Oct 21, 2021

The Question vs Rorschach by Jeaux Janovsky

Art by Jeaux Janovsky
It's DitkoBer 2021 this year: the entire month of October is dedicated to Steve Ditko's creations and characters! 
Above, a great meeting of The Question with... Rorschach. Art by  by cartoonist Jeaux Janovsky.
 
More info about the artist here and here.

Oct 20, 2021

John Martin, JMW Turner and... Antenociticus

Excerpt from a spoken word performance piece, entitled Simultaneous conjugation of four spirits in a room, with music by Stephen O'Malley performed live at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle on 13th March 2010.

For the opening of the exhibition Turner versus Martin at the Laing Art Gallery, AV Festival 10 asked Moore and musician Stephen O'Malley (Sunn O))), KTL, Gravetemple) to create something together. Alan Moore wrote and performed a new text in the gallery responding to the energy of the two paintings: John Martin's The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (1852) and JMW Turner's Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps (1812) from the Tate Collection. 
Stephen O'Malley created a new accompanying ambient soundscape, sonically melting in the radiance of the paintings.  

JMW Turner's Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps
Alan Moore: [...] This is as far north as the Romans ever got, with their Mediterranean tans, thin tunics and short skirts, freezing their arses off at Wallsend, Segedunum, thus commencing a tradition. The precarious margin of their territory scares them, alien and elemental, liminal and filled with unknown hazard, too close to the Arctic for their skimpily dressed gods to follow and watch over them. They need a local hand to mediate between them and a savage landscape, and, at the wall's other end in Benwell, Condericum, they erect their temple to a borrowed native deity, Antenociticus, god of the antler-fringed brow and therefore a horned one, a Cernunnos. [...] Called the greatest and the best, Antenociticus is clearly on a par with Jupiter, the wielder of the lightning whose dominion extended turned to all things, to the storm, an' avalanche, an' hunted boar, god of a hostile universe that lay beyond their world's Hyperborean rim, upon whose whim survival rested. Beautifully fashioned in the Celtic style, his psychopathic pin-prick eyes are merciless, omnipotent, mad with divinity, a Pagan gaze that promises the end of cities, a condition that seems far away back in the tumult of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when modern industry still gurgles in its infancy, in its gun-metal cot, or at least, further than it seems today. [...]
Though painted forty years apart by men of widely different temperament and age and style, both Turner's Hannibal and Martin's Sodom and Gomorrah possess many similarities, and have the stamp of catastrophic times upon them. Turner's piece is executed during 1812, while John Martin is hanging his first painting, Sadak in Search of the Waters of Oblivion, in the Royal Academy. Just a year previously Napoleon has tried to invade Italy across the Alps, Hannibal style, defeated by the stark realities of weather and terrain. Turner conceives a warning, a reminder of the shattering and gigantic forces of the Earth that wait to wipe away our kingdoms, our republics, our delirious ambitions, a tribunal that brooks no appeal. He steals a murderous Yorkshire sky from over Farnley Hall in Otley, revels in the drama of the Northern Lights. John Martin's levelling of the Cities of the Plain, painted in 1852 with Martin in his early sixties, has the same regional atmospherics, has the furnace glow of his Newcastle youth deployed to similar ends. It shares with Turner's painting an enormity of scale and moment, tiny Bruegel figures only there to illustrate the vastness of destruction that surrounds them, the futility and insignificance of human grandeurs faced with natural disaster, faced with carpet bombing from the angels. Both works have the same intention, a critique of overreaching national arrogance couched in a language that is classical or biblical. Most strikingly they share a composition: rocky terrain in the lower foreground, rising on the right, where miniaturist figures cower, Lot and his daughters, Hannibal's doomed soldiers. Over all this in the upper background's whirl and spectacle, Martin and Turner both depict the same annihilating vortex, one with flame and one with smoke. Some say the world will end in fire, some in ice, but both functions in the debate agree that it will end. Rome's wall, Napoleon's, Gomorrah, the industry warmed world that we inhabit, straining at the end of their respective tethers, facing the same whirlpool of demise. This is a terror of the world's edge. It's the vertigo of an accelerated culture. Out beyond the lights of every city, every town and every century, this is the abyss that abides. These lethal vortices are each ellipses, one that sears and one that freezes. At the Roman garrisons hunching against the rain in Westgate Road beside Hadrian's Wall, these are the terminal configurations of civilisation's margins, other forces outside that must be appeased. In 2010 at this unique convergence, hanging side by side together the twin maelstroms of extinction can't help but suggest an optical arrangement. These storm sockets, cauled with hail and magma and eradication. We stand at the precipice of ourselves and look down into the gaze that has not blinked or wavered since before we were, and would not notice if we were no longer. At these snowblind precincts of our empire, at this limit of our possibilities, we stare into the cold eyes of Antenociticus.
John Martin's The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

Extra info here

Oct 18, 2021

Wizard Moore by Glenn Fabry

Art by Glenn Fabry
Above, a magical portrait of Wizard Moore by internationally acclaimed British artist GLENN FABRY. The illustration was intended to be printed on t-shirts

More info about Glenn Fabry: HERE.

Oct 12, 2021

On heroes and heroism

Excerpt from a video interview (with transcript available too) published few days ago on RT.com site, HERE
What about heroes? I mean, I know your take on superheroes, you think that people are cowards, make superheroes to cover up their own complexes. But what about heroism without the prefix ‘super’? Do you think it exists in the world? And if yes, then what is it?  
Alan Moore: Of course it is. And it is an everyday heroism to choose to do the right thing, rather than not to do the right thing. These are moments of heroism, and they're basically what hold the culture, the species together. Without them, we'd be nowhere. So they are vitally important. Yes, I’m all for heroes – and I have my own heroes. I idolise William Blake, I don't think that there was probably a better human being in the entire British history.
The complete interview is available on RT.com site, HERE.

Oct 11, 2021

Supreme Self-gift!

Art by Rick Veitch. Lettering by Todd Klein.
Sometimes you know yourself better than... any other person. At least this is 100% true for me when you are talking about... comics! 
So, after some years and several attempts, I finally bought a page of SUPREME art directly from... supreme Master RICK VEITCH. Needless to say, it's a masterpiece and a real supreme treasure in my small collection! Grazie, Rick, for such a gem!
 
Well, it's a gorgeous page from Supreme with Professor Night (and Twilight the Girl Marvel) 8-page short story, titled "The secret origin of The Professor Night/Supreme Team!" published in Supreme Vol.3, issue n. 52B (Awesome Entertainment), in 1997. 
Lettering by the legendary... Todd Klein, of course!
Art by Rick Veitch. Lettering by Todd Klein.
Isn't it gorgeous? And could you feel those EC vibes?
Awesome Supreme page! Art by Rick Veitch. Lettering by Todd Klein.
Below you can see the printed page (with colours by Donald Skinner).
 
I hope you love it as much as I love it! :)

Oct 9, 2021

on Neil Gaiman and Sandman

Neil Gaiman moderating the Watchmen panel at UKCAC in 1986.
Excerpt from Some Moore - Part Two, an interview by Steve Darnall published in Hero Illustrated n. 8, February 1994.
MOORE: Neil is one of the only people who's working at Vertigo- with a couple of other exceptions-who succeeds. Neil is not writing like me anymore. He used to when he was starting out, and I think he'd be the first to admit that. It was very flattering. Everyone's got to start somewhere, and we all start out aping someone to a degree, but Neil, I think, has done more to move away from the sort of territory that I've created, and to establish something that is uniquely his own. The flavor in Neil's stories is very different to mine, and it's not unrelenting horror. Neil is somebody who understands the benefit of putting in a lovely little story like that "Midsummer Night's Dream" story [Sandman 19]. He uses interesting storytelling techniques, he's constantly trying to think of new ways to do things and there's a sense of genuine enjoyment in Neil's stories that I don't always feel in some of the other ones. You get the impression that Neil's enjoyed writing this story, he enjoyed researching all these little odd bits of obscure historical facts and putting them into his Sandman mosaic.
I read, for the first time, the whole run of Neil's Sandman about a month ago, because I've got a strange, pathological aversion to picking up DC comics [laughter]. I don't know what it is; I just see that bullet in the top left-hand corner and I start to go all clammy, my stomach contracts, I just cannot bring myself to shell out money...

DARNALL: You're back in the jungle in 'Nam...

MOORE: That's it, that's it. I can hear the 'copters going overhead. Neil, understanding this sort of pathological condition of mine, saved me the problem of going into a shop and buying them by sending me a great big bunch of them. I read them all through and I thought they were great. Reading them, I thought, "God, this must have been what it was like for Neil reading my Swamp Things." I never actually got the experience of reading Swamp Thing, because I'd written it, so I knew what the ending was [laughs]. Not that I want to compare the two, but I think I got the same feeling looking at Sandman that I hope people got out of reading Swamp Thing.

DARNALL: Neil said he chose to do "The Doll's House" and risk interrupting the previous tone of the book, because he knew if he didn't he ran the risk of becoming another X-Men. Looking back, that decision actually changed the entire direction of the book, because from there he could spring off and do "Midsummer Night's Dream" or "Dream of a Thousand Cats."

MOORE: "The Doll's House" is one of those watershed things, which Neil probably didn't realize at the time. But, sometimes you do stories because you have to and they put a spin on the series that you hadn't expected. They open up all sorts of new possibilities. I agree, and I think it's important that writers be given the freedom to develop according to their own instincts. Of course, that doesn't always work out; some people's things are not as good as others', but...it would have been so easy to crush Neil as a talent before he developed by giving him edicts and telling him, 'Do it like this, do it like that.' I mean, nobody at DC would've ever said, 'Hey, we think it'd be a really good idea if you did a sort of light fantasy story about Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream." Nobody would've done that because those don't sell, according to the conventional sort of wisdom of the marketing department. Of course, it did sell. When people think of Sandman, these are the stories they remember, the little oddities.

Oct 8, 2021

Thunderbolt and Ozymandias by Mike Collins

Art by MIKE COLLINS
From the sold-out Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman book, above a great illustration by British well-known comic book artist and writer MIKE COLLINS
He wrote: "Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt, the revived Charlton hero I wrote and drew for DC in the early 90s—and his Watchmen universe counterpart, Ozymandias."
 
For more info about the artist: Official site - Twitter
 

Oct 7, 2021

Alan Moore on Jay Stephens' Jetcat

Jetcat is Saturday morning forever, a timely reminder of what comics are there for, and how good they can actually be. --- Alan Moore
Check Jetcat & Friends' Kickstarter HERE... now!

Oct 6, 2021

The Magus and his Tarot cards by Carlos Dearmas

Art by Carlos Dearmas
Above a stunning portrait of Alan Moore by phenomenal Argentinian illustrator and comic book artist CARLOS DEARMAS
Moore is showing in his hands some special Tarot cards: 
Tarot XI – LA FORCE, featuring Silk Spectre and Bubastis (from Watchmen)
Tarot VIIII – L’HERMITE, featuring Swamp Thing
Tarot XIIII, featuring V (from V for Vendetta)
Tarot VIII – LA JUSTICE, featuring Promethea
Tarot XVII – LE TOILLE, featuring Marvelman
LE MAT, featuring The Joker

It's really an amazing piece of art! Grazie mille, Carlos.
 
For more info about the artist

Oct 5, 2021

Alan Moore by Joe Granski

Art by Joe Granski
Above, an intense portrait of Moore by American painter Joe Granski (16" x 20", oil on canvas).
I am not sure about the "realism" of that... bat pin-badge, actually.
 

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

Aug 23, 2021

Promethea sketch card by Mick Gray

Art by Mick Gray
Above, a nice Promethea sketch card (2.5" x 3.5") commission by MICK GRAY.

For more info about the artist, visit his site HERE.

Aug 17, 2021

Superman, Mxyzptlk and... Watchmen (sort of)

Above page 11 and 12 from Adventures of Superman n. 496  - published in 1992 by DC Comics - where Mxyzptlk shook Superman's reality adding a bit of... Watchmen too! 
Story by Jerry Ordway and Dennis Janke. Art by Dennis Janke.
More info here, too.

Aug 12, 2021

V by Daniel Warren Johnson

Art by Daniel Warren Johnson
Above, a superb V drawn by the phenomenal Chicago-based comic book writer, artist and illustrator DANIEL WARREN JOHNSON.

For more info about the artist and his work, visit his site: HERE.

Aug 10, 2021

Moore vs. Claremont

Page from Heroes for Hope. Script: A. Moore. Art: R. Corben.
Selected excerpts from Moore and Claremont speak out on writing, an interview published on Speakeasy n. 54 in 1985.

During the recent visit of the X-Men creative team to the UK, your intrepid reporters from Speakeasy cornered Chris Claremont after his mammoth signing session in Forbidden Planet for an exclusive interview. However, just as he was about to be whisked away in our bullet-proof limousine a familiar, if somewhat sinister figure lurched into view. It was none other than Alan Moore, who had just heard on the phone from the US that he had been voted Second Best Comics Writer in the Comic Buyer's Guide poll. As we rushed to offer our heartiest congratulations, he graciously broke the news to Chris Claremont that he had in fact been voted the First Best Comics Writer in the selfsame poll. Not believing our luck, we also bundled Mr Moore into the back of the limo, took the official Two World's Greatest Comic Book Writers to an exclusive eaterie, and pointed a tape recorder in their general direction. What follows is our transcript of this momentous historic occasion...

WOULD YOU AGREE THAT THE STRUCTURE OF YOUR STORIES IN THE X-MEN, CHRIS, ARE SIMILAR IN FORM TO A SOAP OPERA?

[...]

Alan Moore: I have just started writing the first book that I have ever done that could be remotely construed as a superhero team book. It's got a number of different super heroes in it...

Chris Claremont: The Charlton stuff?

AM: The Watchmen.

CC: What was the Charlton stuff?

AM: That's right. But I am glad that we didn't get the Charlton stuff now because the characters we have come up with are better. With that I found it's coming out like Thomas Pynchon in comics, it's so bloody dense. We've got twenty eight pages in there and Dave's working on a nine panel frame grid, so I've found it quite easy to set it up so that you can get all the characters in there. And also I haven't got Chris's problem in that I have just got to do twelve issues. I don't think that you see a supervillain throughout the entire twelve issues, so it's avoiding a lot of the classic hero/villain formula.

CC: The X-Men Ethiopia book is a nice case in point. Most of the first third of it is basically single character sequences: each of the X-Men as individuals goes through a significant trauma. It isn't until the end that they start acting as a group. In Alan's case he had Magneto. It took me the better part of a month to choreograph it, just because you have to keep track of where everybody's going and what everybody is doing. And depending on how on the ball your artist is, you have to be thinking characterisationally for all six, eight, ten, twelve characters, in terms of how they dress, how they look, what their rooms are like. [...]
One of the things that was so impressive about Alan's Magneto scene was the description of the office, and he lists the three books that Magneto has in the world: Nietzsche's Man and Superman, the other's a book on advanced physics, and the third was Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. I thought this is great! Not only is he brilliant and an egotist, but he has a sense of humour.

HOW DID YOU DO THAT?

AM: It was just the spines of the books.

CC: Actually Pychon's the only one that made it onto the panel.

AM: Not to worry. All that stuff is just detail so that other people can get into it. I agree that the establishment of invisible character detail, the stuff that is not on the surface, the stuff that is just subliminal - context - is an important thing. With Watchmen we tried to really go in for that. It's an extension of the technique that I used in Halo Jones, probably a lot different to the clear establishing that Chris was talking about, in that it's an extension of the idea of teaching parallel languages by dumping people in a room full of foreigners. Okay, the first time it's going to be hell and the first time it's going to be incomprehensible, but eventually your understanding of that world will be much more thorough. It's a long shot, but I think it's going to work because we have got a lot of space: we're working on nine panels of page as opposed to the normal six. That gives you half the book again and you've got twenty eight pages so, in effect you're doing a forty two page book or something, which gives you a lot of information. It's not a very big story either. It's a story that I could probably have told in three issues, but were telling it in twelve. It's not going to be padded, it's just that having twelve we've got room to explore all the characters.

YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THE DETAIL A WRITER OR ARTIST CAN PUT IN OR NOT PUT IN...

[...]

AM: This comes down to one of the big differences between me and Chris, beyond any stylistic differences. It's purely in the way we work, in that Chris writes plots and then writes the dialogue, and I write a full script. I know that Chris has said he would find it very difficult to write a full script...

CC: Just because I'm a lazy sod!

AM: The only difference is that I wouldn't like to do it your way you know because of the amount of control. I write very, very full scripts. For the first episode of The Watchmen, the manuscript was 164, pages but that meant in each panel you've got a lengthy description and I'm describing everything in the panel. There's a scene where a character goes home and finds Rorschach, one of the other characters, waiting for him in his kitchen. It's a conversation and I knew how the character who found Rorschach there would be reacting, but I needed something for Rorschach to do. It's not a big thing, but while he's talking to the other guy Rorschach goes into the kitchen, goes over to the work surface, takes a sugar jar. He's just carrying on talking and in three panels you see him unscrewing the top of the sugar jar, then he just tips out all the sugar cubes while he's still talking to the other guy, and escapes them all into the pocket of his raincoat, and then just carries on talking. There is no more mention of the sugar cubes until about two scenes later, you're in another character's house and Rorschach's turned up there and while he's talking he pulls his mask up over his nose, reaches into his pocket, takes out a sugar cube, unwraps it, puts it in his mouth, pulls down the mask and just stand there going crunch crunch crunch while he's talking, and drops the paper on the floor. Four pages later you see the woman who is in the house frown, and pick up this piece of paper from the floor and dump it in the litter bin. It's an unimportant bit, but it establishes a couple of characters by a bit of business. Again with Watchmen we have to have an advert hoarding in the background. I told Dave (Gibbons) what the product is, we made up a perfume called Nostalgia and we see it on a hoarding in the first issue. In the second issue somebody's got a bottle of Nostalgia on their dressing table and that is the sort of depth and complexity that I find it easy to get doing a full script, which is one of the reasons I wouldn't be at home with a plot. It's a similar thing to what Chris is saying. It's a matter of control, making sure that everything is there for a reason. Nothing that is just "Oh well...". You think what sort of clothes is he wearing - "well it might be this, it might be that, it doesn't matter." If you know the character well enough you know what sort of clothes he is wearing.

CC: The conscious decision I made was to sacrifice a measure of that control for the advantage of the artist's contributory creativity. I find when I am working with someone like Frank (Miller) or Walt Simonson or (John) Byrne or Paul Smith or John Bolton, to name just a few, that there is a barrier: their suggestions, their thoughts of pacing. They know better how to visually construct a scene than I do; I know how I want the beginning, the middle and the end to go, but how we get there is mutable. [...] It's sacrificing a measure of control to hopefully gain a measure of creativity. The down side is that you end up sometimes having to write obscenely huge blocks of copy to cover screw ups.

AM: My attitude is the same as Chris's. I value serendipity, and I value the artists input a lot and with every script I have written, I write a full script and than say "Throw it out". That's all that they need, if you say that "Here's my full script; this is everything that I can think of that would look good in here. If you've got a better idea or if one of my ideas is bad and you think that you can do it better, then change it"; which means that all I am doing really is giving them something they can use as a jumping off point. With the Magneto sequence, at the beginning Magneto is looking at his reflection in the Cerebro helmet, and in the last panel you have a corpse looking at their reflection in the old Magneto helmet. That gives the three pages a symmetry that binds it together. If I'd just worked from the plot, it would be unlikely that you would get that. That is the sort of thing that I value, the fact that you can impose a structure and then let the artist... Well, take Steve and John: they come up with some incredible weird shit. It's what I ask for - I might say "Now we want some horrible sort of war fantasy" and make a few suggestions - but they will be putting their own minds into it. I think it's the job of the writer to inspire the artist in one way or another.

[...]

DO YOU THINK THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE WRITER IN THE COMICS FIELD IS UNDERRATED?

CC: Oh I think they are. [...] I think any good artist worth half a damn will tell you this, that we're the ones who start the story. The artist may come in and say "I've got a brilliant idea for a story", but the writer is the one who hammers it into shape. The major flaw I used to find among artists who write was that they would come up with great individual stories, but it would not hold as a series. If you talk to people like Frank and Walter and John and Howard, who are writers, they will more often describe themselves as writers who draw as opposed to artists who write. The misconception is that our job is to put the words on the page, and it isn't. Our job is to tell the story that puts the art on the page. What we're there to do is to give the artist the framework, the images, whatever, that he or she converts into the pictures. Then we take the words to point the pictures in certain directions but it's getting the pictures on the page first that's important and that's where we earn our money. That was always the polarity in Marvel because you were paid $25 for a plot and $480 for a script, and the first thing that Shooter did was to reorient that and establish that we have a plot rate and a script rate, and the plot rate is half the script rate. In my case that's where I do 90% of my work; scripting is easy because for me anyway 90% of the work is about when I write the plot.

AM: Going back to what you were saying about an artist's considerations when it comes to write - this is not a general slur of all artists - but a lot of artists will obviously think in terms of visual considerations because they have got to sit there and draw the book, which is about five times the actual physical labour that me and Chris have put in. So they are going to think "I want something nice to draw". Just as a random example, with Captain Britain when I was working with Alan (Davis), since he has been doing the script before me, we both had lots of input into it. Alan liked the idea of drawing a lot of super hero characters. He liked the idea of bringing in the Special Executive and adding about six more members to them, and he liked the idea of having lots of characters around because it gave him new characters to design, new characters to draw. After a while I found when I was writing it - I wanted to give Alan everything he wanted - but I found that you were eventually getting a script that was swamped in characters, because once you created these characters who look good for their five panel introductory fight scene, they are still hanging around. Unless you are going to have them to just dematerialise then you have got to think of something to do with them, and the more characters you get the more difficult it becomes. I read an interview with Alan where he was saying that he got bored with some of the Captain Britain stories because Captain Britain was becoming a background character, and this is the difference between artists' thinking and writers' thinking. Writers have to think in a tapestry, they have to think "Well okay, I could do this now and it would be really really flash and it will be really good for these three pages, but it would diffuse something I've got coming up in a month's time, something I've got coming up in two months' time, it would spoil this little relationship I've got building there: it's not worth it". You tend to think in the long term, in the overall picture, rather than in terms of what is going to be good for that week's work.

[...]

AM: I like to brutalise the readers emotionally as much as possible, because so much culture is deadening, so much culture has no emotional impact. Culture is more to do with avoiding emotional impact - muzak culture, where all of the emotional high peaks have been edited out. If I was going to do anything in comics, I would like to think that I was going to do something that was going to upset people in one way or another.

CC: Make them think. A friend of mine in Michigan sent me the xeroxes of Alan's run on Captain Britain. I read it in one sitting, and I said to myself "Shit, I created this little book?" It bore no resemblance, but what was flattering was that Alan built on the stuff that I set up. [...]

AM: With the Captain Britain stuff, when I read it through - I mean, after you left the book there was there was an awful lot of, I mean really...

CC: Well, when I was on the book it wasn't all that great.

AM: You were limited to start with because you had got a cross between Spider-Man and Captain America in Britain, but when I went through it I felt that my job is to accept that all this is real on some level, and that all this happened - much as I wish most of it hadn't - and try and come up with some overstructure that will accomodate all that, while emphasizing the better elements.

CC: When I got to the end my first reaction was "Wow!" this is like a great roller coaster ride, this is neat! [...] To me, the way to do it is through the emotional context: I was caring about Brian and Betsy and, Christ!, even Saturnyne and the Crazy Gang I felt so bad when they all got chewed up. And when this little tadpole got himself incinerated right off the bat. Actually, I felt sorry for the Fury - aww, poor little unstoppable killing machine!

AM: What can you do if you're an unstoppable killing machine? You're not going to have many options, are you?

CC: But it was challenging, it was exciting. Ronin was, almost. Eisner, if you want to go back to basics.

AM: Love and Rockets - good emotional character stuff there.

CC: And a woman who is getting fat.

AM: That's good

CC: The reason I love Love and Rockets is because Maggie is getting fat. I am doing it with a boy: Sunspot is becoming a chocoholic, he's going to gain weight, but that's a boy. Boys's get fat. Karma got fat, but it was a joke.

AM: It's not taboo to have an ugly boy in comics. It's not taboo to have a less than physically perfect boy. To have an ugly girl that is sympathetic is a move that I'm waiting for. With Captain Britain, it was mainly Alan (Davis), but when he made Cobweb really, really ugly and really, really interesting and nice, I thought that was great. That Megan character - I must admit the latest ones that I've seen she is made a lot more attractive, and I think that's a shame. From my point of view, the more ugly, sympathetic people in comics the more that we can get away from this perfect ideal of blemishless, acne-free teens, the better.

[...]

Aug 8, 2021

The hands of Mansoul by Matt Chu

Art by Matt Chu

Above, a stunning Moore portrait based on his book Jerusalem.  
Amazing art by MATT CHU, a freelance artist and illustrator based in Coventry, UK.
 
For more info about the artist and his awesome work, visit his site: HERE.

Aug 7, 2021

Moore and Prospero

Excerpt from Jess Nevins' Impossible Territories: The Unofficial Companion To The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Black Dossier, published in July 2008.
Jess Nevins: Some fans have read the final sequence of the Dossier where Prospero gives his speech as autobiography, the bearded magus withdrawing from the world and being unshackled from mundane authorities. How much did you intend it to be autobiographical, if at all?
Alan Moore: I didn't intend it to be autobiographical at all, no. I do happen to be a magus, I do happen to be English, I do happen to have largely withdrawn from-certainly from the comics world, although I'm still fairly present in this material world, where I'm sitting now. I think most people around Northampton are always surprised when I'm described as a recluse. I guess that there are similarities: Yeah, we've both got beards. But, no, I wasn't thinking about me at all. I was mostly thinking purely about the fascinating figure of Prospero, who as we construe him in the Black Dossier is connected with both Christopher Marlowe's Faust and Ben Jonson's John Suttle, the Alchemist, or I think he was just called Suttle, I think we added the John, because we wanted to try and underline all of these three figures were based on Elizabeth the First's astrologer and magician John Dee, and so that final sequence with Prospero, it wasn't even Prospero saying "I am retiring from the world," and indeed Prospero makes an appearance in Volume Three of the League, in the third book. But it was purely meant as a triumphal statement on behalf of the world of fiction. I was using Prospero as a spokesperson for my ideas concerning fiction and how important that world is, how dependent we are upon it, how it can hardly be regarded as fictional at all when it has such far-reaching effects on the nonfictional, physical world. So that was mainly why we put Prospero in such a strong role. And also, right at the end, we'd previously established that Prospero speaks in iambic pentameter, and I wanted the final scene of the book to be able to go out with a really rousing final speech delivered in full Shakespearean flow, that would be able to sum up what kind of statement the Dossier is trying to make, taken as a whole, all of its individual parts. And if you had to sum it up succinctly into one statement it would probably be pretty much what Prospero says. He's saying that the world of fiction is vital to the human world and fortunately the world of fiction is eternal and is beyond the reach of all mortal authorities, and where it can continue to carry on its work uninterrupted by mundane problems. So I suppose at least in that regard me and Prospero at least have that much in common. But I don't feel that I am withdrawing from my sense of engagement with the world. I'm working harder now than I've ever done before. I am turning out more stuff. I know that people aren't seeing it, because I'm two-thirds of the way of a three quarter of a million word novel, which will be finished in another couple of years, and so then people will be able to see what I've been doing.