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Emmys 2017
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So one comic-book legend said to the other...

To celebrate the publication of ”Supergods,” Grant Morrison’s new book about our pop culture obsession with superheroes, he talks with Neil Gaiman about why caped crusaders seem to have taken over the world

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Neil Gaiman First off, congratulations! You’ve got a book out.
Grant Morrison Oh, thank you. It’s great after 30 years of actually taking it seriously to finally write it down.
Gaiman I’m in this wonderfully blank position on this one, because I haven’t actually seen the book. So instead of doing that thing where I say, ”I really liked that thing, and can you expand upon it?” we’re now in the position as we would be over dinner, when I say, ”So you’ve got a book out! What’s it about?”
Morrison It’s about us. It’s about all the things we went through as kids, with comic books and superheroes. Why have they taken over the world, and why are they so ubiquitous on the buses and on the tube trains and such? I devised a theory.
Gaiman I think the great thing about superheroes is they posit that one person can make a difference, and that’s the ultimate moral glory of any story. It’s like the action of saying, ”Yes, I can make a difference. I can be smart. I can get out there and do the right thing.”
Morrison And understanding that it’s us. We are the ones that tear off the shirt to reveal the glowing letter underneath. I don’t know about you, but when I read those stories, I thought I was that character. I was Peter Parker, I was Clark Kent, and so I was also Superman. I think the message of all those stories was yes, one person can make a difference, and by the way, that person is you.
Gaiman I always felt you were [The Invisibles‘] King Mob.
Morrison When I created that character, I became him. The Invisibles was a big project for me, when I just surrendered my life to the comic. I had seen what you were doing with Sandman. I was just copying the fact that you looked like Morpheus.
Gaiman I get that more and more these days, with people saying how much I look like Morpheus. I didn’t have this hair when I started writing him. The hair explosion just sort of turned up. And these cheekbones. I used to have this nice round face before. It’s just really weird how I’ve become him.
Morrison And you’ve become this master of stories. Neil Gaiman is always described like that. You’ve become that character.
Gaiman What have you learned? You’ve been writing superheroes so much longer than I have. I’ve only ever flirted with superheroes. You’ve been writing superheroes now for almost 30 years. So how has it changed you, living with brightly colored people with glorious problems in your head?
Morrison It’s actually changed me utterly and made me part fictional, like so many of us are. Because we really get to live lives that are very exciting, doing what we do. To be given money to be able to do that was outrageous. The idea, as a working-class kid, to be given money for the same stuff that I did at night for fun. That allowed me not only to be a normal person, but to be an author.
Gaiman When people ask me, ”What else would you have been?” I say, ”You don’t understand. You don’t want me putting up your shelves. You don’t want me driving your taxi, because you probably won’t get there in one piece.”
Morrison We probably take this stuff more seriously than most. And only by taking it seriously was I able to write a book like this. Which takes it very seriously indeed, in ways it probably hasn’t been before. It’s magical to me, the way it has all dogged our lives with its primary colors.