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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

37 Comments

  1. Darren K.
    June 20, 2013 @ 1:00 am

    An interesting start but a bit frustrating. As Morrison's early work is unavailable commerically and generally unread, it would have perhaps been advantageous to post more or larger images, particularly as Morrison was drawing the strips as well.

    I hope you will be illustrating The Last War in Albion appropriately. One frustration I have with actual comics analysis and criticism is the lack of illustration, particularly in print. Since this is intended to be a blog and use the format of the blog, there is a great deal of room for the use of images and I hope you will find some new ways to approach writing about comic's use of word and image.

    (At times I feel the only was to really write about comics is in the medium of comics.)

    Reply

  2. Anton B
    June 20, 2013 @ 1:59 am

    I'm surprised you didn't point out the immense (bordering on plagiaristic) debt that all of the Morrison work you featured owes to Michael Moorcock. Gideon Stargrave (at this point) is nothing more than a cheap knock-off of Jerry Cornelius. Both are time travelling assassins with 'cool' attitudes, mod wardrobes, incestuous relationships with their sisters, obsessed with brand naming and futuristic hardware. etc. etc. Moorcock's narratives and characters also cross over into alternate time-lines and genres both past and future just as Morrison's do and even the titles echo those of Moorcock's own work. eg. Morrison's 'Entropy Concerto' to Moorcock's 'The Entropy Tango'. In fact the stylistic lifts are so blatant that it suggests that Morrison naively expected Moorcock to be flattered and pleased. There had been a tradition in the sixties and seventies for authors such as Brian Aldiss and M. John Harrison to, with Moorcock's blessing, use and expand on the Cornelius mythos. In fact this use of his concepts without acknowledgement annoyed Moorcock (who later, incidently,) became friends with Alan Moore.

    Reply

  3. Darren K.
    June 20, 2013 @ 3:15 am

    All good points, but what sort of slack should you cut a seventeen year old in love with new ideas that are BLOWING HIS MIND. That's sort of what being a seventeen year old artist (in any media) is about. Very few arrive fully formed and original (and "originality" is a whole other argument – perhaps "personal, individual take" might be a better phrase).

    How can you hold someone's juvenalia against them? How far do they have to move away from it before you can sweep it under the rug? And with Morrison, how much has he really moved away from it?

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  4. Scott
    June 20, 2013 @ 4:18 am

    Yeah, while plagiarism is certainly nothing to dismiss, getting grumpy or sniffy or outraged about an artist's magpie tendencies when they're only seventeen years old and just starting out is perhaps holding them to too strict a standard. Otherwise, we'd have to decry the young John Lennon and Paul McCartney for pretty blatantly basing their first attempts at songwriting on what Buddy Holly and Elvis were doing. Since this eventually led to "Hey Jude" and "Across the Universe", I can't bring myself to come down too harshly on their earlier lack of originality.

    Developing as an artist is all about taking things from the artists who inspire you and finding your own style based on them. I think it's fairly safe to say that Morrison has accomplished this.

    "In fact the stylistic lifts are so blatant that it suggests that Morrison naively expected Moorcock to be flattered and pleased."

    Again, though… seventeen. A certain degree of naivety can surely be forgiven here.

    Reply

  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 20, 2013 @ 5:01 am

    The phrase "I'm surprised you didn't point out" is probably inevitable with this project, but equally, is a tricky one. Its nature is to circle back to points, and some aspects of topics are consciously left for later.

    Which is to say that if you're hoping to hear an extended discussion of Michael Moorcock, you'll be frustrated for about two weeks, and then very happy.

    Reply

  6. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 20, 2013 @ 5:07 am

    It will be heavily illustrated, but equally, respectfully so. Which is to say that I want a defense of fair use to be both legally and morally sound, and not to reprint excessive portions of the comics. I could probably provide a bit more, and will go and add another picture or two later this morning, as there is a point I probably should have illustrated and didn't (the unclear transition in "The Vatican Conspiracy"), but past that I don't think I could justify more without tipping into "illegally reprinting the comic" instead of "illustrating my point."

    Reply

  7. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 20, 2013 @ 5:10 am

    I should also note that all the images can be clicked on for larger versions.

    Reply

  8. elvwood
    June 20, 2013 @ 5:16 am

    Except now you've revealed that, it'll be a case of happy anticipation for about two weeks…

    Reply

  9. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 20, 2013 @ 5:48 am

    Extra images added, btw – would love to hear whether it helps.

    Reply

  10. Theonlyspiral
    June 20, 2013 @ 5:49 am

    I was just thinking "Man I hope Moorcock gets some love…" and then here you go doing that. It's like you're in my mind…

    Reply

  11. Spoilers Below
    June 20, 2013 @ 6:04 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  12. Spoilers Below
    June 20, 2013 @ 6:10 am

    Again, though… seventeen. A certain degree of naivety can surely be forgiven here.

    And had he stopped at seventeen it would be a lot more forgivable. Still being a jerk about it at an age when he really ought to know better…

    That he can't make up his mind whether he's ripping off JG Ballard of Moorcock is similarly frustrating.

    Reply

  13. IG
    June 20, 2013 @ 6:17 am

    Good to hear the Moorcock connection will be discussed.

    The grinning manager's opening line is pretty clearly 'Seen the trouble we had at Greenwich', btw!

    Reply

  14. Anton B
    June 20, 2013 @ 6:21 am

    Thanks Phil, your answer was the response I hoped for. to everyone else I hope I wasn't being too 'grumpy or sniffy or outraged' I take all the points about Morrison's age at the time he produced this work and can indeed believe his enthusiastic response to having his mind blown by Moorcock's writing inspired him to emulate him (I did the same thing myself at the same age). I was genuinely enquiring as to whether there was to be any reference to this in Doctor Sandifer's blog entries as he is specifically angling them as a record of a 'Magical War' and this aspect of Morrison's career has certainly impacted on both Moore and Moorcock's critical responses to him and his work.

    for the record I'd probably ally myself more with 'Team Grant' than 'Team Alan'. I happen to think 'The Invisibles' 'The Filth' and 'Sea Guy' to be some of the finest comic book series ever produced.

    Reply

  15. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 20, 2013 @ 6:28 am

    Yes – that fits. Updated. Thanks – could not figure out "trouble" from the bottoms of the letters.

    Reply

  16. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 20, 2013 @ 6:33 am

    Yes – on the one hand I go five blog posts and about 12,000 words on these four strips. On the other, I drift around a ton of topics and context. Moorcock is one of five major topics introduced in the next four posts, all of which are still broadly about the Near Myths material.

    Incidentally, Morrison's statements aside, the matter of whether Stargrave is inspired by Moorcock or Ballard is quite easy, and I settle it in… I think the next post.

    Reply

  17. George Potter
    June 20, 2013 @ 6:37 am

    Really enjoying this so far. It's especially fascinating to me because although I've been a Moore fan since Saga Of The Swamp Thing #20, I've really only recently gotten into Morrison's work (via We3 which I hold to be the most emotionally powerful comic I've ever read).

    Reply

  18. BerserkRL
    June 20, 2013 @ 8:02 am

    Moorcock (who later, incidently,) became friends with Alan Moore.

    Speaking whichly, for anyone who hasn't, check out Moore's amazing Melniboné/Marylebone introduction to the first volume of Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné (readable via the "look inside" feature on Amazon).

    Reply

  19. BerserkRL
    June 20, 2013 @ 8:04 am

    Oops. Proper Amazon link here.

    Reply

  20. Eric Gimlin
    June 20, 2013 @ 8:09 am

    I've always been slightly baffled that the Stargrave story, at least, hasn't been reprinted given its connection to the Invisibles. I was lucky enough to trip across issues 2-5 back in the 90's; other than issue 1 the entries at the GCD are my fault.

    I'm in the crowd looking forward to your comments on Moorcock; I at least briefly considered suggesting the Eternal Champion as my sponsored essay from the Kickstarter. Also looking forward to your thoughts on Luther Arkwright, for that matter.

    Reply

  21. Darren K.
    June 20, 2013 @ 8:35 am

    Any more art is a plus! I recognise that you might, at times, wander into the "illegal reprinting" zone, and no one wants that (well, no one sensible). But full pages, at times, are almost certainly going to be necessary. It is the basic compositional unit/space of comics. In the case of Gideon Stargrave, it would have been nice to see these mishandled transitions. I don't know if they are necessary to prove your point – and you point is still clearly in the opening stages – but it would be good to see how Morrison is failing to handle things at this stage, where is early weaknesses lie. Fig 10 helps in this regard, but without the panels before it, it is still somewhat shorn of context. This could, perhaps be a minor quibble, or perhaps not – I look forward to seeing where we go from here!

    Reply

  22. Darren K.
    June 20, 2013 @ 8:39 am

    Anton – I didn't see your point as grumpy, I thought you brought up a good one. It just sort of pulled out my thoughts on 17 year old Grant Morrison. He was just a kid. So many of the "British Invasion" creators appeared fully formed because their juvenilia was hidden away in small print UK comics that it is hard to remember that they were all kids once.

    Except Alan Moore. He was 56 when he was born, and always has been.

    Reply

  23. David Anderson
    June 20, 2013 @ 9:47 am

    Thank you for that: both Moore's introduction and Moorcock's.

    Reply

  24. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 20, 2013 @ 9:51 am

    I would guess that despite being proud of his early start, Morrison is not particularly pleased with the material, which he does tend to refer to as "incoherent."

    Reply

  25. Pen Name Pending
    June 20, 2013 @ 10:50 am

    As a total outsider to comics, I first thought everyone was talking about Michael Moore instead of Moorcock.

    Moorcock wrote that Eleventh Doctor novel, didn't he?

    Reply

  26. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 20, 2013 @ 11:18 am

    He did, which I shall have to cover, although it's terribly strange and frankly would fit far better in a Michael Moorcock blog than TARDIS Eruditorum.

    Reply

  27. Theonlyspiral
    June 20, 2013 @ 11:57 am

    I like to say that it's about "The Doctor" more as an idea or force rather than the 11th incarnation that we know and watch on television. Just like his version of Amy is more of "The Companion" than the Amy Pond we see on the BBC.

    Reply

  28. Anton B
    June 20, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

    'I like to say that it's about "The Doctor" more as an idea or force rather than the 11th incarnation that we know and watch on television'

    Possibly, My reaction to Moorcock's DW novel was rather like my reaction to David Lynch's 'Dune' movie that I talked about on another comment thread here recently. The combination of my favourite author and my favourite TV show should have produced my dream novel. Instead it was a just a bit of a mess. (not as bad as the Eoin Colfer 'first Doctor' debacle though).

    'Except Alan Moore. He was 56 when he was born, and always has been.'

    That made me literally laugh out loud.

    Reply

  29. Anton B
    June 20, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

    Oh and @BerserkRL

    Fantastic appreciation of Elric and Cornelius by Moore in that intro. Thanks for the link.

    Reply

  30. BerserkRL
    June 20, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

    On Terraphiles, this.

    Reply

  31. Scott
    June 21, 2013 @ 5:48 am

    "to everyone else I hope I wasn't being too 'grumpy or sniffy or outraged'"

    I didn't mean to imply you were, Anton, honestly; I was just speaking generally in response to the point Darren raised there.

    Reply

  32. Anton B
    June 22, 2013 @ 12:54 am

    No offence taken Scott. I actually thought I may have been to vehement in my attack reading it back. Blimey I think TE might have the politest comments threads on the webz.

    Reply

  33. Daru
    February 13, 2015 @ 1:06 am

    Extra images did help out 🙂

    Reply

  34. Daru
    February 13, 2015 @ 1:13 am

    "Morrison’s early comics work consists of four short stories in an Edinburgh-based anthology that only lasted five issues before folding, a four year run of a newspaper strip in local Scottish papers, and five issues in DC Thomson’s Starblazer"

    Wow. I know I'm posting on long-dead threads, but have to comment (during my binge catch up on The War) as you blasted me with a big wave of early teen nostalgia Phil.

    Since I read them as a kid I have never thought of Starblazer again (I didn't keep them) – but I googled it and wow, there were the covers of the books I bought as kid! Weird and lovely feeling nit possible without this blog.

    Thanks Phil.

    Reply

  35. Daru
    February 13, 2015 @ 1:14 am

    Damn – meant to say "not possible".

    Reply

  36. Daru
    February 13, 2015 @ 1:19 am

    Oh and wonderful to hear about Near Myths again – I think I still have the issue featured i the cover pic above in a box in my parent's attic.

    Reply

  37. Simon Fraser
    September 21, 2015 @ 9:03 am

    If I may awake this slumbering thread. I recently found my copies of Near Myths (signed by Morrison ) and a copy of The Fauves ( Morrison’s band ) ‘Tortured Soul’ on 7″ vinyl.
    I think there might be someone out there who appreciates these things more than I do, so I’d accept a reasonable offer.
    simon@simonfraser.net

    Reply

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