Moore and O’Neill finish the Janni Dakkar trilogy with Nemo: River of Ghosts

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Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s Nemo trilogy wraps up in march with Nemo: River of Ghosts, recently acquired Top Shelf just announced. Like all of its Alan Moore publications, Knockabout will publish the book in the UK. The trilogy, which follows Captain Nemo’s daughter Janni, began in Heart of Ice, continued in The Roses of Berlin and wraps up here, with now aged Janni exploring the Amazon.

In a world where all the fictions ever written coalesce into a rich mosaic, it’s 1975. Janni Dakkar, pirate queen of Lincoln Island and head of the fabled Nemo family, is eighty years old and beginning to display a tenuous grasp on reality. Pursuing shadows from her past—or her imagination—she embarks on what may be a final voyage down the vastness of the Amazon, a last attempt to put to rest the blood-drenched spectres of old.

With allies and adversaries old and new, we accompany an ageing predator on her obsessive trek into the cultural landscape of a strange new continent, from the ruined city of Yu-Atlanchi to the fabulous plateau of Maple White Land. As the dark threads in her narrative are drawn into an inescapable web, Captain Nemo leads her hearse-black Nautilus in a desperate raid on horrors believed dead for decades.

This follow-up trilogy to the League of Extraordinary Gentleman saga has been quite entertaining in its own right. What else do Moore and O’Neill have up their sleeve I wonder?

UPDATED: IDW acquires Top Shelf, from Alan Moore to Zander Cannon

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Updated: Chris Staros responded to my enquiries about Alan Moore with the following:

“I had extensive talks with Alan — as well as our other creators — about the deal, and knowing that I would be his single point of contact for all current and future works to be published under the Top Shelf imprint, he’s okay with everything moving forward as is. For me, being that Alan was the reason I got into comics in the first place — as it was V for Vendetta that gave me the epiphany, and showed me the potential of the medium of comics — to go from one of his greatest fans, to his publisher on From Hell, League, etc., has been the greatest honor of my life. So to continue this relationship, as well as our co-publishing partnership with our great friends at Knockabout in the UK, is something I cherish, and am extremely proud of.”

Well, bam, 2015 is off to a rousing start, with news breaking this morning that San Diego’s IDW has acquired Atlanta/PDX’s Top Shelf, with Top Shelf’s Chris Staros to remain as Editor in Chief, while partner Brett Warnock retires from comics to run a food and nature blog. Top Shelf will remain as a separate line at IDW, while Leigh Walton, Chris Ross and Zac Boone will all stay on at the new imprint.

Top Shelf has a backlist that includes everything from Jeff Lemire’s beloved in Canada Essex Trilogy to some of Jeffrey Brown’s best books to the civil rights juggernaut March to James Kochalka to Jess Fink to….well just about everything. The film The Surrogates was based on the Robert Venditti-written Top Shelf book. Perhaps most famously, they are the main US publisher for new Alan Moore. But more about that below.

Most aspects of the deal—just about everything except the terms—are covered in a very thorough FAQ included in the PR, from the fact that Bill Schanes brokered the deal to Top Shelf’s books being warehoused by Diamond right alongside IDWs.

But here’s The Beat’s own four hours of sleep FAQ:

downloadIs this a good thing?
Hard to see how it isn’t. Top Shelf gets some capital and IDW gets market share that will almost certainly boost it permanently into fourth place on the Diamond charts. It was obvious to observers that Top Shelf had settled down a bit in recent years; their output remains top notch but running a small indie press leads to a lot of wear and tear. Hopefully I’d expect the Top Shelf booth to remain its own thing—if the fez and lights set goes down, I’m protesting.

As long as Staros remains editor in chief, the line should stay the same. Staros and Warnock forged very strong relationships with a lot of indie cartoonists when they were up and coming—and those relationships are part of what IDW bought. That said, some creators were moving their backlist to other publishers—Matt Kindt took all his books to Dark Horse, for example. I’m guessing that were he still at IDW/Top Shelf, the new entity would have been a more attractive offering.

What about Alan Moore?
That said, Top Shelf is the only company besides Avatar that’s been able to work with Alan Moore in the US, and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books not to mention the backlist titan From Hell are like printing money. Moore had a reversion clause in his contract—if Top Shelf was sold, he could take his books elsewhere. While Top Shelf would still be an attractive take over without Moore, with Moore it’s still a license to print money, and it’s a certainty that the acquisition had to be vetted with Moore before it went through. Top Shelf, along with Knockabout, Moore’s UK publisher, has been a strong publishing partner for Moore for more than a decade—the handling of Lost Girls being a sterling example.

Interestingly, LoeG’s acquiring editor, Scott Dunbier actually works at IDW now, although my understanding is that the two are no longer close. However, that Ted Adams is able to work with the one person possibly more cranky than Alan Moore, Dave Sim, shows that he has some serious negotiating skills.

All that said, as I’ve pointed out many times, just treating Moore with respect as an author would have stopped all his problems with DC dead in their tracks. Ted Adams is nothing if not a student of history, and as long as Staros stays the Moore whisperer all should be well.

As I post this, neither IDW nor Top Shelf had responded to inquiries about the Moore mater.

What can IDW do for Top Shelf?
IDW already has a bunch of imprints, Yoe Books, Library of American Comics and so on, but despite some strong books, they have never been in the forefront of creator owned series. A lot of Top Shelf books are not giant money makers, but in today’s comics market, selling books by Jeffrey Brown, Alan Moore and John Lewis shouldn’t require decathlon-like exertion. Alan Moore’s DC books are backlist perennials, which shouldn’t From Hell be one too?

Top Shelf is one of the longest running “boutique” indie publishers, and one of the largest, bu in a world of razor thin margins, that still doesn’t men anyone, publisher or creator was rolling in the dough. I predicted we’d see some consolidation in 2015—this isn’t the lineup I was expecting, but it makes 100% sense.

“The acquisition of Top Shelf is a milestone for IDW,” said Ted Adams, IDW CEO and publisher. “We looked a very long time for a company that would complement our own publishing line-up, and in Top Shelf we found the ideal match. The addition of Top Shelf’s library further positions IDW’s leadership role among the top powerhouses in comics.”

Top Shelf will remain a distinct imprint within IDW and co-founder Chris Staros will join the company as Editor-in-Chief, Top Shelf Productions. Top Shelf’s fans can expect the same independent editorial approach that has garnered industry-wide awards and made it an envy among its peers.

“IDW is committed to preserving and growing the Top Shelf brand, which we’ve long admired” said IDW president and COO Greg Goldstein. “Chris and his team have built a great working relationship with creators, fans, and retailers alike, and IDW will work diligently to expand Top Shelf’s publishing capabilities and market reach while further developing those relationships.”

Founded in 1997, Top Shelf Productions offers a broad library of comic books and graphic novels from dozens of the industry’s top independent creators. Following the acquisition, Top Shelf’s headquarters will remain in Marietta, GA.

“Top Shelf and IDW complement each other perfectly,” said Top Shelf Productions co-founder and publisher Chris Staros. “We both started around the same time, and when I would watch IDW over the years, as a fellow publisher, I’d see them making smart move after smart move. Now I’m extremely excited to combine their talents and resources with Top Shelf’s award-winning literary approach to comics. And believe it or not, the idea to join forces hit us both at exactly the same time. Last year, as I was about to pitch Ted and Greg this ‘crazy’ idea, they approached me to suggest the same thing! How’s that for a good omen? Together, we’re going to be able to publish some incredible work. I’m really looking forward to this.”

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

FAQs

Will Top Shelf retain its own brand identity?
Absolutely. It will remain a distinct imprint within the IDW family of books.

How will IDW Publishing’s new ownership role directly impact Top Shelf?
IDW’s main role will be the support and management of Top Shelf’s infrastructure — production, sales, marketing and promotional initiatives. IDW will also provide additional funding to secure new breakout projects so that Top Shelf can direct their full attention to producing fan-favorite award-winning books.

IDW will use its 15 years of publishing experience to further enhance Top Shelf’s incredible line-up and ensure that the backlist is always available to an expanded retailer and consumer base.

What role will Chris Staros have going forward at Top Shelf?
Chris Staros will join the company as Editor-in-Chief of Top Shelf Productions and will expand his role as one of the most innovative editors, marketers and new talent scouts in the industry. Therefore, Top Shelf’s fans can expect the same independent editorial approach that has yielded first-rate books and garnered industry-wide awards.

What about the rest of The Top Shelf staff?
While Chris’ long-time friend and business partner, Brett Warnock, has decided to retire from the world of comics and explore business opportunities through his newly launched food and nature blog, the rest of the Top Shelf staff will remain in place to continue Top Shelf’s indy-focused operations: Leigh Waltonas Top Shelf’s Publicist & Marketing Director; Chris Ross as Lead Designer & Digital Director; and Zac Boone as Warehouse Manager.

How does this acquisition affect Top Shelf’s independent creators?
Top Shelf publishing agreements will be honored in full, with all creator rights and deal points continuing as they are currently written. IDW will also be able to ensure that Top Shelf’s extensive catalog stays in print, and all creators receive royalties on the solid schedule IDW is known for.

How will this transition affect retailers?
We anticipate a very smooth transition, as both IDW and Top Shelf use Diamond Comic Distributors and Diamond Book Distributors as their exclusive distribution partners for both the comic book specialty market and book market. The entire Top Shelf inventory is already being warehoused by Diamond in the same location as the IDW inventory.

How did the transaction come about?
IDW has been interested in pursuing an acquisition(s) for some time and earlier in 2014 retained industry veteran Bill Schanes (former VP of purchasing for Diamond) as a consultant to thoroughly investigate acquisition opportunities. Top Shelf, as it turned out, was by far the best of these and Bill facilitated the “matchmaking” early on. Once the companies got to know each other better, the rest was, as they say, history.

 

Speaking of Alan Moore, what’s up with Electricomics

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Last May, Alan Moore announced he would be involved with a new line of digital comics called Electricomics. Given that Alan Moore is to computers as Daryl Dixon is to soap, this seemed counter intuitive, but it turns out his daughter Leah was very much involved in it. A line of comics was announced:

Electricomics will be a 32-page showcase with four very different original titles:

Big Nemo – set in the 1930s, Alan Moore revisits Winsor McCay’s most popular hero

Cabaret Amygdala – modernist horror from writer Peter Hogan (Terra Obscura)

Red Horse – on the anniversary of the beginning of World War One, Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys) and Danish artist Peter Snejbjerg (World War X) take us back to the trenches

Sway – a slick new time travel science fiction story from Leah Moore and John Reppion (Sherlock Holmes – The Liverpool Demon, 2000 AD)


But what’s new since may? Electricomics had a panel at Thought Bubble and Asher Klassen has a detailed account, explaining that the project is not for profit but being funded by the Digital Research and Development Fund for the Arts, leaving the project free to just noodle around and find out what is possible, which sounds pretty exciting, especially when you factor in the involvement of Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, who is on the cutting edge of the “Future comics.”

Those of you picturing Alan Moore hunched over a computer workstation writing code with his beard nearly hiding the keyboard, stop it. Don’t be ridiculous; that’s what he has code demons for (No, seriously, a shed full of ‘em. It’s in the zine.). Mr. Moore may not be a wizard of the tech variety, but it seems his self-proclaimed alienation from modern forms of media has allowed to conceive this project relatively unpolluted by the endeavours that precede it. He doesn’t know Comixology, Madefire, or Manga Studio. He knows comics. That’s something that was made crystal clear through the course of this panel, the idea that, if you could distill from the form the Essence of Comics, then that would be the driving technology behind this project. That’s what a couple top theorists, legendary writers (did I mention Garth Ennis?), and hotshot programmers are doing with a bundle of government money: not an exercise in visual FX, motion graphic, music, flashinglight and pretty colours, but attempting to take the narrative structural and spatial freedom of a digital workspace and make it understandable and accessible to you through…an app.


With the convention season slowed down, I’ve begun to think about larger comics topics again, and “Future comics” is at the top of my list. As mentioned before, Madefire aside, this seems to have stalled out. Throwing think tank money at the question of what comics can do on the internet seems like a marvelous project and I’ll be eagerly awaiting more news.

Alan Moore’s Jack the Ripper Saga From Hell in development for TV

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Now what was that I was just saying about non Marvel and DC properties getting a second look—or in the case of From Hell, a third look. The masterpiece by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell that followed the saga of Jack the Ripper in fascinating detail was already made into a movie starring Johnny Depp. But now it’s back in development as a TV show:

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Don Murphy, who producer not only the From Hell film but the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film, is producing, with Children of Men’s David Arata (Children Of Men) writing a script. And then:

When the current resurgence of event series started, Murphy thought that would be a great way to handle the material properly, giving the story time to play out and doing it justice. He reached out to Fox Group chairman Peter Rice who was an executive on the movie. Rice loved the idea and the project was set up at Fox TV Studios whose then-topper David Madden had worked with Murphy in the past. Arata was brought in as writer and the drama was sold to FX, with FX Prods. coming on board to co-produce with FtvS. Murphy is executive producing with Susan Montford, via their company Angry Films, along with Arata.


What’s the interesting part? It is the LOEG adaptation above all that set “the Original Writer” Alan Moore’s heart against any film or TV adaptations—Moore was forced to testify in a copyright infringement lawsuit, an event he found deeply repugnant. It is also safe to say that the amount of love lost between Murphy and Moore is such a negative quantity that it could form a gigantic black hole that could suck the entire universe right into it.

All of which is to say that expect Moore not to have anything to say about this and to get exceedingly cranky when asked.

BUT, you may recall that League of Extraordinary Gentleman was announced last year as a “put pilot”—meaning it would have to be made and shown or Fox would have to pay a sizable fee—and where is that? Not another peep heard.

All of that said, in case you need to be reminded, From Hell is a true masterpiece of comics, Moore’s phantasmagoric view of true life historical detail and artist Eddie Campbell’s deeply felt expressionist art combining with one of the greatest mysteries of all time to make an unforgettable story. If you haven’t read it, remedy that right now!

Alan Moore has finished first draft of 1 million+ word novel, ‘Jerusalem’

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According to the FB post from his daughter, Leah, Alan Moore has finished the first draft of his long gestating novel. Jerusalem, which he’s been talking about for years and years. It’s billed as the history of a small patch of Moore’ native Northhampton, with characters coming and going from history, as he told the New Statesman:

That we have our lives over and over and over again an infinite number of times and, each time, we are having exactly the same thoughts, saying exactly the same things, doing exactly the same things as we were doing and saying the first time. If it’s even meaningful to talk of a first time.

I thought I’d thought of this idea myself because I was a genius . . . It turns out that the Pythagoreans had some sort of version of a great recurrence. They were basing it upon the idea that when this universe ends, because time is infinite, then there are bound to be other universes and, since those universes are finite, there will eventually be another universe exactly like this one, which I don’t really think holds up scientifically.

Whereas this idea of the dimensionality of our existence, it does hold up. I can’t see a way around it that doesn’t involve completely contradicting one of the main conceptual lynchpins of modern physics and, halfway throughJerusalem, I came across this beautiful quote from Albert Einstein that completely summed up everything that I was trying to say but very eloquently and at a lot shorter length than three quarters of a million words.

As described, the book sounds a lit like Bryan Talbot’s Alice in Sunderland, which also took a kaleidoscopic look at a British home town, and also Richard Maguire’s Here, a comic which similarly looks at a single location through time. It also recalls the themes of the great abandoned Moore opus, Big Numbers, which remains his only attempt at a story set among vaguely normal humans, although fractal theory was set to upset that apple cart.

Some more dispatches from the past:

In 2013 he told the Guardian:
“I am currently on the last official chapter, which I am doing somewhat in the style of Dos Passos. It should be finished by the end of the year or close to it. I don’t know if anyone else will like it at all,” he muses. I say that I can’t wait, and that it strikes me that the style he and the likes of Iain Sinclair and Michael Moorcock pioneered has become central to literary culture. He sighs, shaking the walls: “Oh God, have we? Oh no, we’re the mainstream!”

And he told The Beat:

I’ve done a chapter that’s like a mid-sixties New Wave, New Worlds Michael Moorcock-era science fiction story. There’s one that’s like a piece of noir fiction. It’s all these different styles, so I was getting to chapter 33, I know what I’m going to be doing in chapter 34 and chapter 35, but chapter 33, I thought, how shall I handle this? And I was thinking of all these different ways that I could do it, and none of them really worked. People were suggesting things – they were saying ‘well, could you do it in an epistolatory form?’, you know, as letters. I was saying, nah, that for one thing this third book is all in the present tense, and it wouldn’t really work with the plot that I’ve got for this chapter, and then finally, when I was talking to Steve, I said – when I first thought about this chapter, and was wondering what kind of approach to take to it, the first thing that I thought, and immediately dismissed, was I could do it in verse. And I said, I think the reason I said that I immediately dismissed is because it would far too fucking difficult.

Jerusalem does not yet have a publisher; despite its length given Moore’s stature as a literary figure I imagine it would still fetch an advance, should Moore desire it. Or maybe Top Shelf/Knockabout can have another go at it.

Now, how many years do you think it will take to give the first draft a run through?

No matter how long it takes. Jerusalem will be an event when it finally appears.

Marvel to publish never-seen Miracleman stories by Grant Morrison and Peter Milligan

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Although the Miracleman reprints by Marvel have more or less been business as usual and not the apocalypse, news of never-before seen Miracleman stories by Grant Morrison and Peter Milligan is still exciting. Vulture has the deets on a new Miracleman Annual #1 which will be out on December 31st and include a long-lost story written by Morrison, now found and drawn by Joe Queseda, and an all new story written by Milligan with art by Mike Allred. The cover is by Gabriele Dell’Otto, and the variant by Jeff Smith.

The Morrison story was unearthed in an article right here on the Beat written by Pádraig Ó Méalóid. Given the long antipathy between Morrison and Moore, it’s a surprising detail but according to Morrison in the Talking with Gods documentary, the story being spiked when it was written in the mid-80s might have been one of the root causes of the feud. Morrison said:

I didn’t want to do it without Moore’s permission, and I wrote to him and said, “They’ve asked me to do this, but obviously I really respect you work, and I wouldn’t want to mess anything up. But I don’t want anyone else to do it and mess it up.” And he sent me back this really weird letter, and I remember the opening of it, it said, “I don’t want this to sound like the softly hissed tones of a mafia hitman, but back off.”

With Miracleman back, Marvel started asking about the story and Morrison requested that Quesada draw it — it’s his first interior art in quite a while.

Milligan’s story is bit nostalgic as well, he told Vulture:

“We’re doing a story that, if you like, looks at the Mick Anglo years, what might be seen on the outside as the innocent, old-fashioned years,” Milligan told me. “There’s a scintilla of self-awareness, with Marvelman being — I don’t want to give too much away, but the story is not without some awareness that it’s all going to change very quickly. It’s an homage. All the guys are there, all the craziness.”

Marvel confirmed that the Neil Gaiman-written conclusion to the Miracleman story—now nearly 30 years in the planning—is still in the works. Finegrs crossed!

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Commentary: The Continuing Marvel of Miracleman

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by Sam Thielman

[This article contains teeeeeeeny, tiny spoilers. Sooooooo small. Very little. Please read it anyway.]

Eventually, in Alan Moore’s final story arc from Miracleman, our hero makes contact with an alien who, after a breakdown in communication, decides to literally take him to its leader. Before entering into the alien ruler’s chamber, however, Miracleman’s escort cautions him: “You must adjust notions of scale,” it says as the door opens onto a blinding white light. “Here, life is more big.”

It’s a terrific line, and maybe my favorite moment from the Moore issues of the series, which manage to imbue a very dark and scary and weird story with a deep and solid sense of wonder at the mysteries of the universe. It’s also sort of a micro-manifesto for the tale overall, which goes from gleefully dismantling all the silly, childish adventures of the character’s 1950’s life, to a scary Cold War-inflected thriller, then to full-on horror, and then back out again into beauty and wonder and celebration.

Moore is a writer of many incredible gifts (as is Neil Gaiman, whose work on the series is at least as good, though as-yet unfinished), but this is perhaps the best among them: he really can make a reader feel at 20 or 30 or 40 years old the same melting of the heart that comes so readily to us as children reading Superman or Mary Poppins, for that matter. When his endings are happy—and they usually are—his characters go a long way to earn their happiness, sometimes enduring terrible treatment at the hands of cruel villains or monsters or one another, and these pains make the rewards at the end of each story that much more valuable.

It’s ironic, then, that Moore’s efforts to revive the idea of heroism in an adult audience troubled by a complicated world have resulted in the cruelest, most pitiless aspects of his work accruing a massive, gravitational influence on the superhero genre and popular fiction generally. His ability to engender childlike awe hasn’t gone unnoticed (and has given quite a lot of people, me included, reason to keep reading comics) but the complexity of Swamp Thing’s Abby and Alec moving into their magical treehouse together after years of hardship is less easily imitated than, say, Rorschach murdering a child molester. Anybody as widely quoted, stolen from and imitated as Moore is probably going to have at most mixed feelings about his own influence (which seems to be part of why he’s credited only as “The Original Writer,” note title case, on the reprints), but it’s worth remembering why he tried aggressively aging comics forward a decade or two in the first place.

“The fictional heroes of the past,” Moore wrote in 1986, “while still retaining all of their charm and power and magic, have had some of their credibility stripped away forever as a result of the new sophistication in their audience.” That was mid-Miracleman, for him—he wrote the story over several years, beginning at Warrior in 1984 and concluding in its own series from Eclipse with the incredible John Totleben penciling and inking the final chapter in 1989. His last issue came out the same year Gaiman started writing The Sandman. “[U]nless we are to somehow do without heroes altogether,” he wonders a little further on in the same essay, “how are the creators of fiction to go about redefining their legends to suit the contemporary climate?”

In Moore’s case, the answer was to make the characters themselves as sophisticated as possible, frequently by teasing out inconsistencies in their original conceptions and then turning those inconsistencies into a story. Miracleman is his first attempt to do that. So perhaps that goes a little ways toward explaining why the series is so sought-after by grownups who like superhero comics (aside from the fact that the snarl of bad faith, double-dealing and hurt feelings around its publication rights kept it from being reprinted for two decades), and why so many writers who read it seem influenced by it.
Of course, the things that are influential in Miracleman, perhaps more than any other of Moore’s works, are the horror trappings that give the story its very high stakes. There is kidnapping, and a truly horrible rape, and a supervillain rampage so unbearbly violent that its shadow lies heavy across twenty years’ worth of “adult” superhero stories in the interim.

The term “realism” gets thrown around with respect to this book (and, indeed, many of Moore’s stories and the stories written during the 80’s grown-up superhero boom by peers like Frank Miller), and it is perhaps the worst possible word you could ever use to describe any of these stories. More than once I’ve read or heard someone explain Miracleman or Watchmen conceptually by saying, “It’s like what would happen if superheroes existed in the real world.”

This is an exhaustive and thus wildly unhelpful description of every work of literature, minus the word “superhero.” The Lord of the Rings is like what would happen if an entire pantheon of gods and monsters and an entirely different social system and geography and several wizards and some very short rural Englishmen existed in the real world. The Brothers Karamazov is like what would happen if a several low-level Russian aristocrats who might or might not want to murder their father existed in a small town in the real world. Fiction is interesting because, on some level, it comports with reality. Frequently it is interesting because it departs radically from reality with the inclusion of mad scientists and sorceresses and yet its characters are well-drawn in a way that we over here in “the real world” recognize, but sex offenders with heat vision are not intrinsically more realistic than headmistresses who can fly.

What fans of “realistic superhero comics” tend to like are the high stakes; the tension brought on by those horror trappings that weigh down any potential silliness and force the adult reader to take seriously the lizard-men and fire-breathing monsters in which he or she longs to believe. That, ultimately, is what the climax of Miracleman makes you believe in: a hideously evil supervillain, motivated in a way we can understand, who does things that fall under the rubric of “realism” only if you’ve personally experienced some sort of war crime. Moore’s final issue of the book, the one the comes after that notorious battle, begs you to believe in a better world in the same way that you unquestioningly believe in a worse one.

Of course, the idea of a utopia will always have some flaws in it, and exploiting those flaws to make a story is where Miracleman came in to begin with, and so, in the same spirit of questioning the foundations of the world, we then have the Neil Gaiman issues of the book, which explore the difficult and unsolvable problems of human happiness. Those tend to rear their heads irrespective of how great the surrounding circumstances are. In many ways, the later stories are much, much more realistic than the Moore issues, and yet the backdrop is utterly foreign. I’ve wondered for 20 years where the story was going; I can’t wait to find out.

It’s a very good thing that Marvel is reprinting this series. Steve Oliff’s lovingly applied colors have already improved the initial few chapters, and the editors at Marvel are hunting down several stories that didn’t make it into the Eclipse reprints (I’ve got them all in a box somewhere, because I’m a little obsessive about this book), a couple of which you’ll see on Wednesday. I’m frankly more than a little jealous of the readers who are getting to read the story for the first time; it’s a fascinating comic and at times a difficult one, but it’s also much more than a simple mash-up of crime fiction or spy fiction or the author’s bad mood and an old-fashioned superhero. Miracleman, ultimately, is about what it takes (and what can go wrong when you try) to make the world a better place; not your neighborhood or your country–the world.

To read it effectively, you must do something fairly hard and also totally vital: you must adjust notions of scale.

Here, life is more big.

Sam Thielman is a staff writer covering television and digital video for Adweek and a frequent contributor to Newsday’s books section. He has written about the theater for Variety, Newsday, Back Stage and The Washington City Paper, among others, and has appeared as a commentator on Morning Edition, Good Morning America, and CNN’s Reliable Sources. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and too many comic books.

The one best Gerard Way on Alan Moore burn

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Umbrella Academy/Fabulous Killjoys author Gerard Way has been using his down time since disbanding My Chemical Romance to learn photoshop, apparently, and reacquaint himself with the pleasures of loving cats. Way is an avowed Grant Morrison fan—the Scottish writer appeared in several MCR videos—so his responding to the epic Alan Moore interview yesterday with a jibe isn’t a surprise. What is maybe a little surprising is how clever it is:

 

This great Moore/Morrison feud—which is NOT a put on by the way— is leading to some great insults that will enrich the language forever!

Alan Moore’s seven most painful Grant Morrison burns

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By now you may have heard of the latest and possibly greatest Alan Moore interview, one in which he rides blazing over the fields of glory, a one man four riders of the apocalypse, over Grant Morrison and everything and anything to do with Morrison, including sometimes Beat contributor Laura Sneddon. The interview is conducted by another Beat contributor, Padraig O’Mealoid. Fun fact: the interview itself might have run originally on The Beat. Its origins lie somewhere in a proposed roundtable on Alan Moore’s writing among Sneddon, O’Mealoid, Pam Noles—whose discussion of the Golli-Wogg touched off some of this—and film critic Will Brooker.

Padraig had already offered to conduct the interview (which really consists of typing five or six questions) and did offer it to the Beat first. Although I would have been happy for the traffic, I felt putting it out there without some context wasn’t the way to go, as that was actually FAIRER to Alan Moore than presenting it all by itself. Padraig felt it was better presented on its own and so it went to his own website.

However, I’ve offered space to Sneddon, Noles and Brooker to write their own rebuttals, or essays or what have you on the substance of the Moore interview, as regards the Golliwogg and other matters. Hopefully I can run some of that as it comes in.

There remains the breaking news that Alan Moore does not like Grant Morrison. Boy howdy, he does not like Grant Morrison. And while you can argue with his feeling on this matter what you cannot argue with is that Moore knows how to express disdain. Here are the best put-downs of Grant Morrison from the 12,000 word interview, put downs which you may find useful in your own daily activities should you need to offer the ultimate burn.

On the man himself:

…”the herpes-like persistence of Grant Morrison himself”…”

On Morrison’s continuing interest in Moore:

“…my own personal 18th century medicinal leech…”

General slams:

“…Grant Morrison and his fellow mediocrities…”

On Morrison’s career path:

“…It would appear that at one stage, as an example, he had concluded that the secret to being a big-time acclaimed comic-writer was to be found in having a memorable hairstyle.”

On Morrison’s suggestion Moore put his “todger’ on the cover of Promethea:

“…a genuine and long-sustained clammy infatuation which is (barely) sublimating its sexual component in saucy Carry On-style banter…”

On Morrison’s younger days:

“…by his own admission Grant Morrison had spent most of the Punk era in his room for fear of being spoken to roughly by some uncouth person with a pink Mohawk and a U.K. Subs t-shirt.”

On Morrison’s ongoing behavior:

“I’m afraid I didn’t see how appealing to completely unearned teen rebel credentials made any difference to the spoiled-child behaviour of a deeply unpleasant middle-aged man, and therefore once more declined the invitation to whisk him off to my Bat-cave so that we could solve mysteries together, perhaps in todger-revealing tights.”

On GM getting the MBE

“…massively privileged Tories…”

…I guess you gotta be English to get that one.

There you go. The man has a way with words, say what you will.

[Above image ripped off from Paul Cornish because it is perfect.]

Marvel releases first look at remastered Miracleman #1

Finally, a look at the new “remastered” MIRACLEMAN #1 by Alan Moore (name removed at his own request so credited as THE ORIGINAL WRITER) and Garry Leach with Mick Anglo along for the ride.

The new Marvel edition has modern computer coloring on some pages which leaves the art, if anything, flatter than the original, IN OUR OPINION. Retro moire patterns and all. But tastes change and all that.

“When these stories were originally colored, the artists were never consulted – and it shows” said Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso. “The coloring methods used at the time really hurt the finished product. But through close collaboration with all the artists, we’re proud to now present these stories in a manner that matches their creative vision.”

Working in closely with the original series artists, MIRACLEMAN has been remastered using the original artwork in every instance possible – and the most advanced restoration methods available applied to ensure the most authentic reading experience based on the artists’ original visions for the series.

“You’ve never really seen Miracleman, until you’ve seen this Miracleman,” said legendary Miracleman artist Garry Leach. “I’m positive this will rapidly be recognized as the all-time, definitive, Miracleman series. It’s simply looking that ridiculously sharp!”

In addition to material originally published in Warrior Magazine, MIRACLEMAN #1 also includes character designs, pencil sketches, original art, an article chronicling the history of Marvelman/Miracleman, an interview with Miracleman creator Mick Anglo, as well as a Mick Anglo’s first Marvelman stories. Don’t miss your opportunity to experience the most popular comic few have ever read when MIRACLEMAN #1 makes it’s long overdue return to comic shops this January!


The first issue goes on sale January 15th with variant covers by Joe Quesada, Mark Buckingham, John Cassaday, Skottie Young, Garry Leach, Jerome Opena, and Leinil Yu.

OH AND PS: Graeme McMillan has a side-by-side comparison of the old and new coloring here.

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Top Shelf announces new books by Alan Moore and Liz Prince

Info on a couple of 2014 Top Shelf releases has been revealed.

BojeffriesThe Bojeffries Saga by Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse is a comedy classic. I believe this collection has been in the works for a while (I have an older version of it sitting a few feet from where I’m typing) but an improved, definitive edition is welcome and a NEW story even more so. Alan Moore is a very funny guy, and not just for the way he rises to the bait any time someone brings up superheroes.

Alone foreverAlone Forever

I haven’t seen a book by Liz Prince in a while, but her breezy, chuckling comics on relationships are pretty easy to take.

First Look: Nemo: The Roses of Berlin by Moore and O’Neill

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As revealed on Amazon, continuing on with the follow-up to LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s Nemo: The Roses of Berlin will be out next April. Once again, Janni Nemo, daughter of Captain Nemo, stars, as she did in HEART OF ICE, and according to the Amazon page, here’s the logline:

From The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen! Sixteen years ago, notorious science-brigand Janni Nemo journeyed into the frozen reaches of Antarctica to resolve her father’s weighty legacy in a storm of madness and loss, barely escaping with her Nautilus and her life. Now it is 1941, and with her daughter strategically married into the family of aerial warlord Jean Robur, Janni’s raiders have only limited contact with the military might of the clownish German-Tomanian dictator Adenoid Hynkel. But when the pirate queen learns that her loved ones are held hostage in the nightmarish Berlin, she has no choice save to intervene directly, traveling with her aging lover Broad Arrow Jack into the belly of the beastly metropolis. Within that alienated city await monsters, criminals, and legends, including the remaining vestiges of Germany’s notorious ‘Twilight Heroes’, a dark Teutonic counterpart to Mina Murray’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And waiting at the far end of this gauntlet of alarming adversaries there is something much, much worse.


THE ROSES OF BERLIN will be published simultaneously by Knockabout in the UK and Top Shelf in the US, and it’s in the “LoEG” 56-page format.

Alan Moore’s name missing from Marvel’s Miracleman reprints

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As reported at Comicbook.com, apparently part of the deal in Marvel FINALLY reprinting the original Alan Moore Miraclemans is that they not mention that Alan Moore had anything to do with it. The press releases have been Moore-free and the solicitations yesterday mentioned only a secretive Original Writer:

MIRACLEMAN #1 & 2
THE ORIGINAL WRITER & MICK ANGLO (W)
GARRY LEACH, ALAN DAVIS, PAUL NEARY, STEVE DILLON & MICK ANGLO (A)
ISSUE #1 – COVER BY JOE QUESADA
Variant COVER BY JOHN CASSADAY
Variant COVER BY MARK BUCKINGHAM
Variant COVER BY JEROME OPENA
Variant COVER BY LEINIL FRANCIS YU
Sketch VARIANT BY JOE QUESADA
YOUNG VARIANT BY SKOTTIE YOUNG
CLASSIC VARIANT BY GARRY LEACH
ISSUE #2 – COVER BY ALAN DAVIS
Variant COVER BY ARTHUR ADAMS
Variant COVER BY MIKE PERKINS
Variant COVER BY MIKE MCKONE
Sketch VARIANT BY ALAN DAVIS• KIMOTA! With one magic word, a long-forgotten legend lives again!
• Freelance reporter Michael Moran always knew he was meant for something more — now, a strange series of events leads him to reclaim his destiny!
• Relive the ground-breaking eighties adventures that captured lightning in a bottle — or experience them for the first time — in these digitally restored, fully relettered editions!
• Issue 1 includes material originally presented in WARRIOR #1 and MIRACLEMAN #1, plus the MARVELMAN PRIMER. Issue #2 includes material originally presented in WARRIOR #1-5, plus bonus material.
ISSUE #1 – 64 PGS./Parental Advisory…$5.99
ISSUE #2 – 48 PGS./Parental Advisory…$4.99


The new versions are being relettered, so it’s conceivable Moore could be written out entirely, although they would be kind of…lame, even if its his own wishes. I’ll hang on to my original editions if I ever find them in my storage unit.

PS: For those of you wondering where Marvelman expert Padriag O’Mealoid is…he’ll be along soon with his own take on the latest developments, worry not.

Stripped: Melinda Gebbie – Lost Girls, Pornography & Censorship

Kicking off the second round of Stripped events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival came the legendary and fabulous Melinda Gebbie, known for her work in the American underground comix of the ‘70s, the infamous and illegal Fresca Zizis, and of course her collaboration with Alan Moore on Lost Girls.

lostgirls_cover [Read more…]

So what does Alan Moore think of that LoEG TV show anyway?

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EW’s Geoff Boucher caught up with Alan Moore and asked him about the upcoming League of Extraordinary Gentlemen TV pilot, and incredibly, he thinks it’s bollocks:

After pausing a beat for emphasis he added: “The announcement that there is a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen television series hasn’t caused me to drastically alter my opinions. Now it seems they are recycling things that have already proven not to work.”


Now we know.

DC to run TV ads for Before Watchmen collections


If you support comics creators rights, you may want to avoid Time Square for the next few days.

The NY Post has the exclusive news that DC will be running an ad for its Before Watchmen prequels on the Times Square Jumbotron starting next week, as well as selected cable stations, including IFC, TruTV and TNT.

DC has had great success with its TV campaigns in the past — the New 52 was launched with a pretty extensive campaign that did very well, and the collections also had a smaller TV campaign.

Before Watchmen has met with middling reviews, and periodical sales were strong but dwindled as they went on. Given the longevity of the original Watchmen as a bestseller—it’s probably the best selling adult graphic novel ever in the US— where DC expects the prequels to live is as collections, so promoting that format makes business sense.

When first announced, the Before Watchmen books met with a lot of outrage from fans who felt that creating the books against Alan Moore’s wishes was an offense to creator’s rights, and a desperate mining of IP.

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