Posts Tagged ‘Alan Moore knows the score’

God Exists, And He’s Awesome

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Watchmen, the Citizen Kane of comic books, the last word in superhero stories, the Grand Poobah of clever clever sequential storytelling, has finally been made into a movie. Many years ago I lived in Wrexham, and this was around the time I was first getting into comics, so I would regularly trudge down to my local comic shop (more of a stall actually) and try to find something that was as good as Judgment On Gotham. Every time, and I mean every single time I went in there, the guy who ran it asked me if I had read Watchmen and that ‘they’ should make it into a film. I never really wanted to get in a conversation with him (he once asked me how many packs of condoms I thought he should take with him on a holiday abroad. The correct answer was that he should have probably got himself chemically castrated, just in case), but I always felt that there is no way Watchmen could be adequately filmed. It’s too long, too dense, and too entrenched in the medium of comics to work. As good as the story and characters were, the best thing about Watchmen is the way the story is told. And you would have to lose the whole Pirate thing.

 

It’s unfortunate that even amongst comics’ most ardent devotees, movies are seen as the superior art form, and the ultimate compliment (and goal) for a comic is to be adapted for the cinema. Ghost World is an okay movie but the comic is so much better. Spider-Man, X-Men and their sequels are adaptations and contractions of entire series, and don’t exactly tell specific stories (I’ll never forgive Sam Raimi for bastardising The Death of Gwen Stacy in the first one. Ah maybe, life’s too short).

 

However, and back on topic. The trailer to the Watchmen movie looks pretty awesome. No wonder Dave Gibbons is stoked. Maybe even the mighty Alan Moore will give it a look. C’mon Affable Al, it might be a laugh! Although I noticed that the music on the trailer is by Smashing Pumpkins. Now I like The Smashing Pumpkins. Mostly. After all, Billy Corgan is a well known control freak, and he invented ‘emo’ (does that make him an emomaniac?). BUT this song was last heard on the soundtrack to Batman & Robin truly one of the worst cinematic experiences of my life. Yes yes it’s an easy target, and even Joel Schumacher admits it’s terrible (apparently the DVD commentary is a hoot), but is this really an association the film studio wants to create? Maybe a grinning, neon Arnold Schwarzaneggar is just what this flick needs!

 

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Moore Moore Moore

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Alan Moore’s a really good writer. That’s the considered opinion I’ve come to after rereading Watchmen. Not very incisive criticism, I know. It’s a bit like saying The Beatles are good. But you take it for granted after a while. I was struck by how sad the chapter about Doctor Manhattan is, how utterly disconnected the guy is from the rest of humanity and how he can do nothing about it. And that’s in the space of 26 pages! You should read it, you really should.

I was prompted to read it again, of course, by the release of the trailer to the upcoming film adaptation. I’ve always thought that such a thing could never work, but that trailer looks badass! Every shot in that thing is taken from the book (albeit a little pumped up – with action scenes added to the tenement fire and prison break sequences, apparently), so it’s looking to be a pretty faithful adaptation. As a fanboy it’s hard not to get overexcited.

 

Well, they did it with Sandman...

Well, they did it with Sandman...

 

 

But. Alan Moore isn’t. He wants nothing to do with it. To be fair, it’s not difficult to see why the writer of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a book mutilated by an execrable movie adaptation, might be a little disenchanted by the film industry. Seriously, how could you fail with that premise? Somehow they managed it!

So do you boycott the movie like Alan will be doing, or do you go along and geek out (and avoid thinking about the fact that it will probably be just another one of a slew of disappointing comics adaptations)

I recently came across this video from 1987 on youtube, and I think I remember seeing this programme at the time. Yeah I know, I’m old. Watching this again I’m struck by two things: For one there is the constant talk of impending nuclear apocalypse. Kids today are into bluetooth, High School Musical and knife crime, but back in the day all we had for entertainment was trying to get your head around the looming shadow of global destruction and/or the possibility of trying to live in a radioactive, post apocalyptic wasteland. Actually I think this documentary may have put me off reading Watchmen at the time, as it makes it look like it’s just a collection of images of people getting obliterated by a nuclear blast. Bleak!

The other thing is that Moore talks about his work being for children. I don’t have any figures to hand but I’m pretty sure kids don’t read comics these days. It’s a shame. If more kids took a look at his mindbending tales of ecological philosophy like Swamp Thing, or his later, convoluted take on the limitless power of the human imagination in Promethea, they might stop happy slapping eachother for five minutes.

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The Seldom Seen Squid

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

I am conflicted about this whole Watchmen movie thing.

A lot of adaptations of comics seem to miss the best elements of the originals. One of the most notable things (if you were going to be unkind, the only notable thing) about Frank Miller’s Sin City was the histrionic chiaroscuro of the artwork, which is of course the one thing you don’t get carried over into the film version. It just ends up as a bunch of actors shot in grey tones. The characters and stories weren’t much cop to begin with, which is why I never bothered watching it. Similarly The Spirit was all about Will Eisner’s quirky and inventive approach to storytelling, page layouts and generally mucking about with the form, whereas the film version just redoes Sin City.

The best thing about Watchmen is its structure, and the canny tricks Moore and Gibbons used in their storytelling. Luckily enough it has good characters, some fairly complex themes and a good story (even though one of the main plot threads is half inched from an old Outer Limits episode, which Moore directly alludes to in one chapter), so a film version should at least be watchable and might even be great.

That pirate comic will never work as a cartoon though. The point is?the kid is reading the comic and then you’re reading the comic in the comic, and then you’re reading them both at the same time. That’s metatextual… or something.?Should have just left it out. It’s like Tom Bombadil!

Some of the appeal of Watchmen for comics fans are the explicit references it makes to superhero comics (and American adventure comics in general).?Of course, to a mainstream audience who don’t know their Charltons from their Gold Keys, that stuff is meaningless, and the superhero genre is a fairly recent cinematic thing. However, it looks like director Zack Snyder is creating associations with past superhero movies. The redesign of the Nite Owl costume makes its links with Batman even more apparent (who cares about The Blue Beetle, right?), and Ozymandias seems to have been reborn in the mould of Joel Schumacher’s rubber nippled greek god fantasies.

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80s Coming Back

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Everyone’s done with Watchmen by now, but seeing as that movie is at least 20 years out of date, this shutting the stable doors after the horse has bolted style post is entirely appropriate. As a fan of the book I could sit here and endlessly pick holes. But I’m not gonna, seeing as everyone else has been doing that.

The most egregious omission is not the (spoiler alert!) squid (although the sheer WTF factor would have made the movie 85% better) or the Tales of The Black Freighter comic book (inexplicably adapted as a cartoon for the DVD release), but rather Alan Moore’s name in the credits. It’s his decision of course but it just seems wrong.

So, apart from more squid, what would have improved that movie? If they are gonna not only include Max Headroom (Kudos to director Zack Snyder for casting Matt Frewer) but also prosthetic makeup on Richard Nixon that’s so ridiculously caricatured it resembles a Spitting Image puppet, they should have gone all out on the 80s references.  Network 7, Dick Spanner, LM Magazine (Leisure Monthly? Lively Magazine? Lloyd Mangram? I guess they couldn’t make up their minds), Terence Trent D’Arby and the old Channel 4 logo should have all been in there. And rather than emo funsters My Chemical Romance, why not give these guys a crack at the theme tune?

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Reist

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Shortly after Marvel UK’s Star Wars reprint title published the Empire Strikes Back adaptation, it went from weekly to monthly, so for the first time complete stories appeared in a single issue rather than broken up over several. This created the need for additional stories, as the UK issues tend to regularly catch up with the US. The title had already seen stories that were unique to the UK title, but these were created by the series’ regulars. Post Empire, stories written and drawn by UK creators appeared, none of whom seemed particularly interested in the mythos of the Star Wars movies. As such these tales are wildly different from anything that had previously appeared in the series, and tend to lean towards the macabre.

A number of these stories were by visionary, mystic and awesome beard owner Alan Moore, and Death Masque is often attributed to him, although it’s actually written by his old mate Steve Moore (no relation). In it Luke Skywalker lands on a dead planet and starts hallucinating horrific visions of his pals being blown up and crumbling into dust and stuff likes that. Turns out it’s all down to a skull faced telepathic monkey called Reist. Luke pulls himself together and kills his tormentor, but, even though it’s fair to say Reist creeped me the fuck out, I can’t help but feel bad for the little guy. He was essentially a slave of an Imperial Commander (we can assume that our Skeletor looking pal wasn’t particularly well treated), and his ability to inspire nightmarish illusions might not even be voluntary so he probably didn’t deserve to be lightsabered in the chest.

Death Masque is the only story that appeared in the UK that was never reprinting in the US, so Reist may be one of the most obscure Star Wars comics characters out there. So far I haven’t been able to find any instances of Reist fanart, so here’s a long overdue shout out to the creepy yet strangely cute little monster.

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