Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Monday, March 13, 2006

things comickal

-- things comickal -- alan moore: "what Harry Potter grew up into"?

And for those who wish to remain profoundly uninformed, note that in the brief discussion after this article, there lie extraordinarily vague spoilers for "Top 10" and a somewhat less vague, but still uninformative, spoiler for "Tom Strong" and a fairly specific spoiler for "Promethea", which ended about a year ago.

The Vendetta Behind 'V for Vendetta' - New York Times
March 12 2006

THE most vivid characters in Alan Moore's graphic novels are antiheroes of ambiguous morality and identity: costumed avengers like Rorschach, the disturbed street vigilante of "Watchmen," or the crusader known only by the letter V, who commits catastrophic acts of terrorism in the dystopian tale "V for Vendetta."

With inventions like these, and a body of writing that spans nearly three decades, Mr. Moore, a 52-year-old native of Northampton, England, distinguished himself as a darkly philosophical voice in the medium of comic books — a rare talent whose work can sell solely on the strength of his name. But if Mr. Moore had his way today, his name would no longer appear on almost any of the graphic novels with which he is most closely associated. "I don't want anything more to do with these works," he said in a recent telephone interview, "because they were stolen from me — knowingly stolen from me." [...] But by 1989, Mr. Moore had severed his ties with DC. The publisher says he objected to its decision to label its adult-themed comics (including some of his own) as "Suggested for Mature Readers." Mr. Moore says he was objecting to language in his contracts that would give him back the rights to "Watchmen" and "V for Vendetta" when they went out of print — language that he says turned out to be meaningless, because DC never intended to stop reprinting either book. "I said, 'Fair enough,' " he recalls. " 'You have managed to successfully swindle me, and so I will never work for you again.' "

Mr. Levitz said that such so-called reversion clauses routinely appear in comic book contracts, and that DC has honored all of its obligations to Mr. Moore. "I don't think Alan was dissatisfied at the time," Mr. Levitz said. "I think he was dissatisfied several years later."

Mr. Lloyd, the illustrator of "V for Vendetta," also found it difficult to sympathize with Mr. Moore's protests. When he and Mr. Moore sold their film rights to the graphic novel, Mr. Lloyd said: "We didn't do it innocently. Neither myself nor Alan thought we were signing it over to a board of trustees who would look after it like it was the Dead Sea Scrolls."

Mr. Moore recognizes that his senses of justice and proportion may seem overdeveloped. "It is important to me that I should be able to do whatever I want," he said. "I was kind of a selfish child, who always wanted things his way, and I've kind of taken that over into my relationship with the world."

Today, he resides in the sort of home that every gothic adolescent dreams of, one furnished with a library of rare books, antique gold-adorned wands and a painting of the mystical Enochian tables used by Dr. John Dee, the court astrologer of Queen Elizabeth I. He shuns comic-book conventions, never travels outside England and is a firm believer in magic as a "science of consciousness." "I am what Harry Potter grew up into," he said, "and it's not a pretty sight."

[...] Through his editors at DC Comics (like Warner Brothers, a subsidiary of Time Warner), Mr. Moore insisted that the studio publicly retract Mr. Silver's remarks. When no retraction was made, Mr. Moore once again quit his association with DC (and Wildstorm along with it), and demanded that his name be removed from the "V for Vendetta" film, as well as from any of his work that DC might reprint in the future.

The producers of "V for Vendetta" reluctantly agreed to strip Mr. Moore's name from the film's credits, a move that saddened Mr. Lloyd, who still endorses the film. "Alan and I were like Laurel and Hardy when we worked on that," Mr. Lloyd said. "We clicked. I felt bad about not seeing a credit for that team preserved, but there you go."

DC, however, said it would be inappropriate to take Mr. Moore's name off of any of his works. "This isn't an adaptation of the work, it's not a derivative work, it's not a work that's been changed in any fashion from how he was happy with it a minute ago," said Mr. Levitz.

Still, some DC editors hope that Mr. Moore might return. "He remains a good friend, and I would work with him again in a heartbeat," said Karen Berger, the executive editor of the DC imprint Vertigo, in an e-mail statement....

You know, here's the curious thing: it's very clear, if you read the recently published "Top 10: The Farthest Precinct" and the last issue of "Tom Strong", two of the America's Best titles, that there's at least one more series of "Top 10" to come. To be sure, Alan Moore didn't write the last Top 10 sequence, and it may well be that di Filippo will be doing the next sequence from a story outline, as he did the last. I also had the vague impression -- not as directly stated as that about Top 10, but implied -- that the third series of "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" might also tie in to the events of Tom Strong, Top Ten and Promethea. Given that it's now coming from a different publisher, that seems somewhat less likely.

Oddly, it's become clear as the series move on that (1) the America's Best comics actually were a concrete universe, in the same sense that the DC comics are also a universe, and (2) that Promethea was the lynchpin of that universe. The interesting thing is that there are people who disliked Promethea, especially after it went into some seriously intense philosophy, but who continued to read the other titles, because they were somewhat more traditional superhero titles. And I can't help but think that if the last issue of Top Ten is anything like the last issue of Tom Strong, they're going to be utterly and completely baffled by what's happening. Tom Strong's last issue makes pretty much no concession to someone who hasn't read Promethea; there's a very brief one page summary of, effectively, two of the last three issues of Promethea, but I still think that people must have looked at that and thought, "What the hell...?"

.....But Mr. Moore does not seem likely to change his mind this time. For one thing, his schedule is almost entirely consumed with other comics projects, including a new volume of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," to be released in late 2006 or early 2007 by the American publisher Top Shelf Productions. This summer, Mr. Moore said, Top Shelf will also be publishing "Lost Girls," his 16-years-in-the-making collaboration with Ms. Gebbie, a series of unrepentantly pornographic adventures told by the grown-up incarnations of Wendy Darling of "Peter Pan," Alice of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and Dorothy Gale of "The Wizard of Oz." "I refuse to call it erotica, because that just sounds like pornography for people who've got more money," Mr. Moore said. "It would seem to be possible to come up with a kind of pornography that was meaningful and beautiful, not ugly."

Nice to finally see dates approximate for the League's next volume and for Lost Girls. The latter, at least, has been in the Top Shelf catalog for ages, effectively a "coming soon!" announcement that keeps getting postponed. I hope that they're able to deliver with these dates.

I will admit that one of the things that I love about Alan Moore's titles is the forthrightly adult way in which he deals with issues of gender and sexuality. He's dealt with homosexuality in all of the ABC titles, and in ways that are reasonable for people and places and times depicted. For example, the repressed homosexuality of Jekyll and/or Hyde in series 2 of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is certainly true to its time. (I truly hate what Hyde does to the Griffin, Invisible Man, however much he may deserve something. To be sure, we're meant to hate it, and it's part of drawing up a complex set of characters with understandable motivations that sometimes they'll be admirable -- as Hyde is at the end of the book -- and sometimes they'll be reprehensible, as when Hyde rapes Griffin to death as retaliation for beating Miss Murray.) The questions of gender and sexuality that arise as a result of Promethea taking over the body of a human male for one of her incarnations, and so on.

...Mr. Moore suggested that his comic-book writing has already defined his identity. He recalled an encounter with a fan who asked him to sign a horrific issue of his 1980's comic "The Saga of the Swamp Thing"; the admirer then disclosed that he was a special effects designer for the television series "CSI: NY." "Every time you've got an ice pick going into someone's brain, and the close-ups of the little spurting ruptured blood vessels, and that horrible squishing sound, that's him," Mr. Moore said. "So that's something I can be proud of. This is my legacy."

...Well, that's certainly a ... different legacy than I'd guess he thought he'd leave.

Posted by iain at 01:26 PM in category things comickal


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