The below commentary is an updated version of a November 27, 2013 post on my neglected tumblr.
This link is to an epic response from Grant Morrison to Alan Moore, but I’m mostly interested in the part regarding Michael Moorcock.
I don’t dabble much in creator drama (and I find the Moore vs. Everyone drama especially droll), so I didn’t actually know Moorcock had such disdain for Morrison. It shocks me, because if it wasn’t for Morrison I likely never would have picked up a book featuring Moorcock’s charcter Jerry Cornelius. Since Morrison led me to discovering Cornelius I’ve read every single Moorcock story (as far as I know) that features the character. The devouring of those stories led me to Dancers at the End of Time which in turn resulted in digging deeper into Moorcock’s work including Elric, Corum, and more (even works like Fireclown and Gloriana). Likewise, I came to Jorge Luis Borges due to that author’s influence on Morrison’s Doom Patrol.
Reading Moorcock’s 2004 thread, where he continues to hold a grudge 25 years after 17-year-old Morrison first used Gideon Stargrave, it sounds like Morrison had spent the last two decades trying to hide the tribute he was paying to the author in his work. I don’t personally think that was the case as Morrison wasn’t shy in mid-90s interviews or the letters section of The Invisibles to mention how he was inspired by both Moorcock and J.G. Ballard in his youth (the latter he’s cited as being the larger influence on both Gideon Stargrave and King Mob). Moorcock seems to be fixated on the character of Gideon Stargrave while missing the more relevant influence of Cornelius on aspects of the character of King Mob.
Reading works by creators like Morrison is enhanced by figuring out how different pieces of the larger puzzle were informed. In many ways, it’s like dismantling the samples in a Beastie Boys album and visiting the source material. Kurtis Blow has often joked about how he could have sued the Beastie Boys for clipping his song “Party Time” in “Hey Ladies,” but instead accepts the sample with pride, because it’s led new listeners to his work.
I’m a fan of Moorcock because Morrison shared his exuberance for the character of Jerry Cornelius with Gideon Stargrave. Instead of being petty and spiteful Moorcock should instead be thanking creators like Morrison for keeping his legacy alive instead of collecting dust in the poorly organized sci-fi section of a used bookstore.
Side note: For an excellent analysis of whether or not Gideon Stargrave is ripped off from Ballard or Moorcock check out Phillip Sandifer’s in-depth look at Near Myths.