Moore Quits Comics (again)!
Alan Moore announces he is to give up writing for comics on his fiftieth birthday. But help is at hand…
Alan Moore is, as I’ve said before and will no doubt say again, the greatest comics writer in the world. This is not only an article of faith with myself and many others, but is very nearly scientifically provable. Therefore, it was with a certain amount of shock that I found out that he intends to give up writing comics by the end of 2003, to concentrate on his performance work, as well as to have the time to become a full-time magician. In an interview with Ninth Art’s Frank Beaton in early April, he had this to say:
What I'm trying to do at the moment is finish off all of the mainstream comics work around the end of this year, at which point having retired effectively from mainstream comics, I want to play around with things I've been neglecting. Like, I used to quite enjoy drawing at one point, and although I could never draw quickly enough to actually have a career as an artist, it would be nice to have the freedom to play around with a bit more artwork, some sculpture, more performance work. There will probably still be comics in the mix somewhere, almost certainly. It's a medium that I have a great deal of fondness for, and that I feel there's still a lot of potential in. But, yes, I will be putting distance between my mainstream comics career and my magical work, simply by closing down my mainstream comics career and becoming a full-time magician.
This leaves a number of questions, primarily that of what will happen to ABC (America’s Best Comics), for which he wrote and created all the titles. The storyline on Promethea is working its way towards an apocalyptic conclusion, with an end-of-the-world dénouement forthcoming in issue 31, to be followed by the title’s final issue, number 32, a number that ties in nicely with the kabbalistic theme running through the title. Whether this apocalypse will permeate throughout the ABC titles is anyone’s guess. Various previously announced upcoming projects for ABC, such as The 49ers, Smax the Barbarian, Terra Obscura and at least one other, may or may not now appear, with the second season of Top Ten being one of the first casualties. ABC is owned by Wildstorm Productions, which is in turn owned by DC Comics, with whom Moore has been in dispute for some time, so in leaving the ABC titles behind him Moore is no longer forced to work for an employer he finds distasteful. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, however, is fully owned by Moore and his co-creator, Kevin O’Neill, so further adventures may be published elsewhere.
There are, however, quite a number of projects either by or involving Moore forthcoming in the lead up to his fiftieth birthday, which falls on the 18th of November, with everyone trying to either write about him or publish whatever they have in their back-catalogue by him. These should help to relieve any potential PMT (post-Moore tension) you are beginning to experience…
DC are publishing Swamp Thing: Reunion, which is the sixth and final volume of Moore’s run on Swamp Thing, the title that first brought him to the notice of the American comic-buying public, and which was more or less responsible for the formation of Vertigo, the DC imprint he once described as being based on a bad mood he was in ten years ago. DC are also publishing Across the Universe: The DC Universe Stories of Alan Moore, which pretty much does what it says on the tin. Included in this are lots of bits and pieces Moore did for them over the years, with stories from Superman Annual #11, DC Comics Presents #85, Batman Annual #11, Detective Comics #549 & 550, Secret Origins #10, Vigilante #17 & 18, Omega Men #26 & 27, Green Lantern #188 and Green Lantern Corps Annual #2 & 3.
Other reprints of Moore’s comic work are Checker Book Publishing’s Supreme: The Return, the follow-up to the recently published The Story of the Year, (which had so many errors on the cover text that the publishers are offering a new, corrected, copy to anyone who sends in the stripped covers on their original edition. They even managed to suggest that Swamp Thing had been published by Marvel!), as well as Top Shelf’s The Mirror of Love, a poem celebrating same-sex love, which was originally published in 1988 in AARGH! (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia, published by Moore’s own imprint, Mad Love, to protest the then British government’s highly controversial Clause 28, which would have effectively criminalized homosexuality all over again). The original story was 8 pages long, but in this instance it will be a 120-page hardcover book, including 40 photographs, an essay about the poem and any amount of annotation on the historical characters and places mentioned in it. Also finally seeing print again is A Small Killing, which is being republished by Avatar.
Besides reprints of Moore’s previous work, there’s a whole slew of publications about Moore and his work. The most important, probably, are the two volumes of tributes planned for his birthday. The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore, by TwoMorrows Publishing, apparently has “rare strips, scripts, artwork and photographs of the author, most never published before. It also features Moore's closest collaborators elaborating in comic strip form on their relationships with Moore.” TwoMorrows, who have previously published Kimota! The Miracleman Companion, are also highlighting Moore in Comic Book Artist #25: ABC's of Alan Moore, although I don’t know if they knew he was closing it all down at the time they wrote it! The other tribute volume is called Alan Moore: Portrait Of An Extraordinary Gentleman, from Gary Spencer Millidge’s Abiogenesis Press (and if you haven’t read the first two volumes of Millidge’s Strangehaven I strongly suggest you stop whatever you’re doing and go out and buy them now) and includes “brand new, specially created comic strips, illustrations, essays, anecdotes, stories, poetry and personal recollections, from Moore's closest collaborators and high profile creators from all corners of the comics industry.”
As well as these two books, various other things look like they’ll be adding themselves to my Moore library, like Jess Nevins’ Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen from MonkeyBrain Books which, if it’s half as good as the online version of his vast and thorough annotations, will be very good indeed. There’s also a super special edition of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume 1 due from ABC, a two-volume oversized slipcased hardcover edition, with the original comics in one volume and the complete scripts in the other. Yummee! Avatar Press are publishing Alan Moore's Writing for Comics, a reprint of an essay Moore wrote in 1985, with more recent material added. Avatar are also releasing Another Suburban Romance, an adaptation into graphic novel form of some early performance works by Moore. Top Shelf, in their anthology title Top Shelf: Asks The Big Questions, are featuring the controversial Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie Cobweb story, previously banned by DC Comics from the ABC/Wildstorm anthology Tomorrow Stories. They are also finally bringing back into print Moore’s novel, Voice of the Fire, and there’s even some talk of him starting to write the long awaited second novel, A Grammar. Top Shelf are even making noises about publishing Lost Girls, Moore’s psychosexual tale of the meeting between three of childhood literature's female characters (Alice, of Alice in Wonderland; Dorothy, of The Wizard of Oz; and Wendy, from Peter Pan) when they are adults. This is going to be 3-volume hardcover slipcase affair, due sometime in mid-2004. Start saving now.
Between all of these, and the recent republication by 2000AD/Titan of Skizz, The Ballad of Halo Jones and the collected DR & Quinch, as well as Marvel finally reprinting his Captain Britain stories, virtually all of Moore’s important work is finally in print at the same time, and available to a willing audience. In fact, the only major work by Moore that isn’t likely to see print in the near future, as far as I can see, is Miracleman, currently and still the subject of dispute between Neil Gaiman and Young Nastyman himself, Todd McFarlane.
In the meantime, Moore is concentrating on his performance work, which has resulted in 6 CDs so far, with more to come. These are, in case you’re not familiar with them The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, The Birth Caul, Brought to Light, The Highbury Working, Angel Passage, and Snakes and Ladders. Of the one’s I have, Highbury is well and away my favourite, and I look forward to more of these. If you have the first three, or know where I can find them, a considerable reward will be offered! [Since this was originally written, I have got copies of these.]
Most of the things listed above are due within the next 6 months, and I’ll be buying all of them…
In a way, all of this material coming out almost seems like the relatives gathering before the funeral, not to mention seeming a bit like scraping the bottom of the barrel, in some cases, but I’m sure Moore will come back in another ten years, and completely rewrite the comics’ industry again. However, Alan Moore is nothing if not creative, and he has various plans for the future, in varying stages of fruition. As well as all the projects mentioned above, he’s writing pop songs for the fire-eater from his performances, there has been talk of a new graphic novel or series about magic, possibly with his old friend Steve Moore, and it’s even rumoured that he may be contributing something to Vertigo. And there’s always the perennial rumours of the movie version of Watchmen…
This article originally appeared, in a slightly different version, on TheAlienOnline.net
Pádraig Ó Méalóid writes the excellent electronic newsletter Irish SF News, which you can subscribe to here.