Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Alan Moore on HardTalk

The BBC's interview with Alan Moore this week is surprisingly revealing for a mainstream news network. Moore is asked seriously probing questions of a sort that are rarely put to him: he is rigorously challenged about the more controversial elements in his work (particularly on whether Lost Girls constitutes child pornography), his own attitude towards the comics industry in general (and what he calls its "gangster ethics") is put to task, and - something I've never seen happen to Moore before - the interviewer actually ties him into knots when it comes to his ever-evolving stance on film option money.

There's a good selection of transcribed quotes over at Bleeding Cool but here are a couple of the things they left out that I thought were interesting.

On the rise of the term 'graphic novels':
    "I suppose in the 1980s there were a few comic books that were actually handling more adult material, not necessarily in terms of sex or violence, but actually more intelligent ideas. There were only a few of them, but the comics industry tended to seize upon them and come up with this casual phrase of 'graphic novels', but with the best will in the world, a load of collected Spider-Man stories is not a novel."

And on taking film option money:
Moore:    "Originally, I was under the illusion that the way that films worked was that you got a lot of option money, and then after a couple of years they decided that they weren't going to make the film. Which was the perfect result, the film didn't get made, you got the money. Then they actually made a couple of my films, and at that point I decided, well, I'll just distance myself from them as much as is possible."
Franks:    "Why?"
Moore:    "Because the films have got nothing to do with my books, and because the books themselves were actually written to show off what the comics medium can do that films can't."
Franks:    "Why did you sell the film rights in the first place then?"
Moore:    "Well in the cases of From Hell and LoEG, this was basically sold on the assumption that the films probably wouldn't get made."
Franks:    "Well, I mean... (laughs) you were trying to get money for old rope-"
Moore:    (agreeing) "Trying to get money for old rope."
Franks:    "Then you can hardly complain when they do actually then make the films."

Moore:    "Well I can complain about how those films turned out. Originally I was trying to take the position of, I will not go to see these films, but I wish them well. Then when I actually heard about them then I kind of realised that these were absolutely nothing to do with my books --"
Franks:    "But just to be clear, you've never SEEN these films?"

Moore:    "Never seen them."
Franks:    "Well how can you pass judgement on them?"

Moore:    "Well I do prefer to criticise things from a position of ignorance."
I'm sure there are a fair few people in Hollywood who will cite this exchange as evidence of hypocrisy on Alan Moore's part. He does seem to be having his cake and eating it too. But then, as one of comics' foremost (probably the foremost) writers, with a hugely impressive body of work that has brought joy to millions and generated a lot of money for a lot of people, perhaps he has earned the right to take that kind of approach to his own material. And it's not even as though his disowning of film projects based on his work has actually deterred Hollywood from adapting more of them, is it?

(Although thinking about it, there's been nothing since V for Vendetta and Watchmen, the two he had his name taken off...)

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