Wednesday, December 15, 2004

At number 7, Alan Moore

If I was doing this chart for 2003, 2002 or all the way back to 1981 then it's likely that somewhere in there would be the name Alan Moore. Let me explain.
Back in the early 80's if you read comics, and a lot of kid's still did, you couldn't avoid the name Alan Moore, he was everywhere. Not like some money crazed hack, but more like a creative dam that had burst. Alan Moore forced his way into the comic industry by bombarding publishers with scripts, some of the first published ones were in 2000ad as 'Future Shocks' (little twist in the tale type stories that ran from 2 pages to 5 pages) He also got work in a new comic starting up called Warrior creating the legends (in the comic world at least) V For Vendetta and Marvelman (Later changed to Miracleman when playground bully Marvel decided to throw it's weight around) Also around that time Moore was working for MarvelUK (oh the irony) doing text stories about a character named Nightraven, reviews and comic strips including the revamped Captain Britain.
Along with V For Vendetta, it was the future shocks that I particularly liked, I still reread them now and they still impress. They show the kind of mind Moore possesses, they're funny, scary, strange, clever and never dull. Later 2000ad replaced Future Shocks with Time Twisters, same format but this time the stories had to be about.... time, of course. Again Alan Moore wrote amazing stories some of which still amaze me today 20 years later (Reversible Man where we follow the life of a man who has just died of a stroke is a work of genius, there's also the story of a man's failed atempt to build a time machine so he can relive happier times that still manages to choke me up) As all this was going on Moore created 2 more titles that I can never forget. Swamp Thing was his first time producing an ongoing comic for the American market, he took a title that was dead in the water and with in a year turned it into the most talked about comic of it's time. Swampthing is where he showed a bigger audience his talent and displayed his remarkable ability for reinventing comic characters. But as much as I love Swamp Thing it was his other title that left it's mark on me, Halo Jones appeared in 2000ad in '84 and blew me away. Sometimes it's hard to know why some effects you so much, it's the same with Halo Jones. The story of a very average girl set in the future we follow her from unemployement to work as a waitress on a space ship to burnt out alcoholic to soldier to freedom. It's an amazing journey and yet I don't know why that first instalment (Halo as an unemployed kid) effected me so much, perhaps it's because it was so terribly human, who knows.
Alan Moore went on to write Watchmen which shook the comic industry to an incredible degree (not all positively), later he wrote From Hell which staggered everyone again (if you've only seen the film you have no idea what From Hell is) and a few years ago he created a line of comics called ABC featuring the excellent League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which may be forever sullied in the minds of many thanks to the dreadful film) Like David Bowie he's never stood still, every new work is a surprise and like Bowie he's sometimes made the odd mistake and not always been appreciated, taken for granted. We seem to value artists who do the same thing over and over again and then complain when they become dull. But it's not every creator who's willing to take a chance, to risk their success by doing something different, Moore (like Bowie) needs to take that chance, over and over again.
Now Alan Moore is quiting comics, but not really. He'll do what he wants when he feels like it from now on. No doubt he'll do more performance art, a novel, practice magik (he does that too) and maybe if we're lucky he'll do the odd comic.
This rambling trip down memory lane is to illustrate how long I've felt that Moore has been by my side. The thing about comics back then and children's books is that they give the creators the opportunity to influence the minds of the readers to a far greater degree than the creators of adult literature. For better or worst Alan Moore has directly shaped who I am today. He arrived when I needed him and he's never been far away, I've read everything that he's put out and he's rarely let me down. I have to show my thanks somehow don't I? Putting him in my top 10 is the least I can do.

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