Voices from the past – A Few Words With Grant Morrison About We3
This short interview with Grant Morrison took place when his collaboration with Frank Quitely for DC Comics, We3, had just been published, around 2005, and first saw light of day on a fondly remembered science fiction review site, The Alien Online, which some of you may recall reading. TAO grew out of the staff recommendations ‘zine in Waterstone’s Deansgate published by a good friend of Pádraig and mine, Darren Turpin, better known among the SF crowd by his nom-de-guerre of Ariel, and Pádraig and I were frequent contributors of reviews and articles on SF books and comics for TAO.
TAO, sadly, is long gone, but Pádraig recently excavated an untouched strata of fossilised interweb and found this Q&A he had with Grant, and since the TAO version isn’t online anymore and DC have reprinted a rather fetching deluxe hardback edition of We3 this autumn we decided it would be nice to post the interview back up again. As they also touch on other then current or forthcoming works Grant was involved in, such as All star Superman, or a film version of We3 (which still sadly hasn’t seen the light of day yet) it also offers a wee slice of comics archaeology and a look at what was going on with the Scots superstar writer at the time (Joe):
In We3, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely tell a disturbing and violent tale of animal instinct and military technology gone mad.
A dog, Bandit, a cat, Tinker, and a rabbit, Pirate, are turned into the heavily armoured and extremely deadly Animal Weapons 1, 2, and 3. When the military decide they are no longer of use, they escape, and go on a corpse-strewn quest to find ‘home.’ This is one of Morrison’s most provocative works to date, particularly as it is uncomfortably close to the truth, and Frank Quitely’s art is at time too savagely beautiful to look at. This is definitely comics for adults only.
So, with the Titan Books UK edition due to hit the shelves, I thought I’d take the opportunity to ask Grant Morrison a few questions about We3, as well as his current ongoing work for DC Comics, The Seven Soldiers of Victory, which will be available from 2006.
Pádraig Ó Méalóid: You became interested in animal rights while writing Animal Man for DC in the late eighties. Is We3 a follow on from your work there?
Grant Morrison: To some extent, certainly. In other ways, We3 is a riposte to the more sentimental ‘noble savage’ portrayal of animals in Animal Man. As I’ve refined my thoughts on this issue, it seemed important to at least acknowledge the real complexities of the human/animal relationship and the ways in which animals actually conceptualise the world. I still think we treat animals very badly and in some frankly sadistic, sinister and quite unjustifiable ways and I’m sure a lot of that comes across in We3, but I hope the messages of the book are more nuanced than the simple ‘Two legs bad, four legs good’ of some Animal Man stories.
PÓM: You’re doing a mixture between short, 3-issue stories like We3 and Seaguy, and huge, multi-issue, multi-volume works, like The Invisibles, and your current work on The Seven Soldiers of Destiny. Do you have a favourite length to work to, or does the story dictate the length?
GM: Story drives format. I like the huge sprawling epics but I love the 100-page form of We3, Seaguy and Vimanarama, and I love the formal structure of the single-issue 22-page comic book short story.
PÓM: You’ve worked with Frank Quitely before, on the X-Men, and on Flex Mentallo. Would you agree that this is his best work so far, and possibly some of the best artwork ever seen in comics? Also, is there any likelihood of seeing a collected volume of Flex Mentallo any time soon?
GM: We3 is his pinnacle so far definitely and hopefully opened up the possibilities of layouts using page depth instead of just surface, as well as creating a style of art more influenced by video and computer games than by film noir. We’re both currently at work on the All Star Superman title which is DC’s big year end launch, following on from Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All Star Superman. We also have another major project in the works, outside of the comics format.
As for Flex Mentallo, the only way to get a collected edition is to go to Italy, where they’ve done a nice, well-designed volume in Italian. Otherwise, the Charles Atlas company still seem to think the noble and selfless Flex Mentallo, Man of Muscle Mystery, is some kind of cruel and subversive parody of their golden goose. Until they stop being stoopid, our masterpiece will remain uncollected and unavailable. Nobody wants to upset the Charles Atlas Corporation by waving art under their noses, let’s face it. Have you seen those leopard print trunks?
(A fetching hardback collection of Flex Mentallo is, finally years after that question, coming soon from DC, due in February 2012 – Joe)
PÓM: Can you tell us a bit about The Seven Soldiers of Victory, which you’re doing for DC at the moment?
GM: Seven Soldiers is something I’m calling a ‘mega-series’. It’s seven 4-issue mini-series, each featuring a character from the DC archives recreated by me and a bunch of amazing artists. The seven series can be read separately but when you read them all together it forms one huge interconnected story. I wanted to write about grass-roots super-people – the ones who don’t have amazing cars or secret headquarters, really, so the whole thing explores what it would actually be like to be a C-list hero on the margins, in a world where Superman and the Green Lantern get all the attention. Our characters are puritan Goths, freaks, monsters, losers and wannabes all clamoring for a place in the spotlight.
PÓM: Finally, what are working on at the moment, once The Seven Soldiers of Victory is finished?
GM: All Star Superman, the screenplay for the We3 movie (we’ve currently doing a deal with New Line) plus a couple of new ‘creator-owned’ series for Vertigo including something called Supertrendy Young Doctor.
PÓM: Thank you very much, Mr Morrison.