There’s a story that always got told in the collectables industry about HR Giger. It’s one of those stories that has its origin in truth but has grown in the telling, such that I’m no longer sure just how much truth, if any, is left in the story.
The story goes that a young sculptor got the opportunity of a lifetime to visit his hero HR Giger in Switzerland where he was to go through the artist’s work as part of a collectables project his employer had negotiated with the artist. The sculptor arrived at Giger’s house and was promptly shown to an attic storeroom where he was locked in for several days without food and water. The moral of the story is that you should never meet your heroes.
I wouldn’t really call Alan Moore a hero of mine. Comics don’t dominate my life enough for me to have many idols in the field, and besides I’ve never been big on hero worshipping. However, there is something about Alan Moore I admire.
In a world where comics are becoming ever more central in the web of entertainment, spawning games and movies and books, the comic book world has become increasingly commercialised. Most writers have moved with the times, willing to compromise for commercial reasons. But Alan Moore… he seems to reject the commerciality of comics at every turn, not taking commission for movies based on his books, refusing to endorse movies, even when they are generally positively accepted. He’s a true artist, able to stand up against the tidal wave of commerciality that’s now found in every corner of every classification of entertainment. And I admire him for it.
I admire him, because I could never be like that, because the way I’m wired means I would instinctively compromise to make a project more commercial. I don’t think this is particularly wrong, I just like knowing that there are people out there who are better than me and will stand up for the art.
In reality I suspect working with Alan Moore is like treading on egg shells. It seems you only have to ever so slightly annoy him and you’re off the xmas card list. I could imagine working with him being slightly fraught. I’d like to think I’m wrong on this.
The problem is that I’ve worked with both Marvel and DC (in some limited capacity) and the thing about DC is that I’ve always found them incredibly considerate of their characters’ integrity. They treat their stable of superheroes with respect and reverence and so whilst I don’t doubt Moore’s statement of events, I can’t help but think “you would have been so much worse off with Marvel” (For the record, despite this, I’m more a Marvel than DC comics fan).
I don’t like the idea of Before Watchmen. It’s an idea being driven by dollar signs and not art. I don’t believe that the property needs to be updated to be made relevant, it’s a classic and should be allowed to age like any good classic does.
Moore is typically against the prequels, and I have to say I’m largely with him on this. However, it’s when he starts talking, in this fantastic interview, about those artists and writers involved with the project that I get a little uncomfortable.
“I don’t want to use “creators.” I feel that the industry employees who are actually working upon this book–I had only heard of about three of them–but I’m certainly not interested in seeing any of their work. But, I’m unlikely to because I don’t read comics anymore and they’re never going to do anything outside of comics.”
I’m not saying that Moore isn’t entitled to his opinion, but this belittles him in my mind. He comes across as vitriolic and slightly petty to me. And as the godfather of comics I want him to be more than this. I want him to be a hero and above it all, not a real person who can occasionally be cranky and bitter.
The internet is great at allowing us greater insight into the inner workings of today’s great artists, but sometimes, just sometimes, I still want that air of mystery.