“This is not a dream.” – Alan Moore, “Shadowplay,” in Brought to Light, 1988.
|Figure 1: The Great Bearded Wizard of Northampton|
The Last War in Albion is a history of British comics. More specifically, it is a history of the magical war between Grant Morrison and Alan Moore, a war that is on the one hand entirely of its own invention and on the other a war fought in the realm of the fictional, rendering its actual existence almost but not entirely irrelevant. The war in question is not the scant material residue of their verbal feud in various interviews over the years. This exists and will be picked over, but it is not the meat of the discussion.
|Figure 2: The Thrice-Named Warrior Monk of Glasgow|
Within that story there are two figures that appear almost identical to an even casual observer. One, Alan Moore, is a heavily bearded self-proclaimed magician who made his name with DC Comics in 1984 writing Swamp Thing, an envrionmental-themed superhero-horror comic. The other, Grant Morrison, is a bald self-proclaimed magician who made his name with DC Comics in 1988 writing Animal Man, an environmental-themed superhero-horror comic. These two men are not friends. There are sensible reasons for this. Despite their intense similarities, there are fundamental aesthetic differences between Grant Morrison and Alan Moore that place them at diametric opposites of a host of issues with profound social, political, historical, and magical implications.
|Figure 3: Saga of the Swamp Thing #21, 1984|
Understanding this event as a war has several consequences. It does not entirely mean that it is a story of two generals marshalling their forces and battling on the astral plane. It is not Harry Potter versus Voldemort (it is much more Hagrid versus Snape). Alan Moore and Grant Morrison are combatants, and major battles revolve around their actions, but their role is that of Austria and Serbia in World War I. The actual war is much larger and diffuse, more akin to those wars described by Lawrence Miles and other writers of the Faction Paradox franchise, a cracked mirror spinoff of Doctor Who.
Nevertheless, The Last War in Albion will approach this war through the lens of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. The mildly hostile interplay of their entwined careers will be understood as the beginning of its story. There is, of course, backstory and foreshadowing to be had, but its chronological playing out from 1978 to the present day forms the primary plot, if you will, of the project. It is in this regard comparable to Neal Stephenson’s treatment of the Newton-Leibnitz feud in The Baroque Cycle, his three-thousand page magnum opus, except probably longer.
Its structure is self-consciously different from TARDIS Eruditorum, the project to which it is most obviously compared. That project is structured as an episode guide – a series of short essays on successive episodes of Doctor Who. The Last War in Albion is, at least initially, structured as a single essay. Paragraph transitions will be maintained across entries. Figures are numbered consecutively across posts. The language of blogs is in this case deliberate. The Last War in Albion is a book in its structure, albeit ones ill-suited to the mechanics of print publishing, but it is not published like that and at present there are no plans to do so. It is a blog. Its structure is serialized and temporal. Past entries may be amended, but will only be substantially rewritten under rare circumstances.
|Figure 4: Animal Man #1, 1988|
It is not going to linearly cover every Grant Morrison and Alan Moore comic in publication order with distinct entries for each, although as near to every comic by both writers as it is logistically feasible to discuss will be discussed. Rather, it will take longer and more oblique paths. It will inevitably return to the basic narrative of 1978 to the present day, but it will not do so on an entry-by-entry basis. An entry that talks about a seven-page comic in an anthology may be followed by one talking about 1960s new wave science fiction, followed by one about 1973 trash cinema, followed by one about a different comic published off and on from the year of the seven-pager to 1989, followed by one about William Blake, before finally moving on to the original writer’s other major comics work of that year, a thirty-four page small-format space adventure comic. All of these entries may contain any number of other topics, including topics from other entries.