2016 Was a Good Year for Alan Moore Comics Obscurities

25 October 2016 by

From around 2006 to 2014, being an Alan Moore fan meant mostly re-reading old comics. Moore wound down his ABC Comics line circa 2005, and more-or-less retired from writing comics. He did some League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics, Neonomicon, a one-off God Is Dead, and, in non-comics output Moore wrote 25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom and published and contributed to eight issues of Dodgem Logic magazine. There are probably a few things I missed, but during those semi-retirement years, it seems like new Moore material would appear sporadically around once a year, and much of it was not comics.

From 2014 to 2015, Moore’s comics output picked back up with Crossed+100 (Moore’s six-issue run was 2014-2015, and he contributed the series outline for two subsequent Si Spurrier arcs), Big Nemo (2015), and Providence (2015-ongoing.)

Now, 2016 has seen plenty of Alan Moore output. Outside of comics, there have been the Show Pieces DVD, the Unearthing performance film (view trailer), and the 1,300-page novel Jerusalem. In 2016 in Moore comics appeared regularly: Moore-outlined Crossed+100 finished, Providence continued, and Cinema Purgatorio got underway.

But none of that is what I was planning to write about. 2016 has also been a good year for picking up some reprints of hard-to-find early Alan Moore stories. Many of these have been out of print since they appeared in the 1980s. I was lucky enough to have picked up Moore’s long out-of-print Miracleman/Marvelman series when it was first printed in the U.S., then enjoyed additional materials as it was re-printed in 2013-2014. This year I’ve enjoyed my first reading of 1980s-1990s Moore rarities: The Spirit, The Puma Blues, and Monster. I review each of these briefly below.

Will Eisner's The Spirit: The New Adventures, second edition, published by Dark Horse Books

Will Eisner’s The Spirit: The New Adventures, second edition, published by Dark Horse Books

Will Eisner’s The Spirit: The New Adventures collects issues 1-8 of the 1990s Kitchen Sink comics revival of the famous Will Eisner hero The Spirit. Eisner is one of comics early greats, alongside Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Neal Adams, and others. Eisner did The Spirit for a dozen years, and went on to more-or-less invent the “graphic novel” and contribute to understanding how comics work (work that Scott McCloud subsequently built on.) Eisner allowed for other folks to create Spirit stories in the 1990s, which I missed at the time. Dark Horse apparently collected these in 2009, which I also missed. This year they released a second edition, with some additional newly collected material.

There are four Alan Moore The Spirit stories, all of them very good. Moore is, of course, lovingly referential in following various great Eisner conventions: spelling out The Spirit on splash pages, having The Spirit somewhat tangential to the action, etc.  Read the rest of this entry »

Nearly 3-Year Old Maeve on Girl’s Roles

18 July 2016 by
First page of Oliver Button Is A Sissy

First page of Oliver Button Is A Sissy – photo via Where the Bear Rugs Are Still Growling

This morning I was reading Tomie diPaola’s book Oliver Button Is A Sissy with my nearly 3-year old daughter Maeve. It’s a sweet poignant 1979 kids book that takes on some gender roles. We’ve read it dozens of times. The opening page states that “Oliver… didn’t like to things that boys are supposed to do.”

I asked Maeve what thought little girls are supposed to do. She thought about it a bit, then responded that little girls are supposed to “sit up straight” especially “when watching Madagascar” (one of her preferred videos these days.)

So it would seem that she’s not all that consciously aware of gender roles. She knows that she and mommy are girls, and that daddy and Silvio, next door, are boys. But, mercifully, she’s not so clear on outdated ideas of what girls are supposed to do.

The neighborhood posse: Silvio, Maeve and Juliana earlier this month

The neighborhood posse: Silvio, Maeve and Juliana playing cardboard swords earlier this month

(I haven’t posted many daddy blogs lately – apologies. I was trying to think about doing big updates like 2015 in review, but then I don’t get around to it. So I think it’s going to be easier to post short stuff like this, hopefully more frequently… we’ll see.)

Reading Some Books About Comics

28 April 2016 by
Books on Comics - by Wolk and Klock

Books on Comics – by Douglas Wolk and Geoff Klock

Recently I’ve really been enjoying reading two prose books about comic books:

How to Read Superhero Comics and Why by Geoff Klock (2006)

Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean by Douglas Wolk (2007)

I mostly found these books in search of more commentary about Alan Moore – and they’re both very good for that purpose. I’ve already read plenty of very good books about Moore himself. I recommend (in order of my favorite to least favorite): Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore by Lance Parkin, The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore by George Khoury, Alan Moore: Conversations edited by Eric Berlatsky, and Alan Moore: Storyteller by Gary Spencer Millidge. If you’re interested in Moore, check out my annotations of Moore works.

But back to those two books I just finished reading. I am lumping them together here, and though they overlap, they’re also pretty different. I should start by saying that neither of these books are likely to appeal to people who don’t already read comics. If you’re looking to read comics, I’d suggest starting by reading some comics first.

Klock’s book, as the title suggests, is specifically about super-hero comics. I don’t read too many of these lately, but part of what appeals to me about Alan Moore, which I initially wrote about here, is that he does have one foot in the super-hero genre comics I grew up with, and one foot in a deeper more meaningful literature that I now love. Klock explores a lot of comics as commentary about comics. Primarily 1980s and 1990s superhero comics, foremost Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, as commentary on the ways that comics critique comics continuity. This makes Klock’s book have a somewhat less broad, more insider appeal than Wolk’s.

Wolk’s book is, at least genre-wise, more expansive. Though Wolk writes some about superheroes, his focus is quite a bit broader, encompassing more serious adult comics creators from Craig Thompson to Alison Bechdel to Art Spiegelman to the Hernandez Brothers.

I don’t have enough time to write extensively about these, so I’ll launch into some excerpts about Alan Moore:  Read the rest of this entry »

Comics Artist Gabriel Andrade Interviewed By Flavio Pessanha

28 December 2015 by

Below is an interview with Crossed Plus One Hundred artist Gabriel Andrade. The interview was conducted in mid-2015 by Flavio Pessanha who administers the Alan Moore Brazil (Alan Moore Br) Facebook page. The interview is appearing in English for the first time ever here; the full original Portuguese text appears after the English translation below. The English translation was also done by Pessanha, then I edited it slightly for readability, and added links and images.

Gabriel Andrade Jr. image via Facebook.

Gabriel Andrade Jr. image via Facebook.

Alan Moore Br: Gabriel, could you please tell us about the beginnings of your career as an illustrator, and how you decided to switch from economics to art?

Gabriel Andrade Jr.: The arts – more precisely illustration and music – have always been my passion and that’s where I spent most of my time. But in my adolescence I discovered philosophy and politics, and that also fascinated me. In the end, however, I couldn’t deny my artistic streak. (laughs) I chose to read Music at university, as I didn’t see myself as a graphic designer or didn’t see that there was a market for that.

When opportunities to show my portfolio drawings started to arise, I didn’t think twice and invested all I could in this process. As I didn’t know anything regarding this field, I had help from my friends Milena Azevedo (GHQ blog), Miguel Rude and Wendell Cavalcanti (both artists and comic writers). They were already in the business and they were my gurus when it all started for me.

You have worked for Dark Horse, Atlantic and you are now with Avatar. How did you get started working for Avatar?

Lady Death artwork by Gabriel Andrade

Lady Death artwork by Gabriel Andrade

Towards the end of 2009 I had finished Die Hard at Boom!Studios and they [Avatar] needed an artist for Lady Death, so I created a fancy illustration for the poster and the final artwork. After that, I signed my first contract with them. (laughs)

How did Alan Moore find you? Were you surprised?

We both did work for Avatar’s special God is Dead [Book of Acts Alpha], but in separate short stories. William [Christensen], the editor-in-chief, showed my work to Alan and then we agreed that we were going to develop the new series.

In a recent interview with Pádraig O’Mealóid Alan Moore said that your art is spectacular and he called you ‘real old-school brilliant’, which is a humongous compliment. What are your main influences and how did you learn to draw?

My first influence didn’t come from comics, but from real life. As a child I drew everything I saw and, as my parents were teachers, at home we had a huge variety of illustrated science books, and many magazines and educational posters. Read the rest of this entry »

Nimona Is Awesome All-Ages Fun

23 December 2015 by
Panels from page 1 of Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Image via creator's website.

Panels from page 1 of Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Image via Stevenson’s website.

With our daughter Maeve now two and a half years old, I’ve been keeping an eye out for more all-ages comics. I’ve already introduced Maeve to Lumberjanes, Space Dumplins, Squirrel Girl, and even My Little Pony comics. She picked that last one out herself at Secret Headquarters comics store.

After hearing a bit of a buzz (at Panels and I forget where else) about I bought Nimona (and Space Dumplins) to give as a Christmas present for Maeve’s cousins. I wasn’t sure which to give to which cousin, so I read through Nimona. And was touched. I almost don’t want to give it to my brother’s kids. I’ll pick up a copy for myself again soon.

Nimona is written and drawn by Noelle Stevenson, one of the co-creators of Lumberjanes. It is a ~300-page comics novel, marketed for teens, but with plenty of humor that will go over kids heads. It is funny, but also full of heart, with a well-crafted pace and story arc. The drawings are simple but very expressive and fluid.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Miscarriage Story

23 October 2015 by

I am posting my story about miscarrying because I knew so little about miscarriage before I had one. There are some eloquent stories people have posted online but too few. It seems that it is only after you have one that you learn that many of your friends have also had one or more.

Now that its happened to me I cannot believe that I did not know more about it and want to do what I can to shed light on it. Please be aware that parts of my story are graphic. It is a profoundly complex and difficult (physically and emotionally) experience.  It is common (20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage) and yet no one talks about it. I am writing as a woman who had a baby before having a miscarriage, which I can only imagine is way easier than miscarrying before completing a healthy pregnancy.

I wrote much of this soon after the miscarriage but it has taken me months to complete it. I have been surprised at how hard it has been to get over this loss. I thought I wasn’t attached to this baby. I was. Family and friends soon forgot about the loss and I have felt very sad and alone and isolated. My husband’s response has been different that mine and it has been hard on our relationship. Talking with other women who have miscarried has been helpful.

At 14 weeks my husband and I learned that our pregnancy was “not healthy”. We were surprise because at that point because we had made it to the 2nd trimester and I had been feeling so nauseous and tired we thought we were in the clear. We went for a routine ultrasound Friday morning and there was no baby visible. The doctor said I could get a D&C or go home and wait to miscarry naturally. She said if I “bled like a hose for more than an hour” I should go to the ER.

Somehow I thought that most miscarriages were like heavy periods (some are) that the body quasi-dissolved all the tissue and you just bled a lot. I started spotting later that day. Saturday night I began reading online about miscarriage and was surprised to find many stories of miscarriages around 14 weeks that talked about it as birth.  Sunday morning around 5am I started having waves of intense cramps which were contractions.

My thoughts and feelings were all over the place shock and numbness. What was I doing when my fetus was passing out of its short life? How could I have been so detached from my fetus? When I was pregnant I was very worried about how I was going to manage caring for two young ones. The challenge and vulnerability of having two children seemed so much larger that having one. I felt guilty about having felt that way.  I didn’t feel relieved at all. I dearly wished I was still pregnant. Wished I knew even one detail about who this person might have been. In the last weeks I had started imagining this baby more and being very pregnant in the summer and thinking about names and bought some maternity clothes. I thought about how given our advanced ages this may have been our last chance.  Read the rest of this entry »

Gabriel Andrade Pencils, Inks and Color for Page 8 of CPOH2

13 July 2015 by
Crossed Plus One Hundred No.2 P8 - art by Gabriel Andrade

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.2 P8 – penciled, inked and colored. Art by Gabriel Andrade, image from his Facebook page. Colored by Digikore Studios

Here are a couple more Crossed Plus One Hundred images from artist Gabriel Andrade’s Facebook page. Above is a comparative image showing his process from pencils to inks to final colored comic page (click on any image to enlarge.) As much as I am really enjoying Andrade’s excellent work, that comparison image makes me more appreciative of Digikore Studios coloring job – especially the sky. And below is another Andrade piece, Read the rest of this entry »

More Crossed Plus 100 Questions

14 May 2015 by

Readers solved many of the comics annotation reference mysteries I put out in this February 2015 post. A couple more issues of Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade’s Crossed Plus One Hundred have hit the stands; I have posted annotations for No.3 here and No.4 here. But there are things I haven’t figured out, so I am going to toss out some more questions to readers.

Movie theater marquee from CPOH No.3, Page 14, panel 1 - art by Gabriel Andrade

Movie theater marquee detail from CPOH No.3, Page 14, panel 1 – art by Gabriel Andrade

1. What does the Chooga movie marquee say?

In Crossed Plus One Hundred No. 3, there’s a movie marquee in the human settlement in the year 2108 Chattanooga that has some letters left over from when it last showed films in the year 2008. It’s clear that one of the films was “Mama Mia!” which was released July 18th, 2008. On the right side of the marquee it says “_WR__R_” and “_LO_REI_” which should also be partial names of 2008 films. The “LO_REI” one could more-or-less be “Cloverfield” released January 2008, and suitably apocalyptic to match the CPOH world. I haven’t found anything else these might stand for. They’re probably the names of 2008 films, though they could say something like “coming soon,” “double feature,” “air conditioned”, or “eat popcorn”. Any ideas?

Images of 2008's The Surprise from the first pages of CPOH No.4 - art by Gabriel Andrade

Images of 2008’s The Surprise from the first pages of CPOH No.4 – art by Gabriel Andrade

2. Are these The Surprise scenes from earlier Crossed comics?

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.4 opens up with three pages showing what was happening a hundred years ago during “The Surprise” – the initial 2008 Crossed epidemic outbreak. The first panel shows Andrade’s version of an airplane crash that took place in the very first Garth Ennis / Jacen Burrows issue of Crossed. The subsequent panels show fairly specific scenes (in snow, in Japan) that I suspect are from other Crossed comics that I haven’t read yet. Any Crossed readers out there recognize these images?

3. Outstanding questions from earlier issues  Read the rest of this entry »

19-Month-Old Maeve Is A Climber

9 May 2015 by
Maeve climbing at Shatto Park

Maeve climbing at Shatto Park

I’ve been meaning to post some recent images of our daughter… but between work and parenting and doing a little art and writing about comics on the side, I don’t post often enough. Maeve is 20 months old, and, of course, growing and changing daily. Over the past couple months it seems like she’s been more active, more coordinated and more fearless about climbing up things, especially at the park.  Read the rest of this entry »

Mini Sneak Peek at Upcoming Crossed Plus One Hundred Gabriel Andrade Art

3 May 2015 by
Gabriel Andrade at work inking pages of Crossed Plus One Hundred. Image via GA Facebook

Gabriel Andrade hard at work inking pages of Crossed Plus One Hundred all night. Image via GA Facebook, his caption:  “7am, eyes swollen”

With four issues of six out, and plenty of ominous foreshadowing, Crossed Plus One Hundred is nearing the end of Gabriel Andrade’s and Alan Moore’s run. I was alread a big Moore fan, and am really enjoying Andrade’s art too. I’ve been annotating the CPOH issues and covers out so far, and reading through some Crossed comics antecedents, and exploring Moore’s Lovecraft-inspired works in advance of Providence.

I was happy to spot a couple of photos on Gabriel Andrade’s Facebook page that are pretty clearly nearly-completed artwork for an upcoming issue of Crossed Plus One Hundred. Enough to tide us CPOH fans over until the next issue appears, No. 5, probably in May or June 2015.  Read the rest of this entry »