Saturday, April 19, 2008

New York Comicon: Day 2

I’m back from my second day at the New York Comicon. I did a few things today, but spent a lot of the time waiting in line. It was much more crowded than yesterday, so much so that it became tricky just to move around.

I got there early to try and talk to Chris Claremont, but he was signing a booth with some artists who were doing sketches, so it was a long, glacial line and I didn’t get to talk to him. The whole Marvel booth was set up really poorly, they’d have people grouped together who had no particular connection, it would have been a lot easier to have individual lines for different people.

But, I pressed on and went down to the Battlestar Galactica panel. But, I’ll delve more into that when I review last night’s episode. Suffice to say, it was a lot of fun, and featured a trailer for the rest of the season that made it look unbelievably great.

After that, I wandered around for a bit, then went down to the Grant Morrison spotlight panel. This one featured a lengthy intro that was actually quite awesome. Some guy, I’m not sure who he was, read a lengthy quote/manifesto from Morrison while images from his comics flashed on screen, basically summing up the philosophical points of The Invisibles. From there, Grant opened it up to questions from the floor, and thankfully most of the questions were really on point and didn’t feature the lengthy “First, let me say I love your work” intros that are so commonplace at events like this.

Grant said that after Final Crisis, he’s off superhero comics, except for Batman, for the foreseeable future. He’s got two new Vertigo series in the works, War Cop and Atomika Bomb. I didn’t actually attend the Vertigo panel yesterday, but apparently War Cop is about a soldier who comes home and wants to stay at war and Atomika Bomb is about the daughter of Doctor No doing badass spy things. He’s also working on Seaguy 2 and 3, a.k.a the emo adolescence and eventual maturity of Seaguy. It sounds like they’ll match the surreal greatness of the previous one. He described a scene where Seaguy is a matador who has to put women’s clothing on a bull that sounds pretty crazy.

He also answered a bunch of questions about his personal life. He echoed something he’s said earlier, about how he feels like the surreal comics he makes are more like our perception of reality than so called ‘realistic’ work. He sees life like a David Lynch movie, and I’d agree, sometimes that surrealism or stylization can heighten the emotion. And, Grant is a master of grounding the crazy concepts in very real emotion, perhaps because for him, they don’t start out as mad ideas, they begin as feelings that he then transmutes into a sci-fi concept.

He also discussed the aborted project Hyper-Crisis. It would feature the Chronovore tearing a rift in time ten years long that would have to be filled by events. So, a character’s action would be a ‘rivet’ in the bridge in time, and everyone would have to do certain things to ensure the bridge gets built right. It sounded pretty cool, but I could see it bring problematic to transform those concepts into an exciting story.

He touched on the troubled launch of The Authority and Wildcats. He said that his role in 52 caused the delays on those books, and that the script for Wildcats #2 has been written, and will eventually get drawn. However, when I got a copy of issue 1 signed by Jim Lee later, Lee said that issue #2 was not in the works, and probably wouldn’t be for a long time. As for The Authority, after reading the reviews for issue 1, he said “Fuck it” and will not continue the title. I really liked both issues, but The Authority probably don’t have another story that needs to be told about them.

He said that All Star Superman is his current sigil book, and is designed to tie in with the mythic Sun God. One guy asked him if All Star Superman #10 meant that Superman was our God, and he said that he’s more active than our current God. All Star Superman is notable because it’s such a unanimously loved book. Morrison has really tapped into something with this take on Superman, he’s created essentially the ideal being, and let him loose in the fictional world. The cover of 10, where Superman holds the Earth in his hands, that’s what it’s all about, he can protect us and inspire us. It is easily the definitive take on the character, and really redefined what he can be for me. Writing Superman isn’t about trying to angst him up, it’s about letting him be so warm and amazing, and contrasting that with a world that can never quite match up.

Grant said that he doesn’t do as many drugs as he used to during the ‘90s. While writing The Invisibles, he used himself as a laboratory, and the drug experiments were a part of that. Much of it was about trying to get back to what he experienced in Kathmandu, when he was abducted and showed the whole of time. He talked about that experience as well, he said everything was so much more clear there than in our reality. But, later on, he rebuked Gnostic philosophy, with its focus on the Manichaean. He quoted The Invisibles, saying that the material world is the piece of heaven that we can touch.

Speaking of The Invisibles, he said that he wasn’t going to do the new Invisibles book he was talking about a couple of years ago. He said when there’s a movie called 2012 coming out, it’s time to move on. That’s obviously a bit disappointing for me, but I don’t think there’s anything that could be added to The Invisibles. I’d love to see the characters again, but I don’t need to.

I do hope that some of his new creator owned work is personal in the way The Invisibles was. Seven Soldiers and All Star Superman feel very autobiographical, all about grappling with the issues he’s facing as he gets older. But, his other recent stuff, like 52, Batman, or The Authority was pretty much just good superhero stuff. Not every work can be a profound experience, but I’d still love to see one.

He discussed growing up, and how his three biggest influences were The Beatles, The Buzzcocks and the Sex Pistols. He said his favorite musical genre was psychedelic pop, three minute songs that take you away to another world. I think that’s as good a description of his comics as any, it gets to the core of what makes his stuff so special. So much work that’s meant to be philosophical is just kind of preachy and boring. Plato came up with that awesome allegory of the cave, if he was writing that today, he could have made it into a superhero story and it would be a lot of fun to read. Just because something’s pop and fun doesn’t mean it isn’t emotionally or intellectually significant.

Thinking of The Invisibles, I love the intricate philosophical conundrums presented by John a Dreams, but I also love the simple joy of Jack and Fanny dancing in San Francisco or King Mob marveling at the music playing in Dulce when he’s escaping. That’s what makes the book so special, I called it the pop avant garde, he calls it psychedelic pop, whatever it is, it’s great.

He said that he was working on Pop Magic, and should finish it soon or he might die under mysterious circumstances. He also said he’d never write an autobiography since “you wouldn’t believe it,” and it’s already written in the comics. As for Final Crisis, he reiterated that it will feature “everyone,” and for him at least, it will be the final crisis, and his final work at DC for the time being.

And, was Alan Moore the villain of Seven Soldiers? I believe Grant said not necessarily, but you could see it that way. One funny bit, while waiting on the line to get his autograph, I saw his bag, and the book contained within? Exit Interviews with Alan Moore. The bearded man’s face looked out from under the table, hidden away, but still present. Where's the beard hunter when you need him?

After the panel ended, I got some stuff signed by him and asked about the fate of Indestructible Man, the rumored third part of the hypersigil trilogy, which he was going to do with Frank Quitely. He said that it was too much of a downer of a story so he left it behind, and he and Frank are going to do a different project, a superhero comic, then another creator owned project, but that can’t be announced yet. I’m guessing when he said superhero comic, he meant a corporate owned one, but that would seem to conflict with him leaving DC. Perhaps it’s a Batman arc?

Either way, in the next couple of years, it sounds like we’re going to get a lot of great series. War Cop and Atomika Bomb sound cool, Final Crisis seems to be the culmination of fifteen years of DCU work, and eventually we’ll get new creator owned series with Frank Quitely and J.H. Williams. That will be a great day.

I hope Grant passes through New York again at some point not too far away. It’s always fun to see him speak, and I’m getting a bit spoiled. I’ve seen him three times in the past two years, and at this point am accumulating quite a collection of signed stuff.


Patrick C said...

I went to the con on Saturday and it was definitely crowded. It was my first con experience so I didn't really know what I was doing. Mostly just wandered around, didn't get any autographs or sketches; the lines were too intimidating.

I did make it to the Morrison panel and that was probably my highlight. I also finally bought a copy of The Filth and will read it as soon as I have some free time.

Next year I'll have to head there early and try out Artist Alley. I didn't realize you could just ask for a sketch and talk to the artists, I kind of assumed it was a pay for it thing.

Sounds like you had a great time, I wish I went for more than just one day.

Patrick C said...

Also, I think it was Eddie Berganza that gave the awesome intro at the Morrison panel

Patrick said...

I feel like it's always kind of hazy on whether the artists in Artists Alley are charging or not. Jiminez and Yanick Paquette did sketches for free, really nice ones too, but Chris Weston was charging $50. I almost wanted to pay Jiminez and Paquette just because they did such nice work, but I feel like paying anything less than $20 would just be an insult, and my cheapness won out of my courtesy.

And, The Filth is great. As you probably heard, Morrison called it his favorite work, I wouldn't go that far, but it's interesting as a counterpoint to The Invisibles, sort of The Invisibles from the other side. And, as with The Invisibles, you eventually realize there are no sides. And, I think the book answers the question "Why do bad things happen to good people" as well as anyone has.