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March 23, 2009

Ben Schwartz On Alan Moore And The Comics Industry As A Lost Cause


editor's note: the astute writer about comics and fine writer generally Ben Schwartz wrote in after my short piece on Friday where I stated I found some common ground with Alan Moore (via Eddie Campbell) on the issue of the industry's general hopelessness. he was nice enough to provide this counterpoint

Is The Comics Industry A Lost Cause?
By Ben Schwartz

I agree with your point that the "industry," whatever that is now, is no longer a cause.

Alan Moore's objections to the comics business he knows are understandable, mainly because they are the same ones voiced by creators since Jerry Siegel first endorsed his Action #1 check.

However, this isn't 1937, and Moore has opportunities in front of him that other people have made possible: Kurtzman, the '60s underground, Pekar, Spiegelman, Clowes, Ware, D&Q, Fantagraphics, and other examples of creative ownership like Dave Sim. Moore just doesn't want to work in comics, which he has stated many times. Like anyone who chooses not to be convinced of something, he never will be convinced there are other ways to go. I'm quite certain, even in these down times, Alan Moore could swing a deal he likes with Pantheon or a number of major publishers -- should he want that. We all know the work-for-hire past of the comics business. We all know the bullying tactics of large corporations. It's over -- unless you want to work for them.

In an interview with Moore in THE WORD last year, he expressed nothing but disdain for comics not in the creative genres he likes, and only disappointment that Frank Miller isn't living up to a potential Moore saw in him a long time ago.

Moore told THE WORD's Andrew Harrison:
"Ah yes, the new era of grown-up comics! That worked out, didn't it? There really should have been more to comics than 20 years of grim, nasty remakes of Watchmen. The comics world was very optimistic in the late '80s and maybe what we thought was the beginning was actually the high point. Frank Miller I haven't been able to read him for some time. Have you seen his latest idea? It is -- and I can hardly believe this -- Batman vs Al Qaeda. What can you say to an idea as absurd and juvenile as that? This is our response to the Iraq War? Miller's trapped in a teenage world of macho violence. Look at Sin City. Every woman is a bloodthirsty, semi-naked whore; every man is an indestructible killing machine. It's nasty, misogynist, Neanderthal Teenage, but it sells. And the other side of the comics industry, the achingly trendy, avant-garde books, they're mired in a teenage worldview too. All they provide are comfort-eating comics about neuroses and the emptiness of modern life and fear of dying alone. It's underdeveloped college-student stuff. So yes, I'd hoped for more."*
That's the comics world he sees. Whatever. It's apparent from a comment that ignorant he doesn't read comics, which is why his interviews all seem like they're from 1992. It's not the "industry," whatever that is, that's stopping him. He's done some very entertaining stuff. I hope he writes more comics after his new books come out, but let's not live in the past with him.

* THE WORD has since changed altered this interview on-line. You can still find this chunk quoted on blogs like CBR.
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink

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