Alan Moore is an award-winning British graphic novel writer. His work has influenced many other artists, writers, and filmmakers, including Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon. He has written critically acclaimed graphic novels in many different categories, including horror and mythology. His work tends toward dark, dystopian and supernatural themes. He has also written two novels and one short nonfiction book about writing. His work has spawned numerous well-known films, including V is for Vendetta and Watchmen. Some have called Alan Moore the greatest graphic novel writer in history.
Selected Alan Moore Graphic Novels
Alan Moore has written hundreds of comics and graphic novels with dozens of publishers in the United States and the UK. His bibliography is vast and diverse and includes Doctor Who Weekly and the science fiction title 2000 AD. Here is a selection of some of his better-known works. Many of these have gone on to become films, games, and video games as well.
V is for Vendetta
This well known graphic novel started out as a short serial from Quality Communications. V for Vendetta later became a limited edition ten issue series from DC. Many people will recognize the hero’s Guy Fawkes mask. The mask has become the symbol for the hacktivist collective Anonymous. In Alan Moore’s comic, the hero, V, is an anarchist revolutionary. The story takes place in the post-nuclear-war United Kingdom. The war destroyed much of the rest of the world. A fascist group rules the UK as a police state, and V fights against it. Moore himself is an anarchist. In an interview with BBC, he said he found Anonymous’s use of the mask to be both inevitable and satisfying.
Spiderbaby Grafix published From Hell between 1989 and 1998. Tundra/Kitchen Sink later reprinted and collected the issues. It tells the story of the unsolved Jack the Ripper killings in Victorian London. The title comes from the famous letter Jack the Ripper sent to police at the height of his killing spree. Alan Moore’s story presents some true events, fictionalizes others, and gives theories about who Jack the Ripper actually was. From Hell won numerous awards, including nine Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. It also won the 1996 International Horror Guild award for Graphic Story/Illustrated Narrative. It then went on to become a film and a TV series.
DC Comics published the superhero series Watchmen between 1986 and 1987. For Alan Moore Watchmen began as a way to use superhero characters DC comics had bought from another publisher. DC convinced Moore to use original characters instead. And, in typical Alan Moore style, Moore used the series to deconstruct the idea of what a superhero was. The series also parodied the idea of superheroes.To Alan Moore Watchmen was also a way to look at anxieties about the Cold War and the social problems of the time. Watchmen received a lot of critical praise. It made Time Magazine’s 100 Greatest Novels of All Time. It was also very commercially successful, and was made into a film and a video game series.
To Alan Moore Providence is a continuation of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. According to Alan Moore Providence is both a prequel and a sequel to another of Moore’s stories, Necronomicon. Set in 1920s New England, Providence attempts to not only tell a good horror story, but also to bring Lovecraft’s own world to life. Avatar Press published Providence in twelve parts between 2015 and 2017. The publisher later collected the issues into three hardcover volumes. The last volume appeared in September of 2017.
For Alan Moore Swamp Thing was another opportunity to do something new with existing characters. When DC handed the series off to Alan Moore, Swamp Thing was headed for cancellation due to low sales. DC gave Moore free rein to revamp the story as he saw fit. In the earlier version, Swamp Thing was a man who had become a monster. Under Alan Moore Swamp Thing was a true monster that had never been human. In fact, Swamp Thing was a plant-based creature, and a member of a race of nature guardians that predated humans. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing crosses over into a number of different comic book universes, including Batman and Walt Kelly’s Pogo.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
DC published The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as a limited series beginning in 1999. Alan Moore once described this series as “the Justice League of Victorian England.” The “superheroes” include Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll, and The Invisible Man. The group work together to fight against the evil Fu Manchu and Sherlock Holmes’s nemesis, Professor Moriarty. The characters also take part in the events of H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds. Volume I of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen won a Bram Stoker award for Best Illustrated Narrative. Volume II won an Eisner Award. Time Magazine also listed Volume II as The Ninth Best Comic of 2003. Neil Gaiman credits The League of Extraordinary Gentleman as an influence for his story A Study in Emerald. A Study in Emerald later won a Hugo Award. Volume I would later become a film starring Sean Connery.
Batman: The Killing Joke
In 1988, DC released Batman: The Killing Joke as a one-shot graphic novel. Batman: The Killing Joke is the Joker’s origin story. This version of the story shows the Joker as a tragic character. Alan Moore’s version paints him as a failed comedian who had “one bad day” that pushed him over the edge. Many critics consider Batman: The Killing Joke to be one of the best Batman stories ever told. Moore himself disagrees. Moore and others also criticized the crippling violence against Batgirl in the story. Despite all this, Moore’s Batman won the Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album in 1999. It also appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List in 2009. Elements of the story appear in numerous films, games, and video games.
— jerry jose (@jerryjose7) July 18, 2017
Lost Girls , which Top Shelf published in 2006, is somewhat different from Alan Moore’s other work. Moore co-wrote Lost Girls with feminist comix artist Melinda Gebbie. The story concerns the erotic adventures of three now-grown-up children’s book heroines. In Lost Girls, the adult Alice, Dorothy, and Wendy guide readers through their stories of sexual awakening. Though sexual themes and copyright questions caused controversy, many critics praised Lost Girls for its imaginative storytelling and stunning artwork. The artwork used complex layering techniques of watercolor and colored pencil, and took sixteen years to complete.
Alan Moore Books
Alan Moore has written three books: two fiction, and one nonfiction:
Moore’s first novel, Voice of the Fire appeared in 1996. The story follows twelve people living in Northampton, England (where Moore himself lives) over 5,000 years. Voice of Fire is filled with myths and magic — and mourns their loss as science and technology replace them. It also asks the question, is anyone’s idea of history more valid than anyone else’s? Like a lot of Moore’s work, Voice of the Fire asks questions about the nature of reality. He also questions people’s relationships to reality and to each other.
Twenty years later, Alan Moore released a second novel, Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a 1,266-page epic, also set in Northampton. Like Voice of the Fire, Jerusalem travels through time and looks at themes of myth, magic, madness, death, and religion. Many compare Jerusalem’s prose to that of Samuel Beckett and James Joyce. For Alan Moore Jerusalem was a way to capture the essence of Northampton across time. Like many works by Alan Moore Jerusalem is funny, clever, and wildly entertaining.
The most recent of the Alan Moore books is about the art of writing itself. Alan Moore’s Writing For Comics is a short introduction to the art of the graphic novel. In it, Moore covers plot, world-building, character, and the nature of comics writing. Just 48 pages long, Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics is packed with valuable practical information for aspiring writers and artists.
More About Moore
Alan Moore’s forty-plus year career has spanned dozens of publishers and hundreds of published works in numerous genres. He has inspired writers, artists, filmmakers, and game creators. His work has spawned films, games, and video games, and has won countless awards. Despite his work’s popularity, he eschews the limelight and celebrity culture. He is a member of the Arts Emergency Service, which helps young people from diverse backgrounds to pursue an arts education. You can read more about his work and upcoming events at The Alan Moore Fan Site.