Monthly Archives: November 2013

Magic Words – Interviews and Features

As well as reviews, I’ve been interviewed about Magic Words and also written some features. So, here’s a list. Like the review page, I’ll update this as I go. And if anyone else wants to interview me about the book, please get in touch!

Hannah Menzies for Bleeding Cool.

Smoky Man for Alan Moore World.

Colin Smith for Too Busy Thinking About My Comics.

Owen Quinn for The Time Warriors.

Brian Burns for Body Mind Beauty Health and part two.

An article by me giving Ten Reasons to Read Alan Moore on We Love This Book.

Pádraig Ó Méalóid’s inte(review) for Forbidden Planet

Alan David Doane at Trouble With Comics.

A Bonfire Night extract on QGeekBooks.

It’s a recommended Christmas gift at stuff.tv and a staff pick at Orbital Comics.

Magic Words – The Reviews Are In

OK. Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore is out now, and lots of people have been reviewing it. Here’s a quick list, which I’ll update as more reviews come in:

Bleeding Cool – ‘This is quite literally the book that fans have been starving for over the course of decades to take its place alongside the more art-based books and interview collections that have appeared in recent years. Here you have a book that places Moore alongside other great cultural movers and shakers well beyond the sphere of comics and it’s an excellent resource for gaining a wider understanding of the man and his work.’

Starburst – ‘Magic Words is a brave attempt to get to grips with one of the titans of modern pop culture.’

The TARDIS Eruditorium – ‘Magic Words is something else; a landmark, definitive tome that immediately establishes itself as one of the absolutely essential works for anybody interested in Alan Moore.’

Too Busy Thinking About My Comics – ‘I can only suggest that you drop everything and search out a copy of Magic Words right now. It compliments the very best of what’s previously been written about Moore while rendering a great deal of the rest entirely obsolete.’

SF Crow’s Nest.

The Book Bag – ‘Fandom is rife with knowledge of Moore’s character, and his history in producing graphic novels – and that’s only natural considering how much they sold, and still continue to do so. But I defy any fan to not gain a host of knowledge and insight from these pages. It is completist, and yet it never once approaches being overbearing. It is a book that deserves its level of introspection and intimacy with its subject. What’s more, if there was any doubt remaining about whether Moore justified this treatment – and it has to be said I have a rampant ability to see his output as on one hand good, on the other definitely over-rated – this smashes that doubt. Parkin shows consummate knowledge of his subject, and the end result of it all is that you do see how vital to modern publishing Moore is, and therefore how essential this book is to everyone vaguely interested in comics.’

A Guide To Geekdom – ‘It is a satisfyingly balanced book that still leaves you rooting for the man himself. With Magic Words, Parkin has managed to compile a biography of one of the most prolific creative minds of our time in such a way that anyone can read it and find out more about him, no matter whereabouts they have entered into the world of Alan Moore. Ardent fanatics will enjoy the glimpses into his personal life and opinions; comics afficionados will appreciate the way that the book anchors itself firmly in the culture of its subject, giving a well-rounded potted history of the then-burgeoning British comics movement as well as snapshots of what the scene was like in 1980s America. Fans of his more “occult” work will find more than enough to satisfy their own particular tastes regarding Moore’s own understandings of the Universe and his relationship to it, perhaps drawing some inspiration for themselves.’

SFX – ‘Lance Parkin is witty and informed. He’s a devotee of Moore’s work, but not uncritical. He’s also happy to point out his protagonist’s contradictions. You come away with an understanding of Moore the artist, but his day-to-day life remains discreetly hidden.’

Forbidden Planet – ‘I loved it … it’s well written, informative, and an important book on an important subject. It helps us to better understand and appreciate both the man and his work, and shines light into some previously dark corners.’

A quick reaction to the design work at Shelf Abuse and their full review – ‘Parkin’s suitably lengthy tome is as obsessive, heartfelt, provocative and indirect as its subject. But Magic Words is also a surprisingly pertinent read. Parkin paints a messy but fascinating portrait of a writer whose superior takes on mainstream superhero fare came from a deep affinity for underground and self-published comics, and a vocal hatred for the business practices of the giants which still dominate the industry.’

And a review in one of Alan Moore’s local papers, the Northants Telegraph – ‘Parkin was previously best known as a Doctor Who writer, so has form in chronicling the exploits of principled British eccentrics; his account is as readable as it is incisive, and commendably even-handed.’

Publishers Weekly – ‘Lance Parkin (Ahistory: An Unauthorized History of the Doctor Who Universe) gives us a fascinating and comprehensive biography of one of the living masters of comic book writing, Alan Moore. Few stones go unturned in this survey of his life and career with detailed accounts of the creation of everything from major works like Watchmen and V for Vendetta, to some predictive juvenilia created while Moore’s talent was forming (illustrated excerpts included). The man himself, a famously eccentric curmudgeon with mystic tendencies, is a captivating character even apart from his work. Moore’s story can’t be told without mentioning some of his famous disagreements with co-creators, editors, publishers, and filmmakers; Parkin’s protocol is to share both known sides of the arguments. This is an essential book for any serious comics fan. Though Alan Moore and his career take center stage, his interactions with and influence on his cohort of British comics writers provide a microcosm of how the comics medium underwent a quantum leap in maturity in the ‘80s, with long-term effects that remain even in media beyond comics. Agent: Jessica Papin, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Dec.)’

Broken Frontier – ‘Parkin’s gift for this kind of pattern recognition elevates his book from a by-the-numbers account into an altogether more satisfying examination of Moore’s life and remarkable body of work, as well as the changing business of comics over the last four decades.’

The Onion AV Club – ‘Parkin’s dissection of Moore’s vast oeuvre, the opuses and the marginalia, are penetrating and fresh, with plenty of cogent contextualization regarding the history of comics as it pertains to Moore, and vice versa. And his breakdown of Moore’s creative process is fascinating in both its detail and its eerie quietude.’

Alternate Cover – ‘While Parkin’s fair-mindedness and attention to factual detail might be the most obvious assets the book has to offer a hardcore Moore fan, as a publication in its own right its strengths lie more in the author’s zippy and engaging writing style (no surprise to anyone who knows his Doctor Who work, but it makes reading it an absolute breeze without ever feeling simplistic or lacking), and in its physical presentation.’

Hollywood The Write Way – ‘This is one of the most insightful, in depth biographies I’ve ever read. Call it an encyclopedia or even a bible for Alan Moore fans.’

Shelf Awareness – ‘Magic Words is a biography, not a literary study. As such, it helps us recognize why Alan Moore matters while leaving plenty of room to discover his work for ourselves.’

Power of Pop – ‘Magic Words is an essential tome for all fans of Alan Moore, comic books and creative writing.’

Pamphlets of Destiny –  ‘I can’t really see how more detail could be achieved without giving Alan Moore a colonoscopy. In any case, I don’t know why you would need more detail than is given here. As biographies go, this is pretty much perfect. I found it fascinating.’

The Daily Telegraph – ‘The business side of Moore’s life is analysed at admirable length, and anyone wanting detail of his souring relationship with his publisher DC Comics or the endless debate over the rights to Miracleman will be amply served.’

 

MAGIC WORDS – LONDON EVENT

Aurum Press are proud to announce a book launch for my biography Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore. the book is out this week, the event is on the 26th November, at the Prince Charles Cinema in London.

There will be a signing, a 70 minute Q&A and a chance to see a couple of Moore’s Jimmy’s End films on the big screen.

Oh yeah, he said, feigning nonchalance … and Alan Moore will be there.

 

More details and tickets available here

 

Image

Golden Thread

Image

It’s November 3rd 2013. Rihanna poses as Medusa on the cover of GQ. Thor: The Dark World, the second movie about Marvel’s mythological superhero, tops the UK movie charts with Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa also doing well. Barnes and Noble have just announced the Nook GlowLight. The clocks have just gone back.

            This means that it was the perfect time for Phil Sandifer to release his book A Golden Thread, a history of the DC Comics – formerly National – superhero character Wonder Woman. I say ‘superhero’ knowing that Wonder Woman identifies as female, and this is the crux of Sandifer’s argument. Wonder Woman is a problem character, a proto-feminist who lived through the rise and fall of the feminist movement while somehow managing to almost always never intersect with it. Comics is a medium, and genre, which has always been carefully gendered – there were comics for boys and other comics for girls – but Wonder Woman has always sat oddly in this. She was created by a man, the comics have almost always been aimed at men, for much of that time she has literally been the ambassador for women in the DC Universe. She’s an extremely well-known character, consistently in print every month for nearly seventy-five years, but she’s rarely shifted that many comics.

            Sandifer identifies the issue that while it’s easy to imagine Wonder Woman is ‘feminist’, and she has been around as the role of women in society and the workplace has radically changed, the character herself has evolved, but not always in the same way feminism has. She was created as an ‘issues’ character, but this survived about as long as Superman’s fighting for the blue collar guys or Batman carrying a gun. The utopia she hails from has dated even more badly than most. And, of course, whenever comics try to do ‘issues’ if the creators care about the cause being espoused the result is often mawkish and blunt, but if they’re just hacking it out, the best case scenario is that it’ll be a bit of cosmetic work on a standard action story. Despite comics being one of most immediate, id-driven media (whatever else they were, the comics that reacted to 9-11 got out there before novels, TV and movie drama had barely got their boots on, they were on the stands before many news magazines), however sympathetic creators were to hippies, to environmentalists or to Occupy, whenever superheroes do ‘issues’, however young and hip or weird the comics creators are, it always feels like watching your parents dancing. The Lynda Carter TV series works precisely because it’s playful and knowing at the same time. It’s fun to watch, it’s shows you a strong female protagonist, and part of that strength is that she doesn’t have to be solemn or chiding.

            Sandifer surveys the history of the character, exposes how odd it is that there are very few periods of stability, that for basically the whole time, DC and its creators have struggled to make the character work, that the most common mode for Wonder Woman’s creative team is ‘frantically trying to fix the mess the last creative team left behind, often just by ignoring it’. It’s a good, thoughtful book that lays out the phases of the history of a problematic character. Like Sandifer, and I suspect a lot of DC creators over the years, I think Wonder Woman’s a character who’s tantalising. Someone built from equal parts Greek myth, bondage cheesecake and political utopianism ought to be an open goal, ought to be easy, ought to be the most popular and accessible superhero out there, someone – to paraphrase Fry and Laurie – who half the population want to be and the other half would like to go to bed with. So why has no one ever got it right? Why have the vast majority not even got close? A Golden Thread is a good stab at laying out the problem.