written by Grant Morrison
illustrated by Cameron Stewart
The story of Seaguy, written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Cameron Stewart, introduces a brilliant new hero (Seaguy, naturally) who yearns for love and adventure. His partner-in-arms is a flying cigar-smoking Tuna, aptly named Chubby Da Choona. Their quirky, surrealistic world is part fairy tale and part paranoid nightmare. The story and art mesh perfectly in creating a subversive childlike wonderland. The concept and approach are innovative and new, making this story of high adventure exciting and instantly memorable. Seaguy wears his heart on his sleeve, and his colorful, vibrant, and hyperintelligent surrealistic story will likely touch yours.
Grant Morrison has been one of the most creative and inventive writers working in the field of graphic storytelling for the past 20 years. I dare to suggest that Seaguy might be both his and Cameron Stewart’s finest work. (This original work was published by Vertigo a few years ago; Morrison and Stewart are currently releasing a new Seaguy miniseries sequel.)
Imagine a world where social reality is “perfect”—there is no poverty, conflict, social unrest, or disorder, only harmony and contentment. Freedom and choice are defined in relation to entertainment, play, and consumption. Everyday life is peaceful and everyone is special. There is no struggle, no strife. The superhero types no longer exist simply because there is no longer any need for them. Sure, they’re still around, but all they do now is go to the amusement parks like everyone else. Television is a central part of life. It functions to simultaneously enthrall, numb, and divert attention vis-à-vis cartoon worlds and mindless repetition. What appears on the nightly “news” is strictly limited because information is carefully managed. The boundaries of the expressible are very tightly drawn. People live in “comfort zones” surrounded by theme parks, but they are invariably lonely, alienated, and self-absorbed, thinking and acting as they are expected to.
The story opens with Seaguy playing a game of chess with Death on the boardwalk. Shortly thereafter, Seaguy happens to see a beautiful bearded woman, She-Beard, with whom he instantly falls in love. Overcome with feelings of longing and realizing that his existence has been devoid of both love and real meaning, Seaguy sets out to find adventure in the hopes of somehow setting himself apart from the pack, hoping this will make She-Beard see him, take notice of him. Important discoveries quickly ensue. Somehow everything is being subtly and covertly controlled behind the scenes, much like in the classic TV show The Prisoner. XOO, the type of food offered by the grocery stores, while quite cheap to produce, hence extremely profitable, is actually a form of sentient life. And Mickey Eye, the seemingly friendly face of prosperity and social order, is also panoptic—everywhere, all the time, much like Big Brother.
Seaguy is charming, sweet, funny, and romantic. It is also original, new, fresh, and instantly cool. Cameron Stewart’s artwork is outstanding. Vibrant, crisp, and beautiful, the art perfectly suits the story, which may be read on multiple levels: as a straight-up superhero story or as subversive social and political commentary. Morrison has described Seaguy as a surreal and whimsical story “about the ‘big brothering’ of society, omnipresent surveillance and global disinformation. It’s about the dumbing down of culture, the creation of capitalist ‘comfort zones’ in the midst of social decay, about a world tranquilized and satisfied and quite unaware of the dark glue that holds it all together.” Like Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Seaguy is a captivating, subversive social satire. Among the themes addressed here are surveillance, pacification, social engineering, power, social control, and cultural decay. These thematic elements are wedded into an emotionally resonant story of love and adventure on the high seas, which features, among other things, an octopus shepherd and a mummy on the moon. So if you expect wildly inventive and creative from Grant Morrison, you’ll not be disappointed by Seaguy. Stewart’s mastery of craft is evidenced in every panel he draws; his character designs and layouts are brilliant. Peter Doherty’s colors throughout are exemplary, as is Todd Klein’s deft lettering.
Seaguy is an exciting and radically different take on superheroes. You owe it to yourself to experience this lovely and thought-provoking masterpiece, which has been something of a sleeper hit since its initial publication.