SDCC ’15: Grant Morrison – Multiversity and Beyond!

By Joe Glass

20150711_131653The hall is filling up for Grant Morrison to unspool his mind and blow all of ours, and whilst we waited for the panel to begin, it was easy to tell that people all over the room were checking out the just released Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer.

John Cunningham hosted the panel, and called up Morrison to rapturou applause. He immediately admitted he has a hangover .

Cunningham talked about how Multiversity may be the biggest event that Morrison was involved with, and even that DC has done. Morrison jokes it sounds bigger than it felt when he was doing it.

It started with him just wanting to make a map, like the classic psychedelic image/poster, that would make sense of all the parts of the DC multiverse/comics that he loves.

The guidebook was discussed as being released in the middle rather than the start of publication because Morrison wanted to replicate that feel of getting your first comic and being dropped into this epic universe of stories and characters and it making want to know more.

Morrison feels it’s much better to be immersed in the chaos of comics, and lose yourself in it.

20150711_123236Discussing how the with Captain Atom dissecting the dog and speaking the line Í thought the pieces would explain the whole’ and how that was a perfect summing up of the comics itself. Morrison says it’s much about the way the relationship between creator and the audience has changed over the years with the creation of the internet, and how we can now ‘talk a scene to death’ and he liked creating the visual representation of that as a ‘mashed up dog’.

He mentions how the Gentry didn’t really represent the comics critics as many thought, after all, our hero shown in the first scene is a comics critic.

Morrison mentioned about the best way to represent a évil spirit’ was a black, bat-winged egg, mirroring medieval texts representations of the spirit. Each member of The Gentry was the ultimate example of villainous archetypes, like hieroglyphs to explain the villains we see in the medium.

Ultimately, in a capitalist world, art is created to pay the rent, and Morrison wanted to touch on that, and The Gentry was an old term for fairy folk existing outside of the world, but obviously also has many other interpretations.

The ultimate villain of the piece was very much about creating this incredible massive and powerful villain that shows that the story never ends – in the world of comics, events, comics, plotlines, will always continue.

Cunningham is that closed loop of infinity, symbolism that appears multiple times in the series, is a bad thing? Morrison doesn’t necessarily, but he was fasnicated by the notion that the DC multiverse is predicated on the idea of being built on vibrations, that the multiverse is like a symphony of musical notes.

20150711_131003It’s about killing your darlings, killing your past, but it’s all part of the same loop, as someone will come along and kill you.

Much of the incredible layout structure of Multiversity issue 2 was pure Ivan Reis according to Morrison. He was saying how he wanted to create a pure superhero comic, it’s a really simple classic simple 60s story, but build on it into remaking Wall of Sound in comics.

The amount of levels that Morrison runs through in as we slie through various panels of the series is amazing and impossible to keep up with, as he runs through the incredible, minute elements of symbolism, each single one with multiple layers. The immensity of the scale is wondrous as he goes through at breakneck speeds, the audience audibly gasping with realisation as suddenly some new element they had never noticed or considered become blindingly clear.

Morrison sees the Pax Americana and the Captain Marvel issues are actually the closest in similarity in terms of construction, whilst some have considered those the most polar opposites.

The discussion of the cutesy characters who appeared being like toys, that the villain uses to test scenarios and kills and brings back again at a whim, much like comics themselves.

Moving onto Ultra Comics, the harbinger of doom comic that is touched on throughout the series, the book from ‘ our’ world if you are to consider Earth-33 as our world. It’s an homage to the classic Flash cover that declared how we ‘must read this comic’. Morrison discussed how comics we engage with on a personal, intimate level, as the experience is more tactile than stories in cinema. It’s also the exploration of the dark idea that entertainment is wasting peoples time, which the audience has a finite amount of. You read a comic for ten minutes, watch a film for two hours, and that times lost from your life.

The comic itself is the superhero, no one will meet Ultra in a crossover, as Morrison loved he radical, mad idea of a superhero made up of a network of minds reading the book all through time. It works so well because we ‘ hear’ comics in our head, as we cast the characters in dream voice-acting in our minds, and it’s the disturbing idea of the whole notion of what happens when that voice is telling you things you don’t want to hear.

20150711_131337Morrison discusses the disturbing imagery for The Strain currently covering the Hilton Bayfront hotel, and great example of our collective preoccupation with viral attack.

We’re tied into the villain of the comic, as when we put down the comic, our hands are as empty as the villains.

Morrison then points out he’s amazed he’s been able to talk as he spent last night yelling drunkenly at Mike Tyson, which he doesn’t recommend.

We were then treated to an early look at the design for the hardcover collected edition of Multiversity, coming in November (which led to a very excited young Morrison screaming YES!).

Then early art from Wonder Woman: Earth One, to applause. Morrison says it’s completely changed the way he thinks and writes, and Morrison’s take on Wonder Woman is he doesn’t really like the sword and shield thing, the original idea of Wonder Woman was whilst the Amazons were strong and could fight, they were meant to be scientists and philosophers, and antidote to the ‘blood curdling images of masculinity’.

it basically tells a completely revamped version of Diana’s origin, told through the medium of a trial as the Amazons put her on trial for going to Man’s world. The book has no fights, throwing out all the rules of boys adventure fiction, and it’s opened up ways of writing that he wasn’t privy to in the past. It will definitely pass the Bechdel test as there are no men in the first 40 pages of the book.

This is an actual functioning culture of immortals that have their own way of thinking, they discuss as they show slides of Yannick Paquette’s artwork on the book, which Morrison praised for his way of redeigning every minute element of architecture so it doesn’t have any of masculine design roots that our world has.

Also, mentioned new announced projects like Batman: Black and White, and Morrison said the book will contain lots of very different styles of stories and art. And announced Multiversity 2, which caused the young Morrison fan next to me to explode.

It will use the idea from string theory, that not only are there infinite universes, but infinite multiverses. It will be a series of books, one shot of stories that explore different areas and universes, starting with a Flash style book. It will play with a lot of different kind of rules, and will not be like what we might expect after reading the original Multiversity.

Morrison talked about the idea of taking obscure characters and just putting them back in the sandbox with the idea of, ‘ here you go, here’s another way of thinking of this character, go play’, which is something he’s been playing with since Seven Soldiers.

As fan questions announced, the young Morrison fan sped to the mic. He told Morrison that he’s his favorite writer, and morrison replied that he’s his favorite reader. The kid asked will there be any mini-series exploring any of the other worlds we’ve been teased with?

Morrison said he’d like to see other people pick up those series, but he may run with some as some people haven’t grabbed them yet.

20150711_130851Morrison mentions how the similarities between Multiversity and Secret Wars is purely coincidental, as Multiversity began work many years ago, but as he saw things coming in, he was able to add things to it, to keep it current.

He said it was easy to predict back in 2006 that the Ultimate Universe was doomed, so of course the Marvel analogue universes were the first to be destroyed.

What Morrison’s take on how Flashpoint and Convergence have affected DC’s Multiverse?

Morrison brilliantly mimics grumpy old comic creators stuck in their ways, to illustrate how he kind of has taken himself out of those mainline storylines, as he didn’t want to get in the way of th changing faces of creators and comics.

Morrison mentioned how they couldn’t really include the film and TV universes as part of Multiversity, but we may see other worlds of other imprints that DC has absorbed in the future.

Morrison with the seven unknown worlds, he wanted to sound esoteric, but it was about leaving some world open for other creators to create, and he thinks that something is being done with that.

 

 

 

About Joe Glass

Joe Glass has been contributing to Bleeding Cool for about four years. He's been a roaming reporter at shows like SDCC and NYCC, and also has a keen LGBTQ focus, with his occasional LGBTQ focus articles, Tales from the Four Color Closet. He is also now Bleeding Cool's Senior Mutant Correspondent thanks to his obsession with Marvel's merry mutants.

Joe is also a comics creator, writer of LGBTQ superhero team series, The Pride, the first issue of which was one of the Top 25 ComiXology Submit Titles of 2014. He is also a co-writer on Stiffs, a horror comedy series set in South Wales about call centre workers who hunt the undead by night. One happens to be a monkey. Just because.

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