Moore, Alan 1953–
Moore, Alan 1953–
Moore, Alan 1953–
(Jill De Ray, Al Moore, Curt Vile)
Born November 18, 1953, in Northampton, England; son of Ernest (a brewery worker) and Sylvia (a printer) Moore; married, 1974; wife's name Phyllis (divorced); married Melinda Gebbie; children: Amber, Leah.
Home—Northampton, England. Office—America's Best Comics, 7910 Ivanhoe St., No. 438, La Jolla, CA 92037.
Comics illustrator and writer. Cartoonist for Sounds (magazine; under the name Curt Vile), 1979. Founder of Mad Love Publishers, Northampton, MA, 1988, and America's Best Comics, La Jolla, CA, 1999.
Eagle Award for Best Comics Writer, 1982 and 1983, for V for Vendetta, and for Swamp Thing; Jack Kirby Comics Industry Award, for Swamp Thing; Jack Kirby Best Writer Award, 1987, Hugo Award, 1988, and Locus award, 1988, all for Watchmen; Harvey Award for best writer, 1988, for Watchmen, 1989, for best story and for best graphic album, both for The Killing Joke, 1995 and 1996, both for From Hell, 1998, for body of work, 2000, for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, 2001, 2003, and 2004, for Promethea, 2003, for best writer for ABC, for best continuing series for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 2, and for best single issue or story, for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 2, number 1; Will Eisner Comic Industry Award, 1988, for best finite series, best graphic album, best writer, and best writer/artist, all for Watchmen, 1989, for best graphic album and best writer, both for The Killing Joke, 1994, for best new graphic album, for A Small Killing, 1995, 1996, and 1997, all for best writer, all for From Hell, 2000, for best new series, for Top Ten, for best graphic album—reprint, for From Hell, and for best writer, for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, 2001, for best single issue, for Promethea, number 10, for best continuing series, for Top Ten, for best writer, for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, 2003, for best limited series, for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 2, and 2004, for best writer, for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Promethea, Smax, Tom Strong, and Tom Strong's Terrific Tales.
GRAPHIC NOVELS; EXCEPT AS NOTED
Shocking Futures, Titan Books (London, England), 1986.
The Complete Ballad of Halo Jones, Titan Books (London, England), 1986.
Maxwell the Magic Cat, Acme (London, England), 1986.
D.R. and Quinch's Totally Awesome Guide to Life, Titan Books (London, England), 1986.
Twisted Times, Titan Books (London, England), 1987.
Watchmen, illustrated by Dave Gibbons, DC Comics/Warner (New York, NY), 1987.
(With others) Swamp Thing, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1987.
Batman: The Killing Joke, illustrated by Brian Bolland and John Higgins, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1988.
Brought to Light, illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz, Titan Books (London, England), 1989.
V for Vendetta, illustrated by David Lloyd, Titan Books (London, England), 1990.
Miracleman (published in England as Marvelman), Eclipse Books (Forestville, CA), 1990-92.
Big Numbers, illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz, Mad Love (Northampton, MA), 1990.
Miracleman Book One: A Dream of Flying, illustrated by Garry Leach and Alan Davis, Eclipse Books, 1990.
Miracleman Book Two: The Red King Syndrome, illustrated by Garry Leach and Alan Davis, Eclipse Books, 1990.
The Complete Ballad of Halo Jones, Titan Books (London, England), 1991.
Miracleman Book Three: Olympus, Eclipse Books, 1991.
A Small Killing, illustrated by Oscar Zarate, Victor Gollancz (London, England), 1991.
From Hell, illustrated by Eddie Campbell, Mad Love/Kitchen Sink Press (Northampton, MA), 1991-96.
The Complete Bojefferies Saga, illustrated by Steve Parkhouse, Kitchen Sink Press (Northampton, MA), 1994.
Lost Girls, illustrated by Melinda Gebbie, Kitchen Sink Press (Northampton, MA), 1995.
Voice of the Fire (novel), Victor Gollancz (London, England), 1996.
(With others) Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1997.
WildC.A.T.S., Covert-Action-Teams: Gang War, Image Comics (Fullerton, CA), 1998.
Voodoo, Dancing in the Dark, Wildstorm (La Jolla, CA), 1999.
(With others) Bloodfeud, Titan Books (London, England), 1999.
(With others) Saga of the Swamp Thing, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2000.
Top Ten, illustrated by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon, America's Best Comics (La Jolla, CA), 2000.
(With others) Swamp Thing: The Curse, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2000.
Love and Death, illustrated by John Totleben, Titan Books (London, England), 2000.
Promethea, illustrated by J.H. Williams III, Mick Gray, and Charles Vess, America's Best Comics (La Jolla, CA), 2000.
Tom Strong, illustrated by Chris Sprouse, Alan Gordon, Arthur Adams, and others, America's Best Comics (La Jolla, CA), 2000.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, illustrated by Kevin O'Neill, America's Best Comics (La Jolla, CA), 2001.
Tom Strong Book One, illustrated by Chris Sprouse, Titan Books (London, England), 2001.
Promethea Book 1, illustrated by J.H. Williams III, Titan Books (London, England), 2001.
Promethea Book Two, illustrated by J.H. Williams, Titan Books (London, England), 2001.
(With others) Swamp Thing: A Murder of Crows, Titan Books (London, England), 2001.
The Complete D.R. & Quinch, illustrated by Alan Davis, Titan Books (London, England), 2001.
(With others) Tom Strong Book Two, Titan Books (London, England), 2002.
Captain Britain, illustrated by Alan Davis, Marvel (New York, NY), 2002.
Skizz, illustrated by Jim Baikie, Titan Books (London, England), 2002.
Tomorrow Stories, America's Best Comics (La Jolla, CA), 2002.
(With others) Mr. Majestic, Wildstorm (La Jolla, CA), 2002.
(With others) Swamp Thing: Earth to Earth, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2002.
Supreme: The Story of the Year, Checker Book Pub. Group (Centerville, OH), 2002.
Alan Moore's Magic Words, illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp, Avatar Press (Rantoul, IL), 2002.
Another Suburban Romance, illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp, Avatar Press (Rantoul, IL), 2003.
Promethea Book Three, illustrated by J.H. Williams, Titan Books (London, England), 2003.
Top Ten Book Two, illustrated by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon, America's Best Comics (La Jolla, CA), 2003.
Judgment Day, illustrated by Rob Liefeld and Gil Kane, Checker Book Pub. Group (Centerville, OH), 2003.
Supreme: The Return, Checker Book Pub. Group (Centerville, OH), 2003.
The Mirror of Love, illustrated by José Villarubia, Top Shelf Productions (Portland, OR), 2003.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, America's Best Comics (La Jolla, CA), 2003.
(Author of introduction) Jess Nevins, Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, MonkeyBrain (Austin, TX), 2003.
Across the Universe: The DC Universe Stories of Alan Moore, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2003, published as DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2006.
America's Best Comics, America's Best Comics (LA Jolla, CA), 2004.
Alan Moore's The Courtyard, illustrated by Jacen Burrows, Avatar Press (Rantoul, IL), 2004.
Tom Strong Book Three, illustrated by Chris Sprouse, Titan Books (London, England), 2004.
Terra Obscura, illustrated by Peter Hotan and Yanick Paquette, Wildstorm (La Jolla, CA), 2004.
Smax, illustrated by Zander Cannon, Andrew Currie, and Richard Friend, America's Best Comics (La Jolla, CA), 2004.
Alan Moore's Writing for Comics (nonfiction), illustrated by Jacen Burrows, Avatar Press (Rantoul, IL), 2005.
Tom Strong Book Four, illustrated by Chris Sprouse, Titan Books (London, England), 2005.
Top Ten: The Forty-niners, illustrated by Gene Ha, America's Best Comics (La Jolla, CA), 2005.
Tom Strong's Terrific Tales, America's Best Comics (La Jolla, CA), 2005.
Tom Strong's Terrific Tales, volume 2, America's Best Comics (La Jolla, CA), 2005.
Tom Strong Book Five, illustrated by Chris Sprouse, Titan Books (London, England), 2005.
Tom Strong Book Six, illustrated by Chris Sprouse, Titan Books (London, England), 2006.
Alan Moore: Wild Worlds, Wildstorm (La Jolla, CA), 2007.
(With Rick Veitch and Steve Bissette) Shiny Beasts, King Hell Press (West Townshend, VD), 2007.
The Complete WildC.A.T.S., Titan Books (London, England), 2007.
Bill Baker, Alan Moore on His Work and Career, Rosen Pub. (New York, NY), 2008.
Also author of comic series 1963, Image Comics; Yuggoth Cultures (collection), 1997; It's Dark in London: Graphic Short Stories, 1997; and The Worm: The Longest Comic Strip in the World, 2000.
Contributor to books and anthologies, including Forbidden Acts, 1995; The Year's Best Fantasy First Annual Collection, 1988; The Starry Wisdom, edited by D.M. Mitchell, Creation Books, 1994; and Doctor Who Weekly.
Creator of comic series, including "The Ballad of Halo Jones," "Skizz," and "D.R. & Quinch" for 2000 A.D. and "Marvelman" and "V for Vendetta" series for Warrior (English anthology magazine).
Contributor to comics series, including "Saga of the Swamp Thing" and "Tales of the Green Lantern Corps," DC Comics; "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," "Promethea," "Tom Strong," "Tomorrow Stories," and "Top Ten," for America's Best Comics; and "Supreme."
Performer on spoken-word albums, including The Birth Caul, Brought to Light, The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, Highbury Working and Angel Passage, as well as the musical albums The Sinister Ducks and The Emperors of Ice Cream.
From Hell was adapted for a movie of the same title, starring Johnny Depp, directed by Albert and Allen Hughes, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2002; The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was adapted for a movie of the same title, starring Sean Connery, directed by Stephen Norrington, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2002; V for Vendetta was adapted for a movie of the same title by Andy and Larry Wachowski for Warner Brothers, directed by James McTeigue, starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving, 2006.
Dubbed the "Orson Welles of comics" by Steve Rose in the Guardian, Alan Moore is one of a handful of people who transformed the comic book industry in the 1980s, showing that "comic book scripts can have the subtlety of prose fiction, especially when they use their access to the rich potential subject matter of our fascination with heroes," as a contributor to St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers noted. Moore's twelve-part comic-book serial Watchmen "changed the genre forever," according to Sridhar Pappu on the Salon.com Web site. In that series Moore transformed the old superhero model into "rapists, racists, and flunkies of Richard Nixon … [to be] hunted down in the days before World War III," Pappu wrote. This deconstructing of the comic book hero was hailed a "sci-fi detective masterpiece," Rose observed, making Moore "the comic industry's de facto leader." According to Rose, for comic fans, Moore is "the undisputed high priest of the medium, whose every word is seized upon like a message from the ether."
Moore has continued to amaze and confound his readers since the mid-1980s, writing series comics as well as graphic novels. For ten years he worked in the murky world of serial killers and madmen, writing his From Hell series about Jack the Ripper, the book of which was adapted for a 2002 film starring Johnny Depp. From works such as V for Vendetta and Miracleman to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Moore has created a large and significant body of work. As a critic on the Comicon.com Web site remarked, Moore "was the first modern writer to approach the medium of comics with the same intent and thoughtfulness … of any successful novel, screenplay, or theatrical production." Employing both playfulness and deadly earnestness, Moore "created an intoxicating mix of high and low; a nexus where readers could embrace some of the deepest aspirations of humankind while wallowing in the muckiest of trash culture." And writing in Time, Andrew W. Arnold declared that Moore "has written the best mainstream books of the last fifteen years while maintaining artistic credibility."
Moore himself is of two minds about his genre-bending Watchmen, as he confided to Tasha Robinson in an Onion AV Club Web site interview: "In the fifteen years since Watchmen, an awful lot of the comics field [has been] devoted to these very grim, pessimistic, nasty, violent stories which kind of use Watchmen to validate what are, in effect, often just some very nasty stories that don't have a lot to recommend them…. It's almost become a genre. The gritty, deconstructivist postmodern superhero comic, as exemplified by Watchmen, also became a genre. It was never meant to. It was meant to be one work on its own. I think to that degree, it may have had a deleterious effect upon the medium since then."
Born in Northampton, England, in 1953, Moore grew up in a working-class family. His father was a brewery worker and his mother a printer; their flat was rented from the town council. Indoor plumbing was missing at one grandmother's house while electric lights were absent from the home of his other grandmother. "Looking back on it," Moore told Pappu, "it sounds like I'm describing something out of Dickens. I mean, I'm talking 1955, but 1955 in England. I've seen ‘Happy Days’ on television. Maybe the American fifties were like that, but that wasn't what the British fifties were like. It was all sort of monochrome, and it was all indoors."
Moore grew up loving imaginative literature, from the Greek and Norse myths to children's books about Robin Hood. The first comics in his youth were British ones, done in black and white, full of school stories. Then he finally got his hands on a Superman comic. "I got my morals more from Superman than I ever did from my teachers or peers," Moore told Pappu. "Because Super- man wasn't real—he was incorruptible. You were seeing morals in their pure form. You don't see Superman secretly going out behind the back and lying and killing, which, of course, most real-life heroes tend to be doing." At age seventeen Moore was thrown out of his conservative secondary school for dealing drugs, and thereafter took laboring jobs in and around Northampton, working at a sheep-skinning plant and cleaning toilets at a hotel. He finally moved up to an office job at the local gas company, but knew he had to make an effort to do something more creative.
Eventually finding himself married and with a child on the way, Moore quit his job, went on public assistance, and spent a year trying to make a living with his own imagination. One of his ultimately aborted projects during this time was a twenty-part space opera. Eventually he found a cartooning job for the rock weekly Sounds. In that magazine he published a comic detective story called "Roscoe Moscow" under the pen name of Curt Vile, but soon decided he was a better writer than artist. Thereafter he contributed works to British magazines such as Doctor Who Weekly and 2000 A.D. In the latter publication, he created several popular comic strips, including "The Ballad of Halo Jones"—which had one of the first feminist heroes in comics as Halo searches for her proper place in the galaxy—"Skizz," and "D.R. & Quinch," a darkly humorous—some might say deranged—look at college students who take readers through tales of slime wars and psychotic girlfriends.
Moore then began contributing to the British anthology magazine Warrior, where he initiated two series that would prove to be breakthroughs for him: Marvelman—titled Miracleman in the United States—and V for Vendetta. With these tales, Moore's writing began to take on more of the multilayered feeling of a novel. "With Marvelman there were some bits of cleverness creeping in there but with V for Vendetta I think that was where I started to realize that you could get some incredible effects by putting words and pictures together or leaving the words out for a while," Moore told Barry Kavanagh in a Blather.net Web site interview. "I started to realize what you could do with comic storytelling and the … layering, the levels of meaning that you could attach to the story. I think that certainly V for Vendetta was one of the first real major breakthroughs I made in terms of my own personal style."
With Marvelman Moore treats the stereotypical superhero in tights with a new sensitivity, and by the end the hero has become "genuinely godlike," according to the St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers essayist, "and graciously offers other humans the chance to join him. He is puzzled by the refusal of some, such as his former wife, to be converted into superhumanity; that failure of imagination, Moore implies, is Marvelman's ultimate limitation." V for Vendetta, on the other hand, is set in a near-future, fascist Britain, where the only opposition to the government is the Guy Fawkes-masked figure known only as "V," a lone vigilante who is killing all the government officials once connected with a concentration camp. Illustrated in black and white by David Lloyd, the series has a gritty, noir feel that attracted readers on both sides of the Atlantic. V for Vendetta earned Moore his first awards as well; he received the Eagle Award for Best Writing in both 1982 and 1983.
"When we started to do [V for Vendetta]," Moore told Kavanagh, "the entirety of the idea was that we would have a dark, romantic, noirish adventurer and then we thought we'd set him in the future and then the details slowly came together and yeah, somewhere out of this we realized we were doing something about the contrast between anarchy and fascism, that there were lots of moral questions being asked and that yes, it was very much centered upon the world of ideas as being in some ways more important than the material world." Moore further told Kavanagh that V for Vendetta was a breakthrough in terms of characters. "I was very pleased with the characterizations in [V for Vendetta]. There's quite a variety of characters in there and they've all got very distinctive characteristics. They've all got different ways of talking, different agendas and I think they're all credible because, well, they felt emotionally credible to me because there's none of them that I absolutely hate."
In assessing V for Vendetta, an SF Site Web site reviewer commented: "‘Classic’ is a word used to define something that lasts, something that maintains relevance whatever the time or fashions. V for Vendetta is a classic because it is as relevant now, as it was at the time it was created."
Moore's work in England did not go unnoticed by American comics publishers and fans, and in 1984 he began working for DC Comics, revamping the character of Swamp Thing for The Saga of Swamp Thing. Taking over the nearly defunct series at number twenty, he stuck with it through the next forty issues. "It was the first time that I'd got color and twenty-four pages to play with," Moore related to Kavanagh. "So I was able to kind of splash out and do a few things that I'd only been able to dream about doing with black and white material." Moore appreciated the opportunities, as he noted in his introduction to Saga of the Swamp Thing, the first of the issues: "The continuity-expert's nightmare of a thousand different super-powered characters co-existing in the same continuum can, with the application of a sensitive and sympathetic eye, become a rich and fertile mythic background with fascinating archetypal characters hanging around, waiting to be picked like grapes on the vine."
Moore depicts the Swamp Thing not as a man who simply becomes plantlike, but as a human individual transformed into a plantlike being who retains all the memories and emotions of the man. "Shocked by the discovery that he was not human," explained the reviewer for St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, "the character first tries to sink into unconsciousness. When he is roused by the need to fight another man-plant being who wants to destroy all humans for their crimes against the vegetable world, Swamp Thing begins to care for some humans." In the end, Swamp Thing becomes able to share his world with them and, in the climax, to actually love one human woman.
"Unconventional and serious, [Moore] turned the book into a tool for exploring social issues, using it to discuss everything from racism to environmental affairs," remarked Pappu. Soon Moore had increased monthly circulation of Swamp Thing from 17,000 to 100,000 copies by, as Rose commented, transforming the featured creature "from a walking vegetable into a ground-breaking gothic eco-warrior." Also working for DC, Moore penned "Tales of the Green Lantern Corps."
Meanwhile, Moore was also collaborating with Dave Gibbons on an idea for a type of new superhero story with a reconstructed gang of heroes thrown into new situations. Working off characters that had appeared in the defunct Charlton line of comics, such as the Question, Mister A, Blue Beetle, and Captain Atom, in Watchmen Moore and Gibbons came up with their own superheroes, including Dr. Manhattan, an invincible, godlike being with the power to manipulate all of time and space; Rorschach, a masked, violent, and doubtless psychotic vigilante; Ozymandias, a superior specimen of human intellect, cunning, and physical prowess; and other characters combining archetypal characteristics with realistic personalities and personal flaws. In Moore's take, these superheroes are all plagued by their human emotions and weaknesses. In an alternate America of 1985, superheroes have in fact existed for several decades. They have fought gangsters and then Nazis in World War II, have been purged in the McCarthy era, helped the country win the war in Vietnam, and have become hitmen for the CIA. One such superhero, the Comedian, supposedly killed the Watergate journalists Woodward and Bernstein in 1972, thus stabilizing Richard M. Nixon's threatened presidency, and the Comedian's own death in October of 1985 becomes the kick-off point for Moore's dark tale. Soon it becomes clear that someone is trying to kill off the second generation of superheroes, and as an international nuclear threat becomes more and more urgent, the remaining superheroes know that they must stop this anonymous assassin before time runs out.
The twelve issues of the original Watchmen series each includes notes and end matter, supposedly "documentary" material of the time that is "wittily crafted and weirdly interesting," according to Fredric Paul Smoler in the Nation. The series quickly became a cult classic, appealing to adult and teenage readers alike. Rose noted that the series "was a dense, meticulous deconstruction of the whole superhero game that received mainstream ‘literary’ acclaim," and also became the symbol of a new genre—the graphic novel. Watchmen is a "formidably complex work, demanding that readers connect many references in text and art," noted the contributor for St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers.
Before leaving DC Comics to found his imprint Mad Love Publishers, Moore published a stand-alone Batman story, The Killing Joke, about the relationship between Batman and Joker, though he came to view this particular venture as a "well-intentioned failure." His more recent projects have often resembled massive, unfinished monoliths. Brought to Light, with illustrations by Bill Sienkiewicz, is based on a lawsuit brought against the government for drug smuggling and arms dealing. The 1963 series is a genial tribute to and spoof of early Marvel superheroes, but the series broke off just as Moore was bringing those more-innocent characters into the present, to face contemporary issues in the company of today's scruffier brand of superhero. Only two issues of "Big Numbers" appeared, juxtaposing personal and big-business desires. A Small Killing, illustrated by Oscar Zarate, tells the story of Timothy Hole, an advertising man in New York, who is followed by a mysterious little boy.
Far and away Moore's most important project during the 1990s was From Hell, a fictional account of the murderous 1888 crimes of Jack the Ripper, all based on thorough research. A "big, black, monumental work," is how Moore described From Hell to Kavanagh. "Victorian. I'm very proud of it." In Moore's version of the Ripper story, Prince Albert, heir to the British throne, has secretly married a woman from the London slums. To save the throne, all evidence of this must be removed, including the other slum women who know. Dr. William Gull, sincere defender of official morality, sets about this task at the request of his sovereign, Queen Victoria. He views himself as a masked vigilante, but history knows him as Jack the Ripper. But Gull is also an enigma: is he a real historical persona or a golem-like creation brought to life by royalty and the Freemasons?
Reviewing the graphic-novel publication of From Hell in Booklist, Gordon Flagg noted that Moore's "meticulous research … helps him evoke Victorian London convincingly, and his … storytelling skills make the story grippingly harrowing." Kenneth Turan, reviewing the movie adaptation of the book in the Los Angeles Times, noted that Moore's work is "no mere comic book. It's a massive, graphic novel published over the course of a decade and so fiendishly researched and detailed it has more than forty pages of footnotes in small print." And writing in the London Observer, Iain Sinclair called From Hell a "celebrated graphic novel."
After being imitated for so long as the progenitor of the deconstructed superhero, Moore set out with a new imprint in 1999, America's Best Comics (ABC), to resurrect the old-fashioned superhero. Beginning the practice when in his forties, Moore found a renewed joy in his craft, and his output rose after completion of From Hell. One of the turnaround incidents for him was a reclamation project in 1996 of a "very, very, very, very, very lame" superhero, as Moore recalled to Pappu. With Supreme, Moore refashions a down-at-heels superhero and had such fun doing it that he figured he could use that model to help breathe new life into a flagging comics industry. His ABC titles include Promethea, about a mythic warrior woman, Tom Strong, featuring a very straightforward, moral superhero, and Top Ten, set in a police precinct where all the officers have superhuman powers.
Tom Strong is a pulp-themed superhero whose stories evoke the lavish and more straightforward and innocent adventure epics of an earlier era. Raised by scientist parents as an experiment in the limits of human physical and intellectual development, Tom Strong grew up on the remote island of Attabar Teru at the turn of the twentieth century. When his parents are killed, he is adopted by the island's native Ozu people. The series follows his many adventures throughout a changing world with his Ozu wife Dhuala, his daughter Tesla, his steam-powered robot butler Pneuman, and his bespectacled, bow-tie-clad talking gorilla, King Solomon. A resident of the sprawling metropolis of Millennium City, Tom Strong has already proved his supernatural longevity by living for more than one hundred years with no sign of physical or mental decline. As Moore plots adventures with Tom Strong's family and friends, Moore explores the characters' varied backstories and revives the mythic themes that accompanied many golden-age superheroes. "Moore carefully and expertly counters the naivete of the pulp hero (and its audience) with a modern reader's sensibilities, without losing the excitement and joy of the latter," observed A. David Lewis on the PopMatters Web site. In a review of Tom Strong Book Two, a Publishers Weekly critic noted that the artwork, "together with the intelligent, imaginative story, makes this work a welcome addition to the superhero genre."
With The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Moore gathers nineteenth-century fictional personages such as Allan Quatermain from H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines, Captain Nemo from Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Edward Hyde and Dr. Henry Jekyll from Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, Mina Murray from Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Hawley Griffin from H.G. Welles's Invisible Man. Reviewing the collection The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a contributor for Publishers Weekly called it a "delightful work" that features a "grand collection of signature nineteenth-century fictional characters, covertly brought together to defend the empire." The same reviewer concluded that Moore has created a "Victorian era Fantastic Four, a beautifully illustrated reprise … packed with period detail, great humor, and rousing adventure."
Moving into his publishing venture, Moore has abandoned his bleak, noirish plot lines in favor of a lighter touch in his books for ABC. "I feel good about this century," he told Joel Meadows in a Tripwire interview. "I feel that we're going somewhere in our minds and our minds are evolving into something. I think that imagination and the world of the imagination are at a premium in these coming times."
In the Advocate, Andy Mangels highlighted another passion of Moore's: a poem titled The Mirror of Love, which originally appeared in 1988 in a publication called AARGH! (Artists against Rampant Government Homophobia). "Moore's Mirror of Love," explained Mangels, "is an epic poem that compresses gay history into a few thousand words, covering the dawn of humanity and ancient Sapphic and Spartan love up through the AIDS crisis and the gay-baiting media of the modern world." Moore, a heterosexual, told Mangels that the poem is "sweeping—melodramatic," and that "it's got a very Shakespearean tone to it, but it felt like a big story that deserved to be spoken of in epic tongues. Some of the men and women that we mentioned in it—these are titans. They are the pillars of human culture, let alone ‘gay culture.’" Moore and friends published the comic book to benefit the fight against a piece of British legislation that he deemed homophobic. As Moore explained to Mangels: "Whenever any of our countries take these sudden, nasty fascist lunges, then I think it's down to all of us to actually stand up and say something about it."
Promethea chronicles the modern-day incarnation of a living legend. Sophie Bangs is a young college student studying folklore. As part of a research project, she begins investigating a character named Promethea, who has recurred in literature and lore for hundreds of years. Soon, she discovers that there have been many Prometheas over the years, all of them heroic, larger-than-life, mystical individuals with exotic powers and the desire to do good and protect those who are unable to protect themselves. She finds recurring themes and characteristics among the incarnations of Promethea, such as the presence of Egyptian or Greek motifs. When she visits Barbara Shelley, the widow of comic book writer Steve Shelley, the last person to write stories about the Promethea, she is turned away with dire warnings about the consequences of seeking out folklore that does not want to be found. Later, she unearths information on the origin of the Promethea line and how the character exists in the Immateria, a realm of myth and imagination, but exists to render aid to the physical world. Later, Sophie becomes herself a modern incarnation of the powerful mystic character, aided by previous incarnations of Promethea from their home in the Immateria. "The true genius of Promethea," remarked Strange Horizons Web site reviewer Laura Blackwell, "lies not in its immense beauty or its effortless erudition, but the way these things are blended with humor and with daily human life, fusing them into one shimmering, vital, yet accessible, work."
DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore contains reprints of several stories Moore penned during his long association with DC Comics, the company that published his groundbreaking work in Swamp Thing and Watchmen. In this collection, Moore approaches some of DC's signature icons as well as some lesser characters, and "what shines through is a genuine affection for many characters in their original, outlandish forms," commented PopMatters Web site reviewer Ryan Day. In "For the Man Who Has Everything," Superman is nearly brought to defeat by a foe who attacks the Man of Steel with a strange organism that takes over his mind, plunging Superman into a realistic dream world while rendering his body immobile. Within this mental landscape, Superman is allowed to live out his fondest wish—his home planet of Krypton is intact, his parents are alive, and he is living as a normal individual in his native society. Meanwhile, superhero allies Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman have discovered Superman's immobile body and struggle to free him from his mental prison while defeating the foe who attacked him. "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" is another Superman story, this one the final two-part tale published before the character's much-heralded revamp in the 1980s. Here, thirty years of Superman characters and continuity are given one final, affectionate look as many of Superman's enemies team up in a deadly plan to destroy not only Superman himself but all Kryptonians on Earth, including Supergirl and Krypto, the superdog. Told as an interview/flashback by perennial Superman girlfriend Lois Lane (and her strangely familiar husband), the story features Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and even formerly bumbling and ineffectual characters such as Bizarro, the Prankster, and Toyman as they launch lethal attacks on Metropolis and its residents. "The Killing Joke" features a character-defining study of the long and complex relationship between Batman and the Joker. Other stories in the collection feature Green Arrow, Vigilante, and members of the galaxy-spanning Green Lantern Corps.
Zone-SF Web site critic Patrick Hudson observed: "Although it's fair to say that not every story here is a gem, this collection does demonstrate just what it is that separates Moore from the pack." The collection "doesn't contain Moore's best work, or the stories for which he'll be best remembered, but they nonetheless provide a view of the important developmental steps of a rising star, as well as a side of the author that should not be ignored," Day remarked. "As the stories in this volume attest, Moore's aim was never to make comic books grow up; all he ever wanted was to make them smarten up." A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that the collection offers "superheroes tales told with such wit and imagination that they reach all the promise the genre offers."
Perhaps Moore's most controversial work to date has been the multiple-volume graphic novel Lost Girls. A project sixteen years in the making, Moore launched Lost Girls with artist Melinda Gebbie, who began as his collaborator and later became Moore's wife. In the book, Moore and Gebbie deliberately set out to create a sexually explicit and pornographic work, but one with scrupulously high levels of literary and artistic merit that would challenge interpretations of pornography in the United States and abroad. Set in the days just prior to the outbreak of World War I, three women of descending chronological age encounter each other during their stay at an inn in Europe. It quickly becomes apparent that they women are well-known literary characters: Alice, from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland; Dorothy, from L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz, and Wendy, from J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. As they engage in a sexual relationship with each other, the three women recount their famous literary adventures, recast as stories of their early sexual awakening.
Neil Gaiman, another prominent comics writer perhaps best known for his work on DC's Sandman, assessed Lost Girls in a Publishers Weekly review: "Lost Girls is a bittersweet, beautiful, exhaustive, problematic, occasionally exhausting work. It succeeded for me wonderfully as a true graphic novel." Moore and Gebbie offer an "impassioned defense of artistic freedom" and clearly and boldly stress that "fiction and fantasies aren't the same as actual events and behavior," noted Booklist reviewer Gordon Flagg.
A number of critics attacked the book and its creators, heavily criticizing its sexual content and accusing Moore and Gebbie of pandering at best and of presenting and glorifying child pornography at worst. Amidst the controversy surrounding the publication of Lost Girls, Moore had many thoughtful and well-reasoned remarks to make about sexual attitudes and hypocrisy in the United Kingdom and the United States. In an interview on the Paul Gravett Web site, Moore summarized the often conflicting and contradictory modern reaction to pornography and sexual content. Moore told Gravett: "Although it's not acknowledged, we have a society which is entirely sexualised and yet its relationship with its sexual imagination is a really strange and unhealthy one, in that it tries to pretend it doesn't have a sexual imagination or that having one is in some way shameful, sinful, guilt-inducing. Which means that the way in which the sexual imagination works in our culture is as a kind of multi-purpose social control leash.
"It's a stick and a carrot combined, that for the purposes of commerce it can flood your mind with the most licentious ideas and imagery but woe betide anybody who actually finds themselves in this inflamed state and responds," Moore continued. "Because then they are a dirty, filthy person who responds to pornography. So that is when the stick comes into effect to make everybody feel guilty and ashamed for whatever kind of sexual gratification they have been driven to by the burgeoning sexual aura of the culture that we are in."
Moore, however, feels that pornography and sexually explicit materials should have a new role in the social and literary fabric of society. "There isn't any reason why pornography should not be a thing of beauty, which would perhaps make us feel better about our own sexual imaginations," he remarked to Gravett. "If we were looking at something beautiful, we might think that our sexual imagination was beautiful. If we're looking at something that by its very nature is sordid, ugly and depressing, then we're likely to come away with the impression that our sexual imagination is the same."
Moore further suggests that directing outrage at fictional material involving sex is repugnant in a world where both children and adults are experiencing real and direct harm as the result of war, famine, neglect, and other deleterious forces. If "people could get a little bit less upset by imaginary acts on paper, and a little bit more upset with the scenes that they are seeing on their televisions almost every night of real, flesh-and-blood children being mutilated, killed, bereaved, driven out of their minds, then that would perhaps be a more proportionate and measured response to the kind of society that we're living in," he commented to Gravett. Moore further remarked: "If we get outraged about something, let's make sure we get outraged about the right thing. Let's make sure that we're not getting outraged about what somebody likes to imagine sexually, because what happens in the world of the imagination has no direct repercussions in the world of material events."
With Lost Girls, Moore and Gebbie "may in fact be doing something spectacular by getting sex out of the bedroom, out of text, away from things like Hentai (I mean, tentacles? Seriously?), and synthesizing it into something fairly original: the aesthetic interplay between text and image—something Alan Moore has always excelled in," commented S.P. MacIntyre on the Monsters and Critics Web site. The book is "a must for anybody studying comics academically or seeking to learn to write from a master of the art form," MacIntyre continued.
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Parkin, Lance, Alan Moore, Pocket Essentials, 2001.
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Advocate, March 16, 2004, Andy Mangels, "From Queer to Eternity: Comic Master Alan Moore Tackles the History of Homosexuality in the Epic Poem The Mirror of Love," p. 52; August 15, 2006, Alonso Duralde, "Awakenings: Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's Lost Girls Recasts Alice in Wonderland, the Wizard of Oz, and Peter Pan as Sexual Coming-of-age Stories," p. 76.
American Heritage, November 1, 2006, Steven Goldman, "Graphic Novel: Hard-core Victorian," review of Lost Girls, p. 24.
Analog: Science Fiction-Science Fact, May, 1988, Tom Easton, review of Saga of the Swamp Thing, p. 184; January, 1991, Tom Easton, review of V for Vendetta, p. 308.
Booklist, June 1, 2000, Gordon Flagg, review of From Hell, p. 1830; November 1, 2003, Gordon Flagg, review of Judgment Day, p. 487; February 1, 2003, Gordon Flagg, review of Promethea: Book 3, p. 967; April 15, 2003, Gordon Flagg, review of Supreme: The Return, p. 1439; May 15, 2003, Gordon Flagg, review of Top Ten Book Two, p. 1629; October 1, 2003, Gordon Flagg, review of Across the Universe: The DC Universe Stories of Alan Moore, p. 309; November 1, 2003, Gordon Flagg, review of Judgment Day, p. 487; September 1, 2004, Gordon Flagg, review of Terra Obscura, p. 78; January 1, 2005, Carl Hays, review of Tom Strong Book Four and Tom Strong's Terrific Tales, p. 836; July, 2005, Gordon Flagg, review of Tom Strong's Terrific Tales, p. 1913; September 15, 2005, Gordon Flagg, review of Top Ten: The Forty-Niners, p. 39; March 1, 2006, Gordon Flagg, review of DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore, p. 78; August 1, 2006, Gordon Flagg, review of Lost Girls, p. 61; December 1, 2006, Gordon Flagg, review of Tom Strong Book Six, p. 34; September 1, 2007, Gordon Flagg, review of Wild Worlds, p. 69; September 15, 2007, Gordon Flagg, review of The Complete WildC.A.T.S., p. 54.
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Monsters and Critics,http://www.monstersandcritics.com/ (November 20, 2006), S.P. MacIntyre, review of Lost Girls.
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