Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series)


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Today the latter statement appears honestly questionable, for Harveys book does not take into consideration a wide array of comics published in the eighties and the nineties and not only at the hands of Moore : many of them meet the requirement that narrative text, spoken words, and pictures. A further step toward the conception of the graphic novel as it is now meant is represented by Roger Sabin, who, in his essay Adult Comics, claims that its existence is an unquestionable fact. He classies three types of graphic novel depending on productive and publishing modalities, but all three share being equipped with a coherent, organic narrative motif.

When a graphic novel comes out as a single bookand is thus produced more or less in the same way as traditional prose novelsit belongs to the rst type see Sabin is right in distinguishing this category, but we must add that this kind of publication is something of a rarity: creating a novel-length comic book is a very long process, and sending it into stores without serializing it beforehand puts considerable nancial pressure on both publishers and authors.

Serialization, on the contrary, is safer for publishers and allows authors to be paid as they go. Going back to Sabin, the second and third type of graphic novel he identies are both published in serial form. Type two is the graphic novel that is distributed in installments and only later collected into a book edition as happened with nineteenth-century novels , but that is structured as a self-contained narrative from the very start; a contemporary example could be Canadian artist Chester Browns comic strip biography of Mtis leader Louis Riel, serialized by Drawn and Quarterly between and , and published as a book in the latter year.

Type three is actually the most problematic kind of. From the point of view of narrative structure, it could be compared to a soap opera, in that the episodes it collects are part of a longer and potentially everlasting series. But despite coming from a long, as yet unnished sequence, this kind of graphic novel is organic enough to amount to a self-standing narrative entity.


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On one hand, works belonging to this type seem to erase the boundary between series and novel, thus threatening to invalidate the previous denitions. On the other, this distinction is acceptable when we think of examples such as Moore and ONeills The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which will be dealt with in the following chapters ; this work has been collected in two independent book editions, even though they are part of a series that Moore himself describes as potentially endless see Khoury, Extraordinary Beyond classication and controversy, the most important notion for the purposes of this book is that the graphic novel is a narrative where word and image are bound in indissoluble cooperation hence the term graphic and where the nal result is longer than usual,.

Thematic unity is a crucial element, the importance of which has often been played down in the course of the debate. What makes the difference between a graphic novel and a comic book is less the length of the work for how many pages really make it possible to say that a book is a novel? The graphic novel is a composite, well-organized structure whose construction implies careful textual design on the part of the author s.

This basic element makes the difference from the pure iteration of the adventures of one or more characters. Rob Vollmar and Paul Gravett have satisfactorily highlighted this aspect by stating that the graphic novel must be written with the larger structure of the work in mind and allowed for the length of the segments to be dictated by the story instead of by serial format demands Vollmar, Discovering Part 3 , and that it must tell a solid, self-sufcient tale Gravett 9.

However, the most exhaustive recent considerations about the topic were provided by Charles Hatelds book Alternative Comics In his stimulating study, this American scholar underscores aspects that had been neglected or too hastily dealt with in previous examinations. He claims that, despite its ambiguities, the graphic novel has established a solid position within the market that it would be inappropriate to ignorebut also that one must be careful when using the term, because it unfortunately tends to hide the complexity.

As noted above, the graphic novels Sabin includes in the rst typethe ones directly published as book editionare the exception to the rule. Most graphic novels get into the stores as a series of episodes because it is the only way to make them nancially sustainable, both for the publisher and for the author s. This risks hindering the progress of comics that are meant to work as a big, single story, because both narrative rhythm and the readers expectations can be damaged by fragmentation into installments. However, serialization can affect the graphic novel in several interesting ways: it inspires authors to painstaking care of structure via thematic repetition; allows them to get reader feedback; and most of all, if the creators have control of the narrative, they can use serialization to emphasize features of plot and structure, thus making the reading experience more powerful for examples and further analysis of these aspects, see Hateld, Alternative, especially Provided we remember that not all authors are capable of reaching the latter effect, and that most comic books represent self-contained cases due to the inherent exibility of the medium, I agree with Hateld in believing that the term graphic novel is acceptable as long as we carefully contextualize it: we need to know where these works come from, and what conditions enable and constrain their production.

We also need to know what readerly habits and expectations shape their reception Having said that, why does it make sense to refer to certain works by Alan Moore as graphic novels? The preceding overview has shed light on the fact that the graphic novel has made a name for itself both in the market and in the eld of criticism. Therefore, my current use of the term does not come from a longing for status or legitimization. The point is simply that the comics by Moore this book deals with which shortly will be introduced match the characteristics of thematic unity, large structure, and cohesiveness mentioned above.

Most of them also feature novel-like length, such as the massive narratives of texts like From Hell or Promethea. On top of that, Moore long ago decided not to draw his comics, but to devote himself to meticulously writing and planning his works, producing impressive amounts of pages of descriptions and suggestions for the artists with whom he collaborates an aspect that will be touched on in chapter 1.

Indeed, he denes himself as primarily a writer Khoury, Extraordinary , and he is very much a literary writer who often refers to, and plays with, the tradition of prose literature, as will be shown throughout the following chapters by explaining his use of intertextuality see ch. These elements, and his recent choice to devote more of his time to prose than to comics scripting, conrm that the connection with traditional novel writing is more evident in Moores production than in many other comics creators work. In his case, the expression graphic novel is appropriate because it conveys the balance between the weight of the literary tradition and the equally important visual aspect of his works.

For all his appreciation of literature, we will see that Moore makes it very clear that the medium of comics has unique qualities, and that making the most of those qualitiesthe interaction of word and imageis what has interested him throughout the greatest part of his career. Yet, the title of this book does not call Alan Moore a graphic novelist.

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Common Read Program 2015: March: Graphic Novels

Doing so would actually be limiting and therefore inadequate. Instead, the title refers to Moores comics as performance. Not all of Moores works are graphic novels: he also created strips like his early Maxwell the Magic Cat , cartoons, serializations, and single comic books. He wrote poetry and prose.

He acted in performances and recorded CDs. He is denitely more than just a graphic novelist. For this reason, the best term I could come up with to describe him and again I have to say thanks to Jeet Heer for suggesting it is a performing writer. We will see that there is more to the adjective performing than just the denotation of a writer who is also active as a theatrical performer.

But I am jumping to my conclusion. Let us briey outline the chapters of this book. Chapter 1 considers Moores aesthetics of comics by examining his manifesto On Writing for Comics, and by reecting on his peculiar approach to scripting and to relating with the artists he chooses as co-creators for his works. Again the concept of the graphic novel will be explored, with special reference to the authors awareness of his own literary inuences and approach to writing, and to his simultaneous belief in the unique value that characterizes the blending of the verbal and the visual in comics.

The chapter then studies the authors strongly intertextual narrative strategy, which allows him to playfully manipulate both the literary tradition and the tradition of comics, and to metactionally call into question the validity of his own narrative, thus constantly endowing it with multiple layers of reading and possibilities of interpretation, which are always emphasized by the polysemic complexity of the interaction between word and image.

We will focus on literary intertextuality and on the rewriting of genres and narrative formulas, drawing examples from V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell, and a brief look at the controversial Lost. Girls, published in after sixteen years of work with Melinda Gebbie and further examined in chapter 4. We then highlight the intertextual manipulation of the comics tradition by focusing, as a case study, on the hackneyed but nonetheless unavoidable topic of superhero comics and their revisiting, mainly dealing with Miracleman and with milestones Swamp Thing and Watchmen.

The following chapter is devoted to an examination of Moores narrative structures, drawing on the Bakhtinian notion of the chronotope to study the way he experiments with time and space in a medium where these two elements are one and the same, as noted by Scott McCloud Understanding We start by studying the relation between spacealso intended as outer space and time in The Ballad of Halo Jones, one of Moores most critically neglected works.

Structural and thematic features of the work will be considered, paying particular attention to its use of science-ction conventions; the representation of the psychology of the protagonist both as a woman and as a sci- character; and the way the narrative is organized with a circular structure on both visual and verbal planes. The space of the city and its expansion into historical and mystical time will be considered as lying at the core of From Hell. The movements of Dr.

Gull through London, accompanied by the characters mystical insights, offer Moore and Campbell the possibility masterfully to play with the representation of space and time through verbal and visual interaction. Moreover, the somber portrayal of Victorian London that emerges from the contrast between the depiction of the afuent West End and the poverty-stricken scenery of the East End calls attention to the novels teeming narrative universe, whose dense network of characters is not unlike the one created by Charles Dickens in his novel Our Mutual Friend.

Finally, we will consider how the strong metactional slant of From Hell in particular as regards the second appendix to the novel opens the Ripper mythology out to innite possibilities of ctionalization and interpretation by simultaneously keeping it isolated in the impenetrable circle of an irretrievable and perhaps nonexistent historical truth.

Finally, chapter 2 focuses on Promethea, a revolutionary work in which Moore explodes the very notion of chronotope by undoing space and time in favor of an absolute space-time of the imagination, where narrative becomes a site for reecting on the process of artistic creation. The idea of circularity is here maintained and yet simultaneously disrupted in favor of the concept of a uid, harmonious space-time where metactional reection once again is called for, and where imagination and artistic creation become apparent as mankinds most powerful resourcewith comics being the most innovative result, provided they are ready to undergo radical change.

Such a stance claries that Moores narrative, despite being overtly metactional, resists withdrawal into itself and opens out onto precise historical, social, and cultural issues. Chapter 3 moves from concerns of narrative structure and organization to more tangible facts by explicitly stressing the connection between Moores works and their historical, cultural, and political context.

We focus on the authors attitude toward English identity, and the crisis it has undergone in the twentieth century, by examining his stand on issues such as imperial legacyespecially in its ethnic and gender implicationswith particular reference to the characters from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

The most signicant character in the novel seems to be Mina Murray, one based on a revisiting of her Dracula namesake and revealing of the attention Moore pays to female characters, as already seen in the depiction of the prostitutes in From Hell, of Halo Jones, and of the revised superheroine Promethea. Margaret Thatchers politics, in which gender trouble was also ingrained, are an essential feature of twentieth-century English identity whose consequences on Moores narrative will also be considered.

We take examples from V for Vendetta and from the long poem The Mirror of Love, where the issue of gender is more specically explored with reference to Thatchers repressive, homophobic politics. Another important aspect of the Thatcher years, social decay, is then scrutinized as it appears in the committed commentary provided by such works as Skizz, and by the two existing episodes of the unnished but still valuable graphic novel Big Numbers.

Both works focus on issues of unemployment and the lack of welfare funds that characterized England in the s. Our considerations then move to the strong sense of place that again emerges from Big Numbers and from Voice of the Fire, Moores only prose novel so far. By drawing a parallel with Raymond Williamss People of the Black Mountains, we reect on the importance of Williams, a key gure for English culture, in the development of Moores vision.

While each of the above-mentioned chapters covers three or more of Moores works on the basis of a common topic, chapter 4 is dedicated to a single graphic. Lost Girls deserves separate treatment for at least two reasons: rst, because it was only released in , sixteen years after its rst page was created, and thus we are still in the process of absorbing it in order to locate its place in Moores output; and second, because it differs considerably from the authors previous worksor better, because it shares many topics and stylistic features with but diverges from them in that it is not entirely successful.

After reviewing the considerable controversies generated by the problematic genre the novel belongs topornographywe examine Lost Girls in terms of both style and content to nd out which elements work and which do not. Intertextuality is analyzed by exploring the thick fabric of verbal and visual quotations woven by the authors and made particularly sophisticated by Gebbies drawings, which are replete with allusions and pastiches that recall other artists work.

The subsequent section of the chapter involves the way space and time are manipulated, arguing that Moore and Gebbie create a chronotope of sex that, while functional to their discourse on the nature of imagination, fails to adequately prop the story and thus partially collapses. Lastly, we consider the political aspects of Lost Girls; the authors discourse on gender; the portrayal of sexuality; and the subversive potential of pornography. Drawing inspiration from a parallel reading of two works by Angela CarterThe Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman and The Sadeian Womanwe argue that, even though it is awed in narrative and crushed by excessive formalism, Lost Girls is successful at least in its attempt to become an arena for discussion on the representation and problematic social perception of sex.

Finally, we draw conclusions from our journey into Moores production by identifying him, as anticipated above, as a truly performing writer, with special reference to his performances and to the deep-rooted theatrical quality of his writing. The sum of the characteristics of Moores work as they are outlined in this study ultimately place him in a specic context he shares with certain twentieth-century British authors, with particular emphasis on the connection between his work and books by the likes of Angela Carter, Iain Sinclair, and Peter Ackroyd.

Nevertheless, what makes Moores production unique is the way he uses the comics medium. I hope my book can prove to be an admittedly partial answer to the need for inquiry into the wide realm of Alan Moores art, and perhaps become a. For the sake of convenience, in this book I usually refer to Moores works in their collected editions save exceptions like Big Numbers, which only came out in two issues. When pagination is present, it is sometimes consecutive, and sometimes not, for in many cases it starts all over again at each chapter. Whenever books are not paginated, I have tried to obviate the difculty by personally counting the pages and allocating them hypothetical consecutive numbers.

Original ellipses from quoted material are represented by unspaced dots [ This chapter examines some of Moores works in terms of form and structure, aspects of his aesthetics that are crucial to the extent that, in the opinions of a few critics, they turn into an obsession in his latest enterprise Lost Girls only hinted at here but better explored later in this book.

Most of Moores comics start from an intertextual assumption: a quotation, or an allusion to an existing character, a distinctive genre, or a particular work. They are built on a proper web of references that are not only mentioned or suggested but challenged and recontextualized in order to convey new meanings.

Thus transcended, intertextuality is stripped of the status of mere formal device to become a proper narrative motif. These pages are devoted to the study of the various ways in which the author practices intertextuality, indeed one of his key strategies. But in order to proceed with this analysis, we need to begin with Moores own elaboration of the basic concepts of the aesthetics of comics. Moore rst preferred to skirt the problematic issue of use of the term graphic novel and kept his distance from the debate by simply asserting, together with other fellow artists and writers, that the graphic novel is actually nothing new but that the term works very well from the commercial point of view: [graphic novel] is just a handy, convenient marketing term that can be used to sell an awful lot of the same old crap to a big new audience Groth, Big Words Pt 1 More recently, the author declared that a possibly better term could be graphic story Kavanagh , even though he ultimately seems to have accepted the usage.

I think that the whole of comics could be moving into some new territory, which would hopefully throw off a lot of the dross of comics origin Amacker, Opening the Black Dossier Part 2. However, Moores earlier refusal to recognize the graphic novel as a selfstanding literary category contrasted with his short programmatic essay On Writing for Comics.

This treatise was featured in Fantasy Advertiser between August and February , published again in the Comics Journal in , and reprinted as a revised edition in a booklet released in Although presented as a quick reference manual for young comics scriptwriters and not as a proper piece of criticism, the essay nevertheless allows us not only to understand the authors aesthetical orientation but also to appreciate his deep connection with prose.

As the concluding part of this book will show, this link has recently become more overt and has been put into practice in the novel Voice of the Fire , the work-in-progress Jerusalem, and the future project Grimorium see Santala ; but its role in Moores artistic production has been prominent from the start. In On Writing for Comics the author highlights his belief in the unique expressive skills of comics to construct far-reaching, innovative ctions, but the comparison he chooses when appraising narrative density and originality is the complexity of prose. Moore draws inspiration from the tradition of the novel, in order to revisit it and to convert its most interesting peculiarities into visual communication.

Despite his admiration for some of his predecessors in comics, Moore asserts that most of his artistic and cultural points of reference come from the tradition of English and American prose. This stance was already apparent in an interview he gave in , two years before publishing the rst version of the booklet: I suppose one major point is that in writing comics I dont really absorb too much inuence from the comics that I read unless its something inexpressibly brilliant.

Mostly Id say that my inuence comes from novels that I read or the occasional lm that I see. If anything, Id say that what Id like to do as a writer is to try and translate some of the intellect and sensibilities that I nd in books into something that will work on a comics page Burbey, Alan Moore Moore mentions a wide array of texts and authors, both classic and contemporary, as his favorites, and the multiple intertextual refer-. His interests span from antiquity to Jacobean theater, from experimental to formulaic and genre ction; he pronounces his enthusiasm for Norse sagas, Arthurian legends and the story of Robin Hood, Shakespeare, fantasies by Mervyn Peake, science ction, ghost and horror stories from M.

James to H. According to Moore, being a strong reader is essential for the process of cross-fertilization see 68 that lies at the core of a good writers activity. In this perspective, the notion of relevance grows to be essential for Moore: It becomes more of a problem to create work with any relevance in the rapidly altering world in which the industry and the readers that support it actually exist. By relevance. I mean stories that actually have some sort of meaning in relation to the world about us, stories that reect the nature and the texture of life in the closing years of the twentieth century Moore, Writing 2.

If the script has no relevance to the current cultural context of the society where it is produced, there is no way to make the comic book more interesting or effective, no matter how sophisticated its visual qualities can be; but one of the basic tools for the writer to attain current relevance is actually turning to the past for knowledge and inspirationhence the importance of tradition.

Moores view is not dissimilar from the theories presented by T. Eliot in Tradition and the Individual Talent. In this essay, Eliot explained that focusing on the present implies being aware of the tradition of the past; therefore, the artist must be endowed with a sharp historical sense, which compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a. This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal together, is.

Moores perspective is evidently closeif not indebtedto Eliots, except that, as his work shows, our author clearly conceives of tradition as something that includes not only prose and poetry but also music, cinema, and of course comics also see Baker Moore refers less to the literary tradition in a canonical sense than to culture, seen as both literature and other manifestations.

He is more likely to see culture as a total way of life, in tune with the views offered by Raymond Williams, who was active as a cultural and social commentator in Britain from the sixties onward and who exerted a remarkable inuence on Moores own critical consciousness, as this book will discuss later. He claims that the written word is the primary vehicle for the ideas that underpin comics narratives, and that it clearly comes before the pictures. Therefore, awareness of the practice of writing is the most important element the comics author must accomplish: the way we think about the act of writing will inevitably shape the works we produce Moore, Writing 2.

Moores interest in the practice of writing arose in his early childhood reading see Campbell, Alan Moore 3 and gradually evolved into a consistent aesthetical project. It is signicant that, right after his rst experiences as a comic book artist, Moore decided to stop drawing in order fully to devote himself to scripting; the crucial signicance of the written word was thus made clear at the very start of his career.

Fascination with the power of words became a stronger inuence on Moores work as the years passed, culminating in his decision to dedicate a substantial part of his time to studying occultism and magic. From the early nineties onward, these elements have wielded signicant inuence on his production and experimentation, both in comics especially Promethea, and in prose Voice of the Fire, Moores reection on the supremacy of language as the primary instance of representationwhich eventually led to the multimedia performances that are briey dealt with in the concluding pages of this bookresults in his view of the word as the rst step in all creative and cognitive acts.

Yet, if words are the starting point of creation, our author does not deny the irrepressibly visual nature of comics. On the contrary, he states that what interests him most is exactly the specicity of the medium, whose unique characteristic is that of using an underlanguage Sharrett 13 ,. His production certainly owes much of its appeal and effectiveness to this awareness, and to his consequent careful balancing of the constituents of the medium.

Written words surely constitute the basis of the narrative, but as Moore works towards achieving the underlanguage of comics, those words are made anomalous, hybrid, somehow already graphic. It must be said that the very term underlanguage may actually prove debatable, for the prex under- could imply that the language of comics is secondary, or inferior, to conventional language.

However, considering Moores discussion of the potentialities of comics in his essay, it is unlikely that he had such a theory in mind. He probably used underlanguage for lack of a better term. His scripts bear no trace of any sense of inferiority toward language as it is more commonly meant; they are massive outpourings of words whose purpose, as we will see, is to become the primary channel for visualization. Moores activity as a scriptwriteras opposed to writer-and-artistis not an isolated example, for there are several approaches to the creation of comics.

Some writers provide their artists with a schematic, boiled-down script; others prepare a more accurate version, complete with sketches or thumbnails for the artist to begin drawing while the writer renes the text. Another possibility is the so-called Marvel style, where the illustrator provides the scriptwriter with a rough framework for the narrative and the text is written in a later phase Bissette ; for the characteristics of Marvel publications, also see Daniels.

An interesting example of hybrid scripting is provided by the Sandman series consisting of seventy-ve episodes published between and , now collected in ten volumes by English author Neil Gaiman, who hired several different artists when creating its episodes. He developed a peculiar synergy with illustrator Dave McKean, who also joined him on later projects. Gaiman asserted that the comic books emerged from his long conversations with the artist, which were later transcribed in some strange bastard form that only myself and McKean could understand a word of.

The script would be completely meaningless to anyone else Wiater and Bissette The tools that enable us to speculate about his creative process are the many interviews he and his collaborators have given and the three books where his scripts were ofcially published: the above-mentioned From Hell: The Compleat Scripts and the so-called absolute editions of the two League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels and This often happened through direct contact or through correspondence, the latter especially in the eighties, when our author began publishing his books in the United States usually without leaving his home in Northampton, England see Thompson He still resides in Northampton, and when this phase does not take place through personal contact he usually relies on extensive phone calls or his fax machine.

The preliminary outline of the work is sketched, followed by proper elaboration of the script, which Moore usually writes in detail, including a wide range of precise indications for the artist. Such instructions are sent out as the scripting proceeds implying a rapid working process, considering the pressing timetables of serialization , often with Moore directly addressing his collaborator. The script for the rst volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen begins with Moore speaking to Kevin ONeill in the same lighthearted, mock-Victorian tone that characterizes the narration: Page 1, Panel 1.

Right, Kevin, here we go. Starch your collar and tighten your corset. We have a six-panel page to open with Moore, League I: Absolute 5. Unlike Gaimans scripts, which are conceived as a private communication between him and the artist that might be incomprehensible to an external reader, Moores texts are hyperdescriptive and already visual due to their richness of detail. The volume that collects the scripts for the prologue and rst three chapters of From Hell is more than pages long, while the sixteen chapters of the graphic novel amount to about pages: on this basis, we can presume that the whole script could cover about 1, pages.

The Watchmen script, too, was very long and dense; Dave Gibbons recalls receiving a page fascicle just for the rst chapter, which would come out as an installment of about thirty pages. As a consequence, he had to number each sheet and highlight Moores several sets of indications in different colors, in order to work with such an imposing amount of information see Stewart, Pebbles Moores scripts do not provide artists only with the words they should set into the balloons and with the necessary technical suggestions about perspective and angles, or about the positions of objects and characters in each panel.

The author also enters historical notes, commentaries, and descriptions of the possible sounds and smells one might have found on the scene. He voices his characters thoughts even when they are not meant to appear in writing on the page. He describes what nuances colors might have, even if the work is to be printed. In short, he lls the script with all the details that, though unwritten and undrawn in the nal version, are necessary for the artist to fully understand the atmosphere that is to characterize the comic book.

Moore abandoned this custom to turn to the thumbnails method in the creation of Lost Girls, which took place over several years spent in close contact with co-creator Melinda Gebbie. The resulting work diverges considerably from his previous output, but for reasons that cannot be put down only to the scripting process. This issue is investigated in chapter 4. His scripts, then, appear almost as separate works and can be viewed not only as preliminary versions but as autonomous, parallel texts to the comic books.

As Rich Kreiner wrote in his review of From Hell: The Compleat Scripts: Theres an inextinguishable, headlong precision, an apologetic pan sensual pungency utilized to establish mood, action, and motivation. No visual artist could possibly reect constructions like these in their totality or their subtlety. As conceived, these scripts require the delicate facial expressiveness, the richness, clarity, and control of Vermeer but not his spartan composition , the careful design and balanced draftsmanship of Mondrian but not his chilly choice of abstraction over representation , the facility for detail of Bosch but not his quirky, narrow emotional pitch , and the visceral wallop of Francis Bacon sans his overt amboyance.

Beyond what the comic accomplishes, the scripts, in giving us what Moore specically wrote, offer an irreplaceable and invaluable testimony not just to what was said but what was meant. It would be legitimate to infer from such commentary that, given the size and scope of Moores scripts, the visual artists participation in the creation of the work is reduced to the minimum.

However, Kreiner underlines that the bulk of Moores From Hell scripts does not lessen Eddie Campbells contribution to the nal result. Campbell helped Moore structure the work and carried out geographical and historical research about Victorian London; most of all, he painstakingly selected and assessed the most useful indications in the script and transposed them onto the page, trying to meet the authors requests but nonetheless managing to preserve the distinctive qualities of his own style.

Apart from the example of From Hell, Moore himself has always insisted on the collaborative nature of the creation of comics, a process based on a meeting of minds and meeting of sensibilities Wiater and Bissette , which he considers one of the features that made him focus his attention on the comics medium.

The author describes his approach to scripting as indissolubly connected to the characteristics of the artists he works with, who inspire and shape his writing from the outset also see Khoury, Extraordinary and The aim of his scripts is less to impose his narrative vision by force than to give those who provide the illustrations a series of possible hints, which they are free not to follow if they do not deem them proper: I make suggestions as to the camera angles, the lighting, the background, the mood, sometimes the colour, the posture, and the body language.

I try to put everything in there. But I make sure that the artists know that if theyve got a better idea, theyre free to use it. After all, theyve got better visual imaginations than me. I provide them with a springboard, so if theyre facing a blank sheet of paper. I put a real burden on them. But now Ive learned to gear my stories to an individual artists strong points.

Id like to make one thing very clear. I cant claim to be an individual artist in my own right. The end result, the strip you see on the page, is the meeting between me and the artist. Thats where the creation is.


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  6. I dont consider my stories more important than the art. Its got to be equal. Lawley and Whitaker Notwithstanding the nature of the scripts that, as noted above, might suggest a nearly full predominance of Moores part in the construction of the work, evidence provided by his own words, and especially by those of his collaborators, lays emphasis on the process of cross-fertilization see again Wiater and Bissette between the imagination of the writer and that of the artist. At the end of such a process, it is not always possible to establish who the authorship of certain ideas belongs to; the creation of a comic book thus exists as an organic, almost alchemical act, which is in itself hybrid and not entirely denable.

    These forms of expression share some features with comics and often offer fascinating terms of comparison, curious tips, or useful technical vocabulary. Nevertheless, the qualities that make comics unique, and that come in fact from their hybrid condition, are far worthier of notice: What it comes down to in.

    So a lot of effects are possible which simply cannot be achieved anywhere else. You control the words and the picturesand more importantlyyou control the interplay between those two elements. Theres a sort of under-language at work here, that is neither the visuals nor the verbals, but a unique effect caused by a combination of the two Wiater and Bissette This combination of words and pictures allows for an innitely exible relationship between them to be established, according to the way they are used; it enhances the restless, polysemiotic character of the medium Hateld, Alternative XIV.

    For example, the author might take advantage of the possibility to manipulate the time of narrative by peculiarly orienting the readers attention on the page, or he might play with the juxtaposition of seemingly unconnected words and pictures, whose association will only become clear in the following pages. The page can thus be loaded with nearly subliminal details that become appreciable only after reading the comic several times see Moore, Writing Moore conates the hybrid language of comics with the novelistic patterns he draws inspiration from, and it is from the same models that he picks up the idea of constructing extended narratives: his works tend to feature complex, overarching structures that survive the fragmentation into single episodes made necessary by serialization and that, as chapter 2 will show, are usually characterized by recurring circularity.

    The narratives resulting from this process are far from the formulas and oversimplications comics were sometimes subjected to in the past see But let us now examine the textual strategy Moore most often makes use of: the re-elaboration of genres, especially through the composition of a thick web of intertextual references that underlie his ctions.

    The presence of intertextuality in Moores workbe it in the form of quotation, allusion, parody, or, as happens most often, the revisiting of well-known works or patternsis pervasive and results in an incessant, vigorous re-elaboration of textual practices. Intertextuality permeates Moores oeuvre in all its facets and covers not only the domain of literature but cinema, music, popular culture,. The considerations offered in this section and in the following one deal with the references to the literary and to the comics tradition, as they are the two prevailing intertextual strands in the writers dense narrative universe.

    However, even limiting the eld of analysis to these two categories, it is impossible for this book to offer an exhaustive inventory of the connections the author creates. Complete sets of annotations to references do exist such as Madelyn Boudreauxs online notes to V for Vendetta, or Jess Nevinss two books about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, plus other annotations one can easily nd by searching the Web , and they represent excellent companions to Moores work.

    I will only offer a few signicant examples in order to show how the considerable use of quotations or allusions, and above all the superimposition and combination of them, can constitute an effective strategy leading to both narrative resignication and formal experimentation. The rst instance I examine is that of V for Vendetta, which is further analyzed in chapter 3. Moore created it in collaboration with David Lloyd and published it between and ; it then came out as a book edition in Together with Marvelman later renamed Miracleman, which will be briey considered in the following section , V constitutes Moores rst attempt in the eld of the graphic novel.

    It is a dystopian ction set in a hypothetical , a time when the U. The setting is made more alienating by the fact that, in contrast with the external appearance of the city which is marred by the invasive presence of governmental mass control machinery , the indoor environments and atmospheres of this ctional future are rather oldfashioned, for they were made to recall the look of pulp magazines from the s see Moore, Behind the Painted Smile Besides this, the protagonist, an anarchist terrorist simply called V who is busy contrasting the fascists through a series of attacks, wears a mask that resembles the distinctively English face of Guy Fawkes and starts his offensive against the established authorities exactly on November 5, the day when Fawkes tried to put the Gunpowder Plot into practice in Moreover, as Carter Scholz effectively remarks, V speaks in blank verse see especially 61 , just like the personae from the Jacobean revenge plays the novel hints at through the leitmotiv of vengeance and through his disguise: Still, all in love and war is fair, they say, this being both, and turn-abouts fair play.

    Though I must bear a cuckolds horns, theyre not a crown that I shall bear. You see, my rival, though inclined to roam, possessed at home a wife that he adores. Hell rue his promiscuity, the rogue who stole my only love, when hes informed how many years it is since I bedded his Moore and Lloyd Vs language is interspersed with literary references that appear directly in verbal form, or both verbally and visually. A demonstration of the rst instance is the considerable presence of Shakespearean quotations, the use of which can give rise to different interpretations, as always happens in intertextual practice; extrapolating sentences from their earlier context in order to graft them into a new one makes them resonate with new, different meanings while retaining the halo of what they were originally meant to convey.

    The most remarkable example stands out in the initial pages of the novel, on the occasion of Vs rst appearance: young Evey, a destitute sixteen-year-old, decides to turn to prostitution for a living, but unfortunately approaches a plainclothes policeman as her rst customer. The man attacks her and threatens to arrest her; he then changes his mind and summons his brutal colleagues, who seem about to gang-rape the poor girl. The situation reverses as V appears all of a sudden and rushes to her aid. Before dazing the policemen with tear gas, he recites a passage from Macbeth, Act I, scene 2.

    The most direct message of the words V pronounces while carrying out Eveys rescue is to make his heroic stature clear: heedless of danger like Macbeth, he attacks the villains and saves the girl. But the quotation also suggests other things: in the repressive, dystopian world of V for Vendettawhich the author overtly denes as a representation of the possible consequences of Thatcherist ideology on England an aspect dealt with in detail in chapter 3 the great Shakespearean tradition has been erased, and the bards voice can be heard only through the hero, who has preserved its memory.

    The result of this removal is that the literary tradition cannot be understood. The insensitive agents of the Finger such is the name of the state police in V, where the totalitarian government is spoken of as a huge, all-con-. Second policeman: I dunno. Must be some kinda retard got out of a hospital Moore and Lloyd It is impossible not to perceive a touch of ironyif not outright parodyin the choice of this quotation. The language of Shakespeare, here, is ultimately only good for a madmans mouth, and Macbeth, with its allusions to the motif of insanity, is the ideal source for shaping the protagonist of V, for lunacy is indeed brought into play.

    Despite Vs undeniable charm, his idealism often appears to border on madness, as shown in another episode of Shakespearean memory: before committing another terrorist attack, he has a conversation with the statue of Justice by providing both the questions and the answers. When the bizarre dialogue ends, V hands the statue a heart-shaped box while declaring he has repudiated Justice to turn to a new lover called Anarchy.

    Again, Shakespeares words are separated from their original dramatic context and resonate with Vs distorted, paranoid view, where beauty comes to reside in destruction. In his reworking, Moore also seems to be suggesting a parody of the immoderate use that contemporary culture sometimes makes of Shakespeare by arbitrarily reshaping his language, and by reutilizing it almost as if it were a plain repository of catchphrases good for talking big in a variety show.

    V himself is aware of this, and therefore he explains to Evey: Ha ha ha ha! Melodrama, Evey! Isnt it strange how life turns into melodrama? Thats very important, to you, isnt it? All that theatrical stuff. Its everything, Evey. The perfect entrance, the grand illusion. Its everything Theyve forgotten the drama of it all, you see.

    Art of the graphic novel

    They abandoned their scripts when the world withered in the glare of the nuclear footlights. Im going to remind them. About melodrama. About the tuppenny rush and the penny dreadful. You see, Evey, all the worlds a stage. And everything else The whole world is a stage, then, or even better, the world is a huge vaudeville show: V pronounces.

    The emphasis in V for Vendetta on the theatrical aspects of existence, together with Shakespearean quotations and the topic of comedy and show, curiously anticipates the theme that English writer Angela Carter would develop in her last novel, Wise Children Her twin protagonists Dora and Nora Chance, two vaudeville actresses and dancers, tell the stories of their adventurous lives, which are spangled with quotations, manipulations, and above all distortions of Shakespeares words see Webb V for Vendetta and Wise Children are very different in tone, but this common motif calls important attention to Moores connection with Carters poetics, which must be kept in mind; besides acknowledging her as one of his literary points of reference, Moore shares some of her views in terms of both critical stance and thematic choices.

    The points of contact between these two artists emerge on several occasions that will be dealt with in the course of this book. Apart from Shakespeare, V overows with other quotations, also in visual form; an example is the protagonists hiding place, which is crammed with books, playbill posters, and recordsall of which have been strictly forbidden by the regime. Alan Moore and Kevin ONeill. Much in the same way, the walls are covered in posters from movies such as The Son of Frankenstein, Murders in the Rue Morgue featuring Bela Lugosi, and White Heat featuring James Cagney, which can be seen as alluding to Vs vicissitudes as they include monsters and outsiders, gangsters and murderers see g.

    Last but not least, Vs gure hints at several comic-book characters, too. For example, he shares many of his attributes with superheroes: he wears a mask, moves at an almost unbelievable speed, and chooses as a sidekick a young helper he instructs as his possible successor. In the latter case Moore revises the tradition, because Vs sidekick is Evey, a young woman and not a male adolescent an idea that Frank Miller would also later utilize in creating a female Robin in his version of Batman , and because her process of education is not made explicit till the end: only after Vs death does she understand her role.

    The mixture of literary, cultural, and comic book references that underlie Vs character. Thomas Disch. Judge Dredd. Harlan Ellisons Repent, Harlequin! Catman and Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World by the same author. Vincent Prices Dr. Phibes and Theatre of Blood. David Bowie. The Shadow. Fahrenheit The writings of the New Worlds school of science ction. Max Ernsts painting Europe after the Rains.

    Thomas Pynchon. The atmosphere of British Second World War lms. The Prisoner. Robin Hood. Dick Turpin. Moore, Behind the Painted Smile The allusions and quotations are open for the readers detectionbut the amount is overwhelming, and their nature is re-elaborated and reshufed to such an extent that an estranging, almost whirling effect of polysemy is guaranteed. The story of the Gentlemen was serialized and later collected in two separate volumes, which resume and develop the adventures of the same characters but which constitute separate narrative entities.

    The same will happen for their follow-ups, of which there are at least two: The Black Dossier, released in , and The League vol. III, which at the time of writing of this book is still due for publication. In the Gentlemen stories the intertextual process becomes even more overt and pervasive than in V for Vendetta. The difference between the two consists not only of a larger amount of quotations in The League, but most of all in their more markedly ludic quality. This feature is also mirrored by the lighthearted, sometimes parodistic tone of the narration and, in visual terms, by the deliberately caricatural nature of the characters looks see g.

    Intertextual practice here is so enveloping that Moore himself has dened the adventures of the Gentlemen as a literary connect-the-dots puzzle Khoury, Extraordinary The target of the authors textual manipulation, this time, is especially the Victorian literary imagination. The characters are a group of famous protagonists from the tradition of late-nineteenth-century romance: Mina Murray.

    Wellss The Invisible Man ; and last but not least, R. Stevensons Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, , who of course turns into Mr. Hyde at the right moment. The colorful group of personages is summoned by Queen Victoria in order to ght the perils that threaten the nation and the empire: the evil Fu Manchu in volume I and the Martian tripods rst created by Wells in volume II again, I recommend Nevins, Heroes and Blazing, for a full account of literary references. The two novels unleash a barrage of direct and indirect quotations, both verbal and visual, touching both highbrow literature and popular genres and crossing over the borders of the English tradition.

    In these works Moore mixes and parodies adventure novels,. Moreover, the two collected editions of the League are equipped with appendixes. The rst volume offers the fake reprint of a Victorian magazine called The Boys First-Rate Library of Tales, including the short prose story Allan and the Sundered Veil see Moore and ONeill, League I , which features Allan Quatermain as its protagonist and is enriched by some extra pages with games and puzzles for young boys. The second volume is accompanied by parodies of Victorian advertisements see g.

    It is interesting to consider the response that the success of the two Gentlemen graphic novels triggered in the world of comics fandom. Thanks to the abovementioned Jess Nevins, a webpage listing the intertextual references of the novels was created while they were being serialized.

    The page was open to anyone who wanted to add extra information to what Nevins had already published. This operation resulted in the publication of two sizeable companions to the novels, Heroes and Monsters and A Blazing World The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a signicant piece of work that conrms Moores use of literature as an inexhaustible repository of stories.

    Alan Moore & Frank Miller- Making Comics WITHOUT Fear

    As the author pronounces in an interview, Weve certainly got stories that could take the League up to the 30th century and beyond, because the thing about literature and the world of literature is that it extends in the future as well as the past Khoury, Extraordinary The Victorian imagination plays a leading role in another work by Moore, even though its narrative modalities are quite different from those of the League.

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    Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series) Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series)
    Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series) Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series)
    Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series) Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series)
    Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series) Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series)
    Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series) Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series)
    Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series) Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series)
    Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series) Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series)
    Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series) Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series)
    Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series) Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel (Great Comics Artists Series)

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