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T. Campbell On Why He Will Continue To Mock Alan Moore
posted September 15, 2010

Sorry, Tom, I will mock him.

I agree that throwing up our hands and saying "Alan Moore is crazy" does a disservice to Moore, and much more importantly, to the issues raised in his interview and the meta-issue of how a creative person should conduct himself in public. Unfortunately, that denies him the insanity defense, which could be a useful excuse when he airily dismisses both his old friends (ex-friends?) and every comics writer in the new generation, whose work he hasn't read.

Your argument that other people are crankier with less justification seems a bit desperate. Other people are serial ax murderers; that doesn't mean we need to set the bar of acceptable behavior low enough to make one-time-only murder okay. Yes, we have all had bad-tempered moments, but the reason comics people care about Moore's behavior in the first place is that his talent and career have made him a role model. And when role models fail, we should pay attention, because what happened to them could happen to us.

No one's even mentioned that Moore has also airily dismissed the entire medium of film, several times, but oh it turns out he really just meant all the films that are playing now, which he hasn't seen, and please won't you watch his new film project which gets it all right?

Regarding your concluding argument that "history" and his "lamentable experience" justifies Moore's ever-increasing irrationality, I've never entirely understood the comics community's addiction to tales of corporate betrayal. When an boulder doesn't fall on you immediately, but waits for a few minutes and then falls on you, is that a "betrayal?" Because it seems to me that corporations in general don't have a set of values to betray. They like money. That's all there is to it. They pursue ethical behavior when it is profitable for them to do so, and individuals at the company are sometimes moral people, but a company is about as moral as a boulder, because it is a group of people with sometimes-conflicting values and opinions brought together by common profit. The basic failure to understand this, the continued attempt to anthropomorphize companies as if they were individuals you could trust or talk to, strikes me as a common failing of the artistic imagination. (I admit that many people at companies are happy to exploit this failing, when it suits them. But by now, Moore should know better.)

Moore himself, from the late 1980s: "When you find out you've been standing in shit, you don't jump up and down in the shit to punish it, you walk away."

It would be nice to see him take his own advice these days. But it seems like every interview he's given in the last ten years brings him back for one more good stomp.

Tom Spurgeon: Thanks for writing, T. You are of course welcome to mock Alan Moore if you'd like. I hope you will extend me the courtesy of regarding your doing so with contempt. Making Alan Moore a role model and demanding he meet your standards of personal conduct seems to me the actions of a child, not an adult, and a spoiled child at that. Alan Moore doesn't owe you anything. The only thing I suggested when I pointed out that a lot of people have expressed the same concerns Alan did is that this suggested he was not aberrational or crazy, not that reasonable people couldn't disagree with him on a variety of issues. I certainly and publicly have in the past. I do now. I will in the future.

I very much don't think the comics community is addicted to tales of corporate betrayal. Very few people talk about these things at all, certainly no one did in this case until I underlined it. In fact, they avoided the subject. The fact that corporate malfeasance continues to come up when it does can in most cases be ascribed to the fact that companies keep acting badly. But in the main, the bulk of comics buyers and comics creators have voted with their money and time over and over again that these things simply do not matter to them. As to the point itself, I agree with you that companies are neutral moral agents in theory, but in practice they can become one thing or another, and dealing with those facts shouldn't be as easy as waving them away because of that theory. Both DC Comics and Drawn and Quarterly are companies, but one has a mixed record when it comes to how it exploits people and one has an exemplary record. I don't think anyone is stunned when corporations act poorly; I think they're pissed, largely because they also have the capacity to not screw people over.

I think a lot of this comes down to the fact that for whatever reason, Alan Moore didn't conduct himself in a way that suited comics fans. I have sympathy for that conduct, I believe it's rooted in a human reaction to real-world actions that can't be wished away because comics fans would rather a professional not talk about them -- or, if they have to, do so in a prescribed way. But even if you don't share my sympathy, I think it's much more important that we look at these issues and find solidarity with Moore as a fellow industry figure with something to tell us rather than to try to figure out if he's a guy with whom we'd want to hang out or not at the Bayfront Hilton or if he's meeting the standard we've set for him as a role-model or as a person to whom we ascribe the typical Internet legalisms of being a hypocrite for not remaining as resolute in all opinions he's ever expressed as we demand he be. In the end, I think we're all better off listening to Alan Moore than we are riffing on him. In the end, I think the seriousness that's expressed in your letter puts you in my camp more than you'd think.