A few days ago, IDW Special Projects Editor Scott Dunbier posted the first page of an unpublished Alan Moore story for a long-forgotten Gen-13 Annual. He came across the document when sorting papers and has been posting a few others since. Including Alan Moore's original proposal for the ABC line, America's Best Comics. Published by WildStorm/DC in the nineties and noughties, it consisted initially of Tom Strong, Promethea, Tomorrow Stories Top 10 and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It remains a high point of DC Comics' publishing line over the decades. Until Dunbier posted it, it had never been seen publicly before. So Bleeding Cool transcribed it for your reading pleasure. Take it away, Alan.
New Comics Line: A Proposal. The Overall Picture
Basically, our proposal is a fairly simple one: I suggest a small, self-contained line of comics, perhaps four titles, featuring as exciting an array of regular and semi-regular talent as we can muster, working on very different projects within a single unifying vision. If this "line" of comics needs a name then I suggest something very plain, and old-fashioned like America's Best Comics ("Easy as ABC") or something like that.
The broad agenda for the line will be the manufacture of comic books to a standard of excellence and beauty in both art and writing that will make them unique in today's marketplace and more importantly, fit for tomorrow's. With the comic industry in a state of panic. fragmention and decline; with little else to lose and everything to play for, it would seem a strong, decisive move is necessary.
Rather than dwell pointlessly and inconclusively upon the many problems and negative factors that afflict the field, now is perhaps the time to play our strongest cards, those of imagination, Energy and Vision. These were, in truth, the only cards the industry was ever holding. All the rest was bluff.
We have also been guilty, as a medium, of a divisive factionalism that has further handicapped and blunted comics' mass appeal. We've divided up a field that was by no means a gigantic one to start with, fencing of our comic books into their separate genres, separating "mainstream" from "alternative", sifting the entry-level funnybooks for nine-year-olds from the "mature" books aimed at alienated, vaguely gothic teenagers.
Professionals within the comic mainstream sneer at the poor sales of lowly independents while the lowly independents, with justification, sneer at the poor taste and formulaic thinking of the mainstream. Comic books and the newspaper comic strip are seen as having little more than a remote, historical connection; are no longer speaking to each other. As the ship goes down, we argue about our positions at the captain's dinner table.
What if it were possible to synthesise a vision of the comic book that didn't suffer from this needless fragmentation and division? Comics…the broad field, with all the many things that word has come to mean…have an incredible and various energy when viewed together, have an undeniable appeal. Why shouldn't it be possible to distil everything that's great about the comic field into a single energy, a current running through the line of books we are proposing here? By drawing upon the incredible rich heritage of comics past that lies behind us and by drawing on the wide and varied talent that the present has to offer, I believe it should be possible to forge a powerful new alloy, durable enough to face the future.
As to the specific nature of the books proposed, I would suggest we cover all our bases by having one team book, one solo male adventurer, one solo female, and a multi-character portmanteau title in the style of the old format Action Comics. I also propose that we try to eliminate any uninteresting "filler" material, including the ads. Ads can be made stylish and appealing in their own right, perhaps with sonic overall graceful design to the ad pages. Other than ads, we could reintroduce some of the diverse features of comic books past. D.C's half-page gag filler strips during the fifties and sixties weren't terribly memorable or funny, but with the right talent applied to the idea it could yield something genuinely special. The same goes for pin ups, bonus features and letter pages: let us have nothing here that is throwaway, nothing that is dull or uninventive.
Digging through the boxes of scripts I came across the proposal Alan Moore sent me for the entire America's Best Comics line… this is where it all began. pic.twitter.com/4Crbhz98zr
— Scott Dunbier (@sdunbier) April 6, 2020