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Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill signing

GOSH IT’S A HIPPY

Sightings of the world’s best known comic writer are rarer than hen’s teeth these days. Gosh were honoured by his presence on a cloudy Saturday afternoon, seated behind a table in a skimpy tee displaying an unnerving amount of very pale flesh. Both he and his frequent collaborator now have white hair. O’Neill favouring a brisk brush cut while Moore wears a long ponytail and a grizzly beard.

They looked like phantom zone versions of their younger selves and were signing copies of the latest issue of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (now Gentlewomen).

Moore is known to make few public appearances, and to despise the medium which has made him so successful. I infer that he only decided to bless this particular store because it devotes its prime space to graphic novels and art books, relegating comics to the small basement area. Situated at the trendy corner of Berwick St, opposite porn alley, the place is light, airy and well laid out but just a little too determined to look ‘grown up’.

I didn’t fancy queuing to get the autographs, so I laid out my eight pounds for the comic/graphic whatever and snuck out to Foxcroft and Ginger two doors away to sip a flat white and read the thing.

a few soft blows aimed at the James Bond franchise (again)

My reward for buying the item ‘hot off the press’ from Gosh was a limited edition art card drawn and signed by O’Neil. The story itself is set in 2009 and filled with all the contempt for modern society that only a couple of ex-hippies could muster. JK Rowling gets most of the venom, with a few soft blows aimed at the James Bond franchise (again). We are also treated to a reincarnated Aleister Crowley as a severed head in a bird cage, the tired and tested Moore songspiel to under-cut the visuals and an appearance of the Goddess-who-must-not-be-named as Mary Poppins!

Unfortunately the satire is scattershot and repetitious. The tragic death of one of the major characters lacks resonance and only served to remind this reader that the last time Moore delivered a solid punch was with the glorious death of Mr. Hyde way back in the second volume. Unlike his fellow occultist/comic book writer Grant Morrison, Moore does not do ‘new and fresh’. He does ‘old and musty’.

There is something almost frantic about his desire to preserve a memory of pop culture tropes mostly best forgotten. His case is not helped by O’Neill’s inability to draw recognisable caricatures. Is that supposed to be an old Roger Moore? Was that Dickey Davis? Why do George Cole and Dennis Waterman look exactly the same? In a hyper detailed world such lapses glare, annoy and damage the read.

his desire to preserve a memory of pop culture tropes mostly best forgotten

The sidereal quality Moore aims for throughout the series has never quite kicked into gear due to his caustic sensibility. Either with a dig-in-the-ribs visual or a knowing line of dialogue the writer is always keen to let the reader know he is ‘on top of things’. This, and the inability to end as well as he begins, has flawed his work from the beginning.

One would hope that it is not too late for Moore to drop the cynic mask and let his considerable imagination soar without chains.

As for the current work; my copy will be in Book and Record Exchange by Monday.


SWP was at the Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neil signing at Gosh book store, 1 Berwick St. London 23rd June 2012

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