Friday, 27 March 2009

Top 5 things written by Alan Moore

Continuing the comics theme. Alan Moore is a genius and I was lucky enough to be reading comics at a time when he was at his peak. He changed the face of comic book writing and spearheaded the British invasion of Marvel and DC. In the words of Pop Will Eat Itself - "Alan Moore knows the score".

1. Captain Britain (Marvel UK) Art: Alan Davis
In the early 80's Marvel UK, an imprint that had previously existed to reproduce Marvel US stories for the British weekly market, began producing original material. Alan Moore took over writing duties from Dave Thorpe and turned Captain Britain into the first truly great UK based title. Initially published in "Marvel Superheroes" Moore's stories were so popular Marvel created the new "Daredevils" title (which also featured the excellent noir-esque "Night Raven" text stories) to showcase his talents. Illustrated by Alan Davis, Captain Britain was an easy introduction to the world of Moore. On the face of it a standard comic-book superhero story but with the sort of sub-plots and hidden meaning that went deeper and darker than anything I read before.

2. V for Vendetta (Quality Comics) Art: David Lloyd
Dez Skinn was the man responsible for transforming Marvel UK and when he fell out with the Marvel hierarchy he began his own Quality Comics imprint. Warrior was the flagship title and in it's 26 issue lifespan it became home for the best and most original UK comic creations. Originally published in black and white with art by Dave Lloyd, V offered a dystopian view of Britain under the rule of a fascist party with echoes of Nazi Germany and Orwell's "1984". Warrior ceased publication before the story had finished and DC eventually republished and completed the story in colour for the US market.

3. Watchmen (DC Comics) Art: Dave Gibbons
Following his successful run on "Swamp Thing" Moore was given the chance to produce his own limited series. "Watchmen" was the moment when comics really broke into the mainstream. A story told from more than one viewpoint with a non-linear plot that redefined what comics could do. An alternative history of the United States where superheroes had existed since the 40's and were now considered part of the establishment.

4. The Ballad of Halo Jones (Fleetway) Art: Ian Gibson
My memories are kind of hazy now but I'm pretty sure my earliest contact with Moore was through 2000AD. "Future Shocks" and "Time Twisters" were one-off stories, a sort of sci-fi "Tales of the Unexpected". These were followed by "D.R. and Quinch" the time travelling miscreants who brought a touch of humour to "the Galaxy's greatest comic". Halo Jones was a more serious story chronicling the female lead's journey from teenage runaway to interstellar soldier. A radically different tale from anything else published in 2000AD, or anywhere else at the time.

5. Marvelman (Quality Comics) Art: Garry Leach/Alan Davis
Another "Warrior" story. Moore took a character, originally created by Mick Anglo in 1954, that had not been seen since the early 60's and transformed him into a contemporary hero. Initially unaware of his superhero past he struggles to overcome chronic migraines and dreams of his previous life. He eventually rediscovers his power and embarks on a search for the truth behind his loss of memory and the people responsible.

Crikey. That reads like a potted history of early 80's comics. Sorry, I'll try to be wittier and more concise next week.

No comments: