Grant Mor­ri­son brings his mad yule­tide comic Happy! to tele­vi­sion

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Comic writer and fifth di­men­sional imag­in­aut Grant Mor­ri­son on his new TV se­ries.

Ah, Christ­mas. A time of good cheer. Of peace on earth and good­will to­ward men. Or a time of sex and vi­o­lence, when an al­co­holic-cop-turned-hit­man can find an imag­i­nary friend in the form of a tiny winged horse. A horse named Happy… Leg­endary comic book scribe Grant Mor­ri­son’s Happy!, il­lus­trated by Dar­ick Robert­son, de­buted as a four-is­sue comic book se­ries in 2012. But the writer has ex­panded his vi­sion sig­nif­i­cantly for the tale’s TV adap­ta­tion, de­but­ing this hol­i­day sea­son from Syfy.

“The orig­i­nal comic,” Mor­ri­son tells Red Alert, “was quite tight and con­tained and our hero dies at the end. We did it that way be­cause Dar­ick could only draw four is­sues. But I loved those char­ac­ters so much. I love Nick and Happy and Meredith McCarthy. So the op­por­tu­nity to build that world out and build that mythol­ogy out… Happy! is kind of un­usual in what I do. If you’re fa­mil­iar with my stuff, you know it’s mostly psy­che­delic sci­ence fic­tion. Happy! was my at­tempt to do a crime comic. So we’ve taken that world and made it a lit­tle bit more like my other stuff. Hon­estly, I think the tele­vi­sion ver­sion is much more like what it would have been if I was given free rein to do 20 is­sues. The TV ver­sion is much more of me than the comic is.”


In de­vel­op­ing the se­ries (pro­duced by Orig­i­nal Film and de­vel­oped with Crank film­maker Brian Tay­lor, who also di­rects the pi­lot), Mor­ri­son tells Red Alert that the show’s writ­ers “ex­panded the world and gave the char­ac­ters a chance to breathe”.

“We in­tro­duced a bunch of new, out­ra­geous, Dick­en­sian grotesques. I think we’ve got some­thing of a huge mythol­ogy now. That’s been the re­sult of all these amaz­ing peo­ple com­ing to it and adding ideas. Brian Tay­lor and I co-wrote the pi­lot and we’re co-writ­ing the fi­nal episode. And in be­tween we have a bunch of bril­liant writ­ers ex­pand­ing the nar­ra­tive. These guys are as­ton­ish­ing. I spent six weeks in the writ­ers room in LA. We were all swap­ping ideas, we were all cre­at­ing the world. So for me, who usu­ally sits in a room writ­ing comic books, it was a very ex­cit­ing process.”

For those un­fa­mil­iar with the twisted world of the comic, Mor­ri­son de­scribes it as “It’s A Won­der­ful Life meets Pulp Fic­tion”.

“It has that el­e­ment of a crime story,” he ex­plains, “but at the same time it’s an up­lift­ing Christ­mas story. We’ve re­tained that part from the comic book, but we play a lot of dif­fer­ent notes. The end­ing might be dif­fer­ent. I’m not go­ing to say too much, but I think it’s very much a hol­i­day story. If you’ve read the book, you’ll have the ba­sics, but you won’t know what we’re go­ing to do in the twists and turns that we have planned. It is com­plete as one sea­son,

We added a bunch of new, out­ra­geous, Dick­en­sian grotesques

but with threads that we can ex­pand. And a wider uni­verse that we can ex­plore later.”

Happy! stars Law & Or­der: SVU’s Chris Meloni as its an­ti­hero Nick Sax and the voice of Pat­ton Oswalt as his tit­u­lar fly­ing friend. Of the show’s cast, Mor­ri­son re­marks, “Hon­estly, ev­ery­one is great. Even the guys who play the mob­ster kids who die in the first is­sue. Pa­trick Fis­chler [as dap­per mob en­forcer/tor­turer Smoothie] is amaz­ing. But I have to say that Chris Meloni, that guy is the eye of the hur­ri­cane. He’s the most charis­matic hu­man be­ing I’ve ever met. What he brings to the whole thing is an ab­so­lute com­mit­ment. He im­pro­vises scenes, he in­vents dia­logue com­pletely in char­ac­ter. So we kind of just stood back and let Chris do his thing. He holds it all to­gether. But around him we have a cast in which ev­ery­one put in their best.”

Mor­ri­son as­sures us that should Happy! prove suc­cess­ful, he has lots more story to tell.

“We’re way up to sea­son four. We have a big mythol­ogy and we have a lot of stuff worked out. So we hope peo­ple love it and we hope we can keep go­ing… I shouldn’t say I hope peo­ple will love it – I know peo­ple will love it!”

And the comic bard tells us we may not have long to wait for his next screen project. “I’m work­ing on a bunch of tele­vi­sion stuff.

Si­na­toro, the book I’m do­ing with Black Mask Stu­dios, is al­ready in de­vel­op­ment at Ama­zon. So yeah, I think we’ll see a lot more in the fu­ture. I’m re­ally en­joy­ing this world.”

Happy! airs on Syfy in the US on 6 De­cem­ber.

Go­ing to great lengths to be rid of blood­shot eyes. For uni­corn pest con­trol, lock them in the base­ment.

His ail­ment was se­ri­ous: chronic ivy growth.

We don’t trust that silly grin and pink horn.

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