Thanks to Noah and HU for agreeing to shill my new book, Alan Moore: Conversations, now available in paperback (and hardcover) from The University Press of Mississippi. As the name suggests, it’s an edited collection of previous Alan Moore interviews, spanning from 1981 to 2009. I tried to collect the interviews that were most enlightening in terms of Moore’s creative practices, and/or most revealing about the meaning and significance of his oeuvre. The book contains lengthy discussions of most of his major works and many of the minor ones as well. There is also an introduction be me and a chronology of Moore’s career. My goal was to make the book an indispensable one for Moore scholars, critics, and readers. You can only judge my relative success by buying a copy at retailer!
Below, I’ve included a series of quotes (one from each interview) to whet your appetite and make you ache desperately to have the book in your sweaty palms, now driven mad by the spirit of capitalism, and the wisdom of Alan Moore, who speaks at length on comics, sex, drugs, brain science and bad movies.
On the struggle of writing comics: “I find writing comics to be staggeringly easy.” (from David Lloyd’s 1981 interview in the SSI Newsletter)
On the complexity of Marvel characterization: “That’s characterization the Marvel way. They’re neurotic . They worry a lot. If they haven’t got anything wrong with them like that, something physically wrong will do— perhaps a bad leg or dodgy kidneys, or something like that. To Marvel, that’s characterization.
…[Chris Claremont’s] thing with characterization is that he makes all his X-Men foreign. One’s a Russian. One’s a German. Russian! They’re incredibly Russian. They sort of sit there and let you know how Russian they are by thinking:
“How I long for my Ukrainian homeland. How I miss my poor dead brother Thiodore.”
“How I miss the happy camaraderie of the bread queues and the surprise purges.”
(from David Roach’s 1983 interview in Hellfire fanzine)
On the social function of comics: “Comics, when I was growing up, were part of the working class tradition. Mothers gave them to their kids to pacify them. Instead of a Valium, it would be a copy of The Topper or The Beezer.” (from Guy Lawley and Steve Whitaker’s 1984 interview in Comics Interview)
On influences: “If I had to single out one major influence on my work, it would probably be [William] Burroughs. I would never attempt to duplicate his style of writing….I do admire his style, but I suppose the biggest influence is his thinking, his theoretical work, some of which has been wild and extreme, but the relationship he draws between the word and the image and the importance of both, I think, is significant. Burroughs tends to see the word and the image as the basis for our inner, and thus outer, realities. He suggests that the person who controls the word and the image controls reality.” (from Christopher Sharrett’s 1988 interview in Comics Interview)
On paranormal experiences: “I have only met about four gods…a couple of other classes of entity as well. I’m quite prepared to admit this might have been a hallucination. On most of the instances, I was on hallucinogenic drugs. That’s the logical explanation — that it was purely an hallucinatory experience. I can only talk about my subjective experience, however, and the fact that having had some experience of hallucinations over the last 25 years or so, I’d have to say that it seemed to me a different class of hallucination. It seemed to me to be outside of me. It seemed to be real. It is a terrifying experience, and a wonderful one, all at once. It is everything you’d imagine it to be. As a result of this, there is one particular entity that I feel a particular affinity with. There is [a] late Roman snake god, called Glycon. He was an invention of the False Prophet Alexander. Which is a lousy name to go into business under. He had an image problem. He could have done with a spin doctor there. “ (from Matthew de Abaitua’s 1998 interview in The Idler)
On brain science and comics: “They found that comics was far and away the best way for people to take in information and retain it. I think people would remember the picture and that would cue the words they had read going along with that picture. I think that this might be because comics engage both halves of the brain simultaneously. One half is concerned with words. One half is concerned with images. With comics, you do have single static images, single clumps of words. Maybe the two halves are engaged in a different way than they are with other art forms, and this accounts for the kind of imprinting that comics are capable of. This is only speculation. I try to keep up with science and neurology, and how the brain works, but at the end of the day, I am largely a comic writer, so you probably shouldn’t trust me to perform extensive brain surgery or anything like that.” (from the edits of Tasha Robinson’s 2001 interview in The Onion)
Looking back at Watchmen: “Watchmen was kind of clever. I was going through one of my clever periods— probably emotional insecurity. I thought: ‘People will laugh at me ‘cos I’m doing superhero comics. I’d better make ‘em really clever, then no-one will laugh’ [laughter]. So, we’ve got all this sort of thing with the metaphor of the clock face, and yes, it is a kind of clockwork-like construction— a swiss watch construction— where you can see all the works of it. Different areas where the text reflects itself, different levels— I was showing off…I kind of decided after Watchmen that there was no point ever doing anything like that ever again…” (from Daniel Whiston’s 2002 interview in Zarjaz)
On sex and censorship: “Sex—we all got here because of sex. We all do it, if we’re lucky. We’ve been doing it for millions of years. It’s perhaps time we got over it and moved on. A couple of million years, that should be time for us to have gotten over our understandable panic at the idea of sexual reproduction.” (from Jess Nevins’ 2004 interview in A Blazing World)
On the mainstream comics industry: “…I think that the comics industry, really, if it wants to attract, if it wants to be talked about as a grown-up medium, then it ought to be a medium that will attract grown-ups, in terms of [the] rights of the artist.
It ought to be a grown-up medium. It ought to grow up its business practices, rather than have them all rooted in the prohibition-era gangsterism of the 1930’s. If it really wants to be an industry that’s proud of itself, then it really shouldn’t go around alienating the talent that has actually lifted it up our of the quagmire.
That is obviously something that is not in my control. It is purely in the industry’s control. I think that having spent 25 years laboring within the comics industry, that has probably reflected better on the comics industry than it did on me. Probably the comics industry got more out of the association than I did. (from Chris Mautner’s 2006 interview in The Patriot-News [Harrisburg])
On the Watchmen film: “Sure, I’ve heard it’s great seeing Dave Gibbons’s images reproduced on the big screen. ‘They’re exactly the same as in the comics, but they’re bigger, moving, and making noise!’ Well, putting it cruelly, I guess it’s good that there’s a children’s version for those who couldn’t manage to follow a superhero comic from the 1980s.” (from Alex Musson’s 2009 interview in Mustard)