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jueves, 23 de octubre de 2008

Grant Morrison, deconstructing the superhero 02

His first professional work in comics was The Adventures of Gideon Stargrave (basically a clone of the Jerry Cornelius by Moorcock) for Near Myths magazine.
At the same time, he wrote Science Fiction stories for DC Thompson –he even draw one of them– and Captain Clyde, the adventures of an unemployed superhero that were published during three years in several illustrious local newspapers.

In the core of the Eighties, he wrote Zoids and some Doctor Who stories for Marvel UK. At that time, he came out with loads of short stories, most of then published in 2000 AD magazine as part of Future Shocks. In 1986, once he had gone through that initiation process —and because he didn’t stop nagging around— he was given a superhero regular series in 2000 AD, Zenith, a project that would become his first big success.

Zenith, the character, didn’t look like any other previous hero. It was the middle of the 80’s, and one had to try and get as much takings of life as possible. Zenith, with all his superpowers, was a selfish and superficial rock star that shared some features with its creator: “I tried to imagine the way I would behave if I were a super-hero. (…) Of course, I wouldn’t devote myself to save the world. I would record many albums, have sex with loads of chicks, and would drink a lot. The point would be that I could go home flying instead of having to pick up a cab. What I wanted to do was getting together all these aspects in a standard superhero plot, making him fighting people…”

For Morrison, a standard superhero plot integrated the menace of Lovecraft’s Dark Gods trying to get ride of the Multiverse, old hippy superheroes turned into wig members of The Parliament, clones of Nazi super-men and, of course, the usual mysterious disappearance of the parents of a super-hero more concerned on looking his best in a videoclip, shot by … let’s say, Julian Temple, than on rescuing his ancestors. Moreover, all this happens merely in the first story arc.
While reading these stories, it always comes to my mind that Grant took his inspiration from the first legends that arrived to boring England about a bald-to-be fellow in Gijón who was always chasing chicks, pursuing dreams and borrowing drinks.

At that time, the DC talent scouts —eager to exploit the layer inaugurated with Alan Moore— got in touch with Morrison. He assisted to the meeting with his plots for Animal Man and Arkham Asylum, and both of them were accepted.

This didn’t bring an end to his working with British publishing companies, he managed to work in Zenith and other British projects as Dare, Bible John or St. Swithin’s Day and simultaneously wrote Animal Man, The Doom Patrol, Legends of the Dark Knight or Hellblazer.

Few years later, Morrison stated: “Buddy (Animal Man) was my American voice, whereas Zenith incarnated my British personality”. This last personality came out in many of his pronouncements during his enfant terrible or punk-chic period: when he criticized Chris Claremont unmercifully, or he tried to take Alan Moore down from his practically divine pedestal.
This phase didn’t last long, and Morrison came up soon with other public personalities, as the one of the mad guru who assured the validity of the Chaos Magic methods’. Or the sexy conspirator dressed in leather. as a reflection of King Mob from The Invisibles. Or the creator who is just a conglomerate that incarnates an evolutionary process. Or the intuitive, sincere, affable, humorous, enthusiast and tremendously curious person who emerges from the condensing of all his works.

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