A contemporary comicbook legend is profiled in “Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods,” Patrick Meaney’s first feature. The charismatic subject of this admiring portrait will intrigue the previously unconverted, though the docu will primarily appeal to established fans who already have a firm grasp on innovations in comics/graphic-novel writing over the past few decades. Coming out Stateside on DVD later this month, pic made its theatrical debut Oct. 8 with a run at San Francisco’s Roxie Cinema.
Introduced at one event as “the true rock star of comics,” chrome-domed Morrison was raised in a poor Glasgow neighborhood by progressive-activist parents, channeled his misfit and exhibitionist tendencies into a local rock band, and by 17 had begun publishing comics. Though he himself draws, he has long since happily acquiesced to the superior skills of various top-flight artists interviewed here, with whom he maintains variably direct/obscure lines of communication.
Around the time Tim Burton’s first “Batman” film came out, DC Comics commissioned Morrison to put his own spin on the Caped Crusader, followed by other adventuresome, deconstructive takes on fellow superheroes Superman, the X-Men, the Justice League, etc.
These critical and commercial triumphs (though he created even more surreal, complex work in wholly original efforts like “The Invisibles”) allowed him to flaunt a flamboyant lifestyle of world travel, substance experimentation and even cross-dressing. A practitioner of chaos magic, he claims to have had an alien abduction in Kathmandu and communications with demons, elements that have heavily colored writings in which he’s occasionally appeared as a character. While Morrison has been branded a space case in some circles, such eccentricities have added to a personal mystique that complements works impressive (if sometimes near-impenetrable) for their nonlinear storytelling and abstract ideas. Several illustrators note the challenge of realizing his vision.
Somewhat more settled down these days with wife/manager Kristan (not interviewed here), Morrison makes engaging company, forthcoming about his more outre notions and experiences without seeming smug or a braggart.
Pic is pretty much one long sit-down with Morrison, broken up by input from collaborators, friends and observers, plus glimpses of his work. While content and nimble packaging hold attention, those without some prior knowledge of his oeuvre and its larger genre-historical context — notably the “Brit Wave” of comics mavericks (also including Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman) that emerged in the 1980s — might feel a bit at sea.