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Rummaging Around in Alan Moore’s Shorts by Maggie Gray

The growth of academic work concerned with prolific and iconic British comics writer, Alan Moore, has been indicative of the wider growth and consolidation of comics studies as a field. Scholarship has moved from a near-exclusive focus on deconstructive superhero title Watchmen in the context of the mid-1980s adult revolution (Sabin), to encompass a broader range of Moore’s works. Alongside the ubiquitous Watchmen, comics such as From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and V for Vendetta have been the subject of numerous journal articles (in ImageText, the International Journal of Comic Art, Image & Narrative, Studies in Comics and the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics to name only a few), as well as featuring on both undergraduate and postgraduate reading lists. Moore’s importance within UK comics studies was signalled by the one-day conference ‘Magus: Transdisciplinary Approaches to the Work of Alan Moore’ that took place at the University of Northampton in May 2010. [1]

There have equally been a growing number of publications that confront Moore’s career as a whole, ranging from George Khoury’s extended interview collections to the annotated bibliographies of Lance Parkin and Gianluca Aircardi, alongside Gary Spencer Millidge’s richly illustrated survey Alan Moore Storyteller and charity tribute volume (with smokyman) Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman. To date the most significant of these monographs has been Annalisa di Liddo’s Alan Moore: Comics as Performance, Fiction as Scalpel, which critically analysed not only those of Moore’s works that have become canonised, but also more academically disregarded series such as The Ballad of Halo Jones, unfinished works like Big Numbers, and production in other disciplines including multimedia performances and prose novel Voice of the Fire.

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Call for Papers: Rummaging Around in Alan Moore’s Shorts

Guest Editor: Maggie Gray

One sign of the rude health of comic book studies is the growing body of scholarship that focuses on, encompasses, or takes as its starting point, the work of acclaimed and prolific British comics writer Alan Moore. However, while Moore scholarship has moved on from an almost exclusive focus on landmark comic Watchmen to encompass overlooked or less popular works like A Small Killing or Tom Strong, and even unfinished epic Big Numbers, it still concentrates overwhelmingly on what Charles Hatfield calls ‘comics in the long form’, major ongoing serialised comics and self-contained graphic novels. [1]

Yet this means that the wealth of Moore’s ‘short form’ works has been overlooked. These include the underground and newspaper strips, cartoons and illustrations with which he began his career as a freelance cartoonist; the back-up features in 2000AD and Marvel UK anthologies where he claims he learnt the craft of comics writing; one-off collaborations with figures like Peter Bagge, Bryan Talbot, Hunt Emerson, Richard Corben, and Harvey Pekar; contributions to fanzines, benefit anthologies, annuals and spin-offs; and even diffuse work in other media (short prose stories, poems, essays and articles, pin-up art, CD covers etc.).

Looking more closely at such works not only enables us to plug gaps in Moore scholarship and flesh out our understanding of his career, ideas and practice, but also to challenge the privileging of the long form in comics scholarship in general.

In this spirit, we are looking for succinct contributions of 1,000-1,500 words, for a series of Comics Forum blog articles on Moore’s shorts to be published throughout September 2012 on the Comics Forum website (http://comicsforum.org).

If you are interested in contributing, please email a brief abstract (c.100-200 words) and a short biography of yourself (c.50-100 words) to Maggie Gray at: comicsforum@hotmail.co.uk. The deadline for abstracts is June 1st 2012, and you will receive notification of acceptance or rejection by June 18th.

Click here for a copy of this call for papers in PDF format.

Comics Forum is supported by: Thought Bubble, Dr Mel Gibson, the University of Chichester, Arts Council England and Molakoe Graphic Design.

[1] – Hatfield, C., 2005. Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, pp.4-6.

 

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