Eruditorum Press

We stared into the untempered schism and all we saw was this dodgy CSO effect

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

51 Comments

  1. David Anderson
    February 15, 2014 @ 8:31 am

    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?

    Reply

  2. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 15, 2014 @ 8:32 am

    Yes, Captain Britain. Have updated the post.

    Reply

  3. C.
    February 15, 2014 @ 8:53 am

    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.

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  4. jane
    February 15, 2014 @ 9:10 am

    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.

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  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 15, 2014 @ 9:51 am

    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.

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  6. Nyq Only
    February 15, 2014 @ 10:09 am

    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.

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  7. C.
    February 15, 2014 @ 10:15 am

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

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  8. Matthew Blanchette
    February 15, 2014 @ 11:39 am

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

    Reply

  9. Shane Cubis
    February 15, 2014 @ 11:52 am

    Al Along The Watchtower

    Reply

  10. Archeology of the Future
    February 15, 2014 @ 12:00 pm

    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.

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  11. Danny O'D
    February 15, 2014 @ 12:14 pm

    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."

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  12. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 15, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

    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.

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  13. Matthew Blanchette
    February 15, 2014 @ 12:58 pm

    See, I figured that one might be too obvious…

    Reply

  14. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 15, 2014 @ 1:00 pm

    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.

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  15. Ben
    February 15, 2014 @ 1:03 pm

    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.

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  16. Ben
    February 15, 2014 @ 1:11 pm

    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.

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  17. Anton B
    February 15, 2014 @ 1:11 pm

    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.

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  18. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 15, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

    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.

    Reply

  19. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 15, 2014 @ 1:23 pm

    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.

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  20. Kit
    February 15, 2014 @ 1:23 pm

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

    Reply

  21. Eric Gimlin
    February 15, 2014 @ 1:46 pm

    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.

    Reply

  22. Anton B
    February 15, 2014 @ 1:59 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  23. Anton B
    February 15, 2014 @ 2:00 pm

    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.

    Reply

  24. Jordan Murphy
    February 15, 2014 @ 2:26 pm

    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.

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  25. Jordan Murphy
    February 15, 2014 @ 2:30 pm

    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.

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  26. Jordan Murphy
    February 15, 2014 @ 2:32 pm

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

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  27. Jordan Murphy
    February 15, 2014 @ 2:39 pm

    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…).

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  28. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 15, 2014 @ 2:50 pm

    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).

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  29. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 15, 2014 @ 2:52 pm

    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.

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  30. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 15, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

    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.

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  31. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 15, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

    Watchmen on the Ramparts?

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  32. Jesse
    February 15, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

    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.

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  33. Jordan Murphy
    February 15, 2014 @ 3:26 pm

    "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. 🙂

    Reply

  34. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 15, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

    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.

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  35. Jesse
    February 15, 2014 @ 3:37 pm

    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.

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  36. Jordan Murphy
    February 15, 2014 @ 4:06 pm

    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.

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  37. Matthew Blanchette
    February 15, 2014 @ 4:23 pm

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

    Hmmm…Juvenal Delinquents? 😉

    Reply

  38. BerserkRL
    February 15, 2014 @ 8:25 pm

    Turnipmen?

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  39. BerserkRL
    February 15, 2014 @ 8:33 pm

    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.

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  40. BerserkRL
    February 15, 2014 @ 8:34 pm

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

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  41. Anton B
    February 15, 2014 @ 11:37 pm

    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.

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  42. timber-munki
    February 16, 2014 @ 1:45 am

    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.

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  43. timber-munki
    February 16, 2014 @ 1:59 am

    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.

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  44. John Peacock
    February 16, 2014 @ 2:32 am

    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.

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  45. Neo Tuxedo
    February 16, 2014 @ 3:52 am

    "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)

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  46. Eric Gimlin
    February 16, 2014 @ 9:51 am

    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.

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  47. Ben
    February 16, 2014 @ 12:28 pm

    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.

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  48. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 16, 2014 @ 3:13 pm

    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).

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  49. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 16, 2014 @ 3:15 pm

    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.

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  50. wumbo
    February 16, 2014 @ 3:57 pm

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

    Reply

  51. Jesse
    February 16, 2014 @ 4:05 pm

    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.

    Reply

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