|Alan Moore's Exit Interview
||[Jan. 3rd, 2009|11:48 am]
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur
At a holiday party last month, a friend of mine lent me his copy of Alan Moore's Exit Interview by Bill Baker, telling me that as a writer and a fan of Moore's work I'd find it fascinating. And I did.
I've been a fan of Moore's since this same friend turned me on to graphic novels in college. While I've hardly read everything Moore has done, what I have read is extremely impressive. I think his run on Swamp Thing in the 1980s was genius, and his standalones The Killing Joke, V for Vendetta and Watchmen are revolutionary. I think The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is the one of the best comics of the new decade. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I believe Moore is a genius. A mad, mad genius.
Alan Moore's Exit Interview is essentially eighty pages of Moore telling interviewer Bill Baker exactly why he's giving the middle finger to the comics industry -- mostly DC -- and going into seclusion to write and publish only what he wants to write and publish. He doesn't even want them to send him royalty checks anymore. And from the stories he relates here, it's hard to blame him for his anger. Granted, we're only getting his side of the story, but DC really seems to have fucked Moore over so often and in so many ways that it's almost hard to conceptualize. It's a rude wake-up call to me as a writer, a reminder that even if you're the biggest moneymaker in the stable, a publisher will still try to dick you over to get as much money as it can for itself. In the book world, this usually takes the form of a subsidiary rights grab. In comics, or at least in Moore's experience, it seems to be a lack of creator ownership or control. Moore doesn't own Watchmen or V, and won't until DC puts them out of print, which they have already brazenly told him they will never, ever, ever do.
The story of the lawsuit surrounding the film of Extraordinary Gentlemen is worth the price of the book alone. Some nutjob accused 20th Century Fox of stealing his screenplay idea of having (completely different) literary characters solve crimes, and even worse accused the studio of phoning up Moore and having him just rattle off the comic book as a way to hide their theft! (Ah, if only Alan Moore could actually write that quickly!) Then things turn even crazier when a Fox executive jokingly emails the plaintiff that that is exactly what happened, and the studio is forced to settle the lawsuit, which is tantamount to admitting wrongdoing. Which it may have been, for all Moore knows, because it was the studio's idea to shoehorn Tom Sawyer and Dorian Gray into the movie, and Moore himself wonders if they may have come from this other fellow's script.
So if you're interested in comics, Alan Moore, writing, publishing, and the constant battle between artistic integrity and commerce, I highly recommend Alan Moore's Exit Interview. As I mentioned, we're only getting one side of the story, but in the showdown between a giant, faceless corporation and an artistic genius I'm liable to take the genius' side every time.