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Last War in Albion Book Two, Chapter Four: Time as a Record Player (Watchmaker)

It is January, 1988. Alan Moore is thirty-three, and writing the introduction to the collected edition of Watchmen. His relationship with the publisher is in tatters, a fact he alludes to only vaguely when he notes that it is “the very last work that I expect to be doing upon Watchmen for the foreseeable future.” He looks back to 1984, when the idea originated, and the giddy enthusiasm of it all. And yet there is something he cannot quite locate in this. He notes that at the start “we wanted to do a novel and unusual super-hero comic that allowed us the opportunity to try out a few new storytelling ideas along the way. What we ended up with was substantially more than that.” But he cannot pin down the transition. Instead he describes a growing realization of the story’s complexity and scale, but without a sense that the realization had an end point. Instead, “there was the mounting suspicion (at least on my part) that we might have bitten off more than we could chew, that we might not be able to resolve all these momentous strands of narrative and meaning that seemed to be springing up ...

Last War in Albion Book Two, Chapter Three: The Unique Details and Methods of a Crime (The Judge of All The Earth)

Part of the difficulty in tracking the fallout of Moore’s split with DC is simply that it’s so extensive. Once the rupture began it spread quickly, fueled in no small part by Alan Moore’s tendency to, as he’s put it, burn his bridges when reacting against something so as to make sure he’s never tempted to go second guess himself. But in this case the fractal repetition of Moore’s grievances with DC have served to make the initial issues harder to see, to the point where the standard wisdom is that Moore’s break with DC came over a dispute in the handling of the Watchmen trade paperback when, in reality, he had made his decision not to accept any new work from DC in January of 1987, eight months before the trade paperback even came out, and five months before Moore was actually done working on it. This decision came during a wider dispute about DC’s proposed creation of a ratings system for their comics. And even that point is not a single discrete cause that can be separated out from all of the others and identified as the original, true rift, but at best the third issue to arise ...

Last War in Albion Book Two, Chapter Two: Places That Aren't Even There Anymore (Absent Friends)

 
This is, perhaps, why so much ink has been spilled within the War on attempts to argue that this gap, in effect, does not exist - that Watchmen can be understood purely, or at least primarily, in terms of its influences, thus allowing those living in its wake to exist as though they are free from its vast and monolithic splendor. It is, after all, the easier option; it does not require staring too long at the cavernous depths within. It gives the comforting illusion that Watchmen is, at its heart, an easily solved mystery - a question with a definite answer. Nothing could be further from the truth, but for those who would otherwise find themselves caught in its blast, reduced to mere shadows cast by its incinerating radiance the idea that the book is simply some inevitable consequence of what came before is a useful delusion.
 
There are, of course, other factors involved in the particular obsession with Watchmen’s influences, most notably the fact that Moore and Gibbons have both asserted consistently that Watchmen was envisioned as a creator-owned book, a claim that makes the degree to which its ideas originated with Moore and Gibbons relevant. More ...

Last War in Albion Book Two, Chapter One: A Machine That Kills (At Midnight All The Agents)

Figure 832: The cover of Watchmen #1,
depicting the iconic badge.

In anticipation of the forthcoming new chapter of Last War in Albion, I thought I'd re-run the first seven chapters of Book Two, in part to make chapters 1-5 organized in single post omnibus form like latter chapters.

Previously in The Last War in Albion: In 1979, two men got their starts in the British comics industry. One, a young Scotsman named Grant Morrison, largely sunk without a trace, writing only a few short stories for a failed magazine called Near Myths, a local newspaper strip, and a couple of sci-fi adventurers for DC Thomson’s Starblazer, a magazine renowned for only ever giving the editorial note “more space combat.”

The other, a decade older man from Northampton named Alan Moore, steadily worked his way from some low rent gigs writing and drawing his own strips to a career in the mainstream British industry, pulling together a living writing disposable short stories for 2000 AD, superheroes for Marvel UK, and low-selling but critically acclaimed work like V for Vendetta for Dez Skinn’s Warrior, before making the jump to American comics to try to salvage the failing title ...

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