Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's Comic Book Day! #11--The Irredeemable Comments of Grant Morrison

Originally I was going to yammer on and on about how I've been trying out a few new series that I never got around to reading while I was following DC Comics.  In short, it's working out rather well, but that is neither here nor there.  In the midst of trying out new titles, I ran across the afterword written for Mark Waid's Irredeemable by none other than Grant Morrison.

The premise of Waid's book is to present a Superman like character that isn't as psychologically well grounded as Clark Kent/Kal-El.  Waid posits that we tend to see people in comics that are at least reasonably well equipped to handle the stress of being superheros, but what would happen if someone a little less grounded were put in that same situation.

What issues would start to undermine the heroes morality?  What would get on his nerves?  What if the things that are usually a given  (good friends, stalwart allies) don't quite pan out?  How long would it take for a hero to become a villain under these circumstances?

It's pretty interesting, but what is almost as interesting is how Grant Morrison takes the premise posited and makes it about how bad comic book fans are on the internet.  For such a chemically enhanced, brilliant, post modern comic book genius, Grant Morrison sure sounds like a grumpy old man telling comic book fans to get off his lawn.  Not just in this afterword, but also in some of his Comic-Con comments and in articles he has written for various comic news sites.

Grant Morrison Versus Geek Culture--Quote of the Day

Grant Morrison Supergods Interview

Morrison's position is that the nagging issues that don't quite go right for the Plutonian in Waid's comics are similar to the complaints of comic book fans on the internet.

Now, to me, seeing what causes someone to go down a certain path is different that condoning that path.  Understanding is not acceptance.  However, Morrison, in his need to decry the state of internet fan discourse, seems to dismiss the culpability of subject going down the dark road, because hardships visited upon the subject.

So many thoughts run through my head on this topic.  But as an aside, before I stray too far, I have to say it's pretty amusing to see that Morrison is very upset by the concept of "patterning," basically meaning that once someone believes that something falls into a pattern, they always perceive the subject as following that pattern, even when they don't.  Morrison points out that he's upset that he's been "patterned" as "incomprehensible" no matter how hard he tries to write a coherent story, and he tries to rope Waid in with him, saying that Waid has been "patterned" as a Silver Age apologist.

Essentially, Morrison wants to dismiss any criticism as unfounded.  The masses of comic book fans are unenlightened people that "pattern" people rather than appreciating them.  Using his analogy, of course, comic book creators would be the equivalent of the Plutonian, i.e. gods among men.

Between this and a recent article talking about the dust up between Scott Lobdell and Ron Marz on Twitter, there is a disconcerting trend among comic book creators to see the internet as something to be derided and ignored.  Except for when they need to vent.  I seem to remember a term called "projection."

Now, for my part, I will admit that the internet has a lot of jerks in residence.  Many people say stupid, hurtful things without thinking about them.  Other people like to spout off like they are experts on a given subject and even have blogs . . . er . . . I mean, they take their blogs way too seriously.  Yeah.  But I would contend that, from a comic creator's point of view, there is value in the internet.

It may take time, and some of them may be busy stemming the tide of mighty rivers or actually delivering a book on time, but if a creator has time to actually spend some quality time online, you can start to sift out the venom and the stupidity, and see some comments that are actually well reasoned.  There are two things to keep in mind, however.

1.  Not everyone agrees with you.

2.  How someone feels isn't wrong.

It's easy to lump comments that fall under 1, 2, or both into the same category as people saying "Grant Morrison is teh suxxors!,"  but there are subtle differences.

Now, the disclaimer that all comic book fans should take to heart, and not just because it sounds familiar.  With great (or really moderate) power comes great responsibility.  If you are a comic book fan, or a fan of anything, and you decide to weigh in on something, please, please, try to keep some things in mind.

1.  Don't get personal.  You don't know Grant Morrison in real life, and if you did, you wouldn't need to post about him on the internet.  What you know is what he makes public, so only comment on that.  (Grant is probably a bad example, in that I think he does mention about everything that comes to mind somewhere, in some venue, but that's a whole other kettle of fish)

2.  If you know something is an emotional reaction, own it.  Don't try to make your opinion representative of some phantom constituency.  It's probably a lot easier for the Plutonian to read internet forums when a post says "I've never been a fan of your work, it just leaves me cold," than to read, "no one in their right mind would ever be a fan of yours."

3.  Try very hard to make specific points, if you aren't just citing your own emotional response.  Using a second hand source, or worse, someone else citing a second hand source, isn't good.  People will call you on it, or more likely, dismiss your point entirely.

Supergods Audiobook on

And as a parting shot, so that Grant Morrison can completely disregard this blog, I picked up the audiobook of Supergods.  I have no idea why.  I will admit I did not make it through the book.  I had an emotional response, which was to ask myself, "why didn't I trust that damn patterning in my brain and assume that this was Grant Morrison being incomprehensible?"

Disclaimer the First:  I really liked Grant Morrison's run on JLA.

Disclaimer the Second:  Irredeemable is an interesting read, but depressing.


  1. Excellent piece. I thought it was really well written and insightful and it helped me clarify some concepts we're going over in my own games.

  2. I think it's got to be tough. To be creative and have a vision, and the audience you want to reach spends all this time undercutting you and doubting you. At some point, the patience has to wear thin.
    Morrison's feelings are just as valid as a reader of comics, it's just a matter of scale and ability to handle that scale.