Let’s leave Britney alone: More Alan Moore commentary

I started reading Alan Moore’s Last Interview and I thought, good grief. This is one mean, sneering, long-winded guy. I finished reading Alan Moore’s Last Interview and I thought, oh boy. I never want anyone to bother this tired, upset, besieged old bloke again. Where’s an even middle?

I don’t have to worry about addressing Alan Moore personally, because WWAC is struck off his list before we’re on his radar. We’ve (I’ve) interviewed Laura Sneddon before, and we (I) will again. Alan Moore, having worked with Sneddon to his dissatisfaction, has declared any friend of hers an enemy of his. There are some crimes we’d cut ties for. Spoilers–no matter how large–aren’t one of those.

I spoilt the death of Sirius Black to my entire livejournal friends list on Order of the Phoenix’ day of release, back in 600AD. I live with the guilt, but I don’t hide myself away

I’m not talking to Alan Moore, then. I’m talking about him, to you. He’s a figure in the business and we can’t pretend that people don’t listen to him. I’m talking about two things: what he ignores during the Last Interview in order to stridently assert his right to platonic art-working, and what he has stood from the industry he has worked in, becoming “~Alan Moore”.


The first section of the Last Interview is long, finicky, boring and mean-spirited. There’s broken rhetoric and facetious questioning of the faceless masses. It’s frequently disingenuous. In the name of timesaving, here are some pithy/flippant responses and abridgements I made during and after my reading. Apply them to the original piece at your leisure, if you please.

“Well if you didn’t make a fuss about THAT thing then you CANT make a fuss about this thing  (that I did)” It doesn’t count if you didn’t catch everything? Don’t be so boring, man. That’s like  the weakest argument ever.

Mate, don’t pretend like you cant speak with surety on your own reactions and assumptions  just because people want you to explain the working behind public decisions you made that  caused others upset. That’s passive aggression turned all the way up.

He’s missing the point a-purpose. Refusing the responsibility. You chose to do this, man–failure is a possibility in any endeavour.

Dedicated double vision on what “reclaiming” means and also on the difference between  successful work and unsuccessful work.

See, right? When it’s bad, we say “no, that’s bad, you didn’t try hard enough and it might have  been better not to publish it at all”. People think that yours was bad. You say that opinions on  your success are all legitimate, but you continue to rebuff them. You can’t have that cake and  eat it too.

He seems to be arguing from an oddly binary perspective.

I feel kind of bad for him, like couldn’t he have just said “I’m doing my best and having fun  being clever, I guess I didn’t do for you what I tried to, that sucks. Maybe I am a bit more  invested in telling a smart story than I am in making sure I won’t make anyone feel bad reading  or hearing about it. I’m sort of old, I tried, I don’t want to talk about it”

The most important sentence fragment in the thing so far: “To my mind, the only mind I had  direct access to[…]”

And that’s really that, because I don’t owe Alan Moore my time–and he wouldn’t want it if I did. If you care about author-audience relationships, if you care about text-audience relationships, and if you think that Alan Moore speaks only wisdom and gold: there’s the puzzle, up above. It’s up to you to think about why I, why so many other readers of the Last Interview, think that so much of it was bunk. If you care. If you care. If you care.

The question, before I get sympathetic, is that if Moore, his collaborators or his editors could not put “dark-matter-cosmos”, “pink slave-taking aliens”, “sing-song speech”, “escaped slave” and “golliwog” together to make some people are going to notice the strong pattern template that this has in common with the historical narrative of racism(which colour crayon is a white child given to draw themselves with? Pink), then… Are they really the right team to be working on a book that is all about noticing and embroidering strong pattern matches within fiction and history?

The Q&A rolls on, through addressing sexual aspects of his books (our Kelly Kanayama has covered this so well), through his personal thoughts on various individuals, through a terrible glee in calling more than one individual stupid, to a line that, finally, was quite funny. On the creative vampirism he perceives from Grant Morrison:

I imagine that there is a very strong likelihood that he will contrive to die within four to six  months of my own demise[.]

Perhaps the laugh changed my chemistry, or perhaps there was a shift within the writing from Moore. Maybe you just have to read old news from the horse’s mouth to build a fresh appreciation. But somewhere around this point, I started to realise that Alan Moore is not a storybook wizard. He isn’t as mythic or self-contained as his comic books. He’s a bloke, and he feels hurt by Grant Morrison.

347779-130517-kid-omega-article1I don’t think that Grant Morrison imagines he’s a bully and I can’t suppose that it feels like cruelty to laugh about some mad old bastard who calls you creatively bankrupt and a moral juvenile. I don’t desire to come on all holy about what Morrison should or shouldn’t say, do, or have done. All there is, is that Alan Moore is upset. He’s a person who doesn’t understand why he’s been treated like this. I think it’s OK to mourn that. I think it’s important, actually. Let’s not let this happen to people. No matter what they’re otherwise like.

If you were in the pub and you heard a man, a plumber, talking about how he’d built up his entrepreneurial business with heavy support from a professional investor, maybe you’d eavesdrop. Sounds kind of interesting, right? But this plumber goes on; the business was going so well, better than he expected! More people needed his services that he could have hoped, knowing that there were other, better established plumbers at work in the area. Wow! He was on the up!

Suddenly the investor wants their money back, now. It can’t be helped. What’s the plumber to do? He’s bound by law. He has no spare capital. He sells the business to the investor. He does’t owe them any more. But he works for them now. They’re calling the shots. And they haven’t done anything illegal.

davegibbons-watchmen-35“Ruddy creeps”, you think, maybe. Legal, but sneaky as thieves. That’s the essential story of Watchmen’s non-reversion to creator ownership, and it’s only the start of a lifelong series of small, medium and large humiliations that Moore’s taken from “Comics”, the ~comics industry. He’s had it bad. It’s taken a toll. Of course it has–he’s a human man! He’s been knocked back and asked to take a seat and had his wishes driven over for public entertainment. It’s no way to live, even if you have a vibrant and fulfilling life going on in the private or everyday spheres.

These questions were answered over the Christmas period, as he mentions–

While many of you have been justifiably relaxing with your families or loved ones, I have been  answering allegations about my obsession with rape, and re-answering several-year-old  questions with regard to my perceived racism.

–and again, I feel sympathetic. I’m sad for him. And I agree that commentary and criticism should concentrate on what the work does, says, and supports in the minds of its readers, rather than what the work potentially says about the creator. Unless we’re talking things said by the creator in public. Public speech, such as during an interview, is creative output in itself. You’re writing your own dialogue and all the world’s a stage.

I feel a sadness that a man who cares about the feelings of others and does his best to address them is finding his attempted altruism converted into perversion, aimed at himself to wound. I don’t feel anger or resentment towards those whose feelings about rape have driven them to cast Moore as suspect. I feel great regret that so many men rape, and I feel it’s regretful that Alan Moore could not listen to the qualms of others, a greater number of woman strangers, also living through rape culture, in order to avoid the widely observed pitfalls that cause his work to suffer.

Claire Napier

Claire Napier

Critic, ex-Editor in Chief at WWAC, independent comics editor; the rock that drops on your head. Find me at clairenapierclairenapier@gmail.com and give me lots of money

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