From: Superman Annual n. 11 (For The Man Who Has Everything).
First edition: 1985, DC Comics.
First edition: 1985, DC Comics.
|Part 1: HERE - Part 2: HERE|
|Art by Sergio Ponchione.|
|Art by Jim Mahfood. Chatting about Miracleman n.4.|
|Art by Jim Mahfood.|
|Art by Jim Mahfood. Chatting about Miracleman n.6|
|Art by Jim Mahfood. Chatting about Miracleman n.7.|
|Art by Jim Mahfood. Chatting about Miracleman n.9.|
The complete interview is available HERE.So did he ever bother going to see the film version [of From Hell]?“Nah, Melinda (Gebbie) went to see it and said, ‘Not a bad film. She found Johnny Depp’s performance a little bit tepid. She thought if they’d focused more upon Ian Holm it would’ve perhaps been a much better film. Me daughters thought it was okay. Nobody said it was actually a really bad film. Iain Sinclair gave the most succinct summing up of it when he said, ‘It’s not a bad film in it own right, but it does kind of represent this American colonization of the imagination.’ Without having seen it obviously I’m talking through me hat, but that sounds like a likely accurate verdict.“I was never sure why they actually bothered to buy the rights to ‘From Hell’, because you take away all of the ruminations upon architecture and history and mysticism and all the rest of it, you’re pretty much left with the original story done by Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer, all of these people in various productions.” Still, at least ‘From Hell’ and ‘V For Vendetta’, while seriously flawed, were broadly sympathetic to the author’s vision. The way Moore tells it, it could have been much worse.“I remember when ‘V For Vendetta’ was optioned,” he says. “The story is set in a near future bleak grim Britain, it’s after a limited nuclear war that happened elsewhere in the world, the weather’s been screwed up as a consequence, there’s been breakdowns of society everywhere, and there’s been a fascist takeover in Great Britain, and you’ve got this very romantic anarchist guy fighting against the forces of fascism.“Now in the first screenplay that I got for ‘V For Vendetta’, because this anarchist dresses up in a Guy Fawkes costume, of course people in America have no idea who Guy Fawkes is, so they were going to change it to Paul Revere, and it wasn’t going to happen in London, ’cos that’s just gonna confuse Americans who can’t remember that there’s more than one country in the world, so perhaps it’s going to be set in New York. And that political stuff about fascism, that doesn’t really play, so we’ll have an America that’s been taken over by the commies. So you’ve got this true American dressed as Paul Revere fighting against the commie takeover.“Eventually I think they realized that was a stupid idea. So I got the second draft of the script where I think to justify the special effects budget, they decided that having Britain taken over by fascists was just not exciting enough, and they’d used the fact that I mentioned a limited nuclear war to say, ‘Right, there’s mutants everywhere!’ So instead of it being fascist policemen that are patrolling the benighted streets of this enslaved London of the future, it’s half-goat mutant policemen. You’ve got these people that are policemen down to the waist and have goats’ legs. And as I said at the time, if you wanted to do a film about goat policemen, then why the fuck didn’t you just buy the option to Rupert Bear?!!“But there’s something about the Hollywood thought process that I think will forever elude me. The reason that things are done or not done never seems to have any connection to any sort of reality that I recognize. That’s why I actively dissuade any contact with Hollywood. (Producer) Don Murphy is a nice bloke who phones me up and asks if I’ve got any more projects that could be turned into films, any laundry lists that I might have forgotten about, but I’ve never had any interest in actually writing for Hollywood. I had a brief fling when Malcolm McClaren asked me to a screenplay for one of these film properties that he’d got, and I did that to see if I could write a screenplay and also to hang out with Malcolm McClaren, who’s a great laugh, but that was it really.“Of course they shot ‘League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ with Sean Connery, and to make it more acceptable to American audiences, which is of course a prime consideration, they had Tom Sawyer as one of the cast, so I imagine there was a completely riveting picket fence painting scene shoehorned into the story at some point.”There wasn’t, but that didn’t stop Connery from clocking the director – or the film from being an absolute dog. Of course, the Holy Grail of un-filmed Moore stories is ‘Watchmen’, recently included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 greatest novels since 1923, a meta-masterpiece so epic in scale and fiendishly complex in construction, filmmaker Terry Gilliam famously described it as “the ‘War And Peace’ of comic books”. Is it true Moore once convinced Gilliam that Watchmen couldn’t be filmed?“Well, I don’t know if I convinced him. I mean, we went to dinner and he asked me how I would go about making ‘Watchmen’ into a film, and I told him if anybody had bothered asking me earlier, I would have said, ‘I wouldn’t.’ Because I’d written ‘Watchmen’ to exploit aspects of comic book storytelling that couldn’t be duplicated by any other medium, to try and show off what comics are capable of. Which I think we kind of succeeded in doing. That was the last time I actually saw Terry – Terry as I call him, did you notice I just slipped that in there? Tel! – and I heard later that he seemed to have come to similar conclusions, that he wasn’t sure you could actually make a film of ‘Watchmen’ without taking out all the things that made the book work in the first place.“But on the other hand, I do hear that at the end of every second or third Terry Gilliam interview he’ll sometimes have these little wistful moments where he’ll say that maybe his next film will be ‘Watchmen’, because he’s always felt sorry that he didn’t add that to his list of accomplishments.“But I’m a great believer in the theory that the more work the audience has to actually do, the more they enjoy it ’cos the more they’ve invested. Cinema tends to be an immersive experience that just kind of rolls over the audience like a wave and they sit there and take it. That’s not to say that there can’t be good cinema, but for me there’s not much to beat a good book where you’re having to do all the work yourself. That’s my idea of interactive entertainment.”
|Cover for Promethea n. 32. Art by J.H. Williams III.|
WRITING: MUSIC & DRUGSMUSTARD: What music do you listen to whilst writing?ALAN: I don't listen to anything much any more because I'm deaf in one ear. If I'm talking to people I can't have any background music because all the top and bottom drops out and there's just this fuzzy middle. And if I'm working I don't listen to music either. There's been a kind of progressive breakdown in my relationship with music; I used to be able to listen to it all the time when I was doing cartooning, back in the late 70s. and that was fine because you use your hands when you're inking, so your brain can be off doing something else, like listening to the radio.Then, when I started writing, I tried listening to music, but if it had any words they got in the way of the words I was trying to write. So I started listening to purely instrumental pieces and that was fine until the rhythm of it started interfering with the rhythm of what I was trying to write. Then I started in with ambient music, and that was great for a couple of months - I'd got the house flooded with Harold Budd, Eno and all the rest - but then the ambience on the record was starting to interfere with the ambience of the stuff that I was writing. So morgue-like silence is my preferred medium at the moment.MUSTARD: What effect have drugs had on your writing?ALAN: I started smoking dope around the age of fifteen and acid around sixteen. Had a biiig year of taking acid a couple of times each week. I'd done about a hundred trips, and this was when acid was acid, like me tell you - this was five hundred mikes, a thousand mikes a tab. I've never really taken acid since, I've confined myself to an enormous amount of hash, which I do twenty-four seven. It doesn't really turn me into a shambling, drug-sodden pothead, either. I use it to work and always have done, it gives me kind of an edge.There was a physicist who was accepting the Noble Prize for Physics - I think it was for molecular biology, some years ago. During his acceptance speech he gave thanks to mum and dad, and all the rest, but also said: "I feel that I should mention the enormous contribution that psilocybin has made to my research. I'd be sitting down there on molecules, watching the particles go by and understanding the way that they fitted together. And psilocybin gave me that ability." I've also heard another scientist comment that "caffeine science is very different from marijuana science".So, yeah, I still take mushrooms. I haven't done so for a couple of years now, and always as part of a magic ritual these days - I don't take anything purely for entertainment's sake, which I think is perhaps my saving grace. There've been cultures since the dawn of civilization that have had drugs as a central part. We are certainly not the first culture to use drugs, but we may well be one of the first to have a drug problem. I tend to think that this is because there is a place for drugs in society, but it's a shamanic space that we don't really have anymore.Robert Graves noted that a lot of cultures' names for mushrooms are 'snots' or 'shits', things like that. And he says that it's like telling a child 'kaka - poison', sort of dirty, because actually the mushroom is taboo, which is not the same as just being dirty. Taboo is, yes, profane but it's also sacred. It's because the mushrooms were sacred at one point, which meant you weren't supposed to eat them unless you were properly initiated in a tradition; you'd done your Eleusinian Mysteries or whatever. And that is part of the problem: in our current society, the only context we have to take drugs in is a leisure context. Which a lot of the time is disastrous.Something I noticed when I was about sixteen was the difference between drawings inspired by LSD and drawings attempted while under the effects of LSD.With an awful lot of those Promethea issues, especially that kabbalistic run, I was doing magical rituals that often - not always, but often - involved drugs, in order to put myself in those spaces so I could write about them. I think it was issue 23 - the one that was the second sphere of the Kabbalah, the grey, sort of pearly place - I'd had Steve Moore up, we'd had this incredible magical experience, then he went back to town. I was still sitting down here buzzing with the mushrooms, and I suddenly thought, right, Promethea: I know exactly how I'm going to do this next issue that I'm gonna start tomorrow, I know that the series is going to last until issue 32, because 32 is a good number - this has just been revealed to me. I know that the last issue is going to be some kind of incredibly weird comic book that somehow unfolds into a marvellous psychedelic poster, and great, well that's the rest of Promethea sorted out, so I'll go to bed now.The next day I laid out the entirety of that issue in four hours, every page. It just came in this incredible burst of energy. It took me fifteen hours to write, layout, dialogue and type that entire issue. And then two years later I finally I got around to Promethea #32 with the giant poster thing.So, yeah, those are instances where I didn't try writing anything in the surge of the drug rush, but the next day I'd got all the information there. It's important to have a channel, I think. If I was just taking this stuff purely for entertainment, then I wouldn't have anything to do with that energy. And it is an energy, and I can direct it, I can ground it in this huge variety of works that I'm doing at any one time. And it works great for me; I think that I've probably been more creative - my output's certainly been higher - since I formally took up magic. And that was one of the big proving points of it: I'd said to people, if I become less productive or if the work turns to shit, then pull me out, because I might not know. But that hasn't happened, in fact generally quite the opposite.Mushrooms are the only psychedelic drugs that I take, and I don't take them very often. But I would trust them. Once you've done them a few of times it's very easy to feel a sense of entity. You can feel that there is a characteristic in this level of consciousness which almost seems... playful? Or aware, or sometimes a bit spooky. I know that is probably something which I am imposing, or that other people have imposed upon the experience, but you get the impression that they're probably called magic mushrooms for a reason. And given that these have been the shamanic drug of preference since Neolithic times, Paleolithic times, then we've got quite a good history of a relationship with mushrooms that goes back quite a long way, and they seem to treat us alright.MUSTARD: Have you ever considered a work detailing your insights into drug use?ALAN: Well, probably not, because I actually tend to think of drugs as an implement and a tool, rather than a thing that is interesting in itself. Now, I know that there are some fantastic things about drugs and drugs culture. Mike Jay wrote a wonderful book called Emperors of Dreams, all about the British involvement with drugs, from Sir Humphrey Davy, who did all sorts of experiments with Nitrous Oxide, saw visions and started a religious movement, with Coleridge and all that lot roped in - fascinating. Drugs have played a huge part in my life and there's plenty of things that I'm interested in writing about while on drugs, but I'm not quite so interested in writings about drugs.At the Patti Smith gig, which I keep mentioning because I'm so inordinately proud of it. How cool is that? Patti Smith, I got to hug Patti Smith! Jason Spaceman was there, a local lad made good, from Rugby. I've met Jason and I really like him, he's great and he's a fantastic musician, and I'm reminded of that wonderful song title, back from his Spacemen 3 days: Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To. Which is a pretty good description of my working methods. I'm kind of taking drugs to write comics to take drugs to. Most of the psychedelia, I want it to be there on the page in the writing. I want my work to be acting like a drug as near as I can manage. I'd like to think that if you put the words in the right order with the pictures you can probably create a psychedelic state, you can create a fugue state.This is why, with my performances, I very much prefer to have a dense monologue going on: complicated music at the same time as, maybe, a film show, a fire breather, a beautiful ballet dancer, so that you're overloading the audience. This is the same technique that people have used since time immemorial, that the Catholic Church has used since its inception; the stained glass window light show, incense, incantations, sonorous music, beautiful architecture - trying to push people into this peak aesthetic experience, which I think is very close to the psychedelic state, which is very close to the magical state.So that's what I'm trying to do in my work. While I'm interested in drugs and I've got tons of books about the history of drug taking and things like that, it would probably seem to me a bit precious. I mean, I'm so obviously drugged out of my mind that I don't need to lay it on any thicker. I'll probably leave that to other people.[...]MUSTARD: Are you still using drugs in your work?ALAN: I haven't done any of the hard-core ritual stuff for some years now. I had one experience early on with my magic stuff where just for a few seconds I was a boy of about 17 and I was dying in a trench just outside Ypres. It was the small hours of the morning - that grey bit just before dawn when the birds are singing. And I was laying on my left side up against the side of the trench. The reason for that was because my right foot was infected with maggots. It didn't hurt, but it itched. Unbelievably. And there were other kids, teenagers, slumped up against the other side of the trench and some of them were asleep, I knew, and some of them weren't. And I'd never had sex with a woman in my life. The woman I had the closest relationship with emotionally was my sister - and I don't really have a sister. But I was missing her profoundly and I was wishing I could see her one more time.Me and Melinda were doing the working together, both on drugs. She'd seen me lay back and close my eyes and had noticed that my eye sockets were full of cobwebs and I'd got blood and worms in my hair. And she thought, 'Eurgh that's horrible. I wonder if I should wake him up and tell him? No, I don't want to impose my bad vision'. At that point I sat up, said 'Jesus Christ!' and burst into tears. I'm normally not terribly emotional, but I couldn't get myself under control for about three quarters of an hour. I couldn't stop crying, because I'd just suddenly realised that the First World War had happened. And my immediate feeling was, 'Was that me? Was that a previous life I'd had like Shirley MacLaine tells us and all the rest?' And then I thought no, I'm not convinced of that. The feeling that I have is more, 'Was everybody everybody?' which again ties back to 'everybody's sat here before me'. Is there some huge commonality? Are we all the same person? Is this all God talking to itself?
At the end of this page, you can find the covers of some comics that Bernardo loved, books which - more than other ones - lingered on the small squared table in his living room in plain sight along with Attilio's poetry book, a volume of Roberto Bolaño's short stories, catalogues of artists and exhibitions to be recommended to friends. [Tiziana Lo Porto]
|Art by Michael Avon Oeming.|
|Art by Bart Sears.|
[...] Most recently, Moore accepted Todd McFarlane's offer to do more work with Image, which led not only to the writing of Spawn #8, but also his next project, a three-issue Violator series, with art by Bart Sears which will undoubtedly be one of the hottest titles in '94.
DARNALL: Tell us more about the upcoming Violator series. When is it due, and how did the idea come to be?MOORE: When I did my issue of Spawn, I sort of came up with some of the background for Todd's mythology. I think all of us [who guest-scripted issues] contributed a little bit. Todd invited us to contribute whatever we wanted in terms of ideas and so I contributed all this stuff about the Tower of Hell and the idea that the Violator had four brothers and all the rest of it. Todd asked me, originally, if I'd like to work with him again doing this three-issue Violator series, and I said 'Yes' because I enjoyed working with Todd. I think the original idea was that Todd would take a leave of absence from Spawn and someone else would write those issues of Spawn while Todd was doing the Violator series. As it turns out, I think Todd's now doing this Batman/Spawn crossover, which means he's got time to do neither the regular Spawn comics nor the Violator mini-series. At this point Bart Sears was appointed. Now, I've not actually spoken to Bart, I don't know the guy. I've seen his artwork for some of the first issue and it's wonderful. It's different from Todd's art, but he's certainly done as good a job interpreting my ridiculous little sketches that I burden these people with as anybody. I'm very pleased with the result.The basic idea-not anything terribly demanding or intellectual-is hopefully an amusing or entertaining three-issue series in which we fill in some of the background on the Violator. We introduce the rest of his family, we run through what, for want of a better word, could be termed his origin story, and we have an obligatory scene where Spawn turns up. We also introduce the ultimate brutal gun-riding vigilante character, who's called the Admonisher. He tells people off.I've had a lot of fun doing the Violator mini-series. As with much of the stuff I've done for Image, it's been a great deal of fun, because it is such a romp. It's very easy and I can do things that are just purely there for fun. They don't have to have a great deal of relevance to the state of the world, the collapse of Eastern Europe, the angst of modern man, or any of those other broad and weighty yet worthy social concerns. They can just be about a bunch of demons ripping each other's innards out, you know? And I've had as much fun with that as I can.When you've got a character who is a heart-ripping creature from hell, you've got to have a certain amount of violence, however, and I don't really like the violence in a lot of modern comics, because it's all very very grim and depressing. It's not really necessary, a lot of it. This is unnecessary violence as well, but at least it's funny. They're all great big demons who can have their brains blown out without it affecting them greatly, so there's lots of brains being blown out, people being ripped in half...fun stuff like that.DARNALL: When you're writing the Violator series, what is your business stake in all of this? Do you have some ownership in this work?MOORE: I presume I own the work I've written. I've got no real interest in having a stake in the Violator. I suppose if they did do a Violator movie that was using concepts that I'd created, then, you know, I assume that Todd would write me a check for whatever he thought was the appropriate amount. I've done these on a very casual basis, where Todd phones up and says 'I think it'd be fun to do two or three stories,' and I reply 'Yeah.'I haven't really thought about it, to be perfectly honest. I'm just throwing the concepts in as they occur to me because they're fun. Obviously, Spawn and The Violator are Todd's characters. I wouldn't go away and start bringing out my own Violator comic. At the same time, I guess if any specific use of my concepts was made in a film or something like that, I guess Todd would sling us a few greenbacks or whatever. I don't have any real proprietary interest in any of the stuff there.But to answer an earlier question which I failed to address, I'm not sure when it's gonna come out. I've written two issues as of a few weeks ago, and I've seen Bart's artwork up to about two-thirds through the first issue. It looks great. I'll be starting the third one soon-early next year.DARNALL: Is this the first time you've had an artist sort of thrown at you? Are you someone who carefully picks your artist to match a story?MOORE: [...] Obviously, if I know who the artist is going to be, then I'll try as best I can to fashion the script with that in mind. Working with Todd, for example, I figured that maybe Todd wouldn't want to wade through the vast amount of verbosity that usually fills my scripts. In fact, I think he saw one of Neil [Gaiman]'s scripts, which are considerably slimmer than mine, although they're pretty big. I think Todd got a bit alarmed. It's a lot of work wading through all that stuff, especially if you're used to a more informal way of working. So when I was working with Todd I did pictures. I sent Todd complete, full-page sort of layouts, and breakdowns, and Todd built up from there. I do try to gear it to the way that the person wants to work.The first issue I did for Bart (thinking it was for Todd) I did it in picture form, then I started to think, "Well, maybe not everybody is like this." In Spawn 8, Todd was very faithful to my layouts, and that's great, but at the same time I thought "Well, perhaps this isn't very much fun for Todd." On the other hand, they might say it was a great boon, I don't know. So for the second issue I did for Bart, once I realized it was Bart, I've written it in full script form. I'm waiting to hear back from Bart, if he's got any preference, and I'll be glad to do the third issue exactly the way he wants it! [laughs] I try to be as responsive to the artists as possible, because you get a better result that way. Everybody's working in the way in which they're happiest.[...]
DARNALL: What's the difference between the work you've done for Todd, and the work you've done for other people, like DC? After all you and Steve Bissette have said about working for DC, I would imagine that Todd must take a radically different approach to "hiring."MOORE: As far as I know, Todd does a book with me and he splits the profits completely equitably. It's not that he's writing off the lion's share for himself. It's sort of, "If he does all the book, he gets all the money," but if he wants me to write it, he gives me an amount that is a fair dividing of the royalties on that. Which is all I ask for. Dave Sim does that story for Todd. He owns that story as much as Todd does, and Spawn 8 is co-owned by me and Todd. I didn't invent the character, so I don't have any sort of ax to grind there, whereas with 1963, where I did invent the characters- or semi-invented, shall we say- then we own all that. Image has no propriety over the characters. They have been very helpful in getting them out there, and we've profited greatly from Image's profile, but they're not saying, "Oh well, we own these now. We can give them to another writer." They're treating us like human beings because they're also creators. I only tend to work for creator-owned companies these days.DARNALL: As a result, the quality of your writing has...I don't want to say "improved" because that wouldn't be fair to your earlier work, but it's obviously the work of someone who feels in control.MOORE: No, with the 1963 stories, you couldn't say the quality has increased, because it's a different thing. I'm not going for an increase in quality with the 1963 series. I'm going for an increase in charm.DARNALL: I guess I was putting that into the equation.MOORE: Yeah. But if you look at say, Lost Girls or From Hell, and Big Numbers...whenever you see another copy, then I think, yeah, the quality has increased. These are steps on from Watchmen. That's not to rubbish Watchmen or anything, but I'm older now and I'm better. That work, what I consider my serious work, as opposed to something with which I have a lot of fun, like the Image comics work, that work has definitely improved. That's how I measure my progress. The Image stuff is very lucrative and a great deal of fun. It's been a real breath of fresh air amongst the other projects. After wading through entrails in Whitechapel for a month, writing an episode of From Hell, it's really nice to do something...silly.
DARNALL: This may just be a pompous metaphor, but if Watchmen and Miracleman were sort of your last word on superheroes, would Violator and 1963 be your parenthetical remarks?MOORE: Well, at the end of the day, Watchmen was, I believe, a misguided attempt to give an intellectual weight to superheroes they were probably never designed to carry.That's not to say I think Watchmen was a bad work, or that Swamp Thing was a bad work, but I do feel that it was probably a bad idea on one level, because I do see that to one degree we've dragged comics into a kind of new dark age, which isn't a terribly enlightening place to be. We seem to have given license for an awful lot of pretension, increasing the levels of violence. I know that this must sound perilously close to me as a reformed alcoholic talking about the evils of booze [laughter]. I acknowledge all the stuff I've done in the past, but I think we lost something along the way. I think we threw out the baby with the bathwater.
|Art by Ed Piskor.|
|Art by Ed Piskor.|
|Cover of Back to the Old School, Just-Ice debut album, 1986.|