During the Stripped strand of the Edinburgh Book Festival, I also conducted three video interviews for the festival organisers, asking a mix of standard questions for newcomers to the comics medium and a few fun questions too.
You can see the interviews with Grant Morrison, Mary and Bryan Talbot, and Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie on the Edinburgh Book Festival Youtube channel - enjoy!
We opened with congratulations to Morrison for getting his MBE from the Queen earlier in the year, with Gordon cheekily asking if her maj was a fan. “She likes that early Vertigo [stuff],” Morrison quipped, before revealing that it had been Prince Charles who had presented the award and breaking into a top notch impersonation of Charles extolling how much he loved the Eagle and Dan Dare before dissolving into giggles. “I told you Dan Dare was a fascist,” he joked.
In the midst of the Stripped programme at the Edinburgh Book Festival, I was lucky enough to catch up with Grant Morrison once more about what he'd been up to in the last year. The results were published as a three page spread in The Guardian and went down very well indeed.
It was a crazy deadline, but well worth it. And as ever, the full and uncut version will be coming soon!
Glasgow, the late 1970s. A woman is busy cranking out copies of her teenage son's latest creative work on an old copier, blissfully unaware that they will one day be collector's items. The boy is called Grant Morrison and a faded copy of this old fanzine, called The White Tree, recently sold on eBay for more than £100.
"That's ridiculous!" laughs Morrison, writer of Batman, Superman and The X-Men amongst many others. The Scottish scribe is one of a cracking line up of guests from the world of comics and graphic novels at Stripped, a new programme at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
"The first one was printed on, you know, those Banda copiers." He smiles. "It was steampunk technology. They did weird copies that came out in blue ink. It would fade over time. Every subsequent issue was done by my mum, up in the typing pool. She'd do like 150 issues of this thing. But honestly, all I really remember of that magazine is that I drew a barbarian girl on the cover of issue three. And she had a fur bikini on."
The women in the typing pool, he adds, confused her swimwear for something else. "All the girls were saying, 'What kind of muff is that?' I was mortified, a 16-year-old boy. 'Oh god,' I thought. 'What have I done?' I went back and painted in this huge kind of skirt thing – with a skull on the front. So there are two versions."
Over the course of three weeks I published my series of articles on the history of Zenith, a strip by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell at the centre of an argument over ownership, at The Beat. The reaction to this series was truly phenomenal, spanning as it does 21 years of UK comics history and copyright kerfuffles.
It was a great experience to turn my hand to investigative journalism for this task - I initially planned to write one article giving a brief summary of the situation, but I turned up such a wealth of information that I knew I wanted to share it all in detail.
With the new collection due out later this year, as a pre-order direct sale only, and with the ownership issues still unresolved, I expect we'll see more development on Zenith in the future! (Part 2 includes commentary from Brendan McCarthy.)
Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics has been met with both high praise and no small measure of bewilderment. But this is a legendary run – you just need to think five dimensionally.
When Morrison was announced as the writer of Action Comics #1, back in 2011, there was a great deal of excitement within the comics community. The man who had given us one of the greatest Superman books of all time, All-Star Superman, seemed a poetic choice as the architect of this brand new history. Morrison spoke of his love for the original Golden Age character, his socialist roots and desire to do good in the world; Superman as a folk tale, before he became the centrepiece of our modern mythology. The young Kal, standing proud and over-confident in his American jeans and self-branded t-shirt, cape flying behind him as he raced from one adventure to the next...
I seem to have accidentally become a fairly regular reviewer over at The Beat, which is great as it is a really fantastic comics website, but doesn't really fit in with my plan to trim down my workload in favour of academic demands! That said, I really love doing short little reviews and find that it often gives me the spark I need with my research. So, win win!
My recent reviews include a review of the complete Happy by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, that issue of Batman Incorporated (including spoilers), a look at Matt Fraction and David Aja's Hawkeye, and a spoiler free review of the brand new Lost Vegas from Jim McCann and Janet Lee.
All of which I highly recommend! The Hawkeye review is part of a new series of smaller reviews I'll be working on - Mini Marvels. Recently of course I cut down my number of DC reads, and I've been experimenting with more Marvel titles as a result. And I have to say, so far I'm pretty impressed!
Do check out my reviews over at The Beat - comments and suggestions are welcome as always :)