Saturday/Sunday General Breakfast Buffet (February 15th, 2014)

(51 comments)

Hello all. Not sure why this didn't post this morning. Here it is.

This week has been pretty focused on Last War in Albion, and it looks like I'll have about half the Skizz/DR and Quinch chapter done by the end of the weekend. Having some good fun with bits of it - summarizing Thatcher's first term in a thousand words was interesting. Have to firm up exactly what I'm doing next, though. I'm going to switch publishers, because Halo Jones is wholly on the other side of Moore's US success and so has to come after Swamp Thing.

So it's probably time to circle back and do Moore's Marvel UK stuff, which is the last run of stuff that can be written off as uninteresting early career work. But then comes the real decision - do I put V for Vendetta in before or after Swamp Thing?

Marvelman is definitely getting held back. In fact, I'm going to deal with it in parallel to Watchmen. My plan is to spend a long time on Watchmen - roughly as long as everything before Watchmen is going to take. If I do book versions of Last War in Albion (and I'm almost certain to do at least one) then I'll put the dividing line right before Watchmen, and book two will just be called The Battle of Watchmen or something better if I can think of it, because I don't actually like that title. So a host of stuff is going to get subsumed into that - all Moore's non-Swamp Thing DC work, Marvelman, Grant Morrison's UK career (Zoids and Zenith, as it were), a dash of Neil Gaiman, and Moore's falling out with DC. As well as the background stuff you'd expect - the history of Charlton, the history of Fawcett, Frank Miller, a bigger history of DC than what the Swamp Thing chapter will give, et cetera.

So the two possible orders are Captain Britain, Swamp Thing, V For Vendetta, or Captain Britain, V For Vendetta, Swamp Thing. The latter is more accurate to chronology, but... V for Vendetta. I want to come back to it after Watchmen, to be honest. I'm really interested in that few-year period after Watchmen where Moore sort of wrapped up his previous career, right before he started self-publishing and, shortly thereafter, snake-worshipping. Moore in parallel with the breakout days of Gaiman and Morrison, fleeing the industry right as what he enabled made the careers of a dozen or more of his fellow comics scenesters.

And the two things you have for that are the end of V for Vendetta and the tail end of Marvelman. So I actually want to deal with V for Vendetta in a very limited form early on, because I have to leave myself a second take on it. So I figure initially I'll treat it as the weird, very British thing it is, and then later treat it as a Major Work of the Great Genius Alan Moore. Which actually makes it want to spend time with Halo Jones and The Bojeffries Saga, in between Swamp Thing and Watchmen, at least thematically.

So, still haven't quite decided the order on V for Vendetta and Swamp Thing.

In any case, I'm in the mood to talk about the project, so I'm going to call it an open questions day. I'll actually swing by comments and reply to lots of people over the weekend, so please, ask questions about Last War in Albion. Or other stuff if you feel cheeky, but we'll see how much of that I get to. I kind of feel like being mysterious on Eruditorum for a bit, to let that get a slightly unpredictable edge as we get to the Moffat era and thus the endgame.

Oh, one practical matter someone might ask about: Monday and Tuesday are being dedicated to assembling the packages for the signed Kickstarter books, but I have no idea how big a task that shipping is actually going to be and I am prepared to be overwhelmed by it and to need more days, which will be at least another week away.

Comments

David Anderson 3 years, 1 month ago

I assume that by Captain Marvel you mean Captain Britain? (The fallout from that has been landing all over the X-Men ever since. Actually, was Moore's Captain Britain responsible for the numbering of Marvel's alternate universes? The fact that the Marvel Universe where most comics are set is number 616, rather than 1 as in DC, surely must be Moore?)

So I gather there's an upcoming film with Batman and Superman in it. Is The Lego Movie as much fun as it looks?

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 1 month ago

Yes, Captain Britain. Have updated the post.

Link | Reply

C. 3 years, 1 month ago

for me, "V for Vendetta" feels like an early work, or rather, the peak of AM's first wave, while "Swamp Thing" feels like the start of another era. So a vote for "VforV" first.

Link | Reply

jane 3 years, 1 month ago

I'd just as soon we get into Swamp Thing next. Not for any philosophically thought out reasons, just because Moore's Swamp Thing (and Veitch's work on the title, too, which I really hope gets covered to some extent) was my first real introduction to modern comics, and I want to go down memory lane. Found V later on, maybe after Watchmen, actually, but it never found a place in my heart, so, whatever.

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 1 month ago

One thing that strikes me, reading V for Vendetta, is actually that you can see Moore's skill as a writer evolve over it if you read the first 2/3 as the quasi-monthly serial they were instead of, as we are trained to now, as a standalone graphic novel.

Link | Reply

Nyq Only 3 years, 1 month ago

I'd have thought the original latin tag "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" while obvious would be also the most appropriate title given the level of examination of the comic that has occurred.

I think introducing V for Vendetta early and then coming back to it makes sense. It is sufficiently famous and the basic plot well known enough that people will cope with the split coverage. Also I suspect many, many people read it as the follow up to Watchmen and so experimentally it comes after Watchmen even though it precedes it.

Link | Reply

C. 3 years, 1 month ago

yes, compared to the concision and punch of "The Anatomy Lesson," the first chapters of V seem really clunky.

Link | Reply

Matthew Blanchette 3 years, 1 month ago

How about The Last War in Albion: Manning the Watchtower?

Link | Reply

Shane Cubis 3 years, 1 month ago

Al Along The Watchtower

Link | Reply

Archeology of the Future 3 years, 1 month ago

I think it'd be good to do the Warrior based run of Marvelman and V for Vendetta, treating them as ifcuou don't know what's to come in Moore's career, then treat the finishing off of both as separate entities. Because they are really. The stuff that appeared in Warrior really isn't the same thing as appeared on monthly books and later as collections.

And I am going to waltz Dr Sandifer around the floor when we get to Swamp Thing. It's my favourite comic ever, and the one that went with me during the most severe experiences of mental health difficulty in my life.

Link | Reply

Danny O'D 3 years, 1 month ago

Are you going to cover Moore's work on American Flagg? Both the comic and Moore's work on it have largely been ignored, due to the comic being out of print for years. I haven't read enough of Moore's work on the title to offer a personal opinion, but I know it generally wasn't well received at the time.

Also to answer David Anderson's question, yes the Lego Movie was just as fun as it looked, and it had a pretty nice, quite deliberate, send up of the the hero's journey "mono-myth."

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 1 month ago

I don't want to do that, quite, because I don't think that the War is well-served by lying about the future. I'd rather discuss the changes as they come up. So I don't want to rewrite the past, but I also don't want to pretend the future doesn't exist. Still, I think you'll be happy with the stuff I want to cover there.

Link | Reply

Matthew Blanchette 3 years, 1 month ago

See, I figured that one might be too obvious...

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 1 month ago

Yes, but with the caveat that when you start getting into the comparatively minor Moore works the depth of coverage can and will vary. But the goal is to roughly get 100% of Moore works at least briefly covered. I managed to work in at least some discussion of every single one of his short stories for IPC into Chapter Five, save one arguable exception, and that's covered in Chapter Six anyway.

Link | Reply

Ben 3 years, 1 month ago

For me it was John Totleben who really made the Swamp Thing comics from a visual perspective, but it was an amazing burst of creativity from the whole team.

Link | Reply

Ben 3 years, 1 month ago

Two other avenues to look forward to, assuming - as perhaps I shouldn't - that you'll be exploring them.

Big Numbers: Honestly I've only seen bits and pieces of the project. There really is no final product to speak of. But it looks to be as close to a direct line to Moore's subconscious as was ever attempted in comics form.

America's Best Comics: In some ways doomed to be a relatively short-term affair. At some point Moore probably would have gotten restless even if it weren't for Wildstorm getting sold to DC, which obviously didn't help. But this was also one of the most exciting comics events of my lifetime. Moore was back, and this time constructing new superheroes instead of deconstructing old ones. Which in part meant starting at ground level in terms of what the whole concept of the superhero meant. I'll stop now before I start sounding like an Upworthy headline.

Link | Reply

Anton B 3 years, 1 month ago

Yes I think covering the black and white Warrior versions of V for Vendetta and Marvel Man as seperate entities from the later coloured, revised and completed US versions seems a good idea. Particulaly as you could then examine the muted pallette vs black and white decision on the former and the presumably litigation avoiding name change to Miracle Man of the latter as well as speculating what difference the years long gap made to the continuation and denoument of each narrative.

My question is - are you going to keep your examination of Morrison's Vertigo and mainstream DC work as seperate posts or will you be comparing and contrasting with Moore's output as you go along? I'm intrigued to see how your magick war reportage develops as the conflict hots up.


Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 1 month ago

I intend to say as much as it is possible to say about three issues of a comic. Well, and the outline for the rest, which I do have a copy of. So yes, Big Numbers will get substantial coverage.

ABC will be dealt with very, very thoroughly. Not least because of Promethea.

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm definitely going to do V for Vendetta twice.

I'm not sure how much I'm going to split Marvelman up. I expect I'll do it once with Moore in with Watchmen, once not long after in amidst the early Gaiman stuff, and once towards the end of the project. But I don't think I'll make quite as rigorous a line there, and it'll instead get folded up in amongst the other Watchmen stuff.

I expect to continue with the approach of having topically-based chapters, which will mean that when the focus is Morrison, it will be Morrison for a solid few entries at a time. I don't know how long I'll spend on a single author in a stretch once they're all writing concurrently. Probably I'll take brief periods and sort of cycle through the authors. So after Watchmen I'll do 1987-90 or so for Morrison, Moore, and Gaiman, ending with Sandman, which will move the "present" of the blog up by a few years, at which point it'll be time to cycle back through and do the early 90s for everybody, this time adding Warren Ellis into the story... and so on and so forth.

Link | Reply

Kit 3 years, 1 month ago

(Jane means Veitch as writer, not ghost-artist.)

Link | Reply

Eric Gimlin 3 years, 1 month ago

I wish I could help you on your order. V for Vendetta before Swamp Thing feels more obvious to me, since you're coming back to it later, but that really depends on how you're tracking the threads. I tend to associate Captain Britain with V to some degree, in no small part because of the overlap with Night Raven. I really need to check the dates on that, Moore's Night Raven was fully concurrent with his Captain Britain (and the text features and other pieces he was doing for Marvel UK at the time), but I'm not positive on how that overlaps with V exactly.

Link | Reply

Anton B 3 years, 1 month ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

Link | Reply

Anton B 3 years, 1 month ago

Thanks. I'm pleased you'll also be examining Gaiman et al. Presumably not as in-depth as with M and M but as and when they intersect conceptually.

Link | Reply

Jordan Murphy 3 years, 1 month ago

Totleben was awesome, but don't leave out Steve Bissette. Such a great team. I got to meet Bissette while he was on Swamp Thing when he did a talk at the local state college. He was a great guy, stayed for a long time afterwards to talk to us and gave my friend a free sketch of Swampy.

Link | Reply

Jordan Murphy 3 years, 1 month ago

I still have both published issues of Big Numbers. Moore and Sienkiewicz was such a dream team-up for me, I was very disappointed it fell apart, especially since it was just setting the story up in the published issues.

Link | Reply

Jordan Murphy 3 years, 1 month ago

Hopefully the et al includes Jamie Delano. He's kind of forgotten now, but he was my favorite Hellblazer writer.

Link | Reply

Jordan Murphy 3 years, 1 month ago

I always think of V for Vendetta as being after Swamp Thing, but that's because I'm an American who was buying the issues as they came out here.

I really hope that when you talk about frank Miller that you don't focus too much on Dark Knight Returns. He had so much great 80s work, a lot of which is better than that comic, in my opinion (Year One, his second run on Daredevil, Ronin, freaking Elektra: Assassin…).

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 1 month ago

There are, as the War goes on, two tiers of things that will start to become apparent. To some extent they already have - consider the layovers at Luther Arkwright or Steve Moore's Doctor Who comics or Laser Eraser and Pressbutton. Or Judge Dredd. Which is to say that other significant works that are connected in various ways to the major works studied are going to get a discussion. And that's going to include stuff like Hellblazer, like Preacher, like The Ultimates - stuff that's hugely important and related to the War, but that's not by a writer who's a major focus.

That said, there are a few writers who it's planned will become Main Characters who get the same "cover virtually everything" treatment of Moore and Morrison. Right now the planned three are Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman, and Kieron Gillen (who I'm including out of a sort of stab at getting recentism right. I think he's a creator with a career arc as good as the others. I think he's going to write some defining, iconic comics of more than one era. And I want someone that's very current as we get to the present day, so he fits the bill).

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 1 month ago

Night Raven actually post-dates Warrior #1. Warrior #1 gave him his first two ongoing strips. Captain Britain was his third, and Skizz was actually his fourth.

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 1 month ago

I'll look at the stuff from before he became hopelessly self-indulgent, but there's no way to get around the fact that Dark Knight Returns is the piece that's most relevant to Watchmen.

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 1 month ago

Watchmen on the Ramparts?

Link | Reply

Jesse 3 years, 1 month ago

read the first 2/3 as the quasi-monthly serial they were

I read them in the form of a high school friend lending me a stack of Warriors in the mid-'80s, then doubling back a few years later to read the whole thing after the final chapters were released.

One effect of reading the story in Warrior: I saw lots of ridiculous speculation in the letters columns about V's real identity, all from readers who for some reason assumed he must be a character from another feature in the magazine.

Link | Reply

Jordan Murphy 3 years, 1 month ago

"Hopelessly self-indulgent," yeah, it's a real shame. He was awesome at one time.
While I realize that Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns have some obvious similarities, ran basically concurrently, and are forever linked as the poster children of the new "darkness" of 80s comics, I think most comparison of the two together has been unfair to both books. DKR suffers by not being the masterpiece of form that Watchmen was, and Watchmen suffers by being reduced to just being about the grim and gritty, as if Rorschach was the only, or even the most, interesting thing about it.
That said, I have full faith that your analysis of the the two together will not be anywhere near so facile. :)

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 1 month ago

I think the thing that most causes DKR to suffer in comparison with Watchmen is the fact that Miller's take on Batman has already been effectively parodied and undermined by Rorschach.

Link | Reply

Jesse 3 years, 1 month ago

It feels more captive to its time too. Both comics are obviously products of the Cold War, but only The Dark Knight feels shackled to Reagan's second term.

Link | Reply

Jordan Murphy 3 years, 1 month ago

Both these things are true, which is why I think Year One, Ronin, etc. are much more interesting.
I know Last War in Albion is about Moore and Morrison, and will in part be about the "British Invasion" of comics writers to the U.S. in the mid to late 80s. But I think the American comics scene they came to was actually much more interesting and vibrant than that in the UK at the same time, if you look beyond the cape and tights set. Miller was just one American writer doing great work here during that time, Art Spiegelman, Peter Bagge, Dave Sim (a Canadian, admittedly), Matt Wagner, Daniel Clowes, Scott McCloud, Rick Veitch, Los Bros Hernandez…I could go on indefinitely. All tangential at best to the story you're telling, but as someone who was at the comic shop almost every day buying and reading this stuff, it really was a (small "g") golden age.

Link | Reply

Matthew Blanchette 3 years, 1 month ago

Gallantly Streaming? (Actually, that might be a good title if you ever pen a work on U.S. P2P sites...)

Hmmm...Juvenal Delinquents? ;-)

Link | Reply

BerserkRL 3 years, 1 month ago

Turnipmen?

Link | Reply

BerserkRL 3 years, 1 month ago

One of the many ways in which early Miller is better than later Miller is that early Miller allows legitimacy to more than one voice. Batman is the protagonist and Superman the antagonist, but Superman's heroism in preventing the nuclear strike complicates that. Robin's leftist parents are supposed to be losers, but her remark that Green Arrow sounds like them complicates any interpretation that makes their ideology as loserish as they are. So Batman's perspective gets meaningfully challenged from both the "right" and the "left." DKR may not seem nuance-heavy, but compared to what came later it surely was.

Link | Reply

BerserkRL 3 years, 1 month ago

Also, Martha Washington would kick his ass for his comments about Occupy.

Link | Reply

Anton B 3 years, 1 month ago

Yes, I recall a very good argument supporting the idea that V was Marvelman based on the only panel showing him out of costume, as a muscled figure silhoutted against flames in a flashback to his time in the prison camp. (A scene recreated in the movie btw.) another theory had him as Evelyn Creme which would at least have given him an ethnicity to explain his internment in fascist Britain.

Link | Reply

timber-munki 3 years, 1 month ago

Will definitely look forwrd to your take on Dark Knight Returns and comparing it to Watchmen. To me they are obviously intwined with each other (Along with Maus) as the poster-childs for the 'Biff Bang Pow! Comics aren't for kids anymore' journalism of the mid Eighties.

I've only read Maus once, some time ago so can't really include in any idea around the 'grown up comics' cultural response but what strikes me when looking at the other two is how they come from almost diametrically opposite takes on the super hero genre - Dark Knight Returns springs from a central romanticism around it, can't remember where the quote is attributed to but the germ of the idea for Miller came with the visual of Batman & Robin leaping across the skyline, (essentially page 11 of part 3 of DKR, the full page spread of Batman & Robin, you'll recognise it immediately). Whilst Watchmen takes a realist approach in not only the story but the art style used - look at the use of sound effects & movement lines in DKR compared to Watchmen, as well as the rigid 9 panel grid compared to the fluidity of Miller's work.

There is also the obvious fact that Moore writes the introduction for the collected edition.

Link | Reply

timber-munki 3 years, 1 month ago

Will Carey & Gross's The Unwritten get covered? It's a bit insulting to describe it as an extended riff on the opening lines of The Swamp Thing Annual#2, but a) they're possibly a couple of the finest lines Moore has written and b) the book is criminally under appreciated [Both art & story]. Ultimately isn't one of Moore's criticisms of DC that they've managed to spin so much out of his ideas including the whole Vertigo imprint.

Link | Reply

John Peacock 3 years, 1 month ago

For what it's worth, the experience for me of reading Marvelman and V For Vendetta at the time was definitely of two different books each - before and after Swamp Thing. So Marvelman, for years, finished on the cliffhanger of the appearance of Marveldog. When they reappeared, it was necessary to read through the initial episodes though now in colour and on the one hand V For Vendetta continued as before and on the other, the illustration switched to some of the worst drawing I've ever seen in a professional comic. But the initial run was of stories written by someone you didn't really know but was getting to know via the stories themselves and when they came back they were books By Alan Moore.

I suppose I'd have known who he was if I'd read 2000AD, but after years of the joyless brutality of Battle and Action, with 2000AD gearing up to be more of the same, I gave up on British comics altogether around issue three, just as everyone else was taking interest. I also didn't like Tiswas very much. I guess I did the 70s childhood wrong.

Link | Reply

Neo Tuxedo 3 years, 1 month ago

"Night Raven actually post-dates Warrior #1."

That's not the way Moore tells it in "Behind the Painted Smile", his making-of-V article that ran in Warrior #17 and is reprinted in the DC/Vertigo TPB:

'"Nightraven" [sic] vanished from the comic, Dez Skinn vanished from Marvel, _Hulk Weekly_ vanished from the shops [...]" (p.268 of the ninth printing)
"Given the original brief, my first ideas centered around a new way of approaching the thirties pulp adventure strip. I came up with a character called "Vendetta," who would be set in a realistic thirties world that drew upon my own knowledge of the Gangster era, bolstered by lots of good, solid research. I sent the idea off to Dave.
"His response was that he was sick to the back teeth of doing good solid research and if he was called upon to draw one more '28 model Dusenberger [sicer] he'd eat his arm. This presented a serious problem." (p.269)

Link | Reply

Eric Gimlin 3 years, 1 month ago

To clarify: we're discussing Moore's Night Raven text stories specifically, which appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes 390-395 and Daredevils 6-10. The characters earlier appearances in Hulk Comic, and probably Savage Action, predate V.

Link | Reply

Ben 3 years, 1 month ago

BerserkRL I like how you put it in terms of Martha Washington and OWS.

One of the things that strikes me about DKR is that it valorizes the New Deal vision of liberalism, of people putting aside their differences to build something better. Jim Gordon is an obvious admirer of FDR and leads the civilians in the story in a parallel way to Batman shaping the ex-Mutants into something more noble. Not that New Dealism should be the endpoint, but it's a cohesive kind of progressive philosphy and Miller provides a good articulation of it. Since then he seems to have decided that the only thing worth keeping from the 30s and 40s is the hatred of Japs.

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 1 month ago

Yeah. Marvel Super-Heroes 390 was October of 1982. Warrior 1 was March 1982. So Moore started doing Night Raven stories after V for Vendetta, although the character itself predated V.

The exact order of Moore's ongoing strips was Marvelman, V for Vendetta (the difference there being 27 pages), Captain Britain, Skizz, DR & Quinch (option 1), The Bojeffries Saga, Swamp Thing, DR & Quinch (option 2), Halo Jones, with your two options for DR & Quinch being whether you count their first appearance (Prog 317), or the first of the chain of issues where they were recurring characters (Prog 350).

Link | Reply

Philip Sandifer 3 years, 1 month ago

Maus is an odd one. I feel like I can't ignore it, but I've honestly no idea where it would go. Going to be very hard to tie it to Watchmen, as its only real relation to the rest of the 1986 set is that it came out in 1986. It's the odd man out in that trio. It didn't even really come out in 1986 - it was just first collected then.

Link | Reply

wumbo 3 years, 1 month ago

Are you going to write a Tuesday article on Stuart Hall?

Link | Reply

Jesse 3 years, 1 month ago

One interesting thing about the trio is that the one "grown-up" comic of the three that didn't build on that old comics warhorse, the superhero, instead built on that old comics warhorse, the talking animal. So it was doing deconstructive work on the medium too, though obviously not in the same way.

I suppose it may also be notable that all three graphic novels were concerned, in different ways, with the subject of fascism.

Link | Reply

New Comment

required

required (not published)

optional

Recent Posts

Archive

Tags

Authors

Feeds

RSS / Atom