If you haven’t heard it yet, head over to Kevin Smith’s Smodcast site and listen to the fantastic interview he has up with Grant Morrison. Part one is there now, with part two coming later in the week.
I really enjoyed the discussion and I think a lot of Morrison detractors will find it difficult to continue dismissing him for the eccentricities that they like harping on him for, if they hear him lucidly explain the why and the how of the kookier legends out there concerning his ‘trips’ and whatnot. Sure it is still all a bit… odd, to say the least. But I’ll be damned if I’ve ever heard someone tell a story like that and still come off sounding reasonable and open-minded about the entire thing.
A few highlights:
(@1:06:00) On the story he was telling in ‘Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth‘:
“This is Bruce Wayne, when he goes to bed at 8 in the morning, this is what he dreams every night. That’s it. It wasn’t meant to be, ‘this actually happened’, this is Bruce Wayne’s dreams this is what happens all the time in that man’s head.”
Smith is a bit blown back by hearing this for the first time, surprising himself when he realizes that he never really knew if it was canon or not. Morrison continues:
“But it’s a canon dream, it’s the ultimate dream of Batman so you need to know it because that’s what Bruce dreams like; and it’s horrible and he’s ineffectual in a lot of cases, and everything’s a reflection of himself.”
Then, at the very tail end of the podcast, in a preview for this week’s second part, while discussing Miller’s TDKR, Morrison explains his thoughts on the ‘psychopathic, dark Batman’ that took hold after Miller’s hugely successful novel – and in turn – how he himself sees and writes the character:
“I like things to make sense, and for me, growing up reading Denny O’Neil and all that stuff, Batman for me was a guy who had been all around the world and he’d had all these amazing fetch girls chasing him, he was super rich, he had the best toys in the world and what he’d done is dealt with his trauma in a very unusual way, but it was a way that totally worked for this guy. …He made it work, he didn’t just get drunk, destroy his life and blow the fortune; he made it useful – and I think, okay, we have to accept that if he’s a super martial arts master and master of meditation and he can slow down his breath and survived for an hour in a coffin… people say ‘well, you’re doing Batgod’, to me I’m being real about who this guy would be at this point in his life. I have to acknowledge, this is the fucking Batman, you know, and he can do all this stuff and honestly, you don’t go through courses in Buddhist meditation and come out an asshole at the end… if you do it right, you know.
So I thought Batman was the most sorted, together, humanist icon on the planet – and that’s where I found myself kind of falling out with people who thought he was tortured, or damned, or depressed, or unable to assuage that guilt. I thought … every night he went out, he dealt with that guilt and just ‘okay, I’m making things better’. So I saw him fundamentally positive and mentally positive and able to inspire people.”
That right there encapsulates the Batman that I grew up reading as well – and to me, explains why Morrison’s characterization rings most true for my tastes; I also see Batman as a healthy and positive character and I am in total agreement with Mr. Morrison that, for the character to truly work, he has to be.
The whole interview was a joy and is just some brilliantly fun stuff to listen to – give it a look and be sure to check back later this week on the Smodcast site for part two!
I’ve been listening to the interview all weekend (taking breaks from Kev Smith’s incessant F-bombs when my kids are around). With no “Part 1” indication, I’m glad to learn here that there’s more on the way as I’ve enjoyed the almost 2 hours so far, but want to hear MORE!
I also agree about the spirit of O’Neil’s and Morrison’s Batman. For Batman to inspire others (Dick, Tim, Babs, etc.), Bruce Wayne could not be the damaged psychopath portrayed by others.
His incessant f-bombs and lighter strikes to smoke more pot are pretty damned tiresome – but I’m quite the potty mouth myself so I probably shouldn’t complain.
Indeed – not just psychopathic Batman either, but the exceedingly angry, morose, deficient and ill-adjusted maladroit Batmen that have dominated the comics since the 80’s have been pretty disappointing to me.
There are of course many exceptions, but by and large I feel the character has been somewhat lost and re-shaped by the majority opinion of what they think the character is like due to a scant few very popular portrayals in film and book.
Thanks for reading!