Book Review: Alan Moore: Storyteller

By Gary Spencer Millidge

(Ilex Press Ltd, �25)

WHEN, if ever, the complete history of comics as a creative medium is finally written, hopefully at some remote time in the future, then just a handful of names will surely be honoured as the true greats in this field.

Alongside the likes of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison will be one of the all-time masters, a creative force whose influence has permeated throughout the industry for almost five decades.

But despite making his name as the writer of Halo Jones, Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, Marvelman, Promethea and dozens of other series for a host of different companies, there’s far more to Alan Moore than just comics.

Musician, magician, artist, cultural commentator, Moore used his success as a writer to springboard ventures in a variety of other media, to the point where he is now contemplating retirement from comics altogether in order to focus on different pursuits.

Part biography, part gallery, part interview log and part audio experience, Millidge’s Storyteller is an unprecedented look at the man behind the myth Moore has cultivated since first appearing on the comics scene in the late 1970s.

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A luxurious coffee-table style tome, complete with a CD featuring musical work, this is a work celebrating Alan Moore, and as such is far from a critical analysis of his career.

Spanning his life from his underprivileged childhood in Northampton, expulsion from school for drug-dealing, through his first published work (including strips for the late, lamented Sounds music magazine), and then offering an extensive look at his comics career to date, this is a remarkably in-depth account of someone whose mystique is very much a part of his public persona.

Moore’s involvement in putting this book together is evident throughout, and he provides a wealth of rare and unpublished material to make this an essential buy for any completist, but unfortunately there’s no insight into his private life as a husband and a father, with Millidge preferring to concentrate on his creative work instead.

Having fallen out with various writers and artists over the years, including Watchmen co-collaborator Dave Gibbons, it would have been interesting to read something about Moore’s feelings in hindsight, and whether enough water has passed under the bridge for him to consider working with them again.

Millidge’s passion and dedication for his subject is evident throughout this book, as he uncovers lost details and hitherto unknown information about Moore’s life and career, but although you’ll be hard pressed to find anything negative about the Northampton warlock Millidge never veers into the realm of sycophancy.

Ultimately this is an exhaustive and indispensible guide to Alan Moore, but is not the critique it might had been. Whether that is necessarily a bad thing is a matter of personal taste, but that certainly shouldn’t detract from the strengths of this remarkable work.