May 27, 2012

AM Portrait: Pat Mills' homage

Art by David Lloyd. From V for Vendetta.
From the sold-out Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman book (2003, Abiogenesis Press, page 79), in the following you can read the piece written by the great Pat Mills to celebrate Mr. Moore's 50th birthday.
Posted on this blog with the author's permission. Many thanks to Mr. Mills for that.

Poisoned chalice
© Pat Mills

I recall with immense admiration a scene in Alan's V for Vendetta where the Archbishop of Canterbury, or similar prelate, having committed some loathsome and perverted crime, is fed a poisonous host  by V. This  act of unholy communion  was superbly choreographed  by Alan's script  and beautifully and darkly illustrated by David Lloyd. The exact details of the scene are vague now;  yet  the emotions it provoked are still powerful in my mind, so I hope  my recollection  is correct.  Of all Alan's writings this scene  always comes back to me again and again.

Firstly, because - whilst  I have a high regard for all his work - this is the one scene I truly  envy  and wish I'd written. I can recall thinking  when I first read it,  many years ago, "Damn! Why didn't I think of that?"

Secondly, because - especially in this day and age - it is usually practitioners of   my own ex-religion  of Catholicism that are rightly subjected to critical scrutiny by writers of fiction and non fiction. So it is was original and different of Alan to focus on the English  High Anglican tradition that is far  more skilful than Catholicism  at hiding its dark side.

Having researched High Anglicanism myself for some time, I've become aware of just how curious  it really is; and how truly sinister and offensive its dark side can be. Therefore I've always wanted to ask Alan his inspiration for this scene.

Because I know that any scene worth writing and reading  must come from the heart and resonate with truth. Otherwise it's just the usual comic book crap which Alan's work  never is. Whatever  his inspiration on this occasion, I was delighted to revel in this very special scene where such an unpleasant authority figure as the Archbishop is subjected to such appropriate and legitimately cruel   punishment. In fact, I think V let him off lightly. I'd personally like him to have suffered a little longer.

It's surely a mark of a writer's talent if he can trigger this kind of powerful emotional response in the  reader. And even now, recalling that scene this evening, co-incidentally in the week of Guy Fawkes, the role model for V, I still find myself  praying to my own Gods that there are poison hosts  waiting  for  everyone of the perverts in the Anglican and Catholic religions.

I suppose I should now conclude with something humorous or flip, but I'm afraid - for me - that would be inappropriate. Because there was never anything humorous or flip  about V. It resonated with an important and serious truth; and there is nothing humorous about the real life evil it  highlighted in the guise of fiction.

One day I hope to write a similar scene where  an avenger pays one of these so-called "Men of God" a visit. Probably with a hammer, nails and two crossed beams of wood.
Thank you for your inspiration, Alan.

Pat Mills, November 2002
Art by David Lloyd. From V for Vendetta.
Pat Mills is a one of the most well-recognizable and acclaimed British creators in the comics field. As writer and editor he played a fundamental role in revitalizing the British comics in the 1970s and has remained a leading figure ever since. He is best known for creating 2000 AD and playing a major part in the development of Judge Dredd. He is also the creator of Marshal Law, together with artist Kevin O'Neill.

May 22, 2012

20th Anniversary Watchmen tribute: Hollis Mason

Art by Chris Weston
Above, a stunning homage to Watchmen featuring Hollis Mason drawn by the amazing CHRIS WESTON, included in the gallery section of "Watchmen 20 anni dopo", an Italian tribute book published in 2006 by Lavieri with all net profits donated to AIMA, the Italian Alzheimer organization. It was basically a collection of 12 brand new essays by well known comics experts analyzing Moore & Gibbons masterpiece.
Weston also wrote a piece to accompany the illustration. You can read it in the following.

Many thanks to Mr. Weston for his permission to present the material on this blog.
For more info about Chris Weston, visit his blog.

"Possibly the greatest perk of becoming a professional comic-strip illustrator is the opportunity to hang out with your own artistic heroes; sometimes, the very creators whose work entertained and inspired you throughout your own childhood. I’ve been lucky enough to make acquaintances with Dave Gibbons, an artist whose work I have admired since I first saw it published in the ‘Hotspur’ comic in the early seventies. I can honestly say he’s one of the friendliest, most amusing and fair people I’ve ever encountered. If there were an award for the comic industry’s greatest “diamond geezer”, he’d win it, hands down, every year without fail.

But, however easy his company is, and despite the laughably generous way he treats me as a fellow professional, there’s always a moment mid-conversation, when I suddenly think, “Oh my god. I’m chatting with DAVE ‘WATCHMEN’ GIBBONS!”. Because, although he was already one of my favourite artists, (thanks to his work on ‘Rogue Trooper’, and ‘Doctor Who’), it was definitely that classic, ground-breaking, twelve part mini-series that has elevated him to the comic world’s equivalent of a “Made Man”.

I’m not going to go into a long and redundant treatise about why ‘WATCHMEN’ is one of the greatest comic-strip stories ever… for starters, that would take up more pages than the actual graphic novel did. But what I would like to point out is just how brilliant Dave Gibbons’ art is on the book; something that doesn’t get mentioned enough in articles I read about the book. His artwork is deceptively simple, dramatic and coherent. His greatest achievement on the book?
Making this complex and convoluted tale of intrigue, with its fractured time structure and large cast of characters easy to follow.
Not many other artists could have maintained that consistency of quality storytelling for all twelve chapters. But being consistent doesn’t mean there aren’t any astonishing artistic flourishes to be found. There are… many. In fact, panel four on page sixteen of issue eight is worth the hefty price of the Absolute ‘WATCHMEN’ edition alone: a dynamic shot of Nite Owl running through the shattered prison windows… possibly the greatest single image of a ‘super-hero’ ever drawn.

It’s no wonder I still occasionally come over all star-struck when I’m in his company. I’ve admitted this to Dave, and he replied, “Jeez, Chris… I’m just a bloke…!”. You are a ‘bloke’, Dave; and a bloody good one, too. 
But how many ‘blokes’ have drawn ‘WATCHMEN’…?!"
Chris Weston, 2006

May 16, 2012

a message to the readers

Alan Moore: [...] As for the readers, I have to say that if you are a reader that just wanted your favorite characters on tap forever, and never cared about the creators, then actually you're probably not the kind of reader that I was looking for.  I have a huge respect for my audience.  On the occasions when I meet them, they seem, I like to think, to be intelligent and scrupulous people.  If people do want to go out and buy these Watchmen prequels, they would be doing me an enormous favor if they would just stop buying my other books.  When I think of my audience, I like to have good thoughts and think about how lucky I am to have one that is as intelligent as mine and as moral as mine.