Grant Morrison dives into his newsletter and comic book career

Famous comic book writer Grant Morrison (Superman All Star, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Doom Patrol) went back to basics with its new Substack newsletter, Xanaduum. They plan to use it as a platform to dismantle myths and misconceptions surrounding the editorial process in the comics industry. So far, Morrison has used Xanaduum to share their thoughts and process in creating more recent comics such as Superman and the Authority and The Green Lantern: Season 2relying on old-school tactile tools like glue and scissors.


CBR had the chance to interview Grant Morrison about Xanaduum and their long history in the comics industry. Morrison talked about why they think their mental health-centric stories have resonated so much with readers and how the story of famous comic book characters lessens the burden of responsibility they feel when portraying them. They also explained how the pandemic was the opportunity to write their first real novel.

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CBR: Can you tell me more about the myths about the editorial process in comics that you want to debunk with Xanaduum?


Grant Morrison: The totality Xanaduumobviously that’s a big thing. I do two posts a week, or so, the way it goes. In the end, it tells a complete big story. I kind of do this monthly collage thing like a 24-page sci-fi comic. Everything is based around that. I approach this notion of fragments and collage and how life can be represented simply by selecting pieces.

I heard you’re publishing your first novel, Luda. Can you tell us more about what it’s like to publish a story in a new medium?

I [have] kind of never written a good adult novel before. I made one when I was 19. I got a bit of interest from publishers, then I threw it in the drawer… My agent kind of convinced me. With the pandemic, I actually had time to do the novel. Lockdown gave me an opportunity, and I finally found a story that really works. I solved all the problems I had with the idea of ​​writing novels. I much prefer pictures. I like comics, and I like movies… So the idea of ​​writing a novel was a little… It was weird. I didn’t know if I was into it, but I found a way to make it work. So yes, it’s coming out soon. It’s just a different skill set. This is very fun. It’s more like painting because there’s no other collaborator involved. It’s just you and your words on the page.


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How do you think comic book publishers can improve relationships with their authors? Do you think writers don’t get enough credit they deserve from publishers, especially when their works are used in film adaptations?

I think, honestly, there’s been some sort of disconnect in all of this. I think most of us who created characters for comic books… and then saw those characters appear in film adaptations – well, honestly, we don’t really get much compensation for any of that. I think that’s not the way to do business. I think comics always tend to lose their best parts because of this.


Overall, what do you think of the current state of the comic book industry?

Honestly, I don’t read enough of it anymore. DC always sends me a box of Collected Edition mockups, so I kind of see stuff after the fact…I read the DC Pride anthology the other day, which had a lot of good stuff, but otherwise… I just haven’t followed them, so I don’t think I’m qualified to talk about their current situation.

Can you tell us more about your thoughts on your work influencing recent projects such as The Batmanthe Arkham video games and new Doom Patrol series?


I have not seen Doom Patroland i did not see The Batman. Once I stopped doing this regularly, I kind of lost most of my interest. It’s hard for me to talk about this stuff with any authority. I hear very good things. I hear bad things. Sometimes I mostly hear good things. So I really don’t know.

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A lot of your stories seem to be about mental health. What is your approach to writing stories on the subject?

I don’t think anyone gets there with that kind of…crusader mentality. For me, it’s just to talk about how we all feel. To include that in the stories is to make them emotionally real.

In terms of storytelling, most of my stories are about “this is what it’s like to be in a dark place, and this is how to symbolically get out of it”. That’s the best I can offer, as someone who’s experienced depression but also experienced a lot of elation. I think depression is endemic to humans, especially in the world we live in now. The whole world is shaking on the edge of who knows what right now. It’s no wonder people’s moods are everywhere, and we just went through a mega pandemic. I think everyone tries to cope in a post-traumatic state. So… if we’re talking about mental health, it’s just, for me, putting into the story what it’s like to live on Asylum Earth!


How does writing stories about being in a dark place help you deal with this anxiety?

For me the best way [to get away from your thoughts] is to put them to work. Create something that expresses feelings on paper, drawn by hand. This is partly why, with Substack, I went back to the primitive old school tools of glue and scissors and cartridge paper and glue and glue. I find it to be very rewarding and even therapeutic, the tactile fractality of it all.

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Obviously, your approach to storytelling is really successful. How do you feel your stories have had this massive impact?

Obviously it’s nice. I mean, for me, it’s… The fact that what I had to say resonated with people means that the portrait I painted for them really worked. I mean, for me, it was always like sending a smoke signal, a telegraph signal, and hoping there was someone out there who could answer. The fact that many [of] people react and a lot of people felt the same way and saw something in these stories that resonated with their own experience, it’s great.

Would you say this is the most rewarding part of being a comic book writer?

Just the ability to do things using nothing but thoughts and a pen, things that mean something to people – that’s the essence of magic…

Do you feel responsible for how you portray these iconic characters?

I don’t feel that because the characters do the heavy lifting. Something like Superman, he’s been around for 80 years, and he’s pretty much proven himself as a very successful pop culture character who never gets old or dies and will always be around for a long time no matter who holds the rights, but it is characterized. So I think Superman comes with all of that. I don’t feel the weight of it. I am held back by this whole story.

Check out Xanaduum on Substack now. Grant Morrison’s novel Luda goes on sale September 6.


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