Moore, Alan

Tagged: Comics | Art | Author

(1953-    ) UK Comics writer and illustrator, mainly active in the former capacity for the Graphic Novels that made him famous; all of these, including Watchmen, were illustrated by others. On relatively rare occasions, beginning with "Sawdust Memories" for Knave in December 1984, he has also written prose fiction, including the part-fantastic Voice of the Fire (coll of linked stories 1996) and the very long, also part-fantastic Jerusalem (2016), the latter having a mixed critical reception..

Moore's first professional work was as an artist and illustrator, beginning with a 1969 ad for the London sf bookshop Dark They Were and Golden Eyed. Under the pseudonym Curt Vile, he began creating comics with two series – Roscoe Moscow (March 1979-July 1980) and The Stars My Degradation (July 1980-February 1982; continued with a different scriptwriter but drawn by Moore until the March 1983 issue) – for the weekly music paper Sounds; another Curt Vile strip, Three Eyes McGurk & His Death Planet Commandos (December 1979 in Dark Star) appeared in the USA in Rip Off Comics #8 (1981). As Jill de Ray, Moore wrote and drew the weekly Maxwell the Magic Cat (August 1979-October 1986) for the Northants Post. Perhaps fortunately – his drawing style was often an anaemic rehash of underground-comix Clichés – this was his last regular work as an illustrator.

The appearance in the UK in 1977 of the weekly sf comic 2000 AD – the birthplace of Judge Dredd – had provided a forum for a new generation of writers and artists, of which Moore soon became a prominent member. For the Future Shocks section of 2000 AD itself he wrote 26 sf shorts (July 1980-August 1983); most of these were later assembled as Alan Moore's Shocking Futures (graph coll 1986) and Alan Moore's Twisted Times (graph coll 1986), both with various illustrators; the latter volume includes several linked stories starring the comic Mad Scientist character Abelard Snazz (see also Games and Sports). With scripts for Marvel Comics UK's Dr. Who Weekly/Monthly (June 1980-October 1981), Moore began to work for the commercial-comics industry, and was intensely active for the next half decade. During the same period, he wrote five stories for Marvel UK's Star Wars comic (November 1981-August 1982), and 20 episodes of the Parallel-Worlds Captain Britain sequence for various other Marvel UK comics. Aside from Captain Britain, most of this early work was comparatively journeyman.

In March 1982, with the first issue of the anthology-comic Warrior, this all changed. In that issue, Moore began two series of considerable significance. The first, Marvelman, was a radical Postmodernist reinterpretation of a Superhero (see Captain Marvel) from the 1940s. After Warrior was first intimidated by Marvel Comics into cancelling the series and then ceased publication altogether with issue 26 (February 1985), Marvelman was reprinted and completed in retitled form by the USA publisher Eclipse Comics; the full strip was then assembled as Miracleman (graph coll 1990), The Red King Syndrome (graph coll 1990) and Olympus (graph coll 1991), with various illustrators, including Alan Davis and Garry Leach. (Just as the original Captain Marvel was plagued by litigation, so was the new: the US Marvel Comics, which had begun its own Captain Marvel comic in 1967, insisted on the Moore strip being retitled Miracleman in the USA; in retaliation, Moore refused Marvel UK permission to reprint any of his early work, although he later grudgingly acquiesced for Captain Britain.)

The second Moore-scripted series begun in that first issue of Warrior (March 1982) was V for Vendetta, which pits an anarchist hero against the fascist regime of a Near-Future, post-Thatcherite UK. V for Vendetta also moved to the USA (after February 1985), being published there by DC Comics, and was assembled as V for Vendetta (graph 1990) illustrated by David Lloyd.

Other UK work during this period included The Ballad of Halo Jones (July 1984-April 1986 2000 AD), set in a variety of sf locales and later collected in three volumes as The Ballad of Halo Jones, Book One (graph 1986), The Ballad of Halo Jones, Book Two (graph 1986) and The Ballad of Halo Jones, Book Three (graph 1986), all three being later assembled as The Complete Ballad of Halo Jones (graph omni 1990), and all illustrated by Ian Gibson. Skizz (March 1983-August 1983 2000 AD), an sf tale reminiscent of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, was collected as Skizz (graph 1989) illustrated by Jim Baikie; and D.R. and Quinch (April 1983-Summer 1985 2000 AD), a comedy about Alien juvenile delinquents/confidence artists, was collected as D.R. and Quinch's Totally Awesome Guide to Life (graph coll 1986) illustrated by Alan Davis and D.R. and Quinch: Definitive Edition (graph coll 1991).

In 1984 Moore began to work directly for US firms, becoming the writer for DC's Saga of the Swamp Thing (in November 1984 the title changed to Swamp Thing), the eponymous monster being a 1970s Antihero now revived in the wake of the poor 1982 film. Moore's 44 Swamp Thing stories (January 1984-September 1987), which were collected in six volumes with various illustrators, perhaps take the "orthodox" sf/Gothic only-partly-human-Superhero theme as far as it could be taken within the framework of the conventional comic, which at the time was distributed through newsstands and operated in constant fear of censorship. The Grand Guignol violence of Moore's imagery, and the disturbing psychosexual impact of his storylines, established Swamp Thing as probably the seminal comic of the 1980s. From #30 DC made the then-daring decision to drop the Comics Code logo from the cover, replacing it with the words "Sophisticated Suspense". The move also helped to spawn the formation of DC's adult imprint, Vertigo, paving the way for a wide range of non-superhero storytelling.

The success of Swamp Thing led directly to Watchmen, a graphic novel whose twelve chapters were first published as individual comics (September 1986-October 1987 Watchmen), but which are best read in their intended book form as Watchmen (graph 1987; with additional material 1988) illustrated by Dave Gibbons. Set almost entirely in New York, in an Alternate History distinguished by the fact that the existence of costumed vigilantes and Superheroes has subtly modified the history of the twentieth century, Watchmen is both a satirical analysis of the human cost of being (or needing) a superhero, and an extremely distressing tale of a nearly-terminal Holocaust fomented by one of these iconic figures. The impact of the tale – and that of its sophisticated visual language, through which subtexts and subplots interweave with (in hindsight) the utmost clarity – was enormous.

After finishing the last parts of V for Vendetta and a Batman book, The Killing Joke (graph 1988) illustrated by Brian Bolland, Moore left mainstream comics, forming Mad Love (Publishing) Ltd in 1988 with his then-wife Phyllis and their mutual girlfriend Debbie Delano, through which he edited and self-published ARRGH! (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia) (graph anth 1988). Many works during this period tended to move away from genre concerns, though A Small Killing (graph 1990) illustrated by Oscar Zarate is fantasy, and From Hell (graph 1999), illustrated by Eddie Campbell, is a long fictional investigation of Jack the Ripper. Two instalments of his major project, the non-genre Big Numbers, appeared in 1990; the unpublished third part has appeared online with Moore's permission, but the story remains incomplete. Lost Girls, a psychosexual study of Wendy, Dorothy and Alice, who meet around the time of World War One, began in Taboo #5 (1992) (graph 2006).

Moore returned to more commercial comics in 1993 – the same year he declared himself a magician, worshiping an ancient Roman snake god called Glycon. His best work during this period was the unfinished 1963 (six issues, 1993), a loving pastiche of 1960s Marvel Comics and the works of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. The series was never completed due to various creative and personal differences behind the scenes at publisher Image Comics.

In 1999, Moore launched a new comics imprint called America's Best Comics, originally to be published by the Image Comics imprint Wildstorm but released by DC Comics after it acquired the imprint. The first "ABC" title was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (six issues 1999-2000; graph 2000), illustrated by Kevin O'Neill and poorly adapted to film as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). This literary mash-up features characters from H G Wells (the Invisible Man), Bram Stoker (Mina Harker), Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes, Mycroft Holmes and Professor Moriarty), Jules Verne (Captain Nemo and his Nautilus), Sax Rohmer (Fu Manchu) and Robert Louis Stevenson (Jekyll/Hyde), among many others. The series also owes a heavy debt to the works of Michael Moorcock. It continued into a second volume which reworks H G Wells's The War of the Worlds (1898) with the League acting to defend London from Martian attack despite the Invisible Man's defection to the alien cause; there followed a series of original graphic novels and the spinoff sequence League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Nemo, tracing the activities of Captain Nemo's daughter, who has taken over command of his famous submarine.

Moore continued his ABC line with several strong titles, including the subtle but clever Tom Strong, a Doc Savage pastiche mostly illustrated by Chris Sprouse (36 issues, not all written by Moore, 1999-2006); Top 10, a Dimensions-hopping police procedural set in a future City where almost every character is a Superhero (12 issues, 1999-2001) illustrated by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon; and the astonishing Promethea (32 issues, 1999-2005), illustrated by J H Williams III, a powerful examination of what Moore sees as the linked relationships between creativity, Magic and Religion using Qabalah and the Tarot as structural cues. Though the baseline reality is an alternate New York with some playful Superhero action, the narrative develops though highly effective Science and Sorcery transitions. Reading the final issues of Promethea is an experience akin to being hypnotized.

Moore slowly removed himself from his own ABC line following a conflict with DC Comics (the fifth issue of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was printed and then destroyed and reprinted minus what the publisher's top executive perceived as an off-colour joke). The move also soured him on publisher DC Comics, which is why the film adaptations of Watchmen and V for Vendetta do not carry his name. Some of Moore's ABC titles continue today without his involvement. He moved his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen title to two smaller co-publishers, Top Shelf Productions and Knockabout Comics, for the release of the later volumes.

Moore returned to a much darker-flavoured work with the hyper-sexual Neonomicon (4 issues, 2010-2011, graph 2011), an expansion of concepts created by H P Lovecraft. The publisher Avatar Press has also adapted much of his short fiction to comics and graphic novel format.

Moore married his second wife, frequent artistic collaborator Melinda Gebbie, in 2007. His daughter Leah Moore (1978-    ) is also a comics writer of note.

For sf, Moore remains of central importance for Watchmen, where the long history of sf visual material in comics form was finally connected to an sf plot of great interest, and for Jerusalem (2016), which in bulk and ambition can stand as his magnum opus. The million words of this kaleidoscopic multi-protagonist scouring of the Equipoisal strategies of Fantastika focus, almost without remit, on the small City of Northampton, the Jerusalem of the title, in the English Midlands. Time is fluctuant throughout, as are the constantly juxtaposed and palimpsested genres that illuminate the tapestry of the whole, running a gamut from sf through various iterations of fantasy and horror, historical romance, romanticized epic. As a whole the book converses with Moore's own earlier work, as well as the time-haunted London-centred narratives of writers like Michael Moorcock and Iain Sinclair. There are moments of Transcendence, but the novel as a whole is fixed to its multi-polar home city.. [RH/JC/JP/DRL]

see also: End of Time; Holocaust Fiction; Steve Moore; Werewolves.

Alan Moore

born Northampton, England: 18 November 1953

died

works

comics

series

Halo Jones

  • The Ballad of Halo Jones: Book One (London: Titan Books, 1986) with Ian Gibson [graph: Halo Jones: pb/Ian Gibson]
  • The Ballad of Halo Jones: Book Two (London: Titan Books, 1986) with Ian Gibson [graph: Halo Jones: pb/Ian Gibson]
  • The Ballad of Halo Jones: Book Three (London: Titan Books, 1987) with Ian Gibson [graph: Halo Jones: pb/Ian Gibson]

Swamp Thing

Miracleman

  • Miracleman (Forestville, California: Eclipse Comics, 1990) with Gary Leach, Alan Davis [graph: Miracleman: pb/Gary Leach]
  • Miracleman: The Red King Syndrome (Forestville, California: Eclipse Comics, 1990) with Alan Davis, Rick Veitch [graph: Miracleman: pb/John Bolton]
  • Miracleman: Olympus (Forestville, California: Eclipse Comics, 1991) with Rick Veitch, John Totleben [graph: Miracleman: pb/John Totleben]

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Nemo

  • Nemo: Heart of Ice (Marietta, Georgia and London: Top Shelf Productions and Knockabout Comics, 2013) with Kevin O'Neill [graph: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Nemo: hb/Kevin O'Neill]
  • Nemo: The Roses of Berlin (Marietta, Georgia and London: Top Shelf Productions and Knockabout Comics, 2014) with Kevin O'Neill [graph: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Nemo: hb/Kevin O'Neill]
  • Nemo: River of Ghosts (Marietta, Georgia and London: Top Shelf Productions and Knockabout Comics, 2015) with Kevin O'Neill [graph: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Nemo: hb/Kevin O'Neill]

Tom Strong

  • Tom Strong: Book 1 (New York: DC Comics, 2000) with Chris Sprouse [coll: graph: Tom Strong: hb/Chris Sprouse]
  • Tom Strong: Book Two (New York: DC Comics, 2002) with Chris Sprouse [coll: graph: Tom Strong: hb/Chris Sprouse]
  • Tom Strong: Book Three (New York: DC Comics, 2004) with Chris Sprouse [coll: graph: Tom Strong: hb/Chris Sprouse]
  • Tom Strong: Book Four (New York: DC Comics, 2005) with Chris Sprouse [coll: graph: Tom Strong: hb/Chris Sprouse]
  • Tom Strong: Book Six (New York: DC Comics, 2006) with Chris Sprouse [coll: graph: Tom Strong: hb/Chris Sprouse]

Promethea

  • Promethea: Book 1 (New York: DC Comics, 2001) with J H Williams III [coll: graph: Promethea: hb/J H Williams III]
  • Promethea: Book 2 (New York: DC Comics, 2001) with J H Williams III [coll: graph: Promethea: hb/J H Williams III]
  • Promethea: Book 3 (New York: DC Comics, 2002) with J H Williams III [coll: graph: Promethea: hb/J H Williams III]
  • Promethea: Book 4 (New York: DC Comics, 2003) with J H Williams III [coll: graph: Promethea: hb/J H Williams III]
  • Promethea: Book 5 (New York: DC Comics, 2005) with J H Williams III [coll: graph: Promethea: hb/J H Williams III]

Top Ten

  • Top Ten: Book 1 (New York: DC Comics, 2001) with Zander Cannon and Gene Ha [coll: graph: Top Ten: hb/Zander Cannon and Gene Ha]
  • Top Ten: Book 2 (New York: DC Comics, 2002) with Zander Cannon and Gene Ha [coll: graph: Top Ten: hb/Zander Cannon and Gene Ha]
  • Smax (New York: DC Comics, 2004) with Zander Cannon [coll: graph: Top Ten: hb/Zander Cannon]
  • Top Ten: The Forty-Niners (New York: DC Comics, 2005) with Gene Ha [graph: Top Ten: hb/Gene Ha]

Tomorrow Stories

individual titles

prose works

  • Voice of the Fire (London: Victor Gollancz, 1996) [coll of linked stories: pb/Robert Mason]
  • Jerusalem (London: Knockabout Limited, 2016) [hb/Alan Moore]

about the author

links

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