REVIEW: Grant Morrison – Talking With Gods

Is it possible to be objective about a film in which you yourself appear as a twenty foot high visage projected across an audience like a god? When it makes you look really fat, then yes I think it is.

After the MTV Geek party last night, I wandered down Broadway to Cinema Village on the East Side of Manhattan to see the world premiere of Grant Morrison: Walking With Gods. The documentary takes a brief look at Grant Morrison’s life, but is more interested in the nuts and bolts of creation – both the book and his working process, constantly and fluidly illustrated by his work.

Thankfully for the audience, I only get around 30 seconds of screentime, along with the likes of Frazer Irving, Chris Weston, Cameron Stewart, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Karen Berger, Dez Skinn, JG Jones, Matt Fraction, Dan DiDio and many more. Jill Thompson, the inspiration for Ragged Robin in Invisibles is onscreen a lot, detailing her drug-inspired adventures with Grant and Frank Quitely hints at many more tales to be told.

But amongst the oddness, the experimentation, the life lived in one of Albert Hoffman’s petri dishes, what comes over most is Morrison’s pragmatism towards his life and drug experiences. It’s almost like showing the working of a science experiment, hypothesis, method, materials, results and conclusions. Life and everything you do in it as a means to an end, rather than the end in itself.

There are some significant omissions. The falling out with long-collaborator Mark Millar is alluded to, Grant talking about lies told to the Scottish press by one of his oldest friends. The influences on Morrison’s work, whether that be Moorcock or Talbot are not picked up and the picture seems missing important pieces as a result. And certain pertinent details of his fractious relationship with Alan Moore aren’t considered important. And no mention of Zoids? For shame!

But this is a thoroughly engaging picture of Grant Morrison built up from a rich cloth of threads. Douglas Rushkoff eulogising at length. Clips from the Disinformation speech. An illustrated walk through Grant’s alien abduction and encounter with Superman. Long lingering glimpses of Grant’s intensely detailed notes, thumbnails and layouts that baffle even him. And me talking about masturbation.

And there’s also a whole section which will provide new material for Marvelman conspiracy theorists, with Morrison being offered Marvelman when Alan Moore and Dez Skinn fell out over the Warrior publication and a certain letter from Morrison to Moore that may demand an entirely new chapter in the Kimota publication.

The film is beautifully shot, locations contextualising Morrison’s speeches as well as any scene in The Invisibles. For what is ostensibly a talking heads movie, it looks drop dead gorgeous, without sing the more psychedelic effects of, say, The Mindscape Of Alan Moore. And all the Warren Ellis scenes appear to be shot in the same way as he will appear in his own upcoming documentary. A kind of embedded trailer.

It’s an absorbing film that does a number of Grant’s own tricks, creating its own self-consistent statements to when Grant starts to talk about his more way-out-there beliefs and experiences, they suddenly feel as normal as going down the local store to buy a packet of cough drops. And that’s the thing. To Grant Morrison, it is…

Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods will be playing at comic conventions everywhere and then released on DVD… and who is this ugly bastard?

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