Issue #1, Page 2: Title Page, First Appearance of Greg Feely

The Filth
© 2002 Grant Morrison and Chris Weston. All Rights Reserved.
THE FILTH (2002)
by Grant Morrison, Chris Weston & Gary Erskine
Issue #1, Page 2: First Appearance of Greg Feely
Graphite, ink and stat on board
Signed by Grant Morrison & Chris Weston
11" x 17"

Grant Morrison wrote the best selling graphic novel of all time (Arkham Asylum), helped establish the Vertigo imprint for DC with Animal Man, Doom Patrol and The Invisibles, wrote the ultimate Superman tale, then killed Batman. The Filth is his favorite of his own works...

The Filth started life as a Nick Fury pitch at Marvel, and it doesn't take much more than the first or second page to see why that idea never saw print. Central character Greg Feely is a schlub. His principle interests are his cat and masturbation until he is awakened from his deep-cover identity and revealed to be Ned Slade, secret agent. His real purpose is to maintain control of civilians and other agents of chaos. "The Filth" is a dual-purpose title referencing British slang for the police and common language for pornography, perhaps making a dark jest about which is more harmful when unmonitored. The supporting cast included transsexuals, pornographers, prosthetically-enhanced dolphins, and a cigar-chomping, dirty-talking Chimpanzee.

A 13 issue limited series published by Vertigo in 2002 and 2003 (and collected in 2004), The Filth was the first comic since Watchmen to utilize the comic book sequential format to tell a story that couldn't logically be told any other way. As a matter of fact, certain elements of the story would be illegal to present any other way. It was the first of Grant Morrison's American comics to stylistically reminisce his work for 2000 AD. The shadowy world in which Slade's organization, The Hand, operates is an overstimulated society directly cognizant of Mega-City One, and the uniforms worn by Slade and his fellow agents would blend perfectly with attire from any Judge Dredd prog. Like The Invisibles, the comic relied heavily on postmodern narrative techniques, often breaking the fourth wall between reader and narrator, and exploiting occult themes via intentionally charged symbols and color glyphs. Grant has gone on record as saying that his immersion in the research blurred the line between reality and the fiction to the extent that occurences within the comic book influenced events in his real life as much as the opposite. The National Comic Awards declared Grant Morrison The Best Writer in Comics Right Now. The central message would appear to be that redemption can be found in total surrender to the forces of negativity. Considering the potentially offensive subject matter and esoteric plot –far too intricate to explain here, it is perhaps surprising that this would be one of the least censored of his works up to that point.

Chris Weston's expressive pencils (often inked by Gary Erskine, a fine draughtsman in his own right) have enhanced the work of Mark Millar, Garth Ennis, James Robinson, Warren Ellis, Michael J. Staczynski and a host of other talented comic book scribes. Above, he has set the tone for the entire series to follow in only two panels. The inset, surveillance-camera perspective is composed of several drawings, combined digitally and printed as a stat, attached to the full-sized, graphite-and-ink page for production. Those hand-drawn elements are attached to the back of the illustration board on separate piece of paper –granting insight to the comic book printing process of which few are aware, and even fewer get to see.


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