I'll be a happy one when this month is over.

*Busy day, and a far busier week ahead.

Alan Moore’s Exit Interview

Still, I have read some things. For example, there’s this, new from Airwave Publishing, essentially a follow-up to interviewer Bill Baker’s 2005 book Alan Moore Spells it Out, from the same publisher. I use the term ‘interviewer’ since that’s most accurate - like its predecessor, Alan Moore’s Exit Interview is (like the title helpfully notes) nothing more than a lengthy interview with the Magus, who has a special aptitude for going on and on and on at great length without a lot of prompting, to the point where suddenly the book’s over and you realize Baker has only actually asked about 18 questions total over the course of 80 pages.

It’s only $9.95, so all the crazy Moore fans out there will probably be quick in adding it to their personal libraries, but there’s probably not a ton of stuff in there that those same crazy fans don’t already know. Kind of like Baker’s last Moore book, if I’m remembering correctly, it works best as a compilation of answers and statements that Moore has already given elsewhere, but rarely in such a compact, focused space.

For example, much of the first quarter of the book is devoted to Moore explaining, at great length, the entire history of his dealings with film adaptations of his work, from the bits and pieces of his writing that popped up in 1989’s The Return of Swamp Thing to his still-infamous (and still-incomplete) severing of relations with DC over the V for Vendetta movie. There is a bit more depth than has been provided before -- the details of Moore’s give-and-take with DC over what exactly his name will be appearing on in terms of film and comics reaches near-farcical proportions, though it will be up to the reader to decide who’s the funniest character -- but Rich Johnston has already summed up pretty much all of the truly new information in his column.

The book’s main focus (as you can probably tell from the title) is Moore’s feelings on the comics industry, specifically the front-of-Previews core of the Direct Market that Moore has spent an awful lot of time working in. Much is made over the lack of racial and gender diversity, the lack of progressive aesthetic thought among creators - all the things you’ve probably come to expect. I do wish Moore would speak a bit more about the comics world outside of the Marvel/DC axis, although I’ve sort of gotten the notion from reading all of these interviews that Moore either genuinely doesn’t know an awful lot about what’s lurking in the wider terrains beyond the Direct Market-focused comics world he’s primarily made his name in, despite his recent devotion to publishing with smaller outfits, or he’s chosen to rein in his criticism to that which he knows best, sort of expecting the reader to understand that his references to the comics ‘industry’ only cover a certain part of the whole.

Understandable, I suppose, although it gets awfully frustrating when Moore, say, shoots a vaguely-defined barb at the lack of depth in otherwise well-executed “high brow areas” of the comics landscape, completely refusing to name names or offer any sort of substantive detail to his critique. I mean, sure, it is just an interview, not a thesis, but in as detailed and often cutting an interview as this, certain expectations are raised. He is quite generous with praise for the works he enjoys: Chester Brown’s Louis Riel, David Rees’ Get Your War On, the works of Peter Kuper and Joe Sacco. He even speaks very briefly about manga, perceptively noting that the very term ‘manga’ has grown constrained with the rise of certain Japanese comics’ popularity, eventually congealing into a set of visual and content expectations, which I will note tend to revolve around the shounen/shoujo axis of pop. But if Moore is so insistent on wide-view aesthetic development and catholic acceptance of the beauty of the comics medium, well, I’d have preferred that his comments engaged a bit more with current matters outside of the dominant publishing forces of the 1980s, though it makes some sense that he’d want to stick mainly to what he personally knows. There’s a definite conflict there.

Moore is at his best discussing purely personal and artistic things, like his involvement in the early British fan scene of the ‘60s, which he posits as a small but progressive bunch of hippies in contrast to the heavily nostalgic bent of US fandom. He certainly knows how to get someone excited over his future projects - nearly everything I hear about his 35 chapter, 1000-page prose novel Jerusalem only makes me more excited, speaking as a great admirer of Voice of the Fire, Moore’s first prose novel and one of his very best works overall. Unfortunately, he’s apparently not even going to be done writing it until mid-2008, at the earliest. More details surface concerning the final ABC book, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier - this interview dates from May of 2006, and at that time Moore was under the impression that there still was going to be a musical component, a vinyl 45 containing two singles from Eddie Enrico and His Hawaiian Hotshots (Moore and regular musical collaborator Tim Perkins - the name‘s a Pynchon reference), along with the 3D glasses, the Tijuana Bible, and a ton of other things:

Yes, parts of it are a comic book. But it expanded to include two or three other media, and it’s a bumper bundle of fun and entertainment. But, it’s not all comics by any means. Comics are part of the package, but it’s something bigger than that. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but everybody will like it.”

Ah, confidence. If nothing more, that feeling spills off the page and onto you as you read, and you’re ready for the next chance to pay attention, all qualms temporarily dissolved.

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