The most shocking revelation from Grant Morrison's panel at New York Comic-Con: comics' most trippy writer was a straight-edger until he turned 30. After that, of course, the floodgates were opened and it was drugs, drugs, drugs, as he explains in this clip, courtesy of Zach from ComicRelated.com. Besides explaining what on Earth fueled The Invisibles, his 1990s punk-paranoid comic, Morrison also dropped a few hints about Final Crisis — hope you'll be glad to see Frankenstein in issue 3.
"Give me some sugar, I am your neighbor!" Morrison growled as we started. He jumped right in, happily answering even the most controversial questions from the audience; we've got a recap below.
To what extent do drugs play a role in your creative process?
They were very big in The Invisibles. I was a very straightedge kid until I was 30 years old — I didn't touch anything, and I was anti-drinking, anti-drugs, everything. But I got to 30 and I kind of decided to treat myself as a laboratory and become something else — I wondered how much you could mess with your own personality. I became a tranny for awhile; I used to dress up as a girl, and I was beautiful! I just started to take tons of psychadelic drugs, though I was never into amphetamines or anything. But I'm getting old now, so I don't do so much of that.
Did that also have a role in your experience in Kathmandu?
The Kathmandu thing was really weird. I had taken a little bit of hash — but just a very little bit. That experience was so profound — nothing like that has ever happened to me again. Part of taking so many drugs in the 90s was trying to recreate the experience: the clarity of everything was so much more real, the way things are made ... all this is just cheap dream compared to the place I was. I've taken DMT, high doses of mushrooms, high doses of acid — nothing took me back. I've never been able to go there again.
In the script for Arkham Asylum there's a joke about two nuns and a donkey. Is that a real joke?
That is a joke. Two nuns find this gigantic penis, and they're working away, and the Mother Superior says "Oh my God! Look what's happened to Flannen McCafferty!" The idea is that some old guy's donkey dies and the donkey's got the biggest dick in the wall, so he cuts it off and throws it over the nunnery wall, which takes me back to the punchline, and ... I can't tell jokes. That's the only joke I know and I still can't tell it.
What writers have inspired and influenced you?
There's a ton of 'em. A lot of playwrights: Peter Shaffer, David Sherwin, Alan Gamma, Timothy Leary, Tolkein, the Beatles, the Buzzcocks, the Sex Pistols ....
What's going on with the film for We3?
The film's script's actually better than the comics script. There's a lot of stuff happening at New Line right now, though. We've been through like 16 different directors, because none of them just really got the movie for me, but they've been really good about it. They really want to create the book. The animals will be CGI, but everything else will be real.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I started out as a punk, I used to play in bands. I was a weird punk, a psychedelic punk. My three favorite bands are the Beatles, the Buzzcocks, and the Sex Pistols. We used to play psychedelic music and speed it up really hard. Just psychedelic pop is my favorite music — stuff that lasts three minutes but transports my head.
Where will you be taking Batman?
To the grave. [laughs] There's a new Batmobile, and it's one of the greatest drawings ever — Daniel really surpassed himself on this. I kinda wanted to humanize the guy, 'cause he's been such a dick for awhile. But if you were Batman, you would be a dick, so that's fine. But underneath it all there's Bruce Wayne, this aristocratic kid who was just growing up and probably going to be a doctor, and then suddenly BANG BANG — so there are psychological weaknesses underneath that superman. It's a total deconstruction of Batman. I've just written the second part, where the bad guys actually take him down, and I'm thinking, "how's he going to get back from this?!" The way I'm doing this is possibly the most shocking Batman revelation in 70 years.
You mentioned putting a lot of autobiographical stuff in your comics. Have you ever considered doing a real autobiography?
Nah, you wouldn't believe it. It makes more sense in comics. They were always more like real life to me. David Lynch is more real life to me than any soap opera. All of our lives have weird shit. British kitchen sink cinema in the '60s was like that, about people having abortions and everything, but what they missed was the weird stuff — everyone has dreams and fantasies, everybody's mother's seen a ghost, everybody's got a weird witchy relative. Like — have you seen the South American dwarf on the internet? Have you guys seen that thing? That's the world we live in — filled with gaps and weirdness and strangeness. I'm just trying to be realistic. This is realism to me.
How did you get into comics?
I took some pages that I'd drawn to a convention in Glasgow — a convention just like this one — and I showed it to a bunch of guys doing a magazine called Near Myths, and they paid me for it! They paid me like 10 pounds a page. I was a poor kid, so to me that was like I was a millionaire. "Hey, I can do this, I can make money!" I thought, and then, twenty years later ... [laughs]
What do you think about the fact that you're a character in the DC Universe?
I think it's pretty cool. And they tried to kill me, but I just keep coming back!
When you were young, who did you want to be?
The Flash — he was the coolest. He was always getting turned into puppets and paving stones and stuff. It was like he was constantly tripping. Also, he's got the greatest suit — the way Carmine Infantino would draw his ass in the books! And the boots, those inch-thick treads. I still want those boots. If anyone here can make boots like that, please.
What do you find most enjoyable about your work? What are you reading right now?
The Filth is my favorite all-time thing I've written. It's the most consistent. It's really wrapped 'round its themes quite well. What am I reading — just superhero comics. I'm a boring guy. Geoff Johns' Green Lantern, Davis' Avengers. Just basic stuff. I'm just like everybody else — I like what's cool and popular.
What do you think of the different Batman movie versions?
Something like Batman can be interpreted so many ways — I love the Adam West Batman, and I love the Christian Bale Batman more than ever. That guy is good — I think that's the best Batman ever. Batman's so adaptable, you can do almost anything with it and it still works. I don't like every version. There are a lot of really good superhero movies, and a lot of really bad ones. [someone yells "Batman and Robin!"] Batman and Robin — Yeah, but the colors are brilliant! Just switch off your brain and think, "okay, I'm watching the gay Batman"!
I heard that Final Crisis begins with the funeral of Captain Marvel ...
Yeah, that's true. It was originally in a thing called "Hyper-Crisis" which I pitched years ago, at the time when I was leaving X-Men — not to say Marvel is dead, 'cause it's a colossal industry, but for me it was kind of over, so I wanted to do this thing where everyone was standing at Captain Marvel's grave. I wanted to do this thing with the Chronovore, where he had eaten the first years of the 21st century, so there was no 21st century, and Superman and his allies had to build a bridge of events across this abyss. It means you have to go tell Batman, "if you don't do this, we're all gonna die, 'cause we need this event to be rivet 205." It was kind of interesting, but I'm glad they went with Identity Crisis instead.
What are you doing next?
Next year I'm doing this thing called War-Cop, this other atomic bomb thing which is kind of psychadelic — back to being me again, a little bit.
Can this really be THE final crisis?
It's definitely the final crisis for me. But who knows? You cannot predict what these people will do in the future. If Final Crisis sells, then there will be more crises — there's no stopping it.
Your characters tend to escape the comic book and go into the real world. Does that happen in Final Crisis?
I was always fascinated with dimensions as a kid. I was five years old, trying to draw the fourth dimension: "I know I can draw a point, a line, a square, a cube ... arrgh!" There won't be any of that in Final Crisis, no. But the idea was: Superman, Batman, they're much more real than we are — created long before any of us were alive. Superman is still vital and young and communicating to people. When we're dead and gone and dust, there will probably still be a Superman. And the world that they inhabit is a two-dimensional world. You can pick up different comics from his whole span of existence, but it's all still there. I began to imagine: what if there were things above us, on a hyper-cube level, if there were people who could look down on us like we look down on Superman, and see the entirety of our lives? The same way we can see the entirety of lives in the second dimension? The experience of The Invisibles in Kathmandu was kind of an actualization of that reality — that there are things up there that can see the entirety of Earth time and Earth space like that. It's an ongoing fascination for me.
What happened in the last issue of The Invisibles? I've read it like 20 times and I have no idea.
Yes, you have. Of course, you have! What happened was that thing you read and all those words. That's what happened.