Don Simpson and Gary Groth On Alan Moore's No-Credit For In Pictopia

On the 27th of February, Bleeding Cool posted an article referencing a then-current meme, Publish An Alan Moore Comic Without Saying It's An Alan Moore Comic. It referred to Fantagraphics republishing In Pictopia! as In Pictopia, the 13-page story by Alan Moore and Don Simpson, originally published by Fantagraphics in Anything Goes in 1986. This was a fundraising comic to help defend a libel case from Michael Fleisher over a Harlen Ellison interview in The Comics Journal. It has been acclaimed over the years, but subsequent reprintings of the story have seen worse and worse printing quality. This version is an attempt to fix that.

Don Simpson and Gary Groth On Alan Moore's No-Credit For In Pictopia
In Pictopia by Don Simpson

In the Bleeding Cool comments which I just read, Gary Groth, publisher of Fantagraphics, then and now, replies to someone who blamed Fantagraphics, saying "It was originally published and commissioned by Fantagraphics, as the article clearly indicates. We even reprinted it in our Best Comics of the decade in 1990. It is in fact owned by the creators, so there's no pre-creator-owned copyright loophole, whatever that might be, to exploit; it was published with Moore's acknowledgement and permission with the proviso that his name not be bylined. Amazing how many facts you could get wrong in a single sentence." Asked why Moore withdrew his name, Groth replied "None that I would feel it right to paraphrase or interpret. I think doing so would do a disservice to Moore because I don't trust that I understand it myself. Sorry. I'm also sorry this will distract from the work itself, which was an extraordinary effort on everyone's part."

On the Alan Moore Reddit, Don Simpson posted one page of his introduction essay;

Don Simpson and Gary Groth On Alan Moore's No-Credit For In Pictopia
In Pictopia by Don Simpson

The essay, what we have seen of it, states Don Simpson's exasperation with the increasingly poor printing issues with previous reprints, and that after he expressed them on Fantagraphics, saw publisher Gary Groth get in touch. Don Simpson contacted Alan Moore again, who agreed to the republication, refused payment to himself in favour of Don and the other artists, but also asked that Moore would not be credited on the book, if it were published by Fantagraphics. And so it seems has happened, the book has now been published without Alan Moore's name in the listed credit, cover or solicitation details. His name does appear to be credited for "screenplay" inside the book, according to the Amazon preview.

Don Simpson and Gary Groth On Alan Moore's No-Credit For In Pictopia
In Pictopia by Don Simpson

Given that much of the selling appeal of the book was Alan Moore's name, Don Simpson was rather put out by that. And that it was down to issues with a Comics Journal interview. This concerns a nineties interview with Moore's former collaborator Steve Bissette, after Alan Moore had taken From Hell from being anthologised in Taboo to being published as a solo title by Tundra/Kitchen Sink. Moore had taken serious offense at the advance draft sent to him and, reportedly, burnt it.

Don Simpson and Gary Groth On Alan Moore's No-Credit For In Pictopia
In Pictopia by Don Simpson

On the Alan Moore Reddit, Don Simpson explained his stance in length, frustrated, also adding "I pleaded that by removing his name, invariably fans would assume I was as evil as DC Comics, Hollywood, Dave Gibbons, Alan Davis, et al, but that didn't sway The Author." Simpson also adds "In any case, this edition is going to look wonderful (whereas two recent anthologies of The Author's work, in 2003 and 2015 respectively, did a horrible job reproducing the story). $20 is steep, I know, but I didn't set the price; no doubt the unit cost is necessarily high because we don't expect to sell very many, with or without The Author's name."

Don Simpson and Gary Groth On Alan Moore's No-Credit For In Pictopia
In Pictopia by Don Simpson

He also wrote, "I can only speak to my own experience; others will have to speak to theirs. I know that co-owning a property, as short and miniscule as "In Pictopia" is, has been unnecessarily arduous owing to the massive discrepancies of clout each party possesses, and the unnecessary obstacles to businesslike, cordial communication The Author has put in the way these past two decades. The results have been dismaying. As Steve Bissette has said, it makes the prospect of dealing with a ruthless corporation appear favorable by comparison. Life is too short, and this will be the last of it on my end."

Don Simpson and Gary Groth On Alan Moore's No-Credit For In Pictopia
In Pictopia by Don Simpson

As to whether or not the name removal was demanded by Alan Moore, it seemed more of a request. "We didn't have to remove his name, as I understand it. I agreed to his request thinking that he would eventually see reason, and before I fully understood what his grievance was (he sent only elliptical quips through a third party). Finally, he explained at length, by which time it was clear there was nothing I could do about something that happened in the 1990s that didn't involve me. At that point, I had already made promises to both sides, as it were, and left it up to Fantagraphics if they wanted to proceed without The Author's name on the cover. They did, and I knew I would catch hell from all The Author's toxic fans, which has pretty much come true. But I'm not going to lie to protect anyone's idealization of The Author."

Don Simpson and Gary Groth On Alan Moore's No-Credit For In Pictopia
In Pictopia by Don Simpson

Alan Moore recently talked about withdrawing from comic books as a medium, and has worked on other projects including The Show feature-length movie he wrote and appeared in, directed by Mitch Jenkins. His daughter, Leah Moore, added a lot more context to that decision.

Don Simpson and Gary Groth On Alan Moore's No-Credit For In Pictopia
In Pictopia by Don Simpson

In Pictopia, credited to Don Simpson with Mike Kazaleh, Pete Poplaski, and Eric Vincent, is published by Fantagraphics Books now.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.