Hey cool—a long New Yorker profile on Neil Gaiman by Dana Goodyear. I like this line:
“Sandman,” Gaiman says, is sexually transmitted. “Guys who wanted their girlfriends to read comics would give them ‘Sandman.’ They’d break up, and the girl would take the ‘Sandman’s and infect the next guy.”
(Hmm—a general theory of cult media transmission?)
But reading about Neil Gaiman reminds me of another comic book writer with a striking accent who you ought to know about. He’s not as famous as Gaiman, but I think he’s exerted just as much influence on culture in the last few decades. He’s Grant Morrison.
His All-Star Superman series is one the gems of comics of the past few years: built on familiar foundations, but thoroughly, thoroughly weird. It leaves the self-conscious grit of superhero reboots behind, but it’s not without sharp edges. In fact, it’s hard to put a finger on Morrison’s tone in the series; the whole thing is rainbow-colored but super-sophisticated.
Like a Bollywood movie directed by Wes Anderson.
And it’s particularly remarkable if you also read The Invisibles, the long series that came earlier, and is still really Morrison’s signature work. The Invisibles is a boiling nine-dimensional stew of symbols and sub-cultures, and I mean, it’s just really, really weird. But it’s this guy, the guy responsible for this deep utter weirdness, that DC has now put in charge of the Justice League, Batman, and Superman, all in turn. The weirdest writer of them all is the king of the castle.
So, just to be super-clear—this is your geek-cred talking point—Grant Morrison is the most popular, most important comic book writer working today.
But this is the important part: I think if you look on any writer’s shelf in TV or Hollywood, you’ll find Morrison. That’s definitely true of writers of shows like Battlestar Galactica and LOST. Yes—in fact, LOST is basically a TV series written by Grant Morrison. It’s his techno-occultism, his rainbow sophistication. Comic-book adventure meets quantum foam meets Rider-Waite. I really believe the writing staff at LOST would cop to it.
If “the weird” has gone—is going—mainstream, Grant Morrison (along with Neil Gaiman) gets a big chunk of the credit. He’s been toiling for decades, digging this underground lake that connects all these points, all these people.
Nerds of many worlds, all reading the same comics—all reaching down into the secret substratum of the strange.