Grant Morrison: Psychedelic Superhero

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He tried the same trick with John Lennon: "I put all the Beatles albums in a circle, a magic circle, wore my clothes from the band, tight trousers, Beatle boots, had a Rickenbacker guitar, and I had 'Tomorrow Never Knows' on a loop and I just played it, and I took this tiny lick of acid, just to give an edge. Basically, I got this image, this thing, like a huge Lennon head made out of music. It gave me a song – it's a pretty convincing John Lennon song."

Around the turn of the century, Morrison had his fill of madness. He cooled it on the drugs ("9/11 happened, and you can't be a globetrotting psychedelic anything anymore") and married Kristan Anderson, a corporate insurance broker who dressed like Barbarella. They split their time between the town house, Morrison's Nineties home base, and a house in the countryside.

He also took on more mainstream work, writing DC's Justice League, Marvel's New X-Men and an upcoming major relaunch of Superman. "When I wrote Superman, it was like contemplating Buddha," he says. "I really felt elevated. Everything seemed more beautiful, more precious. Batman's different. I try not to go into Batman that much because he's nutty, and I don't really want to feel like Bruce Wayne."

After all this time, he remains enchanted by the essential optimism of the super-hero narrative. "How do we fight against the idea that we are doomed?" he says. "We are fighting against it with the super-human story, which is that there is a future, something beyond this, if we can just get better. You may look at superheroes and just see trash, toilet paper. I'm looking at them and seeing William Blake angels."

Morrison continues to practice magic, most recently trying to heal his sick cat. He's had some success with supernatural veterinary work in the past. "I don't think you can get evidence of this stuff – it's like trying to prove that water boils on the sun, you can't do it. But I'm still trying to not sound like some insane person."

Whether or not Morrison's most outlandish tales are true, there's no doubt he believes them. And occasionally he'll surprise you with something like proof.

At a Los Angeles book signing for Supergods with Way in late July, Morrison whips out a guitar and plays the song given to him by the floating Lennon head. "Keep taking the pills/Keep reading the books/Keep looking for signs that somebody loves you," he sings in a rough tenor. The audience laughs at first, then falls silent. He gets to the bridge – "One and one and one makes two/If you really want it to" – and the melody suddenly sounds like it could be on the White Album, or at least pass for Oasis.

Way, for one, is convinced. When Morrison performed the song in front of his two-year-old daughter, she started to dance – something she'd never done when her dad played guitar. "I was like, 'Well, clearly this is a John Lennon song,'" Way says. "Clearly!" Or maybe not. As Morrison observes in Supergods: "Things don't have to be real to be true. Or vice versa."

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This story is from the September 1, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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