Legendary writer Grant Morrison is known for their creative imagination, but a scene from their Vertigo series The Invisibles may actually be based on a true story: the time Morrison claims to have manifested the spirit of John Lennon.
Perhaps Morrison’s most personal work, The Invisibles was a creator-owned series published by Vertigo, DC Comics’ imprint for mature readers. First launched in 1994, the series would run for 59 issues across three volumes, concluding just in time for the arrival of the new millennium. The series posits a world hidden beneath our own, where other-dimensional beings known as the Archons of the Outer Church have covertly enslaved the human race without anyone realizing. Standing against them are the Invisibles, a small band of anarcho-terrorists who fight back with magic and mysticism. Wanting the series to act as a “hypersigil” to move humanity in a more positive direction going into the twenty-first century, Morrison draws on inspirations as varied as Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson and Michael Moorcock. The series also serves as something of a chronicle of Morrison’s life during the ’90s, documenting experiences they had while traveling the world.
One such experience was adapted into a trippy scene almost verbatim in The Invisibles #1 by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell, as recently revealed via Grant Morrison’s Substack newsletter. The issue’s story – titled, appropriately enough, “Dead Beatle$” – finds Invisibles leader King Mob plotting to recruit disaffected youth Dane McGowan onto his team, but first he needs a little help. Seeking advice from a higher plane of existence, King Mob decides to take all the recent scarab/beetle signs he’s been receiving to heart and summons the ultimate Beatle for guidance: none other than John Lennon himself, represented as a psychedelic, multicolored godhead. It’s a wild, mind-bending scene, but perhaps the most mind-bending thing about it is Morrison’s claim that it was drawn from a real-life experience.
The event in question occurred on what would have been Lennon’s fifty-third birthday, October 9, 1993. In their newsletter post, Morrison explains the reasoning for embarking upon the ritual: “I wanted to make a dedication at the beginning of what was a whole new life for me in many ways. I wanted to summon a spirit of pure psychedelic inspiration into a Lennon-shaped environment.” Morrison further explains the magic ritual, which involved wearing a Paisley shirt and Chelsea boots and surrounding themselves with Lennon ephemera such as Beatles albums and a white Rickenbacker. After taking a microdose of LSD and enacting a three-part summoning ritual, Morrison found themselves face-to-face with a manifestation that expressed itself as a “4-foot tall head that fit inside my temple space but felt much bigger, made of thousands of intricate multi-coloured and chiming shards of what resembled musical notation as rotated through a higher direction.”
Morrison emphasized that this was not a communication from beyond the grave. “People sometimes misunderstand when I talk about what happened that night — I was not possessed by the ‘spirit’ of Lennon. This was not a mediumistic example of ‘channelling’ the alleged dead. This was magic. Intention Willed into Form.”
The scene in the comic certainly fits with Morrison’s vivid descriptions. As depicted by Steve Yeowell and colorist Daniel Vozzo, King Mob’s encounter with Lennon is bathed in the “intense flashing colours, digital high fidelity (and) shimmering musical glissades and drones” that Morrison details. “It felt most like the imagined Lennon of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper,” the writer further elaborates. “A psychedelic god on acid.”
The experience proved to be transformational for the writer, who would later experience creative and commercial heights like Morrison’s landmark run on JLA before the end of the decade. Perhaps thanks to John Lennon, The Invisibles would go on to be one of Grant Morrison’s most personal works, documenting the writer’s shamanistic life as they lived it, with the appropriate amount of exaggeration, half-truths and outright lies along the way.
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Source: Grant Morrison’s Substack