Alan Moore doesn't go out of his way to talk about superheroes and comic books much. What happens is that a journalist will ask him about superheroes and comic books, and he will tell them what he thinks, and then the internet explodes. Again and again and again, asking why he is always going on about it. And with the new release of an anthology of his short stories, Illuminations, it's time for that all to happen again. Step up Sam Leith writing for The Guardian, and a sub-editor writing the headline "Watchmen author Alan Moore: 'I'm definitely done with comics'" even though we know that, with next year's upcoming release of Moon And Serpent Bumper Book Of Magic, that's not entirely true.
It's also worth remembering his daughter Leah Moore's take on her father's relationship with the medium and genre, the industry that soured him on it, and what we lost as a result. Added to that, what we have previously said, "I would like you to remember that Alan Moore had a very dry self-deprecatory sense of humour, and often says over-the-top statements which are meant to be mockingly self-critical and ironic, and people who take them as straight text and quote them in that fashion are generally bad actors of one stripe or other."
So while he is quoted as saying "I'm definitely done with comics… I haven't written one for getting on for five years", the following "I will always love and adore the comics medium but the comics industry and all of the stuff attached to it just became unbearable" nuance may be lost.
As well when he compares the desire to watch superhero films as leading to the worst of politics. "Hundreds of thousands of adults lining up to see characters and situations that had been created to entertain the 12-year-old boys – and it was always boys – of 50 years ago. I didn't really think that superheroes were adult fare. I think that this was a misunderstanding born of what happened in the 1980s – to which I must put my hand up to a considerable share of the blame, though it was not intentional – when things like Watchmen were first appearing. There were an awful lot of headlines saying 'Comics Have Grown Up'. I tend to think that, no, comics hadn't grown up. There were a few titles that were more adult than people were used to. But the majority of comics titles were pretty much the same as they'd ever been. It wasn't comics growing up. I think it was more comics meeting the emotional age of the audience coming the other way… I said round about 2011 that I thought that it had serious and worrying implications for the future if millions of adults were queueing up to see Batman movies. Because that kind of infantilisation – that urge towards simpler times, simpler realities – that can very often be a precursor to fascism." And that during recent political ructions, many of the biggest films were superhero movies.
This also appears to inform the novella in Illuminations, What We Can Know About Thunderman, named after a character originally planned for his Superverse comic with Rick Veitch from Image Comics which would have tied in with The Show, but which never came to fruition. described by Sam Leith as "a scabrous mickey take of an industry full of crooks, perverts, weirdos and arrested adolescents. One long and memorable scene finds its protagonists going through the flat of a revered industry figure after his death and finding his apartment literally waist-deep in pornographic magazines – and worse. Yet it also contains a rapturous evocation, with the pulse of memory in it, of a child's encounter with the magical carousel of comic books in a 1950s five-and-dime".
Illuminations is published on the 11th of October. If you live in the UK, the USA or Canada, you can forward any proof of purchase to the publisher Bloomsbury and receive a free badge or pin, depending on your nearest territory. Saturday, October the 10th, Alan Moore will take part in two back-to-back online events, both free, though donations are accepted.The first with Joseph Beth Books Gifts And Food, in collaboration with the Wisconsin Book Festival, at 10.30am ET. And then again with Brookline Booksmith and speaker Matt Bell, also in collaboration with the Wisconsin Book Festival, at 11.30am ET. You can also buy copies of the book through the event as well.
In his first-ever short story collection, which spans forty years of work and features many never-before-published pieces, international bestselling author and legendary creator of From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and other modern classics, Alan Moore, presents nine stories full of wonder and strangeness, each taking us deeper into the fantastical underside of reality.
In A Hypothetical Lizard, two concubines in a brothel for fantastical specialists fall in love, with tragic ramifications. In Not Even Legend, a paranormal study group is infiltrated by one of the otherworldly beings they seek to investigate. In Illuminations, a nostalgic older man decides to visit a seaside resort from his youth and finds the past all too close at hand. And in the monumental novella What We Can Know About Thunderman, which charts the surreal and Kafkaesque history of the comics industry over the last seventy-five years through several sometimes-naive and sometimes-maniacal people rising and falling on its career ladders, Moore reveals the dark, beating heart of the superhero business.
From ghosts and otherworldly creatures to theoretical Boltzmann brains fashioning the universe at the big bang, Illuminations is exactly that – a series of bright, startling tales from a contemporary legend that reveal the full power of imagination and magic.