Sep 27, 2021

Sparks of Illuminations

New details about Illuminations, Moore's short story collection (around 500 pages!) which now has been rescheduled for October 2022 release (previously it was September):
In his first-ever short story collection, which spans forty years of work and features many never-before-published pieces, Alan Moore presents a series of wildly different and equally unforgettable characters who discover--and in some cases even make and unmake--the various unchartered parts of existence.

In A Hypothetical Lizard, two concubines in a brothel for sorcerers fall in love with tragic ramifications. In Not Even Legend, a paranormal study group is infiltrated by one of the otherworldly beings they seek to investigate. In Illuminations, a nostalgic older man decides to visit a seaside resort from his youth and finds the past all too close at hand. And in the monumental novella What We Can Know About Thunderman
, which charts the surreal and Kafkaesque history of the comics industry over the last seventy-five years through several sometimes-naive and sometimes-maniacal people rising and falling on its career ladders, Moore reveals the dark, beating heart of the superhero business. [source]
Also Waterstones is offering a signed edition: HERE.

Sep 25, 2021

Terry Gilliam and that Watchmen movie

I recently rediscovered a video where the Great TERRY GILLIAM talked about his attempt to adapt Watchmen to the silver screen. The interview is dated 1989 and Gilliam said: "We're doing Watchmen and I haven't started storyboarding yet. And what's interesting is there's the comic book, which is a storyboard in itself and has an awful lot of information in it. But I know the minute I start drawing [the storyboard], things will happen. You start a dialogue with the drawing." Clip around 8:35. Watch the whole video here.
 
In 2003, Gilliam honoured us with his introduction to the sold-out Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman book to celebrate Moore's 50th birthday.
Considering that the book is out of print and it will never be reprinted, below you can read the complete text piece.
 
For more info about Gilliam (if you need it): Official site - Facebook - Wikipedia
INTRODUCTION
God I am so tired of people asking me what is happening with the film version of Watchmen, “When are you going to do it?” “Have you got the money?” “Who’s going to play Rorschach?” “We’ve read that you’ve written a new script.”
No. I don’t have the money, No, I haven’t written a new script. No, I’m not going to do the film. Ever. Now go away and leave me alone!!!

This nightmare began back in 1988 or 89 when Joel Silver, the producer of Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, The Matrix, suggested that we make a film of the Watchmen.  “The what?” I said.  He thrust a fat hardback comic book in my hand and said read. I read. I loved.
But, how to make a film of a masterpiece?  Always a problem. So far, no one has made a good version of War and Peace, and to me Watchmen is the W and P of comics…sorry, graphic novels.
I sat down with Charles McKeown, my writing partner on Baron Munchausen and Brazil, to squeeze out a script. Time passed. Frustration increased. How do you condense this monster book into a 2 - 2 1/2 hour film? What goes? What stays? Therein lies the problem.  
I talked to Alan Moore. He didn’t know how to do it. He seemed relieved that I had taken on the responsibility of fucking up his work rather than leaving it to him. I suggested perhaps a 5 part mini series would be better. I still believe that.  
With every bit of narrative tightening, we were losing character detail…and without their neuroses and complex relationships the characters were becoming more like normal run-of-the-mill-quirky-super-heroes. There wasn’t time to tell all their stories. The Comedian was reduced to someone who dies at the beginning. That’s all, just a convenient corpse to kick off the action. None of this was satisfying to me. I wasn’t happy with our results.
By now, actors were fluttering around Watchmen like crazed moths beating at a dirty street lamp.  Robin Williams was keen to play Rorschach. Was that Richard Gere knocking on the door? The pressure on me was building. Thank god, Joel solved the problem. He failed to convince the studios to hand over enough money to make the film. Brilliant! I was saved! And, perhaps, Watchmen as well!                        
Certain works should be left alone…in their original form. Everything does not have to become a movie. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was always best in it’s original manifestation… a radio show.  
So, forget about the movie. Let your imagination animate the characters. Do your own sound effects. Your own camera moves. Dave Gibbons’ artwork is perfect.  From my first reading of Watchmen, it felt like a movie. Why does have to be a movie?
Think of what will have to be lost. Is it worth it?
Terry Gilliam

p.s. Happy 50th Birthday, Alan

Sep 24, 2021

Alan Moore... a showman in essence by Mike Collins

From the sold-out Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman book, below you can read the text piece written by British well-known comic book artist MIKE COLLINS to celebrate Alan Moore's 50th birthday in 2003
For more info about the artist: Official site - Twitter
 
The Moonstone story written by Moore and referred by Collins in his piece can be read HERE.
ALAN MOORE: I KNEW HIM WHEN…

In the early 80s I met Alan Moore. He was as grand and imposing as anyone I’ve ever encountered. The beard, the hair, the manner: a showman in essence, an entertainer with more than the vaguest hint of menace. He was waxing eloquent about his first proper series for 2000AD - Skizz - and how several elements he’d included mirrored actions in ET (the movie it was to ‘echo’ in the grand 2000 tradition) even though he hadn’t seen it while writing. He was witty and self-deprecating and I was going to have to tell him that I was working with him. I feared for my life.

At the time, I was scuttering at the edges of comics, trying to snatch scraps of work. Links with the Society of Strip Illustration led to odd jobs, the latest of which was to work on a semi-animated movie called ‘Ragnarok’. Designed by my pal Bryan Talbot, it was to be written by Alan.

At this point, I had encountered Alan’s name in 2000AD Future Shocks, in the astonishingly re-invigorated Captain Britain and of course, in Warrior. The chance of working with him was daunting - he had become a legend overnight so it seemed. I met him at a London Comics Con (at some hotel, somewhere—all I remember is the hair-raising and life threatening journey on the back of a motorbike to get there) where he surprised me by knowing who I was and what I’d done in fanzines. Mine’n’Mark Farmer’s strip ‘Moonstone’ was reaching a conclusion, and I’d written myself into a corner. Alan asked how it’d be resolved; I said I dunno... any ideas? To my amazement he offered to write the final episode, wrapping up my over-complicated alternate reality/time travel paradox epic, which he did beautifully in four pages.

Pleased with the result (and from the work Mark and I did on Ragnarok, I hope) he recommended us to Bernie Jaye at Marvel UK. He’d sent in a parody strip of Frank Miller’s Daredevil run, and attached our names to the script. After a bit of reluctance, she took us on board. From then on, we were comics professionals.

Thanks to Alan’s good graces, we’d gotten through the comics Catch-22: ‘No one will hire you until someone hires you.’ I imagine this book is full of artist and writers who speak well of Alan and how he helped along their careers. It’s not too extreme to say that without Alan, UK and US comics would look different today. He championed people he thought needed the break and - as one of them - I’m eternally grateful to him.

Happy 50th!
Mike Collins

Sep 16, 2021

Alan Moore by Horacio Gomes

Art by Horacio Gomes
Above, a stylish photo-based portrait of Alan Moore by Portuguese comic book artist and illustrator Horacio Gomes.
 
For more info about the artist, visit his site: HERE.

Sep 15, 2021

The fractal chaos of the universe

Excerpt from a short video published on BBC site in 2016.
"The world is no more than an aggregate of your ideas about the world, of your ideas about yourselves.

It is the vast mirage, baroque and intricate, that you are building as a shelter from the overwhelming fractal chaos of the universe.
" --- Alan Moore
The complete video is available HERE.

Sep 14, 2021

Now we are all in Guernica

Tom Brevoort
posted on Twitter the script that Moore wrote for his contribution to Heroes, a book published by Marvel Comics paying tribute to those who attempted to save lives on 9-11. See below.

The published art was by Dave Gibbons even if it's interesting to notice that the page wasn't written by Moore for Gibbons but for any artist who might be assigned.
 
More info here and here

Sep 9, 2021

The Bojeffries: A family to love

The Bojeffries. French edition by Komics Initiative
Some months ago I wrote a little piece for the French edition of The Bojeffries
You can read the English version here. Special thanks to my friends Omar Martini and Gary Spencer Millidge for their editing and proofreading. Grazie amici!
 
The French ed is a gorgeous production: large format, hardcover with also a limited variant cover & print both by Laurent Lefeuvre.
The book is published by Komics Initiative and it has been crowdfunded via Ulule.

A FAMILY TO LOVE
by smoky man

I have to admit it: I discovered The Bojeffries pretty late.

Partly because of a mere question of age: around the second half of the ‘90s I became aware of The Bojeffries stories published in “Warrior” magazine and other publications, but they remained Moore’s obscure British gem to be tracked down and read… sooner or later.
You have to realize that Watchmen’s first complete, Italian edition – the now-classic trade paperback with the bloodstained broken window and the falling smiley-face button over a weird New York skyline background – was dated 1993 and that British comics were hard to find… harder than the American floppies.
At that time in Italy, all the attention was on Moore's main American works: Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta and, as just mentioned, Watchmen. The latter was initially serialised – without the original covers and the text parts – as a supplement in a glorious comic magazine named after the glorious comics character Corto Maltese… but that’s another story.
Furthermore, we were at the very beginning of the Internet era, and information was far more distant than an easy click as it is now.

If my memory serves me well, in the late ‘90s - early 2000s I finally got my hands on – let's describe them in this way – some “adventurous” black and white photocopies from “Warrior” no. 12 and no. 13, where the very first Bojeffries story was published.
The cover of issue no. 12 featured the Bojeffries: five strange-looking characters, an out-of-the-ordinary family in the same vein as The Addams Family or The Munsters, with the captivating tag line “Makes Monty Python look like a comedy” and, at the bottom of the page, “... a soap opera of the paranormal”. I loved Monty Python! And the story, well... it was odd. A strange reading experience with gorgeously perfect art by Steve Parkhouse: you could feel an unreachable Britishness (the town where the Bojeffries live is Northampton, isn't it?) and, at the same time, some deep empathy for that monstrous, but ordinary, working-class family. Well, poor Trevor Inchmale, rest in peace!
I realized there were other Bojeffries stories, but it was not the time yet for me to read them. I had those photocopies, and that was all. I confess that now they are lost, only a thing in my memory. But that’s another story, too.

In 2002 I started working on the Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman book.
The Internet had become an established resource, an infinite web full of, well, everything. If you had the patience to wait during navigation and downloading, of course.
Therefore, while researching for the book, I read tons of material, including dozens of interviews with Moore. In one of them, dated 1984 and published in “Comics Interview” no. 12, Moore was talking with Guy Lawley and Steve Whitaker and discussing his “Warrior” series:
«Guy Lawley: The Bojeffries Saga is your most English strip of all.

Alan Moore: That's my other favorite. It's as experimental in its way as V for Vendetta. Humor in comics, since Harvey Kurtzman's brilliant MADs, has become formularized - fast humor, lots of sight gags in every panel. I wanted to get the character stuff back into humour, and the England of the '50s that I can remember - the quirkiness of it all. Steve Parkhouse is the main vision behind the strip.

Steve Whitaker: It's an opportunity for you to use all that colloquial, idiomatic language.

AM: I love language: slang, jargon, poetry. How silly it can be - and how powerful and evocative.»
Again, in 1985, in an interview taken from “Arken Sword” no. 13/14 (it was a double issue), Moore said:
«In terms of the series I've created myself, V and The Bojeffries are still my firm favourites, and both for surprisingly similar reasons considering that they're such different strips. The thing is, they're both personal strips. V is a strip that recreates the world I see around me in very harsh and dramatic political terms, and by which I've tried to examine a lot of the more abstract concepts that I have floating around my head. The Bojeffries recreates the world I see around me in very affectionate and surreal terminology, enabling me to examine my background from a certain quirky perspective. Raoul's Night Out remains my favourite of The Bojeffries stuff because I think it captured almost exactly what I feel about British working-class life without getting sloppy or maudlin about it.»
In the same period, still putting together Portrait, I came into possession of some bootleg, digital copies of the whole “Warrior” run, and I could finally read Raoul's adventure. He is the funniest werewolf you ever knew of, isn't he? (And he's a bit Moore himself, isn't he?) And what a story and a powerful, satirical piece, too. Are we sure that times have changed?

In 2002 Steve Parkhouse – involved by my friend and co-editor Gary Spencer Millidge – contributed a great text piece and a fantastic Bojeffries illustration to my Portrait book published in 2003 by Gary's Abiogenesis Press. I felt like everything came full circle, sort of, because I knew there were other Bojeffries stories, from “A1 Magazine” and some others published by Fantagraphics, that I needed to read.
Again in 2003, from The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore edited by my friend George Khoury (a sort of companion piece to my Portrait book), Moore declared:
«Alan Moore: […] Bojeffries was important in that it was one of the most personal things that I’ve done. Among other things, I know that Bojeffries seems weird…

George Khoury: Especially to Americans. I still don’t get it! [laughs]

AM: Well, it looks very surrealistic to Americans, whereas, to me, it’s a thing that I’ve done that I’ve come closest to actually describing the flavor of an ordinary working-class childhood in Northampton. And the inherent surrealism in British life. Yeah, that’s a very important strip to me.

GK: Why weren’t there more Bojeffries strips, or is it a difficult strip for you to write?

AM: It was very difficult. In some ways, the nearest equivalent to Bojeffries that I’m doing today is something like Jack B. Quick, where you can’t do that many because the humor is so peculiar. But you can’t just turn it out on a formula. The humor is strange little bits of observation, or odd little ideas, and you’ll know them when they’re right. Humor is a delicate thing, especially with strips like Jack B. Quick and the Bojeffries, which have such quirky humor. That’s why there are so few of them. I still entertain the idea that I should at some point in the future... me and Steve Parkhouse have talked about doing another Bojeffries strip, after the Blair government has worked its magic upon British society. The family’s probably completely broken up and Ginda Bojeffries is probably one of the Blair babes, Labour new women M.P.s. The son of the family is probably a Booker Prize-winning author who spends most of his time at the Groucho Club, having reached fame by writing what people take to be witty, magic realist stories about his working-class upbringing. Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff that we could do. That we still might do. But we have to wait until we’ve got something that’s good enough.»
There was even more Bojeffries than expected. Maybe…

Fast forward. In 2008 I exchanged some emails with Steve Parkhouse who confessed this to me (I think it's fair to share it now):
«I'm working on a new Bojeffries story right now. It's a very big story and updates all the characters to our present time in 2008-09. We're hoping it will be part of a collected work published next year. [...] Alan has written the script.
I would suggest you keep it confidential for the time being in case it doesn't appear, and people will be disappointed. [...] The artwork is just at layout stage [...]»
WOW! It would be worth the wait.
Meanwhile, I found and read some of the stories published in the “A1” anthology. It was like looking into a parallel reality, a strange British alternate universe that you couldn't fully understand. Fascinating!

Fast forward no. 2. 2013: time has passed and no news regarding The Bojeffries.
In August, in a rare trip outside the island where I live, I flew to Edinburgh and attended Stripped, the comics and graphic novels event, part of The Edinburgh International Book Festival. Going around the city, I discovered by chance a comic shop. Needless to say, I entered and started rummaging through the boxes for something worth buying. Wow, they had a lot of “Warrior” issues! It was a tough choice but... I picked “Warrior” no.12, the one with the Bojeffries first appearance! Maybe it was a good omen, I said to myself. I have to add that the comic shop owners and their friends looked like close cousins of the Bojeffries. But that’s another story, too. Maybe...

At the end of 2013, Top Shelf and Knockabout finally announced The Bojeffries complete edition with a brand-new story set a couple of decades after the original run, to be released in 2014. Hallelujah! It was a good omen, wasn't it?
The new story was pure fun, reuniting the family in a very odd and thunderous way, Big Brother included. And Parkhouse’s art was perfect, as usual.

And now… it’s French time! Ça l'est vraiment!
I am sure you will love the company of The Bojeffries. We all love them.

Final confession. Sure… nowadays Moore is focused on his prose novels, but let me dream a bit... what about a new Bojeffries story set in our current times? Well, maybe in a brighter post-pandemic era would be better.
Time will tell.

smoky man
Sardinia,
May 2021

Sep 1, 2021

Influences

Eno's Ambient 1: Music for Airports
Excerpt from an interview by Mark Burbey published in The Comics Journal n. 93, September 1984.
Mark Burbey: What sorts of influences do you draw from when you're writing?
Alan Moore: I really wish I could answer this by saying something decisive and opinionated like, "I only listen to Cuban jazz from the 1940s and I only read obscure Portuguese poetry in the original text." Sadly, I'm as boringly catholic as most people and tend to absorb just about everything I read, see, or listen to.
    I suppose one major point is that in writing comics I don't really absorb too much influence from the comics that I read unless it's something inexpressibly brilliant like Frank Miller's stuff, or American Flagg!, or Love and Rockets. Mostly I'd say that my influence comes from novels that I read or the occasional film that I see. If anything, I'd say that what I'd like to do as a writer is to try and translate some of the intellect and sensibilities that I find in books into something that will work on a comics page. Although I've obviously read and been influenced by most of the classic works of comic art like Eisner and Kurtzman, I can't help but feel that if you're influenced too much by your forebears in the comics field then a sort of process of dilution results, in which each succeeding generation of artists and writers is a little paler and more anemic than the generation before.
    For my part, it seems to smack too much of inbreeding (something we British have a terror of, probably brought on by the state of the Royal Family). I like the idea of bringing fresh ideas and approaches into the field, and although I seldom succeed in these objectives, they're what I'm aiming at.
    As far as actual influences go, any list would be long, boring, and inconclusive. For what it's worth, however, I like Cordwainer Smith, William Burroughs, Harlan Ellison, Angela Carter, Stephen King, John Gardner, Flann O'Brein, Thomas Disch, William Faulkner, Damon Runyon, Truman Capote, Dorothy Parker, Peter Carey, and so on and so on. I suppose a major influence would have to be musician Brian Eno; just in the precise and mechanical way he approaches the idea of creativity I've been able to find a vast amount of inspiration to how I structure my own work.

Aug 30, 2021

Alan Moore by Ricardo Drumond

Art by Ricardo Drumond
Above, an intense mixed media portrait of our beloved Bearded One by Portuguese artist RICARDO DRUMOND.
 
From more info about the artist: Twitter - Behance - Original Art
Details about the portrait: HERE.

Aug 25, 2021

Aug 24, 2021

The Magus with the red serpent by Tony Sandoval

Art by Tony Sandoval
Above, a gorgeous portrait of the Wizard from Northampton by internationally acclaimed artist TONY SANDOVAL
 
For more info about the artist: his Instagram page - a profile - his Italian publisher's page
Preliminary pencils. Art by Tony Sandoval