Friday, July 27, 2012

Alan Moore, a very brief retrospective

Alan Moore is my favorite comic writer.

Alan Moore by Frank Quietly. For a treat click on the picture and look closely into the beard.
No one writer has written as dramatic or profound stuff as he has IMHO. Moore can do it all. He writes plots like no other, his dialog is usually spotless, and he loves to get all dramatic and dirty (He along with Miller were credited with bringing "gritty" to comics.) but I think the thing I like best about his work is his mind. It seems so fertile and agile. He seems to be able to absorb whatever he is writing about and come up with fresh lively perspectives on it. He takes old stuff and makes it feel new.
Moore started working as a writer on Englands 2000 AD doing short stories like Moore and Gibbon's tiime twisting tale of The Desturbed Digestions of Doctor Dibworthy.

But really made a name for himself with his work on Warrior Magazine.

He wrote  V for Vendetta  a take off of the whole "vigilante of the night" thing and Marvelman, a modern reinterpretation of the classic English character, among other things for it. Marvelman was later renamed Miracleman for American audiences. I love both these works but I think Miracleman is my favorite Moore work though these days you have to get it in back issues because it hasn't been reprinted for legal reasons and back issues can get expensive.

After that Moore broke into American comics with the Swamp Thing. It was immediately hailed as an overwhelming success.

In fact issue #21, his second issue on the series is considered one of the greatest single issues ever written. This series is definitely worth checking out.You can read more about the creation of Swamp Thing #20 (Moore's first Swamp Thing issue) on Steven Bissette's blog.

Toward the end of his time with DC Comics he wrote the Watchmen and Batman; the Killing Joke both of which have been hailed as master works of the medium.

And lets not forget his short stories and one offs that he wrote for DC Comics like the quintessential superman story, Superman; Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? which he wrote for the end of Superman's bronze age run before they revamped him in his post Crisis on Infinite Earths persona. His other short stories that are for the most part equally cool can be gotten in the GN, The DC Universe by Alan Moore. You can read one of them from Green Lantern Annual #3 here - In Blackest Night which shows Moore's penchant for clever twists.
The blog Savage Tales also has a reprint of the Omega Men backup called "Brief Lives" and other cool Moore stories on it!

After this Moore had a falling out with DC comics over creators rights and left mainstream comics for the fertile land of independent comics where creators can finally reap the benefits of their work that the publishers, until now, have been getting. With the successes of Image Comics, the independents were booming. The other trend that was going on was getting away from the superhero kiddy culture and finally creating sophisticated comics for adults.
Moore's good friend and Swamp Thing collaborator Steve Bissette was putting together a horror anthology called Taboo which Moore decided to contribute From Hell a comic about Jack the Ripper.

I didn't read his 90's work so can't speak much on it, but lets just say that independent comics weren't all they were cracked up to be.
I got back into comics around 2005 and quickly picked up all of his America's Best Comics. Moore basically created his own superhero universe and gave his imagination free reign. I love most of these books.

The ABC Universe includes comics like Tom Strong (upper right in red and white), Promethea (on right with staff), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (top left), Top Ten (below LoEG), and the anthology the Tomorrow Stories (the 2 bottom rows).
I am currently reading his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; Black Dossier and am not disappointed though I would suggest starting with the first series of LoEG as it can be very confusing to say the least if your not familiar with the material or Moore's writing style.

This is just a general guide of Moore's work. There is more that I didn't mention and some that I haven't even read yet, but I've really loved most of Moore's work over the years. And with stuff like LoEG, it doesn't look like he will be letting me down any time soon!


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