Sunday, 29 April 2012

I Heart Alan Moore

There has been a lot of pretty nasty talk about Mr Alan Moore on the internet recently.

For those that don't follow this sort of thing, Alan Moore is the writer responsible for some of the best known and best received comic book series produced in the last thirty or more years.

A lot of his stories have been adapted into movies which you may know of.

Not many of them do justice to his skill as a writer.

His name is once again front and centre because of DC's decision to create a series of books under the banner "Before Watchmen".

Watchmen is probably Mr Moore's most popular work. It has remained in print since it was published in the 80's, it is an incredibly good selling title, and is considered by many to be the pinnacle of the medium.

Alan Moore didn't want DC to revisit the universe he created along with artist Dave Gibbons. He was very vocal about the fact.

The internet sided, for a large part, with DC and pretty much told him to stop whining.

Here is my opinion on the matter. It's a little fragmented, a little disjointed, but it's my opinion, for what that is worth.

I understand DC wanting to publish the further (or earlier) adventures of the characters Moore and Gibbons created (based on the Charlton heroes which DC had acquired).

DC are a business. A business owned by a pretty big corporation. A corporation is run by people who count beans and crunch numbers. Feelings very rarely get in the way of these machinations, and, as far as they were concerned, there was gold in them thar hills.

I have no problem with DC. I have said on Twitter and a few other places that I have no interest in working on their properties, but that is something which I can say from the comfort of having a decent day job. I understand why those people who rely on DC for their bread and butter are taking these jobs.

As a pragmatist, if DC came knocking, offering me a job as a writer, would I take it? Of course, because as a pragmatist I can see the value in using one of the biggest, best known publishers to build a name and brand which I would hopefully bring over to my own work.

My problem isn't with DC. It's with the tone they have taken over this whole thing.

There seems to be a kind of locker-room jockism inherent in comics these days - from creators, fans and retailers alike. Personally I see a lot of dumbing down of stories, and a lot of stupid, aggressive posturing from fans and readers which I do not like.

This, for me, is the approach which DC has taken in dealing with any backlash or questions which arise from their decision to publish Before Watchmen.

And the fans have responded to it.

The whole "you're either with us or against us!", "it's us verses them!" nonsense is what I don't like about what should be a time of debate.

This series has opened up a whole world of questions about creator rights in comics, and the response sadly seems to be "screw them!"

And DC seem happy to foster this.

Which is a shame, because, quite frankly the entire tone and feel of DC right now - for the last thirty years - owes itself to Alan Moore. They would do well to remember that - fans and publishers.

Alan Moore doesn't need DC, and that seems to smart them more than anything else. He doesn't need to toe the line, doesn't need to pay lip service to them, play the game.

That is one of the many reasons why I love him.

For me, my own personal Before Watchmen is quite simply the works which he produced before he created that particular opus - the books I grew up on.

Halo Jones.

V for Vendetta.

Swamp Thing.

Captain Britain.

I won't be reading the DC works coming out soon, but I won't begrudge people who do.

I just wish that DC would have handled the whole thing with a little more grace.


A. Diallo Jackson said...

Triple thumbs up on Captain Britain. I recently reread it and it's pretty brilliant storytelling.

Jahhdog said...

I also "heart Alan Moore". He is the first comic book writer whose comics I sought out as a kid.

I read his essay on writing and it is a worthwhile read for any writer (not just of comic books)