“Real life?” What’s that?”
– Grant Morrison
For those who don’t know who Grant Morrison is, the above quote pretty much sums him up.
The 51-year-old comic book writer has long been my favourite in the field. In my experience, no one has thought as big as he has, written with as much flair or immediacy or pushed the boundaries of the comic book form quite as far. In my own writing endeavors, I try to honour and not emulate. To think big without changing the way I think. To try and look ahead and look deeper, without changing my direction. I don’t think I’ll ever follow him and agree with him on a lot of things, but I’ll do my best to learn from him. You can only imagine how I felt meeting him.
Morrison recently gave a talk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which I was lucky enough to attend. The talk was primarily about his new book, Supergods, Just like the book, he talked about the history of the superhero, and what the concept could mean in real life. He talked about the how he thought the concept was designed to be indestructible, unassailable. No matter what happened to them, the superhero would always stand up again. I liked that. He talked about how he thought there was a superhero in everyone, that everyone had a part of them that was their perfect self, their wisest, their strongest, their most hopeful and unstoppable self. I liked that even more.
That’s when it got weird.
Anyone familiar with Morrison’s work and ideas will know he’s always been fairly meta, placing himself inside his fictional works and pulling fiction into the world as far as he can. He’s even met Superman, or at least that’s how he’s chosen to interpret it. Morrison went on to talk about his experiences writing King Mob in the Invisibles, and how what he did to the character was reflected back onto himself. He even went as far as to have a conversation with the virus that was eating his flesh at the time. (They negotiated a truce, whereby the virus would be written into the Invisibles in exchange for not killing him. Told you it got weird.) I’ve always chosen to believe that when Morrison talks about putting on a “fiction suit” and stepping into literature, it’s all just a bit of performance art designed to emphasise how he looks at our relationship with books and comics and our entire culture. Ideas have power, and an idea on a page can have huge, lasting consequences in the real world. The truth is, I never know what to make of it when he goes off on a meta tangent like that, but it’s entertaining at the very least.
I can’t really go any further without mentioning this – in a move that all but surgically attached the crown of “world’s best girlfriend” to her head, my long suffering girlfriend made the trip to Edinburgh with me, went to the talk and waited with me for an autograph. We waited for three hours, missing the train and getting a 3am bus home. Just another reminder of how lucky I am. I can’t thank her enough and owe her big time. I see a 90s boyband concert in my future…
While in the queue, we got talking to some fellow fans and made some new friends. It always surprises me how many people are looking to make their way into the comic book industry like I am. It’s encouraging, and after a talk like that, it’s inspiring. Writing comic books for a living didn’t seem so far away. Imagination could become reality. I have the girl of my dreams and an amazing son, why can’t the dream job be next?
Real life? What’s that?
Whatever I want it to be.