Review: Grant Morrison – Edinburgh Book Festival.

grantYou know, where I’ve been excited with finally getting to see certain authors so far in the Edinburgh Book Festival, tonight’s show featured an excitement that sprung from experience. Having seen Morrison before, I knew I was set for an hour of rough humour, odd stories and a vast array of topics. As expected, Morrison did not disappoint.

With Joe Gordon chairing the event, fans were given an overview from his earliest comic rendezvous to, naturally, his latest work. It took some time to find a flow, between occasional rambled questions and Morrison randomly blurting out an idea he’d forgotten to mention. It just brings more character to the evening, much preferred to the polished Q&As that go off without a jolt.

Returning to the now-confirmed project of his Wonder Woman resurgence, where Morrison looks to put the character on trial, if remembered correctly through many people’s points of views to really look at her. More so, he looks to reintroduce the prominent sexuality of the character’s roots, but with a more subtle twist. He didn’t go into too much detail so as not to take away from the initial impact of seeing it, but he does refer to the use of constraints, chains and general bondage playing a backdrop. An interesting project indeed, and one that is in very safe hands with Morrison.

Touching on the reboot of Action Comics with Superman and his encounter with Prince Charles through to his experience of second hand dope smoking and craving chips being his first transcendental experience, (“Dope and Chips – that’s the name of my next autobiography”), Morrison effortlessly talks his way through a rather quick half hour or so. What’s most impressive is his notion of really understanding the characters themselves – Superman donning jeans and a T-Shirt, giving time to understand him before he goes in full kit.

Admitting he missed Batman once he was complete, he delves into notions of Superheroes being portrayed as soldiers becoming tedious. It is, he admits, a reaction to a post 9/11 world, much like various countries reflect their own personal tragedies. Perhaps, he suggests, superheroes should go back to just battling bank robbers, rather than seeking to kill. It seems a slim chance, though.

But outside the superheroes and blockbusters, Morrison focuses in on the actual layout of comics. He likes the idea of toying with dimensions and set-ups, pushing outwith the grid conventions. Currently re-reading Arkham Asylum, it’s clear to see his work certainly fits with a more free layout. Should it be pushed even further in future, as he intends, it will be something to witness. But how far can it go?

That much, as yet, is unknown. But if someone will give it a try, it’s him. The floor opens to questions surprisingly early, knowing that the room will be brimming with excitable fans. A young boy questions him on Batcow, a parent asks about the dichotomy of the villains: does there always have to be a back story to justify it, or can they just be bad for the sake of it? Interestingly, it’s his six year old daughter that provoked the question. Sometimes, Morrison proffers, it’s okay to use villains purely as symbols and abstracts. Often they require a back story to justify them or the plot around them, but accepting that this is not reality, sometimes the abstract point is all the justification required.

An hour in the presence of Grant Morrison seems to fly. He tells it as it is, even when it comes to hallucinogenics, and doesn’t skirt around the subject, unless to protect the initial impact of upcoming projects. When talking about enlightenment, it comes off the ultimate psychedelic trip, but people lap it up, because he’s a natural story teller.

As always, a complete pleasure. Witty, interesting, and not too focused on one singular theme, his hour chaired by Gordon allows a number of topics to be covered, and a lot of food for thought. And stories. A lot of good stories.

Oh, and – the burning topic of the day – he says to give Ben Affleck a chance. And, if you wonder his technique, he suggests butting criminals with his chin. Okay? Okay.

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