Alan Moore is retiring.
July 18, 2019 1:24 PM   Subscribe

The magic, irsascible, and deeply conflicted father of modern comics is calling it a day. His work was groundbreaking, dense, mystical, playful, and occasionally, uh, earthy.

Though he rather hated what came after, Moore changed everything when he decided, in his words, to "write as if I was trying to get sacked."
posted by lumpenprole (60 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Q: WHAT DOES ALAN MOORE GET WHEN HE RETIRES

A: A GOLD WATCH, MAN

posted by cortex at 1:30 PM on July 18, 2019 [47 favorites]


Alan Moore knows the score, or so the saying goes.

I love the hell out of Top 10 (which will probably make a very noble failure for some network one of these days) but I think my favorite run of his on anything is his Supreme. Maybe because his last issue is a great Jack Kirby tribute.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:43 PM on July 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


Does that answer all your questions, Doctor?
posted by gwint at 1:44 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


What does "retire" even mean to someone like Alan Moore? Sure, he can put down his pen and never write another comic script, but that's not retiring. It's just not writing any more comics. It's not possible to retire from being Alan Fucking Moore.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:45 PM on July 18, 2019 [25 favorites]


What does "retire" even mean to someone like Alan Moore?

Fulltime sorcery, I'm assuming.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:47 PM on July 18, 2019 [44 favorites]


I never really warmed up to Swamp Thing or Watchmen so it wasn't until Promethea, a sort of primer on ceremonial magic, that I began to pay real attention.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:52 PM on July 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


Not to be a skeptic, but he seems like the kind of guy who might have more than one retirement in him.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 1:54 PM on July 18, 2019 [21 favorites]


To paraphrase, "Nothing ends, Alan. Nothing ever ends."
posted by kimota at 1:55 PM on July 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


Ah, good.

Too bad he didn't retire a long time ago.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:59 PM on July 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


Too bad he didn't retire a long time ago.

Did Alan Moore sacrifice your dog to Glycon or something?
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:09 PM on July 18, 2019 [14 favorites]


> Not to be a skeptic, but he seems like the kind of guy who might have more than one retirement in him.

I feel like this isn't the first time he'd announced a retirement. I don't have anything to back that up though.
posted by ardgedee at 2:11 PM on July 18, 2019


He's only retiring from comics. There's still his movie The Show to come, and hopefully some more prose novels (like Jerusalem) or short stories (like Voice of the Fire) too. Maybe he'll also do some more site-specific live performances like The Highbury Working and release them as spoken-word + music CDs. Lot more to this guy than just comics, is what I'm saying.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:12 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Not 100% positive, but I think he came out of retirement to help out with a fundraiser for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:12 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


In twenty years' time, he'll release his comeback work, Go Set Some Watchmen, but everyone will hate it.
posted by Devonian at 2:13 PM on July 18, 2019 [19 favorites]


Not the first such announcement - hopefully not the last.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 2:13 PM on July 18, 2019


He's only retiring from comics.

Yeah, and even with that he's just following through with what he announced in 2016, that he would retire from comics when he finished the final volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which came to an end yesterday.

Edit: It's funny how badly the media messes this stuff up. OP's link is very unclear that this is a retirement from comics, and the link not_that_epiphanius provides from 2016 neglected to mention that that earlier retirement announcement was contingent on finishing LoEG.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:15 PM on July 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


Did Alan Moore sacrifice your dog to Glycon or something?

I dislike some of the misogynist trends in comics that he pioneered or popularized, and think that we needed new, more diverse voices in comics a long time ago.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:18 PM on July 18, 2019 [16 favorites]


You are misattributing the work of the inferior writers who tried to copy him, but could only recreate the surface elements, to him. He himself has expressed a lot of regret over that.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:21 PM on July 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'll never deny he was groundbreaking, and count many of his works as my favourite comics of all time (though the only comic I still physically own is his Future Shocks collection), but the execrable Neonomicon with its utterly amateurish artwork and pervasive aura of grossness did cause me to rethink him fairly critically.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:24 PM on July 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Neonomicon was exactly what I was going to bring up on that score before I scrolled all the way down. Also, I've long since given up on LoEG being a narrative as opposed to a series of illustrated TV Tropes pages. Doesn't make his career highs any less dizzying, though.

Also, my League trash-talk notwithstanding, this is delightful.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:29 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


You are misattributing the work of the inferior writers who tried to copy him, but could only recreate the surface elements, to him. He himself has expressed a lot of regret over that.

weeeeel he definitely wrote some pretty creepy and/or just plain not good stuff, especially later on

Swamp Thing and Watchmen alone are enough to secure his place as one of the best comic writers ever, though.
posted by atoxyl at 2:32 PM on July 18, 2019 [9 favorites]


Per the link that not_that_epiphanius posted above, also Sangermaine, this is basically the confirmation of a previous announcement; the last issue of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, his last comics project, has been published this week. And it's been a long time coming, as he's been pretty vocal about his general dissatisfaction with the industry and with DC Comics, the company that he's most associated with because of Watchmen and Swamp Thing, among other things; the company continues to profit off his work (Watchmen is still in print, a staggering feat for any comics project), but has treated Moore atrociously over the years. (There's a current limited series being published by DC, Doomsday Clock, which posits that the company's disastrous attempt at rebooting its characters and continuity yet again, New 52, was really Doctor Manhattan's fault. No, really.)

And maybe it's just as well. I haven't been happy with his work lately--the aforementioned Neonomicon and Providence, both H.P. Lovecraft-inspired works, and his turn with Garth Ennis' execrable Crossed franchise, took him off my automatic buy list, and even this latest round of LoEG has had a certain, ah, vindictive edge to it WRT superheroes--but, you know, nobody bats a thousand, and he'd still be one of the greats if he hadn't published anything for the last thirty years. (Although I'm very glad that he did, enjoying immensely most of his America's Best Comics output, especially Promethea, which the Grauniad article dismisses unfairly.) And I'd still like to see him finish The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:33 PM on July 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


Back in the dark ages ('85) while in basic, with nothing to do for a change, a buddy dragged me to the PX and it's comic rack. Most of it was superhero garbage (oh sorry, superhero TITLES), however there was an interesting looking comic called Swamp Thing. I took it back to the barracks and fell in love. It's been a very long time since I read comics with any regularity, however, I will miss Mr. Moore's writing.
posted by evilDoug at 2:43 PM on July 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm aware that I was in a thread full of dudes who probably wanted to enjoy their post-retirement hagiography in peace, but I'm going spoil the fun and suggest that maybe I'm not misattributing anything. Maybe Alan Moore's work had serious problems, and maybe, for me, the rest of it wasn't worth it.

I think that Alan Moore was brilliant, but that we also don't have a shortage of brilliant people - many of whom end up overlooked. I also question what comics would have looked like without him. Would it have been friendlier if the voices criticizing misogynist tropes in comics only had to criticize lesser artists? I don't know.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:48 PM on July 18, 2019 [34 favorites]


@ Kutsuwamushi

I look back and see problems with Moore's work, but as a young teen discovering Swamp Thing, then Watchmen, then V for Vendetta.. there is a whole place and time element and I am truly grateful for the experience I had as a young reader. I also feel my ability to look back now and see all the shortcomings speaks to the fact that I and many readers are aware of an artist's limitations.. I think Moore himself is on record numerous times expressing his discomfort with any 'legacy' in comics attributed to his work, especially in light of the last several years of Hollywood reproducing almost every worst excess in the medium to sold out audiences.

To anyone.. I am pretty sure the first Alan Moore I read was in 2000 AD, would that be correct? He did write for that in an earlier time?
posted by elkevelvet at 3:00 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Neil Gaiman's True Things About Alan Moore: 1, 2
posted by WCityMike at 3:03 PM on July 18, 2019 [13 favorites]


Sometimes I think I'm the only person in the world who read Jerusalem, but I really liked it!

Also, he wrote my favorite issue of Radioactive Man...
posted by Ragged Richard at 3:10 PM on July 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


I loved Promethea.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 3:16 PM on July 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


and his turn with Garth Ennis' execrable Crossed franchise

Even Moore couldn't save that awful, awful book
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:23 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Moore retiring from comics is nothing. He is one of the superlative artists of our era, and his work in prose, in Jerusalem, is as powerful, funny and bright as anything he's ever done. And you can tell me I'm wrong if you like, but so what? Even with the reservations I have about Moore, he has still literally transformed my reality, and has continued to grow as an artist in, to me, surprising and fascinating ways.
posted by howfar at 3:44 PM on July 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


Sometimes I think I'm the only person in the world who read Jerusalem, but I really liked it!
posted by Ragged Richard at 3:10 PM on July 18 [+] [!]

I loved Promethea.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 3:16 PM on July 18 [+] [!]


Me too (on both counts). Also From Hell and all his Lovecraft stuff. Never had much room for LOEG, mind.

Watchmen and Swamp Thing read like Moore's juvenalia compared to his most recent work (in which I also include the Highbury Working and Angel Passage CDs). The short films he's produced to help raise money for The Show are pretty good too. It really is time we all moved on from Watchmen and let that project rest in the 1980s where it belongs.

And, yes, Moore did write to for 2000AD, primarily its two-page Future Shocks stories, which is where he honed his craft. Also for a short-lived British comic called Warrior, where both Marvelman (later Miracleman) and V for Vendetta first appeared.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:55 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'll be honest, I don't think Moore brought misogyny to comics. He reflected the misogyny everywhere in the art form, and didn't do anywhere near enough, early enough, to combat it. He does bear significant responsibility for the forms that misogyny took in post-Moore comics, but that is to some extent a reflection of his astonishing impact as an artist. That doesn't absolve him: his failing is still his failing. He could and should have thought harder and worked harder and cared more, and he should have avoided falling (perhaps somewhat less often than is often suggested, in my view) into the lazy plot devices of feminine violation and peril that he satirised in stories like Halo Jones (Jones is betrayed or failed by every supposed saviour and just keeps going, relying always on herself).

But, having said that, I don't think that comics would be any less misogynist without Moore's influence. I do think they'd be, overall, less interesting.

It's also worth noting that Moore, as an astonishing egoist, has tended to claim too much responsibility for everything in comics. Moore's influence is profound, but nowhere near as profound as his self regard (or, oddly, his sense of his own ridiculousness).

I love Alan Moore. He's not perfect and I'll join in every legitimate criticism of him if it is well informed and interested, but I do get a teeny bit sick of the fact that every single Moore thread gets its own helping of "yeh Moore sucks" comments. It's kinda....boring?
posted by howfar at 4:05 PM on July 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


I guess "maybe comics would be less misogynist if they were worse" doesn't seem like a very good argument to me.
posted by howfar at 4:17 PM on July 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


He's only retiring from comics.

What took him so long? I did that when I was eleven. Sort of. Definitely of the non-Tintin and Asterix variety, and I only ever read those because my little brother left them lying around. I discovered non-kids prose fiction sometime before my twelfth birthday and there was no looking back. Who needed pictures anymore? Just keep feeding me the world in all of its richness, depth, complexity ... maturity.

Except somewhere along the line, that same little brother made a point of imposing Watchmen on me after I'd no doubt said one too many ponderous things about the superiority of my beloved sci-fi or whatever, and let's just say it shut me up. V For Vendetta came next, then a pile of Swamp Things, Big Numbers -- what did happen to Big Numbers?

Anyway, fully retired or not, I'm happy to salute Mr. Moore's contributions to the culture.

I think that Alan Moore was brilliant, but that we also don't have a shortage of brilliant people -

I think there's always a shortage of brilliant people even as there's no question that very many brilliant people never get the exposure they deserve. Call it a paradox or just an example of how desperately messed up the culture is, and thus ravenous for stuff of genuine quality. We always need more.
posted by philip-random at 4:21 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


There was a fun interview with him on Chapo Trap House that made me want to make another try at reading "Jerusalem."
posted by Arctan at 4:38 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


I have both issues of Big Numbers. My prized 'never went anywhere' comic.
posted by kokaku at 4:38 PM on July 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


I feel like this isn't the first time he'd announced a retirement.

“Going to retire? Dan, I retired thirty-five minutes ago.”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:12 PM on July 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


Promethea was a real mixed bag for me. The premise was great, the artwork was simply amazing, and it had some killer gags in it ("Weeping Gorilla" was hilarious). BUT... I think when it became basically an illustrated textbook on magick it went way off the rails. From my Goodreads review of Vol. 3:

"It really starts to fall into the morass of new age mysticism ... complete with faux-insightful comments such as, "It's like, we don't have emotions; emotions have us, you know?" That's an actual quote. Moore seems to be very impressed with himself, even having the characters compliment each other on their "deep thoughts" by saying -- and again, this is an actual quote -- "Wow, that's really deep!"
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:52 PM on July 18, 2019


(Huge fan of Promethea (!!!) and Tom Strong, Swamp Thing, Lost Girls, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and his interviews)

I'd like to defend Neonomicon. I think it is worthwhile and one of his better works. I think that the unpleasant and ugly things in it are intentional, as a deep criticism of gloomy neo-noir and of Lovecraft and that whole corpus. I don't think "knowledgeable love letter combined with deep genre upending/criticism" is a new or special format, but like, if you've read Watchmen you know what he's gonna do.

The genre elements are very rote and overdone, done to death. Neo-noir murder investigation, dead-eyed depression of a completely unoriginal psychopath undercover, a woman's sexual mania/trauma leading to occult magical power... he's got to be taking the piss. Further, everything there is to criticize about Lovecraft and his work and the excuses that the writers who followed him would make for him, are worked into Neonomicon. Rank racism, orientalism, fear of sex, sexuality being dirty and disgusting, dissociation and distance from the world of others, self-loathing, the end of the world; and on top of all that, no topic or theme treated with humor, lightness, frivolity or fun; to do Lovecraft without these is to whitewash. He's a gross, depressing person to be in the head of and it baffles me that so much has been made of his stuff. Despite all this, the use of the comic medium is beautiful in Neonomicon, and it's one of my favorite depictions of like, the madness of divine revelations, and I really enjoyed its specific occult concept of 'language for negative/missing spaces'.

I fear I sound like the guy in the comic store who is impressed by "edgy" grossness that still ends up being a waste of time, and it might be a waste of your time as well. But of all the lackluster post-Lovecraft-grifting books and media out there, this is a favorite of mine, for the accuracy its affronts to decency and the trippy concepts.
posted by panhopticon at 5:52 PM on July 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


There's a current limited series being published by DC, Doomsday Clock, which posits that the company's disastrous attempt at rebooting its characters and continuity yet again, New 52, was really Doctor Manhattan's fault. No, really.)

o.0
posted by soundguy99 at 5:58 PM on July 18, 2019


Any Swamp Thing fans who feel like seeing how Moore's work has been translated into at streaming series can join the (usually) three of us over in FanFare where we're discussing the show.
posted by sardonyx at 6:16 PM on July 18, 2019


It's actually turned into a better, soapier show than expected, based on the first episode.
posted by sardonyx at 6:16 PM on July 18, 2019


I've been buying the latest volume of LoEG and I'm not really sure why. I think I read a bit of Century but it didn't really stick. The latest issue being Moore's last increases the likelihood of it selling out at my local comic shop which I'm kind of ambivalent about because I don't really care for the characters or their world anymore so it doesn't really matter what happens.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:21 PM on July 18, 2019


He could and should have thought harder and worked harder and cared more, and he should have avoided falling (perhaps somewhat less often than is often suggested, in my view) into the lazy plot devices of feminine violation and peril that he satirised in stories like Halo Jones (Jones is betrayed or failed by every supposed saviour and just keeps going, relying always on herself).


That's assuming that he wasn't actively promoting and supporting the misogyny in comics. Whereas the strong evidence is that he was massively sexist in a 1970s neon hippy style. Look at all his comics where women are sexually assaulted, have assault framed in sexual imagery, or are otherwise abused. Look at Watchman, where the only lead woman has no initiative in the story other than to have sex with the real hero. Look at Promethia where the heroine can't progress until she has sex with and is lecturered at by an Alan Moore stand in.

Look at FUCKING LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN where rape and child molestation is played for laughs.

I'm going to repeat that again for the people in the back row. Moore wrote a scene of rape and child molestation, FOR LAUGHS.

Sorry. There is no way to defend this guy's attitude. But, I know, there's people who are going to try. Right now they are lifting their finger and saying "But-". Just stop. Go look yourself in the mirror and consider exactly what you're doing. What scene you're defending.


But, having said that, I don't think that comics would be any less misogynist without Moore's influence. I do think they'd be, overall, less interesting.

Yeah, yeah, I hear that shit all the time.

"But, having said that, I don't think that standup comedy would be any less misogynist without Louis CK's influence. I do think it'd be, overall, less interesting."

"But, having said that, I don't think that rock music would be any less misogynist without Lennon's influence. I do think it'd be, overall, less interesting."

"But, having said that, I don't think that science fiction would be any less misogynist without Isaac Asimov's influence. I do think it'd be, overall, less interesting."

Why do people always always ALWAYS have to make excuses for the shitty attitudes of creative men? Its like a modicum of success and good PR meanthey get a free pass on shitty attitudes and behavior.
posted by happyroach at 10:15 PM on July 18, 2019 [15 favorites]


Even if you do have the powers of prognostication you claim, I'm not sure it's fair to use them to counter points that no-one has made yet.

I vote all members of metafilter with psychic foresight of what other members are going to say should refrain from using that power when commenting.
posted by howfar at 11:30 PM on July 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


I have both issues of Big Numbers.

And now you can have issue 3 too (kinda).
posted by Paul Slade at 1:58 AM on July 19, 2019


My favourite Alan Moore career achievement: Making Batman kill the Joker.
posted by PenDevil at 5:45 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


Most of Moore's work falls into that whole 1970s through 1990s spectrum of "transgressivism and irony = a license to retain misogyny, sexual exploitation, and racism." Let's not forget stuff like Evelyn Cream or the superintelligent, sexually active toddler character in Marvelman/Miracleman, or the overbearing whiteness of Watchmen and its stereotypically gendered lesbian couple, for example. As late as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you have crap like Moore's use of Golliwog caricature and his rationalizations for why his version isn't racist.

But it's not like we weren't warned. As Moore told his annotator, Jess Nevins, back when the very first LoEG volume came out: "[P]eople could accuse me of wallowing in those elements under the guise of postmodernism and they’d probably be right."

This is the "transgressive irony" defense essentially refuting itself, and it does Moore no credit that he recognized the problem and went full steam ahead anyway.

As we're seeing with lots of other creators and creations from that period, a lack of diversity on the creative side shut out meaningful criticism of some indefensible ideas and both enabled and empowered horrifying abuses. (It's painful to read Moore and others bigging up the likes of Julius Schwartz once you know that he was a serial harrasser and abuser.)

Interestingly, and maybe accidentally, Moore's other "let's do pulp adventure for the people of today" series, Tom Strong, has some possible bright spots. Dhalua and Tesla Strong come across well, and the narrative as a whole can be read as gradually decentering Tom Strong. in the early stories, he gets to save the day, but the later ones have Dhalua and Tesla understanding things and accomplishing things while Tom's views look increasingly blinkered.

But it's still got major problems, partaking in pulp exoticism. There's a story, one of the very last by Moore in that run, that seems like it's going to complete the criticism of Tom's "white male genius" thin, showing a biracial counterpart -- Tom Stone -- and confronting Tom himself with the degree to which he has followed in his cold, manipulative father's footsteps and neglected empathy. But in the end, Tom's rigid "rationality" works out, and Tome Stone's timeline falls to ruin amid sexual jealousy and super-feuding precisely because he cannot control his desires. Moore is ultimately more interested in reestablishing the traditional white male protagonist -- Tom Strong, Alan Quatermain, and so forth -- than he is in identifying a new model.

The act of questioning the implicit biases and problems becomes a justification for hanging on to the problematic elements, interrogating these models and assumptions in order to justify ultimately carrying on with them anyway. Raising questions just so that you can give yourself credit for raising them is the failure state of poststructuralist critique, and it's generally where Moore's work ends up.

Moore's work did open up comics in a variety of ways, and did interesting things with the medium. But the tools he popularized have to be critiqued, and can do better and greater things in the hands of more thoughtful creators with a broader range of experiences and voices.

More generally, the Romantic myth of genius always needs to be punctured, and Moore can be questioned most when he applies it to himself while claiming to deconstruct it through his characters.
posted by kewb at 6:04 AM on July 19, 2019 [14 favorites]


Thank you, kewb. That's a fantastic comment.
posted by howfar at 6:07 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


tl;dr: A lot of the problem with Moore's work is that the end goal is to find ways to keep on doing the same thing as always, which means that his work raises questions without ultimately applying the answers. He doesn't criticize the stuff he grew up with in order to discover something new, but rather so that he can figure out how to keep it all around anyway.
posted by kewb at 6:08 AM on July 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


I guess "maybe comics would be less misogynist if they were worse" doesn't seem like a very good argument to me.

This is a terrible misreading of my argument.

I have seen discussions of misogyny in comics play out again and again. Alan Moore comes up in a lot of them.

Time and time again, I've seen Alan Moore's "genius" used as a defense against criticisms of his misogyny - and more broadly, against criticisms of the misogynist tropes his work. He's not a figure of mockery, like Rob Liefeld. I have no doubt that comics would be misogynist without him, but for better or worse he had a huge influence: He set the tone for what kind of stories were taken seriously, and made criticism of those stories much harder because of his status.

So yes, I do wonder whether without him comics would have been more welcoming to people put off by the "edgy" sexualized violence of Alan Moore. I do wonder whether we would have made more progress if Alan Moore's work hadn't legitimized these tropes in the minds of his fans. It's art!!!

I do not think that comics would have been "worse", because I think there are comic artists out there with as much talent and as much uniqueness as he has, and in a different world maybe we would know some more of them.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:44 AM on July 19, 2019 [7 favorites]


But, having said that, I don't think that comics would be any less misogynist without Moore's influence. I do think they'd be, overall, less interesting.

The thing that get's me is the arrogance that any woman, or black person, or lesbian, trans person, whatever minority we're ignoring at the time, could never have completed what $Straight_White_Man could have done.

Sure. moore did cool things. So do thousands of other people who respect women and don't laugh at rape.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:09 AM on July 19, 2019 [4 favorites]


"But, having said that, I don't think that standup comedy would be any less misogynist without Louis CK's influence. I do think it'd be, overall, less interesting."

Louis CK admitted to sexual harassment, Alan Moore just wrote something you disliked.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:00 PM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


It's not about liking or disliking, There are lots of comics I dislike. These day, pretty much anything by Tom King is at the top of that list because he's a terrible writer who seems to hate words.

It's about being felt like you're being driven away from a medium you love. It's about ripping apart major icons of representation. It's about giving women a message that this is no place for them.

I'm not saying there can never be stories with rape or with women being killed. That happens in real life and it's nothing that can or should be avoided in comic books.

There was however, a veneration of a type of violence depicted against women and a degrading of women's roles in comic books that started in this era where Alan Moore (and others) were being hailed as the new gods, and Alan Moore was one of the men who launched this movement with The Killing Joke.

I've written before about how much I hated that book as a young, female comic reader at the time. If that had been my introduction to the comics world, it would have driven me away from the medium. I was fortunate enough that there were other writers and other titles that I could enjoy.

I don't mean to dismiss Moore entirely. I was a Swamp Thing reader when he was on the book, but after the Killing Joke, I don't think I ever picked up another title with his name on it. (Or if I did, nothing is coming to mind.) Maybe that makes me one of these fake geek girls who only pretend to be comics fans because I didn't read some of the classics of the genre. That's fine. I can live with that. I don't need some geeky male comics fans judging me for what I have or I haven't read.

As I comics reader, I tried not to judge books based on whether they were books girls should like or if they were more boys' books. I tried to judge them based on their merits and my interests, but man oh man, there are some titles and some writers and some artists that are actively hostile to female readers. They seem to palpitate with hatred towards women and even if men can't see it, it's something that comes across loud and clear to female readers.
posted by sardonyx at 1:09 PM on July 19, 2019 [7 favorites]


I'll take Grant Morrison's The Invisibles over Promethea any day, if we are talking about mystical comics. Not that it's perfect, but it's better.
posted by gryftir at 3:06 PM on July 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


Moore is brilliant in many ways, but he has a weird fixation on rape. It's like the first tool in his toolkit whenever he has a female character. Besides the examples mentioned, there's From Hell (it's about a rapist), League (Mina in the 20th century parts; plus there's a brutal homosexual rape), Lost Girls (read the Wikipedia entry and just count the rapes in this "benign pornography"), Killing Joke (Barbara Gordon, implied), Watchmen (Sally Jupiter). It's threatened in the first chapters of V for Vendetta and Promethea. And that's just ones I've read.

The thing is, once you notice the pattern, it's impossible to unsee. I think kewb's mention of 70s-to-90s "transgressivism" is right on; Moore helped invent grimdark partly as an attempt to deconstruct superhero comics, but mostly just succeeded in making them even more violent, especially when other writers imitated him. (He's smart enough to realize that Rorschach's ideology is fascist, but can't help making him into a sympathetic antihero.)

FWIW, if you're sick of grimdark, the Moores that are still readable are, I think, Top 10 and Promethea. (The latter if you can stand his lectures on magic. At least he knows it's weird and does his best to make it entertaining.)
posted by zompist at 7:10 PM on July 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


Halo Jones
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:32 PM on July 20, 2019


Of course Promethia requires the heroine, in order to gain mystic knowledge, have sex with a thinly disguised expy of the author. So well...

I think that with time there will be an opportunity to reevaluate the actual value of Moore's work and legacy, outside of "He was really popular with the fanboys". I think its worth questioning Moore's actual creative impact, especially from a feminist and multicultural perspective (Term paper: evaluate Moore's Miracleman as a defense of colonialism). And as a practical matter, if I was talking to someone just starting out in comics, I would not recommend Moore to her; not when there's Ursula Vernon's Digger, Kurt Busiek's Astro City, Stevenson's Nimona and Brian K. Vaughan's Saga. If I were to do a historical review her, I'd be much more inclined to look at the massively influential Sandman, Elfquest (first integration of manga styles- though Wendy Pini herself is problematic) Mage the Hero Discovered, and Grimjack. And maybe in passing mention the incredibly popular Moore, who had some really creepy and regressive attitudes toward women in his comics.

I mean sure Moore is popular- now. But then so was Bulwar-Litton in his time. So time will tell for a more complete evaluation.
posted by happyroach at 3:11 PM on July 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Raising questions just so that you can give yourself credit for raising them is the failure state of poststructuralist postmodernist critique
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:17 PM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


At least he's not as bad as Frank Miller.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:19 PM on August 3, 2019


« Older A sarcastic quip that probably seemed absurd at...   |   You wanna go for a swim? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments