Mar 22, 2023

Three-eyed Moore by Dan Panosian

Art by Dan Panosian
Above, a wondrous portrait of Alan Moore by well known American comic book artist, designer and storyboard artist DAN PANOSIAN. Posted today on Panosian's FB page with the description: "Alan Moore may be a wizard. Ask him."

For more info about the artist: Instagram - Twitter - Wikipedia

Mar 20, 2023

Optimism vs. pessimism, critics and healthy escapism

The Brazilian edition of Illuminations, published by Aleph in November 2002, includes an exclusive 15-question interview with Alan Moore by Ramon Vitral. You can order the book HERE
Below, you can read 3 questions/answers, in their original English form, with the permission of Vitral & the publisher. Mille grazie, Ramon! :)

Ramon Vitral is a journalist who writes mainly about comics; he is about to publish Vitralizado - HQs e o Mundo (“Vitralizado” is the name of Vitral’s blog and “HQs e o Mundo” can be translated as "Comics and the World"), a collection of interviews with comic book authors from Brazil and all over the world including international names such as Chris Ware, Joe Sacco, Emil Ferris, Rutu Modan, Charles Burns, Naoki Urasawa and many others. 
smoky note: Illuminations has been published in Brazil in November 2022, so Vitral’s introduction reflects the political situation of that time. But can we really say things are going better now? 
Anyway, happy reading!
Ramon Vitral: We are living in very strange times all over the world, but Brazil is going through an extraordinarily catastrophic period. We have a far-right president, a man who has repeatedly expressed (and acted on) his authoritarian and anti-democratic views. It seems to me that the situation in the UK is not as catastrophic, but you are still living in the aftermath of Brexit and Boris Johnson's period as prime minister. I say this to express how the publication of your new book and the opportunity to talk to you are a breath of fresh air amidst all this obscurantism.

Here are my questions:
The word “Illuminations” sounds extremely pertinent in this dark period we are experiencing. Is there any light that allows you to feel some optimism about the future of humanity?

Alan Moore: Optimism, whether justified or not, is the only functional position, and pessimism, no matter how well-founded, is almost always useless; a surrender to circumstances that makes those circumstances all but inevitable. On nearly every front – the continuing destruction of our environment; the obvious intent of the world’s billionaires to hoover up everyone else’s money; the intrusion of surveillance culture into every human life on the planet; the destabilisation of consensus reality beneath a landslide of ludicrous bullshit; the rise of something that isn’t even fascism; the mass desire to escape into fantasy, or Second Life, or the Metaverse, as if that was existentially possible – our species’ situation appears hopelessly terminal. My own optimism, such as it is, is born of my perception that human development may be following the alchemical formula of solve et coagula, where solve is the process of analysis, of taking something apart to its smallest component in order to fully understand the whole, and coagula is the process of synthesis, of putting the components back together into an improved form. It is my hope that the fragmentation that we see almost everywhere in society is the last, necessary stage of solve, of the dismantling of the old world, in order for coagula to begin with its building of the new. It may be a fragile hope, but it is the one source of illumination that I can discern in this otherwise pestilential moral blackout.

Ramon Vitral: Literature, science fiction, comics and other art forms are often spoken of as part of the “entertainment industry.” What is your opinion of this co-option of artists and their works by an industry?
Alan Moore: If art is not on some level entertaining then it will have great difficulty in conveying its message to all but a tiny audience. On the other hand, if it is only empty entertainment then it loses all its power and meaning as art, making the enterprise pointless save for commercial purposes. What I propose is art powerful enough to shake the city walls, and popular enough to engage with a multitude. I hope that my work is sufficiently entertaining for the reader to absorb its content, but I have never seen myself as an entertainer. Fortunately, my critics assure me that I need have no worries on that score.

Ramon Vitral: You have already classified superhero comics as “unhealthy escapism.” Why do you consider them “unhealthy escapism”? And what do you consider to be “healthy escapism”?
Alan Moore: I think that in the 1980s people were declaring that comics had grown up, when actually they’d just met the emotional age of the audience coming in the opposite direction. At their very outset, with Siegel and Schuster’s Superman, superheroes were much-needed Depression-era fantasies of working-class empowerment, by working-class creators in what was then a working-class medium intended for working-class readers. Now, comics are priced and packaged pretty much exclusively by and for middle-aged and middle-class hobbyists, and therefore serve as empowerment fantasies for the already-empowered. I think that their protracted existence into the present day is part of a panicked reaction against the world’s mounting complexity: people become scared and anxious, understandably, when faced with a world too complicated to be understood or controlled. When the narrative of modern life becomes too complex to be endured, perhaps many people feel the compulsion to retreat to a simpler narrative which, though it may be delusional nonsense, they can at least understand. The conspiracy-theory jamboree of the Trump years provides a perfect example. The QAnon concept of subterranean Democrat paedophile demons feasting on the adrenal glands of children poses a ridiculous, simplistic and non-existent comic-book threat, which can only be averted by an equally ridiculous, simplistic and non-existent comic-book hero, namely ‘The Donald’. Superheroes in their current incarnation, children’s stories that are seemingly the only narratives that today’s reluctant adults are prepared to engage with, have played a major role in the infantilization of western culture during this last decade, which I would argue has contributed greatly to the rise of populist fascism during the same period. Since-disowned works such as Marvelman and Watchmen weren’t intended as a revitalisation of this flagging genre so much as a satire and a criticism of it. The superhero today can only be an invulnerable compensatory figure for a nation afraid to sleep without a handgun on the night-table, or a proudly-brandished embodiment of American exceptionalism. I presume they will only finally die or fall out of favour when the psychological need for them dies, which, given the current state of culture and society, may be some time. 

Mar 18, 2023

Swamp Thing by Gabriele Dell'Otto

Art by Gabriele Dell'Otto
From the sold-out Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman book, above a phenomenal Swamp Thing illustration by acclaimed Italian comic book artist and illustrator GABRIELE DELL'OTTO.
For more info about the artist: Official site - Instagram

Mar 14, 2023

International Illuminations

Above, cover for Iluminações, the Brazilian edition of Illuminations, published by Editora Aleph in November 2022. Editor: Tiago Lyra; translator to Portuguese: Adriano Scandolara; cover artist: Pedro Inoue. More info at the publisher's site: HERE.

Below, cover for Iluminaciones, the Spanish edition of Illuminations, to be published by Nocturna Ediciones in April. Translator to Spanish: Juan Trejo.
More info at the publisher's site: HERE.

Mar 12, 2023

Sketch caricature by Steve Rampton

Art by Steve Rampton
Above, a sketch portrait by illustrator, caricaturist and graphic designer Steve Rampton.
For more info about the artist: Official site - Facebook - Instagram - ArtStation

Mar 10, 2023

Emperor Moore by Caitlin Mattisson

Art by Caitlin Mattisson
Above, an illustration by American artist Caitlin Mattisson for her interpretation of the Tarot card deck. "My version of the emperor is based on #alanmoore a personal hero", she writes.
For more info about the artist: Official site - Instagram - Big Cartel

Mar 9, 2023

Watchmen's legacy and paternity

Sometimes things resurface, especially if we are talking about the World Wide Web. 
So few days ago I discovered an interesting video interview dated 1997 that Moore did - in London, basically in front of the Tower Bridge - for The Anti-Gravity Room, a weekly Canadian television program of the mid-late 1990s. You can watch the video HERE (it also includes short interviews with Art Spiegelman, George Lucas, Frank Miller and the Hernandez Bros.!!!)
The Moore interview starts around minute 2:53 and ends at 6:20. Below, a transcription. Enjoy!
[...] did you and Dave Gibbons have any idea the impact that the Watchmen was going to have?
After three issues in, yes... not to start with... Originally we planned to do just a very clever, exciting superhero book with a few neat twists. Around about the third issue something strange started to happen in the mix, you know... We started to notice that there were interesting layers of storytelling going on between what was happening in the captions, what was happening in the pictures, the dialogues, the little strip about the pirates that was embedded in the overall strip... there was a peculiar kind of interaction going on that I'd never actually seen in comics before. When we realized we were doing it we decided that that was what the comic was about.

With all the hoopla and excitement, enthusiasm that went down with that when you look back is it something you're still proud of ? Does it still hold up for you?
Watchmen still holds up for me... I still think Watchmen was a great work. It's not without any flaw, no work is... The hoopla surrounded it has rather blunted some of its appeal for me I'm often reminded of something that David Bowie said when he described himself as the face that had launched a thousand pretensions, you know, and there's some truth about that regarding Watchmen... Watchmen did seem to open the doors for a lot of people who... that grasp the surface of Watchmen, they grasp it got a grittier violence, a more adult approach to sexuality... they probably couldn't grasp exactly how to do some of the clever semiotic stuff that we were doing but they got the sex, the violence, the pretension, the references to popular song lyrics, things like that which all made it very 80s and very modern... and I've seen a lot of retreats of that kind of comic sensibility sense that to me have seemed depressing, pretentious and yet I have to own up to a certain paternity there, you know... the child is ugly but it's probably mine, you know... and that has tended to blunt it a bit...

I wouldn't like to say that Watchmen had a good effect upon comics. I think it was a good comic book but I wouldn't like to say that it had necessarily a good effect upon comics. It might just be doomed us to 10 years of heavy-handed retention...
Looking back on Watchmen, is there anything you wish you'd done differently?
No, I think that I'm pretty happy with it as it was. I could have done differently, you know... it was perhaps... not all of it was the book that people wanted to read but all of it was the book that I wanted to
What I was trying to do in Watchmen was to use a lot of comic book icons in the plot, in the characters but to do something different with them... I think it was perfectly successful at what it did, you know... Yeah I'm happy with it... I'll stand by Watchmen. [...]
 You can watch the video HERE

Mar 7, 2023

Alan Moore by Nina Helene Hirten

Art by Nina Helene Hirten
Above, a great sketch portrait of our favourite Bearded One by American multi-media artist Nina Helene Hirten. More details here.
So I caved and got that BBC Maestro Alan Moore lecture because growing up I easily would’ve told you that my favourite graphic novels were written by him. The series was indeed fantastic and I love his philosophical approach to writing- however I couldn’t get over the fact that he is the most wizard-like entity alive on the planet today so of course I had to do a portrait in the style of my favourite 90s comics. - Nina Helene Hirten
For more info about the artist, visit her official site HERE.

Feb 27, 2023

Celebrating 2000AD 46th birthday

Art by Chris Weston
Few days ago, the extraordinary British artist CHRIS WESTON posted the above, fantastic illustration on his Facebook page. He added: "Happy 46th Birthday to the comic that changed my life and  paid a good chunk of my mortgage! Cheers, 2000 AD!" The first issue dated 26 February 1977.

You can recognize some familiar faces: Halo Jones and Waldo "D.R." Dobbs.

Feb 26, 2023

Alan Moore by Catriel Tallarico

Art by Catriel Tallarico
Above, a mesmerising pencil portrait (with a touch of digital) of Alan Moore by Argentinian artist Catriel Tallarico.
For more info and news about the artist: Blog - Instagram - Gallery  

Note: This is the 1000th post on this blog! Let me celebrate a bit! Grazie a tutti!

Feb 25, 2023

The story behind Top 10

Excerpts from an interview conducted by David Harper with Top 10's artists Gene Ha and Zander Cannon. You can read it HERE
[...] I sat down with both Ha and Cannon to discuss the story behind Top 10 from their perspective, and how the two worked with Moore to craft this remarkable series.

[...] “By the end of the first issue and a little after the beginning of the second, it became totally clear to us that Zander’s insanely good and fast at layouts, storytelling, reading the script, interpreting it, and figuring out nuances I wouldn’t see,” Ha shared. “And for consistency of style, anatomy, perspective, backgrounds, and stuff like that, I can do things that Zander can’t do.”

[...] “Zander was able to figure out the storytelling build of Alan Moore, and then figure out a Zander Cannon way of telling the story more efficiently sometimes.”
“The nice thing about (Top 10) was it wasn’t this spare, tense drama. It was just a fire hose of junk out on the page,” Cannon added. “If you had to course correct a little bit to fix a problem or whatever, it was no big deal.
“It was part of the vibe.”

[...] “His scripts are very detailed. He obviously has that vision in his head of the camera as a character moving in and out of conversations,” Cannon said. “And he was attempting something that was so complex. In this case it was…I wouldn’t say new to comics, but the idea was that we were specifically trying to emulate something that is done in film and doing it in comics.”

[...] “I’d say that two thirds of the background characters in the first issue were in Alan’s script, and by the end, one third were,” Ha said. “The trick is that he would sometimes just give a theme for characters in the story or in a scene, but then he wouldn’t list any examples.”

[...] If there’s one issue that Top 10 is famous for, it’s #8. [...] The incredible thing about this issue is it at least in part only happened because Alan Moore got sick shortly before pages were due to the artists. [...]

“What happened is, Alan had gotten the flu or something like it, and he was too sick to write the whole script or to figure out the plot of that issue,” Ha noted. “So, he wrote two pages to slow us down long enough so he could recover from the flu and then figure out what the story was.”

“(The second page) is just a one point perspective down shot of this entire city that took Gene an absolute age to draw. And that was on purpose because Alan had the flu and he was like, ‘I have to give Gene and Zander something to get them off my back,’” Cannon shared. “So, he wrote these two pages that were intentionally a huge pain in the ass to draw. That was why the story ended up focusing on (Peregrine).”

“I think the reason the story is so tight is that it starts and ends on her and her crisis of faith. That’s a great example of just playing the cards you’re dealt, being able to pivot, and then making a meaningful story out of it. Which I thought was remarkable.”

“He left himself little bits and pieces that he could play with later, but he didn’t know what he was going to do with it,” Ha added.

“And then, it turned out to be the greatest issue of Top 10 ever.”[...]