Clyde and Seek - The Annotated Captain Clyde Part One

posted 16 Jan 2019, 09:44 by Ben Hansom   [ updated 16 Jan 2019, 14:20 ]

Incredible scenes over the past couple of days, as the heretofore unknown (to me at least) website started posting huge chunks of Grant Morrison's long-lost Captain Clyde comic strip, originally printed in Glasgow local newspaper The Govan Press from 1979 to 1982.  As of this writing, we're at strip 66, so just over a third of the way through the 150 page run, with plans - it seems - to put the lot up.

Morrison was 19 and, like his hero Chris Melville, terminally unemployed when the strip began.  The Govan Press paid Morrison £4 a strip initially (about £20 or $26 in today's money), rising to £6 (basically the exact same amount of money, accounting for inflation) by the time the run ended.  When that end came - 3 years almost to the day since the strip began - it was in the middle of an epic saga of Captain Clyde versus Satan, truncated to just 11 installments from the original 30, and cruelly replaced by a syndicated Tom & Jerry strip, with extreme prejudice.

It struck me reading through the first few chapters that there's a lot of Scotland-centric and/or extremely dated contemporary references in there, so as someone who was barely born when the strip started, isn't Scottish and has literally never been to Glasgow I thought I'd be the best person to walk you through it...  Yeah, actually, feel free to help me out with that as much as possible please.

Captain Clyde Annotations - Part 1

The Green Lantern #2 Annotations

posted 10 Dec 2018, 05:52 by Ben Hansom

Who are the Blackstars?  Why does that guy have an exploding volcano for a face?  The annotations for The Green Lantern #2 by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp are here, all dressed-up and ready to go.

As ever, please do get in touch if you've any comments or corrections.

The Green Lantern #1 Annotations

posted 7 Nov 2018, 15:16 by Ben Hansom

The annotations for The Green Lantern #1 by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp are here, large and in charge,and - holy shit! - done on the same day the comic came out rather than, err two and a half years later or whatever.  Aim is to keep up the schedule so you keep coming back to read 3,000+ words of my witterings rather than three or four tweets by Liam Sharp that give you basically the same info.  Here's hoping!

Such a great comic, even better than I hoped it would be to be honest, am super psyched for what's to come.

Get in touch if you've any comments or corrections, or hell, if you just fancy shooting the shit about this stuff.

Is This A Page From Grant Morrison's 'Hypercrisis' pitch?

posted 22 Oct 2018, 15:34 by Ben Hansom   [ updated 22 Oct 2018, 15:37 ]

At various points over the past twenty years, Grant Morrison has teased snippets of what might have happened in his proposed (and ultimately rejected) Hypercrisis crossover, a slam-bang DC universe-wide sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths that was initially pitched in the late 90's - possibly with Mark Waid onboard as co-conspirator - back when Morrison was still writing JLA.  From a 2002 interview with Sequential Tart -

"My one regret about my brief falling out with DC after the 'Superman Incident' is that I didn't get to do my Hypercrisis series at DC to explain all this stuff and set up a whole new playground. It's the one thing I could still be arsed doing with classical superheroes. If I ever go back, I'll explain the whole Hypertime thing and recreate the Challengers of the Unknown as Challengers: Beyond the Unknown.

It's one thing I still want to do. It had a monster eating the first few years of the 21st century and Superman building a bridge across this gaping hole in time. A bridge made of events. The Guardians of The Multiverse and a new Green Lantern Corps made up of parallel reality Green Lanterns, the Superman Squad and the mystery of the Unknown Superman of 2150 etc, etc. There's a huge synopsis filled with outrageous stuff."

One thing we do know for sure is that when Morrison re-signed with DC in 2003, one of the first things he pitched was a rejigged version of Hypercrisis, now titled Crisis in Hypertime.  Though newly installed executive editor Dan Didio was sold on the idea, president and publisher Paul Levitz ultimately rejected the series once again, believing that the Hypercrisis concept was not strong enough to hang a company-wide crossover on.  The big event slot for 2004 was ultimately filled by the moribund Identity Crisis, while the plan for a direct sequel to the original Crisis was picked up with Geoff Johns' Infinite Crisis the following year.

As you might imagine, despite the rejection, a bunch of this stuff ended up getting used elsewhere - the Unknown Superman and the Superman Squad appeared in All-Star Superman, a bastardized version of the Challengers Beyond the Unknown appeared in Countdown (ughhh), and the whole 'Guardians of the Multiverse' thing fits pretty neatly with Operation: Justice Incarnate from The Multiversity.  Other elements from Hypercrisis that Morrison has mentioned elsewhere also got put to good use - the series was intended to open with a major character's shocking death, originally Captain Marvel but changed to J'onn J'onzz for the later Final Crisis; and, to goose the sales figures, every issue was going to be a #1, a tactic later employed with The Multiversity.

Today, whilst trawling the ancient comics internet #content mines for nuggets just like those, I found this 2015 Facebook post from Dan Didio, reminiscing on the road to Infinite Crisis and accompanied by a single page from "The Land of Busted Pitches" showing "the first serious attempt at pulling the continuity together during my tenure" -

Is this a page from the 2004 version of the Hypercrisis pitch, renamed as "CRISIS II or CRISIS IN INFINITE FUTURES"?

A chronovore (the 'Hyper Time Drive'-powered Infinite Man, from Paul Levitz's Legion of Super-Heroes run) is devouring time, necessitating a bridge made of events be built to reconnect the future and the past?  Hell yeah, that *really* sounds like Morrison's pitch from his interview quote up top there, eh?  But, whilst the idea itself is a dead on match, some of the details - trying to make Kingdom Come villain Gog happen yet again as some sort of major threat; including extremely obscure early 80's Superman backup strip 'Superman 2020' as one of the headline possible futures of the DC Universe - sound waaay more like a Mark Waid joint, while some of the other stuff sounds suspiciously like what Geoff Johns would go on to do in his post-Infinite Crisis JSA run (Gog, again), Flashpoint and Doomsday Clock

Indulging Didio's irrational hatred of Dick Grayson is something I reckon DC writers of that period (and beyond) just had to get on board with tbh, and it seems fairly obvious that by 2004 the higher-ups had long since decided that Clark and Lois's marriage was a mistake - undoing it is also a major story beat in Morrison/Waid/Millar and Peyer's Superman 2000 pitch from 1999.  Could Crisis II / Crisis In Infinite Futures have been pitched as an editorially driven group effort, much like 52 which followed maybe a year or less after this? 

Maybe, who knows?..

Not me, that's for sure.  But I'll bet Chris Roberson does...

Panel from 2011's Superman #708 by Chris Roberson, art by Eddy Barrows

DC Publishes Grant Morrison's Pitch For 'The Green Lantern'

posted 1 Aug 2018, 11:48 by Ben Hansom

Headline kind of speaks for itself really doesn't it?  From this week's DC Nation #3, the (heavily redacted) original pitch for Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp's upcoming The Green Lantern, launching this November.

Green Lantern as a cosmic police procedural sounds... kind of a boring and obvious take to be honest, but I'm sure Morrison and Sharp will absolutely kill it in the execution.  And of course the prospect of a bunch of cosmic callbacks to DC's past is, as you might imagine, right up my alley.  I absolutely will be doing annotations for it, and if you're very good, I might even get them done on time/finish them.  A tantalising prospect, no doubt...

The Unseen Grant Morrison - How To Become A Werewolf

posted 12 Jul 2018, 10:59 by Ben Hansom

A rarely seen cut-up comic from the back page of Bombs Away Batman!!!, a fanzine put together by Grant Morrison and his bandmates in The Mixers back in 1983.  The panels that make up the bulk of the strip were most likely cut from various Marvel UK reprint titles from the mid to late 1970's, and give a good idea of what teenage Morrison might've been reading around then (lots of Starlin Captain Marvel, clearly).  It's mildly amusing to me that all of these are almost certainly taken from flimsy British reprint books - take a pair of scissors to a *proper* comic??  Never!!

A full list of what comes from where follows after the strip itself, Strictly For The Heads.

Title - "HOW TO BECOME A WEREWOLF!” from WORLDS OF FEAR #10 (Fawcett, 1953).  UK reprint in SPELLBOUND #63, published by L. Miller & Son, ~1965 - Panel 1 – “IT BEGAN WITH ATOMIC WAR!” from ‘Machine Age!’ in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #17 (Marvel, August 1954) by Stan Lee (probably) and Sid Check.  UK reprint in PLANET OF THE APES #23 (March 28th 1975) - Panel 2 – “NOW ALL THAT REMAINS IS THE… RAVAGERS!” From CAPTAIN MARVEL #29 (November 1973) by Jim Starlin.  UK reprint in MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #227 (January 26th 1977) - Panel 3 – “ONCE AGAIN THE DEAD VOID OF SPACE LIES ALONE AND QUIET…”, from CAPTAIN MARVEL #29 (November 1973) by Jim Starlin.  UK reprint in MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #227 (January 26th 1977) - Panel 4 – “…A LAND OF DARKNESS… AND DEEP NIGHT!” from CONAN THE BARBARIAN #23 (February 1973) by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith.  UK reprint in AVENGERS #102 (August 8th 1975) - Panel 5 – “…AND PERHAPS THAT WAS ALL I NEEDED!” from CAPTAIN MARVEL #29 (November 1973) by Jim Starlin.  UK reprint in MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #227 (January 26th 1977) - Panel 6 – “END” from CAPTAIN MARVEL #29 (November 1973) by Jim Starlin.  UK reprint in MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #227 (January 26th 1977) - Panel 7 – Electro at the Pyramids, Electro figure by Steve Ditko.  Panel from a Marvel UK recycling competition, appears in AVENGERS #102 (August 8th 1975) - Panel 8 – “KONG! HE SAID HIS NAME WAS KONG!  I KNEW THEY’D DO A REMAKE OF THAT FLICK SOMEDAY – BUT THIS IS TOO MUCH!!” art from CONAN THE BARBARIAN #23 (February 1973), by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith.  UK reprint in AVENGERS #102 (August 8th 1975), “KONG!” dialogue from AVENGERS #70 (November 1969) by Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema.  UK reprint in AVENGERS #104 (September 13th 1975) - Panel 9 – “THE TRUTH WILL DISPEL ALL CONFUSION.  THE TRUTH WILL SHOW THE ENEMY” from CAPTAIN MARVEL #29 (November 1973) by Jim Starlin.  UK reprint in MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #226 (January 26th 1977) - Panel 10 – “WITH THE WISH COMES THE REALITY!” from CAPTAIN MARVEL #29 (November 1973) by Jim Starlin.  UK reprint in MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #227 (January 26th 1977) - Panel 11 – “THE MENTAL CHANGE HAS TO COME FROM WITHIN!” from CAPTAIN MARVEL #29 (November 1973) by Jim Starlin.  UK reprint in MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #227 (January 26th 1977) - Panel 12 – “THE APES -- THEY’RE HERE!” from AMAZING ADVENTURES #18 (May 1973) by Gerry Conway, Neal Adams and Howard Chaykin.  UK reprint (with Killraven renamed Apeslayer and dialogue altered from ‘Martians’ to ‘Apes’) in PLANET OF THE APES #23 (March 28th 1975) - Panel 13/14 - “DEATH TO DOCTOR DEATH!”  “BUT IS IT DEATH TO THIS ARCH CRIMINAL?” from DETECTIVE COMICS #29 (July 1939), reprinted in BATMAN: FROM THE 30’S TO THE 70’S (UK version published by Spring Books, 1972) - Panel 15 – “FAREWELL!” from CAPTAIN MARVEL #29 (November 1973) by Jim Starlin.  UK reprint in MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL #227 (January 26th 1977)

The Best Grant Morrison Comic of 2018, 'Nuff Said

posted 11 Jul 2018, 04:58 by Ben Hansom   [ updated 22 Oct 2018, 15:45 ]

WildCATS #2 by JP Gluteaux, adapted from Grant Morrison's original script in the Wildstorm: A Celebration of 25 Years hardcover.  Available now from all good Dark Web retailers, where all them drugs and guns are sold,  Verwirrung! 👍🏻

Promoerotic - JLA

posted 10 Jul 2018, 02:47 by Ben Hansom   [ updated 10 Jul 2018, 02:49 ]

Deep Space Transmissions is back from the dead baby!  Gearing up for the rumoured (cough cough) Grant Morrison/Liam Sharp Green Lantern announcement at SDCC, I thought it would be wise to stretch the old blogging muscles again (it's been awhile) before launching headlong into another monthly annotations-fest.  Nothing too strenuous though, so here for your viewing pleasure is a gallery of promotional items for Grant and Howard Porter's JLA run back in the late 90's / early 00's.

All of these items were only available via giveaways or sent directly to retailers for the purposes of promoting the JLA series that began in 1996.  Nothing here was available to buy directly at the time, though all of it has since surfaced on eBay of course (some of it significantly more often than others).  I've tried to restrict myself to stuff that's explicitly tied to the Morrison/Porter JLA run, though there were of course other Justice League promotional items that came out in this period.  As a rule of thumb anything drawn by Barry Kitson is out (as the intention there would be to promote the Kitson-drawn JLA: Year One mini-series), as is anything painted by Alex Ross (who reportedly hated Kyle Rayner with a rare passion and, I think, barely if ever painted anything with the Morrison/Porter Big Seven line-up).  And this Tom Mandrake JLA poster from '98 is actually a page from Martian Manhunter #0, with a JLA logo slapped on it, so that's pretty weird and definitely not what we're looking at here.

For a more comprehensive look at the bigger Justice League merch picture, both around this time and either side of it, head on over to the late lamented Cosmic Teams site here.

Interesting to see that, despite it being DC's biggest selling title at the time, once One Million was over and done with DC basically didn't bother promoting the core JLA title again until Earth 2 came out after Morrison's run had finished.  Is no wonder he jumped ship to go and do X-Men eh?

1" JLA Button given away at the 1996 San Diego Comic Con

B&W uncorrected preview of JLA #2, sent to retailers and letter writers/reviewers.  Similar proofs of #1, #3 and #16 also exist

JLA retailer-only mobile, 1996.  There was also apparently a roll of wallpaper border available, though I can't think I've ever seen a picture of it.

JLA Month promo t-shirt, 1997

JLA #16, "What Does It Take To Join Their Ranks?" Promo poster, 1998

17x22" DC One Million promo poster, from the retailer promo pack, 1998

JLA Earth 2 promo poster, 2000

B&W uncorrected preview of JLA #1, given away to attendees of the JLA panel at the 1996 San Diego Comic Con

JLA counter stand/book bin, sent to retailers to display JLA #1, 1996

JLA / WildCATS promo poster, 1997

JLA Month "Strength In Numbers!" poster, 1997

DC One Million promo pack - contained a t-shirt, an ad slick, 1x black and white poster, 2x colour posters, a laminated "As Me About the 853rd Century" card and a bundle of "Passport to the 853rd century" fold-ups, 1998

DC One Million promo poster, from the retailer promo pack, 1998

JLA Earth 2 4pg preview giveaway, 2000

Diamond PREVIEWS catalogue cover, September 1996.  Apparently the background colour of issue #1 was changed from red to green so as to not give away where the Pantheon were really from too early

'The World's Greatest Heroes Together Again!"  Retailer promo poster for JLA #1, 1996

JLA Month retailer promo pack, July 1997.  Includes t-shirt, mini-folders, poster and second printings of JLA #10 and #11

JLA Month promo folders.  These are very small, probably only 5x3" or thereabouts, 1997

DC One Million promo t-shirt, 1998

34x22" Large DC One Million promo poster including checklist, 1998

JLA Earth 2 promo bookmark, 2000

The Multiversity Guidebook #1 Annotations

posted 28 Feb 2017, 07:48 by Ben Hansom

Mate, shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, doesn't even come close...

So, a mere two years late, get yer Multiversity Guidebook annotations right here.  In which Grant Morrison and an all-star squadron of artistic collaborators cohere the DC Universe for the very first time into a singular tale spanning 75 years, more than a million pages and many thousands of chroniclers.  Perhaps the most complex (...sentient?) fictional universe ever created?

DC cosmology given a Zoroastrian polish, Barry Allen cast as Jesus Christ, a framing story inspired by an issue of Kamandi completed in 1977 but not published until 2017 (nearly two years after the Guidebook itself appeared)... this one really has Got It All.  There's even the beginnings of a biting commentary on corporate comics monstrous tendency to eat it's own young, though somewhat fittingly, that thread ends up To Be Continued in Ultra Comics, where the *real* meat is gnawed off the bones...

Let's get down to it then.  The 25,000 or so words that follow took me about two years to write.  Let's hope it doesn't take as long for you to read...

Click here to read more, IF YOU DARE...

The Long and Winding Road - Grant Morrison's 18 Days

posted 5 Jul 2015, 16:02 by Ben Hansom

This week saw the release of the first issue of Grant Morrison's 18 Days from upstart comic book publisher Graphic India, a project 7 years in the making and the cause of some confusion online as to its provenance.  I thought it might be a good idea to get a bit of a chronology up here to iron out once and for all what this book is (and probably isn't) and how it came to be.

18 Days - then called MBX - was first announced in a surprise appearance by Grant Morrison on a Virgin Comics panel at the 2008 New York Comic Convention.  A free-wheeling sci-fi adaptation of the Indian epic poem The Mahabharata - running to more than 74,000 verses and around 1.8 million words in total - Morrison described it thus,

"Like the Beatles took Indian music and tried to make psychedelic sounds…I'm trying to convert Indian storytelling to a western style for people raised on movies, comics, and video games."

A couple of months later Virgin Comics and digital animation shop Perspective Studios announced they'd be debuting footage from MBX at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con - there's a low-quality version still online here, and though I suppose it does look kind of clunky now, but let me tell you young whippersnappers, it actually looked pretty swish back in 2008.  Encompassing a planned "movie" (intended from the beginning to be cut up into shorter episodes if desired) and a video game, there was - initially at least - no plans for a comic book adaptation.  While I don't know for sure I'd imagine this was because at that time Morrison was signed exclusively to DC Comics for his comic book work.  Animation, movies and video games though - all falling outside of Grant's DC contract - were fair game.  No release date was set, but a limited run (1,000 copies) sketchbook was sold at the convention - pulling double duty as a $25 ticket to Virgin's Grant Morrison signing at the Con - featuring excerpts from Morrison's series bible and the complete script for episode one, alongside pages of concept artwork by Indian superstar artist Mukesh Singh.

Not long after SDCC, in September 2008, it was announced that Virgin Comics was to close and, after a management buyout, rename itself to Liquid Comics.  The fate of MBX remained unknown.  Not long after, some foolhardy speculator decided to cash out and put his MBX Sketchbook up on eBay.  I was the only bidder and won it for significantly less than it's $25 retail price.  The script material was brief - the whole sketchbook only runs to 16 pages - but was a cool glimpse at a Morrison project that looked like it would probably never happen.  And you all know how much I dig *that* shit...

Fast forward a couple of years and, in March 2010, Dynamite Entertainment announced they'd be partnering with Liquid Comics to release "an illustrated hardcover book featuring the original scripts created by Grant Morrison for his animated project ‘Grant Morrison’s 18 Days'" - the epic war of the Gods that forms the centrepiece of The Mahabharata lasts for 18 days, hence the retitling.  Released in August 2010, the 120 page book - though awkwardly sized - was immaculately presented.  Featuring the full series bible and complete scripts for episodes 1-3 (each intended to run for 10-15 minutes), the book also featured a ton of previously unseen concept work by Mukesh Singh. 

With no further news on a distribution channel for the proposed animated series, it seemed like the Dynamite book was an attempt to at least make some money off the material that had already been completed.  Morrison didn't do much (any?) publicity for the book though, and it seemed like maybe his involvement with the stalled project had come to an end.

Fast forward once again to SDCC 2013.  Grant Morrison appears on a panel alongside Gotham Chopra and Sharad Devarajan, co-founders of Graphic India - a Liquid Comics-owned "character entertainment company focused on creating leading characters, comics and stories through mobile and digital platforms", where it's announced that Grant Morrison's 18 Days would - finally! - hit the web as an animated series, with the first episode debuting during YouTube's Geek Week in August 2013 alongside a promotional music video by Indian metal band Pentagram.

Though Graphic India reused much (all?) of the MBX CGI material promoting the 18 Days launch, when the series eventually appeared on YouTube the art style had changed dramatically - from Mukesh Singh's intricate paintings to Jeevan J. Kang's much more cartoony/western superhero style.  A more unwelcome change came in the quality of the animation, reduced to the sort of paper-fastener flailing arms and legs of a 1960's Marvel cartoon.  I don't suppose anyone would want the job of Photoshop-animating those concept art paintings to be fair...

Another frustrating feature of the YouTube series was the length of each installment - episode 1 clocked in at three minutes, episode 2 barely hit two.  Graphic India kept up a weekly schedule on new episodes, but you couldn't help feeling like they were just uploading a minute here or there whenever it was finished - an impression not helped by the ongoing story often veering off in wild tangents for weeks at a time.  More salient to this article (I suppose...) is that Grant Morrison is only credited as writer of Grant Morrison's 18 Days for the first two episodes, total running time: about 5 minutes (he does also get a co-writer credit alongside Gotham Chopra on episode 12, and a "Created by"/Executive Producer credit on all of the rest to be fair).  The vast majority of episodes - we're currently on Episode 92 as of this writing, and only just past the end of Day One of the 18 Days War - were written by Chopra/Devarajan and Sarwat Chadda.

Unfortunately, to say the web series has departed somewhat from Devarajan's contention that "most of the Asian epics and themes don't define good and evil in the same very linear way that we see black and white in the West; it's much more about the gray," would be putting it mildly.  The extremely limited voice cast has dictated that all the good guys sound like good guys, while the baddies all sound like mustache-twirling pantomime villains.  The story itself is undoubtedly epic in scope and puts the characters into some complex moral binds, but the delivery has often left much to be desired.

A couple of months back, unencumbered now by exclusive contracts DC or otherwise, Graphic India finally got around to soliciting an 18 Days comic - or soliciting it in the West at least.  It seems that there are already a couple of trade paperbacks of Grant Morrison's 18 Days comics available in India published by Westland Books, running to 288 pages between them (I think that's about 12 regular sized issues?).  Curiously, both the existing Indian books and - more noticeably -  the ongoing YouTube series seemed to have been completely overlooked by the comics internet when the Grant Morrison's 18 Days solicits appeared - with at least one site reporting it as "The Return of Grant Morrison's 18 Days", as though the series had never been seen since the Dynamite book some 5 years ago.

Once again, Morrison hasn't really been involved in the marketing push for this book, and it seems pretty unlikely at this point that he would produce all-new material for Grant Morrison's 18 Days #1 - I'd imagine what we have here is an adaptation of Grant Morrison's 7 year old scripts for 3 ten minute episodes of an animated series, repurposed into a comic series.  That's not to say the book is neither good nor worthwhile...

Just don't expect it to go on for a whole lot longer with a Grant Morrison solo writing credit.


While I was writing this, I found this blurb for an upcoming panel at this year's SDCC - happening this Thursday (9th July) in fact:

"Legendary creator, Grant Morrison (Batman, All Star Superman, 18 Days, The Multiversity) discusses storytelling, global mythology, mysticism, the rise of Indian superheroes and his latest comic launch, 18 Days: The Mahabharata. Morrison will also announce his latest groundbreaking, mythic/sci-fi project with Graphic India for the first time."

So it looks like we'll find out a bit more about Grant's ongoing involvement with Graphic India and 18 Days (and what if any new stuff he's got up his sleeve) later this week.  Should have just saved writing this til after then really shouldn't I?


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