Creator / Alan Moore

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Alan_Moore.jpg
Not actually Rasputin... far harder to kill.

"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky."
Alan Moore

Novelist, artist, occultist, performing artist, film-maker, musician, and public intellectual, Alan Moore (born November 18, 1953 in Northampton, England) is perhaps, the most widely recognised (and Crazy Awesome) Comic Book writer of all time, and one of the most influential artists from The '80s, whose work has decisively influenced artists from multiple mediums for nearly three decades.

He got his start writing and drawing cartoon strips for magazines such as Doctor Who Magazine and The NME. He moved on to get regular work at Marvel UK, where he wrote the Captain Britain comic, 2000 AD, as well as a series of essays on the comics medium in The Daredevils (one of which was a critique of Stan Lee in a Marvel branded 'zine) where he wrote a series of acclaimed stories, including D.R. & Quinch and The Ballad of Halo Jones. This period included V for Vendetta, about an anarchist planning to take down a fascist UK Government, and Miracleman, a reinvention of a 1950s British superhero. The latter attracted attention from DC, which led to the start of the period of his biggest influence (even if it would ultimately turn out to be among the briefest).

Moore was encouraged by DC Comics editor Len Wein to start work on Swamp Thing, Wein's classic horror comic. Much as he did for Captain Britain and Miracleman, Moore proposed a radical revision that changed the comic from the ground-up, and leading the story into a Genre Shift that gradually deepened the character and his setting. Moore took the Swamp Thing through a number of unusual adventures, that involved many run-ins with the regular DC Universe, which also saw the introduction of characters, such as John Constantine, who have since gone on to become major icons. Swamp Thing proved to be a massive success, and Moore was gradually encouraged by the editors, to take on other projects: including landmark stories for Superman (Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? and his first collaboration with Dave Gibbons — For the Man Who Has Everything), Green Lantern ("Mogo Doesn't Socialize", with Dave Gibbons and "Tygers", his first collaboration with Kevin O'Neill) and Batman (The Killing Joke). Yet the best was still to come.

Moore had a huge knowledge of comics history and a canny instinct for re-configuring and resurrecting forgotten and little known or weakly selling titles. He had planned to do a story about superheroes that involved a murder mystery around one of their numbers, with his initial concept involving the MLJ run published by Archie Comics which he had assumed, wrongly, that DC had rights to. What DC did have was rights to the properties of Charlton Comics and Moore made his pitch using them, but his publishers, while impressed by the pitch, pointed out that Moore's premise would render a number of the characters unusable by the end of the story and so invited him to create an entirely new series. So Watchmen was born, with Moore using characters who can be recognized as Alternate Company Equivalent of the Charlton characters, but who gradually differed sharply from their inspiration and from most superhero comics of their time. Collaborating with Dave Gibbons, the comic was sophisticated on a level that mainstream comics had not known at the time, having a character and plot that rivaled the most highbrow books (and continues to rival the best that many writers can come up with), Watchmen proved to be a massive sensation, and with Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is credited with launching The Dark Age of Comic Books, and starting a new market for graphic novels, along with other comics such as Art Spiegelman's Maus and Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez's Love and Rockets.Ironically, the popularity of Watchmen was the first nail in the coffin for Moore's relationship with DC. The contract that he and artist David Gibbons had signed promised them that full rights to the comic would be returned to them if the book fell out of print for more than two years. At this point in time, paperback collections of comic books were virtually unheard of and the idea that Watchmen would remain in print that long was absurd. However, the book's popularity has kept it in print from 1987 through the present day, and neither Moore nor Gibbons ever received the rights. Moore's relationship with Marvel Comics was also strained, mainly for what he perceived as its Network Decay and drop in quality, and the lawsuit pushed by the company to rebrand Marvelman into Miracleman even if the former existed before Timely renamed itself as Marvel.

In either case, Moore began his career in independent comics and was happy about working in creator-owned independent titles again. Other notable works include Brought To Light, a history of the CIAnote ; A Small Killing, the story of a graphic designer who finds himself stalked by a strange little boy, the abandoned Big Numbers (which fell apart with only the first issue published), and a graphic novel collaboration with Eddie Campbell (From Hell) that would take years to finish but which he properly began work on in the late '80s. He also began work on Lost Girls, a piece of highbrow erotica (though he insists it be called porn), his first collaboration with artist Melinda Gebbie (who he later married). Moore cut himself off DC and Marvel, but in the '90s, he was willing to work-for-hire on a number of titles for mainstream-but-alternative companies such as Wild Storm Comics and Image Comics. For Image, Moore worked on a number of titles but found most success with Supreme, a Homage to Silver-Age Superman via Alternate Company Equivalent that surprised readers for its change in tone from his dark work of the '80s, as well as 1963, a parody and Reconstruction of the Silver Age Marvel era.

Through Wildstorm, he published his own imprint, America's Best Comics (ABC), which included Promethea, a 32-issue treatise on magic (Moore has been a practicing magus since his 40th birthday); Top 10, a pastiche of Police Procedural TV series set in a superhero-populated city; and Tom Strong, a call back to a more innocent era of comic writing. The best-known ABC comic, and the only major title that Moore has continued to serially publish for three-decades (the longest he has worked on any series) is The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, co-created with Kevin O'Neill. During his run on the League, Wildstorm was bought out by DC Comics, and while Moore was initially still willing to work with the Wildstorm imprint so long as he didn't have to work on any DC titles, shenanigans over the publication of The Black Dossier, led Moore to leave America's Best Comics for good, with the later volumes being published by Top Shelf (currently owned by IDW Publishing). DC and Warner Bros. own the rights and story for the first two parts of the League, but not the later parts. Since then, Moore has contributed regularly for Avatar Press, including a trilogy on H.P. Lovecraft, one of his favorite writers.

Moore has also become known in the '90s-onwards as a performing artist in a variety of mediums. One of his performing art pieces, "The Birth Caul" was later adapted by Eddie Campbell as a graphic novel. He has also written works of fiction, such as Voices in the Fire, and in October 2016, he released his second novel, the 1,300-page Jerusalem. He has also collaborated on a number of films with Mitch Jenkins, a series of shorts that form the anthology Show Pieces. As a writer for comics, Moore is known for his famously dense and detailed scripts, packed with detail that describes the comic panels and everything that happens inside it. Apparently, his amazing talent comes from Satan. Not by selling his soul for it, mind you, but because he used to beat Satan up for his lunch money until the Devil bribed Moore with genius to leave him alone. Additionally, Death is afraid of him. He is known, with a particularly vivid description of From Hell, to have driven Neil "Scary Trousers" Gaiman to leave a restaurant to go outside and get some fresh air so he wouldn't vomit. Twice. Gaiman also wrote this short comic about him, which pretty much sums up how many people view him.

Did we mention he's also a polyamorous, vegetarian anarchist and an accomplished ceremonial magician. Sometimes goes by the name of Translucia Baboon to warn us all about ducks. Is the quintessential modern Mad Artist.
Selected Bibliography:

Common Themes and Elements:

  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Such characters abound in many of his works, notable instances include Miracleman (of Superman and Captain Marvel), and Supreme (of Silver Age Superman), Watchmen also began as one to MLJ and Charlton Comics but gradually became its own thing.
  • Appeal to Audacity: Whether done deliberately by Moore is open to debate, this is one of the cornerstones of his works by his fans.
  • Arc Welding: A big believer in this. When revising characters like Swamp Thing and Miracleman he took pains to make sure the earlier stories were referred to and fitted in the overall fabric while allowing him room to write freely. He believes that fans of earlier stories would otherwise feel that the stories they followed had no value. For an extreme example, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen does this for all of recorded literature and popular culture throughout the ages.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: Vary from work to work but more than one fan can describe him like this.
    • Magic, especially as a supernatural expression of information.
    • Anarchy as a positive force. He's actually quite proud of the Guy Fawkes mask becoming a symbol.
    • Wordplay (and imageplay).
    • Synchronicity.
    • Making heavy use of the Match Cut technique to present a united narrative.
    • The effect of the presence of superheroes or the supernatural on "real world" culture and society. This involves averting Reed Richards Is Useless and Cut Lex Luthor a Check - the latter of which Moore's Swamp Thing run is the Trope Namer for.
    • Reinvention of existing characters.
    • Mixing fiction and historical fact.
    • Drugs are great! His works often feature characters using hallucinogens to positive effect, such as Ozymandias in Watchmen and the cop in V for Vendetta. Also, when Miracleman changes the world, he legalizes all drugs.
    • Experimentation with form: symmetrical and chiastic story structures (e.g. the pirate comics in Watchmen), playing with the chronological order of events (the fourth chapter of Watchmen, which jumps back and forth between the past, present, and future), as well as layouts enabling dialogue to be read in different orders (e.g. the Mobius strip segment in Promethea).
    • Lots of sex. Lost Girls and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier stand out.
    • He also has a thing for Rape as Drama. However, it is almost always done tactfully (unless you're reading Neonomicon).
  • Black Comedy and Kafka Komedy: A lot of his work from his early days at 2000 AD is overflowing with this (especially DR & Quinch and his collection of Tharg's Future Shocks). These themes remain in his later works, but they are not nearly as prevalent as they are in some of his oldest stories.
  • Briefer Than They Think: Alan Moore's most well known and influential work came in The '80s for DC Comics, where he worked on Swamp Thing, Watchmen, The Killing Joke as well as a few Superman stories. This was a five year period, a small part of his career, (even smaller when you consider that it takes far less time to write scripts for comics than it is for the artist to draw them). This is one reason why Moore tends to be cranky about people asking questions about his DC era, because from his perspective, the greater part of his career was spent for alternative and independent publications, self-published ventures and other multi-media projects (performance, film, novels) and his time with mainstream comics was an exception and not a rule.
  • Darker and Edgier: Along with Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Moore's earlier works - notably The Killing Joke and Watchmen - have been credited with leading the trend. Note that his works, while often dark, are almost always idealistic, and his later works were often lighter (while always retaining an edge). He also very much regrets his role in driving the industry to such a dark place.
  • Deconstruction: Especially in the form of Deconstruction Crossover.
    • Moore probably codified the latter trope with his graphic novel series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
    • From Hell was an ambitious work which deconstructed Victorian London and human sexuality on the whole, in addition to the pop culture mythology of Jack the Ripper.
  • Deconstructive Parody: Some of his works fall into this. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen taking on such pop culture sacred cows as James Bond and Harry Potter, painting them in a decidedly less attractive light and playing up their darkest aspects as well as making them hilariously incompetent.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Apocalypse is a major theme in many of Moore's stories. His stories, especially as they reach the climax, often have characters and event cause a major event that either erases the status-quo, or ensure that Nothing Is the Same Anymore or likewise inaugurate the Dawn of an Era, examples include but are not limited to: Miracleman, Watchmen, Promethea, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Providence.
  • Humans Are Flawed / Crapsack World: Every major character in his stories will always be guaranteed to have some kind of obvious flaw or otherwise unlikable trait, a variant of Humans Are Bastards and Humans Are Morons perhaps being the two most common (but certainly not the only ones), while the city/world/universe his stories take place in are very grim and despairing places; no one ever really has much hope for anything in Moore's stories, let alone hope for their own personal ambitions or goals in the story (even if the story concludes with a genuinely happy ending).
    • Earn Your Happy Ending: A more common refrain in his works, is that humanity can endure whatever tragedies and world-historical social changes that technology and new social values will create, with the breakdown of the old order giving momentum for radical change. However, this is still carefully qualified and not entirely definite.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Chapter titles in his individual works occasionally follow a common theme. For example, V for Vendetta and words that begin with the letter V, Watchmen and its Literary Allusion Titles, DR & Quinch and titling each separate story "DR & Quinch _______" and so forth..
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • When discussing his feelings towards Before Watchmen and why it was different from his own adaptations of pre-existing characters like Swamp Thing, Miracleman, League of Extraordinary Gentleman Moore feels that in the case of League, there is a great deal of difference between adapting works by pre-existing authors and outright stealing them which is what he does. He notes that his later works merely take existing characters into entirely new contexts and situations outside their original stories and are not continuations or add-ons to a work belonging to the author under the same title.
      • In the case of his adaptations, Moore stated that he had permissions and support from the original creators note , and tried as much as possible to respect their vision even Arc Welding their stories into his new vision. In the case of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? giving Superman a Fully Absorbed Finale by collaboration with the original Superman team, and he actually okayed his famous Swamp Thing retcon with Swampie's creator Len Wein before he wrote it.
    • Lost Girls: He's insistent that it's not art, it's porn, pointing out that the only real difference between "porn" and "erotica" is the class and income level of the consumer. As he put it, his dad could only afford porn, but he can just about afford erotica.
  • Large Ham: His interviews in documentaries and his Kickstarter pledge complete with a really bad wig.
  • Man of the City: How he feels towards his hometown Northampton. He is actively involved in all kinds of local issues there and his later works, especially his literary fiction, map out the history of Northampton and its importance.
  • Muggle Power : In his introduction to the special edition of Watchmen and in later interviews he noted that his interest gradually shifted from explorations of superheroes towards this. He stated that the development of technology effectively gave normal people some of the abilities and capacities that we ascribe to superheroes. This led to Top Ten a city where everyone has powers and nobody's special.
    " 'Look, we are all crappy superheroes,' because personal computers and mobile phone devices are things that only Batman and Mr Fantastic would have owned back in the sixties. We've all got this immense power and we're still sat at home watching pornography and buying scratch cards. We're rubbish, even though we are as gods.
  • No Endor Holocaust: V for Vendetta, which postulates what was known at the time as a "limited exchange" nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, with England being affected but not devastatingly so. Moore noted in the collection that years later he found out that a "limited exchange" was impossible, and that as a U.S. ally, England would have been wiped off the map as well.
  • Orphaned Series: A number of Moore works were never completed due to publishers failing, or Moore falling out with his publishers or collaborators. The most notorious example is Big Numbers, a hugely-ambitious literary graphic novel that only made it to two of the proposed twelve serial installments because Moore's self-publishing venture failed and two successive artists suffered Creator Breakdown. Others include The Ballad of Halo Jones (which did reach a fairly satisfying ending point, but was intended to be three times as long), 1963, and Supreme (which was revived much later with other writers continuing on from Moore's final issue).
  • Reconstruction, especially considering how some of his more famous deconstructive works ushered in The Dark Age. His works such as 1963, his runs on Supreme and Youngblood as well as Tom Strong are clear examples.
    • Lost Girls was an attempt at reconstructing pornography, treating it as a valid form for exploring sexuality and trying to correct some of the stigma associated with it.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Moore can be on both sides at the same time. His works generally lean towards the Enlightenment, believing that Rousseau Was Right (that no human being is inherently evil), Humans Are Special and that the future can be made brighter and more equal for everyone. That said, he's also quite romantic about older forms of culture and regrets the rise of modern consumerism alienating people and the constant Lost in Imitation of contemporary life. His League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is all about this divide. Likewise in Watchmen, Adrian Veidt and Dr. Manhattan are representative of an Enlightenment view and Rorscharch, Nite Owl and Laurie are more romantic, while The Comedian is a nihilist. Neither view is more privileged or outweights the other, rather everyone is flawed in all kinds of minute ways.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Surprisingly so.
  • Scenery Gorn: Many of his comics shift tones and styles but several of them end in outbursts of really shocking violence on a grand scale. Miracleman, Watchmen, Crossed +100, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are famous examples.
  • Signature Style:
    • Taking an established comic and its conventions, exploring some of the implications and inconsistencies of its World Building and then submitting it to a Genre Deconstruction that takes the story in a new direction. Miracleman, Swamp Thing, Supreme and Crossed +100 to name a few.
    • Extensively detailed backgrounds, use of flashbacks to provide backstory, as well as text-only appendix and post-scripts that provide additional World Building. Also issues which commit Genre Adultery and move towards an Out-of-Genre Experience such as Walt Kelly's Pogo making an appearance in Swamp Thing. Likewise there is a lot of metafictional commentary, such as Crossed +100 a post-apocalyptic story about post-apocalyptic fiction.
    • Reality Has No Subtitles: Downright merciless whenever foreign languages (from other countries or other planets) comes up. The man went and invented a whole language for Rann when it popped up for a two-issue arc in Swamp Thing. Taken Up to Eleven in Crossed +100, which has a variant of English which, while technically not a new language, has so many new slang terms (due to language shift over time) that it can be extremely difficult to understand the characters, and no subtitles or translations are ever provided - the reader has to puzzle out what words have come to mean from the context they are used in.
  • Self-Deprecation: Completely willing to make a few jokes at his own expense.
    • From Hell has Abberline sardonically predict that 100 years from now people will still be writing stories on the Whitechapel murders and adding "some supernatural twaddle."
    • Supreme features Billy Friday, a British writer who writes extremely dark superhero stories, kills all the supporting casts and bring in real-world events.
    • Watchmen has Max Shea, who had a lauded run on a horror comic, but was notorious for including sexual elements and incredibly dense scripts.
    • His "biography" on the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century collection portrays him as a mentally-ill figure of folklore who mainly goes around calling children and their interests stupid so he can feed off their tears.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Alan Moore has been called "The Cynical Optimist"
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Sometimes literally. His works mix and match low culture and high culture with incredible aplomb. He's as deeply influenced by the likes of James Joyce, Bertolt Brecht and Thomas Pynchon as he is by Jack Kirby and pulp fiction. He grew up as a working class autodidact and absorbed information all throughout his life and is nearly a Renaissance Man in his wide knowledge of physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, history, art and all kinds of minutiae that he peppers his works with. He generally believes that writers should avoid Small Reference Pools and incorporate ideas from different mediums and fields of interest.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: His 16,000 word letter to an interview response in 2014 earned instant notoriety for its command of language and command of vitriol, filled as it is with Take That! to the comics industry, select interviewees and Grant Morrison, who got on Moore's nerves by seemingly ripping off several of Moore's in-progress series.note 
  • Surreal Horror: Several of his later works contain heavy doses of this.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: A real believer and practitioner of this, though never to True Art Is Incomprehensible levels but a lot of the references in works like Promethea and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen will fly over people's heads providing readers with a Fetch Quest to unearth all the meanings and quotations themselves in the hopes that audiences have an Unconventional Learning Experience.
  • Visual Pun: A lot of his comics have these, often as transitions between scenes.
    Rorschach's Journal: Walked home past trashcans stuffed with rumors of war, weighing factors; bodies; motives...waiting for a flash of enlightenment in all this blood and thunder.
    [Cut to a bloody poster of Buddha]
  • Disinterest in movie adaptations of his work and Hollywood in general.
    • However, he did like the JLU adaptation of his Superman story "For the Man Who Has Everything". This was possibly because they weren't his characters, and the producers bothered to ask him first. Notably, his name actually appears in the credits for the episode.
    • He's also stated explicitly that he does not think as poorly of them as he is generally reputed to. Generally, his opinion is more along the lines that his works are made specifically to be comic books, and will not hold up in transition. This was an opinion that Terry Gilliam shared as well. Moore admired his work and when they met, both agreed that a movie adaptation would be a bad idea.
      • Though he certainly fed this reputation with his statement on Zack Snyder's Watchmen movie. After Snyder commented that the most he could hope for at least was that "He'd accidentally catching a couple seconds of it while changing channels in London".
      Moore: Well I don't know who's got my DVD player in ''London''- note 
      Moore: -but I'm never watching the fucking thing!
    • Cinema Purgatorio, his strip in his anthology serial of the same name, suggests that his disinterest in cinema has gradually become active hostility, as every issue focuses on a particular genre of classic cinema to explore why it's really harmful / exploitative / founded on lies and injustice / just bad in general really. In general, even beyond criticisms of adaptations of his work, he generally seems to not be particularly fond of film and cinema. That said, his earlier works makes references to classic movies, League: Century refers to many good films of The '60s and in his earlier career he expressed admiration for Francis Ford Coppola, Orson Welles (whose characters often in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and Robert Altman (whose Hyperlink Story featuring Loads and Loads of Characters and deconstructive approaches to Film Noir and The Western greatly inspired Watchmen) and recently Alfred Hitchcock.
    • Not to mention his announcement that he is retiring to pursue a career in filmmaking.
  • Freemasonry, often with ominous undertones.
  • And, of course, Doing It for the Art. He never does it for anything else.
    • Except for a period during The '90s, which was more a case of "doing it so he doesn't starve". Also, Neonomicon.
  • Along with this, Black and Gray Morality is pretty much a given.


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