‘Watchmen’ Scribe Alan Moore Says “The Comics Medium Is Perfect” But “The Comics Industry Is A Dysfunctional Hellhole”
Once again making clear his disdain for the modern day comic book landscape, storied Watchmen and Swamp Thing author Alan Moore recently admitted that while he finds the medium to be “perfect” and “sublime”, the industry itself “is a dysfunctional hellhole”.
The noted writer offered his latest criticism of the Western comic book industry while speaking to GamesRadar’s Will Salmon in promotion of the short-story reprinting of his short story collection, Illuminations.
Referring to one of the short stories contained with the collection, a harsh satire of the superhero genre titled What We Can Know About Thunderman, Salmon asked Moore, particularly in light of his highly negative attitudes towards the current comic book industry, “why return to the subject [of comics] now? Is this an exorcism?”
In turn, the writer confidently confirmed, “That’s exactly the word.”
“I’ve disowned most of my comics work, including stuff like Watchmen, V For Vendetta, all of the ABC [his former creator-owned imprint of DC’s Veritog] stuff, everything that I don’t own,” said Moore. “The only active thing I could do was disown it, which was painful. I put an enormous amount of work and energy and a great deal of love into all of those projects and it felt like a bit of an amputation to disown them.”
“At the same time, that was the only way to cut out the poison,” he further explained. “I don’t have a copy of any of those works. I’ll never be looking at them again. And even thinking about them, all I’ve got is memories of having my intellectual property rights stolen and then when I complained about that, being typified as a crazy angry guy; ‘Alan Moore says ‘get off my lawn.” And yes, alright, I was quite cross, but I don’t think without reason and also to suggest that I’m angry about everything is an evasion. It’s a means of going, “Oh well, if he’s angry about everything then we don’t have to worry about what he says about the way that people are treated in the comics industry, he’s just angry about everything.”
“And once these things have been taken from my hands and made into franchises then they can be given to anybody to do what they want with and that will somehow still be associated with me,” Moore added.
Summarizing his feelings on the subject, the Tom Strong creator then declared, “The comics medium is perfect. It is sublime. The comics industry is a dysfunctional hellhole.”
“So why did I want to return to it in this story?,” he then asserted, returning to Salmon’s original question. “Like you say, it’s exorcism. As one of the characters finds in Thunderman it’s one thing to quit comics, but quitting comics is a different thing to being able to stop thinking about them. Writing this got an awful lot out of my system. It said a lot of the things that I’d always wanted to say but I’d never really had the right context to say them in.”
“But doing them in a Kafka-esque satire, that worked perfectly,” Moore then reflected. “And when I say a Kafka-esque satire, what I mean is that Franz Kafka, while he was reading his stories to his followers and appalled friends, he would be laughing almost too hard to get the lines out. It’s horrible, hideous, appalling – but the author was probably giggling when he wrote it.”
Pressed by Salmon if, “despite everything, you still have a love for the medium”, Moore affirmed, “Absolutely”.
“I hope that my love of it comes across [in What We Can Know About Thunderman]; my love of Jack Kirby and many of the other artists and a couple of the writers of his generation,” he told Salmon.”The descriptions of a six-year-old kid glimpsing a comic book rack could not have been written without being able to tap into my memories of what that was like, a first exposure to comics.”
“The medium can do anything,” declared the Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? writer. “Its potential is still almost completely untapped. So it was attempting to express my love of the medium, some of the wonderful people who worked in it, and to also express my horror at the fact that this this little offshoot, the superhero genre, has become a monoculture that’s in danger of taking down at least a considerable part of the comics medium with it when superhero movies finally aren’t interesting.”
Bringing his thoughts on the topic to a close, Moore ultimately opined, “When that happens, my worry is that a lot of the comic shops won’t be able to continue and a lot of interesting independent comics would perhaps not have outlets.”
The soft-cover reprinting of Alan Moore’s Illuminations is now available for purchase.