When I tell the truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those that do • William Blake
Last Thursday, the Guardian – last real newspaper on Earth – carried a story by Sian Cain revealing Alan Moore was retiring from comic books. I guess Alan was promoting his William Blake-inspired novel, Jerusalem in a unique manner.
Being a professional cynic, my initial thought was “hadn’t he done that already?” No, Alan has quite publicly left the services of various and sundry publishers – DC Comics, Marvel, IPC – because he is a man of principle, and I mean that with the highest respect. And a reading of the piece reveals he hasn’t double-locked the door behind him, telling Cain “I may do the odd little comics piece at some point in the future, (but) I am pretty much done with comics.”
That saddens me, as I’m part of the rather formidable horde of readers that feels Moore is about as good as it gets. His current work in Cinema Purgatorio, one of the most interesting anthology comics I’ve seen since the debut of 2000 A.D., meets that standard. But I totally understand his point about what superhero comics mean to him and why it’s time to move on, and it is simply the rock-solid truth:
“The superhero movies – characters that were invented by Jack Kirby in the 1960s or earlier – I have great love for those characters as they were to me when I was a 13-year-old boy. They were brilliantly designed and created characters. But they were for 50 years ago. I think this century needs, deserves, its own culture. It deserves artists that are actually going to attempt to say things that are relevant to the times we are actually living in. That’s a longwinded way of me saying I am really, really sick of Batman.”
I’d said Alan Moore is a man of principle. In some ways, his behavior reminds me of Steve Ditko, another important comics creator who stands up for his beliefs. And like Steve, this behavior has bewildered some of his fans, promoted criticism well before the Internet made that totally defatigable, and even caused people to doubt his sanity because he wouldn’t simply take the money and run. I don’t have to agree with all or even most of Moore’s views to respect his stand, and I say the same about Ditko. Hell, I’ll say the same thing about me – I change my mind from time to time. I like to think of that as keeping an open mind, but it’s also the result of a short attention span.
Nonetheless, in this time of massive political turbulence in both the United Kingdom and the United States, Alan Moore’s most important contribution to our shared culture is that he has always been the real thing. If he were running for office… well, I might move if he won, but I think he would as well. However, unlike those who actually do run for office, I’m absolutely certain I know where he stands.
Alan is a man of principle.
I welcome to see his future works that he will be doing because they are outside of his comfort zone. But as far as his comics work is concerned, well, Alan Moore, so long, and thanks for all the fish.