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Alan Oswald Moore (born November 18, 1953) is an English writer known for work in comics, including the porno-graphic novel Lost Girls featuring Wendy Darling, Dorothy of Oz, and Alice of Wonderland. He is the writer of the acclaimed comic book series Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the closest in theme to Lost Girls).
As a comics writer, Moore has applied literary and formalist sensibilities to the mainstream of the medium as well as including challenging subject matter and adult themes. He brings a wide range of influences to his work, such as William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Anton Wilson and Iain Sinclair, New Wave science fiction writers like Michael Moorcock and horror writers like Clive Barker. Influences within comics include Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Kirby, and Bryan Talbot.
Moore was born in Northampton, England to brewery worker Ernest Moore and printer Sylvia Doreen. He lived in a poor working class area and attended Northampton Grammar School. At the age of 17 he was expelled for dealing LSD, later describing himself as "one of the world's most inept LSD dealers". With his first wife Phyllis, he had two daughters, Amber and Leah. The couple had a mutual lover, Deborah Delano. In time, Phyllis, Deborah and the two children left Moore. On May 12, 2007, he married Melinda Gebbie, with whom he has worked on several comics. He currently lives in Northampton. He is a vegetarian, a practicing magician, he worships a Roman snake-deity named Glycon which he acknowledges to be a "complete hoax", and calls himself an anarchist.
Moore embarked on a career as a cartoonist in the late 1970s, writing and drawing underground-style strips for music magazines, under the pseudonym Curt Vile (a pun on the name of composer Kurt Weill), sometimes in collaboration with his friend Steve Moore (no relation). Under the pseudonym Jill de Ray (an alternative spelling of the serial killer Gilles de Rais), he began a weekly strip Maxwell the Magic Cat for the Northants Post newspaper, which he ended after the Post ran a negative editorial on the place of homosexuals in the community.
Deciding he could not make a living as an artist, he concentrated on writing, beginning a celebrated run on Captain Britain with artist Alan Davis, for Marvel UK. In 1980, he submitted a spec script to 2000 AD for "Judge Dredd", and on the strength of that was invited to attempt a Future Shocks script, a challenge requiring originality, brevity, and a clever twist ending. Over the next three years Moore sold one-off scripts to 2000 AD with increasing regularity, writing over fifty short Future Shocks and Time Twisters stories. His longer works for the magazine included Skizz (his own take on E.T.) with artist Jim Baikie, D.R. and Quinch (a sci-fi take on National Lampoon's characters O.C. and Stiggs) with Davis, and the highlight of his 2000 AD career: The Ballad of Halo Jones, the first series in the comic to be based around a female character, co-created with artist Ian Gibson.
His work for Warrior attracted the most critical acclaim: Marvelman (later retitled Miracleman for legal reasons), a radical re-imagining of a forgotten 1950s superhero, drawn primarily by Garry Leach and Alan Davis; V for Vendetta, a dystopian pulp adventure about a flamboyant anarchist who dresses as Guy Fawkes and fights a future British fascist government, illustrated by David Lloyd; and The Bojeffries Saga, a comedy about a working-class English family of vampires and werewolves, drawn by Steve Parkhouse. Warrior closed before these stories were completed, but he was able to continue them with other publishers.
Moore's British work brought him to the attention of DC Comics editor Len Wein, who hired him in 1983 to write Swamp Thing, then a formulaic and poor-selling monster comic. Moore, along with artists Stephen R. Bissette, Rick Veitch, and John Totleben, deconstructed and reimagined the character, writing a series of formally experimental stories that addressed environmental and social issues alongside the horror and fantasy, bolstered by research into the culture of Louisiana, where the series was set. He revived many of DC's neglected magical and supernatural characters, including the Spectre, the Demon, the Phantom Stranger, Deadman, and others, and introduced John Constantine, an English working-class magician based visually on Sting, who later got his own series, Hellblazer, currently the longest continuously published comic of DC's Vertigo imprint.
Moore's run on Swamp Thing was successful both critically and commercially, and inspired DC to recruit European and particularly British writers such as Grant Morrison, Jamie Delano, Peter Milligan, and Neil Gaiman to write comics in a similar vein, often involving radical revamps of obscure characters. The titles that followed laid the foundation of what became the Vertigo line. Moore himself wrote further high-profile comics for DC, a Superman Annual in 1985 (For the Man Who Has Everything), the final two-part Superman story ("Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?") before John Byrne's revamp in 1986, and the Batman one-shot The Killing Joke with artist Brian Bolland.
The limited series Watchmen, begun in 1986 and collected as a trade paperback in 1987, cemented his reputation. Imagining what the world would be like if costumed heroes had really existed since the 1940s, Moore and artist Dave Gibbons created a Cold War mystery in which the shadow of nuclear war threatens the world. The book is non-linear and told from multiple points of view. It is the only comic to win the Hugo Award. It was adapted to film in a big-budget production that tried in many way to duplicate the complexity of the graphic novel – which made it hard for those unfamiliar with the source material to follow – but also changed the ending – alienating those who cherished it – satisfying no one.
Marvelman was reprinted and continued for the American market as Miracleman (to avoid a trademark conflict with Marvel Comics). With artists Chuck Austen, Rick Veitch and John Totleben, Moore finished his story, which was continued by writer Neil Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham. Moore and Lloyd took V for Vendetta to DC, where it was reprinted and completed in full color and released as a trade paperback. Moore does not claim ownership of this material, which ironically cleared the way for it to be acquired by Marvel Comics.
A variety of projects followed with independent publishers, including Brought to Light, a history of CIA covert operations, with illustrator Bill Sienkiewicz for Eclipse Comics, and an anthology, AARGH (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia) campaigning against anti-homosexual legislation, which Moore published along with his wife Phyllis Moore and their lover Deborah Delano, through their newly formed publishing company, Mad Love Publishing, with all profits donated to the Organisation For Lesbian And Gay Action.
Moore then used Mad Love to publish his next project, Big Numbers, a proposed 12-issue series set in contemporary Northampton and inspired by chaos theory and the mathematical ideas of Benoît Mandelbrot. Bill Sienkiewicz illustrated the story in a painted style that relied heavily on photographic reference. After two issues were published, Sienkiewicz left the series. It was announced that his assistant, Al Columbia, would replace him, but no further issues appeared. He wrote a comic book for Victor Gollancz Ltd, A Small Killing, illustrated by Oscar Zarate, about a once idealistic advertising executive haunted by his boyhood self, published in 1988 through Mad Love. With Big Numbers halted, and with Phyllis and Deborah leaving him and moving away, Mad Love Publishing was dissolved.
Moore contributed two serials to the horror anthology Taboo, edited by Stephen R. Bissette. From Hell examined the Jack the Ripper murders as a microcosm of the 1880s, and the 1880s as the root of the 20th century, with just about every notable figure of the period connected with the events in some way. Illustrated in an appropriately sooty pen and ink style by Eddie Campbell, From Hell took nearly ten years to complete, outlasting Taboo and going through two more publishers before being collected as a trade paperback. A film adaptation, directed by the Hughes Brothers, was released in 2001 to mixed reviews.
With artist Melinda Gebbie, Moore began Lost Girls, an erotic story exploring possible sexual meanings in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Peter and Wendy, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The work was finished and a collected edition published in August 2006 in the United States, but a dispute with Great Ormond Street Hospital, which held the copyright to characters from Peter and Wendy in the European Union until 2008, prevented publication in the UK before that time. There has been no mention of it being adapted into a movie.
Return to the mainstream
Moore worked his way back into superhero comics by writing several series for Image Comics and the companies that later broke away from it. He felt that his influence on comics had in many ways been detrimental. Instead of taking inspiration from the more innovative aspects of his work, creators who followed him had merely imitated the violence and grimness. As a reaction against the superhero genre's abandonment of its innocence, Moore and artists Stephen R. Bissette, Rick Veitch and John Totleben conceived 1963, a series of comics which is a pastiche of Marvel's early works. Moore worked on Jim Lee's WildC.A.T.s and a number of Rob Liefeld's titles, including Supreme, Youngblood and Glory, retooling sometimes rudimentary and derivative characters and settings into more viable series. In Moore's hands, Liefeld's violent Superman analogue Supreme became an inventive post-modern homage to the Superman comics of the Mort Weisinger era.
America's Best Comics
In 1999 Moore created the America's Best Comics line, a new group of characters to be published by WildStorm. These included: Tom Strong, a post-modern superhero series that in equal parts parodies and pays tribute to the superhero genre, featuring a hero inspired by characters pre-dating Superman, like Doc Savage and Tarzan; Top 10, a deadpan police procedural comedy set in a city where everyone, from the police and criminals to the civilians and even pets, has super-powers, costumes and secret identities, drawn by Gene Ha (finished art) and Zander Cannon (layouts); Promethea, a superheroine explicitly from the realms of the imagination drawn by J.H. Williams III, exploring Moore's ideas about consciousness, mysticism, magic, écriture féminine and the Kabbalah; Tomorrow Stories, an anthology series with a regular cast of genre characters such as Cobweb (drawn by Melinda Gebbie), First American, Greyshirt, Jack B. Quick, and Splash Brannigan.
Separate from these was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a team-up book featuring characters from Victorian adventure novels such as H. Rider Haggard's Allan Quatermain, H. G. Wells' Invisible Man, Jules Verne's Captain Nemo, Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Wilhelmina Murray from Bram Stoker's Dracula. Illustrated by Kevin O'Neill, the first volume of the series pitted the League against Professor Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes books; the second, against the Martians from The War of the Worlds. A third volume entitled The Black Dossier, is set in the 1950s. An abysmal film adaptation of the concept was released in 2003 and starred Sean Connery as Quatermain in his last screen role to date.