Last year, I was able to talk to Grant Morrison at length about his exciting new project called The Multiversity, and I strongly recommend you read that interview first if you’re not up to speed on the concept. That’s where you’ll get the breakdown. Today, at San Diego Comic-Con, I got to meet up with him again to get a little progress update, now that his project expanding and explaining the 52 alternate realities of the current DC universe is drawing near.
Here’s our conversation, which also touches on Wonder Woman: Earth One, the big project he’s doing with Yanick Paquette.
Crave Online: What’s changed about Multiveristy since last we spoke about it, if anything?
Grant Morrison: Nothing must has changed in the individual books themselves, but certainly in the bookends and the guidebook, I was much more trying to line up with what’s been happening in the New 52, so it’s kind of closer now, and I think it’s even better. It works better than it would’ve, say, five years ago, because it completely ties into what’s happening. Because the New 52 was called ‘The New 52,’ this almost explains that. We wait a couple of years and you thought you’d seen the New 52, but here’s the New 52, and it’s actually 52 universes.
So now you don’t have to be publishing 52 issues at the same time.
Which of these new universes are you most excited about? For me, it’s got to be the Pax Americana setting – applying the Watchmen feel to the Charlton characters that Watchmen was originally based on.
That’s a good one. As I said, it’s kind of a Citizen Kane thing. We really worked hard to make it like Watchmen. Watchmen’s considered to be the best superhero book, so we thought this at least has to be a really good 40-page story. So I’m pretty proud of it, and Frank Quitely’s doing the most amazing work. Watchmen had the nine panel grid, so we created this eight-panel harmonic that I talked about before, and just the amount of subdivisions you can do… so I’ve been driving him nuts by dividing panels into 150 and things like that. (laughs). But one of the things we’ve done to make it more like the Watchmen experience was I wrote this giant script, so Quitely’s been looking at these things, and some panel descriptions are like five pages long. It’s quite hard to do that, you know, but I really worked at it. He’s just been sitting there with his head in his hands trying to get through this script. So that one’s pretty good, but honestly, I love all of them. I’ve seen the artwork now, and every single artist has done what I think is some of the best work of their career. The Chris Sprouse book is really great insane pulp. We’ve got zombie paratroops.
I know, just seeing Dr. Fate with guns is amazing.
There’s that, and another big favorite is the Ben Oliver book – Ben’s about two-thirds of the way through that. It’s the super-shallow world of the children of the superheroes. It draws on all different things – those early stories of the Super-Sons that Bob Haney did all those years ago, and there’s a little bit of Kingdom Come, and a little bit of The Els in there. Again, that was one I was working away on without realizing how it was going to look, and once I’ve seen what Ben had done, it became one of my favorites. So pretty much whatever art comes in the door that day becomes my favorite book.
The first issue is Calvin Ellis, which you’ve already set up within Action Comics. Did that prove to be a good springboard for the rest of the series?
Yeah, you see how it works. We start out with the Monitor character from Crisis and he kind of introduces things, and then we set up the threat, and then we cut to President Superman Calvin Ellis and he works his way into the story. He’s our Superman figure in that he’s kind of the big daddy figure of this Justice League we’re putting together in the bookend issues. Without even trying, we’ve ended up with this multiversal team where there isn’t a single white straight guy on it. Two very powerful black superheroes – there’s an aboriginal guy and the Superman character – and then we’ve got Captain Carrot, who’s a giant anthropomorphic rabbit, and we have Aquawoman and Mary Marvel. I think there might be a Batman character on there who’s vaguely normal, but everyone else is a bit more representative of the world we live in.
Well, straight white guys have thought they were “normal” for too long and they should be shown the truth. You mentioned before that any one of these worlds could set up for spinoffs. Has there been any talk of that?
Yeah, that was the plan. We wanted to do all of them developed enough to sustain their own books. There’s talk, but obviously, we’ll see how this goes. There may be certain things that people like better than others, and they may start clamoring for issue two of S.O.S. or one of those books. I’ve got ideas for all of them, but obviously I can’t write eight books every month. But if there’s something we all like, there’s definitely a chance of coming back to some of these concepts.
Do you have a short list of writers you’d trust to take over these worlds, and who would you pick?
Oh my god, I wouldn’t know. It started out like that, when we were doing it back in 52, it was going to be Greg Rucka doing the Pax Americana book, and Mark Waid was going to do the Shazam book, the Thunderworld, and Geoff Johns was going to do Earth 2. It started out originally intended for a bunch of people to do, but it ended up that I was the only one that cared enough to keep pursuing this to the bitter end. So there’s a ton of great people out there, there’s a whole new generation of guys, and there’s a lot of people who would handle the books very well and would probably enjoy doing something slightly off-beat.
The Map of the Multiverse, signed by Grant Morrison and given to me, and I unfortunately bent the thing up carrying it around the con all day. Boo.
The detailed multiverse map – is that all your design?
It was all my design, but Ryan Hughes really worked hard on that thing. If you look at all the worlds, he’s actually designed them – there’s a world that’s kinda like a Wally Wood world, and he used an actual Wally Wood Earth, and the Frank Miller world is all black and white scratches, and Howard Chaykin’s all letter-toned dots, so Ryan actually made every single world quite distinctive. Even more bizarre, we linked them all. If you look, there’s these kinds of atomic orbits, and all the worlds are linked depending on where they sit in the structure of the multiverse itself. So the dark and more realistic worlds are all on one side and the more cartoonish worlds are all on this side. This was all Ryan, he’s got an amazing scientific brain so he actually worked out where the Stan Lee universe would sit opposed to the Jack Kirby universe. You could sit and study this thing for years, probably.
I want to! I want some time to read through this whole thing. Now there’s a big rumor that the previous version of the DC Universe might make a comeback and merge with the New 52 – does this have anything to do with that?
I don’t know much about that at all. I’ve just been doing my thing, and as we’ve gotten closer to the end, I’ve started throwing out ropes to say ‘can we link up here?’ So I really don’t know. I do know there’s a kind of convergence happening next year, but nobody’s told me yet what it is. I’m just doing my best to make sure it runs concurrently.
So what’s the status of your Wonder Woman: Earth One book?
We’re 40 pages away from the end. It’s 120 pages long and Yanick Paquette has done 80 of those pages, and it’s astonishing. He’s really spent a lot of time on this. I think it’s going to be the best-looking Wonder Woman book ever. I think that’s for next year.
So what are the general themes of it?
It’s Wonder Woman on trial by the Amazons. It’s a new origin for Wonder Woman. It uses elements of the old origin but takes it in a new direction and makes it a bit more dramatic. The whole book is kinda like ‘okay, Wonder Woman, explain yourself,’ because she’s always been asked to explain herself in culture, and why is there no Wonder Woman film, and women don’t sell books. So I wanted to interrogate that inside the story, so the Amazons put her on trial for running away and that’s the framework of the story.
Excellent, I hope that works out, so there can be a Wonder Woman movie.