Saturday, June 10, 2006

Meeting Morrison

On my list of idols there's many people, but I think no one has had a bigger influence on my life, both creatively and just day to day, than Grant Morrison. When I read The Invisibles in high school it totally revolutionized the way that I view the very act of reading and creating fiction and reality, blurring the lines between the two. That was my first experience of Morrison's work, and in many ways it's the nexus from which everything else branches off. You can see pieces of nearly everything he's done in The Invisibles, and it's the crucial building block of the personal philosopy/worldview he's created in his work. Since then, The Filth has built on what he did with The Invisibles and if you've been reading the blog, you're well aware of my love for Seven Soldiers. And that's without going in to the many other astonishing pieces of work including Animal Man, Kill Your Boyfriend, Flex Mentallo, We3 and New X-Men.

The major reason I'm making comics and films right now is because I read The Invisibles and seeing how much I was changed by an encounter with this fictional universe made me want to create a work that would make a similarly large impact on the universe.

I was actually working my booth at the MoCCA Art Festival, but I had to abandon it for a bit to go over and see Morrison. Waiting on the line took forever and I was perplexed by why it was moving so slow. While I was waiting, they were raffling off books and I won a copy of Invisibles 2.1, 1.13 and 1.12, 'Best Man Fall,' an issue I remember reading and being blown away by. I'd had a very similar idea for a story, the idea of following this peripheral action movie character and giving him a life was something I'd been thinking about for a whiles, so when I read the issue I was simultaneously annoyed that he took the idea, but also stunned by the issue itself. That was I knew this was a really special series, by the time I opened 'Entropy in the UK,' I was obsessed with the series.

The first time I heard about The Invisibles was around the time The Matrix came out, and people were claiming that the film was heavily 'inspired' by this series called The Invisibles. I was contemplating picking it up for a while, and I finally did in May 2002, I was in my junior year of high school and I remember reading the book and really liking it. Even after that first volume, I thought it was better than The Matrix, but I wasn't totally sold.

So, I grabbed 'Apocalipstick,' and I remember I started to look on Deja News to find out peoples' reactions to the issues when they were first released. I bought 'Entropy in the UK' off Ebay along with the first volume of Animal Man, and I grabbed 'Bloody Hell in America' at a comicon in Madison Square Garden.

It took me a while to actually read the series, I believe it was in August of 2003 that I read 'Kissing Mister Quimper,' and then I found out that Volume three would be out in trade in November. In October, I began a reread, a very intense read, poring over every word to try to really understand the series, and it was during this read that the series moved from an amazing piece of work to a life changing experience. I remember reading 'Kissing Mister Quimper' for the second time and having to stop reading on practically every page because I was making connections and really starting to understand the series.

The first read of Volume Three took place over a 24 hour period that was frustrating at times, but when Robin came back from the supercontext, and Jack spoke, I wasn't sure what I had read, but I knew it was something amazing. From there, I spread the series around, and with my friends I continued to ponder the meaning of the series, exploring Morrison's worldview and developing all kinds of new ideas. It was such an amazing time because I felt like the universe was alive and I was seeing it in a totally new way. Following this, I reaffirmed my commitment to films, started writing comics and that's basically led me to where I am today.

So, this is a guy who's been built up to a legend in my mind. There's always a certain oddness of seeing someone you've seen in pictures in person, and also a bit of awkwardness going to someone to get your stuff signed. But, I walked up to the table, and told him how big an impact his stuff had on me, and then asked him about the new Invisibles project that was mentioned a while back. I was expecting him to be a bit guarded about it, but he told me seemingly everything that was set about it.

Here's the news, the new Invisibles book will take place between the end of issue 3.2 and 2012, showing the characters on the way to becoming who they are in the final issue. He's talking to artists about it, and it'll be somewhat like Endless Nights, but with more connection between the different stories. The reason he's making it is because he likes the characters and wants to do more with them, it sounds kind of like David Lynch and Fire Walk With Me, where he just needed to return to the world. Part of me feels like the series was perfect as is, but I would absolutely love new Invisibles material, and I'd be intrigued to see how he reconciles the 2005 Ragged Robin lived in with the 2006 we live in. I remember reading the book in 2002 and wishing that I could be immersing myself in the fiction tank in three years, alas it was not to be.

I would imagine that we'll actually get a chance to see more young Robin, pre-jump. I would love that because some of my favorite stuff in the whole series are the parts in 'Kissing Mister Quimper' where she's at college and is talking about reading a book called The Invisibles and fancying the author. And just the coloring on those red tank sequences was awesome. I suppose we'll see King Mob building his corporation, probably paralleling Grant himself, who's got the mock GMWord thing up on his site. Dane is likely recruiting Invisibles around, building his new cell, Fanny's getting fat and Boy's probably just hanging out. I think it'd be a really interesting opportunity to assess the successes and failures of the work and the world as a whole in moving towards this jump into the supercontext that Grant's talked about.

One thing I've always wondered is the exact nature of the supercontext, and I asked him if we were going to see any post supercontext stuff in the new volume. He told me that it would be impossible to represent the supercontext in a 2-D book. He then told me a lot about the supercontext. The basic idea seems pretty close to what I'd deduced, it all ties into the idea of "As above, so below." The cells in our bodies are all working together and form something greater than the sum of their parts, a fully functional organism. And on a global scale, humanity is like this, we're individual cells that mistakenly believe in the illusion that we are individuals, not part of the collective. The supercontext is basically the point at which this organism becomes self aware and the illusion of individuality is destroyed.

Now, I've had some issues with the idea that we lose our individuality, and I asked him about this. He was very adamant about the fact that individuality is an illusion to begin with, so moving into the supercontext isn't losing anything at all. I'd heard about this in theory, but it didn't really work for me. However, he took things to another level with his explanation for this. The idea of the 'timeworm,' all your history stretching back behind you, through time, was present in issue 3.2, however, I'd always thought of the timeworm as an individual thing. Grant said that the timeworm extends from you now, back all through your history, up into your mother before you were born, and hers extends back to her mother, and it goes back like this all the way until the very first single celled organism. So, all of life is quite literally connected because we are born out of the same parent organism, and like a tree, we have branched out through time and space. So, if you were to view things from an outside of time perspective, you wouldn't see individuals at all, you would see just one massive organism growing out of itself and expanding.

So, once we move into the supercontext, we would be able to perceive things in this way, and experience any piece of the organism at once. This is what the John a Dreams story is all about, this is a guy who was liberated from the illusion of individuality, so he could move through and inhabit various forms, as well as his own native body. Because it's all branches of the same thing, he has the perception of everyone who's been part of this one organism, and that's everyone.

This fills in a critical piece of what I could never figure out about the supercontext. It's this literal connection between everyone, I conceived of it in theory, but the moment he talked about the timeworm stretching back up into your mother, it clicked for me, and I totally understood how he would conceive of each of us as just a small part of a much larger organism that stretches through time. And using this logic, to move outside of time is inevitably to move beyond individuality. To enter into the supercontext means to become aware of your lineage within the massive organism that is life on Earth, and in that context, you really are just a cell in something much larger. The jump in the supercontext is basically like John going into the timesuit, but on a planetary scale.

It was almost surreal to be talking with him about this stuff, this was a guy who seemed like he knew everything, I talked with him for a few minutes about this stuff, and he was very open, answering all my questions, basically talking about the stuff I discussed above. I would love to see him do a seminar or a Q&A and just hear more about how he views the world. I talked to him about a very specific piece of his output, a critical piece, but I would love to hear more, about his conceptions of fiction in relation to reality, the Flex Mentallo stuff. After talking to him for a while, I realized why the line was moving so slow, he was giving everyone a lot of time, and that's fantastic. I got the sense that he really enjoyed talking with people about the work, and I know that if he's anywhere near the area, I would love to see him again and hopefully get to hear him talk more. The five minutes I did have with him was one of the best conversations of my life.

Related Posts
The Invisibles: Vintage Reactions (3/1/2004)
The Filth: Issues 1 and 2 (12/18/2004)
Seaguy (4/9/2005)

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