The Wizeguy: Enjoy Your Retirement

I persisted through a very long reading list of modern and classic writing as an adolescent – a list of ‘suggested reading’ provided by my school that I decided was compulsory in its entirety. I found that intelligent adolescents can read and enjoy anything in the literary canon, as can adults who’ve the wit to distinguish between all the many and various types of reading that a person can engage in according to mood, need or circumstance. If you avoid an influential genre, your understanding of modern culture will be incomplete – your loss.

I remember a copy of Watchmen being handed around my nerdy school group with a bit of awe, like sacred texts you are introducing people to. Of course it’s massively violent and very downbeat, but man…was it something with actual depth and intellectually held together. The deconstruction of the superhero myth, the anti hero Rorschach, the all powerful yet powerless Dr Manhattan, the impotent middle aged Owl, all tying in neatly with an alternative 70’s/80’s post Vietnam US is stunning, etc. Every time I re-read it I just can’t believe how good it is, I’d put it on a list of great fiction with anything else that I’ve read.

I write this because Alan Moore, has decided that he has had enough of writing comic books and will be shifting into a proper retirement. That’s a shame because Alan Moore is the finest writer to ever work in the entire medium, full stop. And its not because he didn’t have missteps or pieces that completely make me cringe and deny their existence, but because his successes have been so truly transformative as to have single-handedly changed every one’s approach to the medium. While he reinvented the genre he still loved the golden age. From Hell and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are masterpieces, Watchmen and V for Vendetta aren’t that far behind, and Swamp Thing, Supreme and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow are some of the most influential cape books of all time.

As for some of the other titles that he has worked on…

Providence is the only “comic” book that has seriously weirded me out and I’ve been reading “weird” fiction for many, MANY years. Superbly done.

Top 10. I loved that comic, I think it was the first Moore I actually read each month when it dropped. Of course it had his usual depth and nuance, and some dark stories, but it was mostly just rollicking good fun, in a sort of ’87th Precinct, only everyone has superpowers’ sort of way.

Though I did like Killing Joke myself, it is problematic, mainly for the Joker’s awful attack on Commissioner Gordon and his daughter which felt like a significant development at the time, but was nasty and exploitative at the expense of much-loved characters. Brian Bolland’s art is of course brilliant, and the final joke from the Joker is the only time he has ever been actually funny, to the best of my knowledge.

Alan Moore still knows the score – but has now taken the ball and the game elsewhere. I’m sure he will be dipping in and out of doing some sort of related project… but maybe not. Maybe he’ll get round to hexing everyone who ever adapted his work, the marvelously grumpy old warlock that he is. Problem is, when you’re a genuine creative—not someone who occasionally picks up a guitar, or writes a blog post, but someone whose life has been given to trying to get your torrent of ideas out into the world—’retiring’ isn’t always possible. Comics is just a medium for the likes of Moore. He is the very antithesis of postmodernity and sees dimensions beyond our material reality. He articulates through comics, fiction, drawing, painting and historical commentary. I mean, the ideas don’t stop. Someone like Alan Moore—and I’m sure he’d agree—doesn’t really have control over his creativity. Comic books aren’t something he does. They’re something he is. And I’m sure he’ll be back, and I’ll be thrilled when he is.


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