Alan Moore (part 1)
Alan Moore is one of the most prolific writers in the history of comics. His work helped usher in a new age of comic writing. His early efforts helped revive forgotten characters while inventing some of the most successful, original characters even drawn. He helped to lay the groundwork for what modern comics are today. But his legacy is also one mired in a general disdain for some of the biggest comic publishers in the world. With his recently announced retirement from comics, it seems appropriate to put the spotlight on this famed creator.
Alan Moore has done everything in the business from writer to inker, editor, publisher and critic. He is known to despise the film adaptations of his work. Some he should (League of Extraordinary Gentleman) and some he shouldn’t (The Watchmen or From Hell). Dating back to 1970, Moore has had a long, successful run in a business known for short careers. He won his first Eisner in 1988 and his most recent in 2014 when he was elected to the HOF.
What follows is a checklist of a different sort. I’m going to give you the big guns, keys as well as some obscure publications. And though I may leave out his work on Youngblood and Spawn there’s a reason. This list is my best attempt at compiling nearly everything I think you should have in your collection.
Seminar Fanzine #2 (1970)
Moore’s first work of any kind was in this rare as shit publication in which Moore writes about the Shadow!
NOTE: Moore’s other early publications include: Embryo #1-5 which he edited and supplied art/poetry and Fitz & Rovel #3. Others he published under the pseudonym Curt Vile: Anon #1-5, Backstreet Bugle Magazine, Dark Star, Sounds and The Frantic Winter Special. He also published his Maxwell the Cat strips in Northants Post under the pseudonym Jill de Ray.
Doctor Who Magazine #35
Alan Moore’s first pro work was published in this issue of Doctor Who Magazine. Moore’s run on the good Doctor ran in consecutive issues from issue 35 through 43. He did a few issues beyond that as he continued to pen stories for 2000 A.D.
His first published work is either the issue above or this Summer Special which came out around the same time.
Rip Off Comix #8
Reprints from Dark Star Magazine were published in this issue. This book was his first US published comic.
Empire Strikes Back Monthly #151,#154-156 and Star Wars Monthly #159
Moore's first work on a mainstream property outside of Doctor Who and 2000 A.D. turned out to be one of the most spectacular little runs on Star Wars ever produced. Later collected in Dark Horse’s Devilworlds, Moore’s stories are an odd yet incredibly satisfying collection which weren’t completely bogged down by canon.
Warrior Magazine #1
Moore’s revival of Marvelman began here. As other notable creators passed on the idea of bringing Marvelman back, Moore was eager to take on the hero. This title also has the pleasure of being the first appearance of V for Vendetta, arguably one of the best film adaptations of his work. With this issue and subsequent work on Marvelman/Miracleman for Warrior magazine and Eclipse, Moore reworked Marvelman into one of the most critically acclaimed superhero comics ever written. Miracleman issues were highly sought after for decades until Marvel helped to end the publishing rights issue and finally gave the character the return fans waited so long for. Issue 15, the first printed trades and a few other issues remain worth the investment. This one is the true prize though. It is a ghost in NM.
Note: Warrior #4 contains an original Moore Marvelman story which wasn’t reprinted in the Miracleman series.
Marvel Super-Heroes #387, 388
Miracleman fans will want these two, #387 is the first mention of Miracleman and issue 388 features his gravestone. They are also Moore’s first work on Captain Britain.
NOTE: Moore was uncredited but did write 1 page in issue 386.
Moore’s work on Captain Britain is truly something special. Subsequent issues should all be owned especially issue 7, which is a massive Miracleman key (Death of Miracleman) and one of the hardest to find. #7 is also the first time Marvelman was referred to as Miracleman. And Daredevils #9 is particularly interesting because it features art where Betsy Braddock has a sort of psychic vision of superhero violence that readers would have been very shocked by. It represents a tone Moore would later revisit in Miracleman.
Marvel Super-Heroes #394 & 395
These UK books reprint stories by a ton of legends including Byrne, Claremont and Perez! But it also illustrates Moore’s ability to do more than write comics as shown in the illustrated prose story Night Raven: Sadie’s Story.
Knockabout Comics Trial Special
This book features another illustrated story by Moore. Moore didn’t just focus on heroes and over the years had work published in some truly oddball publications.
For the first time in two decades Marvelman is back in his own self-titled publication! Featuring key reprints by creator Mick Anglo and an original tale from Alan Davis and Moore, this one is both a Marvelman/Miracleman key and hard to find in high grade due to its size.
Detective Comics #549
Moore's most famous work on the Caped Crusader wouldn’t come until many years later but this is his first work published in Batman (Green Arrow short).
Green Lantern #188
Some of my favorite Moore works are his Tales of the GL Corps short stories. This is Moore’s first work on GL. Fans of Mogo will love this one!
Swamp Thing #37
Whether you believe the DC Sampler issue or Swamp Thing #25 to be the first appearance of John Constantine, the market still sees this as the first. As one of Moore’s most popular creations, John Constantine went on to star in one of DC’s longest running Vertigo titles, Hellblazer. The entire run is a testament to the creative abilities of Moore who turned Swamp Thing into a series universally loved by readers.
Vigilante #17, 18
Want to read a gritty realistic examination of public attitudes towards vigilante crime-fighting? Put down the Punisher and try this 1985 two-part story. Only Moore could weave a narrative about the plight of a villain who molested his own daughter into such a daring, innovative tale where a small part of you might actually sympathize with the bad guy. No one should ever feel bad for a man who abuses his child but Moore’s examination is a more accurate representation of what a real life interaction between a costumed vigilante and this type of criminal might look like. It’s a complex, engaging work and it’s not to be missed by any reader.
As the re-printings of Moore’s rework of Marvelman began to see publication, fans in America quickly realized that this was a totally different type of hero. Thematically, Moore was always more concerned with expressing how heroes were seen by regular people and delving deep into the motivations of the villain while exploring the rich history of the property. Miracleman fast became a fan favorite, culminating in the still highly collectible issue 15. Later, Neil Gaiman took over, continuing the legacy of one of comics most important heroes but it was Moore who reinvented this forgotten character.
Issues 1-6 were reprints from Warrior Magazine and his final issue was #16.
Superman Annual #11
This comic is one of my personal favorites and I don’t have many Superman comics I can say that about. It was also adapted into a Justice League Unlimited episode. This comic recently saw a rise in value thanks to a similar episode of Supergirl. When we think of great comics we have to remember the artist is as important as the writer. Moore has worked with some on the industry’s best and here that tradition continues with Dave Gibbons.
Check back next week for Moore.