Monday, September 25, 2006

Getting Superman Right. Thanks Grant.

I can honestly say that Grant Morrison is the best comic book writer I have come across in years. I knew a little about his work in the 90’s, but it wasn’t until he worked on X-Men that I became a dedicated fan. He recently started writing a new Superman book and his feelings and thoughts on the character are so dead on, I thought I would share some of his thoughts on one of the most iconic figures ever produced.
“I don't think we need to 'make' Superman relevant. We just have to tell stories which resonate with human experience. The best Superman stories are fables about love, pride, shame, fear, death, friendship etc. We can all relate to those big issues. Superman stories should represent huge, basic human dramas and human emotions, played out on a larger than life canvas.

My first issue, for instance, has a new power for Superman and I thought I'd come up with something, well...not bad...then I just read - yesterday in fact - the story 'Superman's New Power' which appeared in Superman #125 from November 1958. And guess what Superman's new power was in the 'conservative' ‘50s. That's right - it's a teeny-tiny little Superman who shoots out from the palm of the big Superman's hand and does everything better than Superman himself, leaving the full-size Superman feeling redundant and worthless. Holy analysis, Batman! It's mindbending, brilliant and eerie work. This is what it would be like if Charlie Kaufmann wrote and directed the Superman movie and it's far from goofy or childish, it's genuinely affecting and slightly disturbing to read Superman saying stuff like 'Everyone's impressed except ME! Don't they understand how I feel -- playing second fiddle to a miniature duplicate of myself...a sort of SUPER-IMP?'

And people think I'M weird ? I %$%$^ wish I was weird like this! I wish pop comics today had the balls to be as poetic and poignant and truly 'all-ages' again, and a little less self-conscious. I feel a little ashamed for not even daring to think of a magnificent tiny Superman who makes the real Superman feel inadequate every time he springs from his hand. Those kinds of stories were like weird fever dreams and they sold millions and millions of copies every month.

So, I'm still not sure about 'realistic' comics. Sales are always crap when comics get 'realistic' and sales are particularly crap right now, considering the wide-ranging public acceptance of superhero stories in other media. So Frank and I are keeping modern sensibilities in mind while trying to make sure that each of our stories addresses some basic human fear or need in a big, colorful, comic book way. We hope to produce a collection of science fiction folk tales with Superman at the heart of them. I like to think of these stories as 'relevant' to the human condition although not necessarily relevant to the current headlines, if you see what I mean. The All Star Superman is intended to appeal to a wide audience of diverse people for a long time, like the Greek myths.”

Perfection. Even if you don’t read comic books, I highly recommend picking up All Star Superman. It is both modern but fun, silly but heartfelt, and actually focuses on character development (something Superman has not had for years).