THE CRACK - EDITION TWO
1) Grant & Co.
Shame on me. The Filth is already on issue 3 and I have only just read issue one. I'm so sorry. I'm a big fan of GM (that's Grant Morrison, not Genetically Modified) so there are no excuses, but I'll throw them out in the open anyway; I was on Holiday, I go to university in Aberystwyth, the only place in the world with no comic book store (well I wasn't at uni when issue 1 came out, but still, it will cover me for when I can't get my hands on The Filth after issue 3, after I go back.)
But, despite reading it late I enjoyed the little fecker nonetheless, not sure if I understood it entirely, but it was still an amazing different, GM, style book that makes the perception of the world around you just seem a little more fecked up and dirty.
I thought it was the most human of GM's stuff I have read so far (this is the part where I go off on one and try and sound clever and deep, when really I still have to wipe up the jizz after a five knuckle shuffle like everyone else.) O.K, what do I mean by "human." I don't know what I mean by human, but when it started off with the guy buying his paper, going home, feeding his cat, hating his job, blah blah blah you could, if not see yourself as being that guy, you could at least be able to say "yeah I know someone like that." As where, as phenomenally brilliant as it was, and as hungry as I am for the next three books, you couldn't really say "I think I am king mob," because the guy hangs out with a girl from the future, a transvestite, a messiah from Liverpool, and all of them carry heavy fire power. But, then the guy in the filth has sex with a balding woman who breaks into his house, wears an orange jump suit and blue wig in public with no-one caring, and rides in a garbage truck with giant teeth.
So, every time I sit down to write a letter like this to someone I admire creatively they always end up just turning into a giant list of questions where I end up with the last question being "so when did you take your dog to the vets last?" or "so, could we just swap brains for the afternoon, then I'll give it back to you when I know everything I want to ask." And, as much as I have tried to make this letter different, it has just gone the way of all the others, goddammit. So here is a list of Q's for GM, with Filth related Q's, as well as some other questions (GM, you don't have to answer them all if you think they are totally redundant, but just humour me by answering a few.)
1: Where is the FILTH set geographically? Is that a naïve question? It is just that the bus that Greg rides at the start says it is going to Langley, making me think it is set around the Berkshire, south-east area (my home ground.)
GM - only Chris knows for sure but it's around there somewhere near the land of failed promises and broken dreams where it all smells of the vets. Is that Berkshire?.
2: Out of all the characters you have written (putting them in two piles, ones that are your original creations, and others you have written for, like Beast, Cyclops, etc) pick one from each pile that you think is the most like you.
GM - They're all different bits. It's hard to choose. You'd have to combine all the characters I've ever written into one and then you'd have a good picture of my head. Scott Summers is most like me when I was in my 20s. Greg Feely is most like me when I was looking after a dying cat a few years ago.
3:Are you into Bill Hicks and Philip K Dick? Random, but I ask that because I always say Grant Morrison is to comics what Bill Hicks was to Comedy, and PKD was to literature. Is that cool with you that I say that? (Sadly I can't find a filmmaker equivalent for you three, but I'm hoping to fill that slot someday.)
GM - Bill Hicks makes me laugh and Philip K Dick makes me miserable. I've only read three Dick books: Valis, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer and The Divine Invasion, also the biography and the book which prints parts of the 'Exegesis'. I'm more interested in the man than I am in his work. I don't read fiction at all to be honest (unless my friends send me review copies of their books) and don't even get much time to read non-fiction.
4: Fantastic Four 1234: I only read the first issue, but couldn't get my hands on the other four (because I was at uni.) How amazing did you think the art work was in it (I loved it, maybe because it was so unlike any other FF stuff before) and why all the red skies? General feelings on FF1234 (bearing in mind I only read issue 1 and eagerly waiting for the trade paperback)?
GM - The art was phenomenal. I hope to work with Jae and Jose again - possibly on the Silver Surfer project or something else. The red skies were to build tension and pressure. The whole series should have the feel of an approaching storm - the slow build-up of air pressure and boiling cloud. The sense of imminence...
5: Last good film you saw? Fav. film? Worst film you saw? What did you think of THE MATRIX? I ask because people have drawn comparisons between it and the invisibles, which I can see but not enough to get my knickers in a twist about, simply put them in a
GM – Jimmy Neutron was the last good one. I loved that. I think The Matrix is a brilliant movie, which wouldn't have existed without THE INVISIBLES.
6: Do you like the Simpsons? Fav. character? And if they asked you to do a guest appearance voice, would you do it, and what type of character would you want to be?
GM – Only zombies and Bizarros hate The Simpsons. My favourite is Homer. Mark Millar and I are appearing in The Simpsons comic written by Gail Simone soon, which is almost as good as being on the show. We play Begbie-style psychopathic relatives of Groundskeeper Willie or something.
7: how did you juggle the workload between the new x-men and the filth?
GM - like a pro, baby. Those are just my regular monthly series. I've also written a number of movie pitches, a computer game, a couple of performance pieces, a whole album of songs, MARVEL BOY 2 and numerous other comic books, articles and stories. This isn't work, this is living.
8: LSD (and drugs in general): What's your view on them? Creative, mind-expanding stimulant that opens doors to new realities? Something for the weekend?
Nuggets of shit from Satan?
GM - I think anyone who uses or peddles drugs should be locked up.
9: Who influences you creatively, regardless of the media they work in, film, comic books, t.v, fine art, literature etc?
GM - Biggest influences would be, in no significant order: John Broome, William Burroughs, Dennis Potter, David Rudkin, Stanley Kubrick, Lindsay Anderson, Jean Cocteau, John Lennon, Malcolm McLaren, Syd Barrett, William Blake, Alan Garner, J.R.R Tolkien, Jorge Luis Borges, Enid Blyton, Brendan McCarthy, Chris Claremont etc etc. and all the ones I've forgotten.
10: And Finally, what are you going onto after the filth, and the new x-men?
GM - I'm writing Sleepless Knights for DreamWorks and preparing five new creator owned comics projects for planned release in 2003. I've just completed the first 32-page script for something very special entitled SEAGUY and it's the happiest I've been in years. SEAGUY will be a three issue book drawn by your favourite artist and mine. Following hot on the heels of that will INDESTRUCTABLE MAN, We3, THE SAVAGE SWORD OF JESUS CHRIST and VIMANARAMA! Publishers to be announced.
Thanks for taking the time to read this letter. I hope it has made you laugh, freak out, emote, and generally think.
You too Rog. As for me, relentless brainwashing sessions at the hands of the Enemy, have left me a passionless drone, unable to laugh, freak out, emote or think at all anymore. Thank you for your words anyway ; )
2) Hello Grant, or Kristan, or whoever reads this. Some questions if I may:
1: Grant said in Invisibles that new youth movements arrive every 11 years powered by solar storms hitting the Earth. The new one was supposed to hit in 1999: what was it?
GM - It was, exactly as predicted, apparent in the tight, fascistic, fetishistic styles of the Matrix and just about pop video at the time. It was present in the angry punk sci-fi of Primal Scream's EXTRMNTR record or in the entire oeuvre of the 'Nu metal' scene. The streets of Glasgow, my home town, filled up spontaneously with skategoth kids dressed in black, looking for a scene to happen. It was present in 'punk' comics like THE AUTHORITY and MARVEL BOY and in the 'dark' humor of satirists like Chris Morris.
It was, in fact, pretty much underground, mainly because it had no name. For the first time since 1955, the current crop of 'the kids' didn't seem to process the incoming energy in the old fashioned way - there was no specifically-identifiable mass music scene uprising, no new drug, no clearly delineated fashion shift. Old punks and a few smart youngsters seemed to recognise the millennial solar energies but that wasn't enough to create a specific new pop scene as it had in the past.
2: Do miracles exist? Or are they just the inventions of people who don't want to acknowledge they deserve good things?
GM - 'Miracle' is just a word for things which happen to make people feel good when they are particularly sad. Of course they happen all the time
3: You say that come 2012, everything will be a game. But isn't everything a game already?
GM - I meant specifically that entertainment would increasingly be presented in an interactive 'game' format. I agree that everything is already a game but unfortunately most people aren't aware of that or indeed what the rules are or even how the board looks.
4: How do you feel about Scotland's other pop luminaries; Shirley Manson, Irvine Welsh and Sean Connery?
I've never read any Irvine Welsh but I like the film of 'The Acid House'. Sean Connery is the very avatar of Scotland itself, seething with brutal lusts and tormented poetics. Shirley Manson? Couldn't care less. I see myself as coming from a generation of Scots which includes Momus, Alan McGhee, Bobby Gillespie, Steven Pastel, the Mary Chain etc...so I'm more interested in the 'underground' scene in Scotland.
Well thanks. Keep up the good stuff.
Thanks, Escapist. I'll plough merrily on...
3) Greetings, fellow wallowers:
Just want to say one thing first off. I hate comics. I hate the perpetual now that they seem to lodge themselves in, never allowing themselves the chrysalis-cracking moment of metamorphosis where spandex splits and pink new shiny skin like you get after a scab or a sunburn is revealed. I hate seeing characters who are as psychically empty as they are physically attractive (or anatomically improbable.) And damn, but did i ever get tired of the same shopworn stories rubbed down with grit and realism. Realism has about as much place in comics as does the Titanic plopped down in the middle of the Mojave desert.
Of course, my problem was relatively simple. I was just reading the wrong comics. I can't even say how wrong the comics i was reading were, other than wrong enough for me to pretty much give up on the whole shebang. Sure, there were dalliances along the way, but i remained celibate, abstaining from those peculiar books which aren't movies but can be more than both.
But one can only deny one's self for so long...
All it took was a trip with a middle-aged wankmaster who was also a member in absentia of some kind of Moorcockian Smart Patrol who was just dumb enough to save the world from someone who was a million times smarter and more ruthless than himself. And oooo...the pretty colors...
Shame on me for allowing myself to see only filth, but in a situation like that, perhaps it's only fitting that Filth would drag me back in. And i didn't even kick or scream. Well, maybe a little, but it was more fun that way.
And while i've got you by the lizard-brain for a moment, i just wanted to say that i thought i 'got' what Grant was trying to say in a recent interview, about having "something shocking" be part of the equation. Frankly, i'd written off most shock art 'cause frankly, most art that tries to shock just ends up tripe that'd be better off braised with some thyme and bourdeaux.
It took me reading Grant's _The New X-Men_ to really get it. When Jean Grey says "You don't understand the emotional mechanics of people who stick together and support one another. You just seem really vulnerable to me." to the face of the Mummudrai (and to the face of the lonely geek reader) that is a shock. When a comic has heroes who are powered by their own belief (and the author casts aside the curtain to reveal the Mighty Oz pulling Gladiator's gears and pulleys) that is a shock. And when that book features the first team of heroes that i basically gave up on, that is a shock.
Thanks muchly for the kick in the brain. I needed it and i didn't know that i did.
Oh yeah, on another note, Spiritualized lost it after the first album. Someone needs to keep Mr. Pierce away from the mixing board and put him back behind a guitar where he belongs. And more websites need to be red. With blue text.
-Matt Maxwell, who usually doesn't do this sort of thing
Hi Matt, you've done it now. Glad to be able to bring you back into the fold. There's life in the old dog 'comics' yet.
Shocks come in different shapes. The real shock now is finding all that frozen emotion under the cracking shell of irony all around. That's the jugular I'm going for now. The deep vulnerability behind the supercool sheen.
4) So, Slade wants to quit, eh? Why do I get the feeling that the Hand doesn't loosen its grip so easily?
So far THE FILTH has been all that and a pod of gasmask-wearing dolphins! The look underneath the carpet of the world has been mind-blowing in the greatest Morrison tradition! I mean, I love the NEW X-MEN, but I fucking LOVE the unfettered Grant that shines through on this project. And Chris? Fantastic fuckin' art, Dad! Leaves the rest in the dust! Does he add to what you visualize, Grant, or do you pretty much lay it out for whoever you work with--ALA the NEW X script for the 'Nuff Said ish?
Great to hear from you via The Crack--and thanks to Kristan for her hard work! This is why you could hear me scream over in fookin' Glasgow when Vertigo killed the lettercols! I LOVE hearing from all the gang who're along for this Filthy Ride! And there's no one who responds to thoughts, deep and otherwise, like you, yer Guh-RANT-ness.
Man, just keep the cool shit comin' and I'll go with you without struggle or complaint.
Keeping my badge blank....
Hi Todd! Good to hear from you again. How's life ? All the creators miss those lettercols and the web just doesn't cut it in the same way. There was something special and magical about the letters pages. It made the comic feel like a clubhouse and I used to like that.
Chris pretty much does what I ask him in the scripts but it's the sheer level of detail and commitment he's brought to The Filth that makes him a modern God. The best thing to do with Chris is just say, 'draw something creepy'...You want to know what a miracle looks like ? Issues 6 and 7 are better than all the rest...
5) Kristan and Grant, (who do I put 1st?)
The Filth is naturally very interesting, but what is it? Bi-annual or something? About 100 issues of New X-men have come out since Filth #1. Anyway, the old man masturbating was very funny and never anywhere have I seen the dark, urban British winter dread and claustrophobia so well evoked as in the first few pages. Even though I was reading it in early summer it made me want to book a flight to the equator for next January right there and then. The rest is dazzling, and hats off to Mr.Weston of course. I must stop neglecting the artists who bring your work to life. It seems you can progress from 'The Inv****les'.
SPEAKING of the latter, I've just seen 'Lost in La Mancha', the documentary about T.Gilliam's ill-fated attempt to make a film of Don Quixote, and it made me think of 2 things: first, F.F. Coppola's disastrous making of 'Apocalypse Now' that nearly destroyed him (obviously),), and more importantly, the story of you fucking around with King Mob too much in Invisibles-land and finding yourself on the wrong end of drip-feeds and IV tubes (is there a right end?) with your body about to do the dirty on you. More evidence you could say that people should be careful with what fictions they choose to play god with because you may find that these little worlds try and drag you down with them. This documentary I just saw pointed to this almost explicitly. Gilliam WAS Quixote, utterly deluded, tilting at windmills, getting fucked over time and time again, until he's broken on the harsh wheel of reality that he's been avoiding for so long. Sound familiar? These 3 examples are probably just the ones I know about. Coppola, trying to make a film about a prototype end of the world (Vietnam), and finding his own world rapidly going down the same shitter. And then you. Giving your openly alter-ego a bit of torture and the rest is medical history. Also these 3 texts were long cherished projects that were more than just 'work' for the authors. Something they "put their heart and souls into". I tell you, it puts me off adapting the story of Job just because that's what my initials spell and I have a bit of a persecution complex.
OK, that's it for this week kids, and ta for recommending Black Box Recorder, they've been doing my proverbial head in since first listen.
My name's James Belding, G'NIGHT!!!!!
Hi James, stay away from Job. The Lord doesn't like him and when that happens everyone gets caught in the fallout.
As for The Filth, it comes out every month, like the full moon and we're up to 4 now with more on the way, see details in TV Kwik or your Inflight Guide. The X-MEN comes out whenever a new one gets drawn so that's why they seem to be crashing in like wasps every few days.
Ah Gilliam - he's great. If only he'd been a comic creator we'd have seen dozens of brilliant projects from him by now. And now that I think about it, the upcoming SEAGUY series is my own attempt to make a comic of Don Quixote.
I just made a search in Google for a band called the Mixers, who made at least two great songs featured on the Whaam! Bam! Thank You Dan! compilation, Never Find Time and Love Hurts. Ever since I heard them a year ago I have been looking for some info on this band and also wondered if they released anything else. So, now I found your website and I saw that there are some more records made. Are there any chance in finding those nowadays?
And what did you do in the Mixers?
Hello Tommy, Grant from The Mixers here. I play the rhythm guitar, sing and co-write most of the songs with Danny Vallely.
We changed names regularly but the same core group of musicians have been working together for many years. Danny masterminds DHK (whose single 'Girlarella' is available on Invicta records and will soon be followed by the brilliant new single 'The World's First Trillionaire' and the album REVLOVER of DHK. If you like the Mixers, I'm sure you'll enjoy the stuff Danny's been doing recently) The releases were low key but one other single (TORTURED SOUL on Roger Records) exists by the Mixers, playing as The Fauves. Hundreds of songs have been written by the members of the Mixers and dozens recorded. gmWORD intends to compile and release a variety of tracks from the Mixers and various offshoot bands over the coming months. Keep in touch and check out the MUSIC news or our site at crack.comicks.com where we'll be making this stuff available on CDs shortly.
7) Ahhhhhhhhhh yesssss yes yes just finished reading and re-reading FILTH-3 in my bedroom which still reeks of vomit from last week's booze binge, how depressingly appropriate.
I KNEW you'd get "cunt" in there eventually, how sweet.
Thing is as well: I've been waiting ever-so-earnestly til now to find "me" in the series, and here he is: outside walking miserable through miserable streets, not so witty after all that, locking eyeballs with sneering fucks in football shirts, Dane McGowans who will never become Jack Frosts, oh yes wishing for something great to happen, and even violence livens up the day, but around here they all wait until you're half-way down the road before they start shouting swear words...
And inside: the devastatingly smooth peter panic bi-guy flitting in and out of fictions bringing back whatever I fancy, shit, I didn't even realise til I read it a second time that he's called Mercury, you don't know how all this resonates, except that actually you did write Rebis all those years back so probably you do.
"UGLY FACE?" Bye bye now.
Well, The Flash was always my favourite superhero. My patron loa.
I was going to write more but I think that says everything.
8) I just wanted to tell Mr.Morrison that I'm loving the Filth. I'm a new fan that learned about him through New X-Men. I left comics when I discovered punk rock and came back around the time of the X-Men relaunch. I'm loving comics again thanks to you. Now you got me obsessed with hunting down Invisibles, Doom Patrol back issues. I didn't have a question or anything, I just wanted to tell Grant to keep up the great work. I think every artist needs a little praise now and then to keep them looking forward. I heard some where that he didn't know how to drive. It's good to know I'm not alone, I'm 20 years old and get a lot of shit.But I prefer walking or the bus, it keeps things interesting. (or I'd count on my girl friend, I suspect I'm not alone there either) Peace.
Loved reading through the content of the site the other day, but i was wondering if you could give us some links to the interviews, since a google search yielded nothing worth reading. I especially want to read the interviews with Mark Millar.
Love the work being done on New Xmen and the Filth. Thank you for writing them. They are currently the highlight of my week.
Thanks, Alex. The interviews are from various defunct fanzines. We'll check out the possibility of making them available somehow. Mark and I did some brilliant interviews for British fanzines. There's one where we talk about eating various other comics creators and how they might taste. Stuff like that never appears in po-faced US magazines like WIZARD or THE COMICS JOURNAL. What I liked about the British comics scene is that nothing was ever taken seriously, un like the very uptight American fan scene.
And believe me, the praise is very much appreciated by me and by anyone else who sits alone, writing for money, and wondering if it will all just stop tomorrow and leave us high and dry and on our own with a bunch of worthless thoughts again.
Glasgow's too small to make it worth anyone's while to learn to drive and there are too many fucking cars anyway. As I always say, cars kill more people than ecstasy so why aren't we locking up car dealers ? I much prefer walking or public transport. I love listening to conversations on the bus (the Filth number one has some real life overheard bus talk) and would be lost without this contact with reality. Soon as teleportation arrives all this will be obsolete tech anyway. I'll wait.
9) not meaning to bitch and shit but...
i wonder if i'm a complete laughing stock to you and your friends. not that you and yours seem the type but i can see you at bar having a good laugh at my expense.
sometimes i really hate being crazy
Us too but sometimes there's nothing you can do but live with it, Nico.
Friends ? Bar ? Laugh ?
10) I've reread the marvel Boy mini-series. What was his powers? I saw a lot of technology used in the story, but if you strip the Guns and fancy cubes away, what can he do?
A nice easy one to end on. Noh-Varr is a genetically-modified super-citizen of the Kree 'Empire'. He appears mostly human but has been enhanced by booster DNA from a cockroach-like species. With these innate 'insect' abilities, Noh-Varr is able to run up walls, achieve running speeds of 60 miles an hour, survive damage which would kill an ordinary human and eat any available garbage to survive.
In addition, he has weapons and communications systems in his self-repairing uniform fabric and access to the weapons stores of his ship. His saliva contains bio-engineered lifeforms and can be used as a mind-control weapon. His fingernails contain explosive crystal structures and can be used as small bombs. He also has incredible control over his body processes and can channel sensory input to different receptor areas - this allows Noh-Varr to divert pain signals into his brain's auditory centres, for instance, so that he hears pain as a sound rather than feels it as a sensation.
Hope that explains things for you.
Back next month - around the release of THE FILTH 5 - for more chat.
UPDATED : 25/05/2004