Comics Writer Grant Morrison Starts His Own Convention

Grant Morrison Headshot - P 2012
<p>Grant Morrison Headshot - P 2012</p>
The writer of "Action Comics" and "All-Star Superman" talks to THR about Las Vegas' MorrisonCon, his quest to reshape the convention experience.

Grant Morrison wants to change your life.

The superstar comic book writer, who is currently penning Action Comics and is re-launching Batman Incorporated for DC, is at the center of MorrisonCon, a would-be comic convention that Morrison, who is curating it and acting as its creative core, hopes will alter the convention experience.

“It’s not going to be 'Come here and buy some comics and listen to a few panels,' ” Morrison tells Heat Vision. “After two days you will be a changed person.”

Put on by Ignition Sequence (a new events company run by Ron Richards of comics website iFanboy and James Sime and Kirsten Baldock, owners of San Francisco comics store Isotope), MorrsonCon will run September 28-30 at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. The guest list includes comics artists Jim Lee (Justice League), Frank Quitely (All-Star Superman), J.H. Williams III (Batwoman) and Chris Burnham (Batman Inc.), plus writer Jonathan Hickman (Fantastic Four) and Gerard Way, the front man of My Chemical Romance and creator of Dark Horse Entertainment's cult comic The Umbrella Academy.

It may be the first time a convention has been built around a comics writer, although Morrison is no average writer. The author is known for his mind-bending work that has both redefined well-known characters (New X-Men, Justice League, All-Star Superman) or offers surreal and philosophical storylines (Doom Patrol), not to mention his time-altering and pop-infused Batman books. He's also got interesting beliefs on aliens, astral projection and the powers of drugs. 

“Calling it a convention downplays what it’s going to be,” he says. Though the program is still being put together, Morrison and the organizers have grand plans for the vibe they want: an intimate music festival. He wants an event that has a rock n’ roll atmosphere, a blend of music-comics-alternative culture, set in a place where you can hang out and chill with like-minded people, and where artists will be drawing sketches over breakfast.

He says there will be panels but also DJ nights and a big performance with Way, which will include music, spoken word and multi-media.

“It’s about being with people you’re interested in, exchanging ideas, watching some amazing performances that will be unrepeated in space and time,” he says. 

The goal is to create a better comics convention in an age when the gatherings have become media events rather than genuine fan experiences.

“For a true fan, it gets harder and harder to see the people you want to see; you’re lucky if you can get into a panel, let alone talk to a creator for two seconds,” says Richards. “We want to bring back the closeness and intimate atmosphere. It’s not a celebration of Grant but a celebration of comics and its culture. It’s less of a convention and more like a conference or TED talk.”

The event will be limited to just 1000 people, with 300 tickets sold on the first day they were available last week. Attendees so far will be coming from as far away as Australia and South America.

The experience won’t come cheap, though. A single ticket costs $767, although it does include a two-night stay at the Hard Rock, one-on-one access to the guests, a pass for all the panels and signings plus the after-hours parties at the hotel’s nightclub. Attendees will get a limited edition of Morrison’s upcoming comic from Image Comics and Burnham’s “hangover breakfast & sketch jam.” (A two-person package is $1199.93)

There’s been some griping online about the high cost, but Morrison promises a special experience. Unlike other conventions, the panels and performances will not be recorded and guests will be discouraged from taking out their smartphones, etc.

“I want it to be unique,” he says. “So that if you come to this, you get to see something that no one will ever see.”

Email: Borys.Kit@thr.com

Twitter: @Borys_Kit