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Alan Moore

Celebrated British comic book, graphic novel, and novel author, most recognized as the creator of "V for Vendetta", "Watchmen", "From Hell", "Tom Strong", "Promethea", etc.

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An Amazing Graphic Novel Writer For the Most Part

  • Nov 19, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+4
I read a few graphic novels from time to time--although I enjoy a big novel much more.  I admire the artwork and the writing.  But most of all, I enjoy the storytelling aspect of it.  I discovered Alan Moore around the time V For Vendetta was hitting theaters.  The movie, I thought, was enjoyable.  One of the best movies around (and perhaps the best adaptation of Moore's work--but that's really not saying much when you think about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen).  Moore is probably best known as one of the authors of the graphic novel who really changed the scope of it.  The importance of Watchmen in particular, is one that seems to be fading over time.  As a dear friend of mine described it to me: it's a lot easier to understand the importance of it if you were actually there.  Maybe he's right.  It's always a lot easier to understand the importance or significant impact of a particular film, novel or even video game... if you were there.  We'll talk Watchmen later.  It's almost impossible to talk Alan Moore without venturing into that territory.

For the most part much of Alan Moore's work is very politically and philisophically inclined.  Alan Moore describes himself as an anarchist in almost every sense.  And sure enough, Alan Moore is a very smart man.  His works aren't just clever in terms of philosophy and politics, but also in the sense that he's able to provide satire in what he does as well.  Satire doesn't have to be funny all the time.  Indeed much of Moore's satire is not.  That's not to say he has no sense of humor.  He most certainly does.  It is only to say that in order to make his points Moore does it a bit more straightforward and thematically.

There's a method to the madness of Alan Moore.  Perhaps the biggest reason he's been able to become such a huge force in the Graphic Novel world is because he's never been afraid to write something that would challenge his readers.  It isn't about agreeing with Alan Moore or anything.  It's about the fact that the guy is very thought provoking.  As a result, of course, there are many who might say Alan Moore is borderline elitest.  And you'd be right.  He is.  But complaining about someone being "elitest" and whatnot just seems dumb.  I've never understood why people complain about elitism.  And while Alan Moore is borderline there it is mostly because he's very stubborn in his views and in some cases quite harsh about them--particularly when he speaks of others.  That can be a bit bothersome for some, but it's not really a big deal to me.  I don't care.  I do not know Alan Moore personally and judging anyone in the public eye on a personal level is fairly ignorant in and of itself, but more than that people are always assuming certain things about people without actually having any sort of personal knowledge of them.  Alan Moore is one of those guys because he's so... well... odd, for the most part.  Is he radical?  Perhaps not, but he is most certainly very firm in his beliefs.  There's nothing that pisses me off more than someone complaining about "Elitism" and then proceeding to tell us about the "elitest" being so smug and then trying to tell us everything about them and why YOU'RE so damn smart instead.... (what's ironic?  THAT'S ELITISM GUYS!).  It takes an elitest to know an elitest... but more than that... I just don't care if someone is an elitest.  I'm not going to like you more or less for being one... especially if you're in the public spotlight.  So spare me all that stuff.  If you don't like Alan Moore's views or his sort of know-it-allism... well... it does not necessarily make the works he's put out there bad.  Or even some of what he points to wrong per se.  It simply means you're taking issues with the man.  Nothing wrong with that, but once again, people use that sort of stuff as a reason not to think.  For some odd reason being smart is frowned upon.  And even in the Graphic Novel form this tends to happen.

Moore's writing style can sometimes get him into trouble.  Particularly when he thinks of himself as being more clever than he actually is.  Alan Moore is DEFINITELY a very smart man, but that doesn't mean everything he puts on a page turns to gold.  If we take a look at "The Killing Joke" for example, it's a very good story but it is a story that essentially boils down to, "The Joker's a Dick because he had a bad day."  It's a good story, but because of how much Moore has packed into such a short story the end result is something that feels a little over-the-top more so than not.  In fact, some of The Killing Joke even comes off as surreal (the title of it really should've been "F@#k My Life".)  When being absorbed into any kind of work... I don't particularly like being reminded that I am reading such a thing.  Moore doesn't just do that sort of over-the-top kind of stuff in that. Even in Watchmen--perhaps the best thing he ever produced--there are some of these surreal moments that mostly take you out of the moment rather than absorbing you in.  Sometimes even Moore's dialog can be just a little stilted.  He writes a lot of good lines, but when he writes a stinker... you know it.  You can talk all you want about how "Aweseomly smart and clever," Moore is, but in truth there's quite a bit he puts on paper that is hardly clever... sometimes it just comes off as cheesy, (that whole, "What did you expect, the comedian's dead," line in Watchmen always urks me).  If his works weren't so damn thematically, politically and philisophically intringuing I would actually be more annoyed with Alan Moore's writing than impressed.

But this is WHY Alan Moore is so impressive!  It's because he's political and philisophical.  But not in the boring manner that say... Ayn Rand is.  Alan Moore's works aren't a cure for insomnia.  In fact, if you need to be somewhere in the morning, you don't want to read Alan Moore's work because you'll be up all night.  Often times they're that good.  Alan Moore is one of the men who changed the graphic novel forever because he was willing to do such things.  For the longest time before and even after Alan Moore there was this idea (and to some extent still is) that Graphic Novels and Comic Books are for children and younger people.  Certainly if we were talking the 30's there might be some truth to that.  But Alan Moore, like so many others, understood that some things die hard.  The love of comics and graphic novels is one of them.  Alan Moore was one of the guys who brought the graphic novel into adult territory and showed that you didn't HAVE to appeal to children and teenagers.  This shows throughout many of his works--especially Watchmen.  Where not just philosophy and politics comes out but so do some of those mature themes that are meant for adults.  There are some parts of Watchmen that are grating, particularly that at some points it feels as though Moore and the artist Dave Gibbons put some of the adult content in there for the sake of letting people know it's not for kids (not half as badly as Zack Snyder did with the movie, though).  There are times when Alan Moore's longer works can be a little too lengthy.  Not just because of frames, but often because there are moments when characters go on long monologues or when Moore feels that he's got to beat you over the head with his themes.  At the very least, they're still enjoyable, but unfortunately as a result of some of the exposition some of his characters just come off as robotic and not human.  But... when working with a graphic novel you can't always rely a lot on prose.

There have been some works by Alan Moore turned into movies.  It's pretty well known, however, that Alan Moore hates movies.  In fact, when people buy the rights to his films he often gives the money to the artist who helped me rather than keeping it.  You can say that Alan Moore has principles but it's true.  The man doesn't like movies.  At one point he threatened to sue the guys behind V For Vendetta for even mentioning that he liked it.  Even more than that, Alan Moore doesn't go to see the movies based off his works either.  It isn't JUST because they're not like his creations, but primarily because he just finds the film format to be inferior to the graphic novel.  With Watchmen in particular he said he did things that could only be done with the graphic novel.  He said several times that he believed Watchmen to be "unfilmable" because of some of the things he does with it (such as Tales of the Black Freighter... a graphic novel within a graphic novel).  Needless to say, Alan Moore hated that it was made into a movie and despite positive feedback from Watchmen fans... had no desire to see it.

Alan Moore makes a lot of creations that are often politically and philisophically intriguing.  I won't pretend Moore has never written a stinker.  If he has, I haven't read it yet, I will only say that some of his works get far more credit than they actually deserve.  I talked about The Killing Joke, but I feel I have to go on with this for a second.  Not because of rabid Alan Moore fans, but because Alan Moore--like everyone else--is a human being.  Not everything he touches turns to gold.  If it weren't for the fact that he could tell good stories, much of his works might not be nearly as good.  Ayn Rand is a smart woman too.  She was a great writer who presented a lot of interesting political and philisophical ideas... but her fiction was often stilted and boring.  It made her a good though provoking writer to read, but not someone to read if you enjoy good stories.  Alan Moore WOULD fall into this... if he wasn't such a good storyteller.  If there was anything about much of his fiction that I'm no big fan of, it would be that most of his characters just aren't that likeable.  Some argue they're not supposed to be.  Okay, I can accept that... but not having likeable characters also means not exactly having a big host of memorable characters.  I'm speaking specifically of the characters Moore has created not for the characters not created by him (such as The Joker or Swamp Thing).  His characters are at least interesting... but only because almost all of them have such a fucked up past... that can be a little hard to swallow for those expecting more believable characters.  Alan Moore fans, don't hate me for saying it.  He's an incredible writer.  And we can't say they don't have development... they do.  It's only to say that Alan Moore doesn't specialize in making the most believable characters.  As I said before... some of what he gives you is so over-the-top you can't believe it.  That includes some of the backstory on some of his characters (again: Watchmen).  

Is Alan Moore an awesome writer?  Oh yes.  Most definitely.  Despite some of what I said, I've never come across a work by Moore I didn't like.  I have only come across small snippets of things in his works that continually bother me.  Not because they're bad, but because sometimes they don't always work (like I said... you DO come across Cheesy Lines that Moore seems to think are more clever than they actually are).  In spite of some of the flaws and even the over-the-top surreal nature of some of his works they're usually not bad (if you want to see over-the-top surrealism that IS bad... uh... much of Frank Miller's new stuff gets into that territory...).  I enjoy Alan Moore tremendously, but it's hard not to be bothered by some of these things.

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December 02, 2009
Crikey, how did I miss this? Nice job, though I disagree somewhat in terms of the current relevancy of his earlier works, but still a stellar job.
 
November 21, 2009
Great write up. I love Moore's work; I guess I am attracted to eccentric geniuses. Moore also created John Constantine in HELLBLAZER and wrote "FROM HELL" both were adapted into movies. He has one more under his belt but I can't remember...awesome work, bud. I'll be back to check out that Sarah Palin write up later. I think I am momentarily "Palined-out" LOL funny because Moore is a feminist...
 
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More Alan Moore reviews
review by . October 14, 2010
Alan Moore is a great writer. He's writing is in-depth. His characters are fully developed and his dialogue witty and interesting. He's revived entire companies, as well as certain titles. He's a very private man, overly protective of his work, and has some crazy beliefs. However, his writing is in a class by itself.
Quick Tip by . December 31, 2010
I adore his novels and he's clearly very talented, but my God is he a tit and a half. The rings, the anarchy bolocks, the beard. Eh
Quick Tip by . August 30, 2010
I've only read a couple of his books but they were both fun and inventive works. Could be proof that all the best geniuses are a little insane in a good way.
Quick Tip by . September 28, 2009
Easily one of the most revolutionary graphic authors ever. Moore, a self-declared anarchist, has rewritten all the rules of comic books. : )
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #5
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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