kirby post, and in anything I’ve written about comics recently? Is it because I dissed Countdown in passing? ’cause I just went back and looked over everything I wrote since July 1, and I found maybe three negative posts (not counting this one), all of which were published in July. You could probably make a case for the Kickstarter post being negative, I guess.

    I think about what I write and when a whole lot, and I’m honestly not seeing the negativity that you’re saying you see in almost every post, especially not of the kneejerk variety. I do appreciate the response, though.

    @Kyle Garret: I think it is important, though, considering that Morrison is one of the most successful writers in comics right now, critically and commercially. If Stephen King has opinions on the book industry, I’d pay attention to what he says, too. No reason why GM should be different.


  7. @M.U.P.: “stop reading comics if you’re so negative” is not constructive criticism, it is an insult. Hence the pejorative, you idiot.


  8. I’m sure that anyone who eats a book as an act of symbolic protest (against the writer being a sell out? I think?) is fully worthy of anyone’s respect and immediate attention.


  9. @plz kill me: chill


  10. I don’t hate Morrison (I still read some of his stuff) but I’m definitely far from where I was a few years ago, when I was happily drinking the God Of All Comics Kool-Aid. Some of his work and comments in the last couple of years have disappointed me, and he projects an increasing amount of bitterness in some of his recent interviews.

    He’s become sort of an Icarus figure, his counterculture shaman wings burning under the heat of the corporate culture he’s chosen to pursue. That’s a shame, and I hope he finds his footing again soon because, flawed as a person as he could be (like anyone else I guess), when he’s on, he can write good, powerful comics.


  11. I agree with everything David says in this post. I’ve been reading Grant’s stuff since he appeared in Warrior and the Marvel UK Doctor Who magazine in the 80s, have followed his work all these years, and now I no longer recognize him as the same person who once inspired me so much. Something has soured and curdled in him in a way that seems tragically similar to a Grant Morrison story in which the hero is turned from idealism and hope to become beaten, cynical, and self-rationalizing. Do you remember that story, where Mister Quimper invades the hero’s mind with Anti-Life and the Sheeda spine-rider digs its spurs in, but the new thoughts seem so normal he sees nothing wrong with tearing down everything he once fought to defend? If only this WERE one of his stories…but no, this is just him.


  12. I have to say, I kinda get where they’re coming from with the whole middle-class thing. A lot of comics politics seems to be based on the idea that we can or should expect these corporations to behave ethically, that the fact that they’ve ripped off the people who built their universes out of sheer meanness is something we should be upset about. Stereotypically, that kind of thing is a more middle-class perspective, especially when contrasted with the idea that the game is always rigged and you should look out for yourself, without expecting any consideration from these companies.

    I’m much more upset with the people doing Before Watchmen: they’re not just taking an unsympathetic attitude to fellow artists, they’re fucking with the art itself.


  13. Nice post. I’m a bit torn here myself. I greatly enjoy a lot of Morrison’s work, though my connection to him as a personality has been less an admiration of his counter-cultural persona and more of his creative ideasmanship (i.e. I far prefer Flex Mentallo to The Invisibles). So when it come to stuff like the Siegel/Shuster debate, I feel like my disappointment in his positions stems more from my own assumptions that someone whose work I dig would just agree with me than it does from any impression he’s given in interviews over the years. I’d hate to ascribe feelings to him that I’ve not specifically seen him express (that I can recall), but at the same time, the feelings he’s ascribing to parts of the readership here are preeeeeeeety out of touch with the issues at hand. I mean, I think a lot of people talking about comics online do love to be negative to an absurd degree, but I don’t think the people who have been asking after his opinions on some of these matters qualify in the same camp as people upset that Nightcrawler is dead or what have you.

    I agree that seeing Morrison in person or speaking with him gives a far more down to earth impression than his interviews sometimes give off, and I think maybe that experience biases me to understand where he’s coming from a little more even when I don’t agree with it all. But ultimately, I’m still able to enjoy his work and take from it what interests/inspires me without having this debate be a major roadblock. I’m not sure I can say that for everyone who’s had a run of public opinions I don’t synch up with.

    Also: I swear one day I’m going to comment here on a non-controversy post. I read a lot of your other stuff! It just seems like the comics you’re super jazzed about are ones I’m less familiar with/have fewer opinions on.


  14. This reminds me of the “Tree Shaker/Jelly Maker” comparisons of Ali and Michael Jordan. As Ali trascended from amazing athlete to global icon, Ali used the stage to become outspoken supporter of civil rights. Jordan on the other hand used it to further his brand after all “Republicans buy shoes too”

    Like Ali, guys like Moore, Miller, Sim and Neal Adams used their cultural cache as a bully pulpit to further creator rights. Morrison however seems to be interested in furthering himself.

    The key difference between Morrison and Jordan is Jordan’s public persona was always one of a bland cipher. Any expactations of him were simply wishful thinking. Morrison may not have deliberately cultivated his counter culture status, but he has certainly fed into it and only recently started disabuse himself from it with this rash of statements.


  15. Also, in thinking about it, I want to stress that Morrison doesn’t have to support Siegel & Shuster according to whatever my definition of support is that day. Nothing so strident as that. My issue is with the break between his new public persona and his old public persona, the two of which are hard for me to reconcile.


  16. *Invisble spoliers if anyone cares about that sort of thing*

    In the final issue of Invisibles King Mob is shown having turned in The Man alone in his corporate tower detached from the struggle Jack Frost is still engaged in. So once again his life imitates art, though I doubt he keeps a comedy gun in his desk for The-King-OF-All-Tears.

    I’m also a former obsessive who’d grown distanced from him over the last few years. Final Crises was where the cracks really start to show, but Supergods was damning in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of bending over to make DC, and particularly it’s current regime, look good. He seems really out of touch with issues from creators rights, to the state of alt-comics, to not knowing (or caring) Seneca was prominent critic and not just a fan crank. He lives in his Scottish Fortress of Solitude writing superhero comics about superhero comics, when his work used to be about life (even his superhero comics had this) and people. I get that there is a clueless geek contingent that can bring comics discourse down, but many of his recent critics have been long time supporters and intelligent commentators on the medium.

    People can change, but this is a disappointing change.

    (this is without getting into the separate issue of the incredibly thin issue skin of the mainstream comics community when it comes to critique and critical exchange)


  17. Part of the problem could be that he grew up in Great Britain, and maybe British comics fans don’t hear about Siegel and Shuster as much as American fans do.

    Another part is that he doesn’t think any of that applies to him–“I had my lawyer look over the contract, and made sure I wouldn’t get screwed.” The fact that DC and Marvel are still screwing creators is a blind spot for him.

    Also, he could be facing intimidation from DC. If you work for a company, they do NOT want you doing anything that makes them look bad.


  18. I somewhat agree with Morrison on the sentiment that it really doesn’t matter what he has to say about anything. It wouldn’t make his comics better or worse for me.

    The irritating thing about that article which makes it unreadable is the writer bringing things up, and then dismissing them before she even bothered to ask Morrison for a full reaction to said thing she brought up.

    I’ve wondered about this type of interview article in the past and whether it is very good at really describing the subject better than just a q/a format. I think the minute you start building in your own superimposed context around the quotes from somebody, you’re twisting what is going on, perhaps past what the subject is even intending. I think this type of article becomes less about the subject, and more about the interviewer interviewing the subject. I dunno. I’m somewhat unconvinced about the format this is in. I feel like most articles where an artist gets mischaracterized is in this kind of article.


  19. The last time I saw an article as problematic as this one was when Pantozzi interviewed Gail Simone for Nrama. IN a way this one’s MORE problematic because New Statesman’s certainly got a higher profile than the Rama.


  20. Hi David. I think some of the differences between how the debate on ‘class’ is framed on this side of the Atlantic and over there in the States might contribute toward your confusion in the second paragraph there. That the trappings of success are embraced by the working classes whilst resented by the middle classes is a truism. Privilege and a comfortable upbringing where hard graft may not be required to get on can often result in a backlash against that very culture. Think public-school (meaning private, fee-paying schools like Eton and the like) educated plastic revolutionaries like Joe Strummer from The Clash or Damon Albarn as opposed to someone like Noel Gallagher, who grew up poor and worked menial jobs before getting to the top. Gallagher was heavily criticized in the 90’s for attending a tea party at the prime minister’s house, something it’s unlikely you would ever have seen Strummer do. When asked why he went he said, “Because they asked me to.”. He, like Morrison, didn’t see declining such an invitation as a deadly blow to The Establishment, and that doing so would be a largely futile gesture.

    Similarly, the idea that you would quit your job in protest over the treatment of fellow employees 70 years ago implies that you don’t really ‘need’ that job to make ends meet, a mindset totally alien to someone who considers themselves working class. Morrison clearly regards Seigel and Shuster as fellow professionals and their business decisions, however badly they skewed in the end, as a bed they made for themselves so to speak. Some critics, the aforementioned Matt Senaca for example, describe Seigel and Shuster like borderline simpletons, unable to grasp the gravity or consequences of their decisions. Which position would you describe as more respectful to Seigel and Shuster?

    Fair point that Morrison doesn’t say the things you think he should based on your perception of his persona circa 10 years ago (letter columns, the Disinfo speech etc.), but this guy has made various (very public) point


  21. Sorry, posted early by accident… …made various (very public) pronouncements regarding the personas he’s adopted and the purposes he’s adopted them for. Seems the newest one is just more the ‘real’ him than maybe you’re used to.


  22. @Sarah Horrocks: The Playboy Interview: Grant Morrison.


  23. In Morrison’s Action Comics #9, an evil corporation buys a version of Superman from his creators and uses him for evil.

    Morrison did not take part in Before Watchmen, even though he’s had issues with Alan Moore before.

    Also, Morrison is leaving DC. Do you think it’s because of their treatment of Moore, or their concerns about his upcoming Wonder Woman comic–he wanted to use some ideas he said were left behind by her creator, which involved her creator’s bondage obsessions.


  24. Earlier in the interview, she writes: “Is it a slightly classist thing, I wonder, the idea that you can just drop your job at work as a protest?” (what?)

    To be fair to Sneddon, I think this is exactly the point that Matt Seneca and others make against Morrison’s non-fiction writing: Supergods promotes the dubious idea that Bill Finger, Jack Kirby and others were on an equal playing field with DC and Marvel because they could always quit and go elsewhere while the companies continued to make bank off their creations, and thus the companies’ exploitation of their creators was fully justified.

    This sort of muddled equivocation doesn’t hold up to the slightest scrutiny. Jack Kirby and his wife Roz vs. a large, lawyered-up publishing house, with the Kirby family trying desperately to get their hands on not even reproductions of Kirby’s creations or profits from them, but the original, physical work Kirby did for Marvel . . . that wasn’t a battle between equals, financially or otherwise. As the son of a union worker and organizer, Morrison knows this damn well and knows that the DC/Marvel argument doesn’t hold water.

    If Sneddon had pressed this exact point harder than other folks who interview Morrison, rather than letting Morrison give his standard dodgy response, the piece would have been far better journalism.


  25. David, once again you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head.


  26. The class element is weird and misplaced because on what planet is Morrison a working class hero? He’s probably the most secure dude working at DC. He doesn’t NEED DC. In fact, he’s leaving DC now because he’s “tired of doing superheroes” or whatever. That’s so working class. I know I can totally just leave my job because I’m “tired of it”. Meanwhile, he’s turning around and blasting on someone like Chris Roberson(if we are going to name names here, that’s who we are basically talking about) who left because he was considered with how DC treat creators NOW(Before Watchmen isn’t 30 years ago, it’s NOW. And if Alan freaking Moore can’t get treated with class–what chance do you have?). Roberson would seem to me to be making a judgement about his own career and the kind of ownership he wants over them. Morrison is just making a judgement on his random ass whims.

    And somehow Roberson is basically Mitt Romney, and Morrison is this working class hero?

    It’s really bizarre how 1) that’s an element of the discussion and then 2) that it has been framed in such a weird way.

    It’s funny because most comic creators outside DC’s walls are poor, not particularly well taken care of, but still doing the damn thing. Because they believe that much in what they are doing. You want working class heroes, those are the people to go interview. Not Grant freaking Morrison.

    I don’t have huge huge problems with Morrison–but don’t try to sell him to me as some sort of working class Jesus. It is offensive as hell. Like at this point he could relate in any way to struggling or maintaining a belief against impossible odds. Bleaugh.


  27. @Sarah Horrocks: Ben September explained this pretty well to me; did you read his post? Unless everything we’ve been told is a lie, Morrison grew up kind of poor and very much in a working class lifestyle, and that’s the kind of thing that informs how you react to money and jobs for a long time to come.

    It seems like a pretty straight line from that to saying that there’s no way he’d quit his job in protest.


  28. Just a couple of quick notes, because overall the reaction to this piece has been really great, but having it referred to as “gross” is a bit alarming.

    I think the class issue is a distinctly UK thing (this was written for the UK mainstream, and the left-wing mainstream at that), where your upbringing has a huge effect on your outlook on life. Classism in Britain is a big thing, and whether you end up a millionaire or not, working class origins are something you’re lumped with – for better or worse – by everyone else, and a deep-rooted part of the self.

    Most of what is written around Morrison’s quotes are things we alluded to but didn’t go into specifically – again, this is for a mainstream public audience who a) know little about comics, and b) probably haven’t read Supergods. Because I work in the mainstream press, where comics are regularly shat on if acknowledged at all, my shtick is to bring an enthusiasm about comics to a larger audience. Aside from that, I agree with Grant… but as a youngster, I’ve never seen him as an idol but always as a normal bloke from a few miles away.

    All of Grant’s quotes were given in full, with no editing or chopping or changing of his meaning. He had a look over the final draft himself :)

    Final note – this was the mainstream part of our interview, the more in-depth parts about Action, Batman, Happy, magick and so on will be published elsewhere in a couple of months.


  29. As both Ben and Laura have already said, the class stuff seems to play differently over here than it does in the US. It’s like… I’ve earned pretty much nothing for the past ten years and my parents have even less than me now because my dad’s been too sick to work for the same period of time, but I’m still middle class as fuck, while my pal Scott could earn ten times what I earn and still be a working class hero, being, as he is, a boy fae toonheed and the son of a shipbuilder.

    That said, the fact that Morrison comes from a working class background doesn’t wipe away all criticism of Morrison’s stance on the world of corporate comics. At best it’s a partial explanation rather than an excuse, and while it might seem particularly middle class of me to wish that Morrison would engage in some broader structural thinking about the exploitation of workers of *all* classes (coming this winter, BATMAN: FULL COMMUNISM!), I don’t feel any shame putting the idea out there.

    I’m right there with David B in terms of being burned out on Morrison the counter-culture hero, but I also wonder if it isn’t worth discussing whether the sort of radical individualism that Mozzer was always so quick to espouse in his interviews isn’t easily aligned with corporate interests? The idea that you can will your way to a whole new you isn’t difficult to square with the idea that buying the right clothes/cds/comics will help you on your journey, after all, and hey “If *I* can navigate that world of legal contracts successfully then obviously you can too, true believers!”

    As for the interview in question, well, I enjoyed it! It struck me as being a chat between two people who get on very well, and it’s probably not coincidental that it’s also the funniest and most relaxed Morrison interview I’ve read since that conversation he had with Brother Yawn way back when. It also seems like Morrison (not so much a hero to me now as a some guy who lives up the road and who has written some of my favourite comics) has decided to troll the internet a little here, and I can’t pretend that I don’t find that amusing too. Dude is now publically discussing the bowel movements of comics bloggers, you know?

    Speaking of which: while David’s point that interviews with comics pros are often quick to paint comics fans as inherently childish and irrational is well taken, I would suggest that no effort is required to make Matt Seneca’s book-eating protest sound like a babytown frolick. Whatever Matt’s intention, that little performance ended up being about him being a crazy guy more than anything else. Full disclosure: I’ve indulged in a fair bit of willy waving nonsense in my time, and the 80s model Grant Morrison was no stranger to this sort of behavior either, but when you start flinging shit around like that you can’t be surprised if people (whether they’re journalists, strangers at parties, or Big Beardy Alan Moore himself) end up thinking of you as just another gaping arsehole.


  30. @Laura Sneddon So, part of your defence for printing a hagiographic interview is that you gave your subject *quote approval* and let him see your ‘final draft’ before publication? And you are *proud* of this fact and offer it here as evidence of your *integrity*?? And you work for a mainstream publication — wow. Journalism really is dead.


  31. Hello David,

    I appreciate that you’re disappointed that Grant Morrison has ceased to be the hardcore counter-cultural icon you believed him to be and that he’s somewhat moved away from being (which is probably why most of the enduring counter-cultural icons all died young) but I’m trying to understand where this level of righteous anger toward GM comes from. I’ve read (and agreed with) a lot of your writing before but I’m not sure that your takedown of Laura is wholly justified. New Statesman is a leading British political magazine and they’ve *never* covered comics before – I think it’s a little ambitious to expect them to start exposing the industry’s dirty laundry before they’ve even got their readers to be interested in the medium.

    I’m all for creator rights, I’m aware of the suffering undergone by the creators of so many beloved comicbook characters, I’m aware that Marvel and DC are ultimately these soulless corporate intellectual property farming machines, but dude – do you seriously expect GM to turn around and bite off the hand that’s feeding him? He is (and has been doing for a long time) work for hire and I imagine that he’d at least want to run down his contract and finish his work there before burning the bridge.

    I’ve got to ask: do you buy any DC or Marvel comics? Been to any of their movies? Bought any merchandise? If you (or anyone else who’s critical of Morrison’s non-condemnation of DC) do then you’re hardly in a position to slam anyone who works for them, because you’re effectively paying their wages. (Please note: I’m not assuming that you do, it’s an honest question). I’m a staunch anti-capitalist yet I still have a job that pays better than minimum wage and buy things like comic books – because regardless of my principles I still have to live in the world and I’d rather not live like this—–> :negativeman:

    Maybe that makes me a fraud, a phony, a champagne (as if I could afford it lol) socialist… but we’re all compromised here.


  32. Oh don’t be silly.


  33. (That was to Laroquod btw)


  34. @Sarah Horrocks:

    Sarah… nobody is comparing Chris Roberson to Mitt Romney and nobody is calling Grant Morrison a “working class Jesus” (which is a redundant term anyway, because Jesus – as a carpenter – is already a working class Jesus).

    @Laroquod:

    Keep fighting the good fight, ye mighty keyboard warrior ye. :smugbert:

    So what comics are you buying at the moment? …or do you torrent them all, just to stick it to the man?

    @Illogical Volume:

    Sir, you talk sense.


  35. “New Statesman is a leading British political magazine and they’ve *never* covered comics before…”

    Don’t think that’s right actually. There was something on Action Comics and the Socialist Superman last year, wasn’t there?

    Hold on…

    Ah, yeah, here it is:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/helen-lewis-hasteley/2011/07/superheroes-superman-graphic


  36. See, also: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/helen-lewis-hasteley/2011/06/alan-moore-novel-jerusalem?quicktabs_most_read=0


  37. Journalistic principles are so silly. Look up ‘quote approval’ and you will see all the silly people talking about them. Why can’t they just stop with their crazy radical ways? Next they’ll be claiming that people who get free samples, free access, and other kickbacks on the products that they review can’t be objective — what loons.


  38. @Illogical Volume:

    Fair enough – clearly I got that wrong. Mea culpa. I’m still not 100% clear on how shoehorning in a whole creators rights campaign into an interview with GM beyond the one or two questions/mentions that it got is a priority though.

    From the way it’s discussed in some places you’d think that creator rights was the *only* subject worth mentioning in any discussion related to comics.


  39. @Laroquod:

    FIGHT THE POWER! :argh:

    WAKE UP SHEEPLE! LAURA IS A LIZARDQUEEN AND MORRISON IS THE LIZARDKING AND TOGETHER THEY WILL TRICK YOU INTO BUYING DC COMICS!!!


  40. Actually, I just checked that I hadn’t misinterpreted anything he’d said – particularly in light of the fact we discussed other interviews that had done so. The fact that I don’t put a spin on quotes that doesn’t match their original intention is something I’m proud of, yes, and I was addressing a comment that specifically questioned whether I had changed Morrison’s meaning.

    The Alan Moore interview you link to, Illogical Volume, is a great one! It got a fair bit of stick as well it seems, so hopefully the NS will continue to keep publishing comics material.


  41. @Ed A. In answer to your clearly irrelevant question, I have neither bought nor torrented anything produced by Marvel or DC for many years. I have read some of it however.


  42. @Laura Sneddon Possibly the most disingenuous explanation for showing a subject of an interview your final draft I have seen. You value accuracy to your subject’s wishes more than your critical distance. Showing the subject of your interview your entire final draft is simply not done in respectable circles — at least, it didn’t *used* to be. And if it ever was done, I’m sure that nobody ever admitted with pride as an example of their integrity.


  43. Critical distance, really? I’m not trying to catch anyone out or get them to slip up when I talk to them, that’s not my deal. If I’m unsure about content then yes, I check. Other people can focus on the negative if they like in their own interviews and they’re welcome, but dismissing my integrity, is bizarre.

    That said, I prefer to deal with such personal disagreements face to face, so do make sure to say hello if we ever meet.


  44. @Laroquod

    So did this key element of journalistic integrity used to get done or not? You seem both very sure and uncertain in the same sentence.


  45. This went crazy after I went to sleep. Let me try and go down the line:

    @stavner: I don’t buy the ignorance thing at all, honestly — Morrison’s a smart and well-read dude, always has been, and he just did a book on the history of comics. He knows his comics biz, I’d wager.

    @Ben: THANK you. That’s a tremendously useful explanation. I remember being caught flat-footed watching a newscast a few months back where some guy poked fun at a lady for going to public school and being like “Why is he saying ‘public school’ like she went to Harvard or something?”

    I disagree with your point about quitting your job and who respects S&S more, however. It’s not about something that happened 70 years ago. It’s about something that happened 70 years ago and is still happening, from Siegel and Shuster to Moore to McDuffie to Roberson and more. It’s not about S&S so much as it is about creators’ rights, period.

    I also don’t buy the false dichotomy between Morrison’s condescending approach to S&S and some guy I never met’s equally condescending approach. Neither position is respectful. I, and most other people I’ve seen talk about this subject, come down on the side of Siegel & Shuster entered into an agreement in good faith, were repeatedly taken advantage of as a result of that good faith, and that DC should have done more to compensate the people who created their star character.

    @stavner: I think he’s leaving DC — though leaving is a funny word to use when you still have something like a year and a half’s worth of comics left to publish over the next year — for the reasons he says he is: he feels like he’s said all he can, or enough, with capes, so now he’s going to do something else.

    @Laura Sneddon: Why is gross alarming? That feels like a strong reaction to a word that basically means “unpleasant.” But this isn’t the first time someone from the UK has seized on my use of that particular word as a sticking point, or flashpoint, in an argument. Once is luck, twice is a trend, so something is clearly going on here. What am I missing? Is there a subtext to gross that’s UK-specific?

    As I mention in the post, it’s great that you like Morrison and great that you have this platform to share your enthusiasm. I can relate — the first comic I ever felt led to write about in essay form was Morrison & McGuinness’s JLA Classified #1, and that directly led to me creating this site. I don’t begrudge you that at all, believe me. But my specific problem, the thing I talk about in the post, is how you paint all of Morrison’s critics with a wide and ugly brush so that Morrison comes out of the conversation looking like, if not a martyr, at least squeaky clean and innocent in comparison.

    We had a conversation on Twitter yesterday, and you said that the piece was about entitlement, not all critics. The problem is that the word entitlement only appears in the subheadline, I believe, never in the post itself. You never make the distinction between the entitled fans from Crazytowne and the people who have legitimate, or at least non-crazy, concerns. But you do talk about actual critics, the people who are saddened or disappointed by Morrison’s public comments, in the same figurative breath as people who burn and eat a comic or denounce Morrison on TV. That creates a picture where all the criticism is invalid on account of being from Crazytowne, not a well-reasoned place. It makes the opposition to Morrison (“opposition to Morrison” sounds way more serious than it actually is, pardon the turn of phrase) look stupid and worse, and by extension, makes Morrison look just that much better. He’s a poor beleaguered writer, something you definitely imply in the post, beset on all sides by fans who want to burn down the temple.

    That’s my problem. Not your enthusiasm, or how you cut the interview, or any of that nonsense. It is the approach, the way that you minimize concerns in order to make Morrison look better, that is my problem. All that other stuff is fine, from the fun tone of the interview to how you formatted it. Sorta reminded me of a documentary in approach, honestly, where a host provides context between sound bites.

    @Illogical Volume: I’d be interested in conversation about how GMo’s individualism can play nice with corporatism, particularly from an underdog’s POV. “The plucky little guy who beat the man, and then joined the man.” (Though I guess that’s maybe more Jim Lee?)

    And sure, Seneca eating the book or whatever is dumb, I agree. Performance as book review/comedy routine, maybe. But why is that the main touchstone for criticism? “Isn’t it crazy how all your fans suddenly turned rabid, like the guy who burnt and ate a book?” is nuts to me, because it doesn’t even remotely reflect reality. Most of the people I’ve seen discussing Morrison lately have been similar to you or me — “Man, this new info is difficult to square with who I thought he was, and that’s hard to swallow.” I’m not over here eating a book, neither are most people who are varying shades of mad/sad at/about Morrison.

    I get why Seneca is the focus. It was outrageous and outlandish and a perfect attention-getter. It’s memorable. But it bums me out that when someone actually addresses Morrison’s detractors in print, it’s about that guy, and not anyone who has been more reasonable. And really, it’s not even about what Seneca said, either — he did a long post on Morrison right before that happened, I think.

    @Laroquod: Chill out and back down.

    @Ed A.: I’m not sure I’d ever call him a hardcore countercultural icon, and I’m not sure where my righteous anger is, either.

    Honestly, I’m not at all sure where you’re coming from. Nothing in my post suggests that I wanted Sneddon’s interview to be some type of anti-corporate polemic. Absolutely nothing. I wanted it to be more balanced, if anything, or at least not quite so tilted in one direction. Creators’ rights are a part of that, but they aren’t the end-all, be-all. Sneddon is, and should be, free to talk about whatever she wants. I already know where Morrison stands. I’m not going to dictate to her a recipe for an interview — 3 parts creators’ rights to 1 part fluff to 2 parts minced jokes. That’d be ridiculous. I’m taking issue with a very specific thing.

    How is “I don’t like this approach” and “It’s silly that Morrison doesn’t want to be taken seriously after spending years encouraging/allowing us to take him seriously” a takedown?

    I don’t buy Marvel or DC comics, movies, games, etc etc. At any rate, you can take part in a system and still criticize it (see also labor protests), so even if I did, I’d still be perfectly justified in talking about what they do wrong.

    @Ed A.: You’re utterly misrepresenting my position here.

    @Ed A.: No more of this, either.


  46. Cheers for expanding a little there David – I think perhaps our difference of opinion on it lies with it being just part of the overall interview? Creator rights wasn’t really a main focus, other than to address the fact that GM doesn’t see his opinion on things like that as a main focus (at least in my view, I can’t speak for him!). If that makes sense. I can understand people who are more interested in that then being disappointed we didn’t talk about it, but it was more for the sake of talking about other things than a deliberate desire to sweep it under any rug. (Confession, I had no idea about the person who ate part of Supergods until the interview so my surprise was genuine!)

    I was actually expecting more of the criticism to come with the Wonder Woman bit… albeit not in comments on the actual NS site.

    Regarding “gross”, in Scotland at least it’s used to mean “disgusting” rather than “unpleasant”. “Gross!” is a standard response to someone throwing up, or a public toilet covered in crap. At a stretch, perhaps something a particularly odious politician comes out with.

    So yes, I probably took that as more of a personal slight than was intended!


  47. […] Brothers has tackled Morrison’s hypocrisy over at 4th Letter, but I’d like to approach this from a slightly different angle. I think Morrison’s heel […]


  48. Perhaps if you started dealing with people and not personas you’d like them more, David. You had a fantastic opportunity to do exactly that last year when I invited you in to the Isotope to meet Grant. Even though the publisher asked that we sell a copy of SUPERGODS to all attendees, I even offered you free admission and a personal introduction so you could see who the guy actually is for yourself. You declined. (shrugs) To me this article would carry a lot more weight if you hadn’t.


  49. @Laura Sneddon:

    Because I work in the mainstream press, where comics are regularly shat on if acknowledged at all, my shtick is to bring an enthusiasm about comics to a larger audience.

    And you do your mainstream readers a disservice by glossing over the corporate/creator politics that afflict these comics and characters. People will understand these concepts. Don’t go to bat for your interviewee if you don’t even want to explain what he’s arguing for or against.


  50. Just to briefly address the hullabaloo with Morrison’s public persona, specifically the part about “people paying attention to, falling in love with, and believing his words”. Personally i’ve never really felt that way about Morrison, or at least not quite in the same way a lot of people do. I think he defined how i approach his persona from his performance at the Disinfo Con, while spinning yarns about aliens/magic/the individual etc, he said something along the lines of “you don’t have to believe it, i’m just setting the story……this may not be true, these are just some ideas that you might find useful or might be able to put your own spin on”.

    It’s like before i read anything he’s said i tell myself “ok the disinfo con never ended and we’re all still trapped in the audience and life is nothing more than a series of posts and responses in the invisibles letters page” and the product of this, his ideas, some of which make sense to me and i get something out of, some of which i don’t feel at all. I don’t take anything the public Morrison says as a truth he even necessarily fully believes himself, but rather simply his take on ‘Grant’s current flurry of ideas for the day’.

    Like he talks about the idea of multiple personality disorder and of there being not just one person inside your head but hundreds – i’ve kind of used that as almost a disclaimer when consuming the Grant Morrison spiel. Never really had a definite preconceived notion about exactly who he is or what he represents, cos it’s all over the shop, but i take what i will out of it and discard the rest.

    I realise that can seem like an awfully wishy washy flip floppy approach to take, and i don’t necessarily deal with all writers that way, but taking in everything i’ve read of his, and the persona(s) he’s presented to the public, i’ve never felt the need to nail down the public Morrison persona. In that sense i’ve never felt let down by his actions because i could never get emotionally invested in a specific idea of what he represents, and i’ve enjoyed most of his work separate from that.

    I don’t think that really contributes much to the issues you guys are talking about, but anyway just my own personal feelings on the Morrison persona.


  51. @James Sime: I remember the invite and I remember turning it down. I don’t remember the exact reason, but looking at my emails from around that time, I definitely ended up working that weekend. So it wasn’t like I just ditched the party for no reason or because I hated Morrison (I didn’t, I don’t). I didn’t go to the party because I legitimately couldn’t make it.

    But that’s beside the point. Whether or not I met the guy at a signing is irrelevant. Meeting him wouldn’t change the fact that we disagree on a few subjects that I’ve grown to care about. My entire problem, which I thought I made plain, is that I thought he was one type of person, an impression that I got from his interviews, comics, letters, speeches, and so on. His more recent interviews have shown that he’s not who I thought he was, and that’s my sticking point.

    Even if I met Morrison in person, I’m still meeting his public persona. I don’t have any choice but to interact or not interact with his public persona, because that is all I see. I specifically started talking about his public persona to separate it from the fact that I don’t, and can’t, know him personally, so I have no business judging him personally. That’s why I say and said public persona, because that’s all I have to go on.


  52. @James Sime:

    I realize David Brothers has already responded and his response stands on its own, but from a reader’s perspective: if a personal meeting with Morrison at Isotope had changed how Brothers wrote about Morrison’s statements regarding the creators of Superman (even though Grant’s own views hadn’t changed) and David’s readers found that out, do you think we as David’s readers would trust him more? Or might we trust him less? Do you think there is value in critics having distance from the industry?

    What would Grant have supposedly said to David to change his mind about what’s written here? Has Morrison said or done anything that would suggest he holds views any different from those he’s already explained at great length – the length of a chapter in a recent, full-length book? Morrison’s own statements in the interview quoted above merely express frustration that people have taken him at his own word, followed by insults leveled at those who responded to his arguments in what he knew to be an ongoing, decades-long debate that Morrison entered very late in the game (“people just want to be mad and fight all the time”). I don’t see how meeting with Morrison would have changed anything Brothers wrote above if that is what Morrison has to say on the matter nowadays.

    Speaking for myself, which is all I am really qualified to do, it’s immensely frustrating for me as a reader, as someone who owns nearly everything Grant’s written over the last thirty years, that Morrison makes what he knows to be incendiary statements in his book – again, entering into a debate that has gone on longer than he has been in comics and involves millions of dollars in royalties – and then blames readers when they respond to his arguments, as though the debate had been invented by people responding to his book. “[N]aw, it just proves I said something that day, you know, which either I still agree with or don’t” is about as pleasant and reasoned a response as “I was just joking and they can’t take a joke” or “they were asking for it”. It’s furious backpedaling to avoid accountability. If Morrison now believes that he was wrong on certain points in Supergods, he should just say so.


  53. That’s where we differ, I guess. To me meeting a person and having an actual conversation with them is *more* relevant to my opinions of them than what I may read in an interview or see online. If I want to know what people think, I’ll ask them instead of assuming what I read encapsulated their entire opinion on a subject. I actually learn a lot from talking with people who I don’t always agree with. And on occasion, I’ve had my opinion changed by having those conversations.

    And hey, I think we can all agree that sometimes good folks can be pretty easy to dislike on the internet. For example, I like both Grant and you a lot more in real life than I do online. And you’d both probably say the same about me. (laugh)!


  54. @James Sime: While there’s something to be said for engaging in conversation with people, your supposition that those are “more relevant” than what they say in any other format is patently ridiculous. When it comes to public figures, what they say publicly is going to be all most people ever know of their worldviews. So, Morrison’s statements regarding Siegel and Shuster, both in Supergods and in interviews he’s given (and apparently gets approval over) are just as relevant because they are coming from the same source. It all matters, no matter how much you don’t want it to.


  55. @Andrew – Hey, if you feel you can get a clearer picture of someone’s full thoughts on a subject from rading interviews and a book than from having a face-to-face discussion with them, more power to you! Personally I’d rather look in a person’s eyes and ask any questions I’d like answered, myself. While that might not be more relevant for you when forming your opinions of a person, it actually is more relevant to me. To each their own.


  56. @James Sime: Not what I said, dude. Not even close.


  57. @James Sime:

    Again, just speaking voluminously for myself: I’m not talking about things Morrison said off-the-cuff in an interview as much as I am talking about things he explicated in detail, across an entire chapter of a book that he wrote. It might be enlightening to have a conversation with him, but have his views changed in the particulars or in general?

    It’s a serious question, not a snide one, and I know it’s a question for him and not you, but if his views have changed, interviews like Sneddon’s would be a great venue for him to explain how and why. I’m not “entitled” to that, but it’s one way for him to reach the readers who don’t get offers to talk shop with him in person. Maybe we’ll hear more details from him later.

    I’m glad that he’s going elsewhere from superheroes. I respect and agree with his stated reasons for doing so – there are some serious limits as to what one can do on that playground and many of his readers have already moved on from it – and I also hope (and do believe) that there has been a bit of his conscience pricking him over how creators and their families have been treated in that corner of culture.

    I think that overall, he seems a good guy who respects his roots and knows that workers fight uphill to get recognition and rights beyond just being numbers in the market, in any industry. I think that tucked away in that chapter on comics fans were some good points about how some readers do inevitably fit stereotypes, about how anyone from outside the scene will be struck dumb by some of the behavior they encounter, but also how that doesn’t make the stereotypes valuable or positive. And I guess I am a poptimist: even though superheroes can be limiting, their expansive appeal speaks to the power of fantasy to affect reality, for the good if we’ll let it.

    I also think a lot of his fans would be relieved and glad to hear if his views have evolved over the last year based on his work and maybe even some of the feedback he’s gotten from his book. No one I know would consider him a hypocrite or a coward if he said, “I wrote this in Supergods, when I was coming at it from such and such a point of view, but I’ve been thinking about it and . . . ” It’s exactly the opposite – we expect him to change and keep changing. He’s never been a stickler or in denial about when he’s changed his mind, and I don’t think his long-time readers are at all the sort of people who value consistency of opinion over honesty of opinion.

    I know he’s still got stuff working its way through DC and we may not hear exactly what he thinks for a while if it’s anything that could be read as challenging the marketing department of the people holding his work, and I don’t blame him for that if it’s the case. I really get that part of his interview. You get paid if you can. No one I know is telling him to quit comics, or quit mainstream or DC Comics or become exclusively self-published to achieve maximum moral purity. I’m glad he’s still working, and the very day before the New Statesman interview went up, the dread Matt Seneca put up his own Emma Frost and complimented Morrison for making her into a character he wanted to draw. Lions with the lambs.


  58. @Don – Honestly, you’d have to ask Grant about all of that. I agree that it would make an interesting article and think David would have been a great guy to ask him about that kind of stuff, but for whatever reason he chose not to. (shrugs)! Fortunately Grant is going to be at a couple conventions this year and I’m sure more next year… in my experience he’s always been very open to answering people’s questions and sharing his thoughts further when asked.


  59. I stopped caring so much about Grant Morrison a few years ago when I realized that this was a 60ish-year-old man who seriously – SERIOUSLY – believed that everyone should look up to superheroes for pragmatic inspiration in their daily lives. The notion is just absurd. I don’t need to look up to Superman to anywhere near that level. Because I’m not a child anymore. Growing up doesn’t mean taking a crap on your childhood and dismissing comics as childish, but it does mean… well… growing up and not being an eternal sucker for every whimsical flight of fancy that is offered to you (sometimes by a corporation, sometimes by a political party).

    But Morrison never had to grow up. Because he became a rich celebrity based precisely on the notion that he could turn his corporate-owned childhood idols into pseudo-intellectual gold.

    Supergods was embarrassing as hell for me to read.

    He’s still a great writer of fiction, but I can’t take him very seriously anymore.

    Because I’ve grown up.

    Also, his notions of “class” are all conflated and misconstrued. Especially since “middle-class” in America is a far different thing from “middle-class” in Britain. But even then, it seems as though all of Morrison’s socio-political reference points begin and end with British Leftist talking points circa 1982.


  60. I just want to say a couple more things, having thought about this situation a whole lot today. There are a lot of balls in the air, and I want to try and clarify my position before tapping out completely.

    This post is about three things: Sneddon’s slanted approach, Morrison’s wish for people to not take what he says seriously, and my own disagreement with a few opinions that he holds, with a minor focus on the subject of whether or not DC Comics has made a habit of screwing creators in the comments. Expanding on those points for clarity’s sake:

    The approach: I think that painting Morrison’s critics with a broad brush is a mistake, and incredibly unfair when used to make Morrison look flawless in the face of tumultuous and insane fandom. I’m not dogging Sneddon’s enthusiasm or trying to take her down a notch, as people implied or said upthread. I have one specific problem and I expressed it. I also don’t think that the entire interview should have been a creators’ rights polemic, or hostile, or whatever other nonsense. I was very specific about my problems with Sneddon’s approach for that exact reason.

    Briefly expanding on those points:

    The wish: Morrison is a man who has constructed a career out of getting people to listen to him, whether via jerking off to save the Invisibles or giving speech to a packed crowd (I assume, anyway, the videos make it look pretty full) at Disinfocon. Supergods, the excerpts of Pop Mag!c that he’s posted, all of that are things that he wants us to pay attention to. For him to now say that nothing he says means anything, that he’s nobody, now that people are disagreeing with him is absurd.

    The disagreement: It is what it is. We differ, and that’s not a problem so much as something I have to come to terms with (already have come to terms with, actually). The mental image of Morrison that I had built up from his comics, interviews, books, essays, and so on led me to believe that we’d agree on that subject — I was wrong, and that’s on me. I was also wrong about Frank Miller’s politics, post-9/11. Big deal. Morrison doesn’t have to agree with me on anything and I don’t expect him to magically change his position just because some guy on the internet doesn’t like what he said.

    @James Sime: I feel like you’re criticizing me for a position I don’t hold and never expressed, which I don’t like at all. I didn’t miss the Morrison party for “whatever reason” — I missed it because I was working. There’s no hidden reason or malice there.

    Besides that, meeting Morrison for a conversation is entirely beside the point. I didn’t magically come to my position that he’s not who I thought he was. I got the information directly from the man’s interviews, which granted, were guided by a third party, and his book Supergods, which is explicitly his take on his relationship to comics and comics history. We’re not going to have some magic conversation where I see the light and come around to his side or vice versa. And this:

    “if you feel you can get a clearer picture of someone’s full thoughts on a subject from rading interviews and a book than from having a face-to-face discussion with them”

    I already know we disagree, from his own mouth. He’s already expressed his thoughts and expanded upon them, several times, and that’s why I feel the way I do. He wrote a book about it! I even own a copy, though I don’t remember where I put it exactly. It’s not like he’s been taken out of context and misquoted. I’m looking at his words and making a judgment from there.

    If someone read 4l! and was like “Well this guy David believes really strongly in _______”, that’s fine. That’s why I talk in public and sign my government name to everything I touch. You’re supposed to take what people say at face value, as something they actually believe. The opposite is just assuming that everyone’s a liar, and I cannot live like that. I’d kill myself.

    I’m not going at him or axe grinding. I’m not chasing him all over the internet, ranting and raving. I’m remarking on a recent interview and pointing out where and why I disagree and why I feel weird about that. It’s not even a hit piece or takedown. It’s just “I don’t like this, this makes me uncomfortable, and here’s why I feel uncomfortable.”

    So I don’t understand at all why my not meeting Morrison last year at a book signing somehow invalidates that feeling.


  61. I don’t think he had to be lying then and telling the truth here exactly. People change…and time will take you on, as somebody said.


  62. “The wish: Morrison is a man who has constructed a career out of getting people to listen to him, whether via jerking off to save the Invisibles or giving speech to a packed crowd (I assume, anyway, the videos make it look pretty full) at Disinfocon. Supergods, the excerpts of Pop Mag!c that he’s posted, all of that are things that he wants us to pay attention to. For him to now say that nothing he says means anything, that he’s nobody, now that people are disagreeing with him is absurd.”

    Has he really constructed a career out of getting people to listen to him? What has he done that’s all that different than what most creators do in order get their books talked about? For that matter, excerpts from his books are generally released by his publishers or PR people.

    Again, I’m basing this on my own experiences. Nothing at all about the Q&A I went to indicated that he was trying to control the narrative that existed about him. In fact, more often than not he left it up to the audience. I mean, literally, someone would ask him a question about something that happened off panel and he would tell them that it was up to them.

    I think there’s a difference between a guy getting interviewed a lot and a guy constructing a career around it. Hell, you’d think he’d be more active on social media if that was his intent, yet his almost completely absent.


  63. @DanS:
    Don’t think Morrison ever said we need to look up to superheroes. He’s reiterated it only in so many interviews and actually said it to me in person, superheroes are there to be looked up to. Looking up to them, regardless of age, isn’t absurd at all. It’s a choice, maybe an unconscious one for most, perhaps a problematic one when this becomes the idolized hero rather than inspiring…but absurd is your take on something that doesn’t come to you. Like saying playing golf is absurd, etc., etc.

    Regardless, I’ve gotta say I’m genuinely surprised at the number of level comments on the thread. Usually this number of comments means a flamewar’s going on. I can’t add much besides agreeing with Mr. Brothers. As for me, the disillusion is with a proven powerhouse writer who not only has profited from the costumed hero comix icons (who didn’t appear out of thin air) but has written them so powerfully, so truthfully, and so ingeniously, that seeing him resort to the freelance stick brings an understandable jolt of dissonance. If Morrison wants us to look up to these superheroes–heroes compromised time and again especially by the corporate interests and shodden writers animating them, heroes that more times than not behave like artificial compromises, having all the depth of the term “intellectual property”–because they are beacons of not only how we should value one another but how we should move forward in this fucked up world, then I don’t think it unfair to ask him to start by paying respect to the masters who were fucked over. It isn’t even like these are masters from another field; they are the ground on which he’s built his career.

    Again, the article doesn’t have to be about that. Then as Brothers hit, don’t bring critix up. Were the actual challenges even quoted let alone addressed?


  64. Forgot to add on the disappointing from many of us, besides his lackadasic wish that his comments weren’t held up to as much scrutiny, which I can understand but it is a position he’s exploited again for his career, most of us thought Morrison would be the first to stand up and put mainstream comix in their place for their sins. I know I’ve thought, if Morrison champion of the superhero doesn’t see it a priority to address the stakes of the superhero insofar the crimes they come from (and for the snarky, I don’t believe crime is all defined by litigation), then what hope would there be for the rest of the schmux that run let alone consume this sometimes art more often, infuriating superhero genre, we love?

    them my two cents


  65. @Ed A.: To be fair, she is right, journalistic integrity is dead (It may never have existed to be fair), using dumb statements like “fight the power” just make you look silly in comparison to fair points.


  66. Not trying to be insulting, but you all are being unfairly dismissive without much of a reason, as you are presenting a decent counter-argument.


  67. @David – I am definitely not trying to invalidate anyone’s feelings here. I am sorry if you feel I was.

    I simply expressed I thought if you dealt with people and not personas you’d probably like them more. Humans are complex creatures and usually have many contradictory opinions even within themselves. Sometimes people *do* say things willy-nilly, which is why I think you can get a clearer picture of someone’s full thoughts on a subject by actually asking them.

    Last year you told me you were confused about where the guy stood on several points as things you’d been reading were contradictory. I told you “I think he’s a nice, thoughtful person. Instead of forming your opinion on who he is from interviews, you should just ask him yourself” and provided you the opportunity to do so. You didn’t say you were working, you said “not interested” and that’s cool. I have no investment either way in how you feel about Morrison.

    Just my opinion here, but I do think this article would carry a lot more weight if you’d actually asked the guy about the stuff you were confused about. Who knows, maybe some good human interaction would have opened up his (or your) eyes to another person’s perspective! And maybe it might make for more thoughtful articles than simply dissecting something found written elsewhere. But that’s also all just my opinion.

    Whatever… I like both you guys. My apologies if I ruined your day, man.


  68. @James Sime: Fair enough. I’d searched CA/here/work to see what I could’ve been doing to miss that party that weekend and found several meaty projects in progress and figured that must’ve been it. I even found a complimentary post about Morrison a week prior to the party, so I don’t think I had already burned out on him. My bad there.


  69. Opinions and beliefs change and evolve all the time. People are allowed to revise what think about anything. Just because he says ‘this’ one day, doesn’t mean it can’t be ‘that’ the next. You hold a guy who writes well to some mental standard that no one can follow.

    Read his stories and leave it at that. He could say that kittens need to be dipped in BBQ sauce and eaten alive; that doesn’t change whether or not you enjoy his work.

    Also, you rant about this shanty journalist yet you make ‘false quotes’ with the tag, ‘he’s essentially saying’. That’s junk journalism on your part.

    The great thing about Morrison is he’s saying ‘who cares what I think’. You on the other hand are saying ‘What I think is truth!’. Bleh.


  70. David, I respect your writing and your opinions a ton, but there’s so much projection in here about what Morrison is supposed to be based on your past experiences with his work and his interviews. Work and interviews which can only ever give you a tiny little slice into the complexity of this whole other person who lives and will die and has a mum and takes a s#*t every day, just like you & me.

    I also learned a lot about life from Morrison’s writing (lately I just learn a lot about writing superhero comics from him and have a laugh when he does stuff like Action Comics #9) and those lessons aren’t automatically negated the moment he says something I disagree with. He’s an entire other person with his own stuff going on in his life: we were bound to disagree on some things. What we’re (supposedly) disagreeing on in this case is something I feel immensely passionate about (the Siegel&Shuster/creator rights issue), but nothing Morrison says will change the past, and his seeming support of a life where you accept what responsibility you can for the things you do and then carry on trying to survive doesn’t sound all that negative. It’s just something I disagree with when it comes to Siegel/Shuster/Kirby and the like.

    And we’ve actually watched this belief system and persona he touts now evolve in his work. The Morrison from a decade ago wore leather and screamed into the microphone at DisInfoCon. The Morrison we’ve seen since put on a suit and moved on to corporate endeavors as a matter of survival; working within the system because he started to see its functional role in his life, as opposed to fighting against an invisible villain that’s operating on a scale far beyond our reckoning. New X-Men had these ideas of settling into your role in order to reap slower but more effective change. Batman Incorporated is all about that idea given a more radical spin. It’s the same guy. He’s just gotten older and started to see things from a new perspective.

    We can read his interviews. We can agree with him. We can disagree with him. But we can’t blame him for saying what he’s saying. He’s just another guy like you or me. If we really care about this stuff, we don’t have time to yell at other people for not saying what we’re saying. We should just focus on saying what it is we want to.


  71. Just to say, David, I pretty much agree with everything you have to say here. It’s so frustrating when actual criticism is conflated with rabid disgruntled fanboyism. And of course Morrison wants people to listen to him. You don’t write Supergods, The Invisibles or The Filth unless you think you’ve got something (read: A LOT) to say.


  72. As has been pointed out here, it appears from the latest round of chatter that Morrison – who wrote a book in no small part exhorting people to emulate superheroes – chooses to describe his own relationship with his past statements much as he has for 20+ years described the Joker as treating his own past statements, actions, and here today, gone tomorrow personalities.

    The Joker isn’t a superhero, he’s a superwhat-is-it-again?

    This is telling because out here in the real world people are held to account for the things they say, do, and print in black and white. Morrison’s apparent belief that such simple, common standards oughtn’t apply to him betrays a level of social maturity that’s generally* been overtaken by that of his aging readership.

    *Not universally of course. To quote a chum, ‘We’re exactly what the Nazis were against… hey, let’s burn some books!’


  73. @david brothers:

    I apologise for misrepresenting you – after reading your follow up comments it’s clear I’ve misunderstood the thrust of your criticisms, which are directed towards Morrison’s dismissal of critics as rabid fanboys and his similarly dismissive attitude to the rights of Siegel, Schuster et al. I read the interview to mean that he doesn’t like people taking quotes and exaggerating them or removing from context for the sake of making “batman is gay” headlines – without re-reading the interview I’m going to have to take your word for it.

    I also sincerely regret using language such as “takedown” – a post hammered out at speed on a lunchbreak like that does tend towards hyperbole but that’s no excuse. Similarly I don’t want to suggest that you’d be in no position to criticise if you bought a DC comic as much as I wanted to raise the point that “it’s generally a bad idea to slag off the guy who’s cutting you your freelance cheques” and “if you really want to stand against them, don’t buy them” – an easier option for us as consumers than for anyone who’s hired by them.

    I’m also sorry for lowering the tone with the FIGHT THE POWER/David Icke reference comment, though I couldn’t honestly say I’m sorry for the sentiment behind it. It’s directed towards the misguided position that laruqod appears to have taken which says Laura’s interview is supposed to be either a) hostile, b) representing his specific point of view, or C) Frost/Nixon, in order to qualify as ‘good’ journalism. What with the banner of ‘objective journalism’* being – for the most part – a marketing tool invented by the big press conglomerates and all…

    *note: I don’t mean to say that there’s no difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ journalism. There clearly is. Naming of sources, openness, truth to power, etc, etc.

    @charlesthehammer:

    That’s because I AM silly. I’m a very silly person by nature. Except for the few times when I’m not… an example of which can be seen in my reply to DB above /|\.


  74. Oddly enough, this Atlantic piece on Kanye’s new Good Music compilation reminded me of Morrison:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/09/kanye-wests-prosperity-gospel/262502/

    There might be something to comparing West and Morrison: they’re both geeks who have refashioned themselves as pop/art demigods, but there’s something a little limiting in their ideology of self-actualization through material success. But that might be a discussion for another thread.

    What I’d like to talk about is that I think Illogical Volume is onto something: Morrison’s self-improvement dictum has always been troublingly compatible with capitalism and its excesses. At it’s core, it’s not entirely different the kind of pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps ideology that we’re struggling to see past in America right now: the kind that says, “if you’re smart and work hard and approach your problems creatively and honestly and ruthlessly, you too can become King Mob or Bruce Wayne.” That’s plenty inspiring, and it’s helped me deal with some stuff myself, but which doesn’t have a lot to offer people screwed over by the system.

    “Become a real man! Gamble a stamp!” That sounds great, Flex, but what if I can’t spare the quarter?


  75. […] particularly for someone who has made so much of his career out of being an ideologue; and, as David Brothers picks up on, he performs a couple of nasty rhetorical tricks to minimise what is in fact real […]


  76. […] former Grant Morrison fans, I’m over him. There’s a nice piece by David Brothers about the writer’s conflicting public personas here, but while I admit that interviews with him irritate me it’s the decline in the writing that […]


  77. Surely the better comparison is Morrison and Jay-Z, not Kanye. “CEO flow”, become the boss/standard, etc. I think there’s a lot of inter-connectivity between the two that could be mined given their trajectories and current status in their respective fields.

    I find the fixation on the internet/interview persona fascinating being an international resident (not American). Is this because of easier access to the comics pros at conventions, signings and the like for the American fans which leads to an over familiarity with the creator compared to international fans who don’t have that same access?


  78. […] Anyway, the fact that Marvel have made approximately seventy trillion dollars off of a bunch of characters created by Jack Kirby and pals while DC have been trying to sell cold chicken nuggets by claiming that they came fresh from The Beard’s own steakhouse has put creators rights issues squarely at the centre of the superhero conversation, and one of the many people who has caught the sharp end of this conversation has been Grant Morrison, whose comments on the Siegel and Shuster lawsuit both in and around his book Supergods brought him directly into the verbal firing line. […]


  79. @Mike: People changing their minds is fine and dandy, but usually if you advocate a position with any degree of passion and then completely backpedal on it, it’s reasonable to assume there’s a reason for that, and declining to provide one or take responsibility for those past statements is silly. Pointing out that someone’s statements seem to contradict themselves isn’t some disingenuous “gotcha” approach to communication, it’s the very basis of understanding people’s worldviews and a big part of what journalism tends to be.

    If someone changes their mind, I want to know why, and if their answer is that I’m an idiot for putting any weight to their previous statements, it doesn’t make me want to hear whatever they have to say next.