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 Alan Moore: The Harvey Kurtzman of comic book writers

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Chris W



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PostSubject: Alan Moore: The Harvey Kurtzman of comic book writers   Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:36 pm

Moore has always cited Kurtzman as a major influence, and you can see that in the voluminous scripts he sends his artists. He's always described the process into trying to figure out what would look really good if drawn by whoever, citing that he couldn't have done Watchmen with Bissette and Totleben because their style suited the overgrown messiness of the swamp, while he couldn't have done Swamp Thing with Dave Gibbons' clean lines.

That said, and this is all guesswork, I think his interest in Kurtzman is what made his scripts so dense. Bill Sienkiewicz once joked about "Big Numbers" falling apart and calling up Eddie Campbell and Dave Gibbons to see if they'd take over and they were all 'no way man, we've served our sentence.' Articulating every facet and background element to the artists - and obviously playing to their strengths - was in that Kurtzman spirit of attention to detail, which were in the war comics as well as the humor titles.

This carries over into the career as well. With Mad, Kurtzman created something very valuable, but Bill Gaines was the owner. Trump might have overcome its initial difficulties, but he'd given his work to Hugh Hefner who needed to cut spending somewhere. I'm not saying it's a direct parallel or anything, but it's an interesting coincidence.
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Peter Urkowitz

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PostSubject: Re: Alan Moore: The Harvey Kurtzman of comic book writers   Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:29 pm

Interesting point!

Like you say, the parallel is not exact, but it is thought-provoking.

Interesting differences: Kurtzman wanted to be part of New York big city life, and remained in that environment through his work as a teacher and his continued artistic endeavors. Moore wanted to retreat to his beloved Northampton, where he still stays engaged in writing and other artistic pursuits, but is not part of the comic book industry mainstream. I guess that's actually a similarity, in that they both returned to their home towns (or never really left).
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Alan Moore: The Harvey Kurtzman of comic book writers   Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:06 pm

I read accounts of the ridiculous process Kurtzman and Elder went through on "Little Annie Fanny" and it just boggles the minds how many 'drafts' the page went through, between Kurtzman, Elder, all the assistants and Hefner. Girly cartoons don't need *that* much effort. What this tells us about "Lost Girls," I don't know.

However, you're right that Moore never really left his home, with the result that his career looks like an inverse version of Kurtzman's. First big successes locked up by a company, which at least helps them stay in print. However high the artistic success of the rest of Moore's career, there's no Miracleman collection, no 1963 collection, no Big Numbers collection. The Captain Britain collection was stymied for years which caused problems for Alan Davis. The From Hell collection only exists because Eddie Campbell went the extra mile. Whatever his other virtues, it seems that if the artist, editor or publisher doesn't tend to something in Moore's career, it won't be tended to.
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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Alan Moore: The Harvey Kurtzman of comic book writers   Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:42 pm

This was interesting...

http://comicsbeat.com/the-strange-case-of-grant-morrison-and-alan-moore-as-told-by-grant-morrison/

The entire thing is worth a read, but here's a highlight from Morrison's response that they pulled at comicsalliance.com...

Quote :
"I find it tragic but quite pertinent to this piece that the loudest voice in our business – the one that carries the furthest and is taken most seriously by the mainstream media – is the one that offers nothing but contempt and denunciation, with barely a single good word to say about any of the many accomplished and individual writers currently working in mainstream comics, let alone the wealth of brilliant indie creators.Does he ever, for instance, use his high media profile to do anything other than steer potential readers away from modern comic books and their creators – while over-playing his own achievements and placing himself centre stage at every turn? How hard would it be to say something encouraging, positive, or hopeful about the generally improved standard of writing in all comic books these days? Or at least say nothing at all.

And if I may untangle the logic behind so much of his hectoring: Moore constantly reiterates the idea that all modern comics are copied from stuff he did in the '80s – and they're all rubbish!

Is he genuinely saying that his influence has been entirely malignant? If he actually believed that, I'd almost feel sorry for him. I see my own influence all over the place and I'm quite chuffed."
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: Alan Moore: The Harvey Kurtzman of comic book writers   Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:07 am

This is pathetic. Grant Morrison is the guy who inspired me to write in the first place, and he comes off as a whiner who still carries a thirty-year grudge against Moore, who barely remembers him.

“You are somewhat surprisingly not the only acclaimed comics writer from the UK to also be a vocal magician. Obviously I’m talking about Grant Morrison here, who has never been terribly shy about his views on you or your work. Can we possibly draw you out on your views of him and his work?
“To which Moore replied,
“Well, let me see… The reason I haven’t spoken about Grant Morrison generally is because I’m not very interested in him, and I don’t really want to get involved with a writer of his calibre in some sort of squabble. But, for the record, since you asked: the first time I met him, he was an aspiring comics writer from Glasgow, I was up there doing a signing or something. They asked if I could perhaps – if they could invite a local comics writer who was a big admirer of mine along to the dinner. So I said yeah. This was I think the only time that I met him to speak to. He said how much he admired my work, how it had inspired him to want to be a comics writer. And I wished him the best of luck, I told him I’d look out for his work. When I saw that work in 2000 AD I thought ‘Well, this seems as if it’s a bit of a cross between Captain Britain and Marvelman, but that’s probably something that he’ll grow out of.’”

“Let’s start with ‘an aspiring writer…’
“The usually well-informed Moore’s grasp of the facts is a little shaky here but the truth is well documented and, as can be quickly verified, my first professionally published comic book work “Time Is A Four-Letter Word” appeared in the independent adult sci-fi comic “Near Myths” in October 1978 (written and drawn by me, the story was/is, amusingly enough, based around the simultaneity of time concept Alan Moore himself is so fond of these days and which informs his in-progress novel “Jerusalem”).”

- See, to me it looks like Morrison is saying he expects Moore to be as informed about a fanzine artist as Morrison is about, well the world-renowned Moore’s latest novel-in-progress. The difference from telling Stephen King that you have a blog so therefore you’re a writer just like him is only one of degree.

“By 1979, I was also contributing stories on a regular basis to DC Thomson’s ‘Starblazer’ series and I’d begun a three year stint writing and drawing ‘Captain Clyde’, a weekly half-page newspaper strip about a lo-fi “realistic” Glasgow superhero. “Captain Clyde” ran in three newspapers. I was even a guest on panels at comics conventions.
In October 1978, Alan Moore had sold one illustration – a drawing of Elvis Costello to NME – and had not yet achieved any recognition in the comics business. In 1979, he was doing unpaid humour cartoons for the underground paper “The Back Street Bugle”. I didn’t read his name in a byline until 1982, by which time I’d been a professional writer for almost five years. Using the miracle of computer technology, you can verify any of these dates right now, if you choose to.”

- Or, without the miracle of computer technology, we might see that Moore, with a wife, girlfriend and two daughters, not to mention his own career, wasn’t checking bylines as closely as a fanboy might. And NME was much higher on the social scale than any English comic books by anybody anywhere. So there.

“It’s true that Moore’s work in “Warrior” and “The Daredevils”, combined with the rising excitement of the early ’80s comics boom in Britain, galvanized me into refocusing and taking my existing comics career more seriously at a time (1982) when the music career I’d tried to pursue was spinning in circles but I hope even the most devoted of his readers might understand why I’ve grown tired of the widely-accepted, continually-reinforced belief that Moore’s work either predated my own or that he inspired or encouraged me to enter the comics field when it’s hardly a chore to fact-check the relevant publication dates.”

- Moore’s music career includes multiple finished albums, a few singles and being name-dropped in some song other writers adored – “Alan Moore knows the score.” Since Morrison, by his own admission, was light-years ahead of being the comics creator Alan Moore was, when will his contemporary music career highlights reach the audience?

“If Alan Moore had never come along, if he’d given up halfway through his ground-breaking turn on “St. Pancras Panda”, we would all still have written and drawn our comics. We published our own fanzines, and small press outlets were popping up everywhere. I’d already submitted art and story samples several times to both DC and Marvel, along with a pitch for a crossover entitled “Second Coming” to DC’s New Talent Programme in 1982.”

- “We published our own fanzines. How professional can you get? And you even submitted samples? Wow, nobody in 1982 was thinking they could write and draw for Marvel or DC. How daring!

“It was on that basis that I recommended him to Karen Berger when she was starting [indecipherable speech - Vertigo?].”

“It’s hard not to be a little insulted by Moore’s comments that he recommended me to Karen Berger for, what he has described on more than one occasion, and with a fairly extravagant degree of solipsistic self-regard, as a “proposed Alan Moore farm with Vertigo Comics”, seemingly unable to imagine veteran writers like Peter Milligan, me and others as anything more than extensions of his own self-image.

“However, as five minutes research will confirm, the Vertigo imprint was established in 1993, by which time Alan Moore had fallen out with DC over the “For Mature Readers” ratings system and quit doing new work for them (I believe his split with DC occurred in 1987). I had already been working there for six years doing “Animal Man”, “Doom Patrol”, “Arkham Asylum”, “Gothic”, “Hellblazer” and “Kid Eternity”. I had a good relationship with Karen Berger and was a fairly obvious choice for her to call when she conceived the Vertigo imprint. No other recommendation was necessary. It ought to go without saying that none of us were told to write like Alan Moore – nor did we – and that this is an out-and-out lie.”

- See, this is Morrison pretending he knows all the intimate details from what is f*cking written as “indecipherable speech”. Is it so utterly unthinkable that Karen Berger asked Moore if he knew about any other British writers DC could hire? The introduction to DC’s collection of the first nine issues of “Animal Man” makes clear that he was hired on a headhunting mission to find other UK writers in Alan Moore’s wake, which only paraphrases what Morrison wrote in a similar editorial in “Animal Man” 1 or 2. Moore is popular. They want more Moore. Can he be like Moore? Yes, he can. “Indecipherable speech [Vertigo?] is only a lie if you read it like the despicable Moore is pretending he hired you for Vertigo through his frontman Karen Berger. That would be a lie. But if Karen asked Moore if he knew of any other British writers that could work for DC and he mentioned Morrison (Gaiman, Delano, etc.) and eventually Vertigo was formed, then it looks like they took Moore seriously and looked for creators he recommended and, eventually, Vertigo was formed.

“Far more significantly, much of the material that fed into early Vertigo was originated by the creators and by Editor Art Young for the proposed Touchmark imprint of creator-owned adult comics he’d been assigned to put together under the aegis of Disney, of all things.”

- Also significantly, DC was changing its rules about creator-owned material. Berger’s assistant editors were being headhunted by other companies, sometimes for projects which didn’t work out. They kept in touch with creators, went back to their old job, and brought the creators back to AOL/Time-Warner.

“Again, why the fibs, other than to reinforce once more the fantasy of me – and indeed every other Vertigo writer – in a junior or subordinate position to himself?”

- Maybe he’s not fibbing. Maybe he’s telling the truth as he sees it. You’re the one who imposed the creation of Vertigo on his [indecipherable speech.] If that puts you in a junior or subordinate position, it says something about you. Why don’t you call Karen Berger and ask her if Moore ever recommended you. Is she going to lie to you?

“As Moore points out, the work I did on “Zenith” 25 years ago can trace a little – not all – of its influence to “Marvelman” and “Captain Britain” both of which I loved; my own introduction to the first volume of “Zenith”, published in 1988, admits as much, while also listing the book’s many other touchstones. “

- Let me guess, you’re pissed that he didn’t mention all your “many other touchstones.” As self-absorbed a writer as Moore is, by his own admission [see the ABC promo comic] should you really be surprised that he doesn’t bother with your other influences? Especially with:

“Then there started a kind of, a strange campaign of things in fanzines where he was expressing his opinions of me, as you put it. He later explained this as saying that when he started writing, he felt that he wasn’t famous enough, and that a good way of becoming famous would be to say nasty things about me. Which I suppose is a tactic – although not one that, of course, I’m likely to appreciate. So at that point I decided, after I’d seen a couple of his things and they seemed incredibly derivative, I just decided to stop bothering reading his work. And that’s largely sort of proven successful. But, there still seems to be this kind of [indecipherable speech] that I know.”

I don’t believe I ever tried to get “famous” by insulting Alan Moore. It doesn’t seem the most likely route to celebrity.

- Later on, you mention “My public persona was punk to the rotten core. Outspoken and mean spirited, I freely expressed contempt for the behind-the-scenes world of comics professionals, which seemed unglamorous and overwhelmingly masculine by comparison to the club and music scenes. My life was rich, and my circle of friends and family was secure enough that I could afford to play a demonic role at work. Reading interviews from the time makes my blood run cold these days, but the trash talk seemed to be working, and I was rapidly making a name for myself. Being young, good-looking, and cocky forgave many sins, a huge hit British superhero strip did the rest and proved I could back up the big talk.”

- Obviously Morrison isn’t going to quote the things he said about Moore, but he’s obviously willing to admit he was freely contemptuous of other comics professionals. Given what he says about Moore here, one assumes he didn’t regard Moore as a sacred figure back when he was young and stupid.

“The commercial work I was doing in the early 1980s wasn’t much like the kind of material I wrote and drew for myself, or for indie publication. To get work with Marvel UK and “2000AD” I suppressed my esoteric and surrealist tendencies and tried to imitate popular styles – in order to secure paying jobs in the comics mainstream. There is a reason those pieces were written in a vaguely Alan Moore-ish style and it’s because I was trying to sell to companies who thought Moore was the sine qua non of the bees knees and those stories were my take on what I figured they were looking for.”

- Helpful hint: don’t get pissed when Moore thinks you’re ripping off his work for those same companies who think he’s the bee’s knees and, in light of the rest of this article, don’t get pissed on behalf of other people who rip Moore off for those same companies who thinks he’s the bee’s knees. What company commissioned “Watchmen”? What company commissioned “Before Watchmen”?

“Doing my own approximation of the “in” style to get gigs on Marvel UK books was, I thought, a demonstration of my range, versatility and adaptability to trends, not the declaration of some singular influence it has subsequently been distorted into over four decades – mostly by Alan Moore and his supporters, in what can sometimes feel like a never-ending campaign to undermine my personal achievements and successes and to cast me, at all times, in a subsidiary role to the Master. “

- “Distorted over four decades”? No wonder you’re still holding a grudge, if Moore has made it his duty to undermine everything you do. Even worse, he barely mentions you, like you’re not really important at all in his scheme of things.

“Furthermore to suggest, as Moore does, that subsequent work of mine, including the balance of “Animal Man”, “Doom Patrol”, “Flex Mentallo”, “JLA”, “The Invisibles”, “New X-Men”, “Seven Soldiers”, “Batman”, “All-Star Superman” etc. was equally indebted to “Captain Britain” and “Marvelman” means either one of two things: that he’s read the work in question and is again deliberately distorting the facts for reasons known only to himself – or that he hasn’t read it at all, in which case he’s in no position to comment surely?”

- Or that your later work builds on your earlier work, and your earlier work was, as you admit, inspired by “Captain Britain” and “Marvelman”. Very few comics creators – or creators of any sort – had later work that wasn’t inspired by their earlier work. Stan Lee is the only one that comes to mind, and even he admitted that romance comics were his favorite type of story to write. Because, you know, *that* influence never appeared in his later work.

“(I do know that Alan Moore has read a lot more of my work than he pretends to – one of his former collaborators quite innocently revealed as much to me a few years ago, confirming my own suspicions – but until Moore himself comes clean about it that will have to remain in the realm of hearsay.)”

- Helpful hint, if you’re trying to present yourself as the wounded party after a four decades-long grudge match, don’t hurl unsupported accusations. It makes you look like a subordinate leech. At least name the former collaborator and how he confirmed your suspicions. Did he dislike the JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel, or think Jack said “fuck” too often in “Invisibles” #1?

Moore said “And, as far as I know, he’s the only bone of contention between me and Michael Moorcock. Michael Moorcock is a sweet sweet man – I believe he has only ever written one letter of complain to a publisher over the appropriation of his work, that was to DC Comics over Grant Morrison, so the only bone of contention between me and Michael Moorcock is which of us Grant Morrison is ripping off the most. I say that it’s Michael Moorcock, he says it’s me. We’ve nearly come to blows over it, but I’m reluctant to let it go that far, because, I’m probably more nimble than Moorcock – I’ve got a few years on him, I’m probably faster, but Moorcock is huge, he’s like a bear. He could just like take my arm off with one sweep of his paw, so we’ll let that go undecided for the moment. But, those are pretty much my thoughts on Grant Morrison, and hopefully now I’ve explained that I won’t have to mention his name again.”

- Which is hilarious.

“Why would he feel qualified, on the basis of the “couple” of things of mine he claims to have read a long time ago, to insist that not only do I rip him off on a regular basis but his friend Michael Moorcock too? Can anyone tell me from which Michael Moorcock novels “Zenith” and “Animal Man” were plagiarized? (And if Moorcock made any complaints to DC in the ’90s, I never heard about them. I had no idea there was any beef with Moorcock until Pop Image’s Jonathan Ellis drew my attention to it in 2004).”

- Maybe you’re isolated in a bubble, the same way as everyone assures you that Karen Berger found your fanzines and offered you a job completely by accident. She’s so sweet and innocent that way.

- [Cut the 300+ words Morrison spends attacking Michael Moorcock for “slander”, insisting that Moorcock stole work, *not ME.*]

- Morrison then makes convenient connections to insist that Moore stole his career – the Stan/Jack issue of “Doom Patrol” inspiring “1963” being my favorite – and then goes on to defend other writers who pick off Moore’s old stories, insisting that they aren’t actually doing so. Mogo, Ranx, and Sodam Yat (the Daxamite Green Lantern) being major characters through their own status and not because of their origins in toss-off Alan Moore Green Lantern stories from decades earlier. Obviously. From there he starts sneering at Moore’s own work-for-hire origins, which isn’t going to get him far. Even Moore disregards most of that stuff (which I don’t think is right, but it’s his own burden to bear.)

“I remember reading V for Vendetta and thinking, this is what I wanted to do, this is the way comics should be.”

- But you’re not ripping off Moore, nosiree.

“ One of the first things I did was go down to see Dez Skinn in London, the publisher of Warrior I had taking this story, which was a Kid Marvelman spec script, and he bought it straight away so, again, that was a really good jump for me.”

- Two things. One, don’t take Moore’s characters if you’re not trying to rip him off. Two, don’t trust Dez Skinn, ever. Don’t take his word for anything, ever.

“ Then Alan Moore had it spiked, and said it was never to be published. Thus began our slight antagonism, which has persisted until this very day.”

- Four decades later.

“They asked me to continue Marvelman because Moore had fallen out with everyone in the magazine, and taken away his script, and they said ‘Would you follow this up?’ And to me that was just like, oh my God – the idea of getting to do Marvelman, following Alan Moore, ‘I’m the only person in the world who’d really do this right,’ and I was well up for it. I didn’t want to do it without Moore’s permission, and I wrote to him and said, ‘They’ve asked me to do this, but obviously I really respect you work, and I wouldn’t want to mess anything up, but I don’t want anyone else to do it, and mess it up.’ And he sent me back this really weird letter, and I remember the opening of it, it said, ‘I don’t want this to sound like the softly hissed tones of a mafia hitman, but back off.’ And the letter was all, ‘but you can’t do this,’ you know, ‘we’re much more popular than you, and if you do this, your career will be over,’ and it was really quite threatening, you know, so I didn’t do it, but I ended up doing some little bit of work for Warrior.”

- But trying to take Moore’s characters from him didn’t bother me. Because, you know, he took everything from me anyway.

“The timing is very important because Moore met me not once but many times – the first at a comic mart in Glasgow’s McLellan Galleries (in ’83, I think) when I gave him a copy of my music fanzine “Bombs Away Batman!” which contained positive reviews of his strips in “Warrior” and “2000AD”. The second time was at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow in 1984 where I recommended William McIllvaney’s “Laidlaw” novels to him. On both occasions, and whatever he may have thought then or now, I was not an ‘aspiring writer’ but a many times published one, as can easily be checked.”

- You do fanzines and you expect an established writer to remember who you are. Talk about not knowing one’s place.

“In the company of Bryan Talbot, I spoke briefly with Moore again at a comic convention in Birmingham in 1986, by which time we had corresponded on the subject of “Marvelman”, and when we met for a fourth time at the dinner he semi-recalls (in Glasgow during the “Watchmen” Graphitti Editions tour in 1987, when he and Dave Gibbons signed a copy of their book for my mum), I was a full-time professional, working for “2000 AD” – and DC too by that point – not an aspiring writer (I also met and spoke with him after that – the last time we were in a room together was at the Angouleme comics festival in 1990 but by then he would no longer communicate with me, even by semaphore). “

- Did you thank him for recommending you to Karen Berger?

“When Moore says “They asked if I could perhaps – if they could invite a local comics writer who was a big admirer of mine along to the dinner.”, the careful, self-aggrandizing, phrasing suggests not only that Moore had no idea who I was but that some special privilege had been accorded me when, in fact, the meal was organized by John McShane, who ran AKA Books and Comics in Glasgow at the time. I spent two afternoons a week hanging around John’s shop talking comics, and as a friend and a fellow professional who knew Moore and respected his work, he naturally invited me along to the dinner as a guest. This mysterious “local comics writer” was, in fact, someone Alan Moore knew, had met, and had even exchanged letters with previously, as outlined above. A fellow professional, in fact.”

- Which doesn’t invalidate what Moore was asked, or that *your people* weren’t working with *Moore’s people* in ways that neither you nor he fully appreciated. To put it mildly, how do you know he didn’t sit down to dinner and start wondering if you were that kid with the fanzine from ages ago?
“I remember talking to him about becoming a vegetarian – ‘sometimes you can’t live with the contradictions, Grant’… – which suggests I’d started work on “Animal Man”. I kept detailed diaries from 1978 – 93 and I can check the exact dates but “Arkham Asylum” was also written in 1987. I was far from up-and-coming at the point in time Moore cites.Why the made-up stories about me?”

- “Arkham Asylum” wasn’t published until 1989. That was when Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean were brought in at DC, with the “Black Orchid” miniseries and giving Neil some pre-Vertigo book to write while hoping to cash in on the ‘painted books’ craze. Was Moore really reading all the newbie scripts DC got in 1987?

“Meanwhile, Morrison’s own star was on the rise. He started writing Zenith for 2000 AD in August 1987, after various other work here and there in UK comics, and this was his breakthrough work. I didn’t come across him myself until later on, when he was writing Animal Man for DC Comics, and still think that The Coyote Gospel from Animal Man #5 is one of the single best things ever put on a page, by anyone. It was during this time that Morrison, as Moore put it, had ‘a strange campaign of things in fanzines where he was expressing his opinions of me [...]. He later explained this as saying that when he started writing, he felt that he wasn’t famous enough, and that a good way of becoming famous would be to say nasty things about me’ Morrison himself refers to this too, in his book Supergods where he says:
“High-contrast Western manga art by my Zoids partner Steve Yeowell made Zenith’s world a frantic modernist blur of speed lines and contemporary fashions and haircuts. We announced to the world that Zenith was intended to be as dumb, sexy, and disposable as an eighties pop single: Alan Moore remixed by Stock Aitken Waterman. Keeping all the self-awareness outside the story, we used interviews and forewords to admit to our sources. In them we praised creative theft and plagiarism, quoted the French playwright Antonin Artaud and sneeringly suggested that the likes of Watchmen were pompous, stuffy, and buttock-clenchingly dour. The shock tactics I’d brought with me from the music world, delivered with the snotty whippet-thin snideness of the hipster, had helped me carve out a niche for myself as comics’ enfant terrible, and Steve was happy to play along as the handsome nice one with nothing controversial to say.
“My public persona was punk to the rotten core. Outspoken and mean spirited, I freely expressed contempt for the behind-the-scenes world of comics professionals, which seemed unglamorous and overwhelmingly masculine by comparison to the club and music scenes. My life was rich, and my circle of friends and family was secure enough that I could afford to play a demonic role at work. Reading interviews from the time makes my blood run cold these days, but the trash talk seemed to be working, and I was rapidly making a name for myself. Being young, good-looking, and cocky forgave many sins, a huge hit British superhero strip did the rest and proved I could back up the big talk

“Talking about this more recently, in David Bishop’s Thrill-Power Overload: Thirty Years of 2000 AD (Rebellion, UK, June 2007), -
Morrison: “Sorry to interrupt here, but an interview from 2007 can’t have appeared “more recently” than the extract from “Supergods”, published in 2011, without the aid of string theory.”

It can if the interview was published in 2007 and republished in 2011. 2007 comes before 2011 by my calendar.

[Skip bit about “Zenith”. Read it once. Don’t remember a thing.]

“My own opinion of what happened, and how I feel about it, has changed quite a bit since I started writing these three pieces. Yes, I have a lot of sympathy for Alan Moore about the things that were being said about him, but I think that it’s pretty obvious there was more than an element of the japester, the trickster, about Morrison’s writing, in particular the piece he wrote about Superfolks in his Drivel column in Speakeasy in 1990, which he makes all the more obvious in his end piece.
[Morrison sez] ”Context! There was more than just an “…element of the japester, the trickster…” to “Drivel”. As may be deduced from one or all of the following clues: - the title. The accompanying photograph of me sneering, stripped to the waist wearing a rather pretty necklace, and flipping a ‘V’-sign. The over-the-top, bitchy and camp style of the writing.
“Drivel” was a monthly, scurrilous, humour, gossip, and opinion column in “Speakeasy”, the leading British comics magazine in 1990 when the piece in question was written. I had a brief from my editor Stuart Greene and I mostly stuck to it, except when I used “Drivel” to indulge in William Burroughs-style “cut-up” experiments. My fee for the column went to Blue Cross, so all that manufactured bile wasn’t wasted and helped make the lives of some rescue animals a little more comfortable on a monthly basis. Otherwise, the persona I adopted for “Drivel” was an exaggerated caricature partly inspired by the Morrissey interviews I enjoyed reading. The whole point of the column – which was one of the magazine’s most popular features, incidentally – was to take the piss out of the comics scene at the time.
“Alan Moore was only one of the many, many targets of “Drivel” and he came off lightly in comparison to some others – with whom I am still on friendly terms. The main target of the satire in “Drivel” was myself and if anyone’s reputation has suffered as a result of people in other lands and different times presenting as indictable some daft words written in jest, I’d suggest it’s been mine.”

- So you *did* attack Alan Moore, just for the sake of attacking Alan Moore. And, in your opinion, he got off lightly, especially compared to how you treated your friends. And you’re the one who’s suffered the worst after four decades. Well doesn’t that make Moore sound foolish for not enjoying being attacked.

“In defense of my 30 year old self, he had an editorial mandate to amuse and provoke, unlike the 59 year old Alan Moore who insults, condemns and hurls baseless accusations at his contemporaries and their work in almost every interview he gives.”

- Maybe he’s just trying to get famous by insulting people, like he has an editorial mandate or something.

“I find it tragic but quite pertinent to this piece that the loudest voice in our business – the one that carries the furthest and is taken most seriously by the mainstream media – is the one that offers nothing but contempt and denunciation, with barely a single good word to say about any of the many accomplished and individual writers currently working in mainstream comics, let alone the wealth of brilliant indie creators.”

- See, this is where Morrison reveals that he hasn’t learned a thing. “I find it quite tragic” is a way of puffing himself up, that his own moral principles are deploy offended, that “the loudest voice in our business” comes from a guy who left the business years ago. And it’s such a shame that he offers you nothing but contempt and denunciation. After you’re so thoughtful and respectful of him. What an old fogy he is. At least you’re still young and punk, right? If only chaos magic would teach him the same things its taught you, because chaos magic is nothing if not consistent and dependable.

“Does he ever, for instance, use his high media profile to do anything other than steer potential readers away from modern comic books and their creators – while over-playing his own achievements and placing himself centre stage at every turn? How hard would it be to say something encouraging, positive, or hopeful about the generally improved standard of writing in all comic books these days? Or at least say nothing at all.”

- He should write an essay about the many layers of narrative meaning behind Zatanna getting shot in the throat by an arrow, or Dr. Light raping Sue Dibny.

“And if I may untangle the logic behind so much of his hectoring: Moore constantly reiterates the idea that all modern comics are copied from stuff he did in the ’80s – and they’re all rubbish!
“Is he genuinely saying that his influence has been entirely malignant? If he actually believed that, I’d almost feel sorry for him. I see my own influence all over the place and I’m quite chuffed.”

- He’s been quite positive about Garth Ennis’ writing, going so far to say that he can’t see any trace of his work in Ennis’, or [I might be misremembering] if there was, it’s looooong since vanished. Of course, Ennis did that run on “Hellblazer” for Vertigo, so obviously he’d say that.

“I’d also like to point out that that was over twenty years ago now, a long time to have something like that hanging over you, and this applies equally to both of them: Moore is still having it used as a stick to beat him with, and Morrison may wish that a not-terribly-serious piece he wrote as a young man, and which has cast a much longer shadow than anyone could ever have expected, would simply go away. (And, indeed, having someone like me digging it up one more time can hardly help in that, although I’m hoping that this might get to be the final, and definitive, word on the subject…)
“I also imagine that having someone get in touch to offer to take over writing his first major piece of work probably wasn’t received terribly well, and it’s hard to blame Moore for that, either.
[Morrison sez] “For a broader picture of what was happening with Alan Moore and “Warrior” at the time, I suggest asking Alan Davis (another on Moore’s list of excommunicated former collaborators) or Dez Skinn for their recollections. I’m sure it’ll be in one of those George Khoury books about Marvelman. I wasn’t part of all that.”

- Suddenly there’s more to the story than Morrison’s own part of it?

“But in many ways Morrison was only doing what Moore had done before him. I can certainly recognise the punk spirit in some of what Morrison says – I’m less than 100 days older than Morrison, and I do recall that rule #1 in punk was that everything that went before was rubbish. In hindsight, of course, there is much that was discarded that has since been reappraised, and found not to be so dreadful after all! In much the same way, when Morrison says, ‘Reading interviews from the time makes my blood run cold these days’, I imagine that one of the things he’s particularly referring to is his treatment of Moore in those early articles.
[Morrison sez] “My blood runs cold because I am no longer a young man but an increasingly decrepit 52 year old with a lot less arrogance, a lot more life experience, and a bit more compassion for people, even the ones I don’t particularly like. With the wisdom of hindsight, I wish I could tell my younger self that in the future, no matter how much he thought he’d changed or matured, “Drivel” would always return.”

- Just imagine what Moore tells himself about his four decades-long rivalry with Morrison, whom he rarely mentions.

“These days, if I aim a barb at Moore, and I sometimes do”

- Lol

“ it’s generally as revenge for having my attention drawn to some latest interview or other. I know there’s a lot more to him than the contemptuous, patronising Scorpionic mask – we’re all just people and we all do the same daft people shit and all that – but it’s the face I’ve been exposed to more often than not, so I’m afraid my view of Alan Moore has a somewhat negative bias that deepens every time he opens his mouth to preach hellfire and damnation on the comics business and its benighted labour force.
“Having said that, I learned long ago to separate my antipathy toward the man’s expressed opinions from my enjoyment of his work and I’ve been very complimentary about that work over the decades. Conversely, I can guarantee you will search in vain for a single positive comment about me or my work coming from Alan Moore’s direction – in spite of our obvious shared areas of interest.”

- But you’re not the one who’s bitter, oh no.

“The structure of “Supergods” is roughly based on the Qabalistic idea of the “Lightning Flash” – the zig-zagging magician’s path from the lowest material sphere of Malkuth/the material world via the various sephiroth or spheres to the highest spiritual sphere known as Kether in this system. In the same way, the book moves from the earthy foundations of the early chapters, with their focus on physicality, to the speculations, philosophies and “higher” considerations of the concluding chapters.”

- Sounds like “Promethea.”
[snip Kaballistic drivel about the Flash’s costume]
“Pádraig will need to offer more convincing evidence that my 1990 “Speakeasy” column has done the slightest harm to Alan Moore’s sales or his reputation. I’ll wager that less than 2% of the readers of “Watchmen” – still the world’s best-selling graphic novel – have heard of “Superfolks”, let alone “Speakeasy” or “Drivel” (although the proportion is likely to rise if people keep drawing attention to this very minor issue – currently it’s an item on MTV Geek). As I’ve said, it’s far easier to make the argument that Moore, along with powerful allies like Michael Moorcock, continues to indulge in clear, persistent, and often successful attempts to injure my reputation, for reasons of his own.”

- He rarely mentions you, and only when asked. Wile E. Coyote is more clear, persistent and successful in his attempts to injure the Roadrunner.

[snip Dez Skinn quotes about Morrison’s Kid Miracleman story.]
“There is a long-standing rumour that the story was published in Fusion #4, a Scottish comics fanzine, but the piece in question, called ‘The Devil and Johnny Bates,’ was actually an article about Kid Marvelman by someone else. None the less, Morrison did draw two covers for Fusion including the one for #4, both of which are reproduced here. Yes, that is Kid Marvelman on the cover of #4, and Marvelman himself on the cover of #6. But that Kid Marvelman story never did get to see print, it seems. Which is a shame.
[Morrison sez] “I probably have the only surviving copy of the script. One day I’ll look it out and put it online. I seem to remember it being quite good but I made the teenage mod Johnny Bates look exactly like me, forever damning myself as Moore’s Devil!”

- By editorial mandate, no doubt.
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James Ritchey III



Posts : 38
Join date : 2012-10-16

PostSubject: Re: Alan Moore: The Harvey Kurtzman of comic book writers   Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:16 pm

Wonderfully thought-out exposition, Chris. Sorry I wasn't online to respond sooner...

I fancy myself a writer--I was sending strong proposals to DC in the 'eighties and 'nineties, and suffered through truly half-assed versions of my premises done by other creators. My take on Earth Three was objectively better than Morrison's, and many friends/creators remember it fondly--one even noticed that the DC Animated project Crisis on Two Earths had striking plot similarities that weren't in Morrison's source--but were ALL OVER mine. Not accusing Morrison (and others) of directly ripping off my ideas, because there weren't any of my ideas in his original version--but I did get the feeling DC Editorial was using submissions as a concept source in the early 'Nineties. Anyway, that's part of my background of being a huge, bitter failure--and more pointedly, is we were exposed to the same shit growing up, and we're likely to think somewhat alike. Smile

These are two of my favorite writers, with Moorcock another. While I don't think all the best writers get hired in the field, a handful are working--the top two want 'professionals' that they can easily control. They generally don't hire 'game-changers', fer damned certain. The only thing that bothers me about Moore is that he paints in negative broad strokes about material he confessedly does not read.

I was disappointed at how petty and catty Morrison was towards Gail Simone recently--accusing her of imitating him, aping and perpetuating some bizarre cycle. While I'm far from 'Team Gail' these days on a personal level, she's a good writer, when allowed breathing room. I've talked to her about this incident from an interview, and she's wif me--STEVE GERBER, STEVE GERBER and STEVE GERBER.

You want to produce a Grant Morrison? Add two parts Steve Gerber, one part all the good New Wave SF and Fantasy we all read as kids, one part The Illuminatus Trilogy', a good bit of talent, and you're done. It produced a 'ME', as well as a dozen like me that couldn't get in--or who did, and are lurking, waiting for their chance to shine. Creativity is a continuum, not a fixed effing point in time.
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Chris W



Posts : 180
Join date : 2012-09-14

PostSubject: Re: Alan Moore: The Harvey Kurtzman of comic book writers   Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:28 pm

- See, this is Morrison pretending he knows all the intimate details from what is f*cking written as “indecipherable speech”. Is it so utterly unthinkable that Karen Berger asked Moore if he knew about any other British writers DC could hire?

When she met with Neil Gaiman and asked him what characters he might want to write, Karen Berger was utterly puzzled by one of his suggestions. "Who's Blackhawk Kid?" [/Neil Gaiman, "Black Orchid" introduction (from memory)] I worry that Morrison has spent that last twenty years angered by "indecipherable speech (Vertigo)".

It wouldnt't surprise me if DC uses submissions for ideas. It's one reason they tell people not to send submissions, so that they won't get sued. It might be different depending on your professional level, especially if you've worked with DC before, but I don't think it's all that different. Moore's scripts were famously verbose, so it's not hard to imagine they were popular reading in the DC offices. Who knows when he's going to throw out a random idea that relates to Hawkman or Adam Strange? Mort Weisinger was famous for taking ideas from writers, dismissing them, and then forcing those same ideas on other writers. Why would future DC editors be different?

How hard would it be to re-write "Watchmen" with the original Marvel characters? Captain America as the Comedian, Daredevil as Rorschach, Spider-Man as Nite Owl, the Wasp as Silk Spectre, Thor as Dr. Manhattan. That's an 'original' idea. If you can make it happen, good on you. I just made the suggestion on the internet. Marvel has already ripped off "Watchmen" down to panel layouts - "What If Dr. Doom Kept The Beyonder's Power After Secret Wars" - which is a similar sort of intellectual property theft.

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