10 Things You Didn’t Know About Grant Morrison’s Comics Career

Grant Morrison is one of the most prolific comic writers in the medium’s modern age. Working for both Marvel and DC, they’re part of an elite few creators who have produced iconic work at both publishers. Part of the late ’80s British Invasion of DC, they’ve had a massive impact on the comic industry, becoming one of its bestselling and most beloved voices.

RELATED: 5 Things From Grant Morrison’s New X-Men That Lasted (& 5 That Were Quickly Undone)

Morrison has recently ended their relationship with DC and moved over to Substack, again changing the way they approach the industry. Their multi-decade career has had many ups and downs and is just as interesting as one of their stories.

10 Their Comic Writing Earned Them One Of The Highest Honors The UK Can Bestow

Morrison came of age during the unprecedented conservatism of the Thatcher administration in the UK and their work often fought against the political viewpoints of that time. Their creator-owned projects like The Invisibles, Kill Your Boyfriend, and The Filth called the stereotypical British lifestyle into question as well as disrespecting the British royal family in a number of ways.

This is why it was so surprising that Morrison was awarded The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a step down from knighthood, given to those that made great strides in the arts. It’s strange to think of the young firebrand Morrison ever getting an award from the people they railed against but it happened.

9 They’re Status As A Practicing Chaos Magician Has Played Into Their Comic Writing Multiple Times

grant morrison documentary

Much like their nemesis Alan Moore, Morrison is a practitioner of magic. While Moore is more of a traditional magic user, Morrison has gone in an entirely different direction. They focus on chaos magic and sigil-based magic, using their art as a way to manifest ideas into the real world from the mystical depths of their imagination.

Many of Morrison’s most well-known works incorporate their belief in some way, taking the mystical way they look at the world and using it as a novel way to tell stories, with books like The Invisibles, Nameless, and more incorporating their sigil based magic into them.

8 They Based Two Separate Characters In The Invisibles On Themself

The Invisibles Book Three Cover.

The Invisibles is one of Morrison’s greatest works and stands as one of the biggest examples of them putting their chaos magic into practice. Morrison based two different characters in the book on themselves. King Mob was everything Morrison wanted to be, a suave ladies man, and eventually Morrison’s life started to mirror Mob’s, down to a horrible injury that happened to the character.

RELATED: Supergods: 10 Best Insights Into Grant Morrison’s Book About Superheroes

Lord Fanny, the book’s transgender icon, was Morrison’s feminine side and an early indication of their status as a member of the transgender community. Morrison was known for dressing as a woman both for rituals and just because, and Fanny was that side of themselves. The nonbinary narrative of The Invisibles said a lot about Morrison when they didn’t have the words to describe who they are.

7 Flex Mentallo: Man Of Muscle Mystery Was Out Of Print For Years Because Of Legal Trouble

Flex Mentallo: Man Of Muscle Mystery, where Morrison was joined by frequent artistic collaborator Frank Quitely, is one of the most interesting Morrison comics. It’s a love letter to comics and the creativity of the medium, using examples from Morrison’s own early life of him as fodder. It’s a wonderfully mind-bending story that modern audiences almost never had a chance to enjoy.

Flex Mentallo is obviously based on Charles Atlas, a man who sold a workout book in the back of old comics. The Atlas estate sued DC because of the book and it was never reprinted until over a decade later. Unless fans could find the original four issues, they were out of luck until the 2012 reprint.

6 Their First Marvel Work Is A Forgotten Book

The Skrull Kill Krew

While Morrison is best known for their DC work, they have worked for Marvel. Most people focus on when they came to the publisher in the year 2000 but that wasn’t the first time they worked for the publisher. That would be a little-known book called The Skrull Kill Krew, where they were joined by co-writer Mark Millar, at the time their protege, and artist Steve Yeowell.

The book played off the first appearance of the Skrull in Fantastic Four, where the Skrulls were turned into cows at the end. They were slaughtered and eventually the people who ate them mutated and decided to hunt down Skrulls. This mid-90s book flew under the radar and many fans don’t even know it exists.

5 Their New X-Men Run Was Influential But A Headache For The Writer

New X Men

Morrison’s New X Men was a game-changer for the mutants, bringing them into the 21st century. Morrison poured their massive imagination into the book and the things they built would inspire X-Men writers in the years to come. Unfortunately, the book was a source of constant stress for the writer.

Morrison revealed in their book supergods that they had daily fights with Marvel editors over the book. These fights cut their time on the book and at Marvel short. In a fit of pique, Marvel editorial set out to destroy everything Morrison created at the publisher, but later big name creators who were fans used what they created as a blueprint for the future.

4 Their Work On Animal Man Brought Meta Narratives Back To Comics

Animal Man is considered one of DC’s most underrated characters and the main reason is Morrison’s run. Joined by artists Tom Grummet, and Chas Truog with covers by Brian Bolland, Morrison took the Silver Age hero and modernized him. That was only the beginning, though, as Morrison made an unconventional choice with the book.

Animal Man #26 Morrison brought themself into the book, talking to the titular character about his life as a comic character. This moment recalls the entire narrative of the run, making it into a story about the human relationship to fiction. It brought meta-narratives back to comics and is an undisputed classic.

3 Their Back To Basics Approach Saved The Justice League

panel from jla new world order

Morrison’s JLA is one of their most well-known books and made them one of the League’s most iconic writers. What many fans that weren’t there at the time don’t realize is just how bad things were for the Justice League in the mid-’90s and how important their run was to the team.

RELATED: Grant Morrison’s 10 Best Marvel Stories, Ranked

The Justice League was all but dead when Morrison made his pitch to return the Big Seven to the League. Their run took classic elements and melded them with new ones, creating a run that revitalized the team and saved the Justice League, bringing them back to the forefront of the industry.

two The Matrix Is One Of The Reasons Morrison Left DC

Matrix Neo Awakens

Morrison’s relationship with DC seemed pretty unshakeable in the late ’90s. Then The Matrix happened. Comic artists Steve Skroce and Geoff Darrow did design work on the film and there were comic tie-ins published by Warner Brothers. Morrison liked the movie but recognized a lot from their creator-owned series The Invisibles.

Then they found out that The Invisibles comics were being used as references for the movie on set. Morrison felt they deserved to be consulted, if not paid, and the way DC’s parent company Warner Brothers handled the whole thing caused him to leave DC and go to Marvel. He’d eventually return to DC when the situation at Marvel became untenable.

one They Clashed With DC Editorial Over Final Crisis

Final Crisis is Morrison’s DC opus, a massive tale that incorporated their views on the publisher and its characters. Joined by artists JG Jones, Carlos Pacheco, and Doug Mahnke, it was a multi-faceted tale that is still debated over today. It wasn’t the typical event story, which is what DC apparently wanted.

The writer clashed with DC editorial over the book, as executive editor Dan DiDio tried to use Countdown To Final Crisis to control the directions Morrison could take their narratives. Morrison rebelled by not sharing what they were doing with EndCrisis, invalidating the prelude books. The fact the book turned out so well is a testament to their skill.

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