Later this month, Grant Morrison invites readers to his newest world, that of Seaguy
. Illustrated by Cameron Stewart, the three issue miniseries is at the same time, new-school Morrison in terms of its wild ideas, but at the same time, it’s old school as well thanks to its inherent…sweetness and gentleness. And it’s got a talking tuna fish.
The really quick skinny – Seaguy is an un…er, underemployed superhero in a world where the bad guys have been defeated, and there’s no real battle left to fight. The world is peaceful, if not slipping into a state of lethargy and torpor. With no real ‘bad guy’ to keep heroes on their toes, no one’s really noticed how Mickey Eye is everywhere, and there’s this new food product called…Xoo everywhere
We spoke with Morrison about the miniseries
: Starting at the ground level – how do you describe this book? A simple ‘superhero with nothing to do’ tale, or the examination of man’s inhumanity to man told through iconography we’re all familiar with…or something like that?
: A bit of both, as usual. the story started out as a kind of palate-cleansing exercise - after the heavy, 'realistic' approach of the Marvel stuff, I wanted to do something surreal and whimsical, in the vein of my Doom Patrol
stories again - an ocean-going picaresque adventure, you might say.
Then I had the idea to develop Seaguy
into a weapon I could use to fight back against the trendy and unconvincing 'bad-ass' cyncism of current comics, most of which are produced by the most un-'bad-ass' men you can possibly imagine. In the current climate, it seemed like an act of rebellion to deliberately create 'the new sentimentality' and produce work that was almost embarrassingly dripping with tender and awkward feelings. There's a strange kind of Edwardian vibe hitting the world right now - a kind of slowing down, a promenading feel as people rebel against manufactured 'cool'. Seaguy
can be seen as art at the vanguard of this new attitude.
As the story progressed and took on a life of its own, it soon became clear that it was really about the 'big brothering' of society, omnipresent surveillance and global disinformation. It’s about the dumbing down of culture, the creation of capitalist 'comfort zones' in the midst of social decay, about a world tranquillized and satisfied and quite unaware of the dark glue that holds it all together.
…and talking tuna fish.
: With all that said, where did Seaguy come from? Where there any particular seeds that grew into the original version – the ‘new sentimentality’ version?
: Kristan came up with the name ‘Seaguy’ as some throwaway remark on bad superhero names and within seconds, this character was clamoring to be heard in my head. He just writes himself.
I've also wanted to do a modern Sinbad
or Jason and the Argonauts
type story, of a magical sea voyage for some time. My last attempt was the rejected Authority
graphic novel pitch, “Hard,” featuring an all-gay Authority ten years in the future and a mad journey into the Bleed reefs to return the Carrier's 'baby universe' engine - now an unruly teenage universe - to the cosmic spawning grounds where it can get laid without destroying the world...
I've been looking back at stuff like Don Quixote
for the atmosphere of Seaguy
. The poetry of Wilfrid Owen. Medieval symbolism - Chubby da Choona stands in for the ‘questing beast' of the Grail romances, Seaguy is Sir Perceval.
Otherwise, it's pure comics in a 'silver age gone wrong' kind of way.
There are a lot of ways to look at this stuff once you've gone past the surface but it's more important to me that an eight-year old kid can still enjoy Seaguy
as a darkly ridiculous Seventh Voyage
-type story, with Ray Harryhausen monsters walking on tiptoe.
: Along that line of being many things to many people, the story starts out with Seaguy literally
cheating death, has a bearded woman who won’t return Seaguy’s attention, a conspiracy with walking eyeballs, and a protoplasmic Xoo creature.
Given that it’s coming from you, things can be seen in a couple of ways… So – is this just book just a lark for you – your own personal Spongebob/Squarepants
, or are you exploring mortality, gender stereotypes, the illuminati with legs, and sperm from space?
: It started out as a lark and it still has plenty of larkish elements, like octopus shepherds and moon mummies but, you know...everything you write is a way of expressing your feelings and I was dealing with a lot of death and misery last year, which turned into bittersweet surrealist comedy when filtered through Seaguy
. I break down in tears every time I read issue #2 and I hope everyone else will too, in spite of themselves...
: But is that ever a concern for you, that you’re seen most often as Grant (The Invisibles
) Morrison, the guy with mad crazy ideas dripping off of every page so much that you can’t be Grant Morrison, the guy writing about a goofy guy with a scuba mask and talking pet fish?
: I can no longer care how people ‘see’ me or I'd go mad - the public image comics readers have twisted into place around me is so bizarre and so severely distorted that it no longer matters what I actually say or do to affect it - so now I just do the stories I want and hope that my dedicated readers are willing to follow me on the next jaunt into the unknown.
: Well then, metaphysical and self-analysis aside, explain the world that Seaguy
lives in. There were superheroes at one time, but they won, and now the world is at peace, with no major villains or battles. What is a costumed hero to do?
: The idea is that ten years before the events in Seaguy
, there was a final 'Crisis' type battle against the massed forces of evil. Evil was vanquished and the world was made 'perfect'. There are no wars, no fights, no want, no poverty...and nothing much to do. The super-heroes now sit around aimlessly, or ride on fairground attractions as a substitute for the thrill of flying...
: That battle was against the…as you named him, the ‘Anti-dad?’
: Right. It was the final battle against evil. Anti-dad was the prime focus and embodiment of all 'evil' energy in the universe. Then he was defeated and killed by the super-heroes.
…or was he?
: Okay, so tease things out a little – international corporations are symbolized by ‘Mickey Eye’ who’s also behind the Xoo conspiracy; the moon is made out of bricks, and the world’s only hope is Seaguy? Where should we send flowers?
: To an organization known as the new International Center for Economics, which will ensure that your flowers are properly disposed of.
It's not so much that there are conspiracies in Seaguy's world; it's more like our own world in the sense that the 'conspiracies' are out in the open but everyone's so content no-one cares enough about anything to make a difference.
: So with what you’ve said about wanting Seaguy
to be enjoyable both by adults and eight year olds; and DC calling We3
a “heartbreaking tale,” is this the return of the sweet and gentle Grant Morrison?
: My work’s always been sweet and gentle – it’s about animals and losers and hapless dreamers. I dedicated twenty years of my life to the welfare of six abandoned cats and I give my money to numerous charities and causes. I’m from Glasgow; land of the sentimental hardman. I can nurture to Olympic standard.
: Fair enough. Wrapping up then, with this mini, a little moreso than your other more recent works, Seaguy
seems easily, if not instantly adaptable to other media. Was that something you had in mind for it, or if other media comes knocking, it comes knocking, but you’re not waiting?
: It wasn't intentional - I just wanted to do a good, mad comic story to counter the prevailing trend of 'realistic' street-level books. I'm already working as a Hollywood screenwriter so I’m really not into making my comic books any more like movies or tv cop shows.
would make a great cartoon series or cgi movie but, to be honest, it makes a much better comic because you get Cameron Stewart’s incredible artwork to look at and you can roll it up in your pocket and read it anywhere.