Alan Moore Might be Insane Now

It seems fittingly ironic that Alan Moore announces his exit from the public eye with a 16,000-word harrumph.

This interview was a roller coaster of emotions for me – all negative. When I finally finished – after picking my jaw up off the floor several times, after moaning audibly and alarming those near me – I could merely sigh. Sigh and think “oh good God.”

Largely, the interview is in response to an event that popped up on Twitter. It dredged up all kinds of classic questions about Moore, mainly issues of race and sexual violence. Largely, Moore’s responses to these issues are fairly well reasoned, but problematic. Moore’s response reminded me of that old, unattributed saying: “If I had more time, I would’ve written you a shorter letter.” For a great writer, Moore rambles, especially when his actual points are hugely condensable. The biggest problem is the tone.

Even while he’s making honest-to-God decent arguments, the way he says them is just colossally dickish:

The idea that it is not the place of two white men to ‘reclaim’ (although I’m not certain that’s exactly what we were doing) or otherwise utilise a contentious black character, unless I am to understand that this principle only applies to white men using black characters, would appear to be predicated upon an assumption that no author or artist should presume to use characters who are of a different race to themselves. Since I can think of no obvious reason why this principle should only relate to the issue of race – and specifically to black people and white people – then I assume it must be extended to characters of different ethnicities, genders, sexualities, religions, political persuasions and, possibly most uncomfortably of all for many people considering these issues, social classes. I cannot assume, of course, that my perception of such a prohibition as self-evidently ridiculous and unworkable is one that will be shared unanimously, and indeed this would appear not to be the case.

See? Good point, but incredibly aggressive. In every statement Moore makes, there’s an unspoken assumption that you are very, very dumb, and Moore is very, very right. In fact, Moore seems to always be very, very right. But more on that later. Moore may be making a good point, or at least raising good questions (I don’t really want to address whether or not I agree with him), but he is hugely pedantic and patronizing about it. He clearly believes he’s being clever, and seemingly lacks the self-awareness it would take to recognize the actual tone of his writing.

But at this point in the interview, Moore hadn’t said anything ruinous.

He then moved away from the issues of race and onto the frequent appearance of rape in his work. Again, his 1,300-word response could easily be boiled down to a paragraph, and a far more convincing paragraph at that. Of course, this is only true if you ignore a spectacularly large portion of this response. Because Moore very deliberately steers this response violently off-topic. It’s painfully clear he’s using the pretext of this Q&A to check off a list of things he feels need to be brought up before his departure from the interview circuit. This is where Moore starts to retroactively colour the rest of the interview with a tinge of crazy.

The blow-up on Twitter was largely caused by one dude questioning the sexual content in Moore’s work – especially a short film he showed at a book signing. Apparently this Twitter user, like so many other Twitter users, refers to himself as a “Batman scholar”, and Moore refuses to let this go. I don’t particularly disagree with some of Moore’s take on the super-hero industry. However, writing off every comic with tights in it is to ignore frequently excellent work. Hell, there’s a lot to learn about comics even when it comes to popular crap. There’s always something to learn. Compare this mantra to Moore’s and tell me which one seems healthier and more conducive to self-improvement. But Moore has an axe to grind, and so at every conceivable moment he mentions and mocks the fact that this guy likes Batman. Whether or not Moore has a point here is completely irrelevant – that’s just not a good way to conduct yourself when you’re trying to make a point. When you end up sounding like a condescending dick, it’s pretty hard to take your point seriously. Moore doesn’t sound like an intelligent creator here; he sounds like a bitter old man raging at some perceived wrong-doing.

It all reminds me of a quote from The Big Lebowski: “God damn you, Walter! You fuckin’ asshole! Everything’s a fuckin’ travesty with you, man! And what was all that shit about Vietnam? What the fuck does anything got do with Vietnam?” So I ask Alan Moore, exactly what the fuck does anything got to do with Batman? How in any way does this guy liking Batman have anything to do with his perception of your short film? It completely neuters what actually seems like an apt and needed defence.

Of course, Moore veers off topic again to bring up a reporter who he feels wronged him. The kicker is that he seems right! Assuming there’s no embellishment, Moore is completely right in being pissed off. But the comments are unprompted, and Moore’s tone is aggressive. It transforms the whole interview from defense to hit-list. Now as we move on, please keep in mind Moore is ostensibly still answering the question about rape in his comics.

Then Moore takes the interview on another sudden turn. Because if Moore’s writing a hit-list, there’s one person who needs to be on it. There’s only one person Moore would want to spill some 4,000 words insulting. And that person is… well Moore puts it best:

“This, I think, leaves us only with the herpes-like persistence of Grant Morrison himself.”

This is also where the interview takes a sudden turn from bitter-and-jaded-grouchy-old-man to crying-in-the-shower-crazy-old-man. And it’s pretty clear who Moore is crying over.

Moore is just wrong about Grant Morrison. They are both interested in very similar things, but they use those shared interests to create wildly different works with wildly different goals. They may have both written treatises on chaos magic, but one is Promethea and the other is The Invisibles. They may have both written serious, real-world imaginings of super-heroes, but one of those is Zenith and the other is Miracleman. The weird thing is that Moore’s perception of the situation seems to have been completely altered by some things Morrison wrote once upon a time about Moore’s books. Please leave me a comment; I would love to know how many people read the issue Morrison wrote these things in, just to put it in perspective. Because without those, it all seems rather… minor. Moore was at the height of his career. It’s not like these comments would have changed many minds. So then the only way to interpret Moore’s reaction is rather depressing. It seems like Moore’s ego was so fragile, so delicately inflated, that he still can’t let go of comments Morrison made many, many years ago as an attention-seeking tactic. Comments Morrison readily admits were all wrapped up in his silly attempt at cultivating a punk persona. These comments apparently devastated Moore. Enough so that he could never, ever look at Morrison’s work impartially. Enough so that he can’t even accept that everything Morrison has ever done might not be aimed at Moore. Because, of course, Moore is always, always right. This is where things start to get weird: “It became difficult not to see this decades-long campaign of trying to attract my attention as some kind of grotesquely protracted schoolboy crush, or as a form of thwarted and entirely unwanted love.”

This is the moment my jaw hit the floor. I did manage to compose myself, but just enough to mutter a hollow “what the fuck” before plowing forward. The claim continues. Moore even reveals that Morrison actually tried to smooth things out between them, and Moore turned him down. Moore didn’t want “to whisk him off to my Bat-cave so that we could solve mysteries together, perhaps in todger-revealing tights.” What the fuck does anything got do with Batman, Alan Moore? It’s hard to wrap my head around just how insane Moore’s claims are. Even if Grant Morrison was clearly and inarguably derivative of Moore, this would be nuts. Imagine if Kim Deal had accused Kurt Cobain of loving him. Moore is not only saying that Morrison’s entire career has been devoted to either slagging Moore off or ripping him off; he’s saying that all of that is just because Morrison wants to get Moore’s attention. I can’t be the only one who’s wondering what Moore falls asleep thinking about?

And the comments about fans or interviewers? Does Moore understand how interviews work? Just because you’re interviewing a guy doesn’t mean you’ve taken a blood oath to stand behind him. It doesn’t even mean you’re a fan. And asking me to throw out my Moore comics because I also own Grant Morrison comics? Fuck that. I don’t feel like I really need to explain the idiocy there.

All in all, it’s a remarkably terrible exit speech. Moore sat down, wrote this all out, read it over, and hit send. He didn’t consider cutting out “bromance,” or condensing his points, or maybe not making insane allegations. And all the crazy completely distorts even the most lucid of Moore’s points. Thank God this will be one of his last interviews, because I’m already worried it’ll be hard to separate Moore’s persona from his works. It’s probably far easier to imagine the Moore here, sitting down to write Lost Girls, perhaps with spittle on his lips and a crazed look in his eyes, than it is to picture him writing Watchmen. Despite Moore’s desperate encouragement, I’m not going to throw away the books of his I own. I still admire and respect the man and his work. But thank God he’s going to shut up for a while.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Harry Edmundson-Cornell is obsessed with comics and film and writing, and he fancies himself a bit of an artist. He's dabbled in freelance video production, writing, design, 3D modelling, and artistic commissions. He mainly uses Tumblr to keep track of what he's watching and reading and listening to. Occasionally he uses it to post original works. You can find his email and junk there too, if you want to hire him or send him hate-mail.

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24 Comments

  1. Harry, the part I agree with you is where you describe your jaw hitting the floor. It was a shocking interview and, for me at least, very sad. However, and I hesitate to wade in on this—it feels like there’s no good that can come from jumping in—but ultimately I have a different take.

    First, I don’t think Alan Moore’s crazy. Maybe he’s not behaving in the same manner as most other people in the industry would behave, but then again, he stopped running the same rat race most other people in the industry are running.

    But I don’t think that makes him crazy. I see his response primarily being affected by two things. First, he is a writer who has been politically progressive his whole career—dedicated to issues of equality in particular—who now finds himself increasingly being accused of racism and misogyny. That’s not easy to deal with. And second, he is someone who has largely cut himself off from most of the industry chatter. He’s not on the Internet, he doesn’t go to conventions, he’s not devouring every interview other creators give or reading every review or blog. He is, insofar as the “conversation” of the industry is concerned, relatively out of touch.

    So you have someone who has chosen to stay relatively out of touch suddenly becoming aware of a whole line of criticism accusing him of racism and misogyny. Under those conditions, the response is going to be extreme—far more extreme than what you would get from someone who hears criticism coming in at a trickle, a little bit every week.

    Now at this point I’ll say that I don’t claim to know all the details of what went down, but I’ve been trying to piece things together. After the event featuring Lance Parkin’s book and the showing of Moore’s short films, one member of the audience, the “Batman scholar,” didn’t like the film and dismissed it on Twitter with a handful of snarky, critical tweets. Fair? Probably not. In keeping with the typical tone of Twitter? Probably so.

    Then, the Internet chatter increased with a lot of criticism of Moore’s work. “The Journalist,” who is a very vocal opponent of using rape as a plot device in entertainment, was one of the more prominent critics.

    The interviewer made Moore aware of the criticism, and Moore agreed to defend himself. However, as he came to realize that the journalist was someone he associated with unprofessional behavior in the past and also someone who maintained a positive professional relationship with Grant Morrison, the nature of Moore’s response escalated.

    He was also, most likely, still smarting from having heard Morrison’s comments about rape in the Parkin book. While most of us read those criticisms in Morrison’s Rolling Stone interview a couple of years ago, it’s not clear that Moore would have. Did he hear them for the first time in Parkin’s book? I don’t know, but it seems plausible.

    So we’ve got someone who, because he doesn’t keep up with the daily chatter of the industry, is having a ton of severe criticism dumped on him all at the same time—criticism that hits at the heart of his own values and ideology. And in his mind, the criticism is all interconnected with the person he dislikes the most in the industry.

    So he launches a full-throated defense, and in so doing, he attempts to overwhelm. Harry, you don’t like his tone in the first part of the interview, and that’s fair. I thought it methodical with a touch of humor, but I’ve been reading a lot of his stuff over the last two years so the “voice” seemed very typical to me.

    His response to the other three individuals, however, is extreme. His repetition of the “Batman” motif in attacking the scholar is certainly irrelevant, you’re right, but I think he’s trying to match the snark of the tweets. For me, it’s off-putting and unbecoming, but that doesn’t make it crazy or irrational.

    Likewise, his attack on the journalist is extreme. Clearly he was angry with the way her publication handled the LXG release, but there appears to be some genuine dispute about who at that publication was responsible for what happened. Again, I don’t have the facts, but from what I’ve seen it’s possible that he may have misdirected his anger over the spoilers released by that publication.

    As for the Morrison business, he is linking Morrison to this criticism because of the quotes where Morrison is very, very critical of Moore’s depiction of rape in his work, and because of Morrison’s connection to the journalist.

    Most of what he says about Morrison is a variation of what he has already said and about which many people have written extensively. It’s not complicated at this point. They don’t like each other. They have each criticized the other publicly. They are not about to reconcile any time soon. The only difference here is that he is more extreme and colorful in his insults of Morrison. Like you, I don’t agree with his assessment of Morrison’s writing, but the “feud” itself is not something I’ve ever been interested in taking sides on.

    The key area of substance where I feel Moore went too far was his suggestion that he would withdraw fellowship from any publications that did business either with the journalist or with Morrison. That, I believe, is a bridge too far, and I found it disappointing.

    But crazy? No. Angry? Most certainly. Justified? Somewhat. Inappropriate? Somewhat.

    At least, that’s how I see it. I’m not trying to apologize for him but rather to give a little more context. I don’t think anyone comes out looking particularly good here.

    • First off I think these are solid points you’re making Greg.

      You’re right, I think, about the reasons behind the strength of Moore’s reaction. Sounds rather like you’ve hit the nail on the head.

      My problem with this idea, however, is that in a situation like this Moore didn’t have the self-awareness to look back over his writing. There’s seemingly no single part of this interview where he thought about how his responses would sound. Given that the entire point of this interview is to clear his name against the recent backlash against (and like I briefly touched on, I do disagree with the backlash) Moore should have had the wherewithal to read over his responses and think about them.

      I definitely oversimplified in my article, mainly because I wanted to focus on the gut reaction the interview had on me. Because the gut reaction is the point. Moore is a writer! He’s spent his whole career thinking about how certain words and phrases effect the reader, but that ability seems to have escaped him.

      So then we have this image of a writer. He’s shocked by this sudden flood of criticism that really does go against what he thinks he’s been standing for all these years. So he agrees to respond to these allegations in an attempt to save his name. He knows he’s angry, surely he has the self awareness to know that, and he decides that to really help prevent this sort of thing he should disappear from the public eye.

      So instead of taking the time and effort to write a piece that A – effectively addressed these complaints (because the tone and changes in topic overwhelm the sentiment) and B – provided a fitting send-off he wrote something completely born out of the anger and shock he was feeling. Compare this interview to Grant Morrison’s counterpoint to Moore the last time that whole issue flared up – one was far more effective, and it was the calmer one.

      Moore’s a writer, and a super intelligent guy. I don’t believe for a second he was incapable of writing an appropriate piece that accomplished all his goals. What clearly shows Moore’s collapse (and I wouldn’t seriously say he was crazy, again that more stems from the gut-reaction I chose to document) is that THIS is the interview he sent out into the world.

      Because that means Moore has become completely un-self-aware. It means Moore couldn’t gauge the reactions his piece would cause. He couldn’t separate how it sounded in his head from how it sounded on paper. Because I don’t believe he would have clicked “send” if he could. Because he completely undoes any good this interview might’ve accomplished. There truly are good points in his response. If he’d let his points speak for themselves maybe it would’ve done some good.

      So you’re right – it’s easy to see why he felt the way he did when he sat down to write this. And it’s not even that hard to see the tone he intended to hit. But all that should have made him triple check is writing. I am nowhere near as smart as Moore, and I knew every step of the way that what I was writing here wasn’t well-reasoned as was faintly ridiculous. I actually deleted several paragraphs that I felt weakened the tone. But all of a sudden Moore, clearly one of the greatest comic-writers ever, suddenly can’t scribe a simple interview that has the effect he wants?

      That’s actually kind of scarier to me than the idea that Moore is just plain crazy.

  2. Alin Rautoiu says:

    Well, a huge chunk Morrison’s career was about criticizing Moore, or at least throwing jabs at him. The Red Mask issue of Animal Man, The Beard Hunter from Doom Patrol, the whole Seven Soldiers of Victory (with really explicit attacks in Zatanna and Guardian). But I think he ripped-off Brendan McCarthy(and Peter Milligan to a lesser extent) a whole lot more that he did Alan Moore.But still, Moore isn’t that far off in his assessment. Only in his reaction.

    • I agree with you that Moore’s reaction is the problem. I would also recommend you check out Julian Darius’ more detailed writings on this issue, if it interests you. I will say one quick thing though. I think the fact that Morrison clearly had some mean things to say about Moore is a wonderful point – especially when you realize that, by Moore’s own accounts, Morrison actively attempted to help both parties get over this debate. If Morrison can move on why can’t Moore?

      That being said it’ll be interesting to see how Morrison reacts to all this, it’s a hard interview to ignore!

      • Mark Cutter says:

        “If Morrison can move on why can’t Moore?” – what do you think Morrison has to get over? Let’s say Morrison was the school bully and bullied Alan Moore for several years, and some years later the bully said “Hey, let’s be friends”, what basis would there be for a relationship?

      • Alin Rautoiu says:

        Morrison has nothing about which to get over. He is the one who built his persona by attacking Moore and positioning himself in antithesis to him in both interviews and in his comics. Morrison is not the injured party.

        The overreaction on Moore’s part, I think, is seeing a grand conspiracy involving Morrison sabotaging his reputation and considering him a fundamental part in creating the noxious atmosphere that Moore experiences.

        The news of him leaving the public sphere could have been embraced with discussions about representation of race and gender and power dynamics in comics, with ones about the rights of creators or even with a celebration of the work Moore done. But because of some demonstrably false accusations and others not that untrue but with a gravity blown out of proportions, almost everything became about Moore vs Morrison, and armchair psychology discussions about Moore’s mental health.

      • “Let’s say Morrison was the school bully and bullied Alan Moore for several years.”
        Actually, let’s say something different. Let’s say Alan Moore bullied every other contemporary creator by always stating he was the All-Mighty Perfect Genius Writer, and by being an arrogant who thought he was the last word on superhero comics and that they should be gone for good after him. Why not poke fun at such an attitude? Grant Morrison stood up to the biggest bully of the school. Yes, he did it in a childish punk manner, he admits so. But Moore was also childish in his “I am a genius, everyone else in this medium is creatively bankrupt forever, unless you are my friend and never criticize me, in which case I may say your work is excellent but not as much as mine” attitude.

        And yes, Morrison has moved on. He’s not a punk hater anymore. He has consistently praised Moore’s work as one of the most important and greatest comic book oeuvres of all time. But he also has raised some criticism, which it seems to be kind of a blasphemy for some people.

        Trying to paint Alan Moore as a victim is ridiculous. Grant Morrison as a victim is equally ridiculous. The difference is that Morrison admitted he was a prick and moved on. Moore, it seems, unfortunately, will always be a deluded, arrogant hater who can’t take any criticism. But fortunately he’s always been a hell of a writer.

  3. Mark Cutter says:

    “Alan Moore Might be Insane Now”
    You’re complaining Alan Moore is aggressive and over-blowing things, and you have a headline like that, dear me.

    “Largely Moore’s responses to these issues are fairly well reasoned, but problematic.”
    I think there’s a problem with people who use the term “problematic” — it’s a pointless, academic-speak/business-speak term, it doesn’t mean anything — everything is problematic if you think about it so the term is utterly valueless. His responses show that he is aware of the decisions his is making, and are doing so with artistic integrity.

    “For a great writer, Moore rambles, especially when his actual points are hugely condensable.”
    I think when his is writing about fairly serious issues, it’s good that he is spelling things out, otherwise things could be misinterpreted. It’s OK that he explains this in detail, it’s sophisticated stuff he’s dealing with.

    “Moore fucking refuses to let this go”
    Oh no, don’t resort to swearing, that makes you look like you don’t really believe what you are saying, and are trying to dramatize it up with profanity.

    “The weird thing is that Moore’s perception of the situation seems to have been completely altered by some things Morrison wrote once upon a time about Moore’s books. ”
    For at least five years of Grant Morrison’s early career, every interview he did he slagged off Alan Moore. You must be aware that Morrison himself has admitted he did this to try to promote his own career. This is all Alan Moore knows about Grant Morrison, that he spend years doing this, so why won’t he have a disdain for him?

    • Hi Mark,

      First off I’m glad you read the piece, and I’m glad you took the time to comment.

      As far as the tone of my article goes please check out my response to Greg Carpenter’s comment, who is making a lot of the same points as you. I knew my article was over-the-top, but I really wanted to focus in on my gut-reaction to the interview. It was a conscious choice, and maybe I should have defused it a bit at the end, I thought the tone was justified. The whole point is that this is a distillation of my own reactions, and that a lot of the problem with Moore’s interview is that it causes these reactions. Even if I should have defused the article a little (and I had two paragraphs that did just that, but I honestly thought it worked better without them) I think if you’ll look over the first few paragraphs of my article you’ll see that this is a largely personal reaction.

      My whole article is about WHY Moore’s responses are “problematic.” You’ll notice I’m still essentially introducing the article at this point, and spend the entire rest of it explaining the problems.

      The problem with Moore’s “rambling” is that its off topic. He may spend a long time talking about rape, but he never says anything that couldn’t be condensed. He’s not looking at the complexities of his usage of rape, he’s just pontificating. I love writing that actually explores complex issues in a complex manner, Moore’s not doing that here.

      I swear mate. I’m sorry if you think it undercuts my points, but when I have an emotional reaction to something I swear. And as this whole article was documenting my emotional reaction I felt the language was justified.

      If you read the rest of my article in more detail you’ll see that I address your statements about Moore and Morrison in more detail. The fact that Morrison, for all his bluster once upon a time, does admit to that being attention seeking and not an accurate representation of his actual opinions. And while he slagged off Moore the level to which it coloured his opinions is incredible. But this is a much longer issue that other people on this site have covered in far superior detail to me. I highly recommend looking at what Julian Darius has to say on the matter.

      • Mark Cutter says:

        Thanks for the response, I totally accept that this is a gut-level reaction, but just so you understand the implications of this, I want you to imagine the following was a headline: “Harry Edmundson-Cornell Might be Insane Now”. You know that the focus of your article is a real person, not an academic issue, and that he has family and friends… how would your family or friends react to that headline? I don’t think just by stating this is your personal reaction necessarily premisses you to put up a gruesomely offensive headline (unless you are looking for a job in The Sun), or ameliorates the unkindness of the sentiment.

        Regarding the problematic nature of AM’s justifications of his work, I don’t think anyone who has ever read any of Alan Moore’s work seriously believes his is either racist or rape-fixated, he’s a liberal through and through. You are entitled to think he is pontificating about the topic, all I can tell you is that I don’t think that, and if I was writing about these topics I would explain the same thing in five different ways to make sure someone didn’t (accidentally or deliberately) misinterpret me later.

        Your swearing really, really does undercut your article, I too swear in real life all the time, but not when I’m writing, it always looks contrived when people type out profanities, Swearing makes sense as a part of spoken language,and have good neurological rationale, whereas for written language it just looks artificial.

        I am very, very familiar with the Moore/Morrison relationship, and feel if you are going to write a followup to this article, to please find out more about it.

  4. Oh, Moore is angry. Again.

    I know that interviews (even this statement, which wasn’t an interview) not necessarily reflect the man. Maybe he gets nervous. Maybe he doesn’t act this way among his friends and family. But, if he does (and I’m sure we all met people who do), he could really use some therapy. It would do wonders. He would be much happier. But, of course, he probably thinks he’s very happy right now and that he doesn’t need any of that stuff.

    The way I see it, there are two options. One is that Alan Moore is a very smart man who knows absolutely nothing about himself. He doesn’t see his flaws, he doesn’t understand that he’s paranoid, he doesn’t even dare to think about his “obsession” for rape. He’s surrounded with yesmen and he can’t deal with confrontation. That’s the good option.

    The bad option is that he’s a very smart but dishonest man and he’s simply starting these controversies to get some attention, because he can’t get it with his work anymore. You know, like Morrison once did. Personally, I believe the first.

    What amazes me is how we try so hard to really explain what he meant, how he felt, why he should be so angry. Not because he’s right, not because he has good reasons, but because we think he’s a genius (so he must be right). Maybe we feel we invested too much on him. It seems very hard to admit that he’s wrong. We’re like mothers making excuses for the bad behavior of our kids. He would agree that it’s weird.

    • I think you’re completely right about Alan Moore’s self-awareness. I”m glad I’m not the only person who walked away thinking that was the root of the problem! Thanks Mario.

      • No problem, Harry. Waiting for part 2.

        I’d just like to mention that when I’ve said that Moore could benefit from therapy, in case it isn’t obvious, I didn’t mean that he is crazy.

        I just think he needs some serious confrontation. Everybody does, from time to time. Artists in particular.

  5. I just want to chime in here, since I’m the boss at Sequart, and I’ve been asked about this piece.

    First, as I hope everyone knows, Sequart was created with a culture of academic freedom. We don’t censor based on stance. We’ve had contributors to this site go head to head before, and we’ve had plenty of people disagree passionately with me. I’m an adult, and I can handle criticism, and I choose to assume that everyone else is and can too. That having been said, Harry’s opinions here are his own, as I’m sure anyone who understands how publishing works understands.

    Having said that, I take Harry’s piece as a very important beginning of a dialogue about this interview. In private, I’ve heard a lot of outrage about this interview. A lot of people in comics — both creators and critics — have said they were outraged by this interview. I’ve heard a lot of people say the strongest sorts of things about it, and I think it’s turned a lot of people who were on the fence about Alan Moore’s statements — about how there are no A-list creators in comics, for example — into Alan Moore detractors. Yet for all of this outrage, and people who were sympathetic to Alan Moore now being willing to write him off, I haven’t seen an awful lot of analysis about the interview.

    In part, I think that’s because a lot of what I’ve heard is just sort of “WTF!” It’s hard to know where to start, with statements like some of those Harry isolated above, or how Alan Moore’s unwilling to work with anyone who’s ever interviewed Grant Morrison. (BTW, I believe Padraig, who was interviewing Moore at the time, has interviewed Grant Morrison. I may be wrong, but this possibility — or even this likelihood — illustrates the absurdity of what Moore’s saying there.)

    So I personally took this editorial as what it was: a gut reaction, and the beginning of a dialogue about this interview, which I basically think hasn’t happened. Sometimes, a little bit of venting is the first step, because you have to get over the “WTF” reaction to clear the smoke and start to get to the issues involved.

    • Hey Julian!

      First off – wow. No idea this would cause any kind of ruckus… I thought it was pretty plainly my gut reaction, but I’m clearly going to have to write something explaining it! Like I’ve said a couple of times in the comments this really was more gut-reaction as a point than my intellectual take on the matter – because clearly it’s a more complex issue than that.

      I wouldn’t even just call my article venting Julian, I’d go so far as to call it silly. I really sat down and decided that this was the way to write this piece. I’ve alluded a couple of times now to the parts I’ve cut, I think I’m going to have to reassemble them into a part two.

      Because this interview didn’t really change my opinion on Moore one way or another.

      • You’re fine, Harry. Although I do think a part two, in a different tone, would be most welcome. Also, you’ve acquitted yourself very well here in the comments.

        I think you actually make several good points in this editorial. I do think it’s venting, but with underlying arguments. Don’t sell yourself short.

        Some people seem to think this editorial is too flippant, or that it calls Moore names. I think it feels flippant because you’re upset, but like I said, you are venting, and you do have underlying points that you’re making. And I don’t think your editorial calls Moore names; it says Moore’s tone was dickish. The question shouldn’t be whether it’s mean to use that word, or whether it’s part of scholarship. (There’s nothing “unscholarly” about the word “dickish,” actually. Except to the extent that it’s vague — but it’s not “off-limits” somehow.) The question, most obviously, is whether you’re correct. I think we can have a serious discussion about that, but I don’t think you’re automatically wrong to make the assertion.

      • I didn’t want to write about this, even though I think it was important. But I feel that criticism of your editorial has forced my hand. The first part of my own analysis will be up in a few hours.

        Naturally, Harry, feel free to disagree with anything I say. And please don’t let my own thoughts preempt any your may have! There more than enough room for multiple points of view here, and that’s always been important to Sequart.

  6. Here’s what would’ve constituted my part two:

    So a few days ago I wrote an editorial in response to Alan Moore’s “Last Interview.” Would you believe I was honestly surprised by the response? So surprised, in fact, that I felt the need to write this explanation. I should say two things upfront: 1) what follows is a hideously self-involved conversation of my writing and feelings and stuff and 2) this is not an apology, retraction, or defense.

    After my piece went up I got a handful of comments. I don’t often get comments, so I’m always excited to read what people had to say. Now the comments ranged from lovely to aggressive (which is impressive, given there were like, five) but all round I started to notice something. It didn’t take me long to process the problem; to realize the mistake I had made.

    I’d forgotten to let you guys in on the joke.

    Now if that seems overly glib or even faintly condescending bear with me. I’ve spent two largely sleepless (for unrelated reasons) nights thinking about the wording of this explanation. Please do me the favour of excusing any thing that comes across as patronizing – I tend to over-explain or under-explain and this time round I thought I’d err on the side of the former. If it helps please imagining me reading this to you in a friendly, conversational tone…if only because that’s pretty much how I feel about this.

    I think the first thing to mention is simple – I still love Alan Moore’s work. I actually removed a couple of portions of my original article to this effect – I felt it bogged it down. I’m a firm believer in separating the creator from the creation. Hell, I’ve gone toe-to-toe with people about Ender’s Game on more than one occasion. Despite Alan Moore’s insistence I still own an Absolute Watchmen that sits in a place of pride on my shelf (place of pride means on the shelf at all, for those curious). I’m in the middle of rereading Swamp Thing and, other than the time it took to read the thing, the article didn’t make me so much as pause that process. Alan Moore has always been cantankerous, or at least, has been for as long as I’ve been reading his work. Sure, this last interview was especially unpleasant, ranging from muddled-yet-effective to rude to just plain mean, but it would take more than that to make me reevaluate Moore. He’d have to commit dime sort of abhorrent and probably illegal act, then reveal a horrifying and previously unknown theme in his work, for me to even consider removing Watchmen from my shelf.

    So now we come to my article, and why it threw so many of you off.

    I really like reading funny articles. I read more comedic articles and news reports a day than anything else. Some of these articles are hugely trivial, they might be about movie news or some silly anecdote or conspiracy theory, some a less trivial, and tackle questions about art, human nature, or even things like gun-control. Yeah, I’ve laughed myself to bits reading hugely informative and occasionally disturbing articles about gun-control. Ultimately humour, over-the-top drama, whatever, can act as a wonderfully delivery system for actual serious content.

    So by now you can all see what I’m going to claim, but rest assured this isn’t some Tommy Wiseau style retroactive claim. Maybe check out the article I wrote before the one on Moore, which featured an intense and atmospheric song about a guy who drops quarters down people’s butts. I was trying to be, if not laugh at loud funny, then at least humorous. Maybe even clever.

    Obviously it wasn’t all that clear.

    I may not have peppered my initial article with jokes, but rest assured the tone was affected. Sure the sentiments were mine, and it did capture my very first reaction well enough. The thing is though, my first reaction? It had faded into calm within three minutes. Alan Moore would definitely have to be physically in a room with me, doing something to piss me off, for me to sustain any kind of anger long enough to write something. Point is I’m not a particularly angry person, until I’m like, REALLY angry. Then I just listen to loud music until I cool off. I’ve never managed to get that gloriously angry at something on a computer screen. If was all a muddled attempt at cleverness ruined by a lack of context.

    My mistake was thinking any readers would realize this. Because unless you were Uber-familiar with my work, actually, unless you sorta know me there’s no reason to think the article was anything less then sincere (except maybe the Big Lebowski quote). Rest assured I’ve taken this lesson to heart – I won’t make the same mistake again. While I was disappointed when I realized I was perpetuating angry-Internet behaviour it wasn’t until I saw that my article had caused some legitimate distress. To be honest I have no problem causing some trouble this definitely wasn’t my desired effect. And I am sorry to anyone who was caused actual distress by what I wrote (this apology is not intended for unflinching Alan Moore defendants, though I’d love to hear your (polite, intelligent) take on the whole thing).

    All this being said I really do believe the points I made I my original article all stand. And I want to say that again because I really do believe that intentions are important with this sort of thing, and I really hope that anyone re-reading my first article will do so with this in the back of their mind – I laughed when I wrote it. Anyone looking for a more serious, in depth look at Moore’s statement should read Julian’s article (who, interestingly enough, seems to be raising a lot of similar points). I can’t imagine I’ll write about Moore himself anytime soon. Anyone, that’s enough of this meta article nonsense. Hope this clears up the confusion and sets the stage for my future articles, because a word of warning may be necessary:

    I might try to be clever again.

    • Mark Cutter says:

      Although I understand completely where you are coming from in terms of the creation and intended tenor of this article, I really wish you would change the headline, in my opinion (and it’s just my opinion), no explanation is sufficient to justify the brutality of the headline, it’s gruesomely offensive to the man’s friends and family; and if it was meant even in a semi-jocular fashion it serves as a poor reflection on your sensitivity towards people suffering from mental illnesses.

  7. PCScorpio says:

    Just a small comment: there is nothing about chaos magic in Promethea ! Except a comment from Stacia to Jack Faust that magicians used to have style, and nowadays ‘it’s all sigils, stubble and self-abuse.’

  8. Ben Marton says:

    Only Alan Moore could pull off a practical joke that everyone takes this seriously. And Grant Morrison would probably agree.

  9. There’s too much in here to disagree with (at some points I think you just plain didn’t read what Alan said), and I just don’t have the time or inclination because you’re not the only person to so horribly misparaphrase him, but the irony in this sentence was far too palpable to ignore: “Moore may be making a good point, or at least raising good questions (I don’t really want to address whether or not I agree with him), but he is hugely pedantic and patronizing about it. He clearly believes he’s being clever, and seemingly lacks the self-awareness it would take to recognize the actual tone of his writing.”

  10. Reed Decker says:

    I don’t know. I read the whole insanely long “Last Interview” and I thought it was pretty funny. I have always considered Grant and Alan to be my two of my favorite writers. Grant’s run on Doom Patrol was the best comics have ever been, in my opinion. But I can see a lot of Alan’s points about him. Grant loves the twisted reboot, and he’s very good at it, but it does make him seem unimaginative at times. He has come across as the comic book industry’s version of a soulless fame whore (yes, I realize this borders on being an oxymoron) as the years have marched along. He started out as a competing artistic visionary, sold out completely, and ended up as the poor man’s Peter Milligan.

    And this is Alan Moore we’re talking about. The guy was unbelievably annoyed and yelling at everyone from the moment he arrived. When things were going (as far as I could see) wonderfully, he was constantly railing against the industry, and super heroes, and pretty much everything that mainstream comics represent. Once he actually had good reasons to be angry, as he did in the Last Interview, of course he was beyond livid and intent on burning down everything in his eye line. I’d also point out that he was repeating himself, in most cases, for about the millionth time. Be honest with yourself. If you’re explaining something for even the third time, especially something you consider obvious, I bet you get condescending. I know I do. Is it attractive? No, but it is perfectly justified, if not fully warranted, at the point where you’re trying to batter your way through a wall of willful ignorance, as Alan spent so much of that interview doing.

    Perhaps it’s just because I’ve paid more attention over the last thirty years, but that seemed like exactly the Alan Moore I’ve always known, and admired, for his willingness to speak his mind. That’s his career he’s always tinkering with, and, still, he never censors himself or tries to coddle anyone. Agree or disagree, the man puts his money where his mouth is. In this day and age, that may well be the rarest virtue on the planet.

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