GM: So what's Helensburgh like then?
BY: It's a borderline town. It's right on the highland boundary faultline. It's a planned town based on a city or urban model.
GM: It's not quite the seaside and it's not quite-
BY: It's not quite the country and it's not quite the city but it's definitely the seaside, I would say.
GM: But it's still no - it's just the firth (estuary) really, so it's not even quite like-
GM: It's a different kind of sea though, a different atmosphere.
BY: Yeah, that's true. I suppose. It's not like Ayr, the big seaside town of the Glasgow area or anything.
GM: Yeah - you communicate with the neighbours using a flare! (laughs)
BY: Aye! With Greenock! (the town directly opposite over the water) Aye. It's an interesting place. What I was wanting to get back on to was the X-Men as your most political work and not The Filth.
BY: Most people expect The Filth to be your weird story, the strange story, y'know, 'the one with grant's real feelings in'. X-Men?: some people would see that as paying the rent-
GM: As if! (laughs). If only people knew (laughs) People have got very weird ideas about what we get paid, it's terrible. They just have no idea.
BY: Yeah. I know. But - you know what I mean.
GM: I know what you mean (laughs) but I couldn't help bringing it into the conversation.
BY: So I shouldn't go into the comics industry then?
GM: It's better than being on the dole, (laughs) I can tell you.
BY: I've just got a passion for it.
GM: I did well out of Arkham Asylum.
GM: That's the only time I've ever seen 'real' money in comic books. You have to do millions of them to earn any money.
BY: You often hear Alan Moore is totally in debt and he's only writing comics again to get out of that debt-
GM: He was. I think he's probably done okay with the movie deals he's done. The ABC line was a response to that severe debt.
BY: While we're here, some Alan Moore stuff that's been coming out lately has been absolute pish hasn't it? It's gotta be said, just appalling - ah well maybe I shouldn't put you on record saying that but-
GM: No, I'll say which ones I like and which ones I don't - or it'll provoke such weird speculation! (laughs)
BY: Things like Jack B Quick an all that, it's just shite - no editor, there's no editorial control on those titles-
GM: I like Miracleman, V for Vendetta was good...
BY: Aye. Captain Britain was good as well.
GM: Those were really influential, you see everyone still doing it. The last time I was talking to Mark I said, 'You've gotta stop having fights in the rain...'
GM: This, and heroes coming out of bunkers!
GM: These are all just eighties tropes, it weird, this is when he grew up.
BY: I think you can see that Mark Millar is influenced heavily by Moore-
GM: Ahh yes; that was his favourite. He grew up on that - he really loved that stuff.
BY: Sorry, I should get back to X-Men as being your political voice? Is it your political manifesto?
GM: Pretty much, like you say, The Filth is about a lot of real life stuff, all about things in my head, certainly, but its very structured and it's pretty tight so it's controlled in a way that X-Men isn't. X-Men is being done to really intense insane deadlines and we've also amped up the frequency of it, we want to make it like Eastenders and just having it come out faster and get into that rhythm cos it's the last thing I've been playing with - the frequency of publication. You get a different rhythm out it. So it's a lot more: 'To Be Continued!' It's always, 'To Be Continued!' You turn the page and you never get satisfied, it's the endless handjob that never leads to orgasm-
BY: That was Invisibles Volume 2!
GM: (laughs): I'm a Master of the Art! So it's going to be like that and then just a series of big ole dominoes start falling, shocks we've been leading up to. Because of that, because of the speed at which it's being done, its more open to mad ideas, anything's coming out, everything just goes in there. So it's not as structured - I'm not thinking: 'This story is about bacteria so what does that appear as? And this outer world...', I'm just thinking, ' What the fuck is Scott Summers doing next in his pants? What's Wolverine going to do next? So the story actually becomes much more alive and it's more likely to take unusual turns because there's more desperation so it's kinda exciting. Because it's the biggest audience I can get. Because it's still the X-Men, they're still there. 100,000 people still there.
BY: Even if there are, like, 75 years old?
GM: (laughs) - Some of them remember the Boer War! (laughs)
BY: I'm one of the younger readers at thirty!
GM: So they're great. They're still buying it, toddling down in their bath chairs to Forbidden Planet and picking up the comic! Ear Trumpets!
BY: Actually should it matter what age the audience is?
GM: Nah, of course it shouldn't matter - it's just that everyone likes to take the piss out the old! (laughs) and then suddenly they get there and everyone's taking the piss out them and it's like, 'Cumon now, Look at my achievements!' (laughs)
GM: What were we saying? X-Men ...political...
BY: X-Men as your overtly political work?
GM: Yeah, because that's the great thing about the X-Men . The X-Men is not about the costume. With Spiderman, if you take away the costume there's nothing there. You'd have the adventures of Peter Parker, which would be quite interesting, but with the X-Men, you can take away the costume, change the costume and you've still got the X-Men because it's driven by the concept. By the story. And the concept is just so simple - these are our children. They are here. They are different. How do we cope? What do we do to them? Y'know, it's constantly played out. It's played out as prejudice against so-called minority groups, it's played out in current prejudice. To me, the most outrageous hidden prejudice is adults versus children, which I think is pernicious just now. Quite literally, the fear of children, so the X-Men is talking about that kinda stuff and it has to be political, it's about things that to me, occur: the whole debate about superhumans and the possibility of superhuman is turning up in the New Scientist, in the Daily Bloody Express, let alone New Scientist, and Francis Fukuyama's latest book, Our Postman Future - This is the man who said History was about to die-
BY: He's an asshole is he not?
GM: Yeah...but he probably pats his dog! (laughs)
BY: That's all right then.
GM: So people are talking about this stuff that once was the province of geeks and weirdos and comic fans so it seems to me more urgent and more pertinent to do X-Men in the style I'm doing it in. The model for it is HG Wells. Same as I was at the end of the eighties and the start of the nineties; doing these overtly political things like Red King Rising and the Hitler Strip or that kinda Crisis stuff - it just I've got a different political theory. The next bunch of projects I'm doing have got fuck all about anything. They're just stories about things - quite different from anything I've done before - but right now I'm just getting all this shit off my chest and it's a great way to put out ideas that might influence people; even 75 year olds - (laughs) - who might change there route to the newsagent!
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