All this month we’re posting up articles about LGBT culture in comics as part of LGBT History Month. Today’s article is looking at the work of famous Scottish comics author Grant Morrison. This article is based on a previous one written by the author in the early part of 2020, and has been updated to reflect Morrisons announcement about their gender identity in November of that same year.
Grant Morrison began writing comics in the early 80s with their first ongoing series Zenith appearing in 2000AD in 1987. Shortly after they were approached by DC to write a revamp of Animal Man and then Doom Patrol which eventually led to them writing Batman: Arkham Asylum; A Serious House of Serious Earth which would go on to be the most successful graphic novel ever written. Morrison has handled many of the major heavyweight titles over the years with character-defining runs on Batman, Superman, the Justice League, and the X-Men to name a few. Their creator owned work on titles such as The Filth, Flex Mentallo, and We3 garnering critical and commercial success while his epic The Invisibles would not only come to define comics in its era but also serve as the basis for The Matrix franchise.
Morrison came out as non-binary using they/them pronouns in interview in 2020 in Mondo magazine. Of their identity Morrison said, “When I was a kid there were no words to describe certain aspects of my own experience. I’ve been non-binary, cross-dressing, ‘gender queer’ since I was 10 years old, but the available terms for what I was doing and how I felt were few and far between.” and that “Nowadays there’s this whole new vocabulary… I think it’s OK to lose a few contentious words when you are creating new ones that offer a more finely-grained approach to experience.”
Such a prominent figure coming out made headline news and showed the important of evolving language as even a writer as prolific as Morrison had struggled for years to find the precise and necessary description of their experience. Morrisons coming out is a very important moment as they are a significant figure in the industry and therefore immediately raise the profile of such issues. Furthermore, as a serious creator their status is evidence against critics who say that sexualities and gender issues do not belong in the comics world. We applaud Morrison for this step and wish them all the best for their future.
- “I’m inside a self-assembling hyper story!”
- “I’ll do what I can to plug the hole in forever!”
- “I have a boiled egg and I’m not afraid to use it!”
- “These no-nonsense solutions of yours just don’t hold water in a complex world of jet-powered apes and time travel.”
Morrisons style is self-described as “mainstream psychadelica” with many of his books taking on metafictional qualities such in Doom Patrol where an early enemy and scissors from another dimension that cut people from the pages of the book, or in Final Crisis where the entire story is a metaphor itself for fight to see comics as a valid for of literature. His work is weird, outlandish, but also exceptionally accessible has he has a deep understanding of the mythical beats that allow meaning to transcend the mere plot on the page. Morrison clearly loves comics in general and superheroes in particular even penning a history of Superheroes in the 2011 academic title Supergods.
Themes in Writing
Their central themes and beliefs seems to be that superheroes are what we have created to teach ourselves how to be better people and how to “reach a little higher” along with the continual idea that there is a definite and reachable world beyond our limited perceptions that we can influence and it turn are influenced by. Much of their work shows characters engaging in metaphysical battles against raw agents of creation itself, the summation of which is Final Crisis in which comic book characters unite to fight against the blank page they are drawn on when it rebels against their despoiling of its pristine condition.
However in the light of their announcement around their gender identity it is important to re-examine the body of their work with this additional theme in mind Morrisons work as often included characters who transgressed gender and sexuality norms but without presenting them as show-pieces for doing so. One of his most famous work, Batman: Arkham Asylum presents the Joker in drag taunting a demasculinised Batman dressed in leather and began the theme of the Joker literally being in love with Batman. Notably this calls back to the days of Seduction of the Innocent which in part was based around Batman’s relationship to Robin.
In Invisibles Lord Fanny (a name the character choose specifically to provoke a reaction and to reclaim the power of it) is a central and powerful transwoman (referred to as a cross-dresser and transsexual within the text as was the norm at the time) who is a shown to be a well-rounded and complete figure with an active sex life and a wide variety of friends. This was exceptionally rare for a book written in the 1990s.
Using the soul-destroying Anti-Life Equation, Darkseid is remaking the heroes, villains and everyday people of Earth in his dark image…and destroying the very fabric of reality itself in the process.
Now superheroes from around the world-and across the Multiverse-must make a last, desperate stand against the forces of Anti-Life. Will Earth endure? And when the Crisis reaches its climax, who will make the ultimate sacrifice?
Collecting Batman #676-683, #701-702, Birds of Prey #118, DC Universe #0, DC Universe- The Last Will and Testament #1, Final Crisis #1-7, Final Crisis- Legion of 3 Worlds #1-5, Final Crisis- Requiem #1, Final Crisis- Resist #1, Final Crisis- Revelations #1-5, Final Crisis- Rogues’ Revenge #1-3, Final Crisis- Secret Files #1, Final Crisis- Submit #1, Final Crisis- Superman Beyond #1-2, Flash #240-241, Justice League of America #21, Superman/Batman #76, Teen Titans #59-60 and Terror Titans #1-6
Now in paperback! The biggest adventure in DC’s history is here! Join visionary writer Grant Morrison, today’s most talented artists, and a cast of unforgettable heroes from 52 alternative Earths of the DC Multiverse! Prepare to meet the Vampire League of Earth-43, the Justice Riders of Earth-18, Superdemon, Doc Fate, the super-sons of Superman and Batman, the rampaging Retaliators of Earth-8, the Atomic Knights of Justice, Dino-Cop, Sister Miracle, Lady Quark, and the latest, greatest Super Hero of Earth-Prime: YOU! THE MULTIVERSITY is more than a multipart comic-book series. It’s a cosmos spanning, soul-shaking experience that puts YOU on the frontline in the battle for all creation against the demonic destroyers known as the Gentry!Featuring artwork by Jim Lee (BATMAN: HUSH), Ivan Reis (JUSTICE LEAGUE), Frank Quitely (ALL-STAR SUPERMAN), Cameron Stewart (BATGIRL), Doug Mahnke (GREEN LANTERN) and many others, THE MULTIVERSITY tells an epic tale that span 52 Earths. Collects THE MULTIVERSITY #1 and 2, THE MULTIVERSITY GUIDEBOOK #1, and these MULTIVERSITY issues: THE SOCIETY OF SUPER-HEROES #1, THE JUST #1, PAX AMERICANA #1, THUNDERWORLD #1, MASTERMEN #1 and ULTRA COMICS #1.
Behind the curtain of everyday existence, a vast and unholy Conspiracy is at work, twisting and deforming reality to pave the way for colonization by hideous extradimensional powers. Facing this onslaught is a laughably small resistance movement scattered across space and time – a handful of subversives known as the Invisibles. This silent guerrilla war has raged for millennia, shaping the very fabric of the universe. But now the countdown to the final battle has begun, and soon everyone will have to make their choice: crushing, soul-rending conformity, or radical, anarchic freedom? Which side are you on? Illustrated by a host of comics greatest artists, New York Times best-selling author Grant Morrison s ground breaking saga of spiritual engineering and psychocognitive hacking is now available with bonus material in paperback.
Morrisons catalogue is extensive so rather than list every book here, click the link below to be taken to the Grant Morrison section of our online bookstore.
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