Handbags! Not so extraordinary gentlemen…

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I was somewhat underwhelmed to read in Empire this month about alleged tensions on the set of the film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (as I insist on calling it) between Sean Connery and director Stephen Norrington. After 7 pages, it emerges that this consisted of little more than not getting on very well and Norrington on one occasion goading Connery to punch him, which Connery declined to do. Oh, and one of the stages got flooded. Ho. Hum.

It is particularly unfortunate that we only get to read one side of the story: Connery is certainly a bona fide movie star, but he has always seemed to be quite precious about it (okay, I admit it, I just don’t like his politics).

But the real problem with this article, and the reason for this rant now, is that it doesn’t touch on either the ongoing travesty that is Hollywood’s inability to “get” Alan Moore (the best thing that can be said about “LXG” – as they like to call it – is that it isn’t quite as godawful as From Hell) or the legal battle that Moore faced when some no-mark sued him for plagiarising his never-before-heard-of yet vaguely similar screenplay. That’s a far more interesting story.

It’s also a missed opportunity not to mention the Black Dossier, the latest League comic which is currently unavailable in the UK due to several potential copyright issues.

Alan Moore is a funny one. In a recent article in the Megazine, Alan Grant describes Moore as a “character developer” as opposed to a creator. This seems like a gross insult to the man until you realise that it happens to be true. Name an Alan Moore classic comic and the chances are it is derived from something else. There are exceptions – V for Vendetta, Halo Jones, DR and Quinch – but most of his best work has been based on other people’s creations.

None of that is to deny his genius. But it does make one wonder why he is so extraordinarily precious about his own intellectual property.

6 thoughts on “Handbags! Not so extraordinary gentlemen…

  1. “most of his best work has been based on other people’s creations.”

    Shurely, his greatest work was Watchmen? And all his ABC work? Don’t think Grant’s comment really stands up, tbh…

  2. Watchmen? Carbon copies of the Charlton characters including Blue Beetle (Niteowl) and the Question (Rorschach). This of course was the original intention.

    ABC? Very explicitly derived from pulp/early superhero sources. The best were Promethea (Wonder Woman meets Captain Marvel), Top Ten (a game of spot the reference) and LoEG (need I say more?).

  3. I see what you’re saying – but if you’re creating in the 80s then every character could be traced back to Golden Age heroes… Come to think of it, wasn’t Batman based on another character…? Hmmm… internet research beckons…

  4. Batman had a number of influences, IIRC. To be honest, it’s stretching it a bit to claim that Promethea and Top Ten were not original creations and I accept that Grant was oversimplifying (it wouldn’t be the first time).

    Alan Moore is an original and creative thinker. He’s capable of taking an established character and giving it an interesting and exciting twist. Ultimately all I’m saying is that he has built his career and reputation on doing that on a number of very specific occasions – Captain Britain, Marvelman, Swamp Thing, Watchmen, LoEG. I love ’em all, but I can’t square that with a man who at the same time gets so precious about his own intellectual property.

  5. Agreed… Maybe he gets so precious about his specific IP because there are so few… 😉

    But he still takes the money and lets them use (and abuse) – I think it’s the “artistic integrity” thing – “Okay, destroy them with your soulless Hollywood mitts – but don’t pretend it;s got anything to do with me!” Which is fair enough – I’d hate my creations (unpublished and unrecognised though they are!) to become Hollywood dross and then have the public think I was the creative mind behind them!

    Anyway, Alan is a genius and so is allowed to be an irate bastard in my books!

  6. Hmmm, spent a bit more time thinking about the term “character developer” (at least a minute!) – and it dawned on me that Alan is actually a “character subverter”. He has an intense interest in the shared mythology of the comic book (he’s compared them to Jungian archetypes in the past) – and you can do a lot more powerful stuff when you’re subverting the established mythology rather than creating fresh characters that will have little historical resonance…

    Just a random thought…!

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