Alan Moore (photo by Mitch Jenkins)
Alan Moore is probably the most respected and recognisable author in comics and his works, which include Watchmen, From Hell, V for Vendetta and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, are classic graphic novels that Hollywood routinely turns into terrible films.
We met the Wizard of Northampton for a chat about shoes, films, magic, technology, and the ways in which the internet is mutating our brains.
NICE SHOES, ALAN.
(Mr Moore is sporting a pair of shiny purple brogues by Northampton master shoemakers, Jeffrey-West)
Thank you. I’ve never been conspicuously fashionable - you’ve only got to look at the haircut and the beard to figure that out - but I have always had a strong sense of what my friend the artist Oscar Zarate refers to as “working class vulgarity”. I actually quite like suits and ties. I wouldn’t claim to have ever been fashionable, but I’ve always liked tarting myself up a bit. So I have a certain amount of vanity, and I have a certain amount of admiration for the dandies, who were very, very brave. They used to put up with all sorts of violent attacks, just because they thought they had a right to look wonderful.
WE DIDN’T THINK OF YOU AS A FASHIONISTA...
I’m not. I have no interest in fashion itself, as much for a political reasons as anything else. Having been born into the foment of the 1960s, you tend to pick up a lot of attitudes about things that are ‘straight’. I would have probably been happy if everyone was wearing a hessian sack until the end of the century.
AND YET YOU’VE WRITTEN A BOOK ON IT?
Well, technically I wrote a film. I was approached by Malcolm [McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols] back in the 1980s. He said he’d like me to collaborate on a film, and he pitched these three ideas: Surf Nazis sounded like fun, but probably not my kind of fun, knowing very little about surfing and only slightly more about Nazis. Then there was a was one about Oscar Wilde making a Madonna-esque tour of mining camps in the American West, which sounded interesting but again, probably not my cup of tea. But the third idea, Fashion Beast: that combined Beauty and the Beast with the strange, twisted life of Christian Dior. That sounded like something like something I could get my teeth into.
WHAT DREW YOU TO IT, IF YOU’LL PARDON THE PUN?
I could see how those two things, fashion and fantasy, could fit together. Because the fashion industry is already a fantasy, it’s already a fairy tale where everyone’s dressing up in extravagant costumes. And I could also see how it could probably play nicely into some of my own feelings about the world. When I started on Fashion Beast I was still working on Watchmen, and a lot of the politics, the apocalyptic darkness, the environmental stuff and the sexual politics of my later work are in there. There’s even some bits where the central character’s talking about the shamanic power of clothing, which seemed to prefigure my later obsession with magic.
IF IT WAS MADE INTO A FILM… WOULD THIS BE THE FIRST GOOD FILM OF AN ALAN MOORE BOOK?
My personal feelings are that despite the fact that it was originally intended as a film, its most perfect expression is as a comic book. If it had been made as a film, it wouldn’t have emerged anything like that. It would have been rewritten a couple of times at the insistence of studio executives who have to appear to be doing something, there would have been changes made, for better or worse, by the director, by the actors, by whoever. However, since it was originally written as a film, rather than written as a comic and turned into a film for purely commercial reasons, I’d be open to experiment with it.
My objection to the filming of all my other comics has been on the grounds that these things were designed for comics, they were written specifically to show off the things that comics can do that no other medium can do, so making them into films... it’s not going to be the same work, so there’s no point in it. Other than to make money. But this one’s different. I could see this conceivably making a decent film. It would need to be made by the right people, and given the number of people that I’ve had bellowing tantrums with, that is a pretty brief list.