Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Books: Alan Moore: Storyteller


Alan Moore: Storyteller
Written by Gary Spencer Millidge

Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:

My librarian super skills are - honed as they have been throughout my long years of service - pretty amazingly awesome. I don't get to see the lists of new stuff that we get added to stock - but I know my way around the catalogue well enough (and all it's various secret ins-and-outs) to be able to find out when we get new stuff in (and what stuff to obtain for the Comic Forum): but then - once every so often in a blue moon - I get blind-sided.  So - guy comes into the library to return some stuff (namely a bunch of Batman books) and I'm happily discharging them - and then - what the what? - I'm greeted by Alan Moore's big, goregous beardy face looking up at him from a hefty lovely-looking hardback. 

A book all about the wonders of Alan Moore?! Why did I not know about this?

So - I slipped it into my comic pile and spent the rest of the day waiting and waiting and waiting for a chance to take it home and read it properly. Of course when I did get it home and opened it up I realised the totally obvious: just because it has Alan Moore's name (and sexy face) on it - doesn't mean it's actually - duh - written by Alan Moore [1] and - double duh - it doesn't mean that reading it is going to be as much fun and as much - erm - exciting - as reading an actual Alan Moore book [2]. Because all this is (not that it's all that bad - and I did manage to make my way through most of it): is a cut and paste of top Alan Moore quotes (sample: Talking about comic audience: "It's not my job to work out what they want, it's my job to tell them what they want.") - put into chronological order with a few added bits of background detail (ooh - old family photos! And - speaking frankly - I was astounded to find out that Alan Moore didn't have his beard when he was a teenager - oh well - another illusion shattered). 

There was a point long ago (back when - no joke - I worked in a mental hospital library) that I got to spend all day surfing around the internet (man that was a good/totally boring job). One day I found a website that had complied every single Alan Moore interview and put them all in the same place (it's now sadly defunct  which just seems totally unfair - isn't everything on the internet supposed to last forever?) and I spent a good few happy weeks making my way through (I think that I should have gotten some sort of Alan Moore degree at the end - like a graduation cap with bushy  beard attached maybe): so a lot of the stuff in this book I've already read (another sample: "Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel … with a bit of pornography if you're lucky.") but regardless of whether or not you like the comics (altho - damnit - if you're a comic fan then there must be some Alan Moore somewhere for you to enjoy) the guy is brilliant conversationalist - and even if you're not getting the full interviews - his charm and warmth and intelligence still shines through. And I will admit that there were a few surprises hidden within (why have I never heard of The Bojeffries Saga until now? And - more importantly - why is not a collected edition that I can buy/get for the library??)  

If you're just a newbie to the wondrous world of Moore then this is a pretty good place to start - it'll introduce you to all the basics and will help you get an idea of what he's done and what's worth checking out - and for those of you who are more advanced in your comics appreciation there's lots of nice trips down memory lane and a chance to remind yourself of things you may have missed (altho I did reserve a copy of Captain Britain after reading the glowing recommendations and - urg - let me tell: it's not worth it).

[1] And is it just me (yeah it's probably just me): but it somehow seems oh-so-very apt that Alan Moore has people write books about him - while Grant Morrison (with Supergods) kinda has to write his own? It like says something (I dunno what) about how Alan Moore just writes his books and gets on with it - while Grant Morrison has to do a bit more of his self-mythologising himself... (and of course I'm sure that's not even true - I bet there's a ton of books written about Grant Morrison - but damnit - whatever: it would probably be a good idea of stop comparing them every chance I get - it's not really all that healthy and/or illuminating - more like trying to work out whose Dad could beat whatever other Dad: but yeah).

[2] By which I of course mean - comic book. Yes I have read Voice of the Fire and managed to get all the way through it (go me) - but I don't intend on reading Jerusalem (his next novel) when it finally comes out especially seeing how it's reportedly around 750,000 words long which make it longer than David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest which is (with all apologies to my more novelistically-inclined flatmate who thinks that Infinite Jest is the best book like ever) kinda the standard measuring size of novel's that are just too big for me to want to read (unless of course you know: Dark Tower).

Links: Forbidden Planet Blog A-Sort-Of-Review, Independent Review, Bleeding Cool Review.

Further reading: Supergods, Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book.

Profiles: Alan Moore.

All comments welcome.

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