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Alan Moore


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The Alan Moore Interview: V for Vendetta

By Barry Kavanagh, 17 October 2000 To talk about some of the ones you've written... Can you remember as far back as V for Vendetta?

Oh sure, yeah, I was reading it the other day, in fact. My daughter's doing it at university, part of a degree course.

Really? Is it a text on the course?

Oh yeah, that, Watchmen , a couple of other things. I mean, that's a "graphic novel" unit in her English course but my stuff turns up on a lot of different courses, you know, "postmodern literature". Not that there's anything to be that proud of, I mean they do do Spice Girls courses, so they do teach an awful lot of shit at university, so it's probably nothing that I should be congratulating myself on that much but yeah, V for Vendetta , yeah sure I remember it.

There's an article at the back [of the book] called "Behind the Painted Smile" and you wrote "There were resonances being struck that seemed to point to larger issues than the ones which we'd both come to accept as par for the course where comics were concerned." That would be you and David Lloyd. Was that the first time you were writing in a multi-layered style?

It started to emerge out of the work, I think. With Marvelman there were some bits of cleverness creeping in there but with V for Vendetta I think that was where I started to realize that you could get some incredible effects by putting words and pictures together or leaving the words out for a while. I started to realize what you could do with comic storytelling and the kind of - yeah, the layering, the levels of meaning that you could attach to the story. I think that certainly V for Vendetta was one of the first real major breakthroughs I made in terms of my own personal style.

There's a great kind of running theme in it about ideas being more powerful than the physical. The character Evey says about - or she thinks about - V, "Whoever you are isn't as big as the idea of you," and shortly afterwards she thinks "Your foes assumed you sought revenge upon their flesh alone, but you did not stop there... you gored their ideology as well." So, it was like the real battle was between ideas, almost as if all the physical violence was incidental.

When we started to do V, the entirety of the original idea was that we would have a dark, romantic, noirish adventurer and then we thought we'd set him in the future and then the details slowly came together and yeah, somewhere out of this we realized we were doing something about the contrast between anarchy and fascism, that there were lots of moral questions being asked and that yes, it was very much centred upon the world of ideas as being in some ways more important than the material world, which is I think a notion which has probably born fruit recently in other areas of my work, where it's still something that I'm very much involved with, that notion, that ideas are more important, if anything, than the material.

Did that notion occur to you while writing V or was it there -

- It probably did. I mean, it's always difficult to remember where you actually came up with a thought, I mean, most of it, the thoughts only emerge in the writing. There's something weird about writing. It's not like you have the idea for what to write in your head necessarily, or you might just have the vaguest outline but none of the detail - but when you're actually writing you find that words kind of suggest themselves and that thoughts and ideas - you tend to go into some sort of trance. I mean, when I'm actually writing something , especially if it's something that is intricate, dense, heavy, I'm very much in a different state of consciousness. You notice it. It's always difficult to notice when you've shifted consciousness but it's like the mood, the atmosphere that surrounds you when you're right down there in the words, in the prose, it's a kind of trance state and I know it for a fact that when I used to do drawing as well, you'd get a similar kind of trance state, say, when you were inking, when your hand's just got to follow a pencil line but your mind perhaps hasn't got so much to do you drift into this kind of twilight state. And that's where a lot of the ideas come from. They seem to emerge from the act of writing itself.

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