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Starting Wednesday, readers who have been intrigued and maybe even a little bit confused by the information

on and preview images promoting Grant Morrison, Chris Weston and Gary Erskines new Vertigo 13-issue series The Filth, can finally get a copy of issue #1 and figure out just what the heck that book is all about. But today, readers curious as to what inspired The Filth can read this first-part of a three part interview with its writer. Morrison, who in subsequent parts talks about superheroes, The X-Men, comic book geeks and all manner industry and creative topics, today talks about The Filth and its history, along with his thoughts on creator-owned work and what other creator-owned projects he has in the offering NEWSARAMA: All right Grant, lets get right to talking about The Filth ... I'd like to ask you some really clever and astute question about this series, but I admit I don't know what the hell to ask... The information and images released so far have been enigmatic to say the least. Can you talk about the apparent strategy you and DC devised to promote it? GRANT MORRISON: There's no big secret - we just wanted people to be able to pick up a comic they could open and enjoy every month without having read all the good bits of the story in advance in Previews or in an interview somewhere. I don't quite get the point of 'spoilers' - why can't the audience wait for the storyteller to do it right ? Why would people want to read a crap-condensed version of a story before reading the real thing ? It seems such a grasping, impatient way to consume a piece of art or entertainment. We also felt the need to turn away from the prevailing trend for bombastic selfpromotion. I simply got tired of hype and hoped the book would sell on its proven merits not on its dazzling, self-important pre-publicity. I even asked to have my name taken off the credits too but Karen [Berger] wasn't having it... NRAMA: Can you give us some insight as to what your hopes were in regard to reception to what information and images have been released so far? GM: The non-marketing became seen in itself as a marketing ploy but the point wasn't to make a point ... if you get my point. Again, the creators of The Filth simply wanted their readers to crack open the book each month and be blown away by stuff they haven't already seen or read about. I dont think it's backfired or done us any harm; I've done several major press and radio interviews in the last couple of weeks and interest in The Filth seems high. It's a very commercial book. NRAMA: So are you just hoping pure curiosity will spur retailers to order and readers to pick this up? GM: I don't think idle curiosity is enough to sell comic books. I'm hoping that my track record speaks for itself. After 23 years making very successful comics on a nightmarishly regular basis, I'd like to hope at last that I might be regarded as a fairly safe bet.

Chris Weston is producing the finest work of his career, ditto Gary Erskine. This is no hyperbole - the work is way beyond anybody's call of duty. As for Matt Hollingsworth - this is quite simply the best comic book coloring there is at the moment. 'Lovingly crafted' doesn't do it justice. The Filth has a fairly secure pedigree and I'm sure the retailers are well aware of that. It's a class act, as readers have every right to expect. NRAMA: Okay, one more question on this track and well move on Any concerns you were too enigmatic in your approach? GM: Not at all. If anything I worry that we gave too much away in the numerous previews, ad shots and teasers. Just enjoy the rollercoaster ride that's coming. It's huge, dirty and bizarre and you may have to hide it from your mother - especially if you're 43. NRAMA: So what is this project about? And not in the aforementioned spoilers sense but what is this project about for you? GM: It takes a lot of the negative experiences in life and turns them into an aesthetic. It's about how adept the human imagination can be at transforming misery into hope and humor. It's about vicious talking chimps, homemade planets and the fragmentation of self into post-self complexes. It's about the unseen world of bacteria and dust and about pompous pornography. It's about the ultimate secret agent or it's about a man having a nervous breakdown. Or maybe it's something else entirely... It's also a full-on action-adventure romp through spectacular imagery, so there's lots of high-concept action and adventure to see nervous readers through the scary conceptual stuff. NRAMA: Why and how did you create this series? What creative itch does it scratch for you? GM: Why ? I had a lot of things I wanted to talk about after The Invisibles and JLA ended. How ? I began work on The Filth in 1999 and have only the last issue left to write. I spliced some of my bad feelings from that nasty little year with a ton of research into immunology, pornography, Beelzebub, the life cycle of drosophila flies, the nature of evil, dark matter and garbage recycling. Readers familiar with occult ideas may find it fairly easy to interpret the book as a record of descent into the 'Abyss' of the Cabalists. It works on a number of levels, I hope. If you want to read a bizarre spy-fi story you've got one, if you want more it's all hiding between the lines. Creatively, the main thing is that these are my own characters again. I can do what I like with them, I can let them run free to live, change and die in ways that are completely impossible with the X-Men or the Justice League. I can break new ground without being told I don't 'get' the characters or the continuity. I can include wilder ideas and more startling images than I can in a mainstream supertitle. I can swear in the Glasgow style. I can do exactly what I want basically and that's a wonderful feeling for a creative person. Not surprisingly I find that I invest a lot more care and feeling into my own creations.

NRAMA: Well get to that topic little bit later. Did anything in particular - an event, a news story - what have you, inspire this story? GM: Some of the conclusions I'd reached by the end of The Invisibles needed a story of their own to explore them so that's what started it. I was looking at a lot of old British comics like TV 21 and Countdown, from the 60s and 70s - these weekly titles ran beautiful strip adaptations of Gerry Anderson series like Thunderbirds, UFO and JOE 90 drawn by some of the best British artists like Ron Embleton, Brian Lewis and Mike Noble. I wanted to do something inspired by Gerry Anderson, whose characters seemed to be essentially British superheroes. The difference being that most of the Gerry Anderson heroes are rescue workers and there's less emphasis on wrestling brawls and fistfights so they seemed like an interesting lens through which to look at some American comic clichs again. I was also going back to Roger Dean, Rodney Matthews and other fantasy illustrators from the 70s. Lots of stuff I'd really grown to hate as an adult became inspirational when reappraised for The Filth. The dolphin image is a kind of nod to Roger Dean and also to those New Age posters of sparkling dolphins leaping playfully out of the Pacific on a sunny day - the Filth is the New Age having nightmares of sex, blood and dirt. Then, in 2000, I tried to turn it into a Nick Fury: Agent Of Shield proposal but that didn't work out so 'The Hand', as it was originally entitled, then mutated wildly one last time and became The Filth. I'm very happy it did - the book as it stands now is much more original and rich than it might have been. It's about Greg Feely, an unprepossessing man with a sick cat and a bad combover who may or may not be a superagent in a secret force known as the Hand, nickname 'The Filth'. The Hand is a kind of S.H.I.E.L.D. or SPECTRUM (from Captain Scarlet) or SHADO (UFO) type set-up that we've really gone to town with. There are lots of machines and vehicles, logos and secret handshakes. It has some of the wildest imagery you will see in a comic this year and I can guarantee no-one will guess what's coming next as the mystery unfolds. Each issue is quite different from the one before it and we promise many, many new ideas per page, per month. NRAMA: More generally speaking, would you say there are certain themes youre in the frame of mind to explore these days? What kinds of stories interest you in 2002? Long time readers will recognize some parts of The Filth as a farewell to some of my familiar themes and concerns; issue #3 has a meta-fictional superhero team in there, for instance, and there are a number of my usual obsessions at the beginning, like nano-technology, ultra-violence and futurity but all of that familiar stuff soon gets swallowed up in the book's all-engulfing philosophical structure. The Filth is ostensibly very different from something like The Invisibles - there's no drugs, magic, pop culture references or tantric sex in this book, at least not so you would know. The Filth is immense, however, and builds to some rather disturbing conclusions about who we are and what we're for. In some key ways, fans will recognize this book as something of a photo-negative of The Invisibles. The Filth is determinedly uncool, unfashionable and anti-stylish as a reaction to a lot of the more superficial glamour aspects of The Invisibles. The Filth is all ugly people and broken things, but shot in the most incredible colors and light.

NRAMA: You're known as someone who has employed different approaches to the creative process. I believe a few years back you mentioned actually entering fictional stories (assuming I'm remembering correctly) via a fiction suit. Any new creative innovations that are inspiring you these days? GM: My latest approach to work is to make the technique and storytelling aspects disappear. I don't really want the author's voice or cleverness to intrude into the events of the narrative so I've designed a deceptively simple and stripped down approach, based on aboriginal cave art and early Disney animations - I'm trying harder and harder for the pure sensation, the pure emotion, whether of disgust or joy, fear or rage, all of which feature strongly in the filth. The demonstrative formal and structural pyrotechnics are best handled by people like Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Moore. For now, I prefer to hide the operators and the machinery and show only the glorious sheen of pure story itself. NRAMA: How about what outside influences are inspiring you? Any other comic books you find particularly inspiring and/or entertaining these days? GM: I'm very fond of Amazing Spider-Man, Alias, The Ultimates, X-Force, etc but I've lost my faith a little and I know too much about the machinery behind the curtain now to get the same kind of buzz I used to get as a reader. I think that's only partly the fault of some slightly less than ambitious comics themselves. NRAMA: How about more in general? Music, film, photography, verse? Maybe a sociological development? Anything in particular being reflected in your writing these days? GM: Yes, it's all very exciting. I've been listening to lots of new stuff; there's a thriving creative underground bubbling very close to the surface now despite a kind of hiatus in cultural progress; people are a little uncertain and it's reflected as a kind of timidity in the work. I see a fear of moving forward which shows up as retro nostalgia and pastiche. I'm developing alternatives to the dominant 'Blairite' model of the 'celebrity superhero' which began with Paradax and then Zenith back in the 80s (again) and has finally crawled to center stage just in time to seem a little out of breath and self-conscious. I'm using 'Blairite' here as a reference to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his specific policies. The whole Blair Government Project has been characterized by an obsession with celebrity, marketing, spin, self-promotion and hype but seems to have very little to offer beyond nostalgic reiterations, pop theory and a high degree of enthusiastic rhetoric. I can think of several very obviously 'Blairite' (although not necessarily British) creators and comic books right now but I'll leave my readers to work it out. NRAMA: Okay, fair enough Back on the subject of you, A few weeks back in an interview Karen Berger mentioned you had some big plans with Vertigo in the future, and you yourself have specifically mentioned a few upcoming titles. But to back-up a little, why after a few years of mostly work-for-hire, are you gearing up the creator-owned work, and more specifically, why for Vertigo?

GM: Vertigo offered me the best ownership deal, basically. I've been working on a bunch of new projects while writing the X-Men and I've always got on well with Karen so things dovetailed nicely with her plans to revitalize Vertigo. I think Vertigo is going to be big again next year in time for the tenth anniversary of the imprint. NRAMA: Are you basing that on what you know specifically of Karen and her staff's plans, or are you saying you think the stars are simply aligning for Vertigo in general? GM: A little of both. It's quite clear that a fashion shift is taking place again and some of the biggest and most innovative names in comics are coming out with creator projects between now and mid-2003. Many of these are being released through Vertigo so there's definitely a trend at work. Just watch Garth Ennis' movements - Garth is like a dog sensing earthquakes and is usually one of the first to shift gears when a new culture shift comes along. I think we all want to prove ourselves a little by trying to come up with original comics concepts which fit the modern world as well as the JSA fit the Second World War years or the Fantastic Four summed up and transcended the Kennedy pioneer era - it's easy goosing up Superman or the X-Men to make them appear a little more in step with the times but the truth is that new times need new characters and I find it interesting that we're going to be seeing a ton of creator books from some fan favorites over the next year. Even if two-thirds of them fail to stick, I think it's an attempt to forge a long-overdue new style and direction for popular comics. NEWSRAMAMA: A few months back, Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada told us "creatorowned" is not an end that readers don't buy book because they're creator-owned. Do you agree with that? GM: Of course not. Nor do people buy books because they're work for hire. I'm not sure what point is being made here. I can't imagine either Bill or Joe being quite as out of touch with the current vogue as that remark suggests so I have the feeling they're simply being either defensive or deliberately provocative in the mighty Marvel manner. But as we all know, it's pointless and frustrating to be loyal to a creator or company - the Spider-Man Clone Saga proved that the adventures of a given character can be brilliant or execrable depending on the talent and commitment of the writer or artist. However, a proven creator can usually be relied on to deliver the goods, no matter what character they happen to be working with. That people are now more interested in following creators than characters is evidenced surely by the fact that Kevin Smith's name can turn second-string titles into best-sellers overnight. The mainstream pop audience, which Marvel is eager to snare, follows singers, bands, actors and directors not concepts (how many Titanic fans automatically ran out to buy all the other movies that have been made about the disaster ? Not as many as looked forward to the next Jim Cameron flick or the next DiCaprio vehicle, I'll wager... Putting talented creators together with popular characters is a good way to generate both sales and critical acclaim but will inevitably remain secondary in the mind of the creative person to the development of his or her own ideas. Trust me, Kevin Smith may enjoy writing Spider-Man or Green Arrow but I can guarantee

that he has a far more rewarding time making 'creator-owned' movies featuring his own characters, concepts and situations. Creator-owned comics may not seem like much of an 'end' when exploitative corporate interests are sniffing around for new material they can buy and stripmine but they represent a very important forward step for the creators themselves and put the power of intellectual property ownership into the hands of the artists, where it belongs, not the management. NEWSARAMA: So are you suggesting readers want to read creator-owned work, or that creator-owned will just lead to better reads? GM: Both. Readers just want good comics; it's what they have every right to expect and demand...and as the cries for novelty intensify, the only way to move forward is to create new stuff. No one in his or her right mind will create his or her best new stuff only to sell it as work-for-hire to a corporate giant, not when it's easy to retain copyright and then license the trademark without a middleman draining off the cream." NRAMA: Well, since we have mentioned Marvel, why did The Filth land at Vertigo and not Marvel? As of last August when I was pitching The Filth, Marvel hadn't finalized a creator contract so I went with Vertigo in order to ensure the book's release this summer. I'm sure sales would have been higher at Marvel but as of today, they're still trying to put together a workable creator contract; hopefully I'll be able to release at least some of the new stuff through Marvel's creator division when it gets underway but in the meantime Vertigo has a couple of the new projects and I'm still shopping others around. NRAMA: That said, can you tell us anything about other upcoming creator-owned work? GM: LeSexy is an dark, open-ended sitcom-style series which will appear as a short series of six issue story arcs. It's like Fawlty Towers, The League of Gentlemen' or even Twin Peaks in some ways. The book will be drawn by Cameron Stewart - who worked with me on The Invisibles and is currently involved in some kind of relationship with Catwoman. I think he's a brilliant young artist with an amazing eye for body language and all the nuances of expression and locale which will make him perfect for a series relying on caricature and the detailed, utterly realistic absurdity of the setting. I've written the first two issues and I expect that this one will make most sense as a Vertigo title. We3 is the title of the next project after that and this one will be out next year as a three-issue series. Two other creator projects are in development with awardwinning artists and I'll announce the names of these closer to release. I hate to seem obtuse but in the Imagination Economy, where thoughts = cash, I prefer to maintain a poker face these days. More details TBA, as they say... The new website www.crackcomicks.com will have details, previews scripts, letters and more background on all my upcoming creator comics and other peripheral projects - and you can even buy my first new limited edition CD ass2ass - ten newly written and recorded songs which launch the gmSOUND record label!

The site should be up in time for the release of The Filth #1 but we've had a few server glitches so keep checking in if you don't see us this week. Check for updates on grant-morrison.com this week and hope that our server hasn't rolled over and died like a sick triceratops. We have exclusive art from issues #2 and #3 of The Filth and an issue by issue guide to the background behind the series.

NEWSRAMA: Grant, you told us yesterday you're releasing an album and record label? Can you take a few seconds to tell us about the CD? Do you sing? Play instruments? Or are you backed up by a band? How would you describe your style of music? GRANT MORRISON: The first CD releases will be of my own stuff. ass2ass is ten or maybe eleven new songs in the unplugged style. I write the music and lyrics, play rhythm guitar and sing. cock Y pop is a big collection of studio recordings from the last twenty years - stuff I've done with various bands and producers, including several tracks with Jo Callis, formerly of the Human League and Rezillos (it was Jo who wrote 'Don't You Want Me ?' among other synth classics). And we're also doing Fresh From Venezuela which is a spoken word and music CD based on 'the Beastocracy' DJ/performance evenings I've been hosting for several years in my gruesome hometown. It's not a huge commercial venture. Kristan and I just want to put out beautiful limited editions of some interesting archive material designed for people who like to purchase rare artistic treasures. There may be an audience of only ten but for all we know, we might sell ten thousand. The archive CD is indy psychedelic punk stuff mostly. If you like Creation records acts, you'll probably find a lot to enjoy here but if you dig hardcore rap or nu metal, forget it for the moment. ass2ass is kinda pop/folk music with cruel contemporary themes (a song called 'Among The Rushes', for example, is in fact about a suicidal Hollywood director). Very catchy, very good for you. NRAMA: And what are your goals for the record label? What sorts of artists are you interested in working with? GM: It's not all that goal-oriented; I have no intention of chasing Britney Spears with a checkbook, if that's what you mean (chasing her with a flamethrower might make for finer sport). Like I say, the idea is simply to expand the 'micro-corporate' interests of gmWORD a little further into a field I've always maintained an interest and a presence in. Beyond that I'm hoping to release some stuff by friends who've worked with me in various bands in the past. Some of these guys are my all-time favorite musicians and songwriters but they've only ever released material for the cult indy market. Which is to say, we're not looking for demo tapes at any time in the near future. NRAMA: Noted You implied yesterday in Part One of our interview that you're in a very fertile creative period right now. You've already explained what's influencing your work these days, but is there something in particular responsible for your current apparent prolific pace?

GM: I'm feeling very happy, fulfilled and creative. I've been diversifying into a lot of different areas, so every time I come back to comics they seem fresh again. I also discovered that I can write better stuff if I do it faster. NRAMA: Well talk more about faster when we talk X-Men tomorrow You've been predicting a boom for this industry for several years, and beginning a little less than a year ago, sales finally started to rise for the first time in a long time and with Spider-Man and Free Comic Book Day, things are looking positive for the first time in quite a while GM: The boom and bust cycles in comics are fairly predictable so it's no surprise to see this upswing happening at exactly the moment Mark Millar and I have been predicting for several years now. Perhaps this might help people realize that comics and 'the industry' aren't in as much trouble as we're often led to believe by young prophets of doom. It was clear that the media would become obsessed with comics; the proliferation of superhero images into the cultural environment is approaching critical mass. In the last century the superhero 'meme' has leaped from pulp page to comics then to cinema screens. I think we're now being prepped for the next jump - from screen to real world. New developments in genetics and 'memetics' are bringing the superhuman being closer to reality with each new day. NRAMA: "Memetics?" GM: 'Meme' is a word coined by Richard Dawkins, which I use to describe replicating information complexes which are not genetically transmitted but culturally transmitted; an example would be a popular song. The song is a 'meme' and the 'meme' is an idea that proliferates, grows and mutates using human and animal nervous systems as a carrier medium. We hear a song, an idea born in the mind of its writer, we then whistle the song, someone else picks up the tune and passes it on, until the whole world is whistling (Kylie Minogue's 'Can't Get You Out of My Head' is a perfect 21st century pop encapsulation of 'memetic' process, as well as being a virulent 'meme' in its own right). Homer Simpson's 'D'oh!' is a 'meme', as is Christianity, and some 'memes' are stronger and more durable than others. The values your parents instill in you are all 'memes'. They are the things your biology doesn't tell you about the environment you live in. They are not innate traits but learned behaviors. With this in mind, I'm suggesting that our ability to create superhuman bodies mustnt be allowed to overshadow the need for superhuman minds to go with them; manipulation of genome components will result in harder, faster, stronger bodies but what good will that really be if those bodies are in the service of primitive ideals? Genetically-modified Nature will require an equally healthy dose of 'memetically'-engineered Nurture if we don't wish our super-people to grow into monsters. 'Memetic engineering' is my term for the precise manipulation of 'memes' by experts. The first superhumans will need to be given forward-moving ideas instead of backward-looking doctrines. It will be in our own interests to show them a copy of Superman before we show them a copy of Mein Kampf as I've said elsewhere. We will have to show them comics. In fact, I have a feeling they will demand to see them. Comic books are the only art form forward thinking enough to have mounted a sustained examination and critique of the superhuman ideal. I imagine

that these new people will learn a lot about how to behave and how not to behave from books like X-Men or Miracleman or The Authority. That's why I think superhero stories are developing into the most important social realist fiction of the coming century. Imagining role models and moral codes for the children of tomorrow or showing them pitfalls of power is a pretty good job to have. NRAMA: Hold that thought for a second So you're predicting that in a few years we might see the appearance of real life superhumans? In what form do you think this will take? Super strong, fast, resilient military personal? GM: I'm not sure about that unless the army intends to recruit superbabies. The first superhumans will likely be augmented clones with enhanced senses, strength, physical resilience (recent issues of New Scientist and Scientific America have gone into detail on what kind of 'powers' we can expect from our successors) but they'll have to grow up before they can be soldiers and while they're growing up, maybe we'll have a chance to get at their minds via comics characters - which will represent some of the few archetypes they'll be able to relate to. Beyond basic gene surgery and prosthetic enhancement, we'll probably figure out how to splice specific insect, vegetable or animal adaptations into the human genome. Chitin-laced skin, photosynthesizing skin cells etc (see Marvel Boy). NRAMA: So you're obviously not of the opinion superheroes are what's holding this industry back, either creatively or in penetrating more "mainstream" pop culture? GM: Of course not. It embarrasses me deeply to see people writing straight gangster fiction or straight sword and sorcery fantasy fiction in the 21st century. The Raymond Chandler first-person narrative style of most crime books is now almost seventy years out of date, for instance, and feels like it (I'd like to stress that I'm leaving Brian Michael Bendis out of this critique; although Brian made his name with ostensible 'crime fiction', I think his best work is a perfect fusion of 'superhero fiction' concerns with real life situations. And his daring, formalistic preoccupations raise his work to a much higher level of ambition and skill than most of his contemporaries). We're all trying to act as if nothing has changed against a backdrop of unprecedented technological and social upheaval which I rarely see reflected in genre books. The reason we're seeing more and more superhero images everywhere in the mass media is because the superhero is becoming increasingly relevant as metaphor. 'Mainstream' pop culture isn't as interested in comics doing straight fiction or genre fiction because, I think, novelists do that kind of work so much better in most cases. There aren't many crime writers in comics who come anywhere close to being Elmore Leonard, let's say, so it kind of makes more sense to buy a genuine Elmore Leonard or James Ellroy novel than to buy the latest (fill-in crime book here). There are better fantasy writers, better historical novelists or romance authors in the 'mainstream' than there are in comics ... But... ...no-one in any other medium has written better superhero stories than Mark Millar or Alan Moore or Warren Ellis ... no-one anywhere but here. Superheroes are

the thing comics do best. Superheroes allow us to bring images of futurity into mundane reality and study them in glowing colors. Superhero stories are not a 'genre' nor can they be dismissed and trivialized by using vague, blanket pejoratives like 'Spandex' which don't actually mean anything. Was spandex even in existence when Superman was created ? Basically, superheroes are, along with Popular Black Rhythms and Space Travel, one of the proudest exemplars of 'American' culture at its very best, most original and most generous ... and the superhero figure, it seems, is designed to be able to colonize and reinvigorate the meaning of all other genres. In that respect, it seems particularly American and/or Imperialist. NRAMA: So back to your current thoughts about the state of the industry? Is this the beginning of the boom you predicted? GM: Yes. NRAMA: So are comics on the right course? What are your thoughts or suggestions as to what to do next? And what's your prediction for the next few years? GM: Comics are doing fine. During the 25 years since I've been paying attention, earnest 20-something young men with no real connection to the business of making comic books have been predicting imminent collapse and despair for the comic book business. I've been reading articles with titles like The Death Of Comics; How I Propose We Save The Industry! since I first gripped a fanzine in my hairy feet in the 70s. Harassed, disgruntled retailers have foretold gloom and disaster since comic stores opened their doors back in the Middle Ages. I have no interest in what the doomsayers have to offer; they've always been proven wrong and most of them actually do little or nothing to 'save' the industry they seem so concerned about rescuing. It's what I tell people who want to 'save the planet' ... the planet's doing fine, it's saving yourself you have to worry about. Cultural conditions are changing rapidly around the comics field and only a few figures in the industry seem to be aware of what's happening. We're no longer a secret. We must prepare for new scrutiny. The days of hiding out are gone. The new 'Geekonomics' is here, in the form of games, superhero movies and a total takeover of popular mainstream culture by images of the fantastic. There will be a lot more attention focused on our lives and our work as the media realizes where all these images are coming from and just how vital and vigorous our field is, so it's important that we rise to the challenge and present a confident face to the world. We have a lot to be proud of; our readership is smart and literate, our creative people are committed and engaged and our books are good across the board, from The Ultimates to Jimmy Corrigan. This is the time for comics to get more outrageous and imaginative not less. I only hope that when the mass media arrives on our doorstep, they don't find us all bickering and acting like stupid, spoiled children on message boards. NRAMA: Do you refer to anything in particular here? Retailers vs. publishers? 'Enlightened readers' vs. fanboys? The publishers vs. each other ?

GM: All of it. The whole culture of self-hate and personal abuse that characterizes so much of the discourse about comics. 'Alternative' vs. 'mainstream', fans vs. creators... NRAMA: You mentioned Geekonomics There is a geek factor seemingly inherent to comics, one only has to spend a few hours at a con or in a comics shop to observe that Some readers would suggest any time that face is exposed to the public in the media, it reinforces the geek factor and works against comics being accepted by wider audiences? Do you believe that? GM: Not really, I think it's just a lazy and unobservant clich. Spend an hour at any pop or rock concert and you'll see as many geeks as you're likely to find at a comics show. Go to any football game - there will be geeks aplenty. Go to the theater and you will see chinless middle-aged geeks clapping at the interval. There's nothing wrong with being a geek - most people are geeks in at least one area of their lives. Walk down the street and tell me they ain't. I think it's time to rehabilitate the word 'geek' in the way that 'gay' was co-opted by militant homosexuals. Geek culture is taking over the world. Everyone wants to be seen as clever, quirky, individualistic, different - all the things 'geeks' are derided for - so why shouldn't they look up to us more ? Comic conventions are like Fellini films you can wander through! Uncool is the new cool. Face it - where would you or any normal person rather hang out ? In a hall bedecked with color, where Klingons share cigarettes with vast men in Sailor Moon suits and beautiful porno-girls line up in latex to sign your arse while the Goth kids and the skaters and the punks all strut their stuff with pride in an atmosphere of festival and carnival overload? ....or in a Republican Party Convention? Answers on a postcard please. And as for the geekiest of them all, so what if you haven't had sex at the age of 18? Or 24? Or 46? Britney Spears is boasting about her virginity all the bloody time. Does that mean shes a geek ? NRAMA: So as not to watch the message board thread following this interview spiral into a debate over that Im not going to touch that Again, speaking of Geekonomics, what do you think of the 80's nostalgia craze (Transformers, G.I. Joe currently griping comics? Good? Bad? Neither? GM: I hate nostalgia; it just means 'consumer crap recycled' for 20-somethings who miss feeling small and uncomplicated and think they'll get that feeling back by consuming crap that was crap when it first came out and hasn't got any better in the intervening years. Having said that, I hope they re-release my Romanto-Zoids and Boy George Force stories from Marvel UK in the 80s. Marvelous times I can assure you.

NRAMA: Whatd you think of the Spider-Man movie? GM: Haven't seen it yet. Or Star Wars. The last movie Kristan and I saw was 24 Hour Party People. Mad for it. NRAMA: So back to comics for the last few minutes, aside from a market standpoint creatively, what's the state of things you think? Are comics right now a fertile environment for creativity and innovation? A secure, comfortable environment for creators? GM: Certainly. There are still a number of antediluvian practices we need to get rid of - comics must be the only business where wages have scarcely risen in fifteen years and in some areas not at all. Ever heard of inflation, you no-good robbing bastards ? The demand will become higher for wilder, more personal and quirky work, I think. We'll see a decline in the retro 'realist' movement over the next six months. Basically, I want to see everyone doing creator-owned in addition to his or her work on the franchise titles. Let's create new characters, more relevant to the 21st century. NRAMA: What do you think would make characters more relevant to the 21st century? GM: A basic acknowledgment of what's happening in the world around us. A refusal to fall back on clichs about what 'superheroes' and 'comics' are and about what they're capable of and why. And most importantly, characters who are owned and developed by writers and artists, not by bureaucrats. NRAMA: Gong to pass on the obvious sarcastic segue and simply ask if you have any thoughts on the apparently strained and increasingly competitive relationship between Marvel and DC? GM: It's all theater, isn't it ? It's just what Stan Lee was doing when he used to rib DC constantly and call them 'Brand Echh'. It amuses me that Stan's bombastic, mudslinging style of promotion is seen as charming in hindsight but when Joe and Bill do exactly the same kind of thing they're pilloried for it by fans who should know better. It's more fun when Marvel and DC are rivals; that's the point and that's the Marvel way. Always has been. And DC will always maintain a dignified silence in public while turning red with rage and shaking a white-knuckled fist in private ... world without end. Comic readers seem to have become very serious and conservative. Is this because the readership demographic is now older and more depressed, I wonder ? I certainly hope so - that's exactly the kind of audience I'm hoping will BUY THE FILTH!

NEWSARAMA: Grant, okay, were in the last legs of this marathon. Lets talk all things X. It's now a year since you took over New X-Men. How would you rate your own first year?

GRANT MORRISON: I'm very pleased with it. The idea was to go in with bold strokes, then slowly start to unpick the characters and their relationships so I think it all panned out. They beat Cassandra fine style, didn't they? What more could they do? Year one was me being a total shivering fanboy walking in the footprints of Chris Claremont. Year two is all Morrison. NRAMA: So youre pleased with what you've accomplished so far? GM: Pretty much. I've rehabilitated Emma Frost, reorganized the School set-up, wrecked the Shi'Ar empire, killed 16 million mutants, outed the Beast, restored the power of Charles Xavier's legs, brought the Phoenix back, etc. Who wouldn't be grinning? NRAMA: What's been a highlight for you? Has there been something that has turned as good or better than you planned? GM: Emma Frost. I'd originally intended to use Colossus in her place but he died shortly afterwards and became tragically unavailable. A reader, (Kneisel, they call him, Ken Kneisel...) made a wild suggestion that I bring in Emma as a team member and the idea fascinated me to the point of making it real. The whole thing fell into place and there she was, as large as life, being rude to everyone. I gave her the diamond hard skin as a secondary mutation so that she'd be as tough as Colossus, basically, but in the end, Xorn came along and grew into a kind of version of the Colossus role leaving Emma free to be her own sweet self. Disaster looms in year two. NRAMA: On the flip side, is there anything thats not quite hitting on all cylinders yet? GM: I haven't really done much with Wolverine so far. Mostly because he has his own book and he was also appearing in Origin for much of last year...and partly because I've been building up to a series of big shocks with Logan at the center of them. The second year storylines begin to cycle in on Logan a little and to explore some of the ramifications of the Origin series. That's all I'll say until Weapon XII is unveiled in New X-Men #129. Wolverine, surprisingly, adds some much needed ultra-violence to the book this year. NRAMA: Have you been happy with the fan and critical response so far? GM: Yes. Apart from the usual gripes and misunderstandings, people tend to be enjoying the book. Some people seem to miss the thought balloons and being inside the heads of the X-Men all the time but I feel the stories have a little more suspense when we can't tell who's really thinking what. NRAMA: Youve got another year to go before X2 hits theaters, and with the success of Spider-Man, I'm sure expectations for that film are only higher than what they already were. That said, will you be doing any special/specific preparation in the next year, to have the book in a particular place when the movie does hit?

GM: Pretty much, in the sense that the movie will open just as the comic launches one of its most ambitious and cataclysmic storylines. NRAMA: Hint? GM: It has to do with Jean Grey and Phoenix. NRAMA: What do you, and now Chuck (Uncanny X-Men) Austen, have to do so the titles are accessible enough and can take advantage of the attention, or do you feel like you're already there? GM: I think the titles are very accessible. It's pretty clear who's who, what they can do and what's happening to them in any given issue. Anyone who comes to us from the X-Men film should be able to pick up what's happening fairly rapidly. NRAMA: You've mentioned to us in conversations leading up to this interview you've really picked up the pace on New X-Men, in terms of the number of issues you're writing. What kind of pace are you on right now and what's your understanding of what the publishing schedule will be? GM: I'll have written to issue #150 by August, which is basically 24 issues in six months, then we're taking a few months off to recover and travel. I'm on issue #137 right now and I'm writing the whole run like a novel, so I know what's happening in the last chapter. This allows me to work back and forwards through an extended run of issues, planting clues, foreshadowing events and directing large-scale character arcs. When I'm done fans will have to pore over every single issue with microscopes to catch what they missed! NRAMA: So you are going to 18 issues a year like Ultimate Spider-Man, and if so, beginning when? GM: The publishing schedule is down to Marvel; they'll have all the books in house. I think the next few issues will be doubled up until Frank Quitely returns in late fall. Igor Kordey, John Paul Leon, Ethan Van Sciver and Phil Jimenez all contribute stories before the return of Frank for a full arc at the end of the year. NRAMA: Speaking of which, do you feel that the artist changeups over your run has hurt your story in any way? GM: The story survived unharmed but the shifting artistic line ups may have brought damaged to X-Men in other ways. It remains to be seen. I'll keep writing till I'm done. NRAMA: Okay, indulge us in a few nitpicky questions that your run has brought up. First - is the Beast gay? Why did he tell Trish Tilby he thought he might be? GM: Henry McCoy is a highly intelligent man with a very unusual sense of humor, you might think. Keep reading NRAMA: Charles walking - it's been done at least two times before this. How do you approach something like that that's been done once or twice, and make it fresh and different? GM: I don't really think about what was done previously. Charles' new mobility is part of my long-term plans and has nothing to do with anything we've seen before.

NRAMA: Do you still want to kill Rogue and introduce a new one that's more Goth, as you said in your original outline? GM: No. I've moved on in my thinking. I have no plans for Rogue and feel she's best handled by her creator. NRAMA: Overall, now that you're about a year into the execution of your original outline, how has your view of your overall plan for the X-Men changed? Have you removed anything? Added anything? GM: Some things have changed. The proposal really only dealt with the first year. The second year is like a fresh start or a new writer coming onto the book. It's quite different again and, I think, a lot more daring and emotionally driven. NRAMA: Can you provide any insight if not detailed spoilers as to how so? GM: Probably... but I'd prefer people just to wait and see. I'm introducing a new generation of mutants who think very differently from the ones we've seen before and their presence is likely to shake things up considerably. Oh, and a beloved cast member dies in issue #140. How about that for a change? NRAMA: Let the speculation begin You had some very concrete ideas on who the X-Men were, and what they needed to stand for, as well as how they should fit in the world when you wrote up your original proposal. In the time since, the world has obviously changed dramatically. Do your ideas still work with the X-Men, or have you had a change in how the XMen and mutants are seen by the world? GM: I feel that I was right in positioning the X-Men as a rescue and emergency organization, something I'd planned even before the events on 9/11, so the decision to adopt a more pacifistic tone seems correct. It seemed to me that the X-Men might benefit from this kind of shift in focus and value and when Joe Quesada told me Stan Lee has been very enthusiastic about the book - that was good enough for me, effendi and it should be good enough for you. I've always seen X-Men as a science fiction soap opera and the book has some of the best characters in comics. They work well as an emergency relief service with adventures on the grandest scale. The mutants got stuck in the same kind of repetitive stories over and over again because they always ended up fighting in the same pointless and unimaginative way, it seems. When I read through some of the collections, I just couldn't understand why the X-Men spent so much time recently engaged in fistfights with clearly identified 'villains'. Or why telepathy was invariably used as some kind of physical bludgeon - huge lightning bolts coming from people's heads to knock other people over...it's not much like thought combat would actually be, is it? When they stop hitting one another and do other, scarier things, the stories become more involving and the dramas become more gripping, I think. Beyond that, the X-Men represent comic culture, fringe, alternative or 'geek' culture to me so my stories are all about the emergence of these overlooked, despised or suppressed ideas into the mainstream of thought. The mutants are the future and it's time we stopped being afraid of our kids.

If my X-Men stories have any moral at all, I guess it would be that. NRAMA: Speaking of one of those villains of the X-Mens family, is the ultimate Magneto storyline still in the works? If so, how? From all appearances, it looks like Magneto was killed in the early moments of the attack on Genosha. GM: Yes. Magneto was killed in Genosha but that doesn't mean his influence can't be felt. Che Guevara was killed in Bolivia in 1967 but he still sells T-shirts. Much of the second year of New X-Men is looking at what happens to superheroes when there are no more villains left to fight and where struggles become more ambiguous and deadly; in the aftermath of Magneto's death and the destruction of Genosha, the mutant race is thrown into confusion and self-doubt. Old boundaries crumble, new alliances are forged and it becomes harder to tell the good guys from the bad. What happens when there's a moral vacuum left to be filled? When there's no more Magneto left to oppose Xavier's dream, where will the inevitable opposition come from? And could it be that Xavier's 'dream' is in dire need of someone to oppose it? Getting rid of Magneto was necessary to clear the decks for new possibilities and more frightening threats. NRAMA: Not asking you to answer your question, but do you mean in the moral, we need evil to recognize good sense, or in the more pragmatic humans with special abilities need to a positive outlet in order to keep them falling in with the wrong crowd sense in other words the sort of mutant midnight basketball sense? Or both? GM: Well, as someone points out in an upcoming issue, Xavier has been 'dreaming' for quite some time now and not much has really changed. Perhaps his methods are wrong after all... NRAMA: In that vein, X-Men villains have a nasty habit of coming back, and coming back, and coming back. What's your view of Cassandra Nova? Has her story been told, and she's out of the picture completely, or could/will she return? GM: She's trapped in a childlike state inside the body of an alien bio-computer which has been programmed to learn. I won't be using her as a threat again at any time in the future. There are much worse 'bad' guys on the way. Threats are coming the X-Men's way that make Cassandra Nova look like Mrs. Doubtfire. NRAMA: Well, if you ask me, Robin Williams in a dress is plenty scary... but moving on Many fans complain that you've changed, deleted, or ignored continuity to write your stories. First off - have you? In your view, have you ignored, deleted, or changed anything? GM: I don't believe I've deliberately changed, deleted or ignored anything important. Obviously I haven't read every single X-Men story ever written so I may

have made some minor errors but everything I'm doing is tied into established continuity where possible. It just doesn't refer very often to established continuity. Fans? Who are these so-called fans? What are their names and addresses and whose side are they on? NRAMA: Well then, since youre writing one of the most continuity-heavy titles in all of superhero comics, what is your view of continuity? Case in point - Jean manifesting the Phoenix energy in issue #120. Hardcore fans claim that Jean never had the Phoenix force - it was the force itself mimicking a human being modelled after Jean. Is this a case of people needing to just wait to see where you're going? GM: Of course. That the Phoenix Force never possessed Jean is covered by a simple word balloon in New X-Men #128. Some readers are way too impatient; they seem to want everything here, now and on the page all at once but this is an unfolding story and sometimes you just have to wait a little. I usually wrap up any loose plot thread within a year of its first appearance. NRAMA: Back to the nitpicking - have we seen the last of John Sublime and the Trans-species movement? GM: The U-Men are back for a little while around issue #135, where I have a slightly different take on them as we visit a U-Man funeral. NRAMA: Will Havok and Polaris return? GM: Havok appears in Chuck's book and Polaris turns up in New X-Men #132, the Genosha story. NRAMA: Will the students we've seen so far at the school (Beak, Esme and her sisters, etc..) be recurring characters throughout, or will others replace them in the storylines? GM: The new characters will reappear, some more so than others. I just follow the ones that seem to write themselves and they come to life. We have ten new mutant students turning up this year, all of whom play enormous roles in the terrifying events that are about to unfold. NRAMA: Can you briefly tell us about any? Or any new significant additions to the cast? GM: There's a bunch of kids who turn up as part of Xorn's remedial class, including the autistic Dummy, who can't be left for too long in one place or she'll just melt into the surroundings and Martha the Mutant Brain who first appeared during the 'Germ Free Generation' arc - she may only be a brain in a glass ball spiked with syringes but now she can hover as well. Just a bunch of weird 'difficult' mutant kids. Xorn elects to take care of the troublesome kids and there's some fun during a camping trip. The focus is pretty tight on the school so we're also developing several new students as characters. The big see-through jelly guy rises to prominence and we'll be meeting a number of kids from Frank Quitely's issue #126 cover as they get their turn in the spotlight. The students are the X-Men of the future so I'd like to introduce a lot of new characters and see which ones take.

NRAMA: Okay, I think that covers the X-Men. Onto some other Marvel books... Can you give us an update on the status of Marvel Boy 2? Are you working on that and if so, when will we see it? GM: I've written four issues and most of a fifth. I have no idea when it will be out yet. Umm... to be announced? NRAMA: Can you tell us a little something about the story? GM: It's a six issue series which continues directly from where we left Marvel Boy at the end of the first storyline; as a captured alien terrorist subversive, he's now one of several hundred deformed and insane inmates in America's worst highsecurity prison - the Cube. From there he starts to plan his takeover of the planet by changing its belief structures. The style of the new series was partly influenced by re-reading some of my alltime favorite books: Warlock, Killraven, the Brunner/Englehart Doctor Strange and other 'Kosmiche Komiks' of the 70s. It's 'Marvel Boy in Oz', in a way, as NohVarr struggles against the human race at its most degraded and violent. Oubliette, the Exterminatrix is back, sexier than ever and even Hexus, the Living Corporation gets a new look. We learn a lot more about Kree culture and religion and discover that it's all based on ancient comic books - see The Kree Book of the Dead in issue #4. The whole thing is a handbook for total revolution, Kree style. NRAMA: A few months back Joe Quesada told us that Ultimate Spider-Man was not the first Ultimate comic book, and some have speculated maybe Marvel Boy took place in the Ultimate universe, any comments on that theory? GM: Watch this space. NRAMA: Uh okay. What's the status - if there is one - of that Silver Surfer project you and Frank Quitely were going to do? GM: It's on hold at the moment while I concentrate on completing some other projects. NRAMA: Any of those other new Marvel projects? GM: Not until later in the year. I just want to get way ahead with X-Men before tackling anything new. NRAMA: How about Ultimate Fantastic Four? You've been attached to this in rumor by a few sources now... Can you tell us anything about this? GM: Again, it's just at the ideas stage. Once I wrap up this year's X-Men commitments, I'll be taking a look at these side projects. I have a good idea and now that The Osbornes is so popular I really think the kind of family stuff I had in mind is quite relevant.

Having said that, I'm slightly intimidated by some of the material Mark Waid has come up with for the regular title. Quite brilliant. NRAMA: All right, got to wind this puppy up sometime, dont we. Before we let you go, can you tell us about your latest Hollywood experiences? A while back you talked to Warner Bros. about a Batman movie? GM: I pitched an idea but some punk called Frank Miller got there first. I do a lot of this kind of stuff that nobody ever sees - I also have good pitches for Doctor Strange, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Doctor Who, Skrull Kill Krew and a bunch of other franchise characters, which were either done for the hell of it or for interested producers. NRAMA: What about your latest deal? GM: Sleepless Knights - which I sold to DreamWorks. This is something I've been working on with Don Murphy and his partner Susan Montford, who's an old friend of mine from Glasgow - I appeared as Roman Polanski in one of her short films!. Through Don and Susan I was introduced to Guillermo del Toro last year and got on really well with him. We all got together to pitch this idea and I'm pleased to say DreamWorks were smart enough to see the super-potential of franchising Halloween itself in a new and previously unimaginable way. I've also written the story and dialogue for the Battlestar Galactica game from Universal and hope to get more involved with game scenarios in future. That seems to be the most interesting area for development beyond comics. NRAMA: Finally, with the success of Spider-Man, and with several comic-inspired films on the way and greatly anticipation, what are your general thoughts on what's sure to be a comic book/superhero Hollywood feeding frenzy? GM: I can't wait. They're like sharks, it's true, but imagine sharks in a tank full of hungry piranhas... I think we should all get down on our knees and give thanks to our own personal deities that we lived to see the moment when comics took over the world.

A HEALING INOCULATION OF GRIME: GRANT MORRISON ON THE FILTH Interview by Matt Brady Grant Morrisons The Filth is into the home stretch now, with just four more issues of its thirteen-issue run to go. Like most of Morrisons creator-owned work, The Filth is many things to many people, layered with subtext and shades of meaning within a much larger context. Newsarama spoke with Morrison about the book only to find out that he considers it one of his more straightforward works. To bring everyone up to speed (and also exemplify how the series resists a quickie explanation), The Filth centers on Greg Feely/Ned Slade, a top-level agent of The Hand, which is a force that makes sure society continues along its prescribed path, the Status Q, by eliminating aberrations, whether theyre technological, spiritual, or even sexual. To complicate matters a bit, Greg isnt real hes a parapersonality created by The Hand wherein Ned could take time off from the organization following a particularly traumatic case. Ned was fully immersed into Gregs life, which wallows in pathos. While Ned is perhaps the best agent of The Hand, Greg is a middle-age, fat, balding bachelor with an addiction to porn and an unwavering devotion to his cat, Tony. The event which got Ned placed into Greg was so traumatic that he needed to be deeply entrenched into Gregs life, so much so that when he was purged from Greg in response to a crisis, Ned had very little idea of who he was. Even to the most recent issue, he cannot fully remember his former life, or what exactly happened prior to his being placed in Greg. On the other side of the coin from Ned and The Hand in general is Spartacus Hughes, a former top-level agent of The Hand whos gone bad. Really bad. As Mother Dirt, the head of The Hand explains, Hughes has set in motion a number of threats to social hygiene. Stopping and catching Hughes are two completely different things as a sentient being, Hughes is little more than a collection of ideas which leaps from person to person, taking over its host, and spreading mayhem from there. Slade has been brought back to The Hand, in part, to stop Hughes, who he knew in his pre-Greg life. That about kinda covers it. Since the introduction Slade has been called on to stop nanotechnology from getting into the wrong hands, stopped an uprising on the Libertania, a city-sized ocean liner, halted the unbridled fertilization of virtually every female by porn star Anders Klimakks, survived an assassination attempt in The Hands refuse pile, where the junk of society is thrown, and, as Greg, been arrested and brought up on charges by the police for being a pervert and possible child molester. Oh yeah theres a talking monkey and dolphins with prosthetic arms as well. Basically, given its somewhat non-linear storytelling, The Filth feels like a trip through Morrisons head, with any number of ideas bubbling to the surface with each issue, something that can produce a little unease as well as a determination to hang on and see just what hes getting at with all of this. That about covers it. Newsarama: Just to be clear, and make sure were not missing anything, in simplest terms, The Hand is an extra dimensional police force whose job it is to make sure human development and civilization follows a prescribed path, right?

Grant Morrison: Right. You don't seem to be confused at all, and you've pretty much nailed the function of The Hand organization. Although the Hand are closer to garbage men than policemen and they're not necessarily based in another dimension - a different scale might be closer to the mark. The real weird thing about this series is the amount of people who think they don't get it when they clearly do. What's that all about? I must admit it's quite baffling to me - I've read reviews saying things like 'Yes, it's Art but why should we care?' and 'why should I care about an old guy and his cat?' ...and my only answer is 'why should you care about a fictional character who dresses up like a bat or a man who grows to giant size and abuses his wife?' Why should anyone care about any story and yet people clearly do, because fiction helps to illuminate life. Personally, I believe that if you can feel sympathy for a ridiculous superhero and not for an ordinary, lonely man tending a sick animal then there's something desperately wrong with your emotions and your priorities. To help cure these emotional deficiencies, The Filth can be seen a healing inoculation of grime. I'm deliberately injecting the worst aspects of life it into my readers heads in small, humorous doses of metaphor and symbol, in an effort to help them survive the torrents of nastiness, horror and dirt we're all exposed to every day - especially in white Western cultures, whose entertainment industries peddle a mind-numbing perverted concoction of fantasy violence and degrading sexuality while living large at the expense of the poor in other countries. Think of the way a human immune system works to regulate processes within the body. Think of Status: Q as the body's natural temperature and threats to Status: Q as fevers or illnesses which have to be contained by our own natural defenses. The 'body' in this case being Society and the immune system being the Hand. The underlying story structure of the series is based on the human body's responses to an invading agent - the fever builds to a peak in issue #9, where everything is explained but in a heightened, sickening rush of barelyunderstandable images and words - most of the revelations in issue #9 are delivered in a thick Glaswegian dialect because I wanted them to seem deliberately febrile, bizarre and disconnected, like human thought processes at the peak of a viral assault - non-Scottish readers will, however, find a helpful Standard English translation of this material at our website crackcomicks.com, which has a lot of background material on the series. One way to read the series is to see it all happening inside Greg Feely as he slowly loses his mind, his job and his health over the course of the 13 issues. From this perspective, the Hand can be conceptualized as Greg's own immune system and their adventures can be seen as fantasies produced by his own deranged brain as it tries to survive a mid-life nervous breakdown. NRAMA: Ho-kay. That said, who's in charge of The Hand, and where are they located? GM: Mother Dirt is the Commanding Officer - what she is and where she came from will be revealed in #13. and The Hand headquarters 'exists' in a cosmic dumping ground known as The Crack. The precise location of which will be revealed in Issue #12. NRAMA: How long has The Hand been around? GM: Since 1952, as explained in Issue #9, hence the old fashioned 'Dan Dare' technology and uniforms.

NRAMA: Overall, given your other works and your explanation above, how experimental is The Filth for you, conceptually, process-wise, and all? GM: Conceptually and thematically it's quite experimental but the story-telling is fairly straightforward - it all happens in real time and doesn't have any of the flashbacks or temporaral shifts seen, for example, in The Invisibles. I was trying to keep it all very clear, which seems typically to have confused people. NRAMA: Speaking of The Invisibles, while that series was about rejecting what we've been told and rebelling against the status quo, The Filth is on the other side of the coin, taking it from the opposite side, those that enforce Status: Q, albeit you're telling it from a jaded perspective with Ned. What motivated the change of sides? GM: The Invisibles was all about taking sides only to discover that there are no sides on a Mobius strip. Both stories are about living within the System that is human culture and society, with an emphasis on Western culture and society; The Invisibles rebel against the System only to discover that rebellion itself is an essential component of the System. Ned Slade and The Hand are policemen, not rebels but they too are necessary for the vital function of the System. There is no change of sides as there are no sides. NRAMA: Okay, then, sticking with The Invisibles in comparison for a moment, at the surface, that series had an, at times hard to see, run of almost optimism running through it, because you knew, on some level the "good" guys were going to win. With The Filth, there's almost a pessimism, a sense of, if not outright despair that the world is s shithole, and there are people charged with picking up the garbage, not necessarily making it a better place. Thoughts? GM: As anyone can see by looking out of the window, our world is both a sunlit tree-lined annex of Heaven and also a stinking shithole. It seems impossible to have one without the other. We eat juicy fresh fruit and then excrete styrofoam packaging, plastic bags and steaming turds into the environment. Our homes are only clean because filthy garbage trucks arrive every week to take away the disgusting, maggot-infested remnants of food and human waste which we all leave behind us every day. This analogy may make it easier to understand the necessity for people like the Hand and why The Filth is every bit as 'optimistic' as The Invisibles. Someone has to clean up the mess the rest of us leave just by living if we didn't have saintly, selfless creatures like flies, policemen and garbage men to tidy up after us, our whole world would actually be a steaming global cesspit of refuse, disease and rampant victimization of the weak. NRAMA: Given the sheer volume of ideas and concepts youve introduced throughout the run of The Filth so far, is the series a place for you to develop new concepts or more of a place to explore further nuances and the evolution of ideas you've already brought out? GM: It's a little of both - most of my work tends to include references to the themes and images of previous work, while simultaneously pushing forward into new ground. The Filth is a very meticulously constructed work, unlike the more improvised Invisibles, and makes deliberate references to areas I've approached in the past. NRAMA: Speaking of approaches that youve used in the past, you've made something of a habit or writing yourself into your stories, literally and, well, literally. How is Greg/Ned you this time out? Or is there more of you in Spartacus

than Greg/Ned? GM: There's something of me in all the characters. Greg Feely, Ned Slade's 'secret identity' is based on how I felt during a 10 month period in 1999 when I was at a low ebb, celibate, miserable and home alone tending to one of my cats as she lay dying of cancer. Instead of just feeling sorry for myself, I decided to turn the whole hideous process of loneliness and decay into some kind of purifying - or putrefyingpoetry. Hence Greg and The Filth' My theory was a simple one - I'd read about how antibiotics were actually contributing to the degradation of the human immune system and how some doctors had begun to inject house dust and dirt into childrens bloodstreams in an effort to strengthen nature's own defenses again. I liked that idea as a metaphor for the state of apathy, fear and violence - which has gripped America and Britain in particular - and used it to construct this story. The Filth is an attempt to 'inject' into my readers a healing concoction of vile ideas, hurtful emotions and unacceptable images. The five specialist divisions or gestures which comprise the Hand organization - the Fist, the Finger, the Horns, the Frequency and the Palm - each represent a different type of white immune cell. The Palm are like Helper T cells, the Fist are Hunter/killer cells etc. Check out any book on the human immune system and you'll see how perfectly it all fits together. In addition, there's a whole level of Qabalistic symbolism which runs through the series. As a practicing magician for over two decades now, I reached a point over a year ago where I felt it was time to take the terrifying 'Oath of the Abyss' and ascend to the 'grade' of ipssissimus - as it's known in the Aleister Crowley Golden Dawn hierarchical system of magical attainment. This requires undergoing an ordeal, the nature of which amounts to a personality-shattering meditation upon and encounter with the incoherent forces of 'the Dark Side' of the so-called Tree of Life, that is, all the negative states of consciousness available to us as human beings - fear, guilt, shame, hatred, loneliness, sickness, pain etc.. The 7 Dwarves of Horror basically. During the twelve months of actually writing The Filth scripts I was so overwhelmed by these 'dark' forces that I almost committed suicide on several occasions and spent most of the year in a state of intense psychological and physical distress. I can happily say that the ordeal is now over; I was able to process all this negative energy into my writing and emerge from the Land of Shadow changed forever and having attained the highest possible grade of Ceremonial Magic. Big deal. The Filth, then, is also a diary document of my willed descent into the Abyss of the Qabalists and readers with a passing knowledge of occult correspondences will recognize the Hand as a 'qlippothic' or 'dark side' agency - even the colors of the uniforms are significant as they represent reverses or negatives of the traditional symbolic color schemes of the Tree of Life - instead of the color yellow to represent Communication, we used its photo-reverse color i.e. purple for the uniforms of the Frequency - the communications division of the Hand and so on. NRAMA: Given that then, place Spartacus Hughes into the mix. Is he one of the infectious agents that ultimately make the body stronger? GM: Spartacus Hughes is a rogue parapersona - which means that he is a artificial, viral personality grown in a test tube form and able to occupy any human body, just like an illness. In the cell metaphor, Spartacus Hughes is a cancer.

NRAMA: In that role of Spartacus then, and also touching upon what you said about the magical process of The Filth, you've probably touched upon, and shown every taboo in comics - ever - in this series. That was all part of the plan, right? You, and therefore the audience, must be exposed to all of, the filth GM: Certainly. As I mentioned above, my idea was to take everything 'nasty' about our world and alchemically transform it into a healing concoction. This is why I used black humor as a spoonful of sugar to help the vile medicine go down. NRAMA: In doing that though, even with the Vertigo label, was there anything that was too extreme and removed? Was the pixilated penis throughout the Anders Klimakks arc always supposed to be pixilated, for example? GM: The only thing that disappeared was a jet of black sperm across a girl's face, which was considered a little too strong an image even for Vertigo. Otherwise, everything else made it onto the page. The pixillated penis was there from the start. I'd seen a horrible documentary on television about porno director Max Hardcore during which Hardcore wandered around with a hard-on sodomising women at random. The show in question was careful to pixillate Max's arousal and I thought I'd use the effect as a joke visual in the comic. NRAMA: Some have commented that in reading The Filth, it's almost as if the story is secondary to the message - for example, after putting an issue down, its easier to remember tones and feelings, but still be hazy on specific story points. Is that the goal? GM: Not exactly. The story is every bit as important as the message but since this is a comic book I wanted to fill it with wild, colorful outrageous images - because I believe that's the kind of material comic books can and should deliver. I'm tired of comics trying to be like movies at a time when movies are becoming more like comic books. This should be our cue as comic creators to get more imaginative, more cosmic and awe-inspiring, not less. The Filth may seem a little out there but that's only because we're living in a very conservative time, filled with very conservative books. NRAMA: By that token, and given what you've said about The Matrix and The Invisibles, are you in any way being more protective of the ideas and concepts in The Filth, by making them so out there and possibly in a place where only Terry Gilliam could possibly think of turning it into a film, and only then, after smoking some serious crack? GM: My ties to Hollywood are a lot closer now than they were when I was doing The Invisibles - I'm writing the answers to these questions in our apartment in West Hollywood - so if by some miracle this obscene epic hits the screens it'll be with me attached. Chris and I own the concept and I'll be shopping it around as a movie pitch shortly after the comic's done. I'd love to do a Filth movie with Bruce Willis as Greg/Ned and Mickey Rourke as Spartacus Hughes. Think about it. NRAMA: Well yes, but would it even be possible for The Filth to be a movie with a budget of anything less than the GNP of the United States? GM: No problem. I have it all worked out. NRAMA: Fair enough. Back to some more specifics with the series. With everything up to and including issue #8, we've still got Ned in a moral quandary - it's hard to

sympathize with him, given his job and what he represents, while Spartacus is becoming more alluring. Did you account for that happening? Readers sympathizing with Spartacus, despite the atrocities he commits, because he is an agent of change, standing up against the man? GM: Spartacus is only alluring because he seems pro-active and willing to change things but the truth is he's a dangerous, ego-driven loon who only ever makes things worse. Ned Slade is equally trapped in his role, with little hope of change. The real hero is Greg Feely as we shall see. NRAMA: When will we learn what traumatized Ned/Greg so badly, and what his connection to Spartacus is? GM: We'll learn his connection to Spartacus Hughes in issues #10 and #11. NRAMA: Through it all, Greg/Ned's connection with Tony has remained constant but why? His love for his cat seems to be out of place, given his day job GM: This aspect of the story is the key to the entire plot. What would you do if you wanted to neutralize the ultimate, unassuming anarchist? And what would you do if his stubborn love for a little animal got in the way of everything you were trying to achieve? NRAMA: Can you sketch out the cosmology of the Hand and the Beyond/Crack a little? GM: This will be revealed as the series wraps up. I dont want to say too much here. NRAMA: Okay then. Winding up, The Invisibles had a very clear message by the end. What if any message, would you want readers to pick up from The Filth? GM: The message of The Filth is very clear and manifold - I'd like readers to realize that even the most mundane existence - even the shabbiest, shittiest life you can live - can be redeemed into glory by the power of imagination. NRAMA: At the conclusion of the series, will things be drawn to a close, or will this be a multi-volume story? GM: The series ends fairly decisively with issue #13. Having said that, the nature of the conclusion leaves the way open for more stories although it's unlikely that I'll ever tell them. I'm sure Slade and King Mob will eventually return and appear together with the Preacher and Lucifer in some future League of Extraordinary Gentlemen one hundred years from now when the copyright runs out and the only readers left are weird dome-headed cyborgs.