Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Sense of Doubt blog post #1447 - Alan Moore Legacy and Top Ten plus some comic book stuff

A Sense of Doubt blog post #1447 - Alan Moore Legacy and Top Ten plus some comic book stuff

Hi, there's lots of comic book stuff in here. Hold on.

I am probably going to do more Friday and maybe Sunday, if I have enough time. I have an infection, and it's thrown me for a loop.

Mostly, this post is about the great Alan Moore and his legacy. But I wanted to add some things for my classes.

For example, I talked about the book The Ten Cent Plague in class on Tuesday, and I wanted to share the link here. And so, then, I decided to share more links of some of my better comic posts before I go into the Alan Moore stuff.


"I think Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic book industry," wrote psychiatrist Frederic Wertham, famous for the the 1950s exposé The Seduction of the Innocent, which "indicted comic books as a leading cause of juvenile delinquency" (Hadju pg. 6). "The time has come to legislate these books off the newsstands and out of the candy stores."

From The Ten Cent Plague by David Hadju about the years the comic book industry came under censorship fire, literally.

Here's my review: The Ten Cent Plague book review

Here's a bunch of links to my stuff.......


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #627 - ASM#25 - Spider-Man pauses midfight to consider racist message

A Sense of Doubt blog post #1439 - "Comics Are Going Downhill" - NOT!

A Sense of Doubt blog post #1391 - It's About Family: If extraordinary, add the ordinary: POP!


About Detective Comics, Fantastic Four, Flash, Superman, Hawkman
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #624 - My Oldest - A collection of comic books - part one

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #632 - Iron Fist #1 - 2017, a comic book review

A Sense of Doubt blog post #1400 - DIE - a comic book review

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #961 - Best Comics of 2017 via EW - Black Panther - pt.1

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #606 - Comic Book Cover Gallery 2017 pt.4

Weekly Comics for 1405.07 - Clone, Original Sin, Warren Ellis Moonknight Miles Morales - Spider-Man, Aquaman and the Others.

Weekly Comics for 1405.21 - Gotham, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Original Sin, Forever Evil, Velvet, Daredevil, Hulk, Amazing Spider-Man, Thor, Uncanny X-Men, and Saga.


A Sense of Doubt blog post #1370 - The Levitz Grid and Comic Book Paradigm

A Sense of Doubt blog post #1441 - Script for Trees #1 - Warren Ellis


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #958 - Kirby's Black Panther

A Sense of Doubt blog post #1290 - Captain America for Labor Day - T-shirt reprint

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #290 - Doctor Strange - T-shirt reprint and MOVIE TRAILER

T-shirt #267 - DareDevil - Black long-sleeved shirt

T-shirt #287 - Daredevil Red Logo

This from Kieron Gillen:



The Great Alan Moore Reread: The Alan Moore Legacy

Tor.com comics blogger Tim Callahan has dedicated the next twelve months more than a year to a reread of all of the major Alan Moore comics (and plenty of minor ones as well). Each week he will provide commentary on what he’s been reading. Welcome to the 64th installment.
When I kicked off this whole Great Alan Moore Reread thing, in the final days of October 2011, I laid out my plan, and my purpose, and added, about Alan Moore: “He has certainly written dozens of amazing, transcendent comic books. But he’s also written some terrible ones, too. At least, that’s my memory of his work.”
Now, I didn’t reread every single story Alan Moore has written. Eager to get into some of his more famous—or notorious—early work by starting with Marvelman, I skipped comic strips like The Stars My Degradation or Three-Eyes McGurk and His Death Planet Commandos (I know, I’m sorry!). And even with 63 installments of my reread, I didn’t address Moore’s two prose stories for 1982’s BJ and the Bear Annual, nor his Night Raven text stories, nor his novels or his spoken word pieces, and I didn’t talk about his recent, self-produced Dodgem Logic local culture and history zine at all. I made an early decision to stick to his comics work, mostly, and it was enough. A truly comprehensive Mega-Great Absolutely Complete Alan Moore Reread is a lifetime project, particularly because the guy’s still out there writing essays and short films and maybe even a comic book once in a while.
Even though he’s still working, and still producing plenty of material worth talking about (though with less frequency than in his younger years), as we come to a close on our admittedly limited but still hopefully Great reread that we reflect not just on the comics that Moore has written, but on the way he has influenced so many other creators. It’s time to take stock in the Alan Moore legacy, even if the shockwaves of his influence run deeper than we can clearly see on the surface of popular culture right now. But even if we stick to the surface, there’s plenty to find in Moore’s legacy.
Along the way of this reread, I’ve provided some historical context for some of the comics and made note of when Moore’s work affected the work of those who followed him into the four-color fantasies of the comic book marketplace. I’m sure I pointed out how Marvelman was a milestone of superhero deconstruction, and though Moore wasn’t the first to provide some real-world context for insane superpowers and costumed absurdity (nearly twenty years earlier, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby told stories about the Fantastic Four going broke, and half-a-generation later Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams brought drug use and racial strife to the usually otherworldly exploits of Green Lantern), Moore’s specific approach to Marvelman was the model other comic book creators would try to mimic.
Not right away. It had to sink in a bit, and the writers working in the industry at the time were less impressionable than the up-and-comers who would soon enter the industry. But between Marvelman and Swamp Thing and Watchmen, Moore established a kind of smart, literate, deadly-serious-but-viciously-ironic embrace of superhero tropes that was often attempted by others but something was always missing. What was missing was, of course, Moore’s unique sensibility. His seriousness-of-approach could be copied. His poetic captions. His viciousness. Even his humor and sense of irony. But not all at once. And not with the ineffable playfulness that makes Moore who he is.
The fields of the comic book kingdom are littered with almost-Alan-Moore projects, many of which found commercial success because readers saw just enough of the Moore influence to make them seem maybe-just-good-enough-to-be-worthwhile. Mostly, they aren’t. And they are forgotten soon after the initial buzz of hey, this is kind of like Alan Moore isn’t it wears off.
How often do people talk about J. Michael Stracyznski projects like Rising Stars or Supreme Poweranymore? Those comics wear the Alan Moore influence on every sleeve, and there was a time when both of those comics achieved a level of attention that, in retrospect, they didn’t much deserve. I suppose there may be a few readers still championing those mostly-forgotten comics, but their number has dwindled as people have gone on to read other, better comics. And, in 2012, Straczynski started doing his Alan Moore impression even more overtly, scripting a few of the Before Watchmencomics. Read any of those issues and you’ll see how short he comes to anything close to the Alan Moore ideal.
When novelist Brad Meltzer turned his attention to comics, with a short Green Arrow run and then the superhero rape-mystery miniseries Identity Crisis, he may have referenced other Bronze Age creators like Marv Wolfman and George Perez, but his comics felt more like thrice reheated Alan Moore leftovers. When Geoff Johns brought back some of the elements of Alan Moore’s Green Lantern mythology and incorporated it into his relaunch of Hal Jordan’s career and everything that followed leading up to the Blackest Night event, Moore himself accused DC Comics of “desperate and humiliating” behavior. “It’s tragic,” Moore said in that interview from 2009. “The comics that I read as a kid that inspired me were full of ideas. They didn’t need some upstart from England to come over there and tell them how to do comics. They’d got plenty of ideas of their own. But these days, I increasingly get a sense of the comics industry going through my trashcan like raccoons in the dead of the night.”
Moore, though, has admitted that he doesn’t read current comics, and hasn’t for a long time, so he’s reacting more about what he hears about contemporary comics than what he actually sees on the page. Prominent comic book writer Jason Aaron responded to Moore’s criticism of the current state of comics, and Moore’s attacks against the current crop of creators, and some of his colleagues responded with their own commentary. None of it means all that much, other than the shadow of Alan Moore is so large that even his admittedly uninformed opinions carry enough weight to cause extreme reactions. His presence looms over everything done in and around the superhero genre to this day.
And even if some of the best comic book writers of the past two decades have been able to fly out from under Moore’s shadow, many of them began their careers—or produced some of their seminal work—in a Moore-ish vein. Grant Morrison may have been writing comics before Marvelmanchanged the rules, but when he was trying to break into American comics, he did his version of Alan Moore for the opening story arc on Animal Man, waiting until issue #5, “The Coyote Gospel,” to lend his own voice to the series. Warren Ellis went on to produce some of the most influential comics of the late-1990s/early-2000s, but work like Marvel’s Ruins owes a debt to the bleaker side of Moore and his later Wildstorm work was largely a spin-off of what Moore had started to do with WildC.A.T.s, though Ellis expanded the envelope with The Authority and Planetary.
Then there’s Moore’s most famous disciple: Neil Gaiman. Gaiman’s sensibility was shaped by dozens of influences and Moore was clearly just one, but you’ll find nothing that’s as much a spiritual sequel to Swamp Thing as Gaiman’s Sandman run. Gaiman builds on Moore’s Swamp Thingmythology explicitly in his series about Dream and the Endless, and though Gaiman has his own interests in story and the art of storytelling—constantly explored in Sandman—his highly-regarded series can trace much of its personality back to grandpa Alan Moore.
Surely Vertigo Comics would never have existed without Alan Moore, and the attempt to brand the Karen Berger line of comics to recapture some of the Moore magic, even if Berger may well have ended up with her own imprint anyway, and even if DC has never truly acknowledged their debt to Moore.
This is all comics stuff, though, and surely Moore has had a wider influence than that, but that’s much more difficult to determine. The film versions of his comics may have had an impact, but they aren’t exactly faithful to the source material and the style of Moore’s telling is as important—more important, mostly—than whatever content translates to the screen. The largest influence is probably from the V for Vendetta movie, which has led to the adoption of the Guy Fawkes mask as a symbol of protest, revolution, and the power of the individual to resist the crushing jackboots of oppression. Moore has seen the iconography from one of his comic books became a real-life symbol, and that’s an influence that will linger.
But in the end, this reread was about, as I said earlier in this post, my own efforts to reread his comics and see what they had to say. As I admitted, I remembered them quite fondly, with only a few “terrible” exceptions along the way. If anyone has read this entire Great Alan Moore Reread series, you’ll recognize that I didn’t find much that was terrible as I reread Moore’s comics. There were a few, but they were rare. Mostly, Alan Moore’s comics are just really good comic books that are still inspirational in their mastery of the form. They might not all be transcendent masterpieces, but they are all—well, almost all—worth going back to and discovering year after year. The ultimate legacy of Alan Moore’s comics is that they’re just good comics. Really good, overall. And with more variety than you might expect in three or four successful careers.
I’ve spent 16 months rereading Alan Moore, and I’m still excited about reading what he’s done and what he has left to do. He’s one of the great ones, so let’s keep reading him, even after this series of posts has come to an end.
NEXT TIME: The final post in The Great Alan Moore Reread: My All-Time Alan Moore Top 10!

Tim Callahan writes about comics for Tor.com, Comic Book Resources, and Back Issue magazine. Follow him on Twitter.



The Great Alan Moore Reread: The All-Time Top 10 Best Comics Written by Alan Moore

Tor.com comics blogger Tim Callahan has dedicated the next twelve months more than a year to a reread of all of the major Alan Moore comics (and plenty of minor ones as well). Each week he will provide commentary on what he’s been reading. Welcome to the 65th and FINAL installment.
After sixty-four weeks, here we are: the end of The Great Alan Moore Reread. Last week I talked about Moore’s legacy in the comic book industry—and the world—so we don’t need to rehash the where-we’ve-come-from-and-where-we’re-going speech again. But instead, let’s talk about the best of Alan Moore’s comic book work. Looking at his career, what would I designate as the capital-b Best of the Best? What ten comics would be the ultimate incarnation of Moore’s genre-bending, highly-influential comic book scripting?
I’m glad you asked!
Here’s the All-Time Alan Moore Top 10, as determined by me, the guy who has reread all of the Alan Moore comics over the past year-and-three-months and written about 100,000 words on the topic. All of the Alan Moore comics are worth reading (well, maybe not all of the later Extreme or Wildstorm work, but even those have something interesting going on at times), but these are the cherries on top of the ice cream sundae that is the Alan Moore oeuvre:

10. V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
I will still always dream of a world where the series was completed in black and white, but this challenging work remains one of Moore’s best, and Lloyd’s bleak artistry outlines the harsh conglomeration of a fascist state with manipulative media as well as anyone ever has. The title character—popularly interpreted as a rebel working against a corrupt system—may be more of a monster than some of his victims, but by giving us such a charming but merciless protagonist, Moore and Lloyd avoid simple answers to the tough moral questions.
Above all, V for Vendetta will haunt you long after you close its covers, even after the second or third or fourth read.

9. Captain Britain, by Alan Moore and Alan Davis
Moore’s first superhero work, now thirty years old, remains the ur-text of modern-day capes-and-cowls comic books. Too often does an incoming creative team break down and destroy a character before building him back up, but that approach was pioneered by Moore in his “Captain Britain” serials before he went on to explode the series into a widescreen action comic the likes of which the world rarely saw until the kids who grew up reading this series started writing and drawing their own comics a decade later. But this All-Time Alan Moore Top 10 isn’t based on what’s historically important. It’s based on what’s the best to read, and Moore and Davis’s “Captain Britain” comics are brutal and funny and wide-ranging and intimate.
Alan Moore didn’t just learn how to write superhero comics while plotting and scripting the adventures of Brian Braddock and friends, he demonstrated that he had massive storytelling ambitions from the start. “Captain Britain” does what so few superhero comics can: make you care about what happens while an insane, unrecognizable, imaginative world launches at your eyes.

8. Superman Annual #11, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
This is the only example of a single issue on this list of series and graphic novels, and while I thought about including “The Superman Stories” as an entry by itself—like I did with the original reread post—that would have been disingenuous. “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” the two-part story that closed out Superman’s pre-Crisiscontinuity just isn’t in the same league as Superman Annual #11. The former has some evocative moments, but it’s the comic book equivalent of a sinister clip show with a tragic tinge. With Dave Gibbons in Superman Annual #11, though, Moore tells perhaps the single best Superman story of all time.
In that issue, “For the Man Who Has Everything,” Superman is forced to accept reality and break free from an all-too-enticing dream of what might have been. It’s a gorgeous-looking superhero action comic that doesn’t skimp on thematic resonance. If you want a single, self-contained but powerful dose of what superhero comics can be like when they’re done well, this is a superior example.

7. A Small Killing, by Alan Moore and Oscar Zarate
Part Nic Roeg nightmare and part semi-autobiographical exploration of a man who compromises his artistic integrity to produce commercial products for cash, this not-too-well-known graphic novel is one of Moore’s few completed non-genre comics, and the stunningly evocative work of Zarate would make it the belle of the alt-comics ball in any recent year.
But it’s over 20 years old, written at a time after Moore had broken away from mainstream superhero comics (and before he would return to the weird and maybe-not-really-wonderful industry as Image Comics exploded into the market). It’s easy to read A Small Killing as Moore’s commentary on his own compromises, showing a man so haunted by his childhood dreams that’s he’s forced to violently exorcise what’s left of his innocence, but even if you ignore that possibly-self-referential facet of the book, this is a great comic about a human struggling against himself and against the cruel world that would force him into that unwinnable situation. Yet it’s not bleak and hopeless. It’s alive. Like a wriggling snake sinking its teeth into your heart.

6. Smax, by Alan Moore and Zander Cannon
If you had told me when I began the Great Alan Moore Reread that Top 10, Alan Moore’s superheroes-as-cops comedy/melodrama would not crack my All-Time Alan Moore Top 10, I would have called you an evil lying liar. I mean, “Top 10” is even in the title, and that series was really good, and hyper-detailed, and how could it not be considered one of Moore’s best?
As much as I like Top 10, and I sure liked it a lot even after reading it last year, it’s not as substantial or as entertaining as the rest of the comics on this list. And it’s not as good as its own spin-off. Smax takes a different approach than Top 10—pure parody instead of pastiche plus satire—but Smax is the better comic all-around. Zander Cannon brings humor and humanity to this slapstick fantasy quest, and though Alan Moore isn’t known for his hilarity, he sure does have a wicked sense of humor that he’s not afraid to unleash. Some of his other comics are actually, um, comical, but Smax is the best of the Moore funnybooks. It’s pretty mean, too. Just the way we like ‘em back home.

5. From Hell, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
If Smax is Alan Moore at his most successfully hilarious, From Hellis Alan Moore at his most methodically serious. But it’s Moore’s attention to detail—and the disciplined work of collaborator Eddie Campbell—that makes the narrative architecture of this story as interesting as its unfolding plot.
Yes, there is literal architecture at the heart of the conspiracy within From Hell, something we learn quite a bit about thanks to a rousing bit of London travel and a guide to Freemasonry, but when I’m talking “architecture” in this comic, I’m talking about Moore’s structural poetics. From Hell is constructed from historical reference materials and panicked suppositions and the psychogeography of a specific time and a specific place when bad things happened to many people.
The book may be about Jack the Ripper and the hunt to catch the killer, but that’s only what it’s about when you turn it into a tame Hollywood movie version. That’s the surface. Beneath, Moore and Campbell give us a chilling portrait of the Victorian Age, a true work of horror that relies not on shocks and gore but on the inhuman unfolding of history.

4. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
The conceit is simple: public domain literary characters team up…for adventure! In the hands of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill it becomes something far more than that.
Every time I reread The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series—whether it’s the original six issues or the Mars attacks follow-up or The Black Dossier or the Harry-Potter-and-the-End-of-the-World in the three-part Century—I love it all the more.
Mina Murray is one of the great heroines in fiction, thanks to the resurrection performed by Moore and O’Neill, and she leads the ragged band of British agents against the most menacing foes. That’s all great and fun and deadly and, thanks to the carved linework of O’Neill, hideously beautiful, but it’s the literary gamesmanship that provides abundant texture to the series. Moore and O’Neill pack allusions into every page, and it takes a whole team of annotators to get most of the references, but you won’t need the cheat sheets to get the point of each chapter of the larger story. The allusions amplify and enhance, tremendously, and they add a wink and a nod to each section, but there’s still a heart and soul to these comics that tell of flawed men and women facing insurmountable obstacles with wit and vigor. And sometime dying in the process.
And, as I write this, there’s still the promise of more. Nemo: Heart of Ice is due out in another month or two. It’s not over yet.

3. Marvelman, by Alan Moore, Garry Leach, Alan Davis, and Friends
If you read my original reread posts on this series, you’ll know that I stubbornly cling to calling this comic “Marvelman,” even though it became “Miracleman” once it resumed publication from Eclipse Comics in America. So my revisionist historical version of Marvelman runs up through the Eclipse issues until Moore steps away from the series, leaving it in the hands of Neil Gaiman, who never got a chance to finish what he started (to continue).
But why is Marvelman so great that it deserves a spot in the All-Time Alan Moore Top THREE?
Because this is the one that changed everything, and it’s still a heck of a comic to read, if you can find it.
The Eclipse reprints of the earlier Warrior installments of the series are gaudily colored and the word balloons and captions are too small, and the later issues—particularly the ones drawn by John Totleben—are rare and somewhat pricey for single issues. But Marvelman is worth tracking down as a milestone of the superhero genre and as a declaration by Alan Moore about what it means to enter the Modern Era of mainstream comics.
Marvelmanis based on a Captain Marvel analogue, with the cynicism of the 1980s and a dose of real-world logic smashed into its innocent shell. The opening few chapters provide a blueprint that revisionist superhero comics would follow forever after—the revelation that everything the hero thought he knew was wrong, and he may not even really be a hero to begin with—and the inky realism of Garry Leach’s drawings only helped Moore make his stand on behalf of smart, relevant, devastatingly powerful superhero comics.
The fact that everyone who came after Moore took the faux-realism and the hyper-violence of Marvelman as its primary lesson isn’t Moore’s fault. He did it right, and they just missed the point.

2. Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Marvelmanwas born first, but Watchmen is the slightly younger child who learned from his sibling and turned out even more refined. The precisely designed structuralism of Watchmen can make the comic seem unnecessarily cold and self-important, until you actually sit down to read it. Watchmen’s reputation as a masterwork imparts it with a kind of aura of untouchability that’s not true to its trashy roots.
Yes, it is a well-crafted, exceedingly ambitious story with multiple narrators and multiple layers of meaning, but it’s also a comic about a mad scientist and a naked physicist and a vigilante who breaks people’s wrists. It’s about love and death and sex and violence and politics and science and war and a thirst for peace. Even when it was twelve single floppy issues, it was a big book, and nowadays you’re likely to see it in some massive Absolute Edition or regal hardcover. It deserves that treatment for the role it has played in showing that comics can do more than just tell racy stories about guys and gals in tights. But it’s really just a pulpy superhero story at its core, and it’s one of the best ever told because of how it’s told. Few comics in history surpass its achievements, and even fewer are as engaging and exciting on an aesthetic or storytelling level. There’s only one Alan Moore comic that’s better, and it’s….

1. Swamp Thing, by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, John Totleben, and Friends
Watchmen may be more precisely crafted and Marvelman may be more pioneering, but there’s only one correct answer to the question of “What is the Best Alan Moore Comic Book Series Ever?”
Swamp Thing, of course.
With Swamp Thing, Alan Moore trotted out his Marvelman revisionism on the much more fertile ground of American comics, and Moore’s early issues of this muck monster series show his facility at presenting characters as trite and overdone as the Justice League with a completely new point of view. In Moore’s Swamp Thing, the gods in the satellite above the Earth are terrifying and unknowable. It’s Swamp Thing’s world, and we all just walk on top of it.
Moore’s collaborators—mostly Bissette and Totleben and their former schoolmate Rick Veitch—give the comic a terrifying sense of frantic unreality, and their contributions cannot be minimized. Moore is only as good as they are, but they’re very good here and so is Moore. His second issue on the series, “The Anatomy Lesson” stands as one of the best single issue comics in the history of the medium, presenting a tragic unfolding of horrifying vegetable rebirth inside a sterile corporate laboratory. And the issues that followed—everything that makes up what would become the first Swamp Thing collected edition—present a challenging environmentalist horror action comic disguised as a monster story dressed in superheroic garb. It’s weird and wonderful and Moore tries to write the captions and dialogue like savage poetry and he succeeds.
Swamp Thing stumbles a bit at times, but for over 40 issues, Alan Moore chronicles the journey of the creature that once thought it was a man named Alec Holland, and where the monster travels to the depths of hell or into deep space, he’s always bound by his mortal love back home in the bayou. It’s messy and uneven and melodramatic and full of life and ambition and enthusiasm for comics and everything that surrounds it. It’s not pure Alan Moore, but it’s sloppy, amazing, wondrous Alan Moore and it’s the number one All-Time Best.

Tim Callahan would like to thank everyone who has been reading The Great Alan Moore Reread each week, and he’s curious to see what your All-Time Alan Moore Top 10 list would look like. Post your own version in the comments, and show your work!

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- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1902.06 - 10:10

- Days ago = 1313 days ago

- New note - On 1807.06, I ceased daily transmission of my Hey Mom feature after three years of daily conversations. I plan to continue Hey Mom posts at least twice per week but will continue to post the days since ("Days Ago") count on my blog each day. The blog entry numbering in the title has changed to reflect total Sense of Doubt posts since I began the blog on 0705.04, which include Hey Mom posts, Daily Bowie posts, and Sense of Doubt posts. Hey Mom posts will still be numbered sequentially. New Hey Mom posts will use the same format as all the other Hey Mom posts; all other posts will feature this format seen here.

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