By Andrew Fraley
It’s hard to believe that the man responsible for such mind-bending comics as Arkham Asylum, The Filth, We3 and The Invisibles could be anything short of completely mad. This is what I had in mind as I eagerly awaited Grant Morrison’s spotlight panel at the New York Comic Con last Saturday, April 19. The room had completely filled following Orson Scott Card’s panel, and most of them were extremely devoted fans. The few that weren’t part of Morrison’s loyal fan base were Avatar: The Last Airbender devotees trying to get a good seat for the next panel, the preview of Avatar’s upcoming final episodes. In trying to explain who Grant Morrison was to a curious Avatar enthusiast, I compared him to Alan Moore. This earned me a disapproving headshake from one of Morrison’s more ardent followers. “No way,” he says, “not even close. Warren Ellis, maybe, but Alan Moore? Not a chance.” This fervent devotion of Morrison’s admirers was very unnerving, and I made a mental note to read more of Grant Morrison’s work before I go making my outrageous, unbacked claims. I tried to cover my tracks by saying that I was making a biographical comparison, not a comparison of their work, and that Alan Moore is household name and easier point of reference. But it was too late; Grant Morrison had finally arrived.
The panel started with a slideshow introduction to Grant Morrison. The panel’s host read a written statement by Morrison regarding his life’s work as the slideshow played out behind. The slideshow included a fictitious book called Grant Morrison’s International Guide to Living Fabulously, recurring pictures of Grant in messianic poses and some of the more notable art spanning his career. When it was Grant’s turn to speak, he yelled, “Give me some sugar, I am your neighbor!” Then he went immediately into questions. Many of the questions were about his upcoming project, Final Crisis, the last of DC Comic’s “crisis” series. Illustrated by J.G. Jones (Wanted, Marvel Boy), it will be seven issues which Morrison has described as “the Lord of the Rings of the DC universe.” Being the prolific comic writer that he is, however, many questions were about his well-established canon. One fan asked if Seaguy was a superhero or a detective, to which Morrison responded in his wonderful Scottish accent, “He’s just a guy. Just imagine if you dressed up in a scuba suit, you would be Seaguy.” He handled the crowd and their questions very well. When asked about his non-existent book, he laughingly described a fabulous time he had at a San Francisco rave in 2006. Someone asked him to explain the ending of his metaphorical opus, The Invisibles. “I’ve read the seventh chapter multiple times,” said the fan “and I haven’t the slightest idea what happens.” Morrison laughed as he replied, “Yes you have. The events and everything in that book, that’s what happens.” He had a fun time with his fans, and they enjoyed it. Even at the autograph table, he was amiable with his fans, and appreciated their admiration.
I left his panel puzzled. I came in expecting a totally bizarre and eccentric recluse, a reflection of his more frightening characters. He turned out to be a normal guy. Well, more normal than I had anticipated. He is still the hallucinogen experimenting, cross-dressing and totally insane author of nearly thirty years of perception altering comics. He just also happens to have a delightful human side to himself as well. Someone asked if he would actually write an autobiography, given the recurrence of autobiographical characters in his stories. He responded matter-of-factly, “You wouldn’t believe it.”