This nation has produced many literary greats over the years, but none of them are quite as out there, or as hairy, as Alan Moore. The Northampton-based writer has primarily made his name writing a slew of critically-acclaimed and hugely influential comic books, but he is also a practising ceremonial magician and all-round cosmic individual. Alan smokes a lot of weed, drinks a lot of tea, worships a second century false deity snake god called Glycon and has an amazing beard. He ‘s also really wise and knowledgable and is good at commenting on stuff. Check out what he has to say here about conspiracy theories:
Alan has produced a huge body of work in his lifetime so far. Alongside a stack of comic books there is also poetry, novels, music and essays. He curated an underground magazine called Dodgem Logic a couple of years ago and has a short film on the way as well as a children’s guide to magic. With so much goodness at your fingertips, where should you start? Don’t worry kids, Sick Chirpse is here to point you in the right direction with a guide to his best and most important creations.
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The first place you should start is Watchmen, an epic saga of dysfunctional superheroes and arguably his finest work. It was originally a 12-issue series he wrote for DC Comics in the mid 1980s which ended up changing, well, everything. Comics were never quite the same afterwards, but the book’s influence also reaches to film, television and other media. Speaking of film, it was made into an alright-ish movie in 2009 but it’s not a patch on the comic, which combines a brilliant, gripping story with metaphysics, philosophy and other mind-blowing stuff. It’s as essential now as it was in 1986.
Politics has always been a recurring theme in Alan’s work, and the man himself is a self-professed anarchist with a deep dislike of organised institutions, be they governments or religions. Another vital addition to the reading list is V For Vendetta, a grim tale of a lone anarchist vigilante lashing out at a Fascist government which controls England in the not-too-distant future. The comic is also responsible for giving birth to the iconic Guy Fawkes mask which has been co-opted by the Occupy movement as well a ton of dudes looking for an easy option for a Halloween costume.
Though he has long since drifted away from the blockbuster side of the comics industry, once upon a time the world’s biggest superheroes were Alan’s bread and butter and in the late 80’s he wrote what many consider to be the greatest Batman comic ever: The Killing Joke. One of the darkest mainstream comics ever made, it examines the origins of The Joker and pulls no punches, coupled with stunning artwork from Brian Bolland.
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The mid 90’s were Moore’s wilderness period but he returned towards the end of the decade in stunning form with The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It started out as a rip-roaring adventure which teamed up figures from 19th century science fiction and horror, including the likes of Captain Nemo, Alan Quatermain and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, as they fight to save England from all manner of disaster. Volume 1 is as fun, laugh-out-loud funny and spectacular as any Hollywood movie and the series gets progressively more insane and labyrinthine as it progresses, to the extent where reading the most recent books may well make you feel like you are tripping your balls off.
One of my personal favourites from the Alan Moore library, and one which doesn’t seem to get quite as much love as his other stuff, is Top 10, a love letter to the golden age of comics. The book tells the story of police officers on the beat in a city where every single person has superpowers. It’s like a cross between Hill Street Blues and a less pessimistic version of Watchmen and a single page contains more creativity, humour and invention than some writers manage in a lifetime. It will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy when you read it.
There’s an absolute ton of other titles as well, like his ultra-forensic Jack The Ripper saga From Hell and his ecological horror/fairy-tale Swamp Thing, and I could spend another couple of thousand words harping on about how brilliant they all are, but time is short and I have shit to do. Alan’s next comic, a League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen spin-off entitled Nemo: Heart Of Ice will be on the shelves next month. Until then, go visit your local bookshop (don’t go on Amazon, those dicks don’t pay their taxes) and expand your mind to breaking point. And maybe grow a beard as well.
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