Girth Radio Presents…
Alan Moore has announced his (semi?)retirement from comic books. Similar to Stan Lee his contributions to this fantastic medium are obvious yet difficult to directly and properly delineate. Such is the murky constitution of creative collaborative work.
Moore’s comics from the infamous Watchmen to the classic Saga of Swamp Thing to the mysterious The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen have not only endured their share of criticisms (some of it just classic hatorade) but have thrived establishing a significant benchmark of quality not traditionally associated with comic books.
(Side Rant: American animation could use an Alan Moore. The genre’s marred in tepid stories aiming to sell toys and happy meals; liberally sprinkled with wink-wink jokes for long suffering parents. The genre is profitable yet stagnate. Gonna take way more than Pixar’s Up to get it going…that usually requires guts and a willingness to accept you’ll be penalized for failing to accept the status quo. Which is an astonishingly stupid cycle considering how effective rebels are and all the amazing work they’ve blessed us with…End Side Rant)
Quality of course…is too difficult or vague to accurately measure for some comic book consumers like bloggers. Especially when it’s easier to count the number of visual minority superheroes or Creators, present that as a “statistic” online and then Cry Wolf your way to effective metrics and significant ad revenues. Similarly we’ve seen how the nature of online “work” has shifted from analysis to badgering and/or shaming Creators for their immorality or whatever inscrutable line of decency they crossed.
Moore in a 2014 interview gave an interview that effectively brandished his middle finger to one and all online critics…instantly shutting down their flimsy criticisms: “Better that I let my work speak for me, which is all I’ve truthfully ever wanted or expected, both as a writer and as a reader of other authors’ work. I’ve never presumed that I should have access to my favourite authors’ lives or, indeed, to anything more than that part of themselves which they’ve expressed through the medium of the words on the page.”
And that’s it right there…if you don’t Moore why are you talking like you understand his motivations? Stop Talking.
Here’s the thing with Moore…the media has done such a sloppy job failing to properly contextualize his comic contributions. Moore didn’t “invent” adult comics or whatever nonsense…timing is everything and by the time he came along the comic audience was old enough to read something sophisticated. Frank Miller same luck/timing. As More said in this interview: “People have been saying since the mid-’80s that “comics have grown up.” I don’t think that’s factually true. I think what happened was that there have been a couple of comics that seemed to be reaching for a more mature readership, and that has coincided with the emotional age of the mass audience coming the other way.”
(Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers discusses historical timing. The media of course focused on the whole 10, 000 hours nonsense but if you ignore that you see how Gladwell uses Bill Gates as an example of historical timing…just as he was coming of age computers were not taking up an entire room…historical timing played a key part in Microsoft’s creation. We’ve seen that before with Michael Jordan being drafted to Chicago in 1984 just as the rise of cable sports coverage is blossoming just as Oprah Winfrey this intrepid television host set up shop in Chicago in 1983. Timing. Anybody’s whose made a solid joke at a party fully understands the value of timing).
Horrifically the vast majority of the pop culture we consumed as kids (much of it recently celebrated in Stranger Things) would simply not fly in today’s rigid political correct standards. Alan Moore’s retirement is a symbol of how we’ve replaced comics’ unlimited potential as a medium with safety…we’re offering kids uninspired visual minority vampires with no fangs. Bubble wrap comics for overly-sensitive emotions.
I can only hope in Moore’s absence historical timing will come around like tumblers in a safe dial and we’ll unleash a vicious tsunami of grand storytellers operating above all online reproach like Steven Seagal does Above The Law and drag this beautiful medium kicking and screaming into the bright and shiny modern future.