Jan 11, 2024

Alan Moore Portraits - Excerpts Part 2

I was 17 years old in 1999, and I was this close to quitting comics. I’d been buying them regularly for almost a decade at that point, but with increasing prices and, frankly, an overall lack of what I saw as quality books (I may have just not been looking in the right places), I was really starting to feel like I was outgrowing the hobby. I’d discovered Alan Moore a few months before, via a friend who had lent me Watchmen, and the bar had been raised for what I considered good comics.
And just when I was about to throw in the towel, Wizard Magazine came out with an article about Alan Moore’s new America’s Best Comics line, and I immediately put that towel back in the closet where it belonged. [...]
For many, Alan Moore’s comics career can be summed up in the broad strokes of working in British comics on V for Vendetta, Halo Jones and Marvelman; going to DC to make Swamp Thing and Watchmen; spurning mainstream comics for serious-minded indies Big Numbers and From Hell; a return to mainstream with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and America's Best Comics imprint; and finishing with his H.P. Lovecraft works Neonomicon and Providence.
But for those willing to dive into his lesser known and not as easily obtained works, there is buried treasure waiting to be discovered throughout his legendary career. For me, it’s his period from 1995 to 1998 that yields a rich vein of gold worth being brought up to the light not only because it’s so well done, but because it was unexpected. [...]
Providence represents the third phase of British writer Alan Moore's exploration and reinvention of the incoherent mythological universe American writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft created in the 1920s. Each of these three stages fits into a precise path whose intimate consistency is perceptible only retrospectively. [...]
In addition to his blunt refusal to see the Hollywood film versions of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) and V for Vendetta (2005), Moore is also on record as defining cinema in general as a lesser medium than language and writing. In many texts—From Hell (1989-1998), Promethea (1999-2005), Snakes and Ladders (1999/2001), others—Moore defines language as the primary technology, a system capacious and powerful enough to grant us consciousness, and film can’t compete with Moore’s conception of Language-as-Prime-Mover. [...]
Seventy! Alan Moore is turning seventy. While I’m sure other contributors to this collection of essays may assay a joke about Alan’s age vis a vis his belief in eternalism, there is something about the number and passage that evokes loss, a sense of life running away from us. We so identify our favourite writers with their works. And those works seem to endure in an enshrined perseverance/preservation of time, so it’s always surprising to see photos of one’s favourite creators through the decades, caught in seemingly meaningless moments such as sharing a drink with friends, strolling down the street with their family, or buying something at a store. But of course, these moments, these humdrum details, are just as essential as the book signings and the talks and the political announcements and everything else which squarely frame the writer’s persona. Writers are not simply brains or minds living in jars of electrified jelly, with that jar being the work they produce. [...]
The first time I had a long conversation with Alan Moore was at the height of what we might call Watchmenmania, in 1987 or 1988, when I went up to Northampton to interview him about it for various magazines. We got on well – I’m only six months younger than him, so we share a lot of common reference points and interests – and by the time I’d interviewed him a couple more times over the next five years or so, we’d become friends. [...]

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