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Alan Moore


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The Alan Moore Interview: Marvelman, Swamp Thing and Watchmen

By Barry Kavanagh, 17 October 2000 You mentioned Marvelman a minute ago, also known as Miracleman. That is completely unavailable, I've never seen an issue of that.

Uh, yeah, that had a tangled story to begin with.

There was never any talk of collecting it or anything?

Oh, it was collected, by Eclipse Comics. Eclipse Comics went bust. At that point I believe that I owned a third of Marvelman, which by that point I was so sick of all the back-and-forth on the character that I just handed that over to Neil Gaiman and just said "Look, if you want to do it, you can have my third of the ownership of the character."

And he did a few issues.

He did a few issues but the thing is that what happened was Eclipse went bankrupt and then Todd McFarlane bought up the whole of Eclipse for some reason and at the moment, the last I heard was that Todd McFarlane and Neil Gaiman have got quite a dispute between themselves so it's just stuff that I've - you know, it's served its purpose and I've got copies of it somewhere but I can't remember exactly where.

But your run on Swamp Thing is now unavailable -

Oh, they're making it available again now, they've just started bringing it out, the whole series in colour books from America.

Oh really? 'Cause I remember Titan Books had about a dozen of them.

Yeah, they brought out a series of them in black and white but in America they've just started bringing them out as colour volumes and they're going to go through the whole series, apparently.

Right, that's good. What number did you start with?

#21? Or #20?

And how many did you do?

Up to about #65, something like that and there's probably a couple of annuals in there or forty pages or whatever.

I read some of it at the time but I don't have any copies or anything so I'd like to kind of discover that stuff.

Yeah. It was experimental work, it was the first time that I'd got colour and twenty-four pages to play with. So I was able to kind of splash out and do a few things that I'd only been able to dream about doing with black and white material.

Watchmen. Like V for Vendetta, there's no objective narrator there and all the characters have very different philosophies.

Well in Watchmen, in some ways you could say that it's grown out of Marvelman in that it has a very dystopic view of the superhero world. Probably, in terms of technique, it kind of grew more out of V for Vendetta.

Yeah, that's what I was thinking, there's that kind of "layered" thing again.

There's that but Watchmen is a lot more complex than V for Vendetta. In pointlessly comparing the two works, what I've often said is that Watchmen has probably got more head and more intellect or something than V for Vendetta but V for Vendetta's got more passion.

Oh, right!

V for Vendetta is very smart, it perhaps doesn't have the sort of multi-layered, crystalline brilliance as something like Watchmen but I think it's got more passion. I think it's got more heart, more emotion in it. That said, there both works that I'm very proud of. Watchmen was at the time about as far as I could imagine taking the mainstream superhero comic. It seemed to take it to some place that was so completely off the map.

Yeah, at the time I was thinking "Well, this is the end of the genre," you know?

Well at the time I think I had vain thoughts, thinking "Oh well, no-one's going to be able to follow this, they'll all just have to stop producing superhero comics and do something more rewarding with their lives" but no, what happened was that it just started a whole genre of pretentious comics or miserable comics - or you could even see, you look at the Image comics of the early '90s, and you could see people who were predominantly superhero artists who hadn't got much of a grasp of writing, trying to sort of lift riffs from Watchmen, Dark Knight, you know, those mid-'80s books. It was like looking at your deformed bastard grandchildren or something like that. Yeah, I think that David Bowie once referred to himself as "The face that launched a thousand pretensions," and you can somehow kind of feel the same way [as] when I saw the actual effect of Watchmen upon comics [which] was probably a kind of deleterious effect, which is not surprizing I guess. Often the better works in any medium have the most negative effect. It's paradoxical but you get, say, something like Harvey Kurtzman's MAD comics in the mid-'50s, which to my mind if I had to pick one single comic book that was the best comic book ever it would be Kurtzman's MAD, that was the best comic book ever in my opinion but the thing is that, brilliant though it was, it doomed us to sixty years of humour comics named after some sort of mental aberration or illness.


Cracked, Sick, Bug Fuck. There wasn't actually one called Bug Fuck but I always thought there should have been. And they're all going to have a parody of the movies in them and it won't actually be funny because they're only really going through the motions of what Harvey Kurtzman did, they're just trading on a couple of his riffs but they're not actually funny people in the way that Harvey Kurtzman was. And it's like almost anything, if a good movie comes out, it dooms you. If there's a good science fiction movie, you know that for the next ten or fifteen years, science fiction's going to go right down the drain because everybody is just going to be slavishly copying this one particular movie.

Yeah, it's the kind of thing that always happens.

It is. It's just a thing where anything that's good or original, it's probably bad news. [Laughs]. It's going to doom you to ten or fifteen years of things that are neither good nor original.

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