Sep 22nd 2009 By: Laura Hudson
In a recent interview,
Alan Moore criticized the dearth of new ideas in modern superhero comics, and then went after DC writer Geoff Johns by claiming that his "Blackest Night" storyline was a ripoff of Moore's old "Tales of the Green Lantern
" story. There's been a lot of angry online response to Alan Moore's "raccoon" quote, as I will call it, and it's easy to see why:
I was noticing that DC seems to have based one of its latest crossovers [Blackest Night] in Green Lantern based on a couple of eight-page stories that I did 25 or 30 years ago. I would have thought that would seem kind of desperate and humiliating, When I have said in interviews that it doesn't look like the American comic book industry has had an idea of its own in the past 20 or 30 years, I was just being mean. I didn't expect the companies concerned to more or less say, "Yeah, he's right. Let's see if we can find another one of his stories from 30 years ago to turn into some spectacular saga." It's tragic. The comics that I read as a kid that inspired me were full of ideas. They didn't need some upstart from England to come over there and tell them how to do comics. They'd got plenty of ideas of their own. But these days, I increasingly get a sense of the comics industry going through my trashcan like raccoons in the dead of the night.I touched on this yesterday in a post
where I was more interested in exploring Moore's point about the lack of major new superhero characters created in the last couple decades, but I didn't call him out for his "Blackest Night" namecalling -- I suppose because I just don't take him as seriously when he starts getting hyperbolic and comparing people to raccoons, and because I see him as some sort of lunatic genius comics grandpa who sits around in his psychedelic recliner complaining about DC and Marvel like they're kids on his lawn or something.
Saying that Alan Moore got ridiculous and pissy about mainstream superhero comics is like saying that a superheroine was drawn with an unrealistic body type, or that Rob Liefeld didn't draw feet. I don't think it's a good thing, per se, but at this point I'm not surprised. I'm also at least somewhat amused by his long-standing vendetta and the rhetoric that comes out of it, particularly since corporate comics certainly have their shortcomings and foibles worth pointing out.
Still, there's a difference between taking potshots at a large corporation entity and the legitimate problems you may have with it, and taking potshots at a specific creator. Granted, you have to get specific at some point if you want a generalization to be meaningful -- but you'd better make sure you're right about the specifics if you do, and Moore is not.
Johns in particular doesn't deserve his ire, not only because the claim that he's some kind of idea thief doesn't hold water, but because the "Blackest Night" storyline has added a whole host of original characters and ideas to the DCU with the Lantern spectrum -- the exact thing that Moore spends much of the interview complaining that writers don't do.
Anyone who has taken more than a cursory glance at "Blackest Night" should realize that Moore's claims about its relationship to his story are wildly overstated, which of course makes me think that he hasn't taken more than a cursory glance at "Blackest Night." There may be a shout-out or allusion to a point in older continuity involved, but when did that become the sign of creative bankruptcy? If it is, somebody should really tell Grant Morrison, because he will surely be the next one against the wall.
But ultimately, Moore's rant isn't about specifics; it's about being generally angry about the general state of mainstream comics. And really, that's fine. But if you want to cross the line from throwing tomatoes at a corporation, or a movement, or a concept, or however you choose to group the things you dislike together, and start throwing them at people, you'd better be careful about how you aim.