Alan Moore: The Roundtable Discussion

DC Comics fans from wherever you are on planet Earth or beyond, welcome to Alan Moore: The Roundtable Discussion. Coming live from Hall 52 of the DC Universe Infinite Auditorium and Entertainment Complex this month’s program is presented by the DC History Club, Harley’s Crew, House of Horror, and the Justice League Book Club. We’ve invited some of the best and brightest minds in the DCU Community, and that includes you, for a discussion of arguably the most influential comic book writer in the last forty years, Alan Moore.

About twice each week, we will post a discussion question concerning Moore, his influences on comics and us, his most important works, and greatest strengths and flaws. What we hope follows is an entertaining and enlightening discussion.

This roundtable is scheduled to last for the month of July. But, like everything on the inter-webs, if you discover it later it’s still new to you and you can join on any question at anytime.

I have been asked to make a few administrative announcements before we begin.
-While this discussion is likely to center on Moore’s writing for DC Comics, much but not all of which is available on DCUI, citing his broader works is completely acceptable.
-Food and tobacco products are prohibited from Hall 52. Drinks served in the official 36 oz Alan Moore: The Roundtable Discussion water bottles are allowed.
-Alan Moore: The Roundtable Discussion water bottles, t-shirts and posters are available for sale in the lobby.*
-Don’t be a chucklehead. This is a talk about comics, not the fate of the human race. Chuckleheads will be escorted from Hall 52 with no refunds.

And, now to introduce the members of our roundtable: @Vroom, of the Justice League Book Club, @TurokSonOfStone1950 of the DC History Club, @Razzzcat of Harley’s Crew and @darkstarz of the House of Horror. Let’s also give @darkstarz an additional round of applause for the official Alan Moore: The Roundtable Discussion poster and our question prompt cards. I see a lot more roundtable discussion invitees (that’s you) ready to join and I’ll welcome them as they answer a question. And, finally I’m your host @msgtv from the DC History Club. Settle in, get comfortable, it’s going to be a great event.

*

There’s nothing for sale. Really, I wish there was, but there’s not. You should have already known that.

Plus, this is coming:

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Alan Moore available on DCUI:
Saga of the Swamp Thing: Moore’s Run Begins
Saga of the Swamp Thing: Love and Death
Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow
V for Vendetta
Promethea
Top Ten
Tom Strong
Terra Obscura
Terra Obscura 2
Tomorrow Stories
Voodoo
Vigilante: #17-18

Moore Centered Club Activities
History Club: Moore’s Swamp Thing
Harley’s Crew & History Club: V for Vendetta

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It was Saga of the Swamp Thing #20, 1984. There from the beginning. I had heard of Moore, I think from a comic magazine. For some reason one that was printed in a tabloid paper format rings a bell. But, we were warned that this was going to be a big deal. I was reading and enjoying Swamp Thing at the time and liked it. What’s hard to appreciate for someone younger I think is how revolutionary Moore’s writing was for the big two companies. Read Pasko’s last issue, then read Moore’s first. The only things I can compare it to at the time were Wolfman and Perez and New Teen Titans and Claremont on X-Men. Their styles were very different, but the level of their writing and characterization were as advanced. It didn’t take a genius to see right away that Moore was different. I can talk later about what his run on Swamp Thing meant to me, but in terms of what it meant to comics I think it’s the equivilant of Silver Age Flash appearing in Showcase #4. I think it, along with Titans and X-Men, changed everything that came after.

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The first text I read
By Alan Moore
Was this Ad he
Wrote for Swamp Thing

This is the place.

It breathes, it eats, and, at night, beneath a crawling ground fog with the luster of vaporized pearl, it dreams; dreams while tiny predators stage a nightmare ballet in sharp black grass. It is a living thing. It has a soul. It has a face.

At night you can almost see it.

At night you can almost imagine what it might look like if the Swamp were boiled down to its essence, and distilled into corporeal form; if all the muck, all the forgotten muskrat bones, and all the luscious decay would rise up and wade on two legs through the shallows; if the Swamp had a spirit and that spirit walked like a man…

At night, you can almost imagine.

You can stare into those places where the evening has pooled beneath the distant trees, and glimpse an ambiguous shifting of the darkness: something large, large and slow, its movements solemn and inevitable, heavy with clotted, sodden weed that forms its flesh. Its skeleton of tortured root creaks with each funeral pace, protesting at the damp and sullen weight. Within their sockets its eyes float like blood-poppies in puddles of ink.

You can inhale through flared nostrils, drinking in its musk, green and pungent. There is the delicate scent of mosses and lichens adorning its flanks. There is the dry and acrid aftertaste of the pinmold that spreads across its shoulders, fanning out in a dull gray rash.

You can stand alone in the blind darkness and know that were you to raise your arm, reaching out to its full extremity, your fingernails would brush with something wet, something supple and resilient.

Something moving.

You shouldn’t have come here.

This is the place.

This is the story.

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What made me an Alan Moore fan at age 9 was DC Comics Presents #85.

I had never read a story with Superman where he was so grungy and out of it. It opened my four eyes as to what could be done with The Man of Steel in this fantastic medium called “comic books”.

This issue was also my first comic exposure to Swamp Thing. Prior to DC Comics Presents #85, my exposure to that shambling, muck-encrusted mockery of a man had been:

  • The animated Swamp Thing TV series.
  • The toy line based on the above, made by Kenner.
  • The live-action TV series seen on the USA Network.
  • Parts of both Swamp Thing movies.

So, getting to finally see Swamp Thing in the medium that birthed him was an absolute treat.

DC Comics Presents #85 is an underrated gem of a read from an underrated gem of a series, and it’s also an underrated gem in Alan Moore’s DC output.

If you’ve read DC Comics Presents #85 before, read it again. If you haven’t read it, then as the narrator said at the beginning of The Nightmare Before Christmas, “I’d say it’s time you begun!”.

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What I will always remember
About Alan Moore is
These two issues:

https://www.dcuniverseinfinite.com/collections/story-superman-whatever-happens-tomorrow

At almost 71
I faithfully bought
My 10 cents then
(Horrors) 12 cents
DC Silver Age Comics.

The Silver Age now is known for two things.

The rational science based Titles
Edited by Julie Schwartz
Including
Flash
Green Lantern
Justice League of America
Strange Adventures
With Adam Strange
Atom
Hawkman

And the
Early Marvel Comics
By Lee, Kirby and Ditko.

Flash could be silly at times
But was nowhere as bizarre as the Superman and then the Batman Titles of that Era

Even then,
After reading a
Jimmy Olsen or Lois Lane Title
You could always say

“Well that was something. I hope adults don’t act that way in real life or I need to stay a kid forever.”

(I am talking about how Lois Lane acted and how Superman behaved toward her (and Supergirl, his own cousin, abandoning her to an orphanage.))

But Moore took
EVERYTHING
from Superman’s
Silver Age
And made it:

Compelling
Rational
Full of Feeling
And oh so dangerous.
(As with many works of
Moore, there is a high body count,
Many causing great sorrow,
As secondary characters
Died as they should
Always have been portrayed.)

When ever
I am asked
What is the
Best Silver Age arc
I will always
Recommend these two issues,
Even though they were
Published in 1986,
15 years after the
Silver Age ended.

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My first exposure to Alan Moore was V for Vendetta, which I purchased as individual issues in high school. I remember enjoying the story, although I need to reread it to refresh my memory. I also greatly enjoyed Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow and, of course, Watchmen. I still need to read his run on Swamp Thing.

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Starting on V in high school is stepping into the deep end right away. And, welcome to the roundtable @scoop001. The chairs are adjustable.

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This is a sort of mixture between two things that happened around the same time. The Watchmen movie came out and my friend handed me his copy of Watchmen. At the same time, I picked up Killing Joke. Later I found out League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was based on his comics. So my first experiences with Alan Moore were technically through movies and I have to chuckle as I am sure he would appreciate that.

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A chuckle spreads through the auditorium

I would always rather approach a work through the original written source first, interesting to discover Moore in the opposite direction.

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I was out of comics from 1984-1990 so I missed out on Alan when he was new.

First would have to be the Watchmen graphic novel I bought in a used bookstore in 1992.

First new comic would be Spawn #8 with the 1963 mini series right behind it in 1993.

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The First, I read though Ii did not realize it till much later was Marvel Super Heroes #377 in 1981 which I believe introduced Captain Britain in the UK, my Aunt was over there for work, and brought me a copy back. The first I really recognized him in was during his Saga of the Swamp Thing run in 84 and 85. I remember my Comic Shop guy, telling me I had to read this and add it to my pull list because it was going to be epic, as usual he was right.

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First, welcome to the table @CaptainYesterday and @RexRebel. I admit, @CaptainYesterday I didn’t know Moore did work on Spawn, interesting. Very interesting
connection there @RexRebel with the Marvel UK comic. Was wondering how many roundtable members we were going to get who read Saga during its original run.

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The 1963 series

I remember that.

I liked it
But only have vague memories

I think I liked
The quasi Captain America issue
Since I always wanted
Archie hero Shield
To be good
After reading the first issue of
The Double Life of Private Strong in a barber shop.

Interesting
A new issue of Shield came out
With maybe 4 Shields
Including Lancelot Strong
Who I thought was owned by the Estate of Joe Simon

Kim Brand, Fly Girl was there but no Fly, as usual because the Estate owned that character.

Spoiler review

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Alan Moore interview
On Jack Kirby

https://www.twomorrows.com/kirby/articles/30moore.html

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League of Extraordinary Gentlemen wasn’t exactly a popular comic within my circle of friends. For Watchmen, I think it helped me appreciate the movie more because I wasn’t as nitpicky. I should also mention that my roommate worked (still works?) at a movie theater so we got in free the Wednesday night before the movie was released. I think we were supposed to be quality control to make sure he spliced the film together correctly?

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Great Article

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TJKC: What exactly made those classic Marvel stories so revolutionary? Was it that the storytelling was more mature than DC?
ALAN: An extra dimension had been added to both the storytelling and the art. In a sense, the DC characters at the time were archetypes to a certain degree.

This is actually something I have been thinking about a lot. DC and Marvel, while they are both great have characters that are written for a different time. Yes, characters are updated but it doesn’t change the fact that a nuclear threat is not at the same heights that it was when Hulk was created.

One thing that Alan Moore was able to do was read a room, regarding the current climate, especially in the 1980s. Would Watchmen be as impactful if it was Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, The Question, and Peacemaker? I know you could point to Miller’s Batman or Daredevil as examples to prove that it would. I am of the thought that it wouldn’t, it might have been an influential story but I don’t think it would be a New York Times bestseller. I am not sure if you could tell that kind of story in a world looking at midnight on the actual Doomsday Clock.

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I think loosing the ability to use the actual characters frees Moore from them. Conversely, he takes Swamp Thing, drills to what the core of the character is, then reinvents the character from the inside out.

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