Alan Moore and Superfolks Part 3: The Strange Case of Grant Morrison and Alan Moore

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delete Alan Moore and Superfolks Part 3: The Strange Case of Grant Morrison and Alan Mooredelete Alan Moore and Superfolks Part 3: The Strange Case of Grant Morrison and Alan Mooreby Pádraig Ó Méalóid

[Previous installments of this piece: Part 1, part 2]

Originally, when I set out to look into the various allegations about Alan Moore and Robert Mayer’s Superfolks, I thought it was going to be a comparatively straightforward piece to write. Just read the book, find out what people had said, and attempt to match the two of them up together. What could be easier, I asked myself? Ten thousand words and nearly a year later, I find that I could not have been more wrong. However, doing the research is at least half the fun, I’ve always said. Much of the fascination of writing about things like this is that you never know what you’re going to find out. And one of the things that I found out was that I really needed to know more about the animosity between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, as it seemed to be a constantly recurring aspect of the story of Moore and Superfolks.

7128543335 f140d5b712 n Alan Moore and Superfolks Part 3: The Strange Case of Grant Morrison and Alan MooreSo, to go back to where I started, back to the beginning of the piece called Alan Moore and Superfolks: Part 1 – The Case for the Prosecution, there’s that piece from Grant Morrison’s Drivel column in Speakeasy #111 (July 1990), where he talks about reading Superfolks, and makes it really quite clear that he thinks – or pretends to think – that Alan Moore plundered the book for ideas. But this isn’t by any means the beginning of their – for want of a better word – relationship.

But what is the beginning of that relationship? There are two different versions of this, depending on who you listen to. So, first there’s Alan Moore’s version of events, which I’ve transcribed from the webchat he did for the Harvey Pekar statue Kickstarter. One of the questioners asked,

You are somewhat surprisingly not the only acclaimed comics writer from the UK to also be a vocal magician. Obviously I’m talking about Grant Morrison here, who has never been terribly shy about his views on you or your work. Can we possibly draw you out on your views of him and his work?

To which Moore replied,

Well, let me see… The reason I haven’t spoken about Grant Morrison generally is because I’m not very interested in him, and I don’t really want to get involved with a writer of his calibre in some sort of squabble. But, for the record, since you asked: the first time I met him, he was an aspiring comics writer from Glasgow, I was up there doing a signing or something. They asked if I could perhaps – if they could invite a local comics writer who was a big admirer of mine along to the dinner. So I said yeah. This was I think the only time that I met him to speak to. He said how much he admired my work, how it had inspired him to want to be a comics writer. And I wished him the best of luck, I told him I’d look out for his work. When I saw that work in 2000 AD I thought ‘Well, this seems as if it’s a bit of a cross between Captain Britain and Marvelman, but that’s probably something that he’ll grow out of.’ It was on that basis that I recommended him to Karen Berger when she was starting [indecipherable speech - Vertigo?].

Then there started a kind of, a strange campaign of things in fanzines where he was expressing his opinions of me, as you put it. He later explained this as saying that when he started writing, he felt that he wasn’t famous enough, and that a good way of becoming famous would be to say nasty things about me. Which I suppose is a tactic – although not one that, of course, I’m likely to appreciate. So at that point I decided, after I’d seen a couple of his things and they seemed incredibly derivative, I just decided to stop bothering reading his work. And that’s largely sort of proven successful. But, there still seems to be this kind of [indecipherable speech] that I know.

And, as far as I know, he’s the only bone of contention between me and Michael Moorcock. Michael Moorcock is a sweet sweet man – I believe he has only ever written one letter of complain to a publisher over the appropriation of his work, that was to DC Comics over Grant Morrison, so the only bone of contention between me and Michael Moorcock is which of us Grant Morrison is ripping off the most. I say that it’s Michael Moorcock, he says it’s me. We’ve nearly come to blows over it, but I’m reluctant to let it go that far, because, I’m probably more nimble than Moorcock – I’ve got a few years on him, I’m probably faster, but Moorcock is huge, he’s like a bear. He could just like take my arm off with one sweep of his paw, so we’ll let that go undecided for the moment. But, those are pretty much my thoughts on Grant Morrison, and hopefully now I’ve explained that I won’t have to mention his name again.

The other version of the story comes from Patrick Meaney’s Talking with Gods documentary, where Morrison says,

8142214825 b531e606dd n Alan Moore and Superfolks Part 3: The Strange Case of Grant Morrison and Alan MooreI remember reading V for Vendetta and thinking, this is what I wanted to do, this is the way comics should be. One of the first things I did was go down to see Dez Skinn in London, the publisher of Warrior. I had taking this story, which was a Kid Marvelman spec script, and he bought it straight away so, again, that was a really good jump for me. Then Alan Moore had it spiked, and said it was never to be published. Thus began our slight antagonism, which has persisted until this very day. They asked me to continue Marvelman, because Moore had fallen out with everyone in the magazine, and taken away his script, and they said ‘Would you follow this up?’ And to me that was just like, oh my God – the idea of getting to do Marvelman, following Alan Moore, ‘I’m the only person in the world who’d really do this right,’ and I was well up for it. I didn’t want to do it without Moore’s permission, and I wrote to him and said, ‘They’ve asked me to do this, but obviously I really respect you work, and I wouldn’t want to mess anything up, but I don’t want anyone else to do it, and mess it up.’ And he sent me back this really weird letter, and I remember the opening of it, it said, ‘I don’t want this to sound like the softly hissed tones of a mafia hitman, but back off.’ And the letter was all, ‘but you can’t do this,’ you know, ‘we’re much more popular than you, and if you do this, your career will be over,’ and it was really quite threatening, you know, so I didn’t do it, but I ended up doing some little bit of work for Warrior.

It’s hard to put exact dates on either of these versions, but presumably Moore’s story happened before Morrison’s, and, given that Morrison’s story refers to Moore having stopped writing Marvelman for Warrior, this puts the date at some point between August 1984, when Moore’s last Marvelman story appeared, in Warrior #21, and February 1985, when Warrior #26, the last issue, came out, containing the Morrison-scripted The Liberators: Night Moves, incidentally. So the meeting in Glasgow between Moore and Morrison must have happened at some point between the first issue of Warrior in March 1982 and Moore’s last story, in August 1984. The exact timing is possibly not that important, but I like to nail these things down if I can!

8190989220 824899667d m Alan Moore and Superfolks Part 3: The Strange Case of Grant Morrison and Alan MooreMeanwhile, Morrison’s own star was on the rise. He started writing Zenith for 2000 AD in August 1987, after various other work here and there in UK comics, and this was his breakthrough work. I didn’t come across him myself until later on, when he was writing Animal Man for DC Comics, and still think that The Coyote Gospel from Animal Man #5 is one of the single best things ever put on a page anywhere, by anyone. It was during this time that Morrison, as Moore put it, had ‘ a strange campaign of things in fanzines where he was expressing his opinions of me [...]. He later explained this as saying that when he started writing, he felt that he wasn’t famous enough, and that a good way of becoming famous would be to say nasty things about me.’ Morrison himself refers to this too, in his book Supergods, where he says,

High-contrast Western manga art by my Zoids partner Steve Yeowell made Zenith’s world a frantic modernist blur of speed lines and contemporary fashions and haircuts. We announced to the world that Zenith was intended to be as dumb, sexy, and disposable as an eighties pop single: Alan Moore remixed by Stock Aitken Waterman. Keeping all the self-awareness outside the story, we used interviews and forewords to admit to our sources. In them we praised creative theft and plagiarism, quoted the French playwright Antonin Artaud and sneeringly suggested that the likes of Watchmen were pompous, stuffy, and buttock-clenchingly dour. The shock tactics I’d brought with me from the music world, delivered with the snotty whippet-thin snideness of the hipster, had helped me carve out a niche for myself as comics’ enfant terrible, and Steve was happy to play along as the handsome nice one with nothing controversial to say.

My public persona was punk to the rotten core. Outspoken and mean spirited, I freely expressed contempt for the behind-the-scenes world of comics professionals, which seemed unglamorous and overwhelmingly masculine by comparison to the club and music scenes. My life was rich, and my circle of friends and family was secure enough that I could afford to play a demonic role at work. Reading interviews from the time makes my blood run cold these days, but the trash talk seemed to be working, and I was rapidly making a name for myself. Being young, good-looking, and cocky forgave many sins, a huge hit British superhero strip did the rest and proved I could back up the big talk.

Talking about this more recently, in David Bishop’s Thrill-Power Overload: Thirty Years of 2000 AD (Rebellion, UK, June 2007), Morrison recalls being asked by the editorial people at 2000 AD to come up with an idea for a British superhero strip, he said,

[Zenith] was very much a reaction against torment superheroes. Dark Knight is a brilliant piece of Reagan-era fiction and Watchmen is very, very clever in its architecture, but both books felt pompous and concept albumy to me as a young man in the 80s. I wanted to do something a little less self conscious perhaps, or to align myself with a different current of thinking. I had grown bored with the dull ‘realism’ of the grim ‘n’ gritty school. Brendan [McCarthy]’s work was so unique, so personal and inspirational that I was completely blown away and converted utterly to the McCarthy method – tell the truth on to the page and let your psyche all hang out. At the same time… I wanted some ‘realistic’ aspects to my story. I decided to make it about the superficial things I was into at the time: clothes, records, TV shows. Instead of creating an aspirational superhero, I gave Zenith all of my worst, most venal traits. I wanted to create a postcard from the 80s, but I also thought that if I did it without the prevailing captions and thought boxes the strip might stand up quite well on its own.

My own opinion of what happened, and how I feel about it, has changed quite a bit since I started writing these three pieces. Yes, I have a lot of sympathy for Alan Moore about the things that were being said about him, but I think that it’s pretty obvious there was more than an element of the japester, the trickster, about Morrison’s writing, in particular the piece he wrote about Superfolks in his Drivel column in Speakeasy in 1990, which he makes all the more obvious in his end piece. I’d also like to point out that that was over twenty years ago now, a long time to have something like that hanging over you, and this applies equally to both of them: Moore is still having it used as a stick to beat him with, and Morrison may wish that a not-terribly-serious piece he wrote as a young man, and which has cast a much longer shadow than anyone could ever have expected, would simply go away. (And, indeed, having someone like me digging it up one more time can hardly help in that, although I’m hoping that this might get to be the final, and definitive, word on the subject…)

I also imagine that having someone get in touch to offer to take overwriting his first major piece of work probably wasn’t received terribly well, and it’s hard to blame Moore for that, either. But in many ways Morrison was only doing what Moore had done before him. I can certainly recognise the punk spirit in some of what Morrison says – I’m less than 100 days older than Morrison, and I do recall that rule #1 in punk was that everything that went before was rubbish. In hindsight, of course, there is much that was discarded that has since been reappraised, and found not to be so dreadful after all! In much the same way, when Morrison says, ‘Reading interviews from the time makes my blood run cold these days, I imagine that one of the things he’s particularly referring to is his treatment of Moore in those early articles.

8191009798 1926ba26d7 n Alan Moore and Superfolks Part 3: The Strange Case of Grant Morrison and Alan MooreI certainly think that Morrison may now regret some of his earlier actions but, particularly in this Internet age, nothing is gone, and everything is remembered. It is interesting, I think, that in his book Supergods – which itself seems to actually reflect the title of Superfolks – he doesn’t actually mention Superfolks in relation to his or Moore’s work, but only once, in the context of having been an inspiration for Pixar’s The Incredibles. Even so, Supergods has the line Behold, I teach you the superman: He is this lightning, he is this madness! by Friedrich Nietzsche as its epigraph, the same as Superfolks did, and Marvelman didn’t. Is this all some sort of strange cosmic coincidence, or is Morrison trying to tell us something? Honestly, I have no idea.

So, what do I think, in the end? I think, first, that, although Grant Morrison poked fun at Alan Moore with regard to Superfolks, he certainly didn’t mean it to be taken as seriously as it was, or for it to become a big stick to beat Moore with. And I really think it’s a shame that Alan Moore has such difficulty moving on from things like this, because he’s done his own share of saying mean things about Morrison, to this day. I genuinely love Moore’s work, and one of the things I love most is the sense of compassion, of redemption, that is in much of it, but reading over these pieces, it’s hard not to see Moore as the one who is perpetuating this, rather than Morrison, who only ever has good things to say about Moore’s work these days. It’s not that I don’t think that Moore has good reason to do the things he does, just that it can be difficult sometimes to see that your gods have feet of clay. In the end, though, I still love his work, and still admire him enormously as a person and as a creator. I don’t read as much of Grant Morrison’s work as I used to, mostly because I finally decided that I was giving up on superheroes for good a few years back, but his work on Animal Man and Doom Patrol is still some of the best work ever done in mainstream comics, and I think that people give him a hard time which he definitely doesn’t deserve. I probably fall into that category myself, although I think I may go rethink some of those ideas now. After all, it’s never too late to change your mind.

—————————————————————-
8142244920 4042911352 n Alan Moore and Superfolks Part 3: The Strange Case of Grant Morrison and Alan MooreThere is one final thing I want to clear up, seeing as it came up here: Whatever happened to that Kid Marvelman story that Grant Morrison sold to Dez Skinn?

Dez Skinn, in Talking to Gods, said about Morrison,

He was such a quiet unassuming kind of guy when he’d come into the office, he was more like a fan than a professional, you know, very shy, very timid-seeming, but his work was the absolute opposite, it was totally out there, even his early stuff. I thought it was a really nice little five-pager but Alan, like any creator, I guess, who owns material, didn’t want anybody else touching his material.

And here’s Dez again, this time talking in George Khoury’s Kimota! – The Marvelman Companion:

Grant did submit a Kid Marvelman story, about a discussion between Kid Marvelman and a Catholic priest, and it was quite fascinating because Kid Marvelman argued a very good case against organised religion. Nobody was flying, no beams from anyone’s eyes, but a bloody clever script, clever enough that I sent it to Alan Moore for his opinion. Alan’s reply was, ‘Nobody else writes Marvelman.’ And I said to Grant, ‘I’m sorry, he’s jealously hanging on to this one.’

There is a long-standing rumour that the story was published in Fusion #4, a Scottish comics fanzine, but the piece in question, called ‘The Devil and Johnny Bates,’ was actually an article about Kid Marvelman by someone else. None the less, Morrison did draw two covers for Fusion, including the one for #4, both of which are reproduced here. Yes, that is Kid Marvelman on the cover of #4, and Marvelman himself on the cover of #6. But that Kid Marvelman story never did get to see print, it seems. Which is a shame. Who knows what the future hold, though? Not me!

Comments

  1. Jesse says:

    You are giving Morrison a bit of a pass at the end. Moore does seem to be a little odd but who cares, Morrison on the other hand has become an ego maniac. Really your own convention, in your name? Shameless self promtion. At the end of day Moore has created pieces that have cultural significance outside of the comic world. Can any of us escape Guy Fawkes masks? I do not see Moore running around trying to constantly garner attention for himself, he doesn’t need to his work speaks for itself. Morrison on the other had never shuts up and he has never created anything nearing the level of Moore or the recognition. No one outside of comics knows who he is or much less cares. The bottom line is Moore’s work was transformative and he will be an icon for many years to come. Morrison on the other hand will fade in popularity as his fanboy base ages and stops listening to Gerard Way. (I do agree that Coyote Gospel is one of the best comics I have read)

  2. Like you say not that important, but I think Moore’s story actually post-dates Morrison’s, not pre-dates it as you have here. I think Moore’s referring to Karen Berger’s UK talent-spotting trip in ’88 when he mentions he recommended Morrison; and it seems unlikely Morrison would have been invited many places as a local comics writer between ’82 and ’84, as he’d barely had anything published then, with The Liberators at Warrior his first major job.

    That they were still on good if indifferent terms in ’88 suggests that Moore’s bone of contention really is largely based on the Drivel column. Funnily enough Michael Moorcock’s issue with Morrison, that the Gideon Stargrave bits in The Invisibles were plaigirising his Jerry Cornelius books, also seems to be something of a joke on Morrison’s part that Moorcock didn’t ‘get’.

    I think it’s something both of them, Morrison and Moore, would rather people stopped asking them about, but folks still do. As with Mark Millar, Morrison at least seems happy to be gracious about Moore’s work rather than, for the large part, pretending that he doesn’t exist.

  3. Julian West says:

    There seems to be a personality clash, more than anything substantive. Morrison thought it would be amusing to tease Moore, and Moore Was Not Amused.

    In general, AM has a tendency to quarrel with people on points of principle, after which he decides that out of the many millions of people he could be dealing with, he doesn’t want to deal with this one any more. And then he drops them. He rarely comments about the people he’s dropped, but he doesn’t have any dealings with them.

    I suspect that that one reason that he stopped going to conventions was the need to be polite to people he’d excluded from his life.

    As for self-promotion – Grant Morrison makes his living from getting people to like his work. He’d be very stupid not to self-promote. If he had a number of people willing to set up a conference about him, why shouldn’t he go along with it?

    The comics industry is littered with people who end up relying on the kindness of fans to pay for their medical bills. They should all be making as much money as fast as they can, because they’re in a very insecure profession.

  4. This was a great essay series, and I think most of your conclusions are pretty spot on.
    But as recently as last year Morrison was putting out jabs at Moores oeuvre in relation to the use rape scenes, so I don’t know that Morrison has entirely nice things to say about Moore currently.
    Of what I recall of these comments they were said in an article relating to Morrisons Multiversity project, where he described his version of the Charlton Comics IP as Watchmen done right. There was a display of contempt.
    Thinking of this now in the context of your article its interesting, given Moores comments about appropriation of Moorecock by Morrison and Moorecocks concept of Multiverse.
    You suggest Morrisons attacks on Moore may have been some kind of media persona of Morrison in the past, but it is still active now: rag on Moore to get a headline, and maybe anyone else more popular than himself. This puts his comments on Mark Millar in a new context.
    Also keep in mind that DC would have been ramping up the Before Watchmen project at this time, and the comments Morrison had made merely months before were used as sticks by the DC promo/fanboy campaign to mitigate the moral arguments about DCs use of the Watchmen property – Moore was cast as the rape writer whenever someone cast DC as an IP thief.
    While not a fan of rape in comics myself (there are all sorts of discourse issues) I don’t think this is coincidence that Morrison said what he said when he did, especially now that we are looking at the pattern of these kinds of comments. Morrison is, coincidently, the only non-staff DC writer to do what he wanted in the New 52 without editorial interference, including Batman Inc which makes no sense in the new paradigm DC was trying to create. And recent comments by Greg Rucka about the Wonder Woman Year One, which was given to Morrison over Rucka, give us insight as to the kinds of deals that get made behind the scenes.

    Perhaps you should have a closer look at Morrisons work in the context of appropriation, to see how he stacks up against his own accusations. It would serve not only as a critique of the writer, but also of the issues around imitation and appropriation in general.
    Yes, Morrison has made reference to some sources, but how honest is he? For example, have you seen how much of the Invisibles concept was lifted out of Eco’s ‘Foucaults Pendulum’ (also the key source for the Dan Brown novels by the way)?

  5. Don Murphy says:

    He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.

    Sound and fury signifying nothing.

    And @Jesse- no one is offering to promote an AlanMooreCon because people don’t pay to see Snake God worship. So you lose as usual.

  6. Thomas Wayne says:

    Why is it that the more I read of this article series the less I like Grant Morrison than I did before…and I was far from a fan when I started. Is it me or is Morrison’s ego as bigger or bigger than any one given player in the NFL or NBA…and that is saying A LOT.

    What started out as a “Did or did not Alan Moore take basic ideas from SUPERFOLKS” has, to me, turned into one example after the next of how big of a pompous ass Morrison is.

    Start shit as a younger man to become more famous? Thinks he was the only writer alive who should get to touch Marvelman?

    His words – I’d brought with me from the music world, delivered with the snotty whippet-thin snideness of the hipster, had helped me carve out a niche for myself as comics’ enfant terrible,…

    He sounds PROUD of that….seriously….I’m the spoiled brat…look at me. That’s how he comes off. Who wants any part of that? What a bitch.

    He embraces proudly embraces his behavior but calls comics professionals unglamorous and overwhelmingly masculine by comparison to the club and music scenes. Well I would hope so. The most unmanly thing in the world was the punk and alternative music scene coming out of 1980’s Europe – bunch of talentless punks dressed in ridiculous clothing and hair styles spouting off about anarchy and changing the world when all they really did was clutter up the world of pop culture more than it already was.

    And don’t even get me started on MorrisonCon. How self agrandizing can you get?

    I stand by what I have said over three articles here. Alan Moore may have taken from the basic idea or concept of SUPERFOLKS, but in the long run their isn’t a creative force worth a damn that hasn’t done that on some level or another.

    The real key here is Morrison’s need to pretend that he is above all that. Yet his “hey, over here…look at me…I’m special” thought process is twice as bad and annoying as any creative theft by Moore or anyone else – but somehow he’s gotten a pass for his bullshit behavior over the last two decades.

    Scary. Scary that we as consumers of the comic product and culture have placed such an ass whipe on such a pedestal.

    I’d like to buy Grant Morrison for what he’s worth and sell him for what he thinks he’s worth. I’d be able to pay off the national debt of the US and the European Union as well as fund complete cures for cancer and still have enough left over to buy the NY Yankees and a really good cheese burger.

  7. Mr Sensitive says:

    The interesting thing to me about the whole Moore/Morrison “feud”, and never seems to be commented on, is Moore’s coming out as a magician after his 40th birthday in the early 90’s. Moore’s dismissal of a lot of Morrison’s post 2000AD work seems more than passing strange since a lot of it dealt with stuff that Moore was beginning to take more than a passing interest in and Morrison had long been a practicing magician, or claimed to be . Is he upset that Morrison covered a lot of this territory first in the Invisibles before Promethea debuted towards the turn of the century? Is it because the Invisibles was more enjoyable than the didactic Prometha, even though Promethea had the superior art? Definitely seems to be more to this issue than some slight Morrison made towards him in the 80s. Do you have any thoughts on this Pádraig?

  8. Interesting article series, thanks a lot. I’ve never liked Grant Morrison’s work. While it can be argued that Moore’s work is very pompous in places, at least it’s got substance. I’ve yet to read anything Morrison with any substance.

    I never understand what’s going on in his stories, and he ruined Batman for me. He’s probably the most over hyped thing in comics since everybody was raving about what a great artist Todd McFarlane was on Spider-Man in the late 80s. Today I think all his drawings look like parodies of real comics.

  9. Matt Arado says:

    Random comments:
    1) Moore and Morrison are both excellent writers. Both have created lasting works that I enjoy going back to again and again.
    2) They appear not to get along personally — OK, that happens. Doesn’t affect my engagement with their work.
    3) WITH ONE INEVITABLE EXCEPTION: Morrison’s glib dismissal of the issues raised by “Before Watchmen” was disappointing. I expected more of him.
    4) I hope both continue to produce original comics work for a long time. Moore appears to have a friendly home at Top Shelf, and Morrison could probably work wherever he wanted. Keep writing and creating, gents!

  10. Patrick Meaney says:

    Thanks for citing the doc, the Morrison/Moore relationship was something I was interested in exploring when we started filming, and Grant was very open about it. I think that today, Grant’s main gripe with Alan Moore is the way that everyone in comics puts him on such a pedestal, while he criticizes an entire industry of comics that he is quite open about not actually reading, this notion that Alan Moore’s work is and always will be on another level than anyone else who comes along. For example, even though Promethea has so many thematic and narrative similarities with The Invisibles, Moore is considered above the influence of anything and gets a pass on that, where other writers wouldn’t.

    And, he disliked Moore’s grim and gritty approach to superheroes, something that Moore himself has pretty much repudiated at this point. It’s not a long leap from Flex Mentallo to Supreme.

    And, Grant didn’t choose the name MorrisonCon, and the event was not really about servicing his ego. He was trying to create a space for people to come together and create something new from there. At the end of the doc, he says something like “I’m not special, I’m just doing these things, and telling you what happens, so that you can do them too,” that’s what the mission of MorrisonCon was, and I think that’s what he’s trying to do with his work.

    Everyone can bring their own opinion to it, but it definitely bothers me that so many fans take up this Moore/Morrison antagonism, since they do have similar interests, and are both great writers. I’d love to see them come together and if not collaborate on something, just talk.

  11. jonboy says:

    I like Alan Moore’s work. Never met the man.
    In his 20s-30, his interviews make him seem like he was a brash young man.
    In his 40s-50s, his interviews make him seem like he is a grumpy old man.

    I like Grant Morrison’s work. Never met the man.
    In his 20s-30, his interviews make him seem like he was a brash young man.
    In his 40s, his interviews make him seem like he is becoming a grumpy old man.

    Same thing can pretty much be said for all of us. 20s-30s we’re all filled with rebellion and challenging of the old. 40-50s we’re all looking at the next generation and getting pissed that we’re being challenged.

  12. My biggest takeaway from this series, which was great Pádraig, is that I want a book of Karen Berger’s memoirs/collected letters over the founding and growth of Vertigo.

  13. Jonboy — like, +1, etc etc etc.

    I admire and very much like personally both Morrison and Moore – who are really not that far apart in age! I think if they were just two gaffers in the pub they would get along like a house a fire.

  14. Kory S says:

    @ Hogne, you’re not alone. Morrison’s so-called Bat-Opus and his overhyped Scrappy in Damien put me off the Batbooks permanently.

  15. Thomas Wayne says:

    Kory,
    Couldn’t agree more. Morrison’s take on Batman, the whole Damien thing, Batman Inc…all of it…left me praying that someone with a little bit of common sense creativity would come along and bring back to Batman what had been sorely lacking during Morrison’s take on the character….solid storytelling that didn’t completely rely on the mind numbing outrageous (and by mind numbing outrageous I mean really poorly thought out concepts that borderline on fucking stupid) to move the story along.

  16. Apollo9000 says:

    From a critical stand point, Moore and Morrison are two of the most respected writers in modern comics. That aspect points to a recurring theme about comics – the over reliance on the past and how it is comprehended.

    From a 20 something y/o Morrison’s comments and how they partly color how some view him to Moore’s work and the difference between his intent verses how it was received.

    Very interesting all around.

  17. Silly but True says:

    +1 on the Bat. His run was annoying to say the least. It’s more hate than love, but I’m always going to give a writer a few props for working the Bat-mite into things.

    Interesting idea on the mental fail-safe. Execution was marred by the indecipherable mess that was Final Crisis, for which I have no idea who to really blame other than Morrison’s name at the top.

  18. Padraig O Mealoid says:

    Now, as I no longer seem to be able to reply to individual comments, I’m going to have to do them in lots. so, here goes…

    Jesse says:: You are giving Morrison a bit of a pass at the end. I wasn’t standing in judgement over him, you know, just trying to make sense out of what I could find out. I had hoped that there might be a spirit of redemption in this final piece, but it seems not to have entirely made it’s way off the page.

    Moore does seem to be a little odd but who cares, Morrison on the other hand has become an ego maniac. Surely, if we wish to approach this in any sort of a sensible manner, we need to apply the same criteria to both parties. So you can’t really say ‘Moore does seem to be a little odd but who cares’ without allowing Morrison the same leeway. Fair’s fair!

    Really your own convention, in your name? I’ve been involved in running conventions of various kinds for over twenty years, and I can tell you that the writers are not the ones who run these things! Someone else ran the con, and presumably someone else named it. Certainly Morrison is by no means the only writer who has had conventions based solely on his work. There is a regularly run Terry Pratchett-themed event, DiscworldCon, which has been running in the UK and elsewhere for quite a few years. There has been at least one event based purely on the world of Alan Moore as well, Magus, in the University of Northampton in 2010. There are many other examples.

    bry says: But as recently as last year Morrison was putting out jabs at Moores oeuvre in relation to the use rape scenes, so I don’t know that Morrison has entirely nice things to say about Moore currently. I only ever interviewed Grant Morrison once, but I’ve interviewed Alan Moore a number of times, and other, as well. So I’m hoping that I say this with a certain amount of experience behind it: It’s rarely that people volunteer negative opinions in interviews, if they’re not asked about something. This is what I mean: you know all those interviews where Moore says nasty things about the treatment of Watchmen, for instance? That’s his replying to questions he has been asked. If you ask someone a question, they’ll answer it. But this is vastly different from him, for instance, ringing up a journalist and going, ‘And here’s another reason I hate DC…’ When I’m interviewing people, I try to ask them about things I think they’re going to want to talk about, things they’re interested in. I genuinely believe that neither Moore nor Morrison wake up in the morning with a list of negative things they hope some journalist is going to ask them about, so they can spout bile all over them.

    Also keep in mind that DC would have been ramping up the Before Watchmen project at this time, and the comments Morrison had made merely months before were used as sticks [...] I don’t think this is coincidence that Morrison said what he said when he did, especially now that we are looking at the pattern of these kinds of comments. I’m afraid I have to disagree with you entirely on this. I do not think that Grant Morrison is involved in any sort of vilification campaign by DC against Alan Moore. I know there are people who have spoken about Before Watchmen who have not covered themselves with glory, and they may indeed be part of some sort of concerted effort, but I do not believe that Morrison is the kind of person who would do that.

    Perhaps you should have a closer look at Morrisons work in the context of appropriation, to see how he stacks up against his own accusations. It would serve not only as a critique of the writer, but also of the issues around imitation and appropriation in general. Obviously all creators are influenced by others. This includes Alan Moore, and it includes Grant Morrison. My original idea for what grew into this series of pieces was only to examine one particular story, the often-repeated allegation that his work had been influenced by Superfolks. Certainly it has grown quite a bit beyond that, but if we were to attempt to examine all the influences on all the writers, we’d be here for a very long time. And I would firmly stock to the world ‘influence,’ rather that words like ‘imitation’ and ‘appropriation,’ which would be a very different issue.

    …have you seen how much of the Invisibles concept was lifted out of Eco’s ‘Foucaults Pendulum’ … I haven’t read the book, but on a visit to Paris, I did see the actual pendulum the book is names after. Does that count?

    Further comments on more of these as soon as I get myself a cup of tea…

  19. Ed Brubaker says:

    Dan Brown’s book was more inspired by Holy Blood Holy Grail, which is the same book that Eco got that conspiracy from. It was a huge sensation in Europe for a while, and the history around it all is well known. Eco took that and other conspiracies and rolled them all together. I can’t remember if the Invisibles does that, but certainly referencing anything from Holy Blood about the Cathars and Rennes Le Chateau is not lifting from Pendulum, it’s taking from both history and cultural zeitgeist.

    Which again points the problem with “where do so-and-so’s ideas come from” as a question.

  20. Tony Morris says:

    I always thought the real drama between Morrison and Moore kicked off with Morrison’s Drivel column in Speakeasy #115 (the “Sex” issue), where he wrote:

    “Compare that [the Keith Giffen / Jose Munoz case] to Alan Moore’s From Hell, which owes a great, unacknowledged debt to the subtext and subject matter of Ian Sinclair’s books White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings and Lud Heat. In many ways, Moore’s work could be regarded as heavily plagiaristic. Nevertheless, Chapter 2 of From Hell is as fine a piece of narrative construction as one is likely to see in a comic book and displays Moore’s particular talents at their apex.”

    At that stage From Hell (which was appearing in chapter form in Taboo) was only up to the second chapter. I’m pretty sure Sinclair wasn’t mentioned before that, but he was mentioned by Moore quite a bit afterwards. Of course, two chapters in is a bit early to start listing all your influences.

  21. Ed Brubaker says:

    Ian Sinclair clearly doesn’t think that, since he’s friends with Alan Moore, and recently gave him permission to use one of his characters in League.

  22. Thomas Wayne says: The most unmanly thing in the world was the punk and alternative music scene coming out of 1980′s Europe – bunch of talentless punks dressed in ridiculous clothing and hair styles spouting off about anarchy and changing the world when all they really did was clutter up the world of pop culture more than it already was.

    I do not think it would be possible for me to disagree with you more. Punk Rock was enormously important, not only because it gave the appalling music scene of the time a very well-deserved kick in the head, but also as a clear marker of its times. And, like a lot of other things, it didn’t happen in a vacuum. Times were bad, back in 1977, and there was dissatisfaction in the air. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that 2000 AD, the UK comic that helped nurture the talents of many writers and artists who would go on to have a huge impact in America comics, first appeared in 1977. There was a spirit of rebellion in the air, and it left a distinct mark on many of us, myself included. And, as I said, one of the basic tenets of Punk Rock was that everything that went before was, by definition, to be derided. Obviously this wasn’t a realistic long-term stance, but it was a necessary one, at the time. Certainly I may now admit that ABBA are not half bad, and will gladly sit down and watch Grease on the telly for the umpteenth time, but at the time these were clearly The Enemy. I’m not wrong to like them now, but I wasn’t wrong to dislike them then. So, I absolutely cannot blame Morrison for adopting the stance he did, whilst of course not agreeing with him, as I hope I’ve proved over the past few weeks.

    I didn’t set out to attack Grant Morrison, simply to examine what he had said about something I was curious about. This does seem to have led a lot of people to take an opportunity to be as rude about him as they possibly can be – except for the ones who are being as rude about Alan Moore as they possibly can be. It’s a shame, but that’s just the way it is, it seems. Some people simply prefer invective to insight, disrespect to discourse.

  23. Mr Sensitive says: The interesting thing to me about the whole Moore/Morrison “feud”, and never seems to be commented on, [...] Do you have any thoughts on this Pádraig?

    Yes, and this is my thought: There’s a thing in legal circles known as ‘leading the witness,’ and I know it when I see it!

  24. Patrick Meaney says: Thanks for citing the doc, the Morrison/Moore relationship was something I was interested in exploring when we started filming, and Grant was very open about it. No problem! I do think it’s a shaje you didn’t explore this more, if that’s the case, as there’s really little enough about it in the documentary, as I recall.

    For example, even though Promethea has so many thematic and narrative similarities with The Invisibles, Moore is considered above the influence of anything and gets a pass on that, where other writers wouldn’t. I think that, if there are similarities between Promethea and The Invisibles, it’s probably because they both derive material and influences from earlier sources, rather than either being influenced by the other. As has been pointed out, Moore and Morrison have forged very similar paths for themselves, and explore many of the same subjects. What we should perhaps focus on is the different points of view they bring to these, rather than their similarities. As has been pointed out before, there are only so many ideas, so many sources, but many many ways of looking at them, of interpreting them. That’s what makes any writer’s work unique, surely. Indeed, to go right back to where I started, many people have pointed out that, even if there are similar ideas in Moore’s work and Superfolks, there is a world of difference in how these ideas are used, and in the relative skills of the writers involved.

  25. Bryce Abood says:

    Great series of articles, Padraig! I had no idea part three was already up, and am sad I am getting here late. I totally agree with your opinion of Coyote Gospel, and was happy to see it get a mention. I have a question, since you obviously have done your homework…What is Grant Morrison’s opinion of Jamie Delano’s run on Animal Man? Moore picked Delano himself for Hellblazer, and Delano’s run on Animal Man more or less gives him a Swamp Thing treatment. I know Morrison didn’t create Animal Man, but seeing somebody from the Moore camp take the Baker family in that direction surely gave him an opinion or two.

  26. A well written article but far, far too kind to Morrison. The man has been bashing Moore for 20 years, he was making negative comments about him only last year.

  27. Kevin Holsinger says:

    Good morning, Pádraig.

    I don’t know the first thing about this Moore/Morrison business, but rather came here to say thanks for all the times I’ve seen your name show up in Jess Nevins’ annotations for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Seems like whenever he doesn’t know a reference, you do.

    (Unless, of course, there are TWO Pádraig Ó Méalóids out there with a fondness for Alan Moore’s work, and you’re not part of Nevins’ League of Extraordinary Annotators)

  28. Kevin:- Thank you very much! Yes, that’s definitely me annotating with Jess. We’re both now in a position where we get advance copies of Moore’s work [not to self: try to get advance copy of Nemo book] so we compare notes early on. The only other Pádraig Ó Méalóid in the entire world, to my certain knowledge, is my 81-year-old father, so, unless he’s doing something I don’t know about, it’s definitely me!

  29. First off, amazing series Pádraig Ó Méalóid. Thank you.

    Second, for all the dissidence assigned towards Morrison in the comments, I must say, I met Grant Morrison at an underwhelming signing for Supergods in SF (the lack of people shocked me), and creator to fan, he was as excited and anxious to meet me as I was to meet him. That’s an amazing trait.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] then, a remix edition of Alan Moore and Superfolks Part 3: The Strange Case of Grant Morrison and Alan Moore, where we cut and splice the original article – with Pádraig’s blessing I hasten to [...]

  2. [...] his third installment, Pádraig turns to Grant Morrison, who seems to have been the source of the Superfolks allegation [...]

  3. [...] Alan Moore and Superfolks Part 3: The Strange Case of Grant Morrison and Alan Moore [...]

  4. [...] then, a remix edition of Alan Moore and Superfolks Part 3: The Strange Case of Grant Morrison and Alan Moore, where we cut and splice the original article – with Pádraig’s blessing I hasten to [...]

  5. [...] a case for the prosecution and the defense. Part 1 (25/10/2012), Part 2 (11/11/2012), and Part 3 (18/11/2012, English, [...]

  6. [...] the Internet fired into life, but I’d never seen proof. And when Páidraig Ó’Méalóid collected all the slights together for The Beat last year, it still wasn’t especially convincing. A snide swipe in a Speakeasy gossip column, a couple of [...]

  7. […] L’annual porterà la firma di Grant Morrison con disegni di Joe Quesada ed avrà come protagonista Johnny Bates aka Kid Miracleman; altra particolarità è che questa storia fu scritta dallo stesso Morrison a metà anni ’80 per la storica rivista Warrior ma quando lo stesso Morrison interpellò Alan Moore chiedendogli il permesso di pubblicarla il Bardo invitò il vulcanico autore scozzesse a “girare alla larga” come ricorda lo stesso Morrison in una intervista rilasciata qualche anno fa a comicsbeat.com. […]

  8. […] Morrison story was unearthed in an article right here on the Beat written by Padriag O’Mealoid. Given the long antipathy between Morrison and Moore, it’s […]

  9. […] De acordo com o CBR, a história se tornou pública quando Morrison contou o caso em entrevista ao The Beat, há alguns anos. Resumindo, ele foi convidado para escrever uma história do Miracleman pela […]

  10. […] escribió conforme le pidieron que se encargara de un guion para el superhéroe, tal como explicó en una entrevista hace unos […]

  11. […] história foi citada por Morrison em uma entrevista ao The Beat, há alguns anos atrás. Ele procurou Alan Moore na época sobre fazer essa história e comentou […]

  12. […] una entrevista de 2012 , Morrison comento el cruce de cartas que mantuvieron al respecto con el ya consagrado escritor […]

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