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#297819 - 01/13/03 01:45 PM TALKING WITH AUTHORITY: ROBBIE MORRISON
Steve Conley Administrator Offline
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Registered: 11/27/98
Posts: 2490
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BY JENNIFER "Jenny Sparks Rules!" CONTINO


Many readers are eager to see the new Authority series when it begins this May and learn what has happened to Midnighter, Swift, Apollo, Hawksmoor, the Engineer, the Doctor, and little Jenny Sparks in the time since the last issue of The Authority. In November we spoke with editor Ben Abernathy about this project and now have caught up with writer Robbie Morrison to talk Authority, Death, and other comics.

THE PULSE: Who are The Authority? What makes this group different from the typical superteam?

ROBBIE MORRISON:
The Authority are Jack Hawksmoor, Apollo, the Midnighter, Swift, the Engineer and the Doctor, the superteam to end all superteams. They aren't just fighting to maintain the status quo, they're fighting to change the world. They are changing the world. Instead of simply possessing super-powers, The Authority could be described as a super-power in social and political terms, like the US. They're a more complex group than the standard superteam, in that they're willing to do whatever's necessary to build a finer, safer world, including influencing world affairs, instigating regime change, overthrowing governments, executing those who threaten humanity, actions which are all relevant to the current climate. Hell, they even got rid of the President. I bet there's a few people out there who wish they could do that.

THE PULSE: How did you become involved in the new Authority monthly series?

MORRISON:
I guess you could say I was headhunted. Scott Dunbier initially emailed to ask if I was interested in some work, and we arranged to have a chat the following night. Before we spoke, I joked to a couple of people about Wildstorm probably wanting me to take over The Authority. Famous last words. It turned out that they did.

Scott had been following my work in 2000AD - Nikolai Dante, Shimura, Judge Dredd - and asked if I'd be interested in pitching for the new ongoing Authority series they were planning to launch in 2003. We kicked around a few ideas and they commissioned me to do the Scorched Earth one-shot, which I had a great time working on. They must've liked it too, because they offered me the monthly pretty much straight after that.

THE PULSE: What made you want to write this title? What is it about The Authority that attracts you as a creator to the title?

MORRISON:
The freedom to push things beyond what's usually expected of the superhero genre, to make it bigger, bolder and more bombastic than anything else on the market, not just in terms of sex, violence and black humour, but in terms of character motivation and political and social comment.

THE PULSE: Why do you think this group has so many rabid fans? What is it about this title that has so many people excited and talking about it?

MORRISON:
Probably the very fact that, in many ways, the title pushed things a little further than they'd been pushed before. I think people appreciated the edge it brought to the world of superheroes. I also think the surface has only just been scratched in terms of what can be done with The Authority.


Art from THE AUTHORITY backup story "High Stakes" by Dwayne Turner and Sal Regla.
THE PULSE: When your pitch for the new ongoing was accepted, how did you feel? What's it like to be on such a high profile book?

MORRISON:
I'm really excited about the whole thing. It's a great opportunity, not only to step onto a fairly high-profile title, but a bloody good one at that. A few people have described it to me as jumping into the fire. If that's the case, I aim to make sure - in true Authority style - that my hose is connected to the gas tank and not the water supply.

THE PULSE: What were your initial ideas about the series? What's going to happen in the beginning of your Authority run?

MORRISON:
I'm always extremely reluctant to reveal much about future storylines, and in this case, I can't really can't go into too much detail about the direction of the series right now, because some of the shocks we've got planned are going to influence that direction in a big way. It's a sort of Catch-22 situation. I can't say too much about one, without ruining the other, and vice versa. One question The Authority will be forced to ask in the initial story arc is, whose reality is it anyway? The world will more than likely be in a teeny bit of danger too.

In more general terms, I want to build on the fantastic foundations laid during the original series, and try to raise the concept of the superhero to new heights. We want to use the full potential of the monthly comic-book to tell stories beyond anything that most other mediums - films, television, games - could ever produce. The only "budgetary limitations" we have are our own imaginations.

THE PULSE: The Authority past had a series of whirlwind larger than life adventures and were always on the go - there wasn't a lot of quiet downtime or too many detailed looks into the characters. Are you looking to flesh out the cast a little more? How do you think that will add to the general enjoyment of the title?

MORRISON:
The basic structure of the series - spectacular four-issue story arcs - will remain the same, but I do want to explore the characters and their relationships with one another as much as possible within that structure. With big action extravaganzas, there's often a danger of the individual characters getting lost amidst the epic scale and the mind-blowing concepts. I want to try and avoid that. The way I see it, the more you care about the characters - love them or hate them - the more dramatic and exciting the series will be.

They're brilliant characters, and there are a lot of things still to be developed: Apollo and the Midnighter's marriage and the responsibility of their adoptive parenthood of little Jenny Quantum; the fact that the Engineer has slept with both Jack Hawksmoor and the Doctor, and possibly still is sleeping with both of them; the repercussions of Swift's transformation from pacifist to pragmatist.

THE PULSE: Where/when does this story take place? How soon after the Midnighter and Apollo's marriage?

MORRISON:
The period of real time that will have passed between the end of the last series and the beginning of the new one is roughly the period of time that has passed in the Wildstorm Universe, about six - eight months since the big wedding. The world is still trying to come to terms with the amount of power The Authority has over them, and is growing increasingly suspicious about superhumans in general.

THE PULSE: What's the status of little Jenny Quantum? What causes her aging to teen?

MORRISON:
Jenny Q's about 3 or 4 years-old, and even though she's possibly the most powerful being on the planet, she's still very much a child, curious and innocent and mischievous. That said, she does - as you'd expect of a 'reincarnated' superhuman - every now and again exhibit moments of insight that should be far beyond someone of her years. I'm enjoying making her part of the team, albeit in her own way, and exploring her relationship with Apollo and the Midnighter, her adoptive parents. Her innocence and optimism is a nice contrast with the Midnighter's dark view of humanity.

The teen thing was taken out of context in DC's announcement of the new series, to say the least. It was just one of a few possible future scenarios discussed in the first draft of the pitch, but won't be happening any time soon, if at all.

THE PULSE: What are the goals of The Authority? How have their world views changed - if any - since we last saw them?

MORRISON:
The team's basic purpose and motivation is still to build a better world, which is a pretty admirable aim. Speaking as the writer, it's also a great premise; building a better world is an epic undertaking, and offers the potential for any number of storylines. Of course, what exactly constitutes a better world is open to interpretation. There have been a great many atrocities committed over the centuries by individuals who thought they were building a better world. There're a lot of atrocities happening today for the exact sane reason! Humanity in general - not just lesser authorities such as world governments - may come to resent the fact that The Authority stands in judgement over them. You know how it is, no one really likes to be told how to live their lives.

Apart from that, building a better world might not be enough, because it's a dangerous universe out there. It's a dangerous multiverse! The Authority may have to set their sights a little further than just their own world...

THE PULSE: How hard is it to establish your voice in the Authority after writers like Warren Ellis and Mark Millar? How does that - if at all - intimidate you? How does that - if at all - push you to do even better works?

MORRISON:
They're definitely a couple of extremely hard acts to follow, but that just makes the idea of working on it all the more exciting, and I'm looking forward to the challenge. I'll probably shamelessly use elements from both their runs as well hopefully putting my own unique perspective onto it - whatever that might be. I just hope I can match the high standards they've already set.


Art from THE AUTHORITY backup story "High Stakes" by Dwayne Turner and Sal Regla.


THE PULSE: The Authority of the past has always faced larger than life threats. How hard is it to come up with a challenge that any one of them couldn't handle quite simply? Where do you go for inspiration on world shaking events?

MORRISON:
The Authority is one of those titles where it's definitely a case of the bigger the better. It works best when it's more epic and spectacular than anything else out there. As for maintaining that approach - creating up earth-shattering menace after earth-shattering menace - yeah, I think I'm up to it. My brain'll probably explode with the effort somewhere along the way, but at least we'll get a few good stories out of it. As for inspiration, some ideas you can work out where they came from in minute detail, others just hit you out of the blue, or develop without you even realizing it some of the time. Like most readers, I read a hell of a lot on a wide, wide range of subjects, both for research and enjoyment, so a lot of it comes from that.

THE PULSE: It seems in the past hands were a little tied in terms of what could or couldn't be portrayed in the comics. Will you be showing Midnighter and Apollo's relationship or, for that matter, any of the bed hopping one assumes is going on in The Authority? Will you be able to use the "mature title" label and show mature situations? What guidelines were you given in terms of what you can and can't portray?

MORRISON:
Yeah, I've already got the all-naked party issue planned, and as for the lap-dancing pole Apollo and the Midnighter have installed in their bedroom... What? You think I'm kidding? I'm the guy who had one of his characters [Nikolai Dante in 2000AD] sleep with a bearded lady, not to mention snog her equally hairy butler by mistake. Joking aside, I was surprised when Scott told me they were relaunching the series as a 'mature readers' title. I thought it always had been for mature readers.

Sorry to disappoint anyone out there who likes a bit of behind-the-scenes controversy with their Authority, but I haven't been given any guidelines about what I can and can't do, or been told to steer clear of any particular relationships, situations or storylines. Whether anything'll come up in the future, I don't know, but I certainly haven't been pulling my punches so far, and there's been no problems. As far as I'm concerned, my only guideline is the one I always work to, and that's to produce the best scripts I possibly can.

THE PULSE: How is working on this different from you 2000AD work?

MORRISON:
I think the biggest difference for me will be the greater space for storytelling the monthly format allows you. 2000AD serializes stories in six-page episodes, which are a real art to write, but which can sometimes be a little restrictive, forcing you to compress stories more than you'd like on the odd occasion. 22 pages a month will be a real luxury. Splash pages! Double-page splashes! The monthly format really allows you to tell epic stories on the scale they deserve, and I'm looking forward to pushing that to the limit.

THE PULSE: Who's going to be doing the art on this? When is the first issue scheduled to hit stands?

MORRISON:
Dwayne Turner. And from what I've seen so far, he's going to do a fantastic job. I'm really looking forward to working with him. I think, at the moment, the first issue is loosely scheduled for May 2003, which also happens to be the same month as my birthday. Nice timing.

THE PULSE: What inspired White Death? What made this a story you wanted to tell?

MORRISON:
White Death, an original graphic novel graphic novel that Charlie Adlard and I collaborated upon, is set during the Great War, where the Italian and Austro-Hungarian armies fought each other in the icy mountain ranges that separated their countries, and where the most feared weapon was the 'white death' - avalanches deliberately started by cannonfire to take out the enemy. Originally produced for the European market, it was recently released in the US by AiT/PlanetLar, and has been receiving some rave reviews.

It was inspired by a television documentary, which stated the fact that an estimated 60 – 100,000 troops on the Italian Front in World War 1 were killed in this way. Warfare is horrific enough, but the fact that the powers-that-be had effectively turned nature itself into a weapon seemed, to me, even more obscene. I just couldn’t shake this idea. The image of the avalanche became a metaphor for war, a terrifying, irresistible force that, once it escalates, remorselessly consumes and destroys everything in its path. ‘White Death’ is a slang term still used today to describe avalanches in French and Italian Alpine regions.

THE PULSE: What kind of research did you do into the "great war" before beginning this story?

MORRISON:
It grew from the initial idea into a fully-fledged story mainly through research. Basically, I read and watched everything I could get my hands on about the period, the location, to the conflict and its convoluted background, the horrific experiences of the combatants, and the camaraderie they shared. I even wrote the initial treatment of White Death, while I was in Italy, and took the majority of the character’s names from a First World War memorial in the town where I was staying. The saddest thing about the so-called Great War - or any armed conflict - is the abhorrent waste of life, and the corruption of youth and innocence. The contrast of the fragile humanity of the soldiers at the Front with the ruthless inhumanity of the politicians and generals who sent them there is truly harrowing.

THE PULSE: Why showcase this area of the war that wasn't talked about a lot?

MORRISON:
The fact that it hadn't received the same sort of coverage as other areas of World War 1 was in itself a good reason for doing the book. Apart from that, I knew it would make an extremely powerful story. The story remained on the back-burner until Charlie and I started talking about working together. Charlie had been playing around with an illustration technique – charcoal and chalk on gray paper – more used to fine art that comic-books. We felt that this moody, highly atmospheric style of rendering would be perfect for not only a story set during the First World War, but also the icy, mountainous battlefields of White Death.

THE PULSE: What was the most rewarding about this tale?

MORRISON:
The response, critical and commercial, for what was not exactly a 'mainstream' book has been overwhelmingly positive, and the compliments Charlie and have been paid by fellow professionals - some of the best writers and artists in the business - have been especially gratifying. The object was to produce a strong, powerful, mature story, which could have appeared in any medium – film, television, prose or comics, which are obviously just as valid a method of storytelling as the others. Also, while I was working on it, Charlie paid me one of the nicest compliments I’ve had as a writer. After I sent him the scenes in which Francesco Cadorna visits his wounded friend Alberto Diaz in hospital, Charlie called me up to say he had a tear in his eye after reading them because they were so moving.

THE PULSE: Why should people check out White Death?

MORRISON:
I'd like to think because it's a good story, and a powerful, passionate piece of work about events that shouldn't be forgotten. Of all the comic-book projects I’ve worked on so far, White Death possibly remains closest to my heart. The US edition, courtesy of AiT/PlanetLar, is an especially nice package.

THE PULSE: What inspired your creation of Nikolai Dante?

MORRISON:
Nikolai Dante, a series I created and write for 2000AD, follows the exploits of a swashbuckling thief and adventurer as he rises to disreputable prominence in 27th century Tsarist Russia. The idea was to emulate a historical adventure series like The Three Musketeers or Corto Maltese and old Hollywood swashbuckler movies - which I'm a big fan of - in a futuristic setting. It seems to be working so far, as the series has proved extremely popular with the UK audience. Dante won the Eagle Award for Best UK Comic Character earlier this year - the first time in decades that Judge Dredd hasn't picked up this award - and I'm lucky enough to have been nominated at the UK National Comics Awards as Best Writer for the last three or four years. Rebellion [the owners of 2000AD] are planning to release the entire series in collected editions starting in January.

I wanted to do something that wouldn't be bland or safe, the sort of thing that people describe as "okay" or "alright", which is much the same approach I'll be taking with The Authority. I wanted to create a character and a storyline that I'd always be excited and passionate about, and which was guaranteed to get a reaction from the readers - love it or hate it. The ultimate ending to the series is still the one I came up with when I was first creating it.

THE PULSE: What makes Dante tick?

MORRISON:
2000AD at the time - maybe comics in general - were full of characters like Judge Dredd, grim, gritty, driven, veterans with big guns, who blew everything and everybody away. I made Dante pretty much the opposite of whoever and whatever else was in the comic at the time. They were grim, battle-hardened veterans. Dante is a cocky, fast-talking young guy with an admirable lust for life. They were men in a man's world, with little or no female contact. Dante has an almost compulsive obsession with the fairer sex, he can't resist them, despite the fact that they inevitably get him into trouble. In fact, that's probably what he likes most. Despite all the flaws in his character, Dante still possesses the capacity to be outraged by the horrors and the injustices of the world, and this forces him to reluctantly exhibit the heroic streak that is buried deep within him.

THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?

MORRISON:
The Authority is definitely my priority at the moment. I've got a couple of other US projects in the pipeline, but they're still in fairly early stages of development, so I can't say too much about them at the moment. I've just finished the new Nikolai Dante series, drawn by the great John Burns, and set to start in 2000AD at Christmas, so I'll probably have to start plotting the next one soon. I recently completed a short Judge Dredd serial, but I'm not sure if it's scheduled yet. I've got a Spider-Man's Tangled Web story in the shops at the moment. Titled 'Call Of The Wild', it's a dark romantic comedy about life in the concrete jungle of New York City, featuring the Rhino and the Grizzly. I recently wrote a computer game called Maelstrom for Virgin Interactive, which should hopefully be out in the next few months. Next to The Authority, one of the things I'm most excited about is the series of graphic novels Jim Murray - concept designer on Maelstrom and artist on Batman/Demon/Judge Dredd - and I are currently developing, but more about them nearer the time.

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#297820 - 01/13/03 02:24 PM Re: TALKING WITH AUTHORITY: ROBBIE MORRISON
BLACKBRIAR Offline
Member

Registered: 06/30/01
Posts: 628
Loc: Vancouver BC Canada
I will not be supporting this nor any other future Authority project from DC. The company's behind the scenes meddling with the end of Millar and Quitely/Adam's run has destroyed any interest I once had in the property.

For anyone who is interested in the tiniest bit of DC censorship, please visit

http://continuitypages.com/authority27.htm

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#297821 - 01/13/03 02:44 PM Re: TALKING WITH AUTHORITY: ROBBIE MORRISON
gOzOOKs Offline
Member

Registered: 03/08/02
Posts: 720
Quote:
Originally posted by BLACKBRIAR:


For anyone who is interested in the tiniest bit of DC censorship, please visit

http://continuitypages.com/authority27.htm


Cool link Blackbriar. I'm glad Marvel gave the green light to ULTIMATE WAR. With the Brother-Hood destroying the Brooklyn Bridge Marvel could have went wobbly.
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#297822 - 01/13/03 03:30 PM Re: TALKING WITH AUTHORITY: ROBBIE MORRISON
linnen Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/28/01
Posts: 28
i hate to say this because i was so angry at DC for messing up the first run of The Authority that i actually sent a letter to paul levitz, but since the last issue of millar's run, i have lost all interest in this group.

i probably would care a little bit if the garth ennis story and the morrison one-shot hadn't totally drained the life out of the concept - talk about lame!

i can get the same thrill that the authority used to give me by reading The Ultimates, so that is where i will spend my money. i'm not boycotting DC or anything like that, but i wanted to let them know that the behind-the-scenes nonsense
with this title turned me from a real fan into a fan who couldn't care less.

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#297823 - 01/13/03 03:47 PM Re: TALKING WITH AUTHORITY: ROBBIE MORRISON
Dood Lee Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/15/02
Posts: 25
I don't know what everyone's problem is with the censoring of the Authority. Yeah, it should never have happened. But guess what, it had to. There is no way anyone would put out a book with the kind of stuff Millar wanted to put in, and still keep an all ages book. Had DC put out the book as it was, it most likely would have been a mature readers or even adults only book. And then, less people would have been able to get the book, since you would have to be at least 18 yrs of age. The book was excellent under Ellis' run, and it didn't resort to using rape and necrophillia as ways of telling a story.

Quote:
i can get the same thrill that the authority used to give me by reading The Ultimates, so that is where i will spend my money.


Ultimates is excellent, and this is the way Millar SHOULD have written his arcs back when he was on the Authority.

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#297824 - 01/13/03 04:12 PM Re: TALKING WITH AUTHORITY: ROBBIE MORRISON
Starfinger Offline
Member

Registered: 09/23/02
Posts: 787
Loc: Philadelphia
I agree the censorship sucks.

I still think DC bought out WILDSTORM to keep the books that closely mirrored their own characters (Wonder Woman/Promethia, JLA/The Authority) under their thumb.

Think about it, rather than a lengthy legal battle or all the negative PR, they BUY the company, talk up how much GREATER the WILDSTORM books will be under their wing, then proceed to be intrusive of the editorial concept. None of the WILDSTORM titles are meant for kids. But the outside perception of comics in general is that they ARE for kids.

So using their moral standing with their 'better known' characters, DC uses it as an excuse to censor the more adult-oriented titles.

However, they do censor their own Vertigo books. So why would doing the same to the WILDSTORM books be a big shock?

Sigh! mad

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#297825 - 01/13/03 05:40 PM Re: TALKING WITH AUTHORITY: ROBBIE MORRISON
canu Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 59
Loc: nyc
I find it hard to believe this conversation still exits. Paul Levitz did what he deemed necessary. Mark Millar has responded in kind (and continues with each issue of the Ultimates). Fans of Millar's Authority that feel violated boycott the new book. It seems pretty much over and done to me. People just disagree when it comes to business decisions and that's pretty much that.


You have to wonder how the new status quo will be changed once Marvel is sold to a more 'corporate' parent. Certainly any smart buyer would have to look at the companies recent success and not want to tinker. Then again we don't know the buyers agenda for purchasing Marvel.

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#297826 - 01/13/03 05:42 PM Re: TALKING WITH AUTHORITY: ROBBIE MORRISON
GMSLegion Offline
Member

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 284
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Bojemoi! I'm very, very pleased to see that all of Nikolai Dante will be collected in nice volumes. Anyone not familiar with this series is in for a real treat -- Dante is one of the high points of 2000 AD and always features both excellent art and a wildly imaginative and often hilarious tapestry for its stories.

--Grant
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#297827 - 01/13/03 06:46 PM Re: TALKING WITH AUTHORITY: ROBBIE MORRISON
Adrian Brown Offline
Member

Registered: 03/25/00
Posts: 240
Loc: London, England
And more importantly (although I wish Robbie the very best with Authority) "White Death" is an absolutely beautiful book, both story and art.

I bought the original Les Cartoonists Dangereuses (LCD) format, and thought that'd be hard to beat, but the AiT/PlanetLar really is like a restored directors cut of a favourite old film.
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#297828 - 01/13/03 09:24 PM Re: TALKING WITH AUTHORITY: ROBBIE MORRISON
monsterx Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/09/02
Posts: 17
Loc: Reisterstown, Maryland
Nikolai Dante is not my cup of tea & there are far better series in 2000ad, That said Im looking forward to the return of the Authority. Morrison can tell a pretty good story(he has done some Dredd? if I remember right) & Im sure he will do the same at DC.
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