Concentric Circles by Jonathan Hickman #7 – The Filth

May 7, 2008

Okay, I know I’m supposed to be off for a bit with the new baby, but when Ron emailed me and said, “Hey, we’re doing Grant Morrison week… have you anything to offer?” I, of course, replied:

So, this won’t be long, but I wanted to add my bit to the festivities.

My first experience with Russ Kick and the Disinformation people was when I randomly picked up, and bought, one of their books in Barnes and Noble one day. It was the cover that got my attention – the huge red disinfo icon on glossy white – but it was the title, Everything You Know is Wrong that made the ‘c’mon, take chance’ alert go off somewhere in my brain nethers.

On a side note: If you buy this book, you’ll see a lot of the initial influence for my first series The Nightly News in there. I outright sucked the marrow form the Greg Palast and John Taylor Gatto essays.

Why am I talking about this?

Pretty straightforward actually… I give you a quasi-drunk, stark-raving-mad, totally captivating Grant Morrison at the DisinfoConfernce. Enjoy! (This is part one, the following parts can be found in the related videos sidebar)

And before I get into a brief ‘what Grant’s work means to me‘, a quick historical setting is necessary – the first thing I ever read of his was Arkham. Not really my thing and, even though he did some of the layouts, he was, in my opinion, completely overshadowed by McKean. Soon after, I quit reading comics for around nine years – When I decided to become a comic-person professionally, and started buying again, one of the first things I read was The Filth. (The others were along the lines of Powers and The Authority).Powers was craft and The Authority was widescreen Warren, but it was Grant and it was The Filth that taught me the most important creative lesson I’ve ever learned:
There is absolutely nothing off limits when telling a story.Every rule, every convention, every cliché, every structural guideline is only applicable if you choose for it to be. Otherwise, toss it and put in what you want. When I first read The Filth, every page was an education in pushing it… just when I thought it couldn’t get any weirder, he’d take it to another level. Around the Status Y Giant Sperm Sex Emergency I finally threw up my hands, gave up the ghost and became a Morrison fan for life.So, happy Grantweek, Grant. Thanks for the good stuff and keep it coming.If you’ve got comments or questions, post ‘em here or send me an email at (but no attachments, people!)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jonathan will be taking the next month or so off to spend time with his family (including his new baby). Check back in June for the return of Concentric Circles!

Jonathan Hickman is the creator behind The Nightly News and Pax Romana as well as the forthcoming books Transhuman, A Red Mass for Mars and PLUS! You can find him online at either or


  1. Great column as always. A bit dissapointed to see it go  on short-term hiatus. Hope you have a good month off!

    I’ve never really heard much about Disinfo except for the basics. Had no idea Morrison was involved (doesn’t surprise me though ;-)) I mean, wow. Is there anything this guy isn’t into.*

    BTW Johnthan, I’ve been trying to find info on your input into Marvel Comics Presents but I’m not having so much luck. Is there anyting you can tell us about it? Like what character your working on and with what artist? I’m really looking forward to seeing you dip your toe in the mainstream (like Jason Aaron has done so well recently).  


    *Maybe neo-conservatism :-p 

  2. I have to admit, that video of Grant at that conference made my day – totally fascinating to see him give a talk like that…

  3. six – I don’t think they’ve announced it yet so I probably shouldn’t be talking about it… but I saw pages today and… oh man, very good stuff. 

  4. man, i love these articles. i walked away from morrison and ellis’ books with a similar lesson, which was that your art is a place where you can do anything the hell you want, that there are absolutely no rules as to what you can and can’t do, and from bendis i learned that the real accomplishment is making something that you yourself enjoy, that entertaining other people is just a fringe benefit, that what it means to you is the primary concern.

    im also sad to see you’re going on a hiatus (though i obviously totally understand why). i can’t wait for more articles!

  5. @JHickman awww come on – we won’t tell anybody  😉 

  6. Like Invisibles, The Filth just, well, kind of confused me. It certainly wasn’t a "read while watching TV" title, which is unfortunately how I read most of the issues. It does require a reread and like most of Morrison’s work, it’s on my re-read list.

    Enjoy the family, Mr. Hickman. Looking forward to your return.

  7. I was loving The Filth up until about the 8th or 9th issue, where it totally lost me.  I think it had a lot to do with that drooling handicapped guy showing up.  I just didn’t catch the reference.  It does, however, feature my second-favorite killer sperm monster, the first being the one from Girls.

  8. I don’t know if it’s been mentioned this week or not but one of the most striking elements of morrison’s work is the strange language he develops for many of the characters. I’m thinking of the animals from We3, the Barbelith satillite from The invisables and most recently in All-star Superman #10 the message from the future. (among many others)

    it’s almost like he creates a weird kind of poetry, Although it’s is sometimes a challenge to read I feel like it create an interactivity with the books