Interview: Grant Morrison on MULTIVERSITY & Exclusive Frank Quitely Art

Multiversity is coming, and Grant Morrison and DC are going to bring it to you. You’ll see it in 2013, and before then, you’ll likely learn a lot more about it, but right now, we’ve got Grant Morrison himself to tell us everything about it that he can.

But that’s not all. Check out these gorgeous Frank Quitely pages for the first time anywhere. As we’ve seen with We3, All-Star Superman, and Flex Mentallo: Hero of the Beach, when these guys work together, magic can happen.

Grant can tell you more about it.


iFanboy: It’s been a while since Multiversity was first announced, can you recap what the premise is?

Grant Morrison: The premise is basically to take six worlds of the DC multiverse and give them their own books. And around that there is a framing device which incorporates a lot more of the world and sets up a new DC super team which looks after the welfare of the entire multiverse and they’re headquartered in a place called the Multiversity. [The idea] happened right after Final Crisis, and obviously we’d reintroduced a lot of the multiverse stuff so I was really keen to do some work on it. And I started writing the book back then and I’ve still been writing it now. It turned out to be one of these really involved and epic tasks. You know, I wanted to write it differently from the other stuff that I tend to do, and so I’ve actually spent six years working on these issues and it’s been a lot of revising and redrafts and recreation, and so I’m very pleased with it—it’s very tight and together. It’s a different kind of way of working in comic books for me.

 

Multiversity Cover Pencils by Frank Quitely

iF: When you first started this, DC was in a very different place than it is now. How much did the change over to the New 52 affect this story?

GM: Fortunately for me the change over for the New 52 didn’t affect much because the parallel worlds are still out there and we don’t really deal at all with the DC Universe in this. Well, there’s a little… there’s a little sort of wave over to the DC Universe, but the actual book is set in a bunch of completely different worlds and none of them have been affected by what’s happened in the New 52, thank god for me.

iF: This summer when you announced that this book was being actively worked on, you also announced that you were leaving your other DC books: Action Comics and Batman, Incorporated. Is Multiversity your final word on the DC Universe?

GM: No! I mean, everybody thinks that I’m leaving. It’s been promoted across the internet that I’m leaving comics or leaving superheroes, but I’m not at all. I’ll I’m doing is stopping a couple of monthly books for a while. I’ve got a Wonder Woman project coming up and Multiversity to come and I’m sure there’ll be other things because it’s a kind of writing that I like to do. All it means is that I’m not doing monthlies for a while to concentrate on special projects. And partly that’s because I’ve enjoyed the way that Multiversity was written and the fact that I was able to do multiple drafts and kind of bring it to a kind of perfection for myself. I want to a bit more of that, you know? As much as I love the lively kind of live performance aspect of monthly books, where you’re basically sending in a first draft and working fast, I kind of really got into this notion of spending a lot of time on something. So Multiversity kind of inspired the rest of the stuff that I’ll be doing for the next couple of years.

iF: This sounds to me to be very similar in structure to Seven Soldiers. You see to like this style of an opening and closing issue with a bunch of one-shots in the middle. What do you get to do in that format that you can’t do in just a straight mini-series?

GM: Well, I also like having lots of number ones. [Laughs] There’s a really upfront commercial reason for doing these things, but also I kind of like weird structures, you know? And with something like Seven Soldiers, where we had a team who don’t meet each other but whose paths cross, we were kind of creating this big tapestry of all those books. This one’s a bit more linear but it’s done in the form of… it’s almost like a baton race or a relay race where each of the worlds can read a comic book that’s published in their world but which tells the adventures of the previous world. The characters are actually reading the series along with the readers. So that was the kind of take on this one. The structure that I had was to build a framing story and then have each of the different worlds referring to what happened in the previous world and having to figure out their own way of defeating the bad guy. But like I say, I kind of like to do odd structures and that’s just how this one worked out. And it came about that way because of the original parallel worlds story where The Flash meets the Golden Age Flash and I loved the idea that Barry Allen knew about Jay Garrick because he read about him in a comic book. So that kind of set up the whole premise of these guys all have comics published and they can all read about each other in different parallel Earths. So I thought, how would you use that as a strategy if you’re fighting an enemy who is attacking multiple parallel worlds all at one? And that kind of formed my take on this.

iF: You seem to be especially enamored with the mulitverse concept whereas a lot of modern writers shy away from it. What is it about the multiverse that appeals to you so much?

GM: Honestly, it’s just the kid’s thing, you know? I think when all of us saw that… just that idea of, “Ohmygod, that’s another Flash? There’s a Green Lantern?” You know? The first comic book I really picked up on as a kid was a Justice League—I think it was issue 46 with the Anti-Matter Man—and it had a team-up with Earth-2 and Earth-1 superheroes, and I’d never seen Dr. Fate or Dr. Mid-Nite or Wildcat and I was just blown away by the idea that these things existed. So I guess it’s been that kid’s thing. You know, everyone loves to see the Elseworlds guys—the vampire Batman, the Soviet Superman— and I think there’s something always interesting in seeing a tweak or a new take on a character you’re familiar with. And it works particularly well with the DC superheroes because they are so iconic and so mythical and when you see a little twist on them it can cause huge changes to the familiar stories. It’s just one of those things I’ve always loved, you know? Professor Zoom’s got a yellow [Flash] suit! [Laughs] The Green Lantern on Earth-2 has got a big, high collar and a cape! There’s just something about that that’s really visceral if you like superheroes at all. The idea of hundreds of versions of them on different worlds with different Justice Leagues and different Legions… there’s just something pure “comics” about that. I’m not explaining myself well at all.

iF: No, it makes sense.

GM: I’ve gone into, like, a kid kind of thing. [Laughs]

iF: So this is going to feature multiverse variations of familiar characters? Or are you going to get to create new characters as well?

GM: There will be a couple of new ones. Because what we’ve done also is, we’ve not only got all the multiverse versions of DC characters, but we also have multiverse versions of every other comic book company in existence. So we have multiverse versions of Image characters and Marvel characters… you know back in the day, DC would do their own kind of take on The Avengers where they would do those heroes from “that other place” with a Thor who was kind of an Aboriginal Thor. So we’ve kind of taken that aspect, the stuff that DC and Marvel used to do, the Squadron Supreme type stuff, and I’ve kind of done an update on that thinking as well. So yeah, it’s got everything. It’s got multiple versions of everybody, including us. [Laughs]

Multiversity Interior Pencils by Frank Quitely

iF: One of the things that people are really excited about is that your old buddy Frank Quitely is going to draw one of the issues. What is it about you guys that works so well together?

GM: Oh god, I don’t know. We just get on. For me, he’s the artist I’d be if I was really good at drawing, you know? I can draw a little bit, but that’s what I wish I could draw like. So we’ve always got on, I’ve always responded to his work, and because we live close by we’ve been able to form a much closer partnership than I have with most other artists who tend to live in America or quite far from me. So it’s just that, you know? I really, really love his work. I don’t have to explain things to him in the same way that I do with other people; he gets it. He knows what I’m looking for. He always draws exactly what I’m looking for but better. And he’s one of those guys—and I’ve been fortunate to work with a few of them, but I think Quitely’s the best of them—it’s that every single thing he does is interesting to look at. Every single panel. There’s no wasted panels, no boring head shots. And I do appreciate that, you know? An artist who makes the characters act and creates a world that seems tangible that you can move around in are the ones I most prefer, and those are Frank’s strengths. So yeah, there’s a hundred reasons. And we just get on. We hang out a lot and we get on, so it makes working together a lot easier.

iF: So there’s a different artist for each one shot and then an artist for the framing issues? Is that how it’s working?

GM: Yeah, that’s the idea. Each parallel world will have a very different looking comic and then the framing device will be its own thing. We started Frank Quietly off early because he’s the slowest of the bunch. The work’s been amazing, but it’s taking him quite a long time to do it so we wanted to get him going. He’s done so much on it now and this is why we’re telling people—we wanted to show some of it because it’s great. [Laughs]

iF: After six years of writing, are you excited to get it out there or are you apprehensive? It’s sort of been your own thing for six years and now other people are going to see it.

GM: I’m actually really excited because I think it’s probably the best superhero comic I’ve ever written and it has things in it that no one’s really seen before. The Earth Prime book, Ultra, which comes later on, is the one I’m really excited for. As much as the Frank Quitely one is going to be the one that everyone is going to talk about—because it’s such a beautiful book and I think we’ve done something really quite interesting with it—but the Earth Prime book is kind of a haunted comic and it will do things to people’s heads that comics don’t usually do. I’m excited for people to see that one, and to see a lot of the new tricks and new ideas because, again, we wanted this to be something that is going to be like nothing that’s ever been before. And spending so much time working on it I really feel like I can actually deliver on that boast.


We want to thank Grant Morrison and DC Comics for this look inside Multiversity, and we’ll be here when more details are revealed.

Comments

  1. It’s finally happening!!

    There’s physical evidence that this is going to happen. I’m so happy I could just cry….

  2. PraxJarvin PraxJarvin says:

    Nothing about this anywhere short of amazing. This is the Grant Morrison project I’ve been ,ost excited about over the years. Glad it’s finally coming to fruition, but I’m even gladder that he took his time with the book. So very excited.

  3. zuper says:

    Can’t wait! The Wonder Woman project is going to be awesome as well. I was talking with Yanick Paquette at the FanExpo about it.

  4. DDangelico DDangelico (@DavidDangelico) says:

    HAs it been confirmed that his Wonder Woman project is indeed Wonder Woman: Earth One? Cause that’s be freakin’ rad.

  5. Souche says:

    Will I need a huge “multiversity” knowledge to enjoy this project when it comes out? I’m into comics only since the new 52, I’m afraid I will feel lost, just like with the Batman Inc serie…

    • SageShini says:

      Nah. Just know there was a multiverse introduced in 2006, and nothing of any substance was EVER done with it. Mainly because they were waiting on this book. And here it is, and it looks and sounds amazing IMO.

    • buck2889 buck2889 says:

      I don’t think knowledge of DC’s multiverse will have much impact on the story. I think the stories will be mostly self contained. However, I do believe the settings and characters will be taken from throughout comics history and so a working knowledge of stories published by DC (and apparently Image and Marvel based on this interview) will add to your enjoyment of the series. It seems like Morrison tries to pack in little tidbits for people who are more well versed on comics history while keeping the main plot pared down for everyone to enjoy. Like with the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh and the Batman of Africa.

    • buck2889 buck2889 says:
    • I think the general attitude among iFanboy staff (as gleaned from the podcasts) is there’s no need to go back and try to pick up every issue or trade relevant to a particular comic issue or series that you want to read. The merit of the storytelling will speak for itself, and you will be smart enough to figure it out and enjoy it on some level. I do agree with this. The pick of this week is a good example: no need to have ever read the Dark Phoenix Saga to enjoy Wolverine and the X-Men #17. So you shouldn’t be turned off from reading Multiversity just because you have no prior multiverse knowledge. That said, please do not be dissuaded from doing any background reading that might help you enjoy it on another level. I posted a similar question (down below) and was sarcastically dismissed. So here is my lame attempt to answer my own question. Action Heroes Archives v.2 might be a good place to learn about the old Charlton characters that Pax Americana seems to be about. Of course Watchmen, if you haven’t read that. The Flash of Two Worlds hardcover (includes Flash 123 that began the whole multiple earth thing…I think). Crisis on Multiple Earths v.1 is a trade collecting classic 1960s stories about interactions btw. Golden Age/Silver Age DC heroes. Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis. Even if Multiversity ends up having absolutely nothing to do with any of these, you will not have wasted your time reading them; they’re all quality storytelling.

  6. tripleneck tripleneck (@tripleneck) says:

    This is an event that I can get behind without reservations. A master playing with his favorite toys. I’m also glad to hear that he’s not leaving DC behind, just the monthly work.

    Thanks for the update in the middle of the Mo’Con!

  7. adrianrigter adrianrigter says:

    Awesome. i know, FQ has talked about the Charlton noir earth (question, blue beatle, etc), and Morrison has mentioned Thunderworld (old school Captain Marvel), now Earth Prime (where we, the readers live) as well.

    Freaking sweet. any others officially announced?

  8. adrianrigter adrianrigter says:

    There’s another page from Pax Romana on the DC blog…and it’s TED KORD AS BLUE BEATLE. mini-megaton.

    yeah, i guess it could be Dan Garret in Ted’s outfit, but what’s the fun in that?:)

  9. Thank fuck this is finally coming out, something worth waiting for from DC!

    I guess this will come out after Batman Inc. has ended, so round July/August time?!

  10. Ambition is sexy. Can’t wait.

  11. Drumanespic Drumanespic says:

    This is in many ways a sequel to Final Crisis & specifically, the Superman Beyond 2-parter that proved essential reading in order to make any sense of the conclusion to Final Crisis. I’m suspicious of the tinkering nature of DC Editorial, so for all I know, they might bear primary responsiblity for the as-published, ragged yet ultimately boring mess that F.C. proved to be.

    I like the majority of Morrisson’s work, I enjoy his eagerness to conceptually play & I accept the concurrent risk that not every work will be a “hit”.

    I’m perhaps lacking enthusiasm because I no longer trust that the story as printed is genuinely the creator’s intended content when DC Editorial commissioned it.

    I’m concerned that in this instance, the years of delay are the direct result of such editorial tinkering & that the result might be another “designed-by-committee” flat pancake.

    Y’know, from the people who ruined “52″, who co-created “Countdown to Final Crisis” & gave Rob Liefeld THREE key properties to ruin :- DC Editorial. The only aspect of DC that needs a 100% reboot.

    • I think DC Editorial isn’t really as concerned with quality as getting things out on time. The two lunkheads who go on Wordballoon seem pretty clueless about new media and pushing boundaries and can’t seem to grasp any of the good ideas Siuntres tactfully puts forth as helpful suggestions going forward. He’s a very gracious host and it’s good to get a company insight, however troubling it may be.

      In this instance and at this stage, I think Morrison has pretty much total autonomy, he’s said as much in all recent interviews. I don’t really see what editorial has to gain from tampering with this needlessly as it is squarely outside the New 52.

      It will be more like how The Shade maxi-series played out I bet.

  12. This sounds like a story that might be better enjoyed with some specific background knowledge. I hope Morrison or DC will provide a reading list for newer readers (or older readers who need a refresher course). Batman RIP was better after reading the Black Casebook (the collection of Silver Age stories relevant to Morrison’s run, as most of you know). Hopefully we will get a Multiversity Study Guide as well. Or if any commentators here would like to a make a syllabus for Multiversity students, it’d be interesting to see the lists of trades you would recommend reading leading up to the 2013 release. Best guess of course; I realize no one yet knows precisely all the details Morrison will be putting into this.

  13. WheelHands WheelHands says:

    This made my afternoon!

    I’m really intrigued and excited by the way Morrison describes how the “team” will function (i.e. communicating through comics chronicling the adventures of the individuals heroes on different worlds). That alone sounds like tons of fun. The way he describes the Earth Prime issue, it sounds like it could very well turn out to be the quintessential Grant Morrison superhero story. I can’t wait to see who the other artists will be!

    Get your Meta hats on, everybody.

    • joeislive joeislive says:

      Reading Grant Morrison talk about his upcoming work is always great, besides the interesting concepts and ideas he has, his positive enthusiasm makes me excited to read anything he’s working on.

  14. Is that Dr. Manhattan in the artwork? Morrison and Quietly are the Batman and Robin of comics.

    • KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

      According to the man himself, that’s Captain Atom. Grant and Frank are kind of doing their own interpretations of the Charlton characters, drawing on aspects of their previous incarnations, including Watchmen.

      If you haven’t seen it online yet, seek out some of the other interior pages they showed us. The one with Blue Beetle and the Question has some stunning storytelling.

    • that makes sense. Dr. Manhattan was in fact inspired by Captain Atom.

  15. sunhero sunhero says:

    can’t wait this is going to be great, remember technically it’s not jumping the shark if you never land.

  16. Bonidex Bonidex says:

    I’m REALLLLLY excited about this. Morrison and Quitely! Crazy comic organization!? MULTIVERSE!!!??? AAAAHHH

  17. adrianrigter adrianrigter says:

    So we now have:

    Pax americana/charlton
    Thunderworld/fawcett
    Earth prime
    Freedom fighters/quality
    Combined Steampunk elseworlds earth

  18. stasisbal stasisbal says:

    This should be great. Has there ever been word on who any of the other artists are?