Any comic book fan worth their salt should know the name Alan Moore. For those who are not acquainted with the name, he is the writer behind such classic books as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell, V for Vendetta, and of course the inimitable Watchmen. He has often been described as being, “the Orson Welles of comic books,” and is easily one of the most critically-acclaimed and influential writers that the industry has ever seen.
However, Moore has faced many trials and tribulations throughout his career publishing comics, including issues with his former employers and the Hollywood studios who have tried to adapt his stories. It got to the point where he’s insisted that his name be removed from the credits of every cinematic adaptation of his work, and disassociated himself with most elements of comic book fandom. Over the past few years, Moore’s rants have become more and more acerbic and heated, such to the point where his opinions alienate the fans. A few years ago, Marvel writer Jason Aaron wrote a piece on Comic Book Resources about how he longer cares what Alan Moore has to say.
A few days ago, Moore recently gave an interview to The Guardian to talk about his latest project, Fashion Beast. The piece that Stuart Kelly wrote was fascinating and it covers a lot of ground, but there’s one comment from that interview that has got everyone in the comic community talking.
“I haven’t read any superhero comics since I finished with Watchmen. I hate superheroes. I think they’re abominations. They don’t mean what they used to mean. They were originally in the hands of writers who would actively expand the imagination of their nine- to 13-year-old audience. That was completely what they were meant to do and they were doing it excellently.
These days, superhero comics think the audience is certainly not nine to 13, it’s nothing to do with them. It’s an audience largely of 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year old men, usually men. Someone came up with the term graphic novel. These readers latched on to it; they were simply interested in a way that could validate their continued love of Green Lantern or Spider-Man without appearing in some way emotionally subnormal.
This is a significant rump of the superhero-addicted, mainstream-addicted audience. I don’t think the superhero stands for anything good. I think it’s a rather alarming sign if we’ve got audiences of adults going to see the Avengers movie and delighting in concepts and characters meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of the 1950s.”
Now before I go any further, I need to disclose something personal. Alan Moore is my all-time favorite writer. Even above Stephen King, Larry McMurtry, George R.R. Martin, William Shakespeare, Joe Hill, J.K. Rowling, and Ernest Hemingway. In my own humble opinion, he is nothing less than a genius, and I’m doing my best to collect all of his stories. That being said, I consider it my role as a “fan journalist” to hear and discuss all the sides to a story, and I will not do anything different here. After all, Renegade Cinema was founded on the idea of our writers being honest with their opinions. Therefore, here’s what I have to say about Moore’s comments and his image in general.
- I can agree with some of the things that Moore said here to a point. Superheroes don’t mean what they used to mean in the fifties and sixties, and they often don’t seem quite as imaginative or fun as they could be, but they’re also not as silly as the weirder Silver Age stories where Batman wore rainbow costumes, and Superman was given more and more ridiculous powers. Moore himself helped contribute to the idea that comics and superheroic characters weren’t just for children. He helped show how the comic book could be just as literate an art form as any other storytelling medium with Watchmen, Swamp Thing, and V for Vendetta.
- I will probably love superheroes until they day I die, but I am not a fan of what Hollywood seems to be doing to the characters that I love so dearly. I don’t like the idea of Batman using Bush-administration tactics, and I hate the idea of Superman killing. That’s the only way I can agree with Moore that superheroes could be abominations. The characters and archetypes aren’t abominations in their own right. They’re just tools, and those tools can be used by passionate, talented writers just like they can by greedy and soulless hack executives.
- I recognize the fact Moore has become embittered towards the comic book industry, but I would be too if I had to go through what he did. Keep in mind, Moore didn’t just get screwed by the industry; he got fudgepacked. I can only think of three people offhand who were treated worse by the industry; Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster and Jack Kirby. Despite that, it’s not fair for him to completely dismiss the work of all the really good writers like Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder, Grant Morrison, Jason Aaron, Rick Remender, Gail Simone, and all the other great modern writers they way he has over the past few years. Just because he hates the companies doesn’t mean that he has to dislike the writers and the fans themselves.
- I also don’t think that Moore is quite as prickly as the news websites have characterized him over the past few years. Several of the original feature stories most of his comments come from paint him as being a bit more down-to-earth than many give him credit for. Does he have a bit of an ego? Yes, but after nearly thirty years of being praised as a genius, it would be very very tough to not let it go to your head a little bit.
What do you think about what Alan Moore has to say? Why don’t you just tell us what you think in the comments below?
Source: The Guardian