Jun 15, 2013

AM Portrait: The Magician

Alan Moore portrait by PetaloMaM
In 2003, Italian writer and artist Marcello Albano contributed to Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman book (Abiogenesis Press, page 125) with an interesting short text. You can read it in the following. 
Special thanks to the author for the permission to post the piece on this blog. 
The Magician
© Marcello Albano

It’s very difficult for someone who works in the comics field to talk about Alan Moore.
For two reasons: the first one is that the Northampton-based magician is the BEST writer who has ever graced the medium. The second reason is that Alan is, maybe, the ONLY comics writer in the world.

Writing comics is not a real job. People who do it often have a degree in the Humanities and aspire to write for television, cinema, web sites and magazines, if they do not nourish the dream to write the Big Novel. Comics are just a small part of their literary interests.
They are often so busy trying to avoid the “expressive restraints” of the comics page, that they don’t care at all to verify if these restraints are real or just the result of a prejudice.

Alan has spent his whole career doing exactly the opposite. He didn’t get any formal higher education. After having let himself be expelled from high school for dealing Acid and having lived the years of the sexual revolution in the ARRGH community, he was (for a short time) a musical journalist; since 2000 AD, the legendary British magazine, he never again left the comics medium.

Even his novel, Voice of The Fire, is a comic without pictures as his From Hell is a novel in comics form.
What I mean is that in those works there are storytelling techniques which are possible ONLY in comics: in the first case, I am referring to the first chapter, where the cavemen talk in a Neolithic English (Alan loves creating new languages; in comics the understanding of his neologisms is supported by the pictures); in the second case, on the contrary, it gives the impression of a conversation fading out, an effect made by the progressive shrinking of the lettering…

Alan explores the possibilities of comics, discovering an immense cave whose limits are clearly known only to himself. The bearded hippie is not interested in exploring other media. His discovery, apparently a simple one, is that FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION in comics is limited only by talent and by the skill of who is using it.

After having spent the first half of his career killing characters (his first issue on Captain Britain was a bang: in a four-page sequence he kills the whole cast of the series, main character included) and moving all the social criticism and odd surrealism of the “Undergrounds” into the comics mainstream. Alan took a long sabbatical and resigned from his role as minor post-modern genius. Then he came back, with general surprise, in the guise of Great Wizard and as a devotee of Crowley, Dee and Spare.

In this new phase what amazes the most is the incredible quantity of his new creations. It almost seems that he is repenting for having put the last nail in the coffin of the superhero genre, by trying to magically reanimate the corpse.
After their iconoclastic fury has vanished, Alan’s stories lose their dark and apocalyptic tone and get crowded with characters that we would never expect to meet again. Here they are, they all come back: the super-dog, the super-ape, the planet where the good guys are the bad ones and vice versa … no hero is really dead; there is no character in the imaginary realm who can do it.

Moore owns the key for the Limbo where all the untold stories have their place. It is a secret garden where aliens with two bodies run after women dressed in protective girdles and the Trojan War is still raging.

There, growing like a vine around their own story, the Knights of the Holy Grail, Supergirl, Alexander The Great and Jack The Ripper with his Mary Kelly are all living together.
You have just to evoke them and they will reply.

Obviously, to do this you need to be a magician …

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