Grant Morrison brings his mad yuletide comic Happy! to television
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.”
fULL Of ChEER
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.
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