That Two And A Half Hour Alan Moore Webchat You Missed… (VIDEO BACK)

Dirk Manning writes for Bleeding Cool when he’s not writing comics for Image Comics/Shadowline, crafting columns at that other place, or doing a million other things.

If you enjoy the video below, and you think it’s appropriate, you can make a Paypal donation to HPekar@aol.com towards the Harvey Pekar statue tribute, to help with the cost of paying taxes, fees and the like.

Stuck in the British snow? Or in the American pause before the Superbowl begins? Have a spare two and a half hours? Read on…

A few months back Joyce Brabner, the widow of comics legend Harvey Pekar, started a Kickstarter Campaign in the hopes of raising enough money to help fund a Harvey Pekar Library Statue in Cleveland.

Towards the latter half of the campaign it was made known that one of the incentives would be “A Cup of Tea and a Long Winter’s Chat With Comics Giant Alan Moore,” in which Moore would, for the first time, host a live video conference in which he would answer “impertinent questions” from those who donated $99 to the cause.

By the time the campaign ended 58 official backers kicked-in for the privilege… and seemingly most of them were on hand for a nearly three-hour talk/chat with Alan Moore, who proved a gracious, amicable, well-spoken and congenial host while reading and responding to numerous questions previously submitted to him by those who donated… something that came as a bit of a sharp contrast to the more recent accusations of him, quite frankly, being a bitter old man who has locked himself away from the rest of the outside world, spitting venom at all who approach him.

Rather, Moore was the epitome of congeniality, proving himself gracious, rational and quite funny while speaking to all those present – even in the face of some potentially ire-raising issues (such as BEFORE WATCHMEN or the constant jabs made at him by Grant Morrison).

Throughout the discussion, which weaved effortlessly between talk about the craft/potential of comics and some very deep philosophical musings, Moore offered those present numerous thought-provoking, insightful, and several times rather funny answers.

While the full video is, for the moment, at least, available online, some of the highlights (from this attendees perspective, at least) are mentioned below, including his take on Grant Morrison, magic, potential future projects, and the difference between what he’s doing with THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN versus what DC Comics is doing with BEFORE WATCHMEN.

While the full video is, for the moment, at least, available online, some of the highlights (from this attendees perspective, at least) are mentioned below, including his take on Grant Morrison, magic, potential future projects, and the difference between what he’s doing with THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN versus what DC Comics is doing with BEFORE WATCHMEN.

Again, Moore was INCREDIBLY gracious with his time, and it should be noted that, while he did indeed honor his commitment in answering numerous questions posed to him by those who donated money towards making Harvey Pekar statue a reality (it was indeed funding and is currently moving forward), the ultimate intent of the talk was to honor Harvey and draw special attention to the amazing work he did as well as the enormous effort being put forth by those who loved and respected him to make a memorial to him a reality.

Whether you just read the highlights below or watch the video in full (which runs over two and a half hours)… enjoy! The video was recorded by Chris Thompson from Orbital Comics.


On whether such “lost” once-discussed ABC concepts/projects such as PEARL OF THE DEEP will ever see the light of day, perhaps through Avatar or Top Shelf…

“No… that chapter of my life is closed.” However, he did mention that he enjoyed that period and the work, though.

On Grant Morrison…

Moore approached the long-simmering (and mostly one-sided) “feud” between himself and Grant Morrison cautiously but candidly, stating that the only time he met Morrison in person was when Morrison was an aspiring who approached Moore at a signing and then later was given the chance to accompany Moore (and others) to a dinner.

According to Moore, Morrison was a self-professed fan of his work, and upon seeing his work in 2000 AD Moore stated that he found it derivative of his work on CAPTAIN BRITAIN and before adding “I thought he’d grow out of it.”

Moore then discussed recommending Morrison to Karen Berger for a “proposed Alan Moore farm with Vertigo Comics,” only to then start becoming aware of numerous disparaging comments made about him by Morrison.

Moore claimed to have no real issues with Morrison, per say, stating that he didn’t even think of him much… although he did recently turn-down a third-party offer (presumably from Morrison himself, although not confirmed by Moore to be such) in which they would allow bygones to be bygones. Moore stated that he turned down the offer, citing a complete lack of interest in Morrison as a person or creator, before closing his answer with a playful story about how the only point of contention between himself and his “dear friend” Michael Moorcock was about which of them Morrison had stole from more over the years, with each one stating that it was the other.

Moore added, jokingly, that he and Moorcock had almost come to blows over it, although he was glad that it never went that far since, while Moore believed he could take him in a fight due to his being a little older and a little faster, Moorcock was “as big as a bear” and could easily rip his arms off if he got hold of them.

On not betraying fellow comic creators…

Moore confirmed a long-standing rumor that he was at one point asked to write a JUDGE DREDD/BATMAN cross-over that was to be illustrated by Brian Bolland. Upon learning that John Wagner (a man Moore credited during the discussion as not being the creator of Judge Dredd, but clearly one of the character’s most influential writers) was not happy about this arrangement – specifically, for being passed-over to write it – he dropped the project and credits the as being what “soured” him on work other creators properties in comics.

On the difference between his use of established/pre-existing characters in THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN versus the use of his characters from WATCHMEN in the recently-confirmed BEFORE WATCHMEN projects…

As can be expected, Moore has a rather long and involved answer when this question was presented to him. To the surprise of many of the people present, though, Moore was very calm, composed and rational with his answer.

As he sees it, the difference between what he does with THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN versus what DC is doing with BEFORE WATCHMEN rests heavily on what Moore sees as the former work honoring a long-standing literary tradition of “irresistible fictional mash-ups” while the latter is an exploitation of a specific piece of work that was, in his words, “meant to only to go a finite time and have a finite end.”

He closed his answer stating, in part, the following:

“There is a tradition of discarded characters from the past – from literature – meeting-up together…

In literature, I would say that it’s different. I would say, and it might be splitting hairs, but I’m not adapting these characters. I’m not doing an adaptation of DRACULA or KING’S SOLOMON’S MINES. What I am doing is stealing them. There is a difference between doing an adaptation, which is evil, and actually stealing the characters, which, as long as everybody’s dead or you don’t mention the names, is perfectly alright by me. I’m not trying to be glib here, I genuinely do feel that in literature you’ve got a tradition that goes back to JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS of combining literary characters…

It’s just irresistible to do these fictional mash-ups. They’ve been going on for hundreds of years and I feel I’m a part of a proud literary tradition in doing that. With taking comic characters that have been created by cheated old men, I feel that that is different… and that’s my take on the subject.”

On what’s next for THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN…

Along with conforming that THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN – CENTURY: 2009 is now done and off to the printer, Moore revealed that the next LOEG project from himself and Kevin O’Neill will be titled NEMO: HEART OF ICE and be a 48-page tale that takes place in Antarctica during the 1920’s. 40 pages are written, and Moore predicted that the last eight pages will be written within the week so that Kevin could get started on it, predicting a fall release.

Moore revealed that the project, at least in part, came to fruition based on asking what O’Neill what he would like to draw, citing that drawing showing “massive scale” were of interest, as well as perhaps even boy adventurer comics – although whether the latter was an aside or directly tied to this particular project is unclear.

What was directly conformed, though, was that the story would take place largely in the South Pole and that there would be a prominent H.P. Lovecraft element involved in the story. “It takes place in Antarctica and [the work of H.P. Lovecraft] is a major component. You figure it out.”

Interestingly, according to Moore, at O’Neill’s prompting there was also discussion of somehow including a reference, at least, to King Kong… although such an incorporation was ultimately nixed so that (or perhaps because of) the story could take place in the 1920’s, approximately eight years before the famous excursion to Skull Island.

On NEONOMICON and writing horror in general…

Being a writer of horror comics and a huge fan of Lovecraft to boot, I took a special kind of joy at Moore discussing this topic at length.

As previously revealed in other interviews, Moore stated that NEONOMICON, Moore’s sequel to THE COURTYARD, came about “Because I had a massive, massive tax debt.”

The seed of the story, he stated, came from the idea of having a scene where Aldo Sax (the focal character from THE COURTYARD) was interviewed in the asylum and went from there. He admitted to being a bit concerned about the extreme nature of the material/content he had written in NEONOMICON, but also stated that after going back through and re-reading it, he found it was a work that he was “pleased with and could stand behind.”

He also want on to praise the art of Jacen Burrows, who drew both series, and commented on the nature of writing horror in general, stating “If you’re not dealing with stuff that genuinely shocks you, your really not doing your job.”

He also spoke frankly about the rape scene in the book which, intermittently, stretched over two issues, stating that he wanted to write a scene and make sure that it was not “titillating.” He also added that he felt when all was said and done he “did not go over a line” and that the scene said the things he wanted it to say about the terrible nature of rape.

On tips for aspiring magicians…

Starting with the practical advice to keep the “four tools of protection” handy and available, Moore (as could be expected) espoused upon this topic at length, stating “Being a magician is being a human writ-large,” before also stressing the importance of sticking to practices that have “practice applications to the real world” and to “progress adventurously.”

On the elastic nature of time and/or all time existing at once…

During one of many philosophically-based digressions, Moore began discussing the theory of all time existing at once (a topic of great interest to him that is also explored in WATCHMEN and FROM HELL), joking that he could have saved himself from writing 60,000 words of his upcoming novel JERUSALEM if he had sooner read the quote about “The persistent illusion of transience,” before talking about how he firmly believes that all time exists at once, we remember things from both the past and the future (although obviously more strongly from the former than the latter) and that, ultimately, “You should never do anything you can’t live with forever” since that’s exactly what you’ll be doing.”

On his upcoming prose novel JERUSALEM…

Moore stated that JERUSALEM will be a massive tome, potentially upwards of 60,000 words when finished (although some people in the live chat speculated that, given his tone, he may have meant to say 600,000 words), before adding JERUSALEM is a more ambitious project than anything I’ve ever done in comics… I want it to be about everything in the world, or at least everything in MY world.”

Moore went on to reveal that the book has “found a publisher” in Knockabout, who also published his DODGEM LOGIC magazines among other works, saying that this development has lead to him realizing he now needs to focus on completing the last five chapters of the book, with the hopes of it being completed later this year.

On his most under-rated work…

Moore stated that he still thinks A SMALL KILLING, a very personal and “adult” tale, is his most underrated work.

Also of interest was that fact that, when thinking of his favorite works, he now has a hard time considering the work he doesn’t own, and instead primarily takes the most joy in his creator-owned work such as FROM HELL and LoEG.

On possible future collaborations with Melinda Gebbie…

Moore revealed that Gebbie (his wife) is currently working on an autobiography (about herself, not Moore, of course, who dismissed the idea of ever doing an autobiographical comic about himself earlier in the discussion), stated that upon finishing it she will be starting on an adaption of Moore’s seminal performance piece (with Tim Perkins) ANGEL PASSAGE. Moore was quick to add that, while “she’ll be starting that real soon,” nothing beyond some basic concept sketches are done and he has no idea when it will see the light of day.

On … professional wrestling?!?

Much to the surprise of me, at least, Moore revealed that he was a fan of professional wrestling as an art-form (yes, that’s the term he used), comparing it to classical Greek theater and espousing on how it plays upon those very same tropes. However, he went on to add that his enjoyment of it has diminished in recent years due to the revelations of the many serious injuries suffered by its performers.

On whether or not he would ever write a computer game…

Not surprisingly, Moore, who’s a self-professed luddite, dismissed the idea of this ever happening, stating “I’m not a fan of the reader getting to chose how the story is going to end. I’m not saying there can’t be great games done… but I’m a real fascist when it comes to narrative.”

On web-based and digital comics…

In what was one of the most surprising revelations of the afternoon, Moore revealed that he has been mulling-over potential idea of doing a digital-based comic with Mitch Jenkins based on a project they’ve been working on together over the past few years, joking that part of the reason he’s considered taking it digital is because it’s “become an unwieldy project with a lot of different directions.”

Moore went on to discuss the potential for digitally-based comics at length, stating that while he didn’t own an iPad or a Kindle (and most likely never would considering how he didn’t even yet own a cell phone), he certainly was aware of what they were and recognized the potential that comics had using such devices since, in the digital format, creators would not be confined to the same format that the paper medium had dictated the medium take since the 1930’s.

He then went on to discuss how, for example, Well Eisner could have delivered THE SPIRIT using digital technology, referencing the idea of a dripping faucet in an empty room only to then quickly dismiss the idea of merely adding a “soundtrack” or some simple dripping animation, saying that utilizing the potential of digital comic to its full extent was something he was still mulling over quite a bit.

On his first interactive web-based experience…

As the discussion drew to a close Moore again thanked everyone for attending and for helping to fun that project that would honor the great Harvey Pekar and then that, as much as he despises the Internet (while adding that he has nothing against people who takes part in “cybernetic culture”), he closed the afternoon by stating: “When I see something like this, which is enabling a project like this to happen… yeah, I probably won’t be going online again anytime soon, it does give me a greater appreciation of the kind of possibilities that this world apparently has these days.”

Along with being a semi-regular contributor to Bleeding Cool, Dirk Manning is the writer/creator of the NIGHTMARE WORLD Trilogy for Image Comics/Shadowline as well as TALES OF MR. RHEE, which publishes new installments of intelligent online horror comic goodness every Tuesday and Thursday, also from Image Comics/Shadowline. He lives on the Internet and can be found on Facebook and/or Twitter if you’re into that sort “cybernetic culture” thing.