Alan Moore Knows the Score

March 7, 2009 at 11:35 pm (Uncategorized)

OK, maybe I will go and see Watchmen.  Like many people, including Moore, I was skeptical. After all, Hollywood’s track record with Moore’s work hasn’t been spectacular: From Hell was transformed from a gripping Victorian mystery about Jack the Ripper and occult Freemason conspiracies into a dull Ripper thriller with Johnny Depp (A truly talented actor, but even he couldn’t do anything with that script). Of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I will not speak.  But the reviews for Watchmen have been so good, it’s hard to resist.

Still, you have to respect Moore’s decision to have nothing to do with it. When asked he answered:

I shan’t be going to see it. My book is a comic book. Not a movie, not a novel. A comic book. It’s been made in a certain way, and designed to be read a certain way: in an armchair, nice and cozy next to a fire, with a steaming cup of coffee.

Moore is a writer, and his work is best appreciated that way. So in no particular order, ten eleven  Moore favourites:

Tom Strong  – An alternative superhero world of science heroes. The book nods in the direction of pulp heroes like Doc Savage and Tarzan, but with an infectious humour that’s hard to ignore.

Big Numbers – A story about math, chaos theory and the lives of ordinary people. A black and white collaboration with Bill Sienkiewicz. Only two issues of this were published. 

From Hell – Mentioned above. A collaboration with Eddie Campbell. Freemasons, the Royal Family, Occult Conspiracies. I’m surprised the London Psychogeographical Association weren’t involved.

Shadowplay: The Secret Team  – Moore’s comic book history of the CIA’s dirty tricks. With Bill Sienkiewicz. Published with the Christic Institute.

Swamp Thing – Moore’s American Gothic series had underwater vampires, serial killers, menstruation as lyncanthropy, and …John Constantine. As mainstream comics go, this wasn’t. But it was incredible Moore’s tenure also contained my favourite line from Abbie Cable (nee Arcane): All my life I’ve lived in the suburbs of fear; now, here I am in the big city.

V for Vendetta  –  A product of Moore’s disappointment with the British political system. Moore once described himself as an anarchist, which he qualified as a disillusioned socialist. V for Vendetta certainly contains themes which might have emerged if Thatcher’s (counter) revolution had deepened. Alternatively chilling, maddening, humorous and ultimately inspiring. 

Top Ten  –  The previous storyline on the TV show Heroes took up the idea, what if everyone had powers? Top Ten explores that (before Heroes did I might add), and also asks what would the police do? Two collected volumes.

Watchmen – Almost didn’t put this because the hype is unbearable. Still, I re-read the thing, and twenty years later, it’s still incredible. Gritty and unpleasant, it’s also a terrifying vision of the world.

Batman: The Killing Joke  – Cause Batman and the Joker are two sides of the same coin right? A retelling of the Joker’s origin (later used in Tim Burton’s film). The Joker is clearly insane. And Batman…? It’s also the end of Batgirl. Mike Bollard from Judge Dredd does the art.

Albion – Moore’s homage to the golden age of British comics. I’m not sure how well it was received here, but to read and remember Tim Kelly, the Spider, the Steel Claw, Zip Nolan and all the others was a marvellous experience. Co-written by his daughter Leah.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Just don’t mention the film. The idea is brilliant. Imagine all the great literary characters of the past existed together as a team. Very clever.

So, now go and read them.

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