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Grant Morrison

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Grant Morrison is a leading, prolific and award-winning Scottish comic book writer who wrote the video game Predator: Concrete Jungle for Fox Interactive and Vivendi Universal.

Morrison was also the writer of the unreleased graphic novella Aliens: Matrix which was to appear in Aliens Magazine (UK) from Dark Horse Comics and Trident Comics. It is unknown if the unpublished graphic novella was produced or not since the magazine was cancelled when Dark Horse's UK publishing partner Trident went out of business.

A key figure in the "UK-Invasion" of the American comics field in the 1980s, Morrison is most well known for his edgy late 1980s/1990s work for DC/Vertigo Comics titles initially such as Arkham Asylum, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, and then The Invisibles and JLA. More recently, he has been known as one of the main writers of such headlining DC Comics titles as Batman, All-Star Superman, Final Crisis and many others. He has also had prominent runs on main Marvel Comics titles such as New X-men and Fantastic Four: 1234.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1960, Morrison's first published works were Gideon Stargrave strips for Near Myths in 1978 (when he was about 17), one of the first British alternative comics. His work appeared in four of the five issues of Near Myths and he was suitably encouraged to find more comic work. This included a weekly comic strip Captain Clyde, an unemployed superhero based in Glasgow, for The Govan Press, a local newspaper, plus various issues of DC Thomson's Starblazer, a science fiction version of that company's Commando title.

Morrison spent much of the early 1980s touring and recording with his band The Mixers, writing the occasional Starblazer for D. C. Thompson and contributing to various UK indie titles. In 1982 he submitted a proposal involving the Justice League of America and Jack Kirby's New Gods entitled Second Coming to DC Comics, but it was not commissioned . After writing The Liberators for Dez Skinn's British comics anthology Warrior in 1985, he started work for Marvel UK the following year. There he wrote a number of comic strips for Doctor Who Magazine, his final one a collaboration with a then-teenage Bryan Hitch, as well as a run on the Zoids strip in Spider-Man and Zoids. 1986 also saw publication of Morrison's first of several two- or three-page Future Shocks for leading British comics anthology 2000 AD.

Morrison's first continuing serial began in 2000 AD in 1987, when he and artist Steve Yeowell created Zenith, an early example of deconstructing the superhero genre. Morrison's work on Zenith brought him to the attention of DC Comics, who asked him to pitch for them. They accepted his proposals for Animal Man, a little-known character from DC's past whose most notable recent appearance was a cameo in the Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series, and for a 48-page Batman one-shot that would eventually become Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.

Animal Man placed Morrison at the head of the so-called "Brit Wave" invasion of American comics, along with such writers as Neil Gaiman, Peter Milligan, Jamie Delano and Alan Moore (who had launched the 'invasion' with his work on Swamp Thing). After impressing with Animal Man, Morrison was asked to take over Doom Patrol, starting his uniquely surreal take on the superhero genre with issue #19 in 1989. Previously, a formulaic superhero title, Morrison's Doom Patrol introduced more surreal elements, introducing concepts such as dadaism into his first several issues.

DC published Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth in 1989 as a 128 page graphic novel. Painted by Dave McKean, Arkham Asylum featured uses of symbolic writing not common in comics at the time. The book went on to become one of the best selling graphic novels of all time. During the late 80's, Morrison also wrote various other titles for DC, most notably Gothic in issues 6-10 of the Batman title Legends of the Dark Knight. Whilst working for DC in America, Morrison kept contributing to British indie titles, most notably writing St. Swithin's Day for Trident Comics. St. Swithin's Day's anti-Margaret Thatcher themes proved controversial, provoking a small tabloid press fury and a complaint from Conservative MP Teddy Taylor. The controversy continued with the publication of The New Adventures of Hitler in Scottish music and lifestyle magazine Cut in 1989, due to its use of Adolf Hitler as its lead character. The strip was unfinished when Cut folded, and was later reprinted and completed in Fleetway's 2000 AD spin-off title Crisis.

The early 1990s saw Morrison revamping Kid Eternity for DC with artist Duncan Fegredo, and Dan Dare, with artist Rian Hughes. Morrison coloured Dare's bright future with Thatcherism in Fleetway's Revolver. In 1991 Morrison wrote Bible John-A Forensic Meditation for Fleetway's Crisis, drawn by fellow member of 'The Mixers' Daniel Vallely, and based on an analysis of possible motivations for the crimes of the serial killer Bible John. Covering similar themes to Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell, the story was highly experimental in terms of story and art, with Vallely and Morrison claiming to have used a Ouija board to write the script and Vallely using a series of collages rather than conventional panels to tell the story. Morrison used the term "Forensic Meditation" to refer his mixture of scientific and magical techniques to tell the story. Vallely allegedly destroyed his art work upon the story's completion and left the comic industry. Bible John has not been reprinted. In 1993 Morrison, fellow Glaswegian comics writer Mark Millar and John Smith were asked to reinvigorate 2000 AD for an eight-week run called "The Summer Offensive". Morrison wrote Judge Dredd and Really and Truly, and co-wrote the highly controversial Big Dave with Millar.

DC Comics launched its Vertigo imprint in 1993, publishing several of Morrison's creator-owned projects, such as the steampunk mini-series Sebastian O and the graphic novel The Mystery Play. 1995 saw the release of Kill Your Boyfriend, with artist Philip Bond, originally published as a Vertigo Voices one-shot. In 1996 Morrison wrote Flex Mentallo, a Doom Patrol spin-off with art by Frank Quitely, and also returned briefly to DC Universe superheroics with the critically acclaimed but short-lived Aztek, co-written with Mark Millar. In 1996, Morrison was given the Justice League of America to revamp as JLA, a comic book that gathered the 'Big Seven' superheroes of the DC universe into one team. This run was hugely popular and returned the title back to best-selling status. It was also influential in creating the type of "widescreen" superhero action later seen in titles such as Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch's The Authority. Morrison wrote several issues of The Flash with Mark Millar, as well as DC's crossover event of 1998, the four-issue mini-series DC One Million, in addition to plotting many of the multiple crossovers.

With the three volumes of the creator-owned The Invisibles, Morrison would start his largest and possibly most important work. The Invisibles combined political, pop- and sub-cultural references. Tapping into pre-millennial tension, the work was influenced by the writings of Robert Anton Wilson, Aleister Crowley and William Burroughs and Morrison's practice of chaos magic. At DisinfoCon in 1999, Morrison said that much of the content in The Invisibles was information given to him by aliens that abducted him in Kathmandu, who told him to spread this information to the world via a comic book. He later clarified that the experience he labeled as the "Alien Abduction Experience in Kathmandu" had nothing to do with aliens or abduction, but that there was an experience that he had in Kathmandu that The Invisibles is an attempt to explain. The title was not a huge commercial hit to start with. (Morrison actually asked his readers to participate in a "wankathon" while concentrating on a magical symbol, or sigil, in an effort to boost sales). The first issues were critically acclaimed, but many readers found the second arc in issues 5-8 too confusing or lacking in action. When the title was relaunched with volume two, the characters relocated to America and the style became intentionally more "American", featuring more action while still maintaining Morrison's ideas and themes. Volume three appeared with issue numbers counting down, signaling an intention to conclude the series with the turn of the new millennium in 2000. However, due to the title shipping late, its final issue did not ship until April 2000. The entire series has been collected by Vertigo as a series of seven trade paperbacks.

In 2000, Morrison's graphic novel JLA: Earth 2 was released with art by Frank Quitely. It was Morrison's last mainstream work for DC for a while, as he moved to Marvel Comics to take over the writing of the main X-Men title, renamed New X-Men for his run, with Quitely and artist Igor Kordey providing much of the art. Again, Morrison's revamping of a major superhero team proved to be a critical and commercial success, with the title jumping to the #1 sales and established Morrison as the kind of creator whose name on a title would guarantee sales. His penultimate arc "Planet X" depicted the villain Magneto infiltrating and defeating the X-Men in the guise of new character Xorn and developing an addiction to the power-enhancing drug "Kick". This has since been retconned by other writers to portray Morrison's Xorn as a separate character distinct from Magneto.

In 2002, Morrison launched his next creator-owned project at Vertigo: The Filth, drawn by Chris Weston and Gary Erskine, a 13-part mini-series, said by Warren Ellis to be heavily influenced by Chris Morris's Blue Jam radio series. While at Marvel, Morrison also wrote the six-part Marvel Boy series,[ and Fantastic Four: 1234, his take on another major superhero team. Morrison helped challenge Marvel's reputation for being closed to new ideas.

After finishing his New X-Men, he returned to DC Comics to work on several titles and help revamp the DC Universe. In 2004, Vertigo published three Morrison mini-series. Seaguy, We3 and Vimanarama involving, respectively, a picaresque hero in a post-utopian world that doesn't need him; cyber-enhanced pets running from their captors in what Morrison calls his "western manga"; and ancient Hindu/Muslim myths translated into Jack Kirby-style adventures. We3 came in for particular praise for its bold storytelling techniques and artwork by Frank Quitely. Morrison also returned to the JLA with the first story in a new anthology series, JLA Classified, tales set within the JLA mythos by various creative teams. In 2005, DC Comics started publishing what was dubbed the first ever "megaseries". The Grant Morrison-scripted Seven Soldiers features both new characters and reimagined obscure DC characters: The Manhattan Guardian, Mister Miracle, Klarion the Witch Boy, Bulleteer, Frankenstein, Zatanna and Shining Knight. The maxi-series consists of seven interlinked four-issue mini-series with two "bookend" volumes — 30 issues in all. Dan DiDio (current editorial vice president of DC Comics) was impressed with Morrison's ideas for revitalizing many of DC's redundant or lesser known characters. Giving him the unofficial title of "revamp guy", DiDio asked him to assist in sorting out the DC Universe in the wake of the Infinite Crisis. Morrison was also one of the writers on 52, a year long weekly comic book series that started in May 2006 and concluded in May 2007.

Starting in November 2005, DC published All Star Superman, a twelve-issue story arc by Morrison and Frank Quitely. Not so much a revamp or reboot of Superman, the series presents an out-of-continuity "iconic" Superman for new readers. All Star Superman won the Eisner Award for Best New Series in 2006, the Best Continuing Series Eisner Award in 2007 and several Eagle Awards in the UK. It also won 3 Harvey Awards in 2008 and the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series in 2009. In the same year, Morrison and Quitely worked on pop star Robbie Williams' album Intensive Care, providing intricate Tarot card designs for the packaging and cover of the CD.

In 2006 Morrison was voted as the #2 favorite comic book writer of all time by Comic Book Resources, beating Neil Gaiman at #3 (Alan Moore was #1). That same year, Morrison began writing Batman for DC with issue #655. He also masterminded the relaunch of The Authority and Wildcats, with the art of Gene Ha and Jim Lee respectively, for DC's Wildstorm imprint. WildC.A.T.S. went on hiatus after one issue, The Authority was discontinued after two. The scheduling of The Authority conflicted with 52 and Morrison was unhappy with the reviews: "I said !#$@ it.". It eventually concluded without Morrison's involvement in Keith Giffen's The Authority: The Lost Year.

At the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con, DC Comics announced that Morrison would write Final Crisis, a seven issue mini-series slated to appear in 2008 with J. G. Jones handling the art. Morrison also announced that 2008 would see publication of the follow-up to 2004's Seaguy called Seaguy 2: The Slaves of Mickey Eye, the second part of a planned three part series.

At the 2008 New York Comic-Con, Morrison announced he would be working with Virgin Comics to produce "webisodes" (short animated stories) based on the Mahābhārata; it wouldn't be a direct translation but, "Like the Beatles took Indian music and tried to make psychedelic sounds... I'm trying to convert Indian storytelling to a western style for people raised on movies, comics, and video games."

Morrison is currently writing Batman and Robin, beginning in June 2009 after the Battle for the Cowl event.&nbsp Morrison is also writing the Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne mini-series, following Bruce Wayne's travels through time after the events of Final Crisis.&nbsp At San Diego Comic Con 2010 it was announced that Grant Morrison would be leaving Batman and Robin with #16 and launching a new series entitled Batman Inc. with artist Yanick Paquette; a more team-oriented Batman book inspired by the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series.

Morrison's latest creator-owned work, an eight issue Vertigo series titled Joe the Barbarian, launched in January 2010 with artist Sean Murphy. Originally a six issue series, Morrison felt that the story would benefit from an extra two issues. The titular Joe is a diabetic young boy who begins to hallucinate a fantasy world populated with his toys and other fantasy characters when he stops taking his medication.&nbsp Following the closure of Virgin Comics, Dynamite Entertainment and Liquid Comics announced a partnership to publish a hardcover of illustrated scripts of Grant Morrison's Mahābhārata-based, animated project 18 Days with illustrations by artist Mukesh Singh, to be released in August 2010.

Morrison is the subject of a feature-length documentary titled Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods. The documentary features extensive interviews with Morrison as well as a number of comic artists, editors and professionals he has worked closely with. Talking with Gods is being co-produced by Respect Films and Sequart Research & Literacy Organization, and is slated to release in 2010 at the San Diego Comic Con.

Recently, Morrison has featured in My Chemical Romance's recent music video Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) off their 2010 album Danger Days: True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys as the villain Korse. He replayed his character in the SING music video.

Morrison's next major comic book project will be Multiversity, a metaseries of eight one-shots set in some of the 52 worlds in the DC Multiverse.&nbsp Morrison is also writing a book on superheroes called Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero, to be published by Random House, Spiegel & Grau in the US and Jonathan Cape in the UK, set to be released Spring 2011.

He has pitched a science fiction television series entitled Bonnyroad to the BBC with director Paul McGuigan and Stephen Fry which is currently in development. He is currently writing a film to be directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer called Sinatoro, to be released in 2012. Previously announced projects that have yet to see the light of day include Warcop and The New Bible, both announced at the 2008 NYCC, and the final part of the Seaguy trilogy, Seaguy: Eternal.

Grant Morrison first appeared as a comics character with a cameo in Animal Man #14. He made a full appearance at the end of issue #25, and spent most of #26 in a lengthy conversation with the comic's title character on the impact of 'realism' on comic books. Shortly afterwards, a Morrison-resembling character called "The Writer" appeared in issue 58 of the DC Comics title Suicide Squad (written by John Ostrander). This issue was part of the War of the Gods storyline. He was seen protesting that other "writers" had taken control of his fate now that he was part of "the continuity". He demonstrated his skills by writing down dialogue onto a laptop. This text was attributed to specific, gathered, super-hero allies. Moments later, the allies then said those very words. He then participated in the attack on the stronghold of Circe. He eliminated a few enemies by writing of their deaths, which then happened. Writer's block then hit and he was killed by a bestial humanoid.

Morrison would later be counted among the Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp, the body of "reality engineers" seen throughout the Seven Soldiers miniseries event, all of whom look exactly like him. During the series, one of these - referred to as the "Eighth of Seven" - went rogue, consolidating magical power for himself, releasing the Sheeda warrior-race on their Twenty-First Century ancestors, and becoming the silver-age character Zor, "The Terrible Time Tailor", a figure who looks exactly like Morrison but also wears a magician's outfit and sporting dark hair and a self-described 'magnificent beard'. This Zor was introduced in the original Spectre adventures in More Fun Comics #55 before he was re-invented in "Seven Soldiers." Zor is defeated by Zatanna and captured by his fellow Time Tailors who 'judge' him. Morrison himself, bearing a DC Comics-logo tie clip then becomes the narrator of the final chapter, treating the readers as if they were Zor themselves. Zor is eventually dressed to resemble a pedophiliac miser named Cyrus Gold, killed by an angry mob.

He has also appeared in an issue of Simpsons Comics, where he is seen fighting with Mark Millar over the title of "Writer of X-Men". In the notes to the Absolute Edition of DC: The New Frontier, writer Darwyn Cooke mentioned that this version of Captain Cold was visually based upon Morrison.

In the Doctor Thirteen story found in Tales of the Unexpected, Thirteen encounters the self-proclaimed Architects of the DC Universe. This foursome wear Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Flash masks, and could be interpreted as the writers of DC's 52. The Batman mask-wearer bears more than a passing resemblance to Grant Morrison.

It has also been suggested by Comics Bulletin's Thom Young that the near-future Batman depicted in issue #666 of the comic book of the same name is based on Morrison. However, Morrison has stated that the decision to base the appearance of the future Batman on him was one of artist Andy Kubert, "I had written him as having a buzz cut, I think, but Andy drew him bald. I think a lot of people just assumed that I stuck myself into a comic again, but that was never intended."

Similarly, in Morrison's The Filth, the central character, named Greg Feely, becomes acutely physically similar to Morrison at exactly the same time that his cat dies under the care of a malicious body double of his; Feely's care for the cat mirrors that which Morrison has claimed he felt for his own cats. Morrison has received praise for his works' various portrayals of Lex Luthor - a character who is bald, and often wears clothing with a high collar, similar to his signature trench coat - in particular All Star Superman, wherein the iconic elements of the character such as his insanity, genius and representation of infinite human potential are highly emphasized.

Morrison has become more involved in screenwriting and has written numerous scripts and treatments. His screenplays include Sleepless Knights for DreamWorks and WE3 for New Line (both in development with Don Murphy producing, John Stevenson is attached as Director for WE3).

Most recently he wrote the adaptation of the Area 51 home video console game for Paramount (in development with CFP Productions producing). Morrison provided outline story and script work for two video games (Predator: Concrete Jungle and Battlestar Galactica) both by Vivendi Universal, though the finished products often didn't contain all his contributions. He has also been a successful playwright, with two plays written for and performed by Oxygen House at the Edinburgh Fringe. The first was Red King Rising in 1989, about the (partly fictional) relationship between Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell and the second in 1990, Depravity about Aleister Crowley. Both plays were critically acclaimed and won between them a Fringe First Award, the Independent Theatre Award for 1989 and the Evening Standard Award for New Drama. A film adaptation of Red King Rising is in discussion. Both plays were included in his collection of prose, Lovely Biscuits released in 1999.

CreditsEdit

See alsoEdit

Dark Horse Comics

Aliens (Comics Series)

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