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Grant Morrison

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Two of my friends spend a lot of time and money on comics, which is why this item was introduced on my 101-in-1001 list in the first place. Since they have somewhat the same criteria as I have for quality, I felt that comics was a literary domain I had almost no knowledge about and needed to educate myself about. By reading ten comics they recommended, I hoped to gain more insight. Therefore, the list below of what I have read is not pickings of my own, but rather that of my friends’, although based on my preferences and comments on previously borrowed volumes.

1. The Sandman (4.5/5 on average)
2. Hellboy (3/5)
3. Watchmen (2.5/5)
4. The Authority (3/5 on average)
5. WE3 (4.5/5)
6. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (3,5/5)
7. Sleeper – Out in the Cold (4/5)
8. The Books of Magic (4/5)
9. Kid Eternity (3,5/5)
10. The Filth (4/5)

As you can see, the list is a mixed bag in terms of grades, but with a few exceptions, I have liked what I have read. As I guessed after reading The Sandman, no comic has come close to its brilliance and I still doubt that any will (please take into consideration that the 4.5 average is over ten volumes, which is incredible, given that I dislike long series). Still, few of the others have been a disappointment; most of them have indeed been very good.

I consider this goal accomplished; I feel more educated about comics. Although the list above is a bit Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman biased, I think that is something positive. Morrison seems to write things I like and Neil Gaiman was one of my favourite authors before I read The Sandman. Anyway, I will not hesitate to read more comics, especially since I have such nice friends at hand to lend me some.

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The Filth

Title: The Filth
Author: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Weston, Gary Erskine

I shall begin by saying that The Filth is probably the most difficult product I have ever reviewed, not because it is hard for me to weed out whether I like it or not, but because the comic itself defies analysis. Still, I shall of course do my best.

The Filth is about many things on many levels, but mostly it is about… filth. In any system, filth is necessary to evolve and is also a given by-product of health and well-being. From something negative and dirty springs something positive and beautiful. On the most superficial level, The Filth is about Greg Feely, who discovers that he is an undercover agent for a mysterious organisation called The Hand. Its agents function as the garbage collectors of the world; using the analogy of a human body, they get rid of waste products and make sure that everything works properly.

This does not sound too complex, does it? Well, as the narrative continues, further possible interpretations unfold and their implications proliferate. The beauty of this story lies in the fact that all these interpretations are valid throughout the comic. Some of them function on a very small scale, others on a very large one, but still they blend together and create a kaleidoscope of symbol and meaning.

The drawback is that the different parts tend to be bizarre and, although based on cool ideas, not as interesting as the whole. This is not obvious until the very end, meaning that I read the first ninety percent without even feeling some of the greatness; all that came near the end. So, if you plan on reading The Filth, make sure that you read all of it before you give up, do not stop halfway and think that you are in any position of assessing the quality of the entire comic.

Still, the individual episodes do contain interesting material as well, presenting a plethora of relatively undiscovered, yet brilliant ideas that could have formed the foundation to much more than brief episodes. Chris Weston and Gary Erskine have also made a good job with the artwork; without them some episodes would have been boring and the overall impression would probably have much lower.

Conclusively, the individual weakness of some of the episodes is still what I dislike most; otherwise I would have given The Filth an even better grade. As it is, four snails will have to suffice for the excellent presentation of the overall themes. If you like to read carefully thought-out chaos, The Filth is definitely for you.

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Kid Eternity

Title: Kid Eternity
Author: Grant Morrison
Artist: Duncan Fegredo
Year: 1991

Kid Eternity is a boy who was killed seventy five years too early, and to rectify that mistake, he was resurrected and returned to the living world. The word “Eternity” enables him to revive the dead to help him do good, as well as grants him some other more or less spectacular powers. Together with stand-up comedian Jerry Sullivan, he journeys to hell in order to free his keeper, who was left behind when Kid fled his long imprisonment there.

If this sounds somewhat bizarre, we are on the right track. This mini series of three thin volumes depicts a weird and dark tale, mainly focusing on Kid Eternity (who is, if I understand things correctly, an old super hero Grant Morrison revived and reshaped for the purpose of this series). Everything about Kid Eternity is strange in some way, and most of it is dark. The story and the artwork are confusing, only suggesting to the reader what is really going on. However, this is clearly done on purpose and also quite skillfully executed. What I cannot really figure out is if it is too confusing or not. Although I like strange and confusing stories, they have to be delicately balanced and not fall over towards utter chaos. Also, chaotic artwork can be exhausting in the long run.

So, on the positive side, we have adeptly coordinated story and artwork, creating the kind of feeling I am sure the author and artist aimed for (nice workmanship, in other words). On the negative side, the series is a bit too confusing, at least at times, which makes me wonder if even the author knows what some parts are supposed to mean. The positive aspects outweigh the negative with a fair margin, though, so I will give Kid Eternity three and a half snails.

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Titel: We3
Författare: Grant Morrison
Tecknare: Frank Quitely
Utgivningsår: 2004
Recenserad: 2007-01-30
Status: N/A

We3 är berättelsen om ett projekt att använda biotekniskt förbättrade djur i krig. Tre av försökdjuren har varit extra framgångsrika: hunden Bandit, katten Tinker och kaninen Pirate. När experimentet ska utvidgas, måste dock de gamla delarna avvecklas, vilket innebär slutet för trion. De flyr från anläggningen för att ge sig ut på egna äventyr, jagad av sina skapare som vill förstöra dem. Djuren är inte bara söta och förrymda husdjur, utan är dessutom cybernetiskt förstärkta mördarmaskiner. De har också givits en talförmåga som motsvarar ett barns.

Det lättaste med den här recensionen är att jag inte behöver bestämma mig för om jag ska ta upp de dåliga sakerna först eller sist, för serien har nämligen inga dåliga sidor. Dess största fördel är helhetsintrycket, som på något sätt får mig att känna med de stackars djuren och deras situation, trots att den är så skild från min egen och trots att de faktiskt har ihjäl rätt många av de som är efter dem. Bilderna är väldigt bra och jag gillar stilen såväl som det lätt lekfulla upplägget (sekvenser av väldigt små paneler i större paneler, till exempel).

We3 går väldigt fort att läsa och njutningen per minut är hög. Dock kan jag tycka att det är lite ytlig för att verkligen beröra mig eller göra ett mer permanent intryck. Nu är detta inte mitt tyngsta kriterium, utan jag kan ändå med gott samvete ge We3 fyra och en halv sniglar.

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