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CUT - June 1989

ADOLF AMONG THE SCALLIES

 

As CUT prepares to launch a new GRANT MORRISON and STEVE YEOWELL extravaganza at an unsuspecting comics world, Jane Denholm urges it’s perpetrators to seek some counselling.

 

THE HIGHLY successful partnership of Morrison and Yeowell is traceable back to some rather mucky beginnings.  They met on the ages of Marvel Comics’ ACTION FORCE series and Morrison describes his involvement in these war stories for children – with the obligatory array of attendant plastic merchandise – as “Shameful, terrible and ideologically unsound.”

Awkward moral questions aside, the two worked well together and when Brendan McCarhy dropped out of drawing 2000AD’s new superhero Zenith in 1987, scripter Morrison suggested Yeowell to IPC..  For his part, Yeowell picked up McCarthy’s preliminary sketches of the character, ran with them, and the irritating lout that is Zenith – the popstar with superpowers – emerged to the delight of the jaded 2000AD readership.  Undoubtedly a great deal of the strip’s popularity can be attributed to its endemic cotemporary cultural references, which both Morrison and Yeowell contribute.  Morrison admits to deliberately nurturing an ambiguity about the character.

“In the past we were just hedging our bets, because for instance Heavy Metal fans used to come up to Steve and say, ‘What kind of music does Zenith play?’ and he’d say, ‘Oh, you know, it’s like Megadeth…’”

But the awful truth is revealed in Book 3, which began its run in 2000AD earlier this month – he’s produced by Stock Aitken and Waterman.

“Now there’s a new group that’s come along and he’s out of the limelight and getting really depressed.  The fickle tide has turned.”

For all his unpleasantness however, Zenith enjoys immense popular appeal.  The same cannot be said, these days at least, for the eponymous central character of Morrison and Yeowell;s strip for CUT, The New Adventures Of Hitler.  Yeowell is quick to point out that it’s not intended to either glorify Hitler or belittle the Holocaust.  Nonetheless, he qualifies, “Hitler is a fascinating subject for most people.”

Adds Morrison, who, no-one will be surprised to learn, is responsible for the whole idea: “I’d hate to do something obviously courting controversy – it’s just an exploration of the younger Hitler’s bizarre life.”

Bizarre is an appropriate term.  Even prior to a Morrison reinterpretation, the facts are that there is apparently a year unaccounted for in Hitler’s life which he may have spent in Liverpool with his half-brother Alois, a spectacularly unsuccessful businessman, and his Irish wife Bridget.

“Bridget wrote this book years later and she claimed that Hitler had come over to stay with them because he was living in the streets of Vienna or something and they got so fed up with him hanging about the house that she eventually had to send him home.  So she’s take full responsibility for the Second World War…”

The strip will involve Hitler’s odd relations as much as the Fuhrer himself; “Alois was a complete lunatic as well.  He actually moved to Germany after the war when there was a brief surge of interest in Hitler.  Hitler’s brother, ever the opportunist, set up this political party with himself as the head.  Every other business venture he was in was a complete disaster – so was this!”

Morrison has read extensively in his research for the series but his interest goes back to childhood.  “When I was eight years old I tried to get into the art school’s Saturday morning classes.  What I gave them was this piece of paper that was about six feet wide and three feet high and it was just hundreds of tiny drawings of Hitler in different clothes… So I took this up to them and they immediately called the social work department… I have always been fascinated by Hitler but my bedroom isn’t draped in swastikas or anything like that.”

Like many other comic book partnerships, Morrison and Yeowell, inhabiting Glasgow and Manchester respectively, rarely meet and rely heavily on the Royal Mail.
“It’s a bit of a strange relationship,” says Yeowell.  “We each get on with our own jobs.”

Morrison, a veteran of this method through his work with American artists for DC, nonetheless appreciates Yeowell’s skills and correspondingly allows him more freedom to interpret the script than he would the frustratingly less imaginative US artists.  “I can trust that Steve will do something half decent,” he explains.

With a few odd, one-off jobs excepted, Hitler and Zenith will see Yeowell happily through to late 1990.  Regular readers of CUT will be familiar with Morrison’s multifarious activities by now (see interview CUT February 1989).  “He’s doing so much – that’s why he’s so miserable,” laughs Yeowell.  Morrison maintains he’s still planning to retire from comics next year.

“There’s a story I’m doing with Brendan McCarthy – School for Fools based on our own experiences in severe public schools.  The only thing I’ll keep on is the Doom Patrol – I’m having great fun with that.  I’ve just written number 27, the Brotherhood of Dada issue.  They hurl down a fish from the Eiffel Tower and say ‘Hey! What are you gonna do about that? We’ve taken over the world…!’”

Does anyone know the number of Strathclyde Social Services?

 

A Select Morrison-Yeowell Bibliography

Morrison and Yeowell Zenith Book 1 Titan £4.95

Morrison and Yeowell Doom Patrol Monthly DC

Morrison and Yeowell Animal Man Monthly DC

Morrison and Yeowell Kid Eternity Monthly DC (Summer)

Morrison and McKean Arkham Asylum DC (September)

Morrison and Grist Forever England Trident (June)

 

The New Adventures Of Hitler will begin in CUT’s July issue.

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