Below, a great text written by Gary Phillips, critically acclaimed author of mysteries and graphic novels. The piece was included in the sold-out Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman book (2003, Abiogenesis Press, pag. 157).
Click, bang, do you remember? Nineteen eighty fuckin‘ six, man. There’s only twenty-six letters to mix and match to describe the psychic impact that series, that shake-up of the comics genre that tore down some tired, sorry ass approaches to the art form had on us fans and practitioners. What started out as a revamping of old school Charlton heroes turned into something that has rippled across the years and decades to where we are now.
Damn. And what helped spur this creation, what allowed his genie out of the keyboard, was because of some jive copyright entanglements. All because the suits upstairs didn’t want no, you know, street-edge shit, no characters with flaws and depth and contradictory emotions being imposed and messing up their gaudy do-gooders.
So they let him retool and refit.
Who Watches the Watchmen was the gag, baby, the grand guffaw writ large across our collective minds when we couldn’t wait, after being teased by those come-on ads, to read each successive issue of that mother of all story arcs.
But unlike say Orson Wells – and even he had more than one hand of Three Card Monty to dazzle the suckers – this dude this book is honoring has stepped up time and again and delivered. It’s like Kobe hitting those threes 12 times in one game or the first time you got a peek of some hottie’s panties when she crossed her legs and she winked at you. JAYZUS.
It stays with you, know what I’m sayin‘?
It’s as if the Comedian, that gloating, Hoyo de Monterrey smoking, Lee Harvey Oswald lone gunman nutbag on steroids and crank was still firing those nitro velocity rounds of his from that high window; causing dissension and distraction not in the social order, but in the over-ripe corpus delicti of the comics industry. Only those bullets don’t sing death. They zing tracers of energy coursing through that body to resuscitate and educate us that indeed, this fumetti, this thing of ours has merit, has something to offer in the way of its unique storytelling methods.
Watchmen brought me and so many others back to these four-color fables when many of us figured we’d outgrown them what with mortgages, car payments, and crowns on our teeth.
The stories of wonder and woe he’s presented in fare like Swamp-Thing, V, Green Lantern, Supreme, Top Ten and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen keeps me addicted — keeps me wanting more badder than an alkie lining up in the morning outside the corner liquor store to bum change for his short dog of Old Smuggler.
But his stuff doesn’t leave me with a hang over. His stuff makes me jealous and envious as a writer…and as an aficionado, all you can do is admire his skill that he’s always honing, not content to do the same trick over and over but challenging himself to tell the best yarn he can again and again.
I wish Mr. Moore well on reaching his half-century mark. And here’s hoping the next fifty — and that doesn’t seem so preposterous given one is to understand he’s been dipping into some sort of study of magiks – has him crafting tales that pleasure and bother the reader.
See? The Owl was wrong, it isn’t all crap. It’s all good, baby.
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.