I had recent occasion to make public comment (below), that was taken slightly the wrong way by someone close to Alan Moore, with whom I had worked briefly with back in the early 90’s, promoting his seminal mainstream work: WATCHMEN. In fact, it is not bragging too much to say that I played an instrumental role precisely in making WATCHMEN a mainstream success. (Note: ‘mainstream’ means not just in comics shops.)
But that’s not the point of my comment.
I have had good cause to stay out of the comics industry over the past 21 years and it is with extreme caution and trepidation that I re-enter this particular snakes bit of malicious gossip and traitorous greed. And look, I’ve already put my foot in it!
I’ve had to raise my voice because I have wares to sell to the comics audience. But not just the comics audience. What I do want to at least try is to let comics afficiandos know that the medium is capable of greater things beyond which revamp of which new animal-totem character is about to appear from which of 2 or 3 media companies.
I really don’t like comics, as they are and were. But I do love comics, telling stories with pictures, for what they could be . . . in the right hands, with the right voices.
I’ve generally avoided talking about Alan directly or publicly up til now mainly for two reasons: I worked with him only briefly in the early 90’s and although we weren’t ‘friends’ so to speak, we shared friends and I very quickly developed a great personal admiration, not just for his writing but for his human nature.
So I guess discretion is the sincerest form of respect.
Secondly, because the myriad of interviews and gossip orbitting around Alan, the man as opposed to Alan’s work, really reveals the bitter face of the comics industry.
Much has been made in the comics fan press of Alan’s apparent self-exile and alienation form previous colleagues and people he has worked with. I count myself among them; but that’s an issue of personality and disposition. Alan’s behaviour and response to the commercial machinations of the industry is no more bizzare’s that J.D. Salinger’s or Picasso, for that matter. Both of whom openly despised the commercial aspect of their art.
In another sense, who cares?
What I care about is what Alan writes next.
Because that’s what he is: a writer and damn good one.
In print however; Alan’s remarks regarding his experience at the inception of the ‘new comics’ of the early 90’s did cause me to take issue with some of the nuance he conveys in his acount of the inception of the Graphic Novel and I take no umbrage at his avoiding referring to me by name in his interviews when commenting on the integrity of the term and concept of the Graphic Novel, as it manifested in the late 80’s. Not all of us were on the Time/Warner payroll
Hence my blog entry http://igorgoldkind.com/ entitled CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY, the title taken from a verbatum quote of Alan’s that I read recently.
My aim was get the recounted record straight; one that was brought to my attention by a proffessional in the business asking me my opinion of Alan’s printed comments regarding Graphic Novels since, I was (supposedly) there.
But in doing so, I may have provoked a misunderstanding as to my intent.
So, equally to set the record straight, let me make absolutely clear that when it comes to the oeuvre of Alan Moore, both in comics and out, no other single writer to date has made a bigger impact not only in the comics medium but in drawing attention to the value and merit of the medium than Alan Moore. Without Alan Moore, I literally couldn’t have done my job back in the late 80’s Or at least it would have been a lot tougher without the evidence he backed up my hype with.
However, I do not consider Alan Moore to be a comics writer, although that’s how he started. Alan is an auteur with not only an incomparable mastery of the horror, fantasy and SF genres; but effectively a game changer, in persistently pushing the evelope artistically, always rattling the cages of convention. In fact, I would not be at all surprised to find that some of his worse experiences in dealing with the American comics publishing industry has been due to ideological differences as much as financial ones.
When I knew him, Alan Moore was an avowed Socialist/Anarchist, who has no truck with the contemporary power structures that feed us information and entertainment (as well as food, water, fuel and employment, btw). And he’s right and if it ever comes to it, I’ll be standing on his side of the barricades. But I wonder if Alan’s reputation comes under attack
not so much because he’s an Socialist/Anarchist who threatens the status quo, but because he’s an extremely articulate Socialist/Anarchist which is even more threatening to the status quo.
I have never really heard anyone, much less a N articulate the reasonable necessity of a socialist state in common sense terms better than Alan Moore, (with the one exception of the late Tony Benn whom I also had the good fortune to hear articulate his politics in a social setting).
But I’m meandering off topic now.
I recall in the early 90’s, speaking to the editor of the Economist when trying to pitch him a feature on WATCHMEN, I compared Alan Moore to Charles Dickens.
Not in terms of the craft of his writing, but as someone who had seen the implcit value of a neglected medium (Penny Dreadful, newstand periodicals in the case of Dickens; comics, in the case of Moore), exploiting the social tendance to overlook ‘trash’ culture to deliver new, revolutionary work.
I still stand by that comparison.