November 12th, 2015
The following post was written as a response to The London Graphic Novel Network’s discussion of From Hell.
when I read [Moore's] stuff I get the feeling is that nothing has been lead to chance and everything is designed for very definite and exact reasons you know? If other comics are a little jelly and playful and “make your own mind up!” – Alan Moore in a labyrinth of cold hard steel: arranged in such a way that the only possible stance you’ll allowed is that of a mouse – desperately trying to find its way to the piece of cheese at the end.
And here’s my response:
Joel, the way you describe Alan Moore’s work there makes it sound hugely unappealing. I don’t think your account of how his art works is fundamentally untrue, mind, but it makes his work sound awful, tyrannical even – “Imagine being held in the iron grip of The World’s Mightiest Beard… FOREVER!”
And yet… the sense of total control is undeniably part of Moore’s appeal, always has been. It’s there in the famous grids of repeating imagery in Watchmen, in From Hell’s attempts to draw together an occult history of murder, in Promethea’s attempt to overlay scientific theories on Judeo-Christian creation myths. It’s even in the carefully synthesised pulp that fuels relatively Thrill Powered works like V for Vendetta and Halo Jones and (why not?!) Crossed 100.
It’s also the aspect that can curdle his attempts at humour, the thing that sometimes makes his self-consciously light and playful comics feel like anything but, the… oh shit, is this why he always crams those bloody songs into his comics? Is it the final test of his mastery, the compunction to try and make you hear music in a comic? Will he manage it one day?
Maybe. Or maybe he just read too much Pynchon and smoked a little too much Tolkien before going to bed last night.
July 6th, 2015
IT’S THE BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ IN THE DRUM OF THE EAR
Doug stepped out into the sunlight, blinking. His dressing gown lolled open, exposing his paunch. Tina’s vest top, pulled on accidentally in his rush to get outside barely covered it and the thick black hair on his belly poked out obscenely. In one hand he held a spatula; the other reached reflexively into the dressing gown pocket for the lighter he knew wasn’t there. Last night’s beer emanated from his stale mouth and he rubbed his tongue across his teeth. He wanted to belch but found he couldn’t. Taking his eyes from the sky for a moment he glanced to his left. Kathy was stood on her front lawn, gazing upward with her mouth hanging slackly open. Her two year old hung at her legs, pulling on her arm sleeve whining in a low, insistent tone. Across the road the Petersons crowded around their camper van, all staring up.
The vast alien structure that hovered high above them was still humming it’s deep bass tone and rotating slowly. The bone like growths that sprouted from it creaked as they slowly undulated. The noise was awful, too much, too loud for Sunday morning. Doug couldn’t take his eyes from it, but his brain had already started to hanker for a Bloody Mary. Just as he was trying to remember if the tomato juice was still okay to drink, a jagged split opened up in the base of the structure. And that’s when it really began.
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December 10th, 2014
Frank Quitely, Grant Morrison and Nathan Fairbairn – Multiversity: Pax Americana #1
It’s here that our story begins: in pieces. Many, many authors have shot at this target and missed, preferring not to recognize that in truth this is what we really know, and what we really believe, about the forces that create and shape our lives — preferring not to see that what science and philosophy describe is the branch from which our lives’ dramas depend, and not just convenient intellectual set-dressing for them.
We should remember that murder mysteries are always just local expressions, of a grander philosophical struggle — someone is killing capes, and who’s next? Well, after the scientists the answer is, we are: as the stunning profusion of interlinked symbols that fills Pax Americana’s pages ceaselessly intimates to us the unavoidability of that final, bitter realization of entropy. War, and death, and chaos…
…Or, what is perhaps worse: not chaos, at all, but order.
An implacable order, that we can’t resist. A pattern we’re trapped in, that we can’t see.