Caleb Orecchio here with some thoughts on Brighter Than You Think: Ten Short Works by Alan Moore—plus some links
Though Alan Moore has not really drawn a comic since the late 70’s, he is so obviously the auteur of the comics he writes that I am tempted to consider him a “cartoonist.” I mean, not really, but I think a more articulate, alternate-dimension version of myself could make a strong case for that designation. Regardless of the artist, Moore’s comics have an undeniable feel and pace, even when drawn by a sub-par cartoonist—AND is never out-shined by a particularly excellent cartoonist.
The latest installment of Uncivilized Books’ “Critical Cartoons” series, Brighter Than You Think: Ten Short Works by Alan Moore with essays by Marc Sobel, has been my in-between-other-readings book for about a month now. I like not reading it all the way through at once because 1.) it is a collection of short stories over almost 20 years so it makes sense to pace myself, and 2.) Moore’s work is just too damn dense to swallow in one sitting. If you add Marc Sobel’s essays that follow each comic, you’re looking at a very annotated and involved effort that requires time for thinking and reflection with each story.
Something I find very interesting about Moore is his awareness of the artist. He seems to know how to “use” an artist better than any writer I know of, which, to me, aids him in diversifying the types of stories he can tell. He uses them like a solo cartoonist might pick a color to evoke mood, or use a certain brush to evoke a certain era of comics’ past. Using an artist like Mark Beyer can help to abstract a story and give it a heightened sense of reality and playfulness, whereas using an artist like Stephen Bissette can help ground a story to real-life and make a comic more like a documentary. If you’re writing a story for Peter Bagge, the writing is funny and whimsical (Moore’s ability to write comedy is WAY under appreciated in my opinion); and you write strange stories of flight and fantasy for Rick Veitch.
I always found his collaboration with Melinda Gebbie, “This Is Information” (a “reaction” comic to 9/11), to be very interesting. Moore wisely keeps character at arm’s length and is communicating in symbols and metaphors; and Gebbie’s art is key because she can draw cartoony caricatures, she can draw realistic rendering of hands clasping in desperation, or she can precisely and patiently draw a falling house of cards (harder than you think). The breadth and nuance of her skills matches the breadth and nuance of emotions Alan Moore implements in this story about a devastating and monumental event.
There’s so much I could say about Moore, and there’s so much people have already said. If I were a better writer I could better explain the value of such a great contributor to comics clearer. The best I can really do is point you to the work, and right now I’m pointing you to Brighter Than You Think. Go grab a copy at Uncivilized Books’ website.
if you don’t know, now you know
- There were several links I was hoping to share today, but came to find out Sally covered most of them here on Friday (I was involved with my sisters wedding all weekend so I’m a few days behind). Go back and check out Sally’s post if you haven’t already, featuring good stuff from Trina Robbins, Jillian Tamaki, Eleanor Davis, and more.
- Adam West, Batman star and icon to, I’m sure, more than a few comics fans, has died at age 88. Anita Gates has an obituary over at The New York Times.
- I thought Chris Mautner expressed the brilliance of Alan Moore’s Providence quite well in this article on The Smart Set. The way he briefly-yet-impressively articulates Jacen Burrows’ contribution to the work was overdue I think.
- The Panic Fables by Alejandro Jodorowski have finally been collected and translated to English. Get a copy from Copacetic Comics.
- The legendary Steve Ditko is still at it, and you can contribute to his latest Kickstarter (though the goal was met very rapidly with plenty of days still to go) to get a copy of the new Mr. A which marks the 50th anniversary of the character.
Blinkers – 6-12-2017 – by Jack Brougham
Suzy and Cecil – 6-12-2017 – by Sally Ingraham
Joanie and Jordie – 6-12-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio