Sunday, March 12, 2006


Comic Book Blogging: Moore Not Merrier

The Times has a great story on comic book living legend Alan Moore and his repudiation of anything connected with the V For Vendetta movie opening this Friday (which will be controversial, completely apart from Moore).

Moore is also responsible for writing Watchmen, one of the finest works of illustrated fiction ever. It's nearly two decades old now and still holds up.

However, Moore is either a man of unique integrity -- or just plain eccentric.

Either way, you won't see his name anywhere on ads or credits attached to "V," which is a shame.

In Mr. Moore's account of his career, the villains are clearly defined: they are the mainstream comics industry — particularly DC Comics, the American publisher of "Watchmen" and "V for Vendetta" — which he believes has hijacked the properties he created, and the American film business, which has distorted his writing beyond recognition. To him, the movie adaptation of "V for Vendetta", which opens on Friday, is not the biggest platform yet for his ideas: it is further proof that Hollywood should be avoided at all costs. "I've read the screenplay," Mr. Moore said. "It's rubbish."

Mr. Moore has never been shy about expressing himself. With "Watchmen," a multilayered epic from 1986-87 (illustrated by Dave Gibbons) about a team of superheroes in an era of rampant crime and nuclear paranoia — and again with "V for Vendetta" (illustrated by David Lloyd), published in America in 1988-89, about an enigmatic freedom fighter opposing a totalitarian British regime — Mr. Moore helped prove that graphic novels could be a vehicle for sophisticated storytelling. "Alan was one of the first writers of our generation, of great courage and great literary skill," said Paul Levitz, the president and publisher of DC Comics. "You could watch him stretching the boundaries of the medium."

But by 1989, Mr. Moore had severed his ties with DC. The publisher says he objected to its decision to label its adult-themed comics (including some of his own) as "Suggested for Mature Readers." Mr. Moore says he was objecting to language in his contracts that would give him back the rights to "Watchmen" and "V for Vendetta" when they went out of print — language that he says turned out to be meaningless, because DC never intended to stop reprinting either book. "I said, 'Fair enough,' " he recalls. " 'You have managed to successfully swindle me, and so I will never work for you again.' "

Mr. Levitz said that such so-called reversion clauses routinely appear in comic book contracts, and that DC has honored all of its obligations to Mr. Moore. "I don't think Alan was dissatisfied at the time," Mr. Levitz said. "I think he was dissatisfied several years later."
Well, the article is a nice glimpse into the epitome of a tortured genius. Whatever you think about the movie -- and I fear it will likely become one of the most politically-viewed and argued films in recent memory -- read the graphic novel.

It's a treat.

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