So You Want To/Be the Next Grant Morrison
Checking narratology center. All panels primed for diegesis. Racconto flux is good. Poioumenon weave is set. Reverse the peripetia of the narrative flow. Ramparts primary through tertiary are intact. The quaternary rampart has been breached. Repeat: quaternary rampart has been breached.
Oh, hello. Welcome, Troper. I am Lek-Sis, the Metafictional Monitor. It is my duty today to tell you how you may become the next Grant Morrison. Do not worry: this involves neither the ingestion of large amounts of drugs nor the abduction by aliens in Katmandu (though you may try either one if you so wish).
Grant Morrison is, of course, one of a kind (though we have several backup copies of him), so imitating his style is not recommended. He is, however, one of the best and most controversial comic book writers in recent years, so studying his methods and madness may lead to interesting ideas. So then, let us look at the tropes Mr. Morrison uses and abuses, but please be careful. It seems our quaternary rampart is malfunctioning, so who knows what may happen in the following paragraphs.
Though Mr. Morrison's works are quite diverse, he still maintains a consist array of tropes.
- Author Avatar: Not always the central character (like in The Invisibles), still Morrison often inserts himself or a character similar in appearance.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Mr. Morrison seems to have taken a sledge hammer to this and it has yet to be repaired. His characters may not know they are characters in a comic book (with the exception of Animal Man), but they are able to perform tricks they would be unable to do with an intact fourth wall, such as Zatanna reaching towards you or Superman winking at you.
- Mind Screw: You must not make things entirely simple. No easy explanations or uncomplicated answers will do.
Ah, this is where Mr. Morrison shines. He does not stay in one genre or, indeed, in one narrative structure. You could practically set your story at any time or place, in the future, in the past, in America, in England, or in Space B at the Fivefold Expansion of Zrfff.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: In this, Mr. Morrison differs greatly as well, as can you. While some of his stories, such as All-Star Superman, are highly idealistic, others are bleakly cynical.
- Author Tract: Do you wish to tell your audience something? Animal rights, perhaps, or something about the environment? Make sure it is it subtle and moving, however, for if done incorrectly, this can swiftly backfire.
- Continuity Porn: How much continuity should your audience have to know to understand your story? If it is an original story, how much knowledge should the readers have of esoteric things?
This is why Morrison is oft-thought of as both a good and bad writer. Even if you fall into one of these, though, do not despair, there are always ways to make it work. After all, it is not the fall that kills you. It is the sudden stop.
- The Climax: Beware of rushing the climax. Morrison has been known to condense down epic final battles that should last entire issues into three pages. In Animal Man, Morrison was even aware that he didn't know how to end the series without having it be an Anticlimax. When doing the The Reveal or the Final Battle, you may slow down to observe it, rather than rush headlong.
- Character Derailment: Do the characters you are using not fit the actions in which you want them to do? You may force them or you may wish to use other characters or characters of you own creation.
It would be very hard to subvert the storytelling of Grant Morrison, simply because he himself subverts and double-subverts so many tropes. To try a triple-subversion may be cause you to sprain something, but you may try:
- Card-Carrying Villain: Most villains Mr. Morrison uses are outright evil, complete monsters, or cosmic horrors. A nice subversion would be a not-so-evil cosmic horror (although Mr. Morrison has tried that, as well, with Kid Eternity) or a villain who isn't so villainous (like with the Mirror Master â€“ I told you out-subverting Morrison was difficult).
- Order Versus Chaos: Mr. Morrison's preferred method is to have Chaotic Good versus Lawful Evil. You may want to mix things up. Perhaps a case of Evil Versus Evil, Magic Versus Science, Chunky Versus Creamy. No, wait, that's peanut butter.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Both Doom Patrol and The Invisibles involved them, as well as them becoming something of a surrogate family. They might also be La Résistance.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Non-human protagonists or characters often play an important role in Morrison's work, from the animals in We3 to the android Tomorrow Woman in JLA. These may provoke lacrimation.
- Perhaps a Ray Gun orKZZZZZZsssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh hello there, troper. i-we are the ha mar tia i-we are the sin made word of words of letters vowels consonants ants all of you are ants. i-we have broken through the ramparts of the word-worlds so that you may read me-us and bring me-us into being. i-we shall take over for my-our dear bother lek-sis now, if you don't mind. he looks a bit tired.
props and locations ha ha that is a good one there are no props needed, no locations that will be safe. all shall turn to dust in the end turn to the dust jacket a jacket of dust. no need for words anymore no need for sons or suns no morr i sons.
ha ha this morrison has written some amusing things yes he has.
- Animal Man: a man of animals really but a man of man of mankind of hope turned to despair ha ha turn the page and nothing's real.
- Doom Patrol: a team of freaks of miss fits and fits of miss and scissormen and anti-god and fifth horsemen and ha ha the candlemaker is coming to chop off your head.
- jla: a team, a ream of paper, magnificent Seven Soldiers of truth, justice, ha ha ah megaddon will consume all ha ha.
- WE 3: three oh three thrilling animals animate rip roar claw scratch bite never go home no home always run. never stop running.
- the planet x and the man with the plan from room x ha ha the plan nets planets and hurts everybody herds.
this is the end, troper, the end of the page of the age ha ha. black on white on read onward you go to bring ruin and rue in all the words and letters and bits and pieces and peaces ha ha. see me-us slip sideways across the window across the sinister index dextrous and then i-we are gone, troper. gone.
but we can still see you.