Trouble with Comics

Let It Be

I reject utterly the premise and substance of “The Rare Case Against Creator-Owned Comics,” posted on the Newsarama blog. If anything, Alan Moore’s veto of a reprinting of the 1963 project is a good argument for creator-owned comics. Moore’s writing was the prime appeal of 1963, and speaking as someone who bought it new on the stands, and not disregarding the wonderful artwork by Steve Bissette, Dave Gibbons and Rick Veitch, I can tell you I bought it primarily — if not solely, because of the writing of Alan Moore, and the clever way in which he invoked the tone of Silver Age Marvel Comics. Could the artists have done it without Moore? Not with the same level of quality and creative ingenuity. Certainly not without the enormous number of copies sold. Could Moore have done it without the particular artists who illustrated his ideas? Of course he could have.  

Which isn’t to say I don’t sympathize with the artists. I do, completely. But I place more importance on Moore’s right to say “no,” and I totally sympathize with Moore’s desire to distance himself from the larger segment of the comics industry. Comics as a whole — readers and publishers — have treated him with contempt and ethical shenanigans for nearly as long as he’s been writing them. I can’t blame him at all for wanting to move on. I wish the 1963 partners could have reached an accord and would have loved to see the 1963 Annual back in the days when it was supposed to be published, but those days are over, and near so far as I can tell, as disappointing as it might be to the other creators, Moore is well within his rights to say “no.” If only his rights and desires had been respected a little more often over the last 30 years or so, he might be a little more magnanimous now in what he is willing to cooperate with, or at least tolerate.

Alan Moore has, in my over thirty years of reading his writing, earned my respect, my admiration, and my trust. I know he has higher-than-average expectations and standards when it comes to friendship and relationships, and I know there are good and decent people who have, for reasons I am not privileged to know, somehow found themselves fallen out of Moore’s good graces. I’m sure that’s unpleasant, even painful.

But Moore, as an individual and as a comics creator, has more than earned the right to associate with, both personally and professionally, only those he chooses to associate with. He should not be forced into business contracts or personal relationships he does not wish to be a part of, and we should respect that. He’s earned the right to work on the projects he chooses to do, and not a goddamned thing more. Frankly, he’s earned the right to be left in peace. Comics has taken enough from the man. He’s given enough of himself. Steve Bissette, as a former creative partner, has the right to say what he wishes about 1963, as does anyone else who was involved in the project. Everyone else is just blowing so much hot air.

Alan David Doane