Entries in Lane Lectures (2)
I don't think I'm making an outrageous statement when I say that Alan Moore is one of the premier writers of his comic generation. Of course we all know him for Watchmen, the superhero satire, published in the mid-1980s with art by Dave Gibbons. In fact that book provided the stepping stone for me to really leap into the comics medium. I had seen trailers for the upcoming movie, and during a book review project, someone in my high school English class had highly recommended it. "Just as good as any novel," he said. And, wow, was he right! I devoured Watchmen, and once I finished, I realized my hunger was not satiated. I needed more things to read by Alan Moore. "A quick wikipedia search will solve my problems," I thought. So surfing the web, I found out that Alan Moore had written V for Vendetta. "That movie was based off his work!," I thought. So, promplty, I devoured that work of genius.
From that point on it was like a potluck. However, in this potluck, all the different flavors originated from the same source. The great part about Alan Moore's writing is that it is always changing dramatically, and that it covers so many different genres and topics. Lost Girls, for example, is set in an Austrian hotel, on the eve of World War I. The graphic novel explores the sexual development of the three literary characters, Alice Fairchild from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Wendy Darling from Peter Pan, and Dorothy Gale from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. But, really, who ever thought of something like that!? Only Alan Moore, it seems.
Now before I go too far, and worship everything Alan Moore has ever written, I want to discuss his Another Suburban Romance. This is a comic, published by Avatar Press, based originally off of his poem of the same name. Published sometime earlier this decade, Avatar Press is republishing all of Alan Moore's work from that company. "Another Suburban Romance", as I like to think, is Alan Moore's version of Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan. The poem evokes the decay of an urban society, London, most likely, as Moore himself stroles through the rubble, Glycon cane and all. Even without the stunning art by Juan Jose Ryp, I can still feel the human decay and the feverish attitude of the city, devastaingly overpopulated, where the "murders don't have motives," and "passions don't have names" Also included in this book are two other short stories. The first one, "Judy Switched Off the TV," feels very similar in theme to "Another Suburban Romance." Also set in a dystopian future, probably the same as "Romance", we follow the path of a man on his walk, too apathetic at this point to even notice or be surprised by the carnage around him. The last short story is titled, "Old Gangsters Never Die" This is Alan Moore's bizarre take on 1920s crime and the Prohibition era. However, it blends ghost horror themes, as all the dead mob gangsters gather in a movie theatre to watch their old lives on the big screen.
So now that you all know how much I love Alan Moore's writing, I would like to show you some of his other works and the span of genres he writes about. "The Courtyard", a short story, was his take on Lovecraft and Cthulhu. This work has also been adapted for comics, and is also available from Avatar Press. Other Cthulhu themed works of his, include the sequel to 'The Courtyard", Neonomicon, which has just started, and Alan Moore's Yuggoth Cultures. Supreme is Alan Moore's Superman. With a twist, of course, and a little bit of existentialism. Not only does he pay homage to old archetypes but he also adds his own unique feel to the story. Finally, if you are a hopeful future comics writer, you should really pick up Alan Moore's Writing for Comics. He mediates through the writing process in his own way, clear on the point, though, that writing is a very individual process.
Alan Moore is my favorite comic writer. Hell, he's probably my favorite writer. It has come to the point where I look for his name, and I know I want to read it. Oh the story is about this? Well that's great and all, but it's Alan Moore. I think I'll enjoy it primarily for that reason.
What would you say is the most important day in your life? Well your birth, obviously; the day you crawled into the world. A miracle of nature ready to enter into life and what we call the grant human comedy. But immediately after your date of birth, what becomes your most important day, or some might say second most important day? Death would be pretty high on the list for most people along with marriage and the birth of their own children. But that's what it's all about, isn't it? Life and death, or life and continuing life, as the whole process keeps "perpetuating itself through the sands of time," as a Mr. Sam Eliot would describe it.
And the epic Brazilian brothers team of Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon bring to us just that in their treatise about life, reflecting its ups and down, strikes and gutters. Known for their art work on Casanova and the Eisner award winning, Umbrella Academy, these two are absolutely magnificent when telling a tale. The artwork is truly unique, taking us from the bustling city Sao Paulo to the glittering beaches of Salvador.
One of the other big reasons this work stands out among the multitude of comics out there, is that I've truly never seen anything like this before in the comics medium. Sure I'm new to the format and just getting started, but Daytripper stands out. A comic dealing with a Brazilian slice of life, featuring one man without any type of super heroics going on; who ever heard of it? There are so many super heroes out there that we often forget about the literary gems that also exist in the comics world. I defiantly plan on reading their other work set in Brazil, entitled De: Tales, for another bit of "stepping outside your comfort zone" reading.
But along with the writing, the coloring on this book would have to be my favorite. Dave Stewart does a wonderful job gifting us with a splash of color from start to finish.
In the ten-issue miniseries Daytripper, we are the privileged viewers into the life of Bras de Oliva Domingos, a depressed obituary writer, who dreams of more for himself, as he struggles through life and trying to break free of his father's literary shadow in the first few issues. The audience trips through the most significant days in his life, everyone ending with his death by the end of the issue. We see what is most precious to Bras'; his lovers, his friends, his family as they also come to terms with what really matters in life.
This work deals with life at its harshest. No matter how much we plan, we can never cease to be surprised by the unexpected events that change our lives forever. Living every day as if it were your last certainly resonates with this work. But overall I think the underlying message of this work is hope. Hope for a better life for our futures, hope for much better lives for our children's futures. Because at the end of the day, though our lives are very meaningful and precious to us, we have to let them go someday and go back from whence we've come. But life always continue on, fighting for its right to exist in the vast cosmos.
If you haven't picked up Daytripper, by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon you are doing yourself a great disservice, not only for your mind, but for your heart. And though the series reaches its conclusion in a couple issues, it's never too late to go back and find the previous singles or to wait for the completed trade that I'm sure will be read for decades, and hopefully centuries to come.