This summer saw the publication of Supergods, comic mage Grant Morrison's meditation on comicbooks, mythology, symbolism, and his own life as an artist/writer. Morrison is one of the characters profiled by BB contributor and Authors of the Impossible author Jeff Kripal in his next book, Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal, due out next month. For a taste of Kripal and Morrison's common interests in high weirdness, check out Jeff's review of Supergods over at Religion Dispatches:
In short, the "super" of the comics was not invented in 1938 with the creation of Superman, nor can it all be explained by some kind of vague adaptation of Nietzsche's famous quasi-Darwinian line about how man is a transitional figure between the ape and the Superman. There were other origin stories. Including experiential ones.
Authors and artists, it turns out, routinely undergo profound, life-changing mystical experiences and then encode these events in their fantasy and fiction. Consider the work of Grant Morrison, a Scottish punk rocker and bad boy turned mega-popular comic writer whose mind-bending writing has influenced such blockbuster films as The Matrix and X2: X-Men United. Morrison's work is suffused with fierce countercultural sensibilities and a dramatic contact experience he underwent in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 1994. Morrison had played with the paranormal notion of "being written" since his early work in books like Animal Man, but the Kathmandu event clearly turbo-boosted this idea into orbit, as is evident in his metaphysical manifesto, The Invisibles. Fans, eager for another major statement, now have it in the recently released Supergods.
The book is at once a rich, humorous history of comics, a political commentary on the absurdities of conservative British and American culture, and a deeply personal memoir. The relevant moments for us here involve those in a Kathmandu hotel room just after the writer had visited a Tantric Buddhist temple. As Morrison chills on the roof of the Vajra Hotel, he sees the temple come alive and begin to rear up like one of those living sports cars in the Transformers movies.
"How We Got to Super: Grant Morrison's Visionary Gnosticism" (Religion Dispatches)
Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human (Amazon)