Alan Moore, by Mitch Jenkins
An underground writer on trend
At the age of 63, this English man is at the cutting edge of graphic novels. A native of Northampton, he was firmly anchored in 70s counter-culture before being knighted in the world of comic strips. A teenage LSD-dealing anarchist and author at New Musical Express, he adopted the pen name Curt Vile. For the science fiction weekly 2000 AD and Warrior published by Marvel UK (1982-1985) Alan Moore, imbued with nostalgia for the costumed heroes of the 1950s, crafted utopias, and melancholic ballads blending chronicles of marvellous and dark fantasy. Enamoured with the work of Lovecraft and inspired by the Beat generation of William S. Burroughs, Alan Moore’s childhood was an impoverished one. The young man started out by drawing but writing was his destiny. Approached by the American editor Len Wein, creator of the famous Wolverine, Moore re-appropriated the flagging character of Swamp Thing (DC Comics). He increased sales and won over the critics. He followed the revivals of Green Arrow, Omega Men, Batman with the excellent Killing Joke, Joker’s ultimate burst of laughter, illustrated by Brian Bolland. All these works had him showered with literary accolades. In 1996, Alan Moore published his first novel, Voice of the Fire (Top Shelf Productions), and now 20 years later Jerusalem is the fruit of a decade of writing, an autobiography with fantasy elements, the most anticipated piece of literature this September.
Batman : Killing Joke, Alan Moore & Brian Bolland
The king of graphic novels
In 1981 he met the writer and illustrator David Lloyd. The comic strip V for Vendetta first saw the light of day once a month in the independent publication Warrior and five years later, after the press title went bankrupt, appeared as a graphic novel published by DC. A mysterious masked Robin Hood character, lost in a neo-Thatcherian England advocates anarchy as the only solution to a political dictatorship. A few years later, along with the illustrator Dave Gibbons, he published Watchmen instantly adored by readers. A dark dystopia against the cold war, this anticipatory work was cited by Time magazine as one of “100 best English language novels since 1923”. As Alan Moore’s masterpiece, the writing implication felt in Watchmen firmly established his reputation. The writer with his unusual appearance, half-Gandalf, half-dandy biker, didn’t stop there and with ten volumes published between 1991 and 1996, Moore revealed the true largesse of his work in the series From Hell. The title was borrowed from the letterhead of legendary serial killer Jack the Ripper who had a penchant for mutilating Whitechapel prostitutes.
Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons, Zack Snyder
V for Vendetta, Watchmen: Alan Moore, not on the credits
V for Vendetta fascinated Lana and Lilly Wachowski, who wanted to take it to the big screen. It was finally James McTeigue who took charge of things, as the two sisters were busy with Matrix but they wrote the script. Alan Moore’s success transcended the comic strip. Basking in the success of 300, the celebrated film maker Zack Snyder took charge of bringing Watchmen to the big screen in 2009. He created the most loyal adaptation, even composing a storyboard from the comics strips of the graphic novel. The full length feature is praised by Dave Gibbons, the original illustrator: “I had the feeling that we’d succeeded in making something special – a film that satisfied not just fans of the graphic novel, but neophytes just as much”, explained the director. “And if Watchmen is seen as a two-and-a-half-hour long trailer for the book, then that will be my biggest reward.” But Alan Moore refused to have his name in the credits. Moreover, he was deprived of his royalties. As he recently confided to friends at the French magazine Inrockuptibles “Watchmen was stolen from me in 1985 through a complicated contract and twisted between a mega powerful company and a young guy, me, who grew up without running water […] Given the choice today I would have preferred to write novels than Watchmen and V for Vendetta”.
V pour Vendetta, Alan Moore & David Lloyd, James McTeigue
Jerusalem, this September’s must-read
With Jerusalem, Alan Moore doesn’t hide his ambitions, the historical characters (Lady Di, William Blake) burst into an ambiance where lyricism and fantasy are rife. Between fiction and autobiography, this new novel is a family affair set against a backdrop Moore knows only too well: a romanticised Northampton that symbolises the globe in its entirety. A New York Times best-seller and must-read this September, the 1200 pages of Jerusalem confirms the reputation of this major British author.
Jerusalem available from August 30th (Published by Inculte).