Alan Moore Reflects on Marvelman Comments -


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shac2846 9/3/2009 9:02:07 PM

I have yet to read an Alan Moore story I didn't like. League of Extrodinary Gentlemen 2 being an exception. I got three of my friends hooked on comics after giving them my paperback copies of Watchmen and V for Vendetta. He has other good works; his Swamp Thing stuff is amazing,  Top Ten, Tom Strong, Supreme, Terra Obscura, The Killing Joke, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, and his work on Marvel's Captain Britian and even his work on Jim Lee's Wildcat's was pretty awsome. All are available in trade not to mention his short stories. I'll agree that he comes off as a pompus ass but he is a talent, there is no overrating. I've heard over the years that his Marvelman stuff is freakin' awsome, now we'll finally get to read it. Can't wait!!!!!! 

animefanjared 9/3/2009 10:24:57 PM

I wish I knew what Alan Moore's problem is, because there's no excuse for the way he continually comes across as an arrogant ass in interviews.  He should get over it and himself. 

Yes, there's no denying he is an incredible talent and was highly influential on the way modern comic stories are conceived and told.  I maintain that "Watchmen" is an absolutely brilliant piece of work that transcends the medium and truly elevates what a comic can be.  But why can't he get through a single interview without having to point out the fact that he does not get along with Marvel, DC, or the American comics industry in general?  It's not like this is new information at this point, and it really makes him seem ungrateful to continue bringing it up.  Whatever his current relationship with them, he owes a lot of his success to those companies.  And how much money does he make each year off of reprints of all those stories he wrote for American comic companies?  They're surely financing his current reclusive lifestyle.

He is under no obligation to approve of the movie adaptations of his work, although I find it ridiculous that he condemned Zack Snyder's "Watchmen" without ever having seen it.  And he made this huge deal about having his name removed from the movie, but you know what?  I bet he had no problem depositing all of the royalties he got from the increased sales of the graphic novel due to the buzz surrounding said movie.  It's just highly hypocritical, if you ask me.

There are so many talented, influential people in entertainment who are genuinely nice, grateful, and even humbled by thier success.  It just makes those who walk around with a chip on their shoulder, acting like the world owes them something (like Moore), seem all the more ridiculous.  Stan Lee has had just as much if not more influence on the comics industry, and how many times have you heard him badmouth anyone?  I rest my case.

ntnon 9/3/2009 10:42:17 PM

Obviously the history of comics is one of gradual evolution, but it is also one of "events" changing the face the medium. Action #1 took comics from cartoon reprints to superheroes, Showcase #4 introduced the next generation of (marginally-)more realistic, science-based superheros. Fantastic Four #1 and Amazing Fantasy #15 humanised the heroes, Dazzler was produced for the direct market, Camelot 3000 and Secret Wars were self-contained maxi-series, and The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen ushered in the darker, more adult, "grim 'n' gritty" transplanting of (a form of) reality to the superhero universe. More importantly, DKR, Watchmen and Maus broke into the bookstores and proved that there was a viable reprint market.

Moore didn't reinvent superheroes single-handedly, but he was more influential than any other writer in the 1980s, with Frank Miller close behind. Not just Watchmen, but Marvelman and Swamp Thing and Captain Britain. Spider-man was "more" human than his predecessors, but the Minutemen weren't just flawed superheroes - they were non-powered anti-heroes in a version of reality, acting and reacting in a far more realistic way than most of the stories that had been told before. Swamp Thing cut through the layers to reveal the inherent contradictions at the core of the character, addressed them head on and 'fixed' the flaws; DKR showed where Batman's singlemindedness would lead in a dystopian future, and Watchmen pointed out that vigilantes were likely psychotic, government-sanctioned, compensating for human failings, arrogant, fetishistic and unlikely to reveal their master plan until it couldn't be stopped. That was (mostly) new, and the fact that it hasn't been out of print since tends to cement its place in comics' history - even though Moore has disowned it.

In any case, Moore doesn't hype himself or his acchievements - he is self-deprecating and often bemused by the revolutionary approach his work popularised. That he answers praise with thanks speaks volumes. He's not an "asshole" or an arsehole or anything else of that nature. He has a highly moral outlook on life, and appears to have been, particularly early on in his career, rather too willing to take people at their word rather than hammer out specifica legal agreements. And he has been ill-treated by most of the companies he's worked for: 2000AD weren't willing to allow him to (co-)own his own work, Marvel US ignored his contractual rights with Marvel UK and then exerted unreasonable force in trying to quash Marvelman on the spurious grounds that a longstanding character infringed on their lately-held company name. DC ignored Moore's opinions about the "Mature Reader" notation, and the implicit agreement that Watchmen would revert back to Moore and Gibbons became a theoretical concept when collections took off; Eclipse were disingenuous about the legality of reprints (and helped drive a rift between Moore and Davis begun in a roundabout way by Marvel) and Rob Liefeld's titles wound up crashing after Moore gave input to revamp the entire line-up. Image's internal wranglings helped foul up 1963, Moore's artists for Big Numbers couldn't deal with the workload, and Taboo's noble failure nearly killed From Hell and Lost Girls. He then found himself back at DC against his will when they bought WildStorm (thereby taking ownership of his nearly-creator-owned ABC titles), and saw editorial interference both justified, unjustified and (allegedly) spiteful on several of his titles.

It's not really a surprise that he might be bitter about how things have worked out, but while some of that comes across, he's more likely to just determine to cut ties and move forwards with new projects. He may not be the easiest person to work with (although few of his artistic collaborators have said as much - and most the exact opposite), and certainly he has his own high standards of Good Business Practice. But it is insulting and inaccurate to blame him alone for having had poor experiences with so many companies.

And... original characters that stand the test of time? Like Siegel & Shuster's Leaping Doc Savage, or Bob Kane (and Bill Finger's) Pulp hero melange? Or Lee & Kirby's Norse God? As "V" can be broken down crudely into "1984 with Zorro" in a Guy Fawkes twist, so too can any series or character be broken down into their constituent parts. If the Watchmen characters were only "mini series type characters," how then has Blue Beetle sustained so many comics and incarnations? Captain Atom and The Question are hardly fly-by-night individuals, either... All comics characters can be said to be derivitive in some way, but DR & Quinch, Halo Jones, Promethea, John Constantine, Mogo, Tom Strong, Smax, Toybox, King Peacock, Synaesthesia, Jack B Quick, Cobweb (and dozens more) have their own personalities and character traits that set them apart from their influences.

He also wrote (and writes) a considerably higher standard and variety of original MATERIAL with familiar characters than many writers, some of whom have even written issues and books based squarely on Moore's original material...

ntnon 9/3/2009 11:19:33 PM

Specifically to answer animefanjarad's points:

Firstly, Moore "can't... get through a single interview without having to point out the fact that he does not get along with Marvel, DC, or the American comics industry in general" because he is asked about it. He brought up Marvel only (not DC) because Marvel is important to this subject - it was their input that put Quality's Warrior out of circulation, and their threats that had Eclipse rename Marvelman. It was Marvel (US)'s move to reprint - without asking legal permission - some of Moore's earlier work, and that move that, somewhat indirectly, led to/exacerbated Moore's falling-out with Alan Davis. (Later compounded by Eclipse.) It's important to know that Moore doesn't get on well with the American comics industry to understand the key issue - Moore has washed his hands of Marvelman and wants nothing to do with it or Marvel. And, if this article were to picked up widely, it is ALWAYS new information to someone. "Ungrateful" may not be quite the word, but he is obviously still unhappy with how he (perceives he) has been treated by the American comics industry, and parts of the British. He doesn't contain his dissatisfaction to himself, though - he has spoken out in the past about Marvel's treatment of Jack Kirby, and uses his own experience to push for creator rights. Indeed, without his input to (and exit from) DC, their somewhat-creator-owned imprint Vertigo might be a very different beast.

Secondly, it may be splitting hairs, but while "he owes a lot of his success to those companies," he owes more to his talent. He owes exposure to the companies, and they in turn have made a LOT of money from his work, and his name. He owes them; they owe him. They own his work, he... doesn't. And you may have missed the various times that he has declined royalty payments for various of his books. I recall reading that he recently passed Watchmen reprint rights to Gibbons (and Higgins), but I can't find a source for that, so I'll refrain from stating it categorically. Certainly all payments and royalties from the films were shared among his collaborators, rather than kept by him, though.

He has consistently maintained from the beginning of his relationship with Hollywood that he was not keen on, nor saw the point in, adapting something specifically written for one medium into another. He has said that initially he was able to compartmentalise the two, though, and simply ignore the films. However, with "LXG" and the fatuous lawsuit (caused in large part due to studio interference in the "adaptation", but casting aspersions on Moore personally), V for Vendetta and the outright lie that Moore had approved the script and given his blessing to the project, he decided to distance himself from Snyder's Watchmen film as early as possible.

And whether or not he did receive royalties on sales of the TPB during the film's hype (which might be debateable), it's hardly hypocritical to completely sever ties with the film - which he had NOTHING to do with - while acknowledging authorship of the comics, which he did write. Although, of course, he has asked DC to remove his name from all of his works that they publish, as a statement of non-ownership... to no effect.

Thirdly "[t]here are so many talented, influential people in entertainment who are genuinely nice, grateful, and even humbled by thier success." Indeed. And Moore is one of them. Incredibly talented, far-reachingly influential (on TV programmes and films, as well as comics), while also being approachable (if necessarily wary or liable to shun some gatherings, thanks to the "arseholery" of "fans" in the past), genuinely nice, polite and interesting, grateful for the attention and self-deprecating. He also tells the litany of grievances far more humourously and semi-sarcastically than comes across in print.

Rather than "acting like the world owes [him] something," fans act as if HE owes THEM something - more comics and less complaining. Which is absurd, and rather telling - is it really a surprise that Moore wants little to do with the American comics industry when the fans it caters to don't care that some of the creators that work for the big companies are not treated particularly well? Why shouldn't Moore sever ties with people he thinks have lied to him, "stolen" from him and/or deliberately ignored his wishes? That's entirely up to him.

"Stan Lee has had just as much if not more influence on the comics industry, and how many times have you heard him badmouth anyone? I rest my case."

That will be the Stan Lee who has taken a lot of flak down the years for sidelining his artistic collaborators, then. The Stan Lee who - unlike Moore - has seemed very willing in the past to take full credit for successful works and not always highlight the input of the artists, who - again, quite unlike Moore - had considerably more input into their joint works than Lee. Mr Lee is a great and influential man, and rarely has a bad word to say about any individual... like Mr Moore.

Mr Lee, of course, sued Marvel over unpaid profits from their movies! Moore hasn't sued anybody (that I'm aware of, at least). Lee's company, Stan Lee Media also sued Marvel over Lee's rights as co-creator of most of their heroes...

Wiseguy 9/4/2009 8:15:43 AM

Cheesy, you're right. From now on I'm asking you what I should think :)

shac2846 9/4/2009 8:23:17 AM

Not to mention the fact that Moore clearly states in the article that he wants Mick Anglo to get his royalties, which Mick deserves lots of credit for his work and creation of the character but it's Moore's and later Neil Gaiman's reinvention of the character that have people salivating for the reprints. That's pretty stand up to me, and Moore also gives his film royalties to the artists of the books, that's a lot of freakin' cash guys. Moore may come off as arogant but he has been bent over by the comic industry as a whole, not just american comics, I'd be a little pissed to.  

Cheesey1 9/4/2009 8:47:41 AM

Wiseguy, doing that is more hazardous than freebasing and topping off with some crystal meth.

Superfist_home 9/4/2009 8:51:52 AM

 Very nice, Kurt! Well done!

Cheesey1 9/4/2009 9:09:47 AM

AnimefanJared, I agree completely with your comments re. Stan the Man.  Ntnon, Stan has always credited people like Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby for their contributions (but the fact is that Stan's personality made the characters what they are and made Marvel clearly stand out and appeal to a much broader audience) and unlike Moore he actually created a cast of characters that formed the basis for an entire cultural and market place leading company.  Moore's original creations are niche and what basis would he have for suing anyway?  As far as I'm aware all of his own, original characters are under ABC comics, which he owns so can he sue- himself? If you're writing for an established character, then you are basically an employee.  I gues his 1984 "inspired" title V for Vendetta was DC, so maybe he could sue them, but whatever. Stan has every right to sue re. characters that he created, just like the Siegel and Shuster families are suing. 

LucidFrenzy 9/4/2009 10:01:16 AM

 <i>and unlike Moore he actually created a cast of characters that formed the basis for an entire cultural and market place leading company.</i>

I'm not sure which is more telling here, that you equate artistic success with character longevity, or culture with marketplace lead. I guess ultimately the two go together.

Yes, Watchmen was a standalone story which was never intended to run its characters into perpetuity. I'm not clear why you think that to be such a criticism, unless you mean it makes it harder to stick them on lunchboxes and the like. I'm presuming you also think that Shakespeare is a poorer writer than Stan Lee because no-one has written a Hamlet sequel lately.

And as for your assertion that the only cause to sue somebody would be character infringement... you could do a little research on that one, maybe?



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