Does famed comics writer, Grant Morrison believe comics are on their death bed? That seems to be his view in a new interview with Rolling Stone magazine. The author of the recently released Supergods was profiled by the magazine, and was rather candid about his feelings on the decline of comic books and even his relationship with former collaborator Mark Millar. Rolling Stone, which published its profile of Morrison in their September issue, released a second Q&A yesterday, which included the following excerpts.
DC is relaunching its entire line – is there some desperation there?
There’s always going to be a bit of that because comics sales are so low, people are willing to try anything these days. It’s just plummeting. It’s really bad from month to month. May was the first time in a long time that no comic sold over 100,000 copies, so there’s a decline.
Do you think this is the death spiral?
Yeah. I kind of do, but again, you can always be wrong. There’s a real feeling of things just going off the rails, to be honest. Superhero comics. The concept is quite a ruthless concept, and it’s moved on, and it’s kind of abandoned, the first-stage rocket.
Morrison goes on to say that while comics book quality is at an all time high, he thinks it is the medium that is dying. So where does Morrison think we go from here?
And moving on to movies, where it can be more powerful, more effective. The definition of a meme is an idea that wants to replicate, and it’s found a better medium through which to replicate, games, movies. It would be a shame, because as I said in the book, one of the most amazing things about those universes is that they exist, there’s a paper continuum that reflects the history, but people don’t die, it’s like The Simpsons, people don’t age, they just change.
What is interesting is that Morrison makes no mention of the move to day and date digital. In fact he goes the opposite way and seems to blame the internet and digital media for the decline in comics.
Everything’s available for free, I think that’s the real problem, nobody wants to buy it anymore. One comes out, you see it immediately online and you can read it. That’s the way people want to consume their information, the colors look nicer. I think that’s more the problem, but that’s a problem for everybody, it’s not just for comics, everyone’s going to start feeling that one.
Morrison, who is over the top in almost everything he does, seems to forget that comics are not made digitally by default. He suggests that it is as easy as jumping online to get the most recent issue of Batman, and that is simply not the case. But the Internet was not the only thing Morrison was gunning for. Rolling Stone then brought up his falling out with former his partner in super-crime, Mark Millar. Morrison had some praise for the younger writer, but hurt feelings are still apparent.
Is that an estranged situation?
It’s a can of worms. I met Mark when he was 18, and I really got on with him, because he laughed at all my jokes. He has the same sense of humor as me, he’s very dark, and has that sense of humor, so we bonded. I used to phone him every day, and we ended up doing some work together on 2000 AD, which went well. It was funny stuff, we’d meet in the pub and get drunk and do this Big Dave strip, which was a comedy strip, and obviously, he was trying to get into American comics, so I got him on in Swamp Thing, and they asked me to write the book but I said, “Let’s get Mark in, let’s give him a job,” so I consulted with him on the stories, and so on through the Nineties.
When he got the Authority book, his star started to rise, and at that point, he felt he was in my shadow and he had to get out, and the way to get out was to do this fairly uncool split. It was quite hard, I felt, but he had to make his own way, and he was in denial that I’d been there, because I saw a lot of his work had been plotted or devised, even dialogue suggestions were done by me right up until the point of The Ultimates. It was seen by him as a dimunition of his position, even though it wasn’t, I was quite proud of him as a mentor. He’s done well without me, he has his own style, he does his own stuff. It was kind of that archetype, you get caught up in that story.
He still lives in Glasgow, is there a chance of bumping into him?
There’s a very good chance of running into him, and I hope I’m going 100 miles an hour when it happens.
This falling out was not one that is well known among fans, but Morrison and Millar’s relationship was. It would be interesting to see how Millar remembers the fallout. Morrison also talks about his book, his party days and even the use of rape as a plot device.
It is certainly worrying that such a high profile writer feels that comics are in such dire straits, but Morrison is prone to hyperbole. That being said, you cannot deny his status in the comic community. What do you think? Are comics on their death bed? Can movies and games really save our love of Superman and others? Or are Morrison’s tendencies for hyperbole blowing things out of proportion? Let us know what you think in the comments!