Jul 21, 2011

Grant Morrison Is Wrong about Alan Moore

I'll tell you guys who I'm sick of. I'm sick of this guy.

He even looks obnoxious.

Every single time Grant Morrison opens his mouth, it's a frustrating read. He is that kid in school who has to continually point out how smart and intelligent and great he is, as if he's so insecure of what people actually think of him. And a favorite pastime of his is bashing Alan Moore. In the mid-eighties when he started accusing Moore of ripping off Robert Mayer's Superfolks for WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW? and MIRACLEMAN, when Moore merely took elements from Mayer's work (which is a horrible read, by the way, no matter what Morrison tells you — it's trashy storytelling) and changed the way it was applied. You know, the same way he does to everything he writes.

But ever since then, Morrison hasn't stopped, and has continued to bash Alan Moore in interviews and his own works — the most recent being FINAL CRISIS — over the last twenty-odd years. That's TWENTY years of bashing, friends. That's longer than most of you, I bet, have been reading.

There's this quote from a few weeks ago where he says, that all his works are "my WATCHMEN. [Moore] just did one, and I do one a week." No. Untrue. Morrison has not written anything on the level of WATCHMEN, not in terms of influence or craft. Oh, sure, he wishes he had, but he hasn't. His big magnum opus that his fans like tossing around, THE INVISIBLES, has made a little splash in a big pond, and is also, mind-numbingly, one of the most boring comics I've ever had to try to read. Grant Morrison does not have the influence that Moore has on creators that came afterward — he simply does not. MIRACLEMAN and SWAMP THING changed the game, and even paved the way for a young prima donna like Grant Morrison to tell his stories. Grant Morrison has done nothing that has even dented the game. Oh, he's written things that have maybe made a mark on your car, but he hasn't actually changed anything.

But what gets me more here is just the pure ego of the man, as if everything he writes is destined for greatness, for no other reason than because he says so.

Moore doesn't even put WATCHMEN on the pedestal that comic book fans do. Not even close. To him, it's a good story that he wrote and put a lot of hard work in and that turned out fine and did a bunch of things comics can do, because of Dave Gibbons. It's nowhere near his favorite work, nowhere near what he considers his best work. But with Morrison, before anything even comes out, he'll do interviews for it and praise himself at how incredibly clever and wonderful it is, like this one he did about the DCnU Superman.

He's so desperate to sound like a true pioneer that he just wants to market himself as one. There's nothing wrong with marketing yourself — Stan Lee did it to great success in the sixties. The difference between Stan and Grant is that Stan comes off as the lovable uncle and you know he's saying things with a hint of irony, while Grant places himself on a pedestal.

Alan Moore lets his work speak for itself, while Grant Morrison tries to encourage fans to masturbate with him at a convention.

This is what gets me: In all the interviews I've read with Alan Moore (and I've read A LOT), he's bashed one creator. One. He's criticized some works, like Grant's ARKHAM ASYLUM, but I've seen him specifically bash one artist (I'm sure you can guess who that is). That's it. Oh, sure, there was the whole "DC has no top-flight talent" comment last year, but even the guy who conducted that interview has said he was being facetious, and that he was lumping himself in that category. Morrison continually takes shots at Moore, has done so since at least 1986, to the point that he puts "Alan Moore villains" in his comics.

Moore has continually gone on record saying that he's NOT a comics icon, he's not a superstar, he doesn't do conventions or even leave Northampton specifically because he can't stand the fame. And here's Morrison taking potshots at him for twenty years.

I have never seen Moore say any praise about his work beyond "Yeah, that book was pretty good." And more often than not, he doesn't like his work as we readers do. Any crankiness and perceived arrogance in interviews comes from him being asked the same questions for 25 years.

Grant Morrison is one of a growing breed who place themselves on a gigantic pedestal and I hate it. They get treated like superstars and act like divas.

But it doesn't end there. According to this review of Morrison's Supergods, Morrison apparently says the following:

I chose to see writers like Alan Moore as missionaries who attempted to impose their own values and preconceptions on cultures they considered inferior—in this case, that of superheroes. Missionaries humiliate the natives by pointing out their gauche customs and colorfully frank traditional dress. They bullied defenseless fantasy characters into leather trench coats and nervous breakdowns and left formerly carefree fictional communities in a state of crushing self-doubt and dereliction. Anthropologists on the other hand, surrendered themselves to foreign cultures. They weren’t afraid to go native or look foolish. They came and they departed with respect and in the interests of mutual understanding. Naturally, I wanted to be an anthropologist.

Grant Morrison's lack of self-awareness is astonishing. First of all, all anyone has to do to know Alan Moore loves the genre of superheroes is to actually read it. If he didn't love Swamp Thing, he wouldn't have known how to put the right spin on the character, enough to make him a true game-changer (again, something Morrison has never done). Second of all, a story like SUPERMAN: FOR THE MAN WHO HAS EVERYTHING? What in that entire story has anything to do with anything Morrison accuses Moore of doing? That was a story written with a love and respect for Superman's entire history. There were no trenchcoats, no nervous breakdowns.

So because Moore doesn't actually have as big a body of work as you might think when it comes to superheroes, I can only guess that Morrison was referring to WATCHMEN. But GRANT! That was the point of WATCHMEN! It was to show that you can't really treat these characters in a realistic way, which is where the medium was headed toward, because if these guys were actually real, they wouldn't last!

And more to the point, how can Morrison claim to not do the things he said he didn't want to do when he did this to Animal Man?

This Animal Man was bullied into black leather and had his family killed, driving him almost insane, only to find out it was all a dream at the very end, there but for the good grace of Grant, literally. (By the way — writing yourself into your own book? Not very clever, innovative, inventive, and in this case, even good.)

No no no, don't try to tell me that the whole point of this story is to show why the grim n' gritty approach doesn't actually work! If Morrison will intentionally miss the point of Moore's works with a blanket statement like that, then everything has to be judged according to the same criteria here. I know what Grant's trying to say. Moore said it before he did. And Moore said it better.

Speaking of "humiliating" these superhero costumes, I present to you Grant Morrison's X-Men, they of the leather jacket variety!

And of course, how can we possibly forget ARKHAM ASYLUM, which I'm sure Morrison will gladly boast is the greatest Batman story ever, except for all the other Batman stuff he's written:

It's amazing to me how incredibly hypocritical he is. As I've explained before, FINAL CRISIS was supposed to be his take on the fight against the vampiric practices of the comic book industry, but all he ever did in that book is tell a story that was even more vampiric and parasitic than anything he was supposedly speaking out against.

And there's no regard for history or courtesy here at all. The fact is that Morrison wouldn't be Grant Morrison if not for Alan Moore. As Pol Rua, who loves both men's works, has pointed out to me, Morrison enjoys much of his success because DC learned its lesson with Moore, because Moore was the big brother who came first before the rest of them, and the one that they made all their mistakes on.

At the end of the day, Grant Morrison's career will always be compared to Alan Moore's. He will always be in his shadow, for better or for worse. But Moore? I have multiple books on the man's career, and I don't think I've seen Morrison mentioned more than once. Alan Moore is an essential part of Grant Morrison's career. Morrison is a footnote to Moore's.

And that must sting, and that may be the reason for the endless 25 years of petty, jealous bashing. And if I actually do avoid the new ACTION COMICS based solely on one thing that may have nothing to do with the story (I refuse to go by the solicitations and press releases — those are using buzzwords to attract mainstream media attention and nothing more), it's because of Grant Morrison and his prima donna attitude. I can usually put the personality of a creator aside if it has nothing to do with their work. But this is getting ridiculous.

In short, get over it, Grant. And get over yourself. While some people may consider you better than Alan Moore, Moore doesn't care.

But you clearly do.

Update 11/25/2012: Wow, this is still getting hits and comments. My stance has softened considerably since I wrote this (though I still, for the time it was written, stand by it), and on some level, I regret writing this piece. Upon further reflection, all of this was coming at a time when the comics media was seemingly deliberately making Morrison sound controversial, throwing him up against Moore in any way possible. It's not fair to either man to be judged by the other, though by their very nature, they will always be compared with the other. Still, this article has taught me a lot about the nature of the Internet, as well as how open to change my own opinions are. I'll be keeping it up, but I thought this afterword was important for future commenters. For Morrison's side on the Morrison/Moore "feud," click here.