Grant Morrison's first published works were Gideon Stargrave strips for Near Myths in 1978 (when he was about 17), one of the first British alternative comics. His work appeared in four of the five issues of Near Myths and he was suitably encouraged to find more comic work. This included a weekly comic strip, Captain Clyde, an unemployed superhero based in Glasgow, for The Govan Press, a local newspaper, plus various issues of DC Thomson's Starblazer, a science fiction version of that company's Commando title.
Morrison spent much of the early 1980s touring and recording with his band The Mixers, occasionally writing Starblazer for D. C. Thomson and contributing to various UK indie titles. In 1982 he submitted a proposal involving the Justice League of America and Jack Kirby's New Gods entitled Second Coming to DC Comics, but it was not commissioned. After writing The Liberators for Dez Skinn's Warrior in 1985, he started work for Marvel UK the following year. There he wrote a number of comic strips for Doctor Who Magazine, his final one a collaboration with a then-teenage Bryan Hitch, as well as a run on the Zoids strip in Spider-Man and Zoids. 1986 also saw publication of Morrison's first of several two- or three-page Future Shocks for 2000AD.
Morrison's first continuing serial began in 2000 AD in 1987, when he and Steve Yeowell created Zenith.
Morrison's work on Zenith brought him to the attention of DC Comics, who asked him to work for them. They accepted his proposals for Animal Man, a little-known character from DC's past whose most notable recent appearance was a cameo in the Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series, and for a 48-page Batman one-shot that would eventually become Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.
Animal Man put Morrison in line with the so-called "British Invasion" of American comics, along with such writers as Neil Gaiman, Peter Milligan, Jamie Delano and Alan Moore, who had launched the "invasion" with his work on Swamp Thing.
After impressing with Animal Man, Morrison was asked to take over Doom Patrol, starting his surreal take on the superhero genre with issue No. 19 in 1989. Morrison's Doom Patrol introduced concepts such as dadaism and the writings of Jorge Luis Borges into his first several issues. DC published Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth in 1989 as a 128-page graphic novel painted by Dave McKean. Comics historian Les Daniels observed in 1995 that "Arkham Asylum was an unprecedented success, selling 182,166 copies in hardcover and another 85,047 in paperback."
While working for DC Comics in America, Morrison kept contributing to British indie titles, writing St. Swithin's Day for Trident Comics. St. Swithin's Day's anti-Margaret Thatcher themes proved controversial, provoking a small tabloid press reaction and a complaint from Conservative MP Teddy Taylor.
The controversy continued with the publication of The New Adventures of Hitler in Scottish music and lifestyle magazine Cut in 1989, due to its use of Adolf Hitler as its lead character. The strip was unfinished when Cut folded, and was later reprinted and completed in Fleetway's 2000 AD spin-off title Crisis.
Morrison returned to Batman with the "Gothic" story arc in issues 6–10 of the Batman title Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. The early 1990s saw Morrison revamping Kid Eternity for DC with artist Duncan Fegredo, and Dan Dare, with artist Rian Hughes. Morrison coloured Dare's bright future with Thatcherism in Fleetway's Revolver.
In 1991 Morrison wrote Bible John-A Forensic Meditation for Fleetway's Crisis, and based on an analysis of possible motivations for the crimes of the serial killer Bible John. Covering similar themes to Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell, the work utilised cut-up techniques, a Ouija board and collage rather than conventional panels to tell the story.
In 1993 Morrison, fellow Glaswegian comic writer Mark Millar and John Smith were asked to reinvigorate 2000 AD for an eight-week run called "The Summer Offensive". Morrison wrote Judge Dredd and Really and Truly, and co-wrote the controversial Big Dave with Millar.
DC Comics launched its Vertigo imprint in 1993, publishing several of Morrison's creator-owned projects, such as the steampunk mini-series Sebastian O and the graphic novel The Mystery Play. 1995 saw the release of Kill Your Boyfriend, with artist Philip Bond, originally published as a Vertigo Voices one-shot. In 1996 Morrison wrote Flex Mentallo, a Doom Patrol spin-off with art by Frank Quitely, and returned briefly to DC Universe superheroics with the short-lived Aztek, co-written with Mark Millar.
In 1996, Morrison was given the Justice League of America to revamp as JLA, a comic book that gathered the "Big Seven" superheroes of the DC universe into one team. This run was hugely popular and returned the title back to best-selling status. Morrison wrote several issues of The Flash with Mark Millar, as well as DC's crossover event of 1998, the four-issue mini-series DC One Million, in addition to plotting many of the multiple crossovers.
With the three volumes of the creator-owned The Invisibles, Morrison started his largest and possibly most important work. The Invisibles combined political, pop- and sub-cultural references. Tapping into pre-millennial tension, the work was influenced by the writings of Robert Anton Wilson, Aleister Crowley and William Burroughs, and Morrison's practice of chaos magic. In 1998 Morrison published the prose piece, "I'm A Policeman" in Sarah Champion's millennial short story collection Disco 2000; though no explicit connection to The Invisibles is made, there are strong thematic links between the two works. At DisinfoCon in 1999, Morrison said that much of the content in The Invisibles was information given to him by aliens that abducted him in Kathmandu, who told him to spread this information to the world via a comic book. He later clarified that the experience he labelled as the "Alien Abduction Experience in Kathmandu" had nothing to do with aliens or abduction, but that there was an experience that he had in Kathmandu that The Invisibles is an attempt to explain. The title was not a huge commercial hit to start with. (Morrison actually asked his readers to participate in a "wankathon" while concentrating on a magical symbol, or sigil, in an effort to boost sales). When the title was relaunched with volume two, the characters relocated to America. Volume three appeared with issue numbers counting down, signalling an intention to conclude the series with the turn of the new millennium in 2000. Due to the title shipping late, its final issue did not ship until April 2000.
The 1999 film The Matrix has numerous elements which have been attributed by critics to the influence of Morrison's The Invisibles. Morrison himself was immediately struck by the similarities to his work upon first seeing the film.
In 2000, Morrison's graphic novel JLA: Earth 2 was released with art by Frank Quitely. It was Morrison's last mainstream work for DC for a while, as he moved to Marvel Comics. While at Marvel, Morrison wrote the six-part Marvel Boy series, and Fantastic Four: 1234, his take on another major superhero team. In July 2001, he began writing the main X-Men title, renamed New X-Men for his run, with Quitely providing much of the art. Again, Morrison's revamping of a major superhero team proved to be a commercial success, with the title jumping to the No. 1 sales and established Morrison as the kind of creator whose name on a title would guarantee sales. His penultimate arc "Planet X" depicted the villain Magneto infiltrating and defeating the X-Men in the guise of new character Xorn and developing an addiction to the power-enhancing drug "Kick".
In 2002, Morrison launched his next creator-owned project at Vertigo: The Filth, drawn by Chris Weston and Gary Erskine, a 13-part mini-series. In 2004, Vertigo published three Morrison mini-series. Seaguy, We3, and Vimanarama. Morrison returned to the JLA with the first story in a new anthology series, JLA Classified. In 2005 Morrison wrote Seven Soldiers, which featured the Manhattan Guardian, Mister Miracle, Klarion the Witch Boy, Bulleteer, Frankenstein, Zatanna and Shining Knight. The series consists of seven interlinked four-issue mini-series with two "bookend" volumes – 30 issues in all.
Dan DiDio, the editorial vice president of DC Comics, was impressed with Morrison's ideas for revitalising many of DC's redundant characters. Giving him the unofficial title of "revamp guy", DiDio asked him to assist in sorting out the DC Universe in the wake of the Infinite Crisis. Morrison was one of the writers on 52, a year-long weekly comic book series that started in May 2006 and concluded in May 2007.
Starting in November 2005, DC published All-Star Superman, a twelve-issue story arc by Morrison and Frank Quitely. Not so much a revamp or reboot of Superman, the series presents an out-of-continuity "iconic" Superman for new readers. All-Star Superman won the Eisner Award for Best New Series in 2006, the Best Continuing Series Eisner Award in 2007 and several Eagle Awards in the UK. It won three Harvey Awards in 2008 and the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series in 2009. In the same year, Morrison and Quitely worked on pop star Robbie Williams' album Intensive Care, providing intricate Tarot card designs for the packaging and cover of the CD.
In 2006 Morrison was voted as the No. 2 favourite comic book writer of all time by Comic Book Resources. That same year, Morrison began writing Batman for DC with issue No. 655, reintroducing the character of Damian Wayne and signalling the beginning of a seven-year-long run on the character across multiple titles. He wrote the relaunch of The Authority and Wildcats, with the art of Gene Ha and Jim Lee respectively, for DC's Wildstorm imprint. WildC.A.T.S. went on hiatus after one issue, The Authority was discontinued after two. The scheduling of The Authority conflicted with 52 and Morrison was unhappy with the reviews: "And then I saw the reviews on issue one and I just thought 'fuck this'.". It eventually concluded without Morrison's involvement in Keith Giffen's The Authority: The Lost Year.
At the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con, DC Comics announced that Morrison would write Final Crisis, a seven-issue mini-series slated to appear in 2008 with J. G. Jones handling the art. Morrison announced that 2008 would see publication of the follow-up to 2004's Seaguy called Seaguy 2: The Slaves of Mickey Eye, the second part of a planned three part series.
At the 2008 New York Comic Con, Morrison announced he would be working with Virgin Comics to produce "webisodes" (short animated stories) based on the Mahābhārata; it would not be a direct translation but, "Like the Beatles took Indian music and tried to make psychedelic sounds... I'm trying to convert Indian storytelling to a western style for people raised on movies, comics, and video games." In August 2009, Morrison and Frank Quitely launched the Batman and Robin series.
Batman No. 700 (Aug. 2010), saw the return of Morrison to the title and a collaboration with an art team that consisted of Tony Daniel, Frank Quitely, Andy Kubert, and David Finch. The separate stories tied together to illustrate that the legacy of Batman is unending, and will survive into the future. At San Diego Comic-Con International 2010 it was announced that Grant Morrison would be leaving Batman and Robin with No. 16 and launching a new series entitled Batman Incorporated with revolving artists starting with Yanick Paquette. A more team-oriented Batman book inspired by the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series, Batman Incorporated builds on Morrison's work dating back to "Batman and Son" and Final Crisis, with Bruce Wayne creating an international Batman franchise all over the world. The series suffered from slow scheduling and was ended after eight issues while the DC Universe was rebooted in 2011; to bridge the gap a prestige book was released that featured two issues together along with a synopsis that recapped the story so far. In mid-2012, a second volume of the comic was launched with Chris Burnham on artwork, scheduled for 12 issues. Morrison left the Batman titles in 2013. He killed the Damian Wayne character in Batman Incorporated No. 8 (April 2013) and his final issue was No. 13 (Sept. 2013).
Morrison returned to creator-owned work in 2010 with the eight issue Vertigo series Joe the Barbarian, launched in January with artist Sean Murphy. Originally a six issue series, Morrison felt that the story would benefit from an extra two issues. The titular Joe is a diabetic young boy who begins to hallucinate a fantasy world populated with his toys and other fantasy characters when he stops taking his medication.
Following the closure of Virgin Comics, Dynamite Entertainment and Liquid Comics announced a partnership to publish a hardcover of illustrated scripts of Grant Morrison's Mahābhārata-based, animated project 18 Days with illustrations by artist Mukesh Singh, that was released in August 2010.
He is the subject of a feature-length documentary titled Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods. The documentary features extensive interviews with Morrison as well as a number of comic artists, editors and professionals he has worked closely with. Talking with Gods was produced by Sequart Organization and was released in 2010 at the San Diego Comic Con.
Morrison was featured in My Chemical Romance's music videos "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)" and "Sing" from their 2010 album Danger Days: True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys as the concept's villain Korse.
In June 2011, as part of DC Comics' massive revamp of their entire superhero line, Morrison was announced as the writer on the new Action Comics No. 1, teaming with artist Rags Morales, marking Morrison's return to the Superman character after the end of All Star Superman.
In July 2011, Morrison's analysis of superheroes, Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero, was published by Random House Spiegel & Grau in the United States and Jonathan Cape in the UK.
Morrison was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to film and literature.
In September 2012, MorrisonCon was held at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (Las Vegas). This small-scale convention, curated by Morrison, featured a number of comics industry guests, including Robert Kirkman, Darick Robertson, Jason Aaron, Jim Lee, Gerard Way, Jonathan Hickman, Frank Quitely, J. H. Williams III, and Chris Burnham.
Morrison's The Multiversity project for DC was published in 2014 and 2015. A metaseries of nine one-shots set in some of the 52 worlds in the DC Multiverse, it included the main Multiversity title which involves the return of President Calvin Ellis, the black Superman from Earth 23 originally seen in Action Comics vol. 2 No. 9, which was the framing for the whole series. Other issues include The Society of Super-Heroes a pulp version of the DC characters; The Just – set on a world of celebrity youngsters; Pax Americana, drawn by Frank Quitely, Thunder World – a Captain Marvel book; the Multiversity Guidebook; Mastermen – which includes a fascist version of the Justice League. and Ultra Comics.
Morrison wrote the screenplays Sleepless Knights for DreamWorks and WE3 for New Line Cinema. He wrote the adaptation of the video game Area 51 home console game for Paramount in development with CFP Productions producing. Morrison has written a screenplay for a film, Sinatoro. In 2011 he worked on the screenplay Dinosaurs vs Aliens for Sam Worthington's production company, Full Clip Production, and said he planned to work with them again on a screenplay based on the 2000 AD story Rogue Trooper.
He has pitched a science-fiction television series, Bonnyroad, to the BBC with director Paul McGuigan and Stephen Fry.
Morrison provided outline story and script work for two video games (Predator: Concrete Jungle and Battlestar Galactica) both by Vivendi Universal.
He has written two plays staged by Oxygen House at the Edinburgh Fringe. Red King Rising (1989) was about the (partly fictional) relationship between Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell. Depravity (1990) was about famed occultist Aleister Crowley. The plays won between them a Fringe First Award, the Independent Theatre Award for 1989 and the Evening Standard Award for New Drama. Both plays were included in his collection of prose, Lovely Biscuits released in 1999.
Grant Morrison first appeared as a comics character in cameos in Animal Man Nos. 11 and 14. He made a full appearance at the end of issue No. 25 in 1990, and spent most of issue No. 26 in a lengthy conversation with the comic's title character. The character appeared the next year in Suicide Squad No. 58, written by John Ostrander, as one of several minor characters killed in one of the series' trademark suicide missions.
In Morrison's 2005–2006 Seven Soldiers miniseries and its tie-ins, a group of seven "reality engineers" look like him. An eighth goes rogue, transforming into the silver-age character Zor, looking like Morrison in a magician's costume but with dark hair and a beard. This character is defeated and Morrison himself, wearing a DC Comics-logo tie clip, then becomes the narrator for the final chapter.
He appeared in an issue of Simpsons Comics, fighting with Mark Millar over the title of "Writer of X-Men".
The miniseries Tales of the Unexpected features writers Morrison, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid as themselves.
Morrison lives and works in Scotland and Los Angeles.