You’d be hard pressed to find a more notable writer in the world of comic books today than Grant Morrison. Having written for both Marvel and DC Comics with his legendary runs on New X-Men, Batman, All Star Superman, The Invisibles, Final Crisis, Animal Man, and Seven Soldiers of Victory to name a few, Morrison hopes to knock it out of the park diving into new territory: the seedy underbelly of Hollywood. With his upcoming series through Legendary Comics titled, Annihilator, Morrison has created a protagonist named Ray Spass and his creation, Max Nomax, who must attempt to complete a screenplay to veer away from their gruesome ends. Collider was able to spend some time with Morrison to discuss his latest projects, plans for a sequel, working with artist Frazer Irving, and which one of the characters he’s worked with would he bring to life, to name a few. Hit the jump for more.
Grant Morrison: First off, let me just say that I love this book. This is taking up all my time and is totally my “thing” right now. The story itself revolves around a “Hunter S. Thompson” style screenwriter named Mr. Spass (pronounced Space) who has had a few hit screenplays for films in his past, but is really looking to make a splash with his latest one, “Annihilator”. Meanwhile, the character of his screenplay, named Max Nomax, is being exiled to a prison within a blackhole at the center of the galaxy because he has committed “the ultimate crime”. The story then finds Max coming to life and appearing before his “creator”, Mr. Spass, and telling him that first off, the screenplay that he’s been writing was actually a biography of Max’s, life and second, if he doesn’t finish it within a certain timeframe, he will die. It’s really playing up the notion of a deadline and how dangerous that can be for creative types, such as myself.
Mr. Spass will realize, with Max’s help, that he has a tumor in his brain that, with each part of the screenplay that is completed, begins shrinking.
Did you draw from your own experiences in Hollywood for the story?
Morrison: Yes and no. First I don’t really consider myself Mr. Spass because he’s a total bastard *laughs*. That kind of character though makes for a really good story in general. Your character that you create in your writing not only represents who you are, but also represents a number of people who you’ve met along the way. Mr. Spass, and to a degree Max Nomax, represent aspects from myself as well as many other people who I’ve met while working in Hollywood. Also, the notes that Spass receives on his screenplay are word for word notes which I’ve received on previous works that I’ve done, so it certainly helped having those and essentially, this is my revenge for receiving them.
Spass and Nomax are two sides of the same coin even though they are very different. While Spass has a sinkhole in his garden, Nomax has a blackhole for example.
Reading Annihilator, it seems almost “haunted” in the idea that both Spass and Nomax are living in establishments that seem dark and foreboding. What genre would you say the story is if you had to classify it?
Morrison: I really classify it as a Science Fiction, Horror, and Relationship story. Honestly, by and large, it’s a science fiction story with elements of horror and humor mixed into it. I wrote the two lead characters to be ridiculously funny in terms of how they live their lives and their mannerisms. The story really allows for wider parameters in storytelling and I tried to cover a number of different genres.
In terms of being “haunted”, Hollywood has a very glamorous overcoat, but underneath is a dark and fervent nature. Hollywood’s diabolic undercurrent is something you’ll really see come into play in the story.
What’s it like working with artist Frazer Irving again (after previously working with him on your Batman and Robin run for DC Comics)?
Morrison: I wrote this story specifically for Frazer. A lot of the ideas that helped to create Annihilator came from the Batman run in the idea of there being a lot of “holes” and “space” that came from peoples’ lives. I wanted to work on something really dark with Frazer and Annihilator granted us that opportunity. No one could have brought to the table what Frazer did for this story.
Frazer has a very “filmmaker” point of view and some interesting commentary about the essence of Hollywood. It’s all something only he could have captured and put on the page. He’s been living in LA for his entire life and he’s able to “get it” in a way that many others couldn’t, such as being on the Sunset Strip.
What’s the major differences between working with Legendary Comics and say Marvel or DC?
Morrison: Well it’s more of an open slate. With Marvel and DC, you’re working with their pre-established fictional universes and characters. At those places, you’re working with characters who will outlive you and maybe your children and your childern’s children. Batman will outlive me, Spider-Man will outlive me, the Avengers will outlive me, and so it goes. This opportunity gave me a chance to create some of my own new material and it’s very much a “Legendary Project”. It’s very specific and tailored toward those requirements. With this project, it’s me trying to show you the difference between my work and those other universes.
Now whether Nomax will outlive me has yet to be seen. He’s an archetype and its for the future to decide whether he’ll gain popularity enough to live on. We want to make brilliant comic books and there are so many comics that have been inspired by movies. We want to come around and sort of shine that light back and give those films and their culture thanks, in our own way.
Do you foresee a sequel to Annihilator?
Morrison: The sequel is already in the works in fact! Again, the useful anti-hero archetype (as displayed by Spass and Nomax) can be used again and again in a lot of different stories. It’s just a matter of when really.
Considering how many characters that you’ve worked with, if you could bring one of them to life, which would it be?
Morrison: Superman, of course! He would look out for you. He would totally have your back. Superman loves everyone. He’s like Jesus except he punches people.
Any other project you’re working on?
Morrison: We’re just finishing up Annihilator, and I’ll be working on Nameless for Image Comics following this.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Morrison: Annihilator is one of my favorite things that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working on. In this modern age, it can be really hard to sell stuff but I really want people who read my stuff to read this book. It’s very much from the heart.