[Part 1: Alan Moore on Providence, Jerusalem, League and more…]
PÓM: Jimmy’s End. The whole Jimmy’s End project, how is that coming along?
AM: Well, let me see. We have the first cycle of films, the first cycle of short films, of which there are five, all told, four of those have been made. They include Act of Faith, Jimmy’s End, and then a couple of short films, both about ten minutes each, something like that – ten minutes, quarter of an hour – one called Upon Reflection, which is set on the same night as the events in Act of Faith and Jimmy’s End, and it fills in a bit of the space between one film and the other, and that’s done, that’s completed, colour-graded, the soundtrack’s recorded and everything, that’s all fine. There’s another short film called A Professional Relationship, which shows you something that’s going on in one of the backrooms while the main story is going on in the ballroom of Jimmy’s End. The fifth film in that cycle, which we haven’t finished yet, is called His Heavy Heart, and that shows you what happens to James after the finale of Jimmy’s End. When those films are done, that’ll be the whole, if you like, Jimmy’s End cycle completed, and at the moment how it stands is, I think we’re about to launch an appeal on Kickstarter to see if we can get the money to make that fifth film.
I’m also waiting to hear – there were some people who were going to fund the writing of the screenplay for the feature film that follows on from the Jimmy’s End cycle, with the same characters, and the same story – it expands upon it, and takes it a lot further than what I suspect most people probably think is the storyline of Jimmy’s End and Act of Faith. Things aren’t quite as they seem, and in the feature film that would become very evident, it would be a completely different kettle of fish to any of the short films, which we’ve tried to make as different from each other as possible, they’re all experimental films. Upon Reflection is just from one single camera-angle, which meant that it was a one-take performance, which brings it almost closer to theatre, and all of the other ones, they’re – we’re trying to take an unusual approach with each of them, but with the feature film, that would obviously have to be paced as a feature film, so it would be a lot faster, and probably a lot more dramatic, although it’s not going to be Michael Bay, it’s not going to be explosions, you know, but it will just be at a faster pace than Jimmy’s End, which was a short film, so it could be as long as we wanted it to be. It was originally written as a ten minute film, but Mitch [Mitch Jenkins] kinda wanted the space to have all of those lingering corridor shots, and things like that.
But, yeah, the feature film would be one and a half to two hours, maximum, and I’ve got all of that worked out, it’s just that I’m not going to be able to write the screenplay unless I’ve actually got some pay to do that. But that’s in the offing at the moment. And we’re getting great songs from Adam and Andy – Crook and Flail – just the pieces of music they’re recording for the films. I mean, they started off as meant to be pastiches but actually, I think a lot of them are as good as the things that they were meant to be pastiching. There’s some little classics coming out of these films. And a lot of the side-projects as well, they’re starting to look a bit more plausible now. But again, nothing is really – there have been so many setbacks on the process so far, that I’ll wait and see, and see what materialises before actually commenting upon it. With films it seems that there are really is many a slip between cup and lip.
PÓM: Did you mention that Amber, your daughter Amber, is helping out, or doing something, is it with a video game or something like that?
AM: There is a project that Amber was helping on a bit. Leah and John are helping on another bit of it. But again, these are both parts of the production that – we’re hoping that they’re going to pan out, but we’d rather not talk about them too much until we know whether they’re going to happen or not. There’s a lot of people involved in this, including both Amber and Leah, and John.
PÓM: Cool, actually – what have I got…? Comedians. I’ve noticed you seem to be hanging out with a lot of comedians and scientists.
AM: Yeah, well, that tends to happen. And a wonderful crowd they are. I think that when I was knocking about with Robin Ince and Josie Long, both of whom worked on Dodgem Logic, and of course I’ve known Stewart Lee for ages, and Robin invited me to do a few of these Bloomsbury evenings, his Christmas Carols for Godless Children, where you get a great mix of musicians, and comedians, and scientists, and mathematicians. It’s really good, where you’re liable to get, say, somebody like Jim Bob, from Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, who’s great as a solo performer these days, he’s brilliant. You’ll get him, and then you’ll get somebody like Ben Goldacre or Simon Singh, and then you’ll get somebody like Isy Suttie or Josie Long. They’re really good. And in the middle of this, you’ve got me, who is neither a scientist nor a comedian, and is never entirely sure what I’m doing there, to be perfectly honest, but, no, it’s always a very pleasant evening, and this New Year – no, it wasn’t the New Year, it was December the 21st, Mayan End of the World Night, and Robin had put on a Uncaged Monkeys gig at the Hammersmith Apollo, and that was brilliant. That was a lot of fun. Stewart Lee was there, doing this wonderful routine as one of the Mayan gods of death, Brian Cox was doing – he’d reformed D:Ream for the evening, and at the end of the night I found meself on stage, singing along with Things Can Only Get Better, and for a dizzy moment, I almost believed it, Pádraig. Yeah, they’re a great crowd. I’ve got Robin coming up to see me sometime this week or next. They’re really lovely. They’re the sanest people on the planet. Scientists and comedians.
D:Ream in 1994 – Professor Brian Cox is on the keyboard…
AM: Not really. Well, not at all. It’s – no, I’ve not got any plans at the minute, and it’s dubious that there would be at any point in the future. I mean, I can’t think of any other work than the work that I’ve got on at the moment. Yeah, I suppose it might happen again at some point in the future, if there was a massive reversal of fortunes, and we worked out some actually non financially disastrous way of doing it, but, no, no plans at the moment. That’s still on the way back-burner, if it’s not off the stove altogether.
AM: Yeah, you’re quite welcome to ask me about it. We’re up to – I shall be going down to Steve’s this weekend and doing another couple of pages of it. We’re up to page two hundred and sixty-something. In terms of The Great Enchanters, we’re almost up to the modern day, we’ve just done Crowley and Blavatsky, and Frater Achad, and Austin Spare, so we’ve got about another ten more of them to do, and I think we’ve probably got another episode of most of the main strands that run through the book, the fictional story The Soul, the occult adventure story, we’ve got one more chapter of that to do. We’ve just done our last Rainy Day Activities page, which was on practical magic and why you shouldn’t, and yeah, we’ve got another few pieces to do, but it’s crawling towards – we’ve got a lot of it done so far of what we’ve done. Just the Great Enchanters alone is probably gonna – it’s a very comprehensive history of magic, and it raises a lot of points which I believe are original to it, and nobody else has figured out before. All these things take their time, but they take as long as they’re gonna take, and at the end of the day that’s what’s important. People in ten years’ time are not going to be wishing that I’d got it out six weeks earlier, or six months earlier. The book will be what it’s gonna be, forever, so it’s worth taking the time on it.
PÓM: I remember six months, or something like that [actually thirteen months] between your last two issues of Marvelman, so I’m kinda going, we’re used to waiting, it’s alright. Stuff arrives when it arrives.
AM: Well, you’re very patient, thank you.
PÓM: Have you, do you have any idea what’s going on with Marvelman? Or indeed do you care?
AM: No, don’t care, and don’t know. The last thing I heard was when Marvel were gonna reprint it or something, and at which point I said yes, I’ll do what you want as long as my money goes to Mick Anglo, and as long as my name doesn’t go on it, because I, if I’d known what the actual situation was I’d never have been involved in it in the first place. So – and I did hear from a third party that Mick Anglo, his last years, or his last months, were very very comfortable and happy, so that was all I cared about. As for the rest of it, no, I neither know nor care.
PÓM: No, can’t blame you for that. As I’ve said before, it’s all a shame, but what can you do?
AM: I’ve still got affection for the work, it’s just that I can’t look at it again, or really have it in the house, which is – perhaps it’s maybe a shame for me, although I don’t think of it as one. I don’t think of it at all, really. Like you say, the people out there, they can still enjoy these things.
PÓM: Yeah. There was some kind of controversy, if you like, recently over Halo Jones, and…
AM: Oh, the picture of Halo Jones with her tits out?
PÓM: The alleged topless illustration of Halo Jones, yes.
AM: I made a brief comment upon it, which was probably more than was necessary. I just heard about it, and made a brief remark about how that wasn’t how I’d originally envisaged the character, in fact that was quite the opposite of what the character was meant to be. It’s, like, I’m kind of used to the fact that, if you do work in the comics industry, for any of the big companies, then you might as well say goodbye to the characters and your control over them, you having any say in what’s done with them.
PÓM: Although, in this case it wasn’t any of big companies that were doing it, it was…
AM: Fair enough, but the thing is, if I’d got an active say in the character any more, that perhaps wouldn’t have happened. But, I haven’t. I’ve cut me ties with all those things. So, I couldn’t even really get up an awful lot of interest to make the comment in the first place, it’s nothing that I really cared about apart from the fact that lazy sexism is always wrong.
PÓM: The only thing is, there were a lot of people who were very, I think saddened by the fact that this had happened. There’s a lot of people who said ‘this is not right.’ I mean, it may only be an idea, it may only be lines on paper, but it was wrong, and that was – there were still so many people who were still so passionate about it, after all these years.
AM: That’s nice to know. But it’s a phenomenon that I’ve got used to, especially with those wretched Watchmen prequels. No, a lot of my comics work I am very very distanced from. Other than the stuff which I own.
PÓM: Yeah, to be honest with yeh, I have all the old stuff on the shelf, and it’s grand to have it there, but personally, most of this interview is about – is always going to be about – what you’re doing next.
AM: Well, that’s very kind of you. This is the stuff that I’m interested in, and hopefully – yeah, it’s nice that the old work’s still entertaining people, but it’s the new stuff I’m interested in. It really gets obscure and difficult at times, it’s what I like. Hopefully, if it’s what I like, then that will show and that will come across to the readers. Certainly if I was doing something that was what they wanted but which I didn’t enjoy, they wouldn’t enjoy it either, because it would be dull. So, I will continue to do the sort of stuff that I enjoy doing, which is what I’ve always done, it’s just that the stuff that I enjoy doing has perhaps got a bit – rarefied over this last few years.
PÓM: I don’t know, I mean, I know there are people who probably find it difficult to read the bits that have hard words in them, in things like the League, and all of that, but I love that stuff. I love the extra short stories at the back, and all of that…
PÓM: Well, you’re not from a generation that would be ashamed if your mates caught you reading, and I’m sure that most of the younger generation are of that persuasion, as well – I think people, people aren’t idiots, even if you could be forgiven for thinking that, if you looked at the television programmes and movies and books that they have foisted upon them. But I don’t think that people are idiots. People will respond to new ideas. I think that if the Orwellian notion, that by reducing a populace’s vocabulary, and reducing the number of concepts that are available to them, is a way of limiting their consciousness, then I think that that sounds pretty true to me. I mean, when you think, what is it, the – is it ten thousand words that you need to be able to read The Sun?
PÓM: Oh yes! Is it that many?
AM: Or thereabouts? The amount is tiny. Then I’d say that, yes, that Orwellian notion is probably true, but surely the converse is true, that if you are given people a different language, different concepts, then you can expand their consciousness. You can make them into something other than Sun readers with a bit of effort. So, no, I think it’s definitely worth doing, whether the sales reflect that is not my concern.
AM: So I noticed, yes.
PÓM: …and I was wondering if you had anything you wanted to share with the world, with the nation on that – particularly seeing as, I mean, V was obviously your great paean against Thatcherism.
AM: Unfortunately, me and Margaret Thatcher, I think we both got into the job around about 1979. We’ve got many things in common, you know. No, what the main thing that I thought when I heard about Margaret Thatcher’s death, was I was really really glad for Iain Banks.
PÓM: Yes, you’re not the only person who’s said that.
AM: Iain is in a really tough spot right now, and he’s taking it magnificently, from what I hear, and he deserves a bit of a ray of sunshine, and I think to have Margaret Thatcher pre-decease him will probably really really cheer him up when he needs it. That was pretty much the extents of my thoughts, I’d just like to forget the woman – if woman she was. I think that she should be – she, her policies, her ideas, such as they were, should be just consigned to the trash compactor of history. I saw a headline on the Daily Mail today that said ‘She saved Britain,’ or something similar to that, but then that’s the Daily Mail, you know.
PÓM: Yes, I’ve seen a range of headlines from – the further north you go in the island of Britain, actually, the more those opinions change, it seems.
AM: Well, I can quite understand that, I’m just a bit embarrassed that we haven’t got more spirited headlines down here. I was thinking about what Mark Steel said, a few months ago, when he said that he agreed with the idea of giving her a state funeral, as long as it was conducted before she was dead. But I suppose that’s never going to happen now. Ah, we can dream.
PÓM: OK, I’m gonna actually – just one or two more things. We’ve done an hour, sure that’s long enough for any man. Two things – first of all, it’s your sixtieth birthday this year. Are there any plans? You do tend to mark your decades with…
AM: Well, other people tend to mark them – I’ve not got any real plans. I’m hoping to have loads of this stuff all finished up…
Voice in the Background: Bye!
AM: Bye bye, darlin’. I’m hoping to have all this stuff finished up – I’m hoping to have Jerusalem out of the way, maybe the Book of Magic. That’s a bit ambitious, but I’m hoping to have a lot of these big projects finally tied up this year, so that I can go into my seventh decade with a slightly easier workload. Nah, I’ve not got anything planned, really. No, I think it’ll all probably be, I think I’ll make quite a dignified sexagenarian. I think I’ll probably be refined and patrician. That’s how I see myself.
PÓM: Good, good. Yes. The other thing is, I’ve a note here that says, ‘How’s grandfatherhood?’, but the other thing I noticed is – are you familiar with the Fibonacci Sequence?
AM: Oh yes.
A Fibonacci Spiral
AM: Is that right?
AM: I never noticed that!
PÓM: Which means that the next time, Amber has to have triplets.
PÓM: I’ll tell her!
AM: Yeah, it will continue beyond that, won’t it? Yeah, the Fibonacci Sequence, that mounts up.
PÓM: Yeah, it does, it does, quite a bit.
AM: Grandfatherhood, me and Mel, well, I mean, grandmotherhood in her case, we’re enjoying it immensely. All of the kids are fantastic. They’re a little superhero team all of their own. Rowan is just colossal. Christ knows how tall that boy is gonna be.
PÓM: His mother is quite tall…
AM: Oh yes, well his mother, when she’s got her heels on she’s as tall as I am. We had a bet for a long while that – I oughta collect on that – actually, I bet her a tenner that she’d never be as tall as I am, and I think she welched on it But she did make a very good stab at it. I mean, in the height department, Leah was just lazy. She didn’t put any effort into that at all. Leah’s children, with the astonishing Eddie, who just is – his language skills are pretty extraordinary, and his reasoning abilities also. He’s worrying, that one. He should probably be kept away from political power. The twins, James and Joseph, I’ve not actually had a conversation with them yet, but I believe that they are starting to have a bit of a chatter, and, yeah, they’re lovely. We went up to see them shortly after they’d been born, we saw them again at Christmas, and we’re probably going to be seeing them soon again this year, so, it’s great. Before I had grandchildren I was never one of those people who was constantly pressurising the children to produce grandchildren. I could take them or leave them, you know. However, having taken them, they’re quite – they’re very moreish.
PÓM: Moreish or Mooreish?
AM: Yes, absolutely! No, it’s great. This is a good time of life. It feels like a lot of the – having removed myself from the comics industry makes ever such a lot of difference. I feel so much calmer. I can just concentrate upon my work, which was all I should have been concentrating upon all along, without any of this other unnecessary bullshit. So, no, I feel that I’m in a place now where I have wanted to be for quite a long time, and that I am doing what feels to me like some of the best work of me life. So, I’ve got no complaints, although – I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.
PÓM: OK, well I think we’ll wrap it up at that.
AM: Fantastic! Well, nice talking to you as ever, mate.
PÓM: And you, Alan. Always a pleasure.
AM: Do give me love to Deirdre, won’t you?
PÓM: I will. And, that was Mel going out, I take it?
AM: That was Mel going out. She just came in while we were nattering, and has just gone out again, so I’ve got no idea where, who can say? She was probably just going out for a night’s – perhaps to a restaurant with one of her mates for a drink or whatever, whereas I shall be doing another coupla pages of Providence, having some tea, and then perhaps a coupla stanzas more of chapter 33 of Jerusalem.
PÓM: Cool. OK.
AM: OK, you take care, Pádraig, love to everybody, and I look forward to seeing you again, and talking to you again in the hopefully not too distant future, mate.
PÓM: OK, thanks a million, Alan.
[Margaret Thatcher image by Dave McKean]