The Comics Forum website is two years old today! Following on from last year’s round up of articles, in this post I’ll be providing a review of all the pieces we’ve published this year, and launching the Comics Forum 2013 call for papers.
Category Archives: Rummaging Around in Alan Moore’s Shorts
I would like to thank all the contributors to this series considering Alan Moore’s short form works, and thank Ian Hague and Comics Forum for having us. I hope readers have found the articles interesting, enjoyable and thought-provoking. To me, they have certainly demonstrated that many of the acclaimed qualities of Moore’s larger projects are equally present in these more academically disregarded works.
Recurrent themes identified across the contributions include an exploration of the potency of language, as Jose Alaniz puts it, ‘the perception-shaping power of words’. Alan Moore draws attention to the ideological operations of language, the way it serves to demarcate borders of inclusion and exclusion. However, he also insists on the utopian potential of words, and their ability to remake the world. As Daniel Werneck points out in relation to Moore’s treatment of Aklo as a ‘language virus’, this focus on the ‘role of words in modifying a human’s perception of reality’, is closely connected to his interest in the occult, and conception of magic as convergent with the liberatory capacity of creative practice.
For fans of the esoteric the news was wonderful: Alan Moore writing an opera on mystical adviser to Queen Elizabeth, John Dee, with Gorillaz. It sounded like a match made somewhere in an alchemical lab with every potential of turning into gold. There was just one problem: Gorillaz couldn’t be bothered to come up with some artwork for Moore’s magazine Dodgem Logic, despite having the issue held for them several times. As Moore told it:
And then we just got through to the point where I just met them, I said, yeah, I can get the other two-thirds of the opera written by the end of February, middle of March at the latest. It will mean working flat out, but I can do it. You still alright for that deadline for issue three? And they said yep, and it turned out they wouldn’t be able to make that issue three deadline even though we extended it for them for a little bit because they had too many commitments, so at that point I decided I had too many commitments as well.
The Shadow Over Northampton: The Transmogrification Of The Lovecraft Mythos By Alan Moore by Daniel L. Werneck
‘The Courtyard’ is a short story, written by Alan Moore and first published in 1994, as part of an anthology named The Starry Wisdom: A Tribute To H. P. Lovecraft. The prose was later adapted into comics form by Anthony Johnston, with artwork by Jacen Burrows, and published by Avatar Press in early 2003. The same publisher re-released this title in four different editions between 2003 and 2009. This success led Avatar to offer Moore the opportunity to continue the story, and Neonomicon was published in four issues from July 2010 to February 2011. It is a direct continuation of ‘The Courtyard’, to the extent of making the two stories indissociable.
One of the most typical aspects of the “Lovecraft mythos” is how the author designed his fictional world to be an open literary game that could be played by other writers. Lovecraft was joined in this game by some of his contemporaries, and even replied to them by reusing their characters or fake myths in his own stories, thus creating a rhizome of citations that grew without control, like memes, incorporating elements conceived by various authors into a masterful puzzle of fake occultism and make-believe mythology.
‘The Hasty Smear of My Smile,’ a four-page story which ran as a backup feature in the final issue of Peter Bagge’s Hate (#30), is a miniature masterpiece. It’s a capsule version of Moore’s considerable skill and the epitome of everything that makes him fascinating as a writer. The story essentially brings personality, perspective, voice and history to the Kool-Aid man character, a ubiquitous corporate mascot used to sell swill to unsuspecting children.
The Kool-Aid Man, originally named the ‘Pitcher Man,’ was created in 1954 by Marvin Plotts, an otherwise anonymous art director for a New York City advertising agency hired by General Foods, the powdered drink’s corporate manufacturer. Plotts, who claimed that the inspiration for the character – a glass pitcher full of cherry red Kool-Aid with arms, legs, and his signature broad smile – came from watching his son draw smiley faces on a frosted window. Fairly simple in concept, Plotts could not have imagined how successful his character design would become. Within just a few years, his beaming ‘Pitcher Man’ was at the heart of a massive advertising campaign aimed at America’s schoolchildren.