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It Was Years Ago But We’re Still Angry With You

The title of this piece refers to ‘years ago,’ but the subject came up again just this last week. In fact, around the internet and on comics news sites especially, it’s getting to be a monthly thing and has been for decades. And it’s all coming from a piece of conventional wisdom that is as mystifying to me now as it was the first time I heard it.

So here’s the conventional wisdom first.

The theory of success in popular culture seems to go something like this: first someone makes some kind of a story. Then they find a way to publish it somewhere. That’s step one. Maybe it’s bought by a media company and printed and distributed, maybe it’s the creator doing it as a webcomic or an e-book on Smashwords.

Step two is that it becomes popular. Many people find it and like it. The creator becomes a ‘name’ and is able to make a decent living just off storytelling.

Now, a lot of the time that’s where it ends and I would consider that success. You tell stories and people pay you for them, enough to live comfortably? Where’s the downside?

But for a lot of fans, that’s not enough. The third step– and this is the part where it starts to feel odd– is that for the story to be judged a TRUE success, the story has to jump to another medium. Specifically, TV or movies.

Now, I love movies. I even love movie adaptations of my favorite books. I often feel that the movie turns out better than the book– Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale and Louis L’Amour’s Quick and the Dead are two examples right off the top of my head and I can think of a dozen others.

(I can even think of a couple that went the other way– Isaac Asimov’s Fantastic Voyage and Orson Scott Card’s The Abyss were both novelizations that were infinitely better than the movies they were based on.)

But the thing that has always stumped me is this notion that it’s required. Like, having a successful piece in print isn’t enough by itself: we must have it on film. I don’t really understand why that’s a rule now.

Nevertheless, this is always what we start talking about as soon as something hits big. Are they making a movie? Who would you cast in the movie? Are they making changes for the movie? Oh God, I hope they don’t ruin it. And so on. The successful adaptation is necessary for the public perception of creative success now.

And finally, the thing that trips a lot of the storytellers up– step four is that, in order to keep their personal success going, the creator has to shut up, endorse the adaptation, and play the hits. There must be a sequel. No, there must a be a trilogy. No, there must be a series. We must have more. If the creator doesn’t play along and feed their need for MORE! then fans will turn on him or her with the speed of a striking snake. In fact, the current film Saving Mr. Banks is completely (and, frankly, dishonestly) dependent on all of us accepting that premise at face value; P.L. Travers is absolutely the villain of the piece because she won’t give the Disney people, and by extension Disney fans, what they want. Even though Mary Poppins is, y’know, her book, the idea that she should get to decide how it’s presented to an audience is played as her being completely unreasonable.

Wait, you DON’T want a Disney movie made out of your book? What the hell is WRONG with you, Travers? Geez, what a bitch.

I got to thinking about this stuff this week because the work of two hugely successful authors has come to the fore again. The new season of Sherlock on the BBC hits the U.S. tomorrow night– that is, for those who haven’t already watched it online– and Miracleman #1 rolled out this week from Marvel. (They are still refusing to let it come out as the original “Marvelman” even though Marvel OWNS THE RIGHTS NOW, which was the whole argument for changing the name in the first place. So now it’s okay to trade on the Marvel name because the book actually comes from Marvel, but they still won’t permit the character to be called Marvelman. This amuses me, though I’m sure there are sound legal reasons.)

Personally, I’m very pleased about both. Sherlock and Miracleman are among my favorite entertainments. Though I tend to agree with our other Greg’s assessment that Marvel is really hurting themselves with the presentation of the original Miracleman material– even assuming the books ship on time, there’s still over 24 monthly issues’ worth of comics to reprint, meaning at least two years before we get anything new, and that doesn’t count side projects like Annuals or the mini-series Apocrypha or any of that stuff. But I’m glad it’s back and that more people will get to see it. And of course new Sherlock is always something to celebrate in our household.

But assessing the new stuff is a column in itself and there are lots of people already doing that this week. No, the interesting thing to me is that in both cases, the original creators are being vilified. Instead of being pleased and happy that these writers made us a thing that we really like, a thing that is now available again, many fans seem to be enraged about the fact that the original writers don’t love the stuff as much as we do.

Sherlock Holmes fans are more decorous about it, and they worked out a compromise years ago– they would pretend there was no Arthur Conan Doyle at all, and that the Holmes stories were indeed the work of their fictional narrator, Dr. John Watson. When Doyle is mentioned at all, usually it is in the spirit of maintaining this deception– he was Watson’s ‘literary agent,’ or somesuch.

But the hostility is there. Ask a Holmesian about Doyle and within the first minute there is a reference to the fact that Doyle hated his creation and tried to kill him off at one point. This is the first thing that comes up. Every time. There was just a special on PBS, Unlocking Sherlock, and the narrator and several of the interview subjects allude to this right away.

There is even a clip of a rare film interview with Doyle– used to underline the point that he wanted to try different things and that he wasn’t going to be doing any more Holmes. Look at the clip and there’s a clear sense he’s sick of being asked that… but he’s not at all hostile. The closest he ever got to being nasty about it was back in the early 1900s, when William Gillette went to Doyle to get permission to make changes for his Sherlock Holmes stage adaptation (he wanted to make Irene Adler a love interest for Holmes) and Doyle blew off the whole idea– “Marry him, murder him, do what you like with him.”

But the hostility wasn’t aimed at Gillette. It was directly at the character itself, Sherlock Holmes. The Baker Street Irregulars and other Holmes fans are still a little horrified by that a century later. Whoa, Sir Arthur, put down the haterade!

The only people in this documentary who act genuinely appreciative of what Doyle actually did, the work he put into his creation, are the Sherlock TV show’s main writers, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. They are unabashed fanboys– not of Holmes, but of Doyle. After decades of passive-aggressive Doyle-hatred permeating the bulk of Sherlockian scholarship, that’s very refreshing, and long overdue. Gatiss, in fact, reads several excerpts from the original stories in the course of the documentary and the intensity he brings to it is completely endearing. It’s not about US, it’s about THIS! Listen to this!

The success of the show, it seems to me, is because of those two’s complete willingness to attack the Sherlock Holmes stories as stories– figure out why they worked and bring that to a new audience. Every time they are congratulated on what they’ve done their response is, “Doyle did it, it’s all there in the originals.” And invariably, this statement befuddles people. Doyle? Really? But he’s the asshole who tried to take Holmes AWAY from us, YOU are the heroes that brought him back. Watch for yourself and you’ll see; it’s subtle, but it’s there. (If you’re a fan, there’s lots of other cool things too, it’s a nice little documentary and worth watching in any case. I’m just talking about the part that struck me as odd.)

And I’ll cop to it– I’m one of the fans that really only cares about Sherlock Holmes when it comes to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I think Holmes is far and away the best thing Doyle ever did. I’ve tried at various points in my life to get through his other stuff like The White Company and Micah Clarke and even The Lost World, and they just don’t do it for me, sorry.

But here’s the thing. When it comes to Doyle getting fed up with Holmes, I totally get it. Put yourself in his shoes. Imagine that your fame and financial success as a writer, the art to which you have committed your life, all hinges on this one series you did years ago. No one will let you do anything else. No one will shut up about it. Whenever the subject of your work comes up, no matter what you might be actually working on today, all anyone wants to hear about is the one series you did back then. Finally the only work you get offered as a writer is reviving that series. And after all that, fans are still mad at you because you admit that honestly, you just don’t love their favorite series like they do. If I was Doyle I’d be pissed off too. And considerably less gracious about it.

Which brings me to Alan Moore, the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of superhero comics. Unlike Doyle, Mr. Moore has not caved to fan pressure to shut up and play the hits, and so he is even more reviled.

The amazing thing to me is that the thing that always gets brought up is “Alan Moore has contempt for his audience.” Well, no. As far as I can tell, he’s very nice to every fan he speaks to, and he is willing to bet on the fact that his readers can handle complex and subtle ideas, so he must assume they’re moderately intelligent people. But he often loses that bet with the work he’s done in superhero comics… so yeah, he has occasionally expressed contempt for his obsessive superhero fan audience.

Why? Because they’re pretty contemptible.

Before you all lunge to your keyboards to type angry screeds about why it’s perfectly justified to hate on Mr. Moore BECAUSE HE TOTALLY HAD IT COMING, let me remind you of a few things. This is a writer whose first experience with fans at a convention was mostly being the victim of obsessive stalking, to the point where he was being followed into the bathroom so people could harangue him for an autograph while he tried to pee. This is a writer where every newspaper article published about his work begins with “the writer of Watchmen,” a work he feels–with justification– the publisher has screwed him on. Moreover, most of his other superhero work has involved contract disputes or rights disputes of some kind, and it is impossible for him to remember that work without also recalling the bad feeling that arose from those comics…. but they’re usually the only ones anyone ever wants to talk about. Watchmen. Killing Joke. Maybe eventually they get to the ABC stuff or From Hell. But sooner or later, it always circles back to the late 1980s. (Just for context, here’s the other stuff that was on the stands then. Imagine you’re Todd MacFarlane and for the last two decades all anyone wants to talk about is your run on Infinity Inc. despite you going off to found your own company and publishing all sorts of other stuff in the intervening TWO DECADES.)

Well, that’s pretty much how it goes for Alan Moore with the comics press; and often with the mainstream press as well. Watchmen came out in 1987; The Killing Joke came out a little later. Even Tom Strong and Promethea and Top 10 were quite a while back. But newspeople keep asking about them, and he answers– this is important– not with hostility to the interviewer, but usually just reasonably explaining why he, the author, does not share the love for those works as expressed by all the people who won’t let it go. It’s just not as awesome to him as it is to those fans. Usually because the experience of publishing it went awry, either on the business end or when obsessive fans latched on to something he did not intend.

And all this is as NOTHING to the shitstorm that hits the comics press whenever a movie is made from something he wrote. No, explains Mr. Moore, I’m not getting any money because I didn’t want any, I wanted my name taken off it, I don’t actually like superhero movies at all really. And again the disbelief, the harangues, the online rage about how Alan Moore doesn’t appreciate all the success we fans have given him. Look, I like a lot of these movies– I even found things to enjoy in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie– but I can certainly see why Alan Moore would not care for them and has no interest in discussing them.

The films made from Alan Moore comics, and that’s including the movies I kind of like, are generally spectacular exercises in missing the whole point of the original story. Even– often ESPECIALLY– the ones coming from filmmakers who swear up and down how much they revere the original. (Looking at you, Zack Snyder.)

The latest idiot comics kerfuffle over how dare Alan Moore say those things is apparently coming from this interview. Which does indeed show that Alan Moore has a lot of rude things to say about superheroes and superhero fans. But– let’s get this said, it’s always left out– the interview was prompted by a moron comics fan taking to Twitter to complain that he didn’t get to ask Alan Moore about The Killing Joke (A Batman comic published in 1988) at a Q&A following a screening of Moore’s new film. If that isn’t a classic case of nerdrage over why won’t you come back and play the hits for us?? I don’t know what is. Personally, I would have ignored the guy; but Moore answers at length, taking what seems to me to be a very reasonable position. The rest of the piece reads to me as someone who’s justifiably fed up with all the obsessive crazy that superhero fans generally bring to the internet. (It’s worth it just for the eloquence; never go up against a writer with a command of the language. Rhetorically it’s awe-inspiring… devastating in its contempt, but completely civil in its composition.)

But again, the insane levels of fan rage and the vilification at what is essentially Alan Moore’s refusal to love superhero comics as much as we do. Right now on the CBR Community message board there’s a thread that’s been going on for a month– currently at well over 600 posts– about how “Alan Moore is a Bitter Old Man.”

I don’t actually think that’s true… but so what if he is?

Folks, I don’t know how to break it to you, but I think he’s perfectly justified in feeling bitter about comics. At least the American superhero variety. After the way things went with Miracleman and Watchmen, both in terms of the crass imitators that followed and the financial aggravation he dealt with himself on those projects– and then seeing those things play out again with so many other projects after that– can you really blame him for wanting to just be DONE with it all? He’s making a nice living doing other kinds of work, he has new things to write, and if the obsessive comics people won’t let it go, best just to avoid them.

Whatever Mr. Moore thinks of his comics audience– and please remember he only ever talks about it when people ask himWatchmen and V For Vendetta and Miracleman are still great books. He’s a writer and he wrote good stuff for us to read. That’s really all a writer owes the audience. He doesn’t need to be your pal or your life coach or your personal validation. He just needs to be a writer. Stop getting agitated because he’s not providing extras that you have no right to ask for.

It’s really as simple as this. When a guy who’s not interested in money doesn’t want to play the hits any more, there’s nothing to be done about it except to enjoy the stuff we already have. I’m glad Miracleman‘s back and can find a new audience, and I really don’t think the internet needs to litigate the question yet again of why Alan Moore’s not as overjoyed about that as the rest of us are. He’s clearly moved on. We should too.

See you next week.

109 Comments

A few points.

I had not been paying any attention to Saving Mister Banks until I discovered that the plot was about the writer as badguy, which was just so amazingly offensive that I am quite certain that I will never treat myself to this family classic from the nice folks at Disney.

Doyle was a fun writer and I love the Holmes books. Still I can certainly understand why he would be frustrated that people more or less ignored his other books. Still at least because of all the dinosaurs, The Lost World stays on the edge of the public consciousness thanks to B-movies.

As for Moore, he is a brilliant writer, who writes brilliant stories, and who, while writing brilliant stories for major publishers, got screwed. Now he writes brilliant stories for us that he controls publication of, however because he will not write about men in tights, he is a traitor who must be punished for his sins.

There is very little as resentful as a slighted fan, and if the reactions I have seen to this interview are any sign, Moore couldn’t have caused more anger if he had gone to the home of each and every angry fan and gleefully killed their dogs.

Very well said, Greg. And thanks for the link to Unlocking Sherlock! I missed that on PBS this week, and I’m looking forward to watching it to gear up for the Season 3 premiere of SHERLOCK.

Even though I’ve watched the V movie more times then I’ve read the book, it’s hard to argue with Moore on this issue. The writer is the boss. This article reminded me of the band Wire, who was no longer interested in playing their old songs. The solution? Hire a Wire cover band to open for them! Genius. Oh, and fuck DIsney.

It’s a weird concept of adaptations where audiences expect adherence to the source material. The simple idea of adaptation explicitly shows a change in the source material, as obviously one was born to be read, the other is made to be seen and heard. Right from the get go the two can not be the same. I think of things like Andrea Arnold’s amazing interpretation of Wuthering Heights – capturing the core messages of the source, while going it at from a different perspective. Watchmen was cool to see, thanks to the similarities to the source, but it would have been cooler if Snyder had taken the time to consider the source material from a different perspective. Trying to adapt art from one source to another is impossible, and our ability to enjoy adaptations can only increase when we accept this disconnect.

Alan Moore is the best!!!

Watchmen was cool to see, thanks to the similarities to the source, but it would have been cooler if Snyder had taken the time to consider the source material from a different perspective.

I think it’s very telling that one of the most well-received parts of Snyder’s adaptation was the credits sequence set to “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” which was one of the biggest departures from the original comic.

P.L. Travers is the protagonist of Saving Mr. Banks. The movie is definitely about an author trying to protect her work from a company that doesn’t fully understand it, and then doesn’t invite her to the premiere once she gives in. Walt Disney is a charming antagonist, and you can see where he’s coming from and even believe his stated intentions, but he’s the antagonist all the same.

I agree with you on everything, Greg. It must be awful to create a masterpiece and then not be able to create anything new because you’re being harassed to talk about the same thing over and over again. It’s unfortunately like that with any great artist. Whether a musician, writer, or painter. The first thing that comes to my mind is George Lucas. He had so much potential for more great movies but couldn’t pass by the money to create more Star Wars and Indiana Jones related everything. Star Wars, in a way, ruined his writing career. I still think he might have purposely made the prequels awful. There’s actually a great documentary on that on Netflix called “The People vs. George Lucas” if anyone’s interested.

they’re pretty contemptible

Aaaaaaaand you lost me there. Do we really need elitism in comics? Isn’t that a much bigger problem than what this article is trying to address?

@Bullseye- “He couldn’t pass up the money”. Why not? He was quite well off, very much more so than Moore. He just doesn’t have the same integrity.

A couple of counterpoints, keeping in mind that fannish entitlement is never a good thing:

1. People like Doyle and Moore should be allowed to do whatever they want, but they should also count themselves lucky that they have created such iconic characters, or in the case of Moore, created and/or built up such iconic characters. That’s not easy to do, and it’s not surprising that fans of those characters love them so much. They certainly don’t have to be happy with adaptations and they can resist returning to the characters, but for every person like Doyle who’s remembered long after his death or Moore, who is a living legend among a certain group of people, there are those who toil away and, for whatever reason, never strike gold at the perfect place and time. The fact that Doyle was able to indulge in all his fairy-watching and other weird stuff because he made a name for himself from Holmes (I don’t know how much money he made, but it was probably decent) and the fact that Moore is able to reject movie money because he wrote these great stories shouldn’t be dismissed just because they grew to hate the character. Moore might want to remember that he wouldn’t have been able to do Big Numbers or From Hell if his 1980s work never existed. He might have done them anyway, but they wouldn’t have been anywhere near as revered. I get that artists aren’t in it for the money, but they still get paid. Doyle and Moore can be dismissive of the characters or works that they did all they want, but they should remember that those stories bring a lot of joy to a lot of people, even if those people are often assholes about it.

2. Creative types aren’t always the best judges of their own work, and maybe Doyle and Moore and others like them should wonder if maybe the reason people keep bringing up those works is because they’re a lot better than their other works. I don’t hate The Lost World, but it’s not anywhere near as good as the Holmes stories. And while I love a lot of later Moore, I have gotten the feeling that LoEG has become self-indulgent wankery with excellent artwork. Maybe people keep bringing this stuff up because they honestly think it’s better than whatever “Occupy-magick-snake god” stuff Moore is doing today. And maybe it is better! Moore wouldn’t think so, of course, just as I’m sure Doyle didn’t think his Holmes stuff was better than whatever he was working on. But it’s just possible that people want to bug Moore about his 1980s stuff because it’s better than his recent work. That sucks for him, but it’s not unprecedented.

I do agree that this weird obsession with sequels and trilogies and series is awful. I don’t read a lot of science fiction or fantasy because the stories aren’t contained in one book. Give me something finite, and if I like it, I’ll probably read/watch/listen to the next thing by the same creator, and make that completely different and finite too! What a concept!

And yet Moore still condemns Grant Morrison as the worst person in comics, for the crime of passive-aggressive sniping in old interviews…

IIRC correctly Don Murphy the producer of LXG stated that Moore got $2 mil for various options to turn his work into films. Which means his stuff will get turned into films unless he took the money thinking that it was for theoretical exercise.Moore’s stuff does not lend itself to simple Hollywood translation and was always going to be a mixed bag

Don Murphy does however hate Moore with a fiery passion.

Stephen King takes the view that Hollywood is going to mess with his stuff and is detached seeing them, his books and films made from them as two different entities

After reading this (and disagreeing, mostly, but that is unimportant), what I have to ask is: since when does Colin Farrel merit an “and” before his name in film credits?

Aaaaaaaand you lost me there. Do we really need elitism in comics? Isn’t that a much bigger problem than what this article is trying to address?

To each his own. But I’d love to hear the explanation for how chasing someone into a restroom and demanding an autograph at the urinal is NOT contemptible. Or any of the other borderline-stalking episodes he has endured.

Let’s bear in mind that Alan Moore emphatically does NOT experience the fan community the way, say, you and I do. The latest foofaraw was triggered by a guy who was whining all over the internet about how he wanted to ask a question about The Killing Joke at a Q&A but talked himself out of it for fear he’d be jeered, then somehow insisted that was Moore’s fault… the fan publicly said this, to everyone in range of his internet megaphone. One more in a long line of superhero-worshiping weirdos from Moore’s point of view. Call me an elitist, but if that kind of thing was my history of interacting with comics fans I’d be right there with Mr. Moore on this, and that’s my point.

As for the rest of the arguments that ‘he took the money’ and so on– well, so what? How does that translate to ‘therefore he must always speak of us with respect even when we are clearly behaving badly’? He didn’t just TAKE the money. He SOLD SOMETHING HE MADE and was COMPENSATED IN RETURN. The audience is in no way a part of the transaction other than that the moviemakers, or whoever, are hoping to persuade that book audience to become moviegoers. Why is that the original writer’s problem?

It’s not just Moore. It happens to writers all the time, and the writer is always the one denounced as being a weirdo whenever he (or she, in the case of Anne Rice) admits to the idea of not loving the idea of his book being a movie. Of course they took the money. If someone offered me millions of dollars to make a movie out of something I wrote I’d lunge at it. So would you. It doesn’t obligate either of us to then love the movie industry.

This was a great write-up and I agree with it whole-heartedly. I’m very sympathetic to any artist who wants to write what they want to write, talk about what they want to talk about, and be themselves rather than what others wish they were.

I think authors are qualified to judge their own work, particularly if they judge it “too tiresome for me to still be talking about after 30 years”. I think fans are allowed to be disappointed if an artist’s later work isn’t as enjoyable to them as the earlier work, but I think the point of the article is they shouldn’t be allowed to be ANGRY that they don’t enjoy the later work as much.

I also have to say that what many apparently see as “self-indulgent wankery”, I see as a writer actually having fun while creating something. I recently read LOEG: The Black Dossier and was blown away. Yes, it could be argued that the book was generally style over substance, but there’s nothing wrong with that when Moore nails the style, or in this case several styles, so amazingly well. For example, many seemed to hate that beatnik pulp story, but I loved it. To pull that off showed such technical skill, creativity and, let’s not forget, HARD WORK, that to dismiss it as wankery (implying someone’s hardly even thinking about what they’re doing but just tossing it off) is a huge disservice. The sheer effort to mimic Shakespearean verse, compose dossiers and diaries…and have it all tie together into an overall story…well, even if you don’t care for the story, at least recognize the sheer work ethic of a guy still passionate about writing and still able to do it better than 99% of everyone else.

Sorry to go off on a Black Dossier rant, but I guess I’m saying Moore has earned the right to indulge himself, experiment, and do what he wants…he’s not putting a gun to anyone’s head to buy the stuff. At the very least Swamp Thing, Watchmen, and Miracleman are always going to be around for the purists, and we can all be grateful for that.

And on another point mentioned above, I wasn’t aware that my opinion (that the credits were by far the best part of the Watchmen movie) was shared by a large number of people, but it sure makes sense to me. When I saw that credit sequence I thought, “this is going to be so cool”, thinking that we were going to see the story tackled from some different perspectives, different styles, etc. Then the credits stopped and the director decided to “Sin City” it with a page-by-page remake, and it was dull. Like this write-up indicated, so much of the fun of watching an adaptation is seeing the ways in which the filmmakers “adapt” to create a new experience of an older work.

For what it’s worth, I’ve seen lots of “how dare those money-grubbing studios make an adaptation of Moore’s work without his blessing?” comments online and I’ve literally never seen anyone criticizing Moore for not giving said blessing. That’s not to deny that Greg Hatcher HAS seen people criticize Moore, but it’s certainly not the only view of the matter that fandom has and, depending on what parts of the Internet you frequent, it’s not necessarily even the prevalent one.

Personally, I certainly agree that Moore has every right to support or condemn anything he wants to and that people who thinks he owes them anything just because they like his work are deluded. But, that said, I agree with Greg Burgas too. As frustrating as the downsides of extreme success might be, they are certainly preferable to the downsides of crushing failure. I can only dream of the day when “movie studios keep trying to adapt my work” is on my list of problems at all, much less occupying a spot toward the top of the list.

And there’s a weird sort of entitlement spiral we all fall into when we’re complaining about people complaining about someone complaining about something. You can’t say “Moore has a right to say whatever he wants” and not acknowledge that the people who disagree with Moore also have the right to say whatever they want. (And Greg H. has that exact same right too, of course.)

” You can’t say “Moore has a right to say whatever he wants” and not acknowledge that the people who disagree with Moore also have the right to say whatever they want. (And Greg H. has that exact same right too, of course.)”

We can, however, wish for a more intelligent disagreement. There’s only so many hours in a day I have to dismiss people as ignorant assholes. ;)

You know, if I was in charge of DC, you know what I’d do? I would do everything within my power to end this petty feud between Moore and the company. HOW would I do it? I’d forfeit the rights to all of his respective works and give them back to him, on my knees, begging for him to take them back, all while guaranteeing that it would be the end of that–no more doing anything based on anything he did. And then I’d make it a company policy to never make the mistake the administration of the late 80′s made.

How do you all like that?

You know, if I was in charge of DC, you know what I’d do? I would do everything within my power to end this petty feud between Moore and the company. HOW would I do it? I’d forfeit the rights to all of his respective works and give them back to him, on my knees, begging for him to take them back, all while guaranteeing that it would be the end of that–no more doing anything based on anything he did. And then I’d make it a company policy to never make the mistake the administration of the late 80?s made.

How do you all like that?

It’s a nice idea but it’s flawed in two ways.

The first is that DC has absolutely no business incentive to do that, and they did try. They backed up a Brink’s truck to Moore to get him to do more WATCHMEN, any WATCHMEN, please please please– and he said ‘no.’ He doesn’t want to and money doesn’t move him. What else have they got? They did BEFORE WATCHMEN anyway and it made them a lot of money, in spite of Moore being so vocal about hating the whole idea of the project. Which proved that once again superhero fans don’t actually care about creators as much as they say they do.

The second is the assumption that anything Moore did for DC would be a hit. I don’t think that’s a given. See, what fans want is more DC Universe Moore. Not just “Alan Moore, talented writer.” If he did something like The Black Dossier but about the history of the DC Universe, hell yeah, it’d be the biggest thing ever. But I don’t think that’s the kind of thing they’d get. It’d be more like the current LOEG/Nemo stuff and anyway I don’t think Moore would do comics he doesn’t own. I don’t blame him… but that tends to kill the idea of big-name superheroes right out of the gate.

I completely agree that DC screwed themselves back then by alienating Alan Moore. But after all this time, I think it’s more than just “they should patch it up.” I think his experiences with DC, with Marvel, and with hardcore superhero fans have killed a lot of what he loved about superhero comics in the first place. My feeling, from his comments over the last decade or so, is that the well’s poisoned. Which is why we all should just enjoy what we do have and let it go.

There’s a lot a person can do to avoid topics they don’t want to discuss, and the first they can do is not discuss them. It is ever surprising that only time Moore ever speaks out he is bad mouthing his contemporaries, his collaborators, his successors and the industry he so clearly doesn’t care about, like at all, and only time that happens is when he has some new project out. Alan Moore spent about three thousand words throwing personal insults at people who dared criticise him in the mainstream press, even as passing observance, is Last interview, his 17th since his last Last Interview. Those are not the actions of a frustrated man, but a vindictive and malicious man.

Kabe wrote “After reading this (and disagreeing, mostly, but that is unimportant), what I have to ask is: since when does Colin Farrel merit an “and” before his name in film credits?”

Because his part is NOT an actual part of the MAIN storyline (where Disney’s trying to get Travers to agree to sell the rights). His role is entirely in flashbacks (without giving away too much, he plays Travers’ father).

I like Fleming’s Casino Royale novel better, actually. The novel doesn’t have a lot of pointless action padding, like Bond Kool-Aiding through construction sites, like the movie. And he doesn’t spend forever weeping over Vesper. Ugh, it took him a whole other movie to get over that. CR also has less of the horrible racism that Fleming injects into his later books (which, to be fair, wasn’t so racist back then, or maybe it was, but nobody cared). Granted, the film does what it can to turn a pretty no-fringes spy novel into an exciting movie, but sometimes it tried a little too hard.

The Watchman movie was decent. Maybe my expectations were too low, though. The thing that annoyed me about it was how it lost subtlety, especially with the “villain”.

Moore certainly does have a way with words, even while trashing people. It did strike me as odd that that twitter user didn’t actually voice any grievances at that event. He waited to unload outside on the internet. C’mon dude! You were right there! Nobody gives credit for “I was gonna but”s. Moore went ahead and answered the question in the interview anyway. I don’t share Moore’s views on superheroes and their fans in general, but the man has his reasons and he’s certainly not shy about giving them. I actually thought his Morrison shit was pretty funny. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I really hope this wasn’t his last interview. He’s way too good at this stuff.

Fantastic post, Greg – the best response/analysis of that big Moore interview that I’ve seen. Also, I again learned something from your column, to wit: since my interest in Sherlock Holmes has always been peripheral, I never knew before that there was this hostility toward Doyle by diehard Holmes fans. Absolutely fascinating.
As for Moore, I’m beginning to think he probably should have adopted Steve Ditko’s approach and simply shunned any and all public engagement with the comics fan community altogether.

And ZZZ, while you’re certainly right that the opinions and assessments of Moore found online are quite diverse, it’s certainly not difficult to find the type of invective Greg talks about here. In fact, go no farther than this thread: Mudassir’s comment above perfectly encapsulates the tone, and content, of so much (if not the majority of) online commentary on Moore that I’ve come across over roughly the last decade, especially after he grants one of these interviews.

@Edo
I would like to think myself original, but I am a decent human being, or always thought of myself as such, and I suppose all decent human beings have similar reactions to malignant diatribes like Moore has resorted to lately. Edo, did you even try to read the linked interview or did you just take Hatcher’s word for it? Because nobody is really irked because “Alan Moore’s refusal to love superhero comics”. It is barely an interview, more of a blog post that regurgitates the same unsubstantiated and uncorroborated story of how Alan Moore’s enemies(namely Laura Sneddon and Grant Morrison) have made a career out of trying to slander him, that was presented by the “interviewer” here, Padraig O’Mealoid, on the same blog, two years ago. Just like last time, there was no attempt on O’Mealoid’s part to check any of this information, or to even contact any of the parties mentioned on their point of view. I doubt anybody but Greg Hatcher* would refer to it as “completely civil in its composition.”

Grant Morrison, for his part, wrote a rebuttal 2 years ago(http://comicsbeat.com/the-strange-case-of-grant-morrison-and-alan-moore-as-told-by-grant-morrison/), which was completely ignored by Moore and Padraig. Notice Edo that Morison managed to talk about his side of the story without resorting to referring his opponent as “herpes-like” and “18th century medicinal leech”.

Taking aside the vindictive nature of the prose, and mainstream media is just as guilt of it as Padraig and Hatcher*, I don’t understand why none of the *facts* presented by Moore are ever corroborated afterwards. It seems to me that Alan Moore gets a pass from journalistic scrutiny. He’s free to write character assassinations in the guise of interview, while mere mortals such as the subjects of his attacks. Before Morrison it was Albarn, and before that somebody else. I guess Moore is right in one fact; there is definitely a correlation between the rise of Superhero pop-culture and the rise of immaturity in adults, when people defending him can’t even be arsed to read his own words.

*Which is not to say that it is not a well composed post otherwise or these are not valid point. I just don’t know why the author had to resort to a strawman to reach those.

“And finally, the thing that trips a lot of the storytellers up– step four is that, in order to keep their personal success going, the creator has to shut up, endorse the adaptation, and play the hits. There must be a sequel. No, there must a be a trilogy. No, there must be a series. We must have more”.

Mr. Hatcher, that reminds me of an article from Forbes:

“Now more than ever Hollywood studios need franchises–films that can generate multiple sequels, TV shows and lots and lots of merchandise. Franchises also make the job of marketing movies much easier, because audiences already know the characters and, if the franchise is successful, are emotionally invested in what happens to them”.

http://www.forbes.com/2010/09/29/star-wars-harry-potter-business-entertainment-movie-franchises.html?boxes=Homepagemostpopular

This quote “The third step– and this is the part where it starts to feel odd– is that for the story to be judged a TRUE success, the story has to jump to another medium. Specifically, TV or movies”.

Recalls this quote: “When I was a kid, routinely getting mocked– and even beaten up once in a while– for liking comics and superheroes and SF (because everyone assumed it was all as silly as the Adam West Batman or Lost In Space) I would wish devoutly for some movie adaptation that would prove to all those people that I was right all along, that this stuff was serious and cool”. It also reminds me of Max Allan Collins: ““I’m afraid what I’m running smack up into is the old Batman TV show controversy: the old business about, Gee that was a TV show that made fun of Batman and made fun of comic books, so we have to show people that Batman and comic books are serious and they’re adult and accordingly all the fun goes out of it”.

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2013/07/06/saturday-in-the-echo-chamber/

Writers are human beings. They’re not gods that are beyond reproach, and they’re not punching bags either. They’re people with flaws and virtues, and that’s how I try to view them. I admire Alan Moore for a lot of things, and I think he acts a little snobbish and overly sensitive for a lot of other things, but so what? He is only human and people get needlessly bothered by whatever he says or does.

I also agree with Greg Burgas. Writers, musicians, and other creative people always love their latest baby the best. It’s what’s closest to their minds, it’s what they are doing now. Naturally they love it best, or else they would have stopped working already and would have coasted on past glories. But the rest of us is under no obligation to love their lattest work the best, and more often than not, I think outsiders are better able to judge. It’s sad, but most creative people have their peaks.

I love all things Alan Moore, I am a big fan. I love Promethea, LoEG, Top 10… But I also have to admit that his peak was Watchmen. Moore doesn’t agree, and he shouldn’t.

As for Doyle… it’s strange, I was not that aware that fans of Sherlock Holmes “looked down” on him. Hatcher, aren’t you too over-protective of Doyle and Moore? Doyle has been dead a long time, and I think most people don’t even know that he was tired of Sherlock Holmes.

Ironically, I’m one of the few people that love Doyle for TWO things. For Sherlock Holmes, obviously, but also for his interest and defense of spiritualism. As a fellow spiritualist, I’m not a part to the attacks on Doyle that try to paint him as a madman only because he dared to disagree with both traditional religion and the materialistic establishment. I salute his courage and wait for the day when people will look at him as a pioneer in that field too.

Couldn’t have said it any better myself, Greg.

A very fine article that echoes my own sentiments.

My primary bug-bear comes under the heading, ‘obligation’.
Certain fans feel that writers such as Alan Moore are obliged to pander to their ‘needs’. Those poor misguided fools.

dhole: Well, as the person who used “wankery,” I didn’t mean to imply that Moore does it casually – he obviously does nothing casually, as his ridiculously (and ultimately ridiculous) long-winded defense of using a racist stereotype shows – but that it was an act that was done to please himself and no one else (whether others enjoyed it or not isn’t the point; it’s what the tone of the book feels like). I didn’t like Black Dossier very much because it felt like Moore was just out to prove that he’s the smartest guy in the room, and who gives a shit? Most of LoEG feels that way, but at least the other stories have some kind of point – Black Dossier seems to exist just so Moore can show off. When writers do that, fans are under no obligation to stick around just so they can marvel at how well Moore pulls off a Kerouac pastiche. It might work, it might not work, but it’s all about showing off. That’s all I meant.

I wonder if Doyle would feel some kind of solace knowing that Holmes is not the only thing that had an effect on the popular culture. For example, The Lost World, which the author here dismisses, caused the creation of such works as King Kong and Jurassic Park. And, his two short stories, The Ring of Toth and Lot 249, were the basis of pretty much every mummy movie ever made. Being someone who read the Sherlock Holmes books, I am surprised to hear that fans of Holmes look at him with such disdain, though I guess I tend to read stuff and don’t get into all the fan boy sniping.
As for Moore, I really think, except for a few nut jobs out there, that most people respect what he did. Yes, fan
boy hysteria at cons can be scary (I’ve been to enough conventions to see it), and message boards can bring an element of crazy in there especially since you can say whatever troll thing you want without repercussions, but, isn’t that a fringe group which you conveniently dump anyone who is into comic books into? Yes, seeing so many names on a message board makes it seem like people who think that way are legion, but, isn’t that just maybe 20 people yelling the same things over and over again?
Also, I have to wonder why these two people are singled out. Bill Watterson refused to turn Calvin and Hobbes into anything else but a comic strip, and, when he stopped writing it, that was it. Why do people not hate on him? Also, Christopher Eccleston refuses to ever talk about Doctor Who, but it is really the press that keeps badgering him about it, and I really do not get that fans are angry with him about it. Then again, I do not go to message boards any more, since it is impossible to have a civil conversation in a lot of them.

tom fitzpatrick

January 19, 2014 at 8:04 am

The Watchmen movie was done a lot better than most people would give Snyder credit. Considering the fact that he was facing impossible odds.

Those odds can be split into three groups: The movie bosses that were financing the film; The Alan Moore die-hard fans; The audience who have never read the original graphic novel.

True, that Snyder had to make some compromises in order to try and placate all three groups.

One should keep in mind that this was a 400 page complex graphic novel. I was amazed that this movie still got made.

Maybe someday, someone else might do a better job adapting the book into a tv series?

First, I’ll say that I read the Alan Moore interview in its entirety. It is very literate and I have ceased to have expectations of Moore writing Superheroes for some time. I’ve liked and disliked some of what he’s written in the last 20 years, but he is a writer that I usually always find thought provoking.
On the subject of Conan Doyle, I could say much. I have several copies (yes, I said several) of the Sherlock Holmes Canon and about three shelves worth in a bookcase of Holmes pastiche, Sherlockian essays, etc. When I was 11, I responded to reading about Holmes’ death with only a momentary outrage, as I had the next set of stories waiting to be read. Yet, as an adult, I’ve contemplated over the years how things were for ACD when he was met with such public outcry back in the day. I’ve met and known enough writers that I can imagine some of his quandary. And let me tell you, Holmesian societies are fan-boys if there ever were any, though they’ll deny that name. Yet, some of the “Sherlock” fans that I encounter today aren’t much better, barely caring for the source material. Thank you, Greg, for making that connection that fan entitlement is nothing new. I’m grateful that Moffat and Gattis have fun playing homage as they tweak Holmes for a new generation. Watching that documentary the other night gave me the same pleasure of them saying “Aren’t these books cool?” Yes, they are! But I shudder to think what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have had to face in an Internet age. When he dealt with the rabid fan base of his own time, no small amount of “Holmes” clone characters emerged into the literary magazines during Holmes’ hiatus. No doubt, he’d have had vicious Twitter and Youtube diatribes badgering him about what he needed to be writing.

@Greg Hatcher — chasing someone into a restroom and demanding an autograph at the urinal

That’s literally borderline mentally ill behavior. That has nothing to do with comics fandom.

1. Whether Moore wants to be involved in adaptations or not or write more super hero comics or not is irrelevant to me. What I have a problem with is his self righteous tone. Even taking all the facts that Moore states as 100% true then his treatment of Morrison and anyone who enjoys Morrison’s work is way over the line. The arrogant vitriol has grown increasingly tiresome. While you are right that there are people who have treated Moore unreasonably, it isn’t fair for him to so directly insult everyone who enjoys his early work and/or Morrison’s work. I left that article feeling the need to refile all my comics so as much Moore touches Morrison as possible after he directly told anyone who enjoys Morrison’s work to stop reading his. And that arrogance is taken to the point of hypocrisy when he decries “unoriginality”. Hypocrisy veiled with flowery speech and complicated rationalizations is still hypocrisy. Whether Moore wants to admit it or not everything he has ever done has been an expansion on or inspired by some earlier story. He does a better job of it than most but that doesn’t change it. No matter how much he likes to spin LoEG as “part of a tradition of literary pastiche” or claims that not knowing how the original writers would see the work makes it all ok it doesn’t change the fact that he built all of this on a foundation laid by others. He doesn’t have to like the outcome (and it will doubtlessly not be as good as his original), but he doesn’t have to treat everyone who does enjoy it like crap. As I’ve commented before I’m starting to believe that he’s acting this way specifically to avoid fawning adulation.
2. I think that the intent in keeping the Miracleman name for the newer stuff is to keep it separate from the 1950s Marvelman stuff that is also being published.

I would have agreed with your take on ‘fanboy entitlement’ until the recent wretched interview. Your write-up ignores two egregious aspects of that interview which fundamentally changed my view of him as a human being and public figure.

(1) The person who wanted to ask him a question at the event did not leave the presentation in a huff because of general nerdy rage but because he had issues with the presentation of race by Moore and his co-panelists. Three white men on stage justifying the racist figure of the Gollywog by appealing to the orginal author’s purity of intention seems an entirely appropriate reason to protest an event. In his interview, Moore’s passive aggressive distortion of arguments against resuscitating racist figures from the past come of as willful misrepresentations of the arguments by his detractors.

(2) The interview is bullying, pure and simple. I cannot accept the image of Moore as a put-upon artist when he uses his public persona to attempt a personal obliteration of one woman’s comics career. The allegations against Mrs. Sneddon, as she has beguin to show convincinghly, are moreover unfounded or even outright lies.

Moore presents himself as an outsider figure, but the way he aggressively pursues his perceived attackers (including the constant dehumanization of Morrison as a leech or an illness) strike me as mean-spirited, sinister and an abuse of the very position of power that he keeps on simultaneously denying and exploiting.

@Greg Burgas: I guess the thing with me is I don’t think showing off has to be a bad thing. If the person has a genuinely impressive skill they’re showing off, I think it’s fine. In the case of Black Dossier, I enjoyed the artistry of the writing in all it’s forms, and the fact it did in fact tell a story, although admittedly nothing as profound as his past work. Similarly, I loved his silver age letters pages in 1963, even though that added nothing to the story and could easily be labelled showing off as well. And I liked Grant Morrison’s crossword in the middle of Seven Soldier #1, even thought that was completely showing off…anyway, you get the idea.

I totally get why a lot of people might find it disappointing or boring or even arrogant (although I don’t think that’s particularly fair) but I just believe people should be allowed to experiment, flex some different kinds of muscles if they feel like it, and see what happens.

I’ll add that I haven’t read many Alan Moore interviews, so I don’t know if he’s quoted anywhere as saying “Black Dossier is my greatest achievement and you’re an idiot if you like the superhero stuff better.” If he’s says stuff like that, he’s being a jerk (even though he has every right to think that, it’d be disappointing if got abusive about it).

I’ll also add in defence of reviewers that do bemoan his “wankery” that while I think sometimes the tones of the reviews are overly harsh, the ones I’ve read do perform a valuable service of saying, “If you don’t like Moore self-indulgent, you won’t like this.” As long as they don’t use that as ammunition to personally attack him for it.

“And yet Moore still condemns Grant Morrison as the worst person in comics, for the crime of passive-aggressive sniping in old interviews…”

I enjoy Grant Morrison’s work quite a bit, but he had a bit of a receipt coming. This isn’t just for the old interviews where he sniped at Moore (which would tick a person off despite Morrison saying he was retroactively just clowning…it was the same type of behavior that ticked off a lot of his predecessors at 2000AD). He’s been taking shots at him in interviews, print and even in the subject matter of his stories for years. I don’t begrudge Alan Moore for telling him off when Morrison is writing comics taking shots at him.

“The person who wanted to ask him a question at the event did not leave the presentation in a huff because of general nerdy rage but because he had issues with the presentation of race by Moore and his co-panelists. Three white men on stage justifying the racist figure of the Gollywog by appealing to the orginal author’s purity of intention seems an entirely appropriate reason to protest an event. In his interview, Moore’s passive aggressive distortion of arguments against resuscitating racist figures from the past come of as willful misrepresentations of the arguments by his detractors.”

The guy telling him off for this racism and sexism (the sexism part was really stretching in this instance) was upset because he didn’t get to take Moore to task for the Killing Joke. I think this guy is an untrustworthy source and had a grudge against Moore that dates back to a comic book from the eighties. I’m not saying Moore’s explanation wasn’t wrong, but I don’t see why the Killing Joke dude should be considered an objective reporter of events any more than Armound White should be considered an objective source as to what happened at that awards show.

“For what it’s worth, I’ve seen lots of “how dare those money-grubbing studios make an adaptation of Moore’s work without his blessing?” comments online and I’ve literally never seen anyone criticizing Moore for not giving said blessing. That’s not to deny that Greg Hatcher HAS seen people criticize Moore, but it’s certainly not the only view of the matter that fandom has and, depending on what parts of the Internet you frequent, it’s not necessarily even the prevalent one.”

You haven’t been looking hard enough then. The internet backlash against Moore started because he was trashing V for Vendetta (and kind of Watchmen) and really sad people then started getting upset because he didn’t validate their own feelings toward these adaptations. It was and continues to be quite pathetic. A bunch of grown men upset because somebody didn’t like the idea of a movie.

Listen, Alan Moore is far from an angel. He’s a guy that is quick to anger and quick to excommunicate and I find that sad. He seems to have adapted a life position that there is no compromise (made worse by his latest statements that people who read Grant Morrison should stop reading him) which I disagree with. But I agree with the thesis of this article that there are a bunch of weird people that are AGHAST at Alan Moore for not liking the comics or movies that they do. Grow up, guys. If William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway hated each other’s writings, that doesn’t mean that I have to take the side of one against the other. I can enjoy both. And you can enjoy V for Vendetta, Snyder’s Watchmen, and even Before Watchmen without telling Alan Moore to pound sand because he didn’t validate your opinion of those things.

dhole: I’m really of two minds with regard to writers showing off. I always appreciate creators trying new things and seeing what happens, and over the years, especially with regard to comics (but also with books, movies, and music, even though I don’t consume as much), I’ve been more than willing to follow a creator when they try new things. I thought Black Dossier was a very interesting experiment, but ultimately, I would hope that the creator actually does more than simply show off, and I don’t think that particular comic ever moved past that. Morrison has experimented in his work, too, and occasionally it just doesn’t work. My point was that Moore shouldn’t get grumpy with people who don’t like his more experimental work, because as we’ve seen throughout history, the mass of people like things that are more easily consumed. You might get a few people who like the experimental stuff more, but that’s rare. He should be self-aware enough to understand that.

I haven’t seen any comments by Moore claiming that Black Dossier is his greatest work and everyone is an idiot if they like Swamp Thing or Watchmen more, and I don’t know if he feels that way. He just shouldn’t be surprised if it happens!

The use of Miracleman instead of Marvelman was stated to simply be a matter of choice–they preferred Miracleman as the name.

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=49089

“After much thought and internal discussion, we felt that between the two, ‘Miracleman’ was the coolest name for the project. I wish I had a more scientific answer for you, but that’s kind of how it went down. A bunch of us sat around at the editorial meeting and talked about it. We all remember it fondly as ‘Miracleman’ and just felt that the name was by far better than Marvelman.”

Was that “interview” written by moore or dickens?

For fucks sake, its not 1860. The most ridiculous piece of writing i have ever read, in a sorta good way.

I hate that Moore hates The Killing Joke…..

I doubt anybody but Greg Hatcher* would refer to it as “completely civil in its composition.”

That’s fair enough. ‘Civil’ was probably not the right word. What I was trying to say is that it doesn’t read like a rant, it’s not a sputtering profanity-laden message-board kind of thing, but nevertheless is seething with controlled anger in its eloquence, it’s what the phrase ‘high dudgeon’ was invented to describe. What Trey is describing as its Dickensian style amused me. I don’t necessarily agree with it but I admire its rhetorical construction, simply as someone who enjoys writing and the English language. Better?

That’s literally borderline mentally ill behavior. That has nothing to do with comics fandom.

I’ll say again– Alan Moore’s experience of comics fans is nothing like yours. And he’s really not obligated to go back and check again just because YOU’RE not ‘that guy’ and never would be. No writer is. I picked Alan Moore and Conan Doyle because they happened to be on my mind this week, but there are dozens– hundreds– of other writers that have to deal with fan entitlement both in and out of comics. Anne Rice has horror stories, Spider Robinson, Nancy Collins, etc., etc. My point, which keeps getting buried under things like ALAN MOORE IS MEAN AND UNFAIR, is that if these guys are over-generalizing about fans, they have reason, and maybe it’s time to just accept it, enjoy what we have, and move on.

Recalls this quote: “When I was a kid, routinely getting mocked– and even beaten up once in a while– for liking comics and superheroes and SF (because everyone assumed it was all as silly as the Adam West Batman or Lost In Space) I would wish devoutly for some movie adaptation that would prove to all those people that I was right all along, that this stuff was serious and cool”.

I was eleven then. I’m fifty-two now. I’m over it. As was explained in the rest of that column.

“The films made from Alan Moore comics, and that’s including the movies I kind of like, are generally spectacular exercises in missing the whole point of the original story”

Oh God, that From Hell movie. Why even bother making an “adaptation”, if that’s the movie you’re going to make?

I have never been a great fan of Alan Moore, but I do blame that more on the rabid fans I have encountered online (especially on CBR) and in real life than I do on his work. I find Mr. Moore’s works quite readable and enjoyable at times(with the exception of The Killing Joke, which I consider a poor story designed to end Batgirl from continuity, despite the masterful artwork) but a bit overhyped, usually by the the fans, or as I have long nicknamed them, The Cult of Moore(rivaled only by The Cult of Morrison and the newly minted Cult of Snyder). If you even have ONE opposing view against the works of these men, the fans WILL rip you to shreds here, tell you that you are not “cool” or whatever term you wish to use, and tell you that you are not a real fan of comics.

Pfft. Whatever.

I enjoy the comics I read when I was a kid, a teen and now as a adult. Like what you do like, and do not let what the “popular” crowd dictate to you what you should and should not like. Don’t join the “cults” here or elsewhere that tell you what to like in order to fit in, like things because you DO like them, and stand your ground on what you didn’t care for.

And I still don’t care for Watchmen.

I haven’t read Black Dossier, but the previous two volumes are exactly the same, with meager plots to satisfy convention. He was doing something similar to what Lee/Kirby/Ditko did but applying it to all English literature*. How is doing a Kerouac pastiche any different than that brilliant Holmes/Moriarty confrontation in volume 1? By the way, I love LOEG.

*Although Moore would claim, rightfully so, that the tradition of crossover is as old as storytelling, but mythologizing of archetypes in American comics is an apparent influence in League, whether the creators acknowledge them or not.

Well this column certainly shined some light on the Alan Moore anti-superhero discussions.

I’ve never been fan of Moore’s work so I did not understand the backlash, but now I do and I can understand why he’s a bit cranky.

I interviewed an actor who resented his most iconic role for years, I happened to be a fan of other characters he did too and in our interview, he had to bring up the iconic role. He was so pleased we did not talk about that, he gave me and my friend an extra 30 minutes of interview time and greeted us warmly at an in store the next day. It is nice to see this actor has come around to enjoying that ironic role again and embracing what it did for his career.

Obsessive fans are something I really can’t judge. I’d never stalk a film or comic personality, but I have been obsessed in talking about those characters of theirs I love, and, if like them enough I will try new material.

Interesting piece Greg.

Thanks for publishing it.

well put greg . espically the part about Alan getting raked over the coals by comic fans because he wants to go on forward and use his talents which means doing no things not continue to just be the guy who wrote watchman, and from hell and the killing joke. for those were good but continuing to do so is like asking steve ditko over and over is it true he left marvel over the green goblin. fans need to learn like the creators they love that one can not remain stuck on the past and the old greatest hits like for alan moore watchman forever

Greg – you don’t like The Lost World? Really? But… dinosaurs!

As far as Moore goes, it’s more the way he looks down on all mainstream comics these days that irritates me.

The Grant Morrison riposte linked to above has reassured me that it’s not just Glaswegian solidarity that makes me prefer Morrison as a person, even though Moore has written more comics I’ve loved.

@Night Swordsman

YES! FINALLY! Another person here who doesn’t like Watchmen as much as I do. That thing took the fun out of superheroes.

The Angry Internet

January 19, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Question about the Moore interview for the folks here: what’s the “Vertigo mini-series” by Morrison that Moore suggests was ripped off from Lost Girls? It doesn’t seem to fit anything that Vertigo actually put out and it doesn’t fit anything I’ve read of various unrealized Morrison projects either. Am I missing something?

I didn’t read the Moore interview, but did see the relevant quote, The Angry Internet (your screen name is redundant ;) ), but the only thing I can think of that might “rip off” Lost Girls would probably be Le Sexy, which I think was going to be with Cameron Stewart.

Since I believe that Moore’s insinuation is that New Adventures of Hitler was somehow a rip off of From Hell, I’d say it’s obvious Moore hasn’t read Morrison’s stuff, or is being willfully disingenous about the notion of ideas — just because something vaguely sounds like another comic book boiled down to its one sentence synopsis, doesn’t mean that the way it’s actually produced has any real resemblance to the inspiration.

A la how some people have said in the past that Watchmen’s plotline seems a lot like Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan. As a big Vonnegut fan, and someone who’s read Watchmen a few times, I can see some resemblances when it’s pointed out, but in first reading the two works, I didn’t say to myself, hey, this is just like that other thing.

All that said, I find Alan Moore to be an amazing creator who can shoot himself in the foot with some things he says, but he obviously DOESN’T CARE WHAT WE THINK OF HIM. And to me, that’s refreshing.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the reason that he’s so dismissive of his work, particularly the DC stuff, is that he WAS pouring his heart and soul into it, only to find later on that DC didn’t really give a shit about him, and the fans didn’t care about him if he wasn’t doing wonderful DC superhero stories. He had to get some sort of detachment from it in order to move on.

As to Doyle, I thought I just saw something recently that suggested that his reluctance to bring Holmes back may have been overstated. However, wherever I read it, it did seem more like the person was saying that it couldn’t have been too hard for him to go back to Holmes as it was essentially a way for him to print money by churning out Holmes stories, so take it with a grain of salt.

That quote about the stage adaptor asking Doyle’s permission is very interesting with the copyright lawsuit — if Doyle was less than precious with it while he was alive, his literary executors sure as hell shouldn’t be holding out for tons of money for something that should (possibly IS) in the public domain.

I recently was starting to read a book by a Robert Spoo On Copyright wherein I learned that in the US, up until…I’m not sure when, but fairly recently, since the US wasn’t part of the Berne Convention for copyright, the US laws were such that unless a non-US publication had a physical printing on US shores within a relatively short window of time, it wasn’t protected under copyright in the US AT ALL. Instant public domain, which led to…well, read the book, suffice to say that fascinated me that up until fairly recently, US copyright sucked for non-US authors. I wonder if Sherlock Holmes, or other things like Peter Pan and stuff, were protected by copyright in the US because of these laws.

Sherlock Holmes, the character is copyrighted in the States, but not any where else. IP law is complex.

I have no problem with Alan Moore saying anything he wants, but I found his defenses of using the Golliwog and putting rape in his stories both sad and disturbing.

Isn’t this all like every story ever about a creative type who hits it big but grows to resent the fans who made him big because what he wants to do no longer matches up to what they want him to do? Suspect history will show Moore as the hero in his particular saga even if he seems like a dick now.

The Angry Internet

January 20, 2014 at 9:21 am

@Travis Pelkie: I thought of LeSexy too, but nothing I’ve seen about it says it was going to about the sex lives of famous fictional characters. Then again I’ve never seen any real details about it, so perhaps Moore knows something I don’t.

As for the alleged From Hell ripoff, I’m pretty sure Moore is alluding to Bible John, which I haven’t read but is apparently a fictionalized take on a real-life serial killer.

So I didn’t read all of it because A) I don’t really care and B) It was fairly obvious I disagree with the author on most accounts. I should also say I haven’t seen “Saving Mr. Banks” nor to I know the entire plot or how either “side” (Mr. Disney or Ms. Travers) are portrayed but I think it si entirely correct for the adaptor of a medium to put their foot down and say what will and will not work in their medium. Walt Disney et al had mad many wonderful movies and he knew what worked. Granted, he probably wanted to make a different story the Ms. Travers intended but that is again because he knew what made a good film. I would also ask how many more people are fans of the movie than are of the books. Now, one could say that is because the movie is far more accessible than the book but I think that is a cop out and does not jive with the fact that great literature, hell even mediocre literature like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, are still compared and seen as better by audiences. I have read “Marry Poppins” and seen the Disney movie and enjoy the movie a whole lot more.”
But that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.”

The supposed Lost Girls ripoff can’t be Le Sexy, because Moore says: “I announce Lost Girls, a lengthy erotic work involving characters from fiction, and within a few months he has somehow managed to conceptualise a Vertigo mini-series along exactly those lines”. Lost Girls started in 1991, whereas (AFAIK) Le Sexy was pitched to Vertigo in the early 00s. It seems to me the mini Moore is talking about is Sebastian O, which isn’t really “along exactly those lines”, since it doesn’t feature characters from other pieces of fiction, it isn’t an erotic comic, nor is it in any other way similar to Lost Girls. So unless there’s some unpublished Vertigo comic I’m unaware of that was a Lost Girls copy, it seems Moore is twisting the facts to make them fit his paranoid “Morrison is always doing the same thing as me” theory.

Great piece, Greg!

I have to agree with Chad Walters though (and maybe it’s just the writer in me) but I didn’t see Travers as the villain at all in Saving Mr. Banks. She was the protagonist/hero to me, for sure. And the only thing that saved the movie (but that’s a whole other thing).

I think this article misses the point on Alan Moore. I don’t dislike him because he dislikes superhero fans, I dislike him because of his opinions. Specifically his opinion on talent in comics now. I couldn’t be bothered to find direct quotes, but he has said there is no talent in comics right now, and that no one has had an original idea since he stopped writing superhero comics.

I’d like to know when Moore did anything that was original? From Hell and V? Is that it? Everything else is either a knock off of another property or finding a property to use. Tom Strong is Moore’s Doc Savage, Promethea is a WW knockoff, etc.

Most of Moore’s seminal works are now unreadable. They are clogged with wordy exposition that detracts from the art. His work is always too long. The only thing from Moore I can go back and read now is LOEG, and that’s only the 1st two volumes.

Moore is overrated. His ideas rarely come across on page, and now instead of doing quality work every couple of years he comes out from under his rock, trades on people’s nostalgia over his older work and then disappears again until Grant Morrison does an interview.

Alan Moore has made a career of making the (in my opinion, incredibly egotistical) assumption that he, and only he, should have the right to decide what happens with the works he has produced, even if those works were produced under a contract for a major publisher. The second someone comes along and says “Hey, we have some great work here, let’s go back into it and see what we can expand upon”, he gets pissed off and demands that the publisher do one of two things: stop all attempts to expand upon his “holy” work, or take his name off and never refer to him in connection to that work again. Seeing the new edition of “Miracleman” produced with “The Original Writer” as credit is absurd. He willingly signed the contract to do the original work, and willingly signed the checks at the time. Unless a creator is independently wealthy, what is the point of denying additional royalties and monies over “artistic differences”, especially when he doesn’t own the material in the first place. “The Original Writer” needs to go back into his little cave, and shut the hell up.

I don’t really care what Alan Moore says about superhero comics, the industry and the fans. He has his reasons. But he did say that there were no talented writers in the industry because DC wanted to do Before Watchmen which was related to his work. He basically said if DC has no better idea than that, the are no good writers. Also he sort of threatened Grant Morrison into refusing to write a follow up of his Miracleman comics way back when he had just finished writing them.

He’s a great writer undoubtedly. But he’s a prick.

In general, I agree with this article’s point. and I can see where this massive amount of resentment comes from. You know there is something wrong with the fandom today when a flaming left-wing liberal is accused of misogyny.
However, Moore’s condescending stance on comics fans is inexcusable. Here is a purveyor of faerie stories making the argument that his sort of faerie stories are superior to other sorts of faerie stories. LoEG and Promethea are mature (pronounced mah-toor) and sophisticate (so-fist-i-cat) writing whereas superheroes are clearly the realm of the twelve year old mind. I mean, really? They’re all faerie stories in the end. The King of the Nerds is denigrating his subjects for being nerds.

Patrick Lemaire

January 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Great piece.

It is completely fine for these creators to hate their fans or some of their works. We don’t have the right to their love just because we love their products and traded our money for their talent.

However, if they have the right to hold animosity for their fans and works then we also have the right to rage at them and be opposed to their rage and rantings.

It always surprises me that people like Alan Moore don’t seem to understand what happens when you choose a career path, you don’t just get the good parts of it,

Nick, you say the article “misses the point”, and then go on to say the point is that “you dislike Alan Moore because of his opinions”. That actually doesn’t make any sense as the article is not about you, and the author of the article had no way of knowing, before your comment, what your valuable (to you at least) opinion would be. Your opinion, it transpires, is that Alan Moore is wrong in his opinion about comics. Well, his opinion about comics might be different from yours, but that doesn’t mean his opinion is wrong and yours is right. In fact, I would argue that it’s more likely, given Alan Moore’s tremendous experience of actually actively working in the medium, that it is more likely that his opinion is right and yours is wrong. However, given that both these ideas are simply opinions, albeit one is more weighty and considered than the other (his, not yours), we are free to disregard both opinions are make up our own minds about the current relative merits of the medium.

Your suggestion that Alan Moore’s work is unoriginal would be funny if it was not so sad. He is surely the most original thinker, this side of Steve Ditko, ever to have worked in the medium of comics, which is why DC is so determined to keep a hold of Watchmen at the expense of their reputation, for instance. But it does give us some insight into your mind-set and perhaps will make anyone who gave you the benefit of the doubt earlier, about your “opinion”, think twice. Your belief that words spoil the art is also telling. You can remedy that particular reading problem by sticking to colouring books, where there are no words and you can control a good percentage of the artwork, which will probably, after you have finished it, look original and good.

Rod:
Comics is a blending of art and words. They should be in balance. Writers need to let artists tell stories, and vice versa. Moore’s overly wordy and choking style is not one I enjoy.

My point in saying that this article missed the point is that I do not think that most fans care what Alan Moore thinks of them. If you like him you’ll excuse whatever he has to say. If you don’t like him you’ll either be mad at what he says or not care.

Then as for the most original thinker this side of Ditko…Let’s examine his most famous works.
Watchmen: Charlton Characters that he decided to do grim and gritty. DC decided it would damage the Charlton characters if he used them in the story.
Killing Joke: Batman story full of misogyny and simulated rape.
LOEG: A bunch of fair use characters that he decided needed his spin also.
Tom Strong: Doc Savage ala Moore.
Promethea: WW Ripoff.
Lost Girls: More fair use characters that Moore decided needed his touch.
Supreme: Do I really need to go on?

What exactly has he created? He’s expounded on other people’s ideas and concepts, and then complains when others do the same to his work.

Defending the fact that his opinion is that there is no talent in comics right now, I hope you’re not a hypocrite and that means you don’t read anything right now. Because reading comics that have no talent in them would be a futile exercise.

Don’t bring a rock to a gun fight Rod.

On the interview: I normally enjoy when Moore talks about his work (particularly From Hell, Extraordinary Gentlemen and Promethea), but his last interview showed some opinions that I find a bit troubling. He sounds nasty and deluded, like Mark Millar and Frank Miller.

On Watchmen: This book is a big money maker and they won’t ever stop printing it. However, I still feel very suspicious about calling Before Watchmen a success because it’s comprised of 38 issues that don’t have much potential in trades, being nothing but contracted work for all the artists involved. The sales went drastically down after the first issues and only The Comedian sold consistently when I was selling it.

On Alan Moore vs. Fandom: Let’s put it this way… Marvel was the original obstacle for Marvelman’s distribution in the US; He was ripped off for Watchmen (contract or not, DC should have made amends instead of screwing him over way back then); DC bought the company he was working for once he was making a comeback and gaining back recognition (Wildstorm/ABC comics); For a final insult, DC built their relaunch using elements he added to the characters or characters he created. If anything, I’m surprised his comics are not about insulting fans keeping the big two alive on a regular basis.

Greg, you say Mr. Moore talks about Watchmen only when he is asked. Well, people may refuse to answer or Mr. Moore could talk earlier with the interviewer and inform that he wouldn’t answer any question about Watchmen. However Mr. Moore doesn’t turn the page and insists to hassle with his obsessive complaints.
At least Mr. Moore earned a lot of money with royalties that allowed him to refuse financial participation in the movies. Many comics creators don’t have that luxury.
Other creators had troubles with the industry, Jack Kirby, Bill Watterson etc. Watterson, for instance, never hassled his fans with his complaints and dealed with the syndicate privately. However the fanboys think Mr. Moore is the biggest martyr in comics history when it’s far from truth.

I’ve always thought of Alan Moore as a psychotic Charles Manson lookalike ripe for parody and it’s a real shame there’s not enough satire of him. If there was it might give him a new perspective on his behavior and how he talks about comic book fans.

I was under the mistaken impression that purpose of “Saving Mr. Banks” was to entertain me for the approximate 1.45 hours running time. I wasn’t aware that every movie ever filmed has to be 100% accurate to the breath recantation of history as presented by National Geographic. You understood the point in the narrative where the guys writing the songs were trying to make the audience feel happy, not to lecture it for a history exam later, correct?

@Greg Hatcher — Anne Rice has horror stories, Spider Robinson, Nancy Collins, etc., etc.

You’re picking the worst possible examples. These are all writers who have a habit of producing work that attracts people who are literally insane.

Sherlockians – particularly the ones astute enough to play The Game – are not predisposed to loathing Doyle, as you portray them. Indeed, we readily admit that, like Moftiss, we owe a great debt to Doyle. Painting with such broad and shallow strokes does not coincide with the reality of those of us who have been doing this for a while.

Scott Monty, BSI
http://www.ihearofsherlock.com

I don’t know about anybody else, but I think Alan Moore is a hypocrite. he screams and screams about how DC is making money off his creations and how they screwed him, but he has made money off of how many literary works with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Isn’t that really just the pot calling the kettle black. When he started bitching about DC and his creative rights, he lost all credibility. He is doing the same thing, but he his doing it to dead people, who can’t defend themselves.

A few random comments in response to things that caught my eye…
“chasing someone into a restroom and demanding an autograph at the urinal
That’s literally borderline mentally ill behavior. That has nothing to do with comics fandom.”

Ask around; every big-name comics writer or artist has a similar story. Sergio Aragones has had it happen a few times. Comics fans can be awful.

“…The Killing Joke, which I consider a poor story designed to end Batgirl from continuity…”
Moore never intended it to be in continuity. He considered it a one-off, an Elseworlds, and continuity was the furthest thing from his mind.

“Sherlock Holmes, the character is copyrighted in the States, but not any where else. IP law is complex.”
It’s more complex when people muddy the waters with false assertions and ignorance. Sherlock Holmes, the character, is not copyrighted; characters can’t be copyrighted. Ideas can’t be copyrighted, titles and names can’t be copyrighted. Copyright protects the tangible fixed expression of an idea, not the idea itself.

Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. – http://www.copyright.gov

Sherlock Holmes may be protected by trademark registration, certain stories may be still be under copyright, but Sherlock Holmes the character is not and cannot be protected by copyright in the US.

Nick, I find your argument feeble mainly because it’s so coy. The fault in Moore’s body of work, as you seem to want to situate it, is exactly what he’s known for and why he’s so admired–taking existing properties or concepts and making them more complex, interesting and sophisticated. The problem is that you’re not understanding Moore’s major issues with DC and certain creators. It’s not about who created this character or that. Jeez, a bonehead like Liefeld created Cable and Deadpool, and as much as I dislike them, they have gone on to be popular. Besides, Moore has indeed created many original characters over the years, as I’m sure you know: John Constantine, Dr. & Quinch, Halo Jones, etc. Now, has he given Marvel and DC any new costumed IP’s that they can milk for 50 years hence? No, but the last time I checked, that was hardly a barometer of artistic merit one way or the other. (Unless you’re the late great Jack Kirby. But who the hell was or is?)

Moore took those old Charlton characters, Miracleman, etc, and did something completely new with them that nobody had ever seen before. He brought in a literary philosophy that hadn’t been seen in mainstream comics and really hadn’t been seen anywhere on that scale. Did Moore have a problem with Gaiman finishing his Miracleman story? No, because he respected Gaiman and knew that he would do the singular work justice.

I don’t think Moore is a hypocrite because of League of Extraordinary Gentleman any more than I think anyone who has ever used Dracula or Frankenstein in ways that the original author’s didn’t intend (which is just about everyone) are are in the wrong.

Moore’s League is literary and is in many ways an attack on nostalgia and sacred cows, so from this perspective, I can accept it on the basis of his stated anarchistic philosophy and because it, well, has a lot of intelligence backing it up. Personally, I don’t care a bit for Lost Girls or some of this choices in League, but I otherwise admire his craft as an artist. Unfortunately, Geoff Johns, DC, and Before Watchman can’t say the same thing.

Do not judge lest you be judged also, Alan Moore has been mangled by big companies but is always nice to fans on a one to one basis.

Most of his words have been distorted by the media reporting it in bits & pieces.

His words do not change my opinions about his works, I like some and I do not care for some but I will not stand here and be offended by his opinions because he has the right to voice them as you have the right to voice yours!

Likewise my opinions are my own as dictated by myself not by an angry writer OR an an angry fanbase.

I will never understand why he should NOT be allowed to say what he feels but his “supposed” fans can throw heaps of garbage about and on him without batting an eye.

It easy for you to say he is a douche (or any other hateful words) but when he says the same thing, you go get your “hate” shotgun, come on!

That is the trouble with fans on the internet, just because you hide behind a computer, you think can do what you want! My advice is to go wash your mouth with soap and “show” some respect.

Fair is fair, you dish dirt, you get dirt back OR in other words “sow the wind and reap the whirlwind”.

But of course, haters gotta hate!

An interesting article which provoked a lot of responses in me, some of which I hope I can set down coherently.
Doyle didn’t hate Holmes, he just got temporarily pissed off with the character. When he conceived The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1901, eight years after Holmes’ supposed death, he instantly realised that the story needed Holmes to work, and used him. Then he was offered ludicrous sums to bring him back on a regular basis, and did so largely for the money. But what’s interesting here is that in 1908, by which time he had been knighted and achieved international fame (and not just for Holmes),social position and a comfortable income, he began writing Holmes stories again. But this time, he didn’t have to commit to a fixed number and was able to do them when he felt like it, averaging about one a year, as well as The Valley of Fear, the last and longest of the four Holmes novels. He also took an interest in the film adaptations of 1921 to 1924 starring Eille Norwood, and even gave the actor a dressing gown to wear in the role. Not, I submit, the actions of a man who hated his creation, just one who didn’t want to be ruled by him. (One can definitely make a case for saying that The Casebook, the last and weakest Holmes collection, was written solely for the money. Doyle had spent a lot of his income on promoting Spiritualism, and Holmes was his cash cow. But even so, Casebook contains two of the best stories in amongst
the weak stuff.) I’d also say that Doyle is among the world’s great short-story writers, and that one should check out his non-series stories.
Ok, none of that has much to do with comics, the rest of this does, if anyone is still with me.
Alan Moore. I think he has allowed his experiences with the loonier end of comics fandom to colour his attitude. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reading superhero comics into your 40s and beyond, although I also don’t think I’d want to spend much time with someone who read nothing else or only went to the cinema to see superhero movies. Similarly with Dr Who fans. (Aside: the late comedian Linda Smith, whom I liked very much,
sneered at adults who read the Harry Potter books, and suggested they try Madame Bovary. Why can’t people like both? There are times when I want great art, and other times when I want something lighter. Also, I’m lucky. I enjoy my job and have minimal stress. Most people, it seems to me, don’t like their work and find it physically or psychologically stressful. It’s not for me to criticise if in their leisure time they primarily want escape, although there are gradations of quality in escape, as in everything else.)
I don’t want to choose between Moore and Morrison as if they were Coke and Pepsi. Moore has spent most of his life in one place, Northampton, (no barrier to the production of good art – Blake and Wordsworth did the same) while, like Byron, Morrison has travelled the world in search of experience; Moore has rejected mainstream comics and Morrison has embraced them. Moore seems to think, rather like Dr Wertham, that superheroes are fascistic while Morrison thinks they represent our highest aspirations. Moore seems to have been sage and self-confidant all his life, while Morrison has been on a spiritual and psychological journey. There are similarities too. Both grew up in left-wing households, both practise magic, both were born far from the UK’s perceived cultural centre, etc etc. I agree with Moore’s opinion that Morrison shouldn’t have accepted an honour from the UK government (surely a self-proclaimed anarchist shouldn’t accept any kind of honour from any any government). On the other hand, Moore, whose integrity I admire, is, as I said above, tarring all comics readers with the same brush. Well, that’s off my chest. If you’ve read this far, hope you enjoyed it.

As much as fanboying capes to death is wrong, so is your fanboyism for Moore which basically justifies everything he says or has ever said, regardless of the tone or message. Being a professional means knowing that you can’t do everything good. Yet Moore has a disgustingly huge ego that ells him every single egg he drops is made out of pure gold. Therefore he will never admit that he had just 2 hits that are overvalued, and will get aggressive to mature (and i’m not talking about “hey he put a rape scene that is so deep man i feel like a grown up just reading this”) writers like Grant Morrison, who knows that not all of his stories are great and therefore he keeps writing for the audience. Being a writer means you want somebody to write what you think. Alan Moore just writes things for himself

Last Moore’s interview I’ve read was from 3-4 years ago where he’s basically proclaimed that while he doesn’t read any comics he’s pretty sure that all current comics are shite and all current writers are no-talent hacks who can only rip him off. Any given troll from message board nowadays has more insight on industry without being overly verbose which help to not waste that much time as with Moore’s pearls of wisdom.

I think certain fans get too fixated on “Moore hates superheroes and thinks people who read them are idiots.” He obviously doesn’t really think either of those things. First, he has openly shown admiration for Silver Age Superman, Kirby, Ditko, etc, and specifically for their superhero work. Moore is not overly fond of them or a fanboy, true, but that’s not the same as someone who openly hates everything about them.

What we have with Moore are hyperbolic generalizations which, while often being unfair, are nonetheless almost always correct in a general sense. Much of his anger is of a general sort and mainly directed at the corporate entities of Marvel and DC. How much he specifically knows about the content of Marvel, DC, Image, etc, is anyone’s guess, but it can’t be denied that he was an open supporter of everything from Miller’s Daredevil to Mignola’s Hellboy. Its all documented.

“As much as fanboying capes to death is wrong, so is your fanboyism for Moore which basically justifies everything he says or has ever said, regardless of the tone or message. Being a professional means knowing that you can’t do everything good. Yet Moore has a disgustingly huge ego that ells him every single egg he drops is made out of pure gold. Therefore he will never admit that he had just 2 hits that are overvalued, and will get aggressive to mature (and i’m not talking about “hey he put a rape scene that is so deep man i feel like a grown up just reading this”) writers like Grant Morrison, who knows that not all of his stories are great and therefore he keeps writing for the audience. Being a writer means you want somebody to write what you think. Alan Moore just writes things for himself”

That’s a load of BS. First, you obviously don’t know anything about his work. Here are the movies based on his works alone: From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Constantine, V for Vendetta, Watchmen. (I use this awful adaptations as an example of just how popular his work is) Add Swamp Thing, Killing Joke and his Superman stories and you have only a portion of his body of work that most creators would kill to have. Please, don’t try to alter reality to fit your agenda. Nobody is buying it.

Second, any true artist creates for themselves first and foremost. I don’t even really understand what you mean with “being a writer means you want somebody to write what you think” and I’m not sure you do either. Jeez it’s depressing that people are apparently so brainwashed by corporate product and career hacks that they have no longer have any conception of artist merit.

Sorry for the typo’s. Up late and over caffeinated.

@JimMacQ

Characters can, and are protected, by copyright. I can’t publish a story staring the Might Max, last son of the Planet Radon, who uses is Super-strength, invulnerability and speed, among other abilities, to fight Rex Ruthlor’s evil schemes. WB would be on me with a copyright infringement case. I can modify the character in certain aspects, but that wouldn’t be Superman, and would not violate copyright. I have happened(National Comics Publications v. Fawcett Publications)

Characters can’t be trademarked, though Disney has tried to do it for Mickey Mouse ears. Law isn’t just the legal text, but the court’s interpretation as well.

The Angry Internet

January 21, 2014 at 3:02 am

Just to clarify something: last month, a federal judge ruled that Sherlock Holmes and other elements of the stories are not in fact not copyrighted in the U.S.–or more specifically, that elements appearing in the pre-1923 Holmes stories are public domain, since the stories themselves are public domain. Elements from the ten Conan Doyle stories published in 1923 or later cannot be used as those stories are still under copyright. So anyone can write a story about Holmes and Watson provided that, for example, you don’t mention the Giant Rat of Sumatra or Watson’s second and third marriages, which were first mentioned in 1924 stories. The Conan Doyle estate naturally plans an appeal, but the ruling appears has a good amount of precedent behind it (notably a 1989 ruling that the characters of Amos ‘n’ Andy are public domain because the earliest stories with those characters are public domain). The ruling (which can be read here) even cites National v. Fawcett in support of its conclusions. This also has implications for the ongoing suit between Dynamite and the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate over Dynamite’s Tarzan and Barsoom books, though in that case there are also trademark issues at work.

fulciflesheater

January 21, 2014 at 3:36 am

I found it difficult to take anything Moore says seriously after he dropped this pearl of wisdom about the people working on Before Watchmen (which I am in NO WAY defending as it was mostly a load of tripe…):

“I feel that the industry employees who are actually working upon this book–I had only heard of about three of them–but I’m certainly not interested in seeing any of their work. But, I’m unlikely to because I don’t read comics anymore and they’re never going to do anything outside of comics. I think it’s a shame. I can see why the people concerned are involved, having either never created anything original themselves or they did, but it wasn’t good enough to get DC out of their current hole.

It strikes me that, yes, I can understand why they took on Before Watchmen. It will probably be the only opportunity they get in their careers to actually be attached to a project that anybody outside of comics has ever heard of.”

Bearing in mind this comment is essentially about Brian Azzarello (The Eisner and Harvey Award winning 100 Bullets), J. Michael Straczynski (Creator of Babylon 5 and BAFTA nominee for the screenplay of Clint Eastwood’s The Changeling), Len Wein (Editor of Watchmen, co-creator of Swamp Thing and Wolverine), Joe Kubert (Joe. Fucking. Kubert.)

Renato Carneiro

January 21, 2014 at 3:57 am

Brilliant article. Except for the part where the author could find things to like in the LGX movie. C´mon, you KNOW there´s nothing good there.

Laurence J Sinclair

January 21, 2014 at 7:12 am

I’m surprised that Alan Moore knows who Miranda Hart is, personally.

JohnnyWalker2K1

January 21, 2014 at 7:13 am

@legget There’s a problem with your argument, and it’s this: You’re just believing every you’re reading on the internet. Why not make your own mind up. Here is the ACTUAL EVENT. Here is the entirety of, as you put it, “three white men on stage justifying the racist figure of the Gollywog”:

http://youtu.be/3-zBbkhasdI?t=38m40s

Less than 30 seconds of video, involving Kevin O’Neill, and barely anyone else. But the Batman Scholar described it as: “Evening with Alan Moore … involved four white people on stage defending the “golliwog” as a “strong black character””.

Does that seem like a fair representation of the video you just watched?

As for “storming out”. The person in question left… at the end of the evening. How do I know this? Again, the video shows us where such remarks about Gordon Brown took place:

http://youtu.be/3-zBbkhasdI?t=1h7m59s

The event was scheduled to last for three hours. Our mutual friend left *precisely* 5 minutes before the end, and that’s if he wasn’t exaggerating, which we’ve already shown he’s prone to doing.

I’ve never cared whether Moore does more work or wants to be mentioned in film credits at all. My position has always been that he’s a hypocritical primadonna who clearly wants to maintain his relevance while pretending such things are beneath him. IMHO DC has treated him far better than any other creator, including by the standards of the time when these disputes arose, and has made more than reasonable attempts to come to terms with the man. Whereas reading Moore’s comments and those of people who have worked with him it becomes clear that he is the one who is difficult to work with and thinks that the world should revolve around his desires. I couldn’t care less if he never works again, but I do wish he’d shut up if all he has to contribute is the same old tired BS.

Sean -

“something wrong with the fandom today when a flaming left-wing liberal is accused of misogyny”

That one I can answer, at least.

There are people with feminist aspirations that think any fictional DEPICTION of a woman suffering some indignity is the same as the creators of said fiction approving or enjoying such actions. I.e., if you have a lot of rapes in your stories, or women being killed, then it must be that you somehow approve of rape or murdering women, on some level. Or at least that you are using your fiction to vent deeply held hostilities against women.

I think the notion is problematic, to say the least. Oliver Stone seems obsessed with the Vietnam War, it depicts it a lot in his movies, but that doesn’t mean Oliver Stone is a supporter of the Vietnam War, quite the opposite. Likewise, George Orwell depicted tyranny in his works a lot, but he wasn’t a supporter of tyranny. In other words, depiction is not approval, even depiction with a lot of graphic detail, like PLATOON and 1984.

I mean, Alan Moore, the guy that writes Promethea, that writes Halo Jones, a woman-hater? The guy that writes FROM HELL, a monumental thesis defending that males have conspired for hundreds of years to keep women down, and that all the wars and horrors of 20th century happened because of male-centric government? THAT guy is a misogynist?

It’s a sort of armchair psychoanalysis that holds that any writer that writes about a woman being murdered is actually acting out some hostility of his own against women. I would say that yes, violence against women is something of a theme for Alan Moore, to say the least. He is obsessed with it, to the extent that it features in most of his works. But what can be said for certain about this obsession is that it fuels his political convictions, and those have always been pro-feminism.

There is no better example of this than Robert Crumb. Most people familiar with comics have heard of him but the reason he and his work aren’t exactly household names is because he never wanted any of it. When they made a movie out of Fritz The Cat, Crumb promptly killed off his character for good in the comics.

To paraphrase Neil Gaiman, “Alan Moore is not your bitch!”

While I’m grateful for Moore’s works that I have read (The Killing Joke and Watchmen are 2 of my all-time favorites). His interviews seem more like a way for him to gripe about the situation that happened than anything. And, while I haven’t read any of his newer stuff, I’m glad to hear that he continues to write, and can completely understand his avarice towards being asked questions about older works while promoting new ones, if you can’t keep coming up with material that is better than your last, you tend to get lumped into that boat.

It sucks, but it’s just what happens. It doesn’t mean that he should waste his time on the interviews, time that he could spend making new stories that are better than what he has done in the past, which would thrust him back into the limelight. So it feels like he takes the interview to keep his name out there only to get upset at what he knows is certainly coming his way in the interview.

So for that, I can understand why fans think he is being crotchety.

I’ve fallen into this before with Ursula Le Guin and her series Earthsea. I loved the books but the majority of them were written many decades ago. So when I wrote to her, what did I do? I asked about Earthsea and she graciously answered my questions. Probably didn’t hurt that at the time she was putting out the last book of the series.
But how frustrating must it be for an accomplished writer and poet to have to talk about a book that she wrote back in the 60′s when they have done so much since then?

Great article…but implying that superhero fans are contempable because, 20 some years ago, some a-hole fanboys followed him into the pisser? Look, I’m sure that was awful and it’s nothing I’d condone. But I don’t know that any of the major cons (which I assume would be the only ones he’d attend) are run quite that lax anymore. Especially for someone of his calliber. I understand he had a bad experience and he doesn’t like his old work. But why not cut the rest of us some slack?

“however because he will not write about men in tights, he is a traitor who must be punished for his sins.”

I wish I thought this were an exaggeration. Sadly, I’ve seen this many times.

“ Do we really need elitism in comics? Isn’t that a much bigger problem than what this article is trying to address?”

Yes, we DO need elitism in comics, and NO, it’s not a bigger problem. I love superheroes, but they’re pretty stupid as a genre. The fact that talented writers can do amazing stories with them won’t change that, at best it points out their limitations. That they HAVE to write stories with superheroes because people won’t read/buy anything IS a much bigger problem.

“but they should also count themselves lucky that they have created such iconic characters”

Uh, no. WE should count ourselves lucky that we get them. It’s amazing to me how often fans will attack writers for ego issues while displaying a LOT of them themselves.

“ Moore might want to remember that he wouldn’t have been able to do Big Numbers or From Hell if his 1980s work never existed.”

Give me a break. More fannish “without us they’d be nothing” bs.

“ but they should remember that those stories bring a lot of joy to a lot of people”

Why? Why does your joy mean anything to the creator, especially (IME) since this often means the fan thinks the creators owe them something. No, they don’t.

“ Which proved that once again superhero fans don’t actually care about creators as much as they say they do”

Which is why I don’t buy DC any more, and haven’t since then. I LOVE comics, and in my mind that means I have to care about the creators. I used to be a DC-mainly buyer, but no more. And since then I’ve seen story after story of creators being treated like dirt, so I don’t regret my decision.

“ Because nobody is really irked because “Alan Moore’s refusal to love superhero comics” “

Absolute and utter BS. I’ve been in online fan communities for years (including the DC boards) and this IS the root of it. Many people are explicit about it, and others dance around it.

“Black Dossier seems to exist just so Moore can show off”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_League_of_Extraordinary_Gentlemen:_Black_Dossier
Moore has stated that it was intended to be “a sort of ingenious sourcebook”, and not a regular volume.[1]
It wasn’t meant to BE a story.

“As far as Moore goes, it’s more the way he looks down on all mainstream comics these days that irritates me.”

Mainstream comics suck, and have for a long time. I think MORE people should look down on them, they might get better. Seeing the same stories retold, dressed up in “new” levels of pseudorealism is pretty clear evidence of why they suck. Add to that the dwindling number of readers, and there’s a problem.

And, really, the idea that superheroes count as “mainstream” really should tell you the problem.

“ DC didn’t really give a shit about him, and the fans didn’t care about him if he wasn’t doing wonderful DC superhero stories”

I think this makes perfect sense.

“ Moore’s condescending stance on comics fans is inexcusable”

I’ve spent large parts of my life around comics fans, if anything he’s being too nice.

“ given Alan Moore’s tremendous experience of actually actively working in the medium”

Interesting how many fans think simply reading the books gives them equal footing with the writers.

“ I do not think that most fans care what Alan Moore thinks of them”

Given the level of vitriol he gets from fans for what he says about them, this is nonsense.

“Watchmen: Charlton Characters that he decided to do grim and gritty. “

This so misses the point I can’t even explain it except to say I think it might be a willful misrepresentation. You may want to read interviews (including one online at Twomorrows) where he explains the background of his idea. Well, you may if you care about the actual truth.

“Supreme: Do I really need to go on?”

You skipped PLENTY of his work. Skizz, A Small Killing, DR and Quinch, and more. A lot more. But, of course, superhero fans often do this, list off the work which fits their point and ignore the rest.

“ Watterson, for instance, never hassled his fans with his complaints and dealed with the syndicate privately”

Really? So Watterson is interacting with fans now? (that was sarcasm). Not the same thing at all. He doesn’t even DO interviews, but I guess that doesn’t matter.

“Ask around; every big-name comics writer or artist has a similar story”

Not just comics fans. Harlan Ellison wrote a big essay on this in SF circles years ago.

“ Add Swamp Thing”

The 2nd ST movie (1989) is an adaptation of his work.

“Jeez it’s depressing that people are apparently so brainwashed by corporate product and career hacks that they have no longer have any conception of artist merit.”

It can get MUCH worse. I’ve seen people say writers ought to be paid minimum wage so that they don’t think of themselves as doing anything more than giving fans what they want.

While I agree with the spirit of this article, I do want to point out one thing. The person who posted the controversial tweets, and was going to ask the question about The Killing Joke, is not a random fanboy but an eminent scholar of film and comics. (I won’t name him, but you can easily find out who he is.) And his comments indicate that he wasn’t angry because he didn’t get to ask his question, but because of the misogynistic atittudes that he felt were on display. Here are his comments again:

Really wish An Evening with Alan Moore hadn’t involved four white people on stage defending the “golliwog” as a “strong black character” – Followed by a short film about a young woman stripping, dressing in “slutty clothes” and killing herself on screen – Followed by Moore insulting Gordon Brown based on mental and physical disability – I then left the venue.

This was an interesting article about fan entitlement until you totally undermined your point in a rush to add your name to the growing list of Moore apologists.

The problem is that you take at face value Moore’s assertion that the person who was upset at the biography event was a fan.

As he is Dr Will Brooker, a scholar of far greater respect in film academia than you or I, this leaves your point mute.

Rin aka DarkBlade

January 21, 2014 at 8:08 pm

You know, the solution to this seems really simple.

Be the proof against the opinion.

This doesn’t mean RAIL against the opinion. It means act like you want fandom to be described, especially at conventions. Gently (or strongly, if you know the person well) encourage fellow fans to do the same.

Ta da.

I guess we could break this down to specifics. Be polite. Don’t shout at creators for their interpretation of a character you like. Find out if they’re even interested in discussing it at all. Understand that they are people too, with varying attention spans and work ethics and energy levels and privacy needs. Understand that they need to pee and eat on occasion, might need a bit of air. Understand that this applies to everyone else in the building, too. Generally apply all of the rules you were supposed to learn between nursery school and first grade to general human interactions. Understand that everyone lapses at some point, and that even if you’re working to improve the image of fandom in general, not everyone is, and poor experiences often stick out in one’s mind better than good ones. Then act on all of this understanding. :)

Most people do better work on projects they love. I want more stories about certain characters too, but if the writer begrudges every page, it’s probably not going to be as good. Sometimes they can take a break and come back to it. Sometimes they don’t. That’s life.

Jim MacQ: “Ask around; every big-name comics writer or artist has a similar story. Sergio Aragones has had it happen a few times. Comics fans can be awful.”

Even ‘no-name’ talents like myself have experienced it (twice for me). Granted, my stalkers had the sense to wait until I’d finished and cleaned up before asking me to sign anything, but still, creepy.

“I’d like to know when Moore did anything that was original? From Hell and V?”

Actually From Hell (which is fantastic, I hasten to add) lifts its main story and the theory of Gull as the killer directly from Stephen Knight’s Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution. Moore’s added a hell of a lot of his own research and creativity to the story, of course, but it is basically an adaptation of that earlier work.

Top 10 had more original characters than anything DC and Marvel has published in the past decade. Of course, nobody creates new ideas for these companies for they have learned from what happened to Moore and his contemporaries.

Poppycock. An artist doesn’t get to denigrate and disrespect people for liking the things he does. It’s ungrateful and rude.

“It’s ungrateful”

Really? Fan entitlement at its worst. You’re not doing artists a favor by buying their work, they don’t “owe” you things because of it. If anything YOU owe them for providing you with entertainment and art.

I’m still laughing about that claim halfway up the comment thread that Promethea is a rip-off of Wonder Woman, said by a fellow who has never read Promethea and only knows Wonder Woman by her costume.

“Poppycock. An artist doesn’t get to denigrate and disrespect people for liking the things he does. It’s ungrateful and rude.”

Why not? Even if it is ‘ungrateful and rude’, what have YOU done to earn the artist’s gratitude and respect? Why must the onus of gratitude and respect be on the artist instead of the fan?

“I’m still laughing about that claim halfway up the comment thread that Promethea is a rip-off of Wonder Woman, said by a fellow who has never read Promethea and only knows Wonder Woman by her costume.”

Yeah, that one had me shaking my head, as well. Other than being mythic females, the two have virtually nothing in common.

[…] It Was Years Ago But We’re Still Angry With You – Interesting opinion piece on Alan Moore, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and authors’ relationship to their audience at CSBG […]

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