This is something I’ve been meaning to review for a while. We talked about it on our Extra Sequential podcast a few weeks ago, in episode 15, but I thought it might be worth an extra mention as we come close to Christmas, as it is a great present for the fanboy or girl in your life. For comics newbies, it’s not that acceessible. That is to say, if you don’t know who Grant Morrison is, then this won’t convince you of his awesomeness. Produced by the fine folks at SequArt, who are known for their insightful literary criticism of comics, this 80 minute documentary did surprise me in at least 2 ways. Firstly, I was sure they’d need to put subtitles on the film as every other time I’ve seen Morrison talk in his thick Scottish accent it was barely decipherable. Maybe he’s softened now that he’s spending more time in America, but it was fine and his casual revelations were easy and entertaining to take in. Secondly, he’s not as weird as I thought. He’s one of those creators, like Alan Moore, whose work is often examined and criticized, because we expect so much of him. Like Moore, he shares an interest in magic, but Morrison seems more public and approachable. When he discusses his dealings with the subject thanks to an influential uncle it just seems matter-of-fact. He also talks about his drug use (but no cocaine) and the strange visions that he experienced, and usually worked into his scripts on Vertigo series The Invisibles.
Of course, there’s many interviews with his fellow creators who aren’t shy on praise, including Frank Quitely, Phil Jimenez, Dan DiDio and many more. Though they’re not always revealing, they at least show Morrison’s down to earth nature and reinforce the fact that he is loved by critics, fans and fellow professionals.
It’s only $34 at Amazon bundled with the unsuprisingly more slick Secret Origin doco on DC Comics, which make perfect companion pieces, especially as most of Morrison’s work has been with DC in the last 20 years. It was Morison’s dynamite run on JLA for DC in the ’90s that cemented my love of comics and from that to WE3 to Seaguy to All Star Superman to a stint on X-Men for Marvel he’s shown that he’s a capable scribe of big ideas.
Talking about his upbringing, his love life, his artistic skills and the respect he has for the storytelling power of superheroes is all fascinating stuff. Unfortunately there are no interviews with loved ones, but the man himself is revealing and honest enough to paint a real self-portrait.
Director Patrick Meaney does a grand job of keeping it visually interesting and although it can divulge into a series of talking heads at times, generous use of the man’s comics work, and convention footage, make sure the visuals stay as interesting as the subject himself. The back cover of the DVD states that it contains, “mind bombs, psychedlic ideas and transgressive concepts,” which sums up Morrison’s work aptly. Of all the possible creators the film makers could have chosen Morrison is in the top 5 most obvious ones for he’s led an interesting and highly creative life. Their next film is on writer Warren Ellis and although I’m less familiar with his work, I’ll be sure to grab it too.
On a related note if you like behind the scenes on creative types, Chronicle Books is releasing Art Work in April which has looks at the notepads and journals from creators from many fields, such as Wes Anderson and Will Self.