Watchmen and the nature of Alan Moore's power

As the screens get filled with spectacular images of Zack Snyder's action movie sharing the same title as Alan Moore's delicate masterpiece, I welcomed Salon's interview of 'The wizard of "Watchmen"' (Andrew Firestone - Salon - 20090305).

At last ! The only person who could say something relevant and intelligent about his own work (which once again, has nothing to do with a recently released popcorn byproduct*).

In very deed, Watchmen is not about comics and superheroes. ""Watchmen" is an intelligent meditation on the nature of power".

Intelligence and power ? Alan Moore knows something about those, alright. As well as he knows something about human nature, its beautiful as well as its lighter and - preferably, I reckon - darker sides.

To stay with Watchmen characters, I think the darkest side of Alan Moore resides not in Rorschach, but in Dr Manhattan : the systems he designs are as perfect, but the key difference is that they are meant for planet Earth, perfectly human and humanly flawed, a tribute to intelligence**. Not the boring, dull, sterile Ozymandias kind of intelligence - the sparkling, stimulating kind.

If Stan Lee revolutionized super heroes and the comics industry, Alan Moore revolutionized comics as a medium*** for human intelligence and creativity. And in that extent, there is something fictionally autobiographical in Watchmen, "an intelligent meditation on the nature of Moore's power".

I was not surprised to learn that Moore produces several pages of script for each final page. The edifice requires an incredible concentration from its author, and there is just no way one could add, move or retrieve any single piece without ruining the work and provoquing its collapse****. The movie, any movie, was doomed to fail from the start.

Moore knows how to lift existing characters to new dimensions, and he changed the Swamp Thing or Batman forever, reinvented actual or virtual figures from the past, but he can do much more than that, lift the burden of all existing rules, build his own universes, bend space and time, explore fiction beyond Pynchon or
Borges. How's that for superpowers ?

His best moments ? When he starts from scratch. And even then, he must always move on before it gets boring to him... which happens much earlier than it does to us. This author simply cannot stick to one thing, even from a dark swamp.

Yeah, the man's back to "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" - not my favorite. But he's a human being, remember ? And his "Lost Girls" will probably expose new weaknesses.

I probably won't read those two, but I'd love to have a peek at his scripts.

Which, I know for sure, will be a delight for scholars decades from now.

I also committed three blogules in French about Alan Moore : two lamenting about the disastrous choices of filmmakers ("Watchmen - Le Film" - 20081210 / "V for Vendetta - c'est Alan Moore qu'on assassine" - 20060323), one pointing out how "V" became IRL when, following the 2005 terror attacks, London authorities lauded their surveillance systems as their "Ears" and "Eyes" ("V for Vendetta. V : c'est arrive en 2005" - 20050724).

* Haven't watched it yet (who watches the Watchmen anyway?), but I will. Eventually.

** What's in a Worldsmith ? This Blue Man Group Of One would build with "materials" (please don't nuke me Doc, I know I'm being utterly reductive and classically / quantumly wrong) where the Bard Wordsmith mindnipulates "immaterials".

*** I'm not saying "a" as "one" : in Watchmen, Moore mixes all kinds of media (comic strips, novels, radio, cinema, press, TV, sketches and paintings...).

**** see (in French also) "Watchmen - Frappes chirurgicales et hommages collatéraux".


  1. Pardon me, perhaps I misunderstood, but did you write that Moore surpassed Borges? I really don't think that's so, as Borges was the genesis of modern fiction. Don't get me wrong, I love Alan Moore, but he's not Borges.

  2. Indeed, I could and should have used the very same words to avoid all misunderstandings : "Don't get me wrong, I love Alan Moore, but he's not Borges."

    Both are extraordinary gentlemen, but they don't play in the same league.

    I wrote "beyond" because Moore could leverage on what others did before him, and he was also playing on a completely different turf - a very young medium easily subject to dramatic disruptions.

    The Blind Librarian managed to change the very way we looked at books, literature, reality.


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