Moore Striking Out
Moore journey to comic greatest began the way most artists reach the summit of their craft: he left his desk job. In the late 70s, a young[ish] Alan Moore began to work several newspaper comic strips and alternative British magazines such as the Anon E. Mouse series and St Pancras Panda. During this time Alan Moore worked under several comical pen names and was living on British welfare with his wife and first daughter. After some critical success, Music Magazine gave him the approval to pen his own series to be published in their magazine, and it was a detective-thriller titled Roscoe Moscow. Later on in 1979, he began to write a comic strip called Maxwell the Magic Cat, and it was here that Alan Moore really began to infuse social commentary in his works. Many of Maxwell the Magic Cat strips drifted across the border of controversy and pushed the censors of British printing. He later left the Northants Post over an article that they had published which offended Moore’s sensibilities.
Here is just a taste of Maxwell
After leaving Maxwell the Magic Cat, Moore wanted a title of his own so he sent his works to 2000 A.D, the publishing house that birthed Judge Dredd. Although rejected by the company several times, the then editor-in-chief Alan Grant encouraged him to continue honing his craft and sending his work to their company. Eventually they gave him work on their Future Shocks series and Alan Moore accepted to not only provide for his growing family but also in hopes that his work in 2000 A.D. would lead to something more, which it did with the uprising of British comics and the inception of Marvel’s UK branch and Warrior.
In 1982, Warrior Comics Magazine gave Moore the full reigns on two on-going series in which the publishing house gave him leeway to write more mature content and touch upon serious issues for his; one of these titles was Marvelman, which comic fans now know to be the famous Miracle Man and the other was V for Vendetta, whose influence on the medium goes without saying, so nothing will be said. During both runs, Warrior Comics Magazine went under but fortunately for Moore—and comic readers—two companies picked up the titles and allowed Moore to finish his anecdotes.
During the brief period where the Miracle Man and V for Vendetta titles were up in the air, Len Wein, editor for DC Comics approached Moore and inquired if he was interested in doing a title for their company, and he accepted their offer. A common practice in DC when it comes to new writers was to give new up-in-comers failing titles to see if not only could they work with the practices of a monthly title but also to test their mettle. DC still does this practice now, but, when Alan Moore came on the scene, editorial gave him a failing monster comic. In 1983, Alan Moore began his saga on Swamp Thing, which still stands today as one of the best runs on a character in DC’s history. With the critical success of Moore’s Swamp Thing, DC began a phase where they began to recruit many British writers to produce the same result as they did with Alan. Not soon after receiving accolades for Swamp Thing, Grant Morrison began to write Animal Man and Neil Gaiman on a new Miracle Man run.
Later, after writing several one-and-done stories for some of the major hitters of the DC Pantheon, such as Green Lantern and Superman, DC launched an Alan Moore original series in 1986 called Watchmen. Much has already been said on the book and done better than one could do in passing. In short, Watchmen is a deconstruction of the superhero genre of comics and is considered by many to be the perfect graphic novel because it incorporates the best elements of comic sensibilities, art, and literature masterfully. For those who do not own a copy, there will be a link right here to a deluxe paperback sold in most book stores. Watchmen by Alan Moore. From Crumbling Comics, it is a must read and if you do not read it cover to cover [including the authors notes] than you are doing yourself a disservice.
Moore Breaking Away
After the astronomical success of Watchmen, a book that altered the practices and overall mindset of the industry with lingering effects felt today; naturally, DC wanted to capitalize on the success of Watchmen—yes, even before DC Rebirth DC wanted more Watchmen. Editorial executives proposed spin-off series, prequel comics, and a continuation line to Alan Moore but shot them all down. In response, DC threatened to fire one of Alan Moore’s friends who wrote for DC at the time and needed the work to live above the poverty line if Alan Moore continued not cooperation with their agenda. Appalled by the underhandedness of the company, Moore left and vowed to never work with DC comics again. Since then, he never pulls his punches with opinions on DC. On numerous occasions, Moore has referred to DC as a “greedy capitalist company” with no artistic integrity, no “original ideas”, and no “comics worth reading” anymore since his time with the company
These are just some of his works he now claims to be just silly stories he wrote for money when he was a “corporate shill”.
- Superman: For the Man Who Has Everything
- Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow
- Batman: Killing Joke
- Green Lantern Annual #3 , In Blackest Night, published in 1987 (Which was the comic that laid the ground work for the Blackest Night event. Yes, really)
In addition, here are some of contemporary talents of the industry who Alan Moore views as barely qualified to be called “creators”:
- Grant Morrison
- Brian Azzerello
- J.Michael Straczynski
- Amanda Conner
- All the other writers/artists involved with the Before Watchmen series, which includes: Darwyn Cooke , J.G.Jones, Len Wein, Jae Lee, Adam Hughes,Lee Bermejo, Eduardo Risso, and the two Kubert brothers.
- David Gibbons [who Moore no longer recognizes the contributions to his work. Moore doesn’t even keep a copy of Watchmen in his house anymore]
I don’t think that DC are interested in comics anymore. They’re interested in growing franchises, like a pumpkin patch. Hollywood–now that’s where you make the real money, or in computer games, or in any of these franchise spin-offs. Alan Moore
Love him or Hate him. He’s a Father of Comics
Although many have come forth and labeled him as a an old “paranoid” “curmudgeon” “hypocrite” who is just jealous that there are other writers who can also produce transcendental works in the medium, he can back up most of his accusations and insults with firm rhetoric; furthermore, DC in particular has a history of deprive writers rights to their work– for a prime example, just look to Superman. However, the personal attacks against writers and artists who never met Alan Moore or touched any of his works are unjustified, and really come off as petty on the writer’s part, which is a disservice considering his work.
Regardless of one’s opinion, Alan Moore has retired from comics, and all that he has left behind are his works, which Crumbling Comics still encourages its readers to pick up if they carry any interest. In his most recent interview with the press at an expo in London, despite his dealings with the industry, Alan Moore shared that he still carried tender feelings for the comic book industry. He happily said:
I know I am able to do anything anyone is capable of doing in the comic book medium. I don’t need to prove anything to myself or anyone else. Whereas these other fields are much more exciting to me. I will always revere comics as a medium. It is a wonderful medium. Alan Moore
If a reader ever gets the chance to meet Alan in person, then Crumbling Comics strongly suggests that you do so. Don’t let his reputation put you in a state of uneasiness. From many accounts, the man seems to be almost jolly in demeanor. Best of luck to you and your future endeavors Mr. Moore.