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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.

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Alan Moore’s Lost Treasures: ‘The Hasty Smear of My Smile…’ by Marc Sobel

‘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.

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Alan Moore’s Lost Treasures: ‘The Bowing Machine’ by Marc Sobel

The third issue of RAW (volume two), the digest-sized final collection of Art Spiegelman’s art comix series, is possibly the best single volume of a comics anthology ever published. Included among the book’s extraordinary contents are Spiegelman’s own penultimate chapter of Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, a classic 32 page excerpt of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat (the famous ‘Tiger Tea’ sequence), an exquisite Gary Panter sketchbook, ‘Thrilling Adventure Stories,’ the first glimpse of the genius that was to come from Chris Ware, ‘Proxy,’ a highly under-appreciated collaboration between novelist Tom DeHaven and Richard Sala, and a long portion of Kim Deitch’s masterpiece, ‘The Boulevard of Broken Dreams.’ The anthology also includes strong standalone pieces from Lynda Barry, Muñoz and Sampayo, Drew Friedman, Marti, Justin Green, Kaz, and several lesser-known but equally talented European artists, not to mention a brilliantly sarcastic R. Crumb cover. With such an impressive line-up, it’s easy to see how a little story by Alan Moore got lost in the mix.

Yet ‘The Bowing Machine,’ Moore’s unlikely collaboration with Amy and Jordan creator, Mark Beyer, is among the highlights of this impressive book. Written in 1991 on the heels of the highly publicized collapse of the Big Numbers series with Bill Sienkiewicz after only two issues, and just before he began exploring alternatives to the Big Two superhero publishers, including, most notably, his 1963 limited series for Image Comics in which he re-imagined the origins of the Marvel universe, this nine-page short story appeared during a period which the author himself described as his ‘wilderness years.’ (Rose)

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‘Will You Listen to That!’: (Dis)Ability in Moore/Willingham’s ‘In Blackest Night’ by José Alaniz

‘In Blackest Night’, a perversely clever short story by Alan Moore and Bill Willingham, featuring Katma Tui of the Green Lantern Corps, allegorizes two pillars of disability theory: the social model and accommodation.[1] Seeking to recruit a new Green Lantern in a lightless void called the Obsidian Deeps, Tui befriends the native silicone life form Rot Lap Fan and offers him membership of the Corps. But there is one big problem.

To her shock Tui discovers that, living in an abyss, Fan has no eyes – therefore the concepts of light and color hold no meaning for his species. Consequently, the translator function of Tui’s power ring utterly fails to convey the phrase ‘the Green Lantern Corps’ into Fan’s language, rendering it ‘the (untranslatable) Corps’ (3). Similarly, it turns the Green Lantern oath, with lines such as ‘brightest day’ and ‘escape my sight,’ into an incomprehensible mass of ‘(untranslatable).’ ‘Mmm,’ responds a bemused Fan to Tui’s futile efforts, ‘Perhaps it loses something’ (4, emphasis in original).

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Doctor Who and the Genesis of Alan Moore by Lance Parkin

Doctor Who fans encountered Alan Moore at the beginning of his career. In June 1980, when his first strip for Doctor Who Weekly, ‘Black Legacy’, appeared, Moore’s body of published professional work consisted of a handful of magazine illustrations, and regular strips in the music magazine Sounds and local newspaper the Northants Post. His Doctor Who work predates his 2000 AD debut by a month, and represents his very first published comics work – amateur or professional – solely as a writer.

Marvel UK had launched Doctor Who Weekly in October 1979 as a virtual carbon copy of their popular Star Wars Weekly. Both comics were black-and-white, aimed at a young readership, their 28 pages filled with three comic strips and a variety of text articles, interviews, a letters page, pin ups and puzzles. The key difference was that Star Wars Weekly ran mostly reprinted American material, whereas the Doctor Who strips were new, and created in Britain. There were two: one featuring new adventures for the Doctor, and a back-up strip featuring monsters from the show [1].

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