Alan Moore Reflects on Marvelman Comments - Mania.com



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johnnykricardo 9/4/2009 11:34:41 AM

Cheesey1, I'm sorry to say it, but Goethe was well known as an ass. 

However, I have to say in Alan Moore's defense that DC bought Wildstorm mostly to get his ABC line.  That part is not paranoia. 

His attitude towards the films based on his work are unique in the comics business now, but is normal for writers to despise the way other people turns their works into a film.  Anne Rice was very vocal about Interview with the Vampire, Arthur C. Clarke hated 2001, and Stephen King did his own version of The Shining just because of the hatred he had for the Kubrick movie.  Some writers even refuse to be adapted at all. He just can't stop them because he doesn't own the rights. And truth is, most of his work wouldn't translate too well to the screen (Lost Girls).  Add to that his sour time in Hollywood. Frank Miller too gave up on films before Sin City.

On the subject of Stan Lee... he gets recognition even for the characters he didn't write, like Wolverine.  Of course he hast to be nice to the co-creators now, when he has had the fun.  Jack Kirby wasn't that happy about the way his creations went. Neither did Ditko, and Ditko's still angry about that. 

Steve Gerber held a strong hate against Marvel for what they did to him too. And this guy created lots of characters that influenced the modern age of comics. A lot of people called him all kind of things, like "ungrateful", but Gerber WAS SCREWED. And Gerber was probably the last to create really original characters for the Big Two.

And that's the only part where I agree with Wiseguy, Alan Moore's work is mostly a comment. He's a critic, finding what it's dark and horrible in every single hero. Whereas Kurt Busiek is an analysis on the nature of heroism. The most popular writer right now, Geoff Johns seems hellbent on telling us how awesome was the Silver Age, reanimating corpses left and right.

Original character creations are a rarity in the comic book market today. Almost non-existent when it comes to the superhero sub-genre. It's always a thinly disguised version of a well-known character what you get.

LucidFrenzy 9/5/2009 9:14:14 AM

 As far as I'm aware all of his own, original characters are under ABC comics, which he owns so can he sue- himself?

One last thing, Moore got into a dispute with 2000AD precisely over ownership of his characters - principally Halo Jones.

 

Cheesey1 9/5/2009 2:39:44 PM

JohnnyKRicardo, as far as Goethe, he was a philosopher who was all about the best in mankind and not being slaves to the superficial, so I really don't see how he could be an asshole, but whatever.

Stan Lee never takes credit for characters that he didn't create, the mainstream lumps everything together.  I would love to see an example of him doing that.  As far as Steve Gerber, you'll excuse me if I don't consider Howard the Duck a major Marvel character.  I like Howard the Duck, but for every example like that I can mention somebody like Len Wein, who co-created Wolverine and seems perfectly fine with Marvel.  Ditko is generally viewed as having cut off his nose to spite his face.  I'm not making any excuses for Marvel because it's a business and the varoius businessmen who have run Marvel may have screwed over employees, but Stan the Man is the one constant in the creation of some of the greatest characters in comics and deserves to be respected as one of the true greats.   I may be a bit biased but I always felt that the writer was the most important part of the equation anyway.  Comics are a visual medium, but I think that it's been proven that it's the stories and the actions and behaviour of the charatcers that keeps the fans coming back.

You're right that truly original characters are uncommon, but that's my point, the creators who have been able to reach into the craziness of their imagination and create something timeless are the guys that are truly special.  Watchmen, like all good science fiction was a morality tale and that's fantastic, but Moore is simply a great writer and not the almighty sage that some people like to make him out to be.  If I had to pick, Stan the Man in his prime or Alan Moore, to me it's not even a competition.  If we're talking about 2000AD guys, give me John Wagner any day of the week, who created a truly legendary character.

Cheesey1 9/5/2009 2:46:28 PM

Moore's proprietary characters are niche characters (Watchmen was a major storyline, but the characters themselves are niche, which may be how he wanted it).  I used to read 2000AD when I was a child and the main charatcers were Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog, Slaine, ABC Crew and a couple of others who I've forgotten, but Halo Jones was by no means one of the main characters.

LucidFrenzy 9/6/2009 5:28:29 AM

What you're saying is:

I) completely circular. When characters don't suit your argument they become an undefined "niche" instead of an undefined "main". As soon as you call them "niche" you then claim you don't have to deal with them. To return to an earlier question of mine you avoided answering, is Hamlet a "niche" character too?

ii) irrelevant anyway. You claimed Moore would have no basis to sue any corporation as he never created any characters for them, except for V. In fact he created several characters for 2000AD, of which Halo Jones was one. Whether you liked those stories or consider them to be "main" or not is completely by-the-by. To win this argument you need to convince the rest of us they don't exist, not that you didn't read them.

 

LucidFrenzy 9/6/2009 5:43:41 AM

 "Stan the Man is the one constant in the creation of some of the greatest characters in comics and deserves to be respected as one of the true greats."

One last point. The idea that Stan Lee (does anyone still call him 'Stan the Man'?) worked with both Kirby and Ditko so must be the "constant" in the equation is equally absurd. I expect there's many dime-a-word writers who worked with both who were simply hacks.

Admittedly I wouldn't want to rush to the other extreme and claim Lee's contribution was zero, as used to be the trend in some circles. But all of Lee's best work was behind him as soon as he lost Kirby and Ditko, whereas the quality of their output continued. And that's just as true if we keep to this restrictive mechanism of counting characters created or not.

Cheesey1 9/6/2009 8:05:22 AM

LucidFrenzy, Moore's characters are the definition of niche (no matter how you define niche) when compared to the characters created / co-created by an in his prime Stan "the Man" Lee. It's hilarious how some people try to bring Stan down. He didn't write for Kirby and Ditko, he created the charatcers that they visualised. Visualising a charatcer in a visual medium like comics is crucial, but look at Image (which was an artists driven company) yeah they had the hottest artists and made a lot of money for themselves, but are any of their characters iconic. No. If you consider Spawn, Savage Dragon or Wild Blood iconic, then so be it, all Spawn etc represent to me is how much money was made in comics by some people in the early to mid 90s). What makes a character iconic is the substance and how they relate to the reader. Of course Hamlet isn't niche in the genre of classical English literature, but in the genre of comics he's basically non-existent.

Also if you're referring to my listing of 2000AD characters, if you have any friends who read 2000AD a lot in the early 80s to early 90s, just ask them who their top characters were. If you are able to you and feel like wasting some time you could also gauge a character's popularity / mainstreamness (if that's even a word) by things like fan mail, how often they recurred in the comic and if they had any long running story lines in the series etc.

Somebody like Moore essentially writes for already established characters. Of course artists "quality of work" stays the same, while writers' deteriorates. That's a result of the nature of the disciplines. Drawing a comic book is essentially mechanical, whereas writing an engaging, thought provoking, or even just readable story isn't as mechanical and can't always be reporoduced like a brush stroke. And not to diss Kirby or Ditko, but what of real note did they do after they left Marvel, what "New Gods?" The foundation that Stan laid in the 60s (with the help of others) continued to influence the comic book industry through the 70s and fueled Marvel's continued pace setting, which is still a force in 2009.

I'm at a loss as to how you won't admit that when you have the same person involved in different situations (in the same role) then that person is the constant. Whatever, good luck working on your next equation and identifying the constant.

I always try to view things objectively and I'm pretty sure that I'm being objective.

johnnykricardo 9/6/2009 8:57:35 AM

About Goethe: It's just that I always despised the travesties of Werther. I read it after Faustus and it was not just bad, it was... absurd. (And then someone showed me how the Faustus character was not created by him, just his interpretation of a legend)  All that I had read about it before made me feel guilty for keeping such high expectations. All that about how he wrote in natural language was lost on me, for the works he influenced took greater risks than his own. It happened to me with Stendhal too. Some works are influencial, but they don't hold well with time, no matter if they're called classics.

OK, that's that.  Let's talk about where the ideas from the most famous comic book writers come from.

On one hand, I loved Kirby's New Gods and Mister Miracle.  They had great concepts, sometimes maybe too much (Kirby was clearly the idea man, throwing interesting characters and storylines but at the same time, in a kind of messy way).  He came up with modern myths.

Stan Lee had advertisement as his base. His writing was all punchlines. Stan's work suffered a lot because of his attempts to cross over to movies and TV, where characters work differently. That was in the 70's. After that, he hasn't written anything that's half as strong as his weakest 60's comics.  All the ingenuity that fueled his style was gone as he grew up.

Frank Miller now has the same problem with his comics starting with "To Hell And Back": His ideas are coming from a place where others are taking from with much more success (Celebrity TV, Internet memes, Videogames) and his execution doesn't live up to what he did before. 

Alan Moore, precisely because of his structure-based writing, doesn't risk to alienate his readers.  He just digs deeper into the past when he sees himself in a problem (if you think about it, his first influences where in SF, reaching for the future in terms of what you could do if you broke the laws of modern prose, like Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick or William Burroughs, then he started travelling to the past) .  He'll probably write Elizabethan Comic Books in a few years.

McFarlane had his moment in the sun because he had some great writers that showed up in his title with ideas that could work even if the main character wasn't that interesting (Moore, Miller, Morrison, Gaiman, then, much later, Bendis and Jenkins)  Savage Dragon is a comic with a double purpose, and I think you should take it out of the box and give some attention to the details behind it: The panels' arrangement and number, the different storytelling techniques, the comments on Silver Age comics, the bad puns on other comic book writers and artists, and if you have it in issues, the fights between Peter David, John Byrne and Erik Larsen. Not a single truly original character there, mind you, but still it has more going on that you would like to admit at first sight.

Hamlet was very present in comics.  In the 90's it was all about angst. You could read Cable as a sort of Hamlet character, even having fights with himself (or Stryfe) and always brooding over something.

LucidFrenzy 9/6/2009 9:50:31 AM

 "LucidFrenzy, Moore's characters are the definition of niche (no matter how you define niche)"

This opening phrase says so much it's tempting to leave it there. If it doesn't even matter how you define "niche" for you to still be right, what else can you be using this word for than a self-justifying buzzword. Please either explain what you mean by this word or else give up on it. "Whatever I feel like it meaning" is not an argument for intelligent adults. Fewer people have heard of Jack the Ripper or Mr. Hyde than Sergeant Fury and his Howling Commandos, I suppose?

"He didn't write for Kirby and Ditko, he created the charatcers that they visualised."

Please do some elementary reading on comics history before coming up with this sort of nonsense. No serious modern book or article on early Marvel would make such a claim. Spider-Man, the FF, the Silver Surfer... all the main characters were first created by Kirby and Ditko then presented to Lee. This is a simple matter of fact.

"Somebody like Moore essentially writes for already established characters." 

Clue: You don't even have to do any research on that one, you just needed to read my previous post.

"Drawing a comic book is essentially mechanical, whereas writing an engaging, thought provoking, or even just readable story isn't as mechanical and can't always be reporoduced like a brush stroke."

Hey, face facts True Believer! On the majority of their post-Lee work Kirby and Ditko were the writers! They were even credited as the writers, in those funny little boxes and everything, making this whole swathe of your argument meaningless. As is comparing them to the Image crew, artists who merely thought they were writers. (Come to think of it it's even a bit of a stretch to call that lot "artists", but that's another story.)

"if you have any friends who read 2000AD a lot in the early 80s to early 90s"

Or I could just try asking myself, as I was reading 2000AD right through that era. 

I would object less to this fanboy crap if they kept to their own. I mean, I obviously long ago gave up on the idea that comics as a whole were going to grow up. But at least areas within comics did, and those who refused to do the same have shown this level of hostility ever since. Hence they show up on (of all places) an Alan Moore board and vent these ludicrous arguments that Strontium Dog must have been "a better character" than Halo Jones because he got his face on more coffee mugs. Cheesey, would you go on a message board for (say) a Cohen Brothers film explaining that not once in their history had they come up with another James Bond? 

PS I mentioned Shakespeare because he created virtually no original characters, or for that matter plots. His innovations, and the reasons he's still read today, were for other things. (Principally he was one of the first to give characters psychological depth rather than just have them defined by their actions.) If anybody wants to argue that makes him an inferior writer to Stan Lee please go ahead.

Apologies for the curt tone. But suffering fools isn't one of my hobbies.

Cheesey1 9/7/2009 8:08:54 AM

LucidFrenzy, good for you.  You told me...   Just to clarify, that was sarcasm, just in case you don't suffer sarcasm either.

Until ABC comics takes the comics world by storm (not the classsical English literature world, but the comics world) with their action packed Hamlet mini-series and New Gods comes roaring back, Make Mine Marvel.
P.S. sometimes the definition of a word like niche is as simple as what it's defined as in a little thing called a dictionary.

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