Sunday, September 30, 2012

Graduating from the Invisible College: Dark Cabals, Metanarrative Subversion & The Clash of Polycultural Modernism with Imperial Legacy in Grant Morrison's The Invisibles

One of the many panels in this month's MorrisonCon celebrating all things Grant Morrison, "Revisiting The Invisibles & The End of the World as We Know It" coincides with Vertigo's publishing of an Omnibus edition of the opus of 1990's comics if ever there was one. The breadth of it's philosophical scope, the degree to which it was kinetically attuned to the zeitgeist, it's expansive metaphysical reach and it's ability to explore real-world concerns both as the literal and parable. A work in true synergy with it's times. While it's conspirational spin on late 20th Century reality imparts the book with more than a tinge of that decade's counter-cultural eccentricity, it's underlying concerns are more universal. Robert Anton Wilson, Philip K. Dick, post-Punk and Industrial Music, Dystopic Modernism, Cyberpunk, Pagan, Modern Primitive, late-Psychedelic Beat cultures, and a defiant opposition to the psychology, materialism, Imperial agendas, power dynamics and society sculpting engineered in the shadow of the Military Industrial Complex. It all came together in "The Invisibles" like nothing else in comics.

Link to Vertigo Comics: "The Invisibles" - Deluxe Edition Vol.1

Link to Vertigo Comics: "The Invisibles" - Deluxe Edition Vol.2

Link to Vertigo Comics: "The Invisibles" - Deluxe Edition Vol.3

Link to Vertigo Comics: "The Invisibles" - Deluxe Edition Vol.4

And let's not forget, for all the bloated expansion of the speculators market and wayward industry attempts to cater to it with crossover 'event' books, lenticular covers, etc, the adolescent growth spasms of comics culture during that time also produced great independent works. Alan Moore, Charles Burns, Warren Ellis, Dave McKean, Daniel Clowes, Neil Gaiman and Alejandro Jodorowsky all delivered what are regarded as some of their finest work to date over the course of the decade. In the midst of this era, the genesis of Morrison's opus was in no small part inspired by his immersing himself in world travel, mind-altering states and a international lifestyle bankrolled by the success of "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth". Good thing for us he chose to channel that into both inner and outer travels of self/world discovery in India, Nepal and Morocco. Discovery which he focused back into the conduit of his work and produced a book that many in the decades since have claimed a 'life changing' read. Myself, I was already living that life (in a humble sense) and "The Invisibles" was simply a chronicle of the world in which we lived (anyone who's read the book is laughing at this preposterous claim I'm sure). For those that haven't, a good place to begin is the Barbelith boards' extensive annotations, SequentialArt's publishing of Patrick Meaney's companion "Our Sentence is Up" and as an introduction to it's pleasures, peculiarities and perils, Timothy Callahan's "Drafted into the Invisible Army" for Comic Book Resources.