Maybe this has been stated before elsewhere, but it occured to me last night when I finished reading my girlfriend's copy of Alan Moore's 'V For Vendetta' that the character could have been Moore's attempt to create an "anti-Mr. A."
The letter "V" is somewhat like an upside down "A," even. The two characters appear to have opposing agendas and viewpoints and have similar-but-opposite masks/costumes.
Yíknow, V for Vendetta is one of the major works of Alan Moore
that I donít have. Iím a HUGE fan of his, but itís primarily his
superhero stuff that I like. Miracleman, Captain Britain, Watchmen,
Supreme, the ABC line, etc. Even the LXG miniseries are sort of
superhero books. Thereís this comics shop that I donít go to very
often because itís out of my way (itís the one I met Luthor at), but
they have a whole section of Alan Moore books. Thatís how I was able to
get most of his stuff. I bought the first tpb of Swamp Thing & I
liked the first few stories where he was ďdisectedĒ & then faced the
Floronic Man, but then it became more of a horror book, so I
havenít bought the rest of the trades. Promethea had to grow on me
too, since itís not really a superhero book either.
Anyway they have V For Vendetta on sale, every time I go there I
look through it, but I just havenít bought it yet, although I hear itís
very good. I also havenít bought From Hell, although I loved the
movie. I plan to go back to that store next Sunday after church, so
maybe Iíll finally get it this time.
Here's my take on Alan Moore: He's got talent, but I've yet to see him do actual superheroes . I find his writing interesting and, for the most part, an entertaining diversion from the norm (even despite his insertion of sexual perversions from time-to-time). But I don't think his deconstructive work should BE the norm... which, to many, it has indeed become.
I do believe that Tom Strong qualifies as a superhero, upon further thought. One or two of the Top Ten characters also qualify, I think. But I don't consider any of the Watchmen characters (with the possible exception of Nite Owl), V, or Promethea to be actual superheroes, for various reasons. Haven't read much else by Moore (like the much-praised "Marvelman") so I can't go any further than that.
In many ways, I think Alan Moore is the anti-Ditko.
Believe it or not, I sort of agree with you, Darin. I love Alan Mooreís
deconstructionist take on superheroes, but I donít think thatís how
ALL superheroes should be written, especially since most writers who
try to follow in his footsteps seem to miss all of the finer points that
Moore explores so brilliantly.
But more importantly, Alan Moore would agree with you. Heís said
several times that he never meant for Watchmen to become the
template for comic-book stories. He even regrets crippling Barbara
Gordon in The Killing Joke. Thatís why he started doing work
for Image back in the 90ís. I highly recommend his run on SUPREME,
because that really shows Mooreís diversity of styles IMO.
In MIRACLEMAN he completely broke down the silliness of Silver Age
comics, while in SUPREME he embraced the silliness of Silver Age
comics. All of those elements of post-crises Superman that modern-day
fans would scoff at were prominently displayed in SUPREME. The
robot-doubles, time-traveling teenagers, bottled-city of Kandor, &
super pets are all there & he makes it work. I bet youíd love it. Itís
available in 2 trades: SUPREME: THE STORY OF THE YEAR &
SUPREME: THE RETURN. I hear that the art reproduction in the
first one isnít that good, but I wouldnít know since I actually own all
of the individual issues.
He then went to work revamping Youngblood.
Again he was going for a more mainstream type of book. He stated
several times that he was looking to capture the feel of Wolfman &
Perezís New Teen Titans. 3 issues of the title were published before
Awesome comics collapsed (hey, it was a Rob Liefeld company, what
do you expect?) but he said that that experience made him realize that
it was possible to create a line of mainstream superhero titles, which
is what eventually led to the creation of the ABC line.
Oh, & if you can find his trade of CAPTAIN BRITAIN, then I
really recommend that because thatís the prefect blend of
deconstructionist & traditional storytelling that Iíve read in a
superhero book. Thatís the book that I use as the guide of how
I want to write comic-books.
I love Alan Moore, but I agree with some of the criticsm that's been leveled against him over the years.
Some say he doesn't really create original characters,
as most of his best work is simply analogues of other characters (Watchmen = Charlton, MiracleMan =
Captain Marvel, Supreme = Superman, etc). But I like that. It was fun while reading the various MiracleMan isses, I have most of them, & making the mental connection to the Marvel family. So Billy Batson is now a married middle-aged adult who can't remember his magic word. All of the Marvel family adventures were really part of a virtual reality program run by Dr. Sivana. Mary Marvel goes nuts & murders half of London (most people considered Kid MiracleMan to be a stand-in for Captain Marvel Jr, but he was really Mary if you think about it). I wouldn't have wanted to have all of this happen to the real Marvels, but it was
interesting to see how it happened with these new characters.
The Superman books have sucked for years, so why not
create a character like Tom Strong, who's based on the same archtype, & tell some good stories? And I thought his reimagining of Swamp Thing was a huge improvement over the original. But no all comic books shouldn't be written in the same style. Frank Miller has said the same thing regarding the impact of Dark Knight Returns.
That was about a Batman who had gone little nuts after being retired for 10 years, but suddenly everyone was writing the current Batman that way.
As for Alan Moore being the "Anti-Ditko" I guess that's true, especially if you're judging by political beliefs, since Moore seems to be as extremely liberal as Ditko is extremely conservative.
>>Sometimes, on my darker days, I tend to feel that most of my influence upon comics has been negative, that perhaps people who read the early Swamp Thing or Watchmen or a lot of the work that I was doing in the '80s, that what they took from it wasn't its urge to experiment or its urge to stretch the limits of the form and the medium. It seems that perhaps what a lot of them took from it was the violence, a certain kind of intellectual posture...a few other things, and it seemed to condemn comics to a lot of very depressing and grim post-Watchmen comic books. Maybe that's too bleak, like I say, it depends from day to day, it depends what sort of mood I'm in and you've caught me on a tired day today, so, I'm perhaps being a bit pessimistic there.
I mean, I'd like to think that if I've shown anything, it's that comics are the medium of almost inexhaustible possibilities, that there have been...there are great comics yet to be written. There are things to be done with this medium that have not been done, that people maybe haven't even dreamed about trying. And, if I've had any benign influence upon comics, I would hope that it would be along those lines; that anything is possible if you approach the material in the right way. You can do some extraordinary things with a mixture of words and pictures. It's just a matter of being diligent enough and perceptive enough and working hard enough, continually honing your talent until it's sharp enough to do the job that you require. I hope that if I had any sort of benign legacy at all, that that would be it, but I don't know, I think that my legacy, somedays, like I say, I think that my legacy is more likely to be a lot of humourless snarling, sarcastic psycopaths, but that's just on my black days, pay me no mind.<<
Q: The era that you mentioned that began in the mid-eighties after Watchemen and after Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns, I personally track it back to a scene in your Swamp Thing series where you presented the Justice League, Superman, Batman, and some of the other characters, as virtual gods that were looking down on humanity from their spacestation. I've really often thought that that actual scene, it was just a couple of pages, but that was where the redefinition of the characters really began, and if they...
>>You're probably right. I mean, that was the first time that I'd got my hands on any American-type superheroes, because Swamp Thing was, well, in a backwater, I suppose, surprisingly, he was kind of tucked away from the mainstream DC universe. So that issue of Swamp Thing...this was an opportunity to actually play with some of the toys that enthralled me during my childhood. I could have The Flash and Superman and all of these various people sitting around in their satellite headquarters, and the way that I decided to treat that scene was to return some of the charisma and mystery to these characters, to, suddenly, just make them a little bit unfamiliar. And this was done by a number of very simple tricks; I don't refer to any of them by their superhero names, they're mostly glimpsed in shadow, so you'll just be getting little peeps at a chest emblem here or a silhouette there. And I used a number of quite terse little poetic phrases to describe these familiar superheroes in new terms.
I talked about Superman as somebody who can see across the planet and wring diamonds from its anthrocite, which is a nicely resonant little phrase, and I talked about The Flash as somebody who moves so fast that his life was an endless gallery of statues. These are not deeply moving poetic observations, by any means, but they offer, perhaps, a new and refreshing way to see these, by then, over familiar, characters that had become too familiar, and familiarity does breed a certain contempt. If you're used to these marvelous guys, these wonderful characters, then to some degree, the wonder is muted or tarnished, so it was an attempt to kind of just give back a little bit of that back spark that first enthralled me about the characters. But, yeah...yeah, you might be right, that might be where it all started or, I don't know, probably...hadn't Frank Miller done some stuff in Daredevil with Marvel characters turning up...?<<
Q: Yeah, [but] I would say...he was working in the tradition that had already been established, though, rather than looking at the character in a way that nobody quite had before. And I would submit that if the creators that had followed both of you, in that era, had tried to emulate, as you said, your experimentalism and looking at things from a different angle rather than the shadows and the darkness, things probably would have been a little different in the years that followed.
>>I think that it certainly would have been. I think that..I mean, you know, that was always used to entrance me about Frank's work. It was...it wasn't the grimness or the grittiness, it was the mastery of the storytelling and the constant innovation that he kept up through all of those Daredevil stories and Dark Knight and all the rest. And it...yeah, I agree, I wish that people had focused upon that rather than upon things that were relatively superficial; the sex, the violence, the sort of...the intellectual posture. It was...it's not to say that everything that followed Watchmen and Dark Knight was in that particular category, I mean there was some really great works that owed nothing to either book, but, in the mainstream, I think that their legacy...yeah, it could have worked out better. Probably not my fault or Frank's fault at the end of the day, but still something to be regretted, a missed opportunity...<<