The Alan Moore on a Train Meme

I’ve been watching Jonathan Ross’ In Search of Steve Ditko this evening and as I do sometimes it got me thinking. If Alan Moore sat down on a train opposite me, what would I say? Simply not talking to him wouldn’t be an option – this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive wisdom directly from the Great Man after all. But by the same token, asking for his autograph or asking obvious, overtly fannish questions would be out of the question as well.

So my question to you dear reader, is what three questions would you ask Alan Moore if you met him on a train? My three would be:

1. What do you make of AARGH!? Was it a success? Do you think it helped challenge prejudice? For those who don’t know, AARGH! – or Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia – was a protest book edited by Moore in 1988 to protest against Section 28. While it contains some strong content, it also includes two pieces which have always bothered me. The piece by Frank Miller is a clear case of the hardnut of comics having his cake and eating it by getting to “protest” against homophobia by producing several pages of what appears to be blatantly homophobic itself. This remember is the man you regards Socrates-murdering Athenians to be gay while the Spartans are the height of hetero-manliness. The piece by Brian Bolland, while less obviously exploitative, is by a man clearly uncomfortable with homosexuality.

It’s fascinating because here are a bunch of broadly liberal artists struggling with a topic like homosexuality in a way that my generation really takes for granted. Given that, and the fact that AARGH! fairly obviously failed to get the law stopped, I’d be fascinated by Alan Moore’s take on it 20 years later.

2. How would your ideal system of intellectual property rights work? In particular, what do you think of ideas like Creative Commons. Alan Moore has always struggled with publishers over creators’ rights and much of his best work has been work-for-hire, something which clearly grates with him. But ideas like Creative Commons conflict to some extent with the creators’ rights movement that had such an influence on the comics industry in the early 90s.

3. Did you ever really intend to continue Halo Jones beyond book 3? Halo Jones Book 4 is often hailed as one of the greatest comic books never written. It is rumoured even that Alan Moore originally intended there to be nine Halo Jones books. Yet I’ve always had my doubts over this. I always assumed that the “history” sections in books two and three were merely meta-narrative which served to give the character a certain mystique which Moore never really intended to fully explore. Book three ends perfectly to me and I’m not convinced I’d want the story to continue afterwards. And finally, with the possible exception of Big Numbers, Alan Moore does not appear to have ever let a project of his dangle if he still had a story to tell. His fallings out with comic companies tend to happen after the work is complete, not during (unlike, for example, Rick Veitch’s falling out with DC over his Jesus / Swamp Thing storyline).

Those are my three questions; what would yours be? To kick this off, I tag Alex Wilcock, Millennium Elephant, Nick Barlow, Justin McKeating, Mat Bowles and Jennie Rigg. If you want to do this meme and I haven’t tagged you, feel free to do so any spread the word!


  1. Oh, no idea. Or something incredibly fannish about his Doctor Who Weekly back-up strips from three decades ago, which my friend Stephen and I thought were amazingly cool and talked about incessantly at about the age of 8 (‘Did you know you inspired Lawrence Miles? Who inspired Russell T Davies? So you’ve sort of written the new series… Ow, ow, stop hitting me’). Hmm. As they’re unlikely to be reprinted, perhaps I should scan in my fragile old issues…

    I usually struggle to say something intelligent to people at signings – varying from arguing about Lloyd George with Philip Madoc to just being overawed by Julian Glover, though only one author has actually threatened to hit me with a stick – but I did once completely fail to talk to Paul McGann in a train carriage.

    Have to agree with you on Halo Jones – perfect ending, and I loved the historical framing (which probably inspired the New Adventures, etc).

    I’ll get hold of an AARGH, though (quite right on Frank Miller; might have bothered seeing 300 if they’d been proper kick-ass gayers. What next, Amazon blokes?).

  2. I’ve not actually got round to getting a copy of this yet – must do – so can’t say what it’s like, but if you’ll forgive the linkspam, here’s what Mr Moore calls “not only the first screen adaptation of my work that I’ve actually watched more that the first five minutes of before being overcome with rage and disgust, it is the only screen adaptation of my work that I’ve enjoyed from start to finish and can say I thoroughly approve of”:

    Richard has now surfaced and suggests that, on top of Amazon blokes, Mr Miller could re-imagine Wonder Woman: Wonder Man! Who, I imagine, would have a beard. Much like the ‘Spartans’.

  3. I was sat next to David Bishop on a flight from Edinburgh to Birmingham, and in all the time I only managed to pluck up the courage to determine that it actually was David Bishop, and to find out that he was going to Birmingham for a Doctors Academy.
    For the rest of the flight I just got on with studiously reading my Observer.
    Hopefully he didn’t think I was a stalker when I ended up taking the same train route in Birmingham…

  4. No, no, no. Frank Miller wouldn’t make Amazons men and I’m sure he’d love to get his hands on Wonder Woman. He would however dress them all as hookers, give them gimp S&M boytoys to drag around on leashes and have the leader smoke a cigar.

    The twist would be that several of these strong, beautiful amazon types would then get brutally beaten up in the most horrendous way possible by thickset ugly men. This would not be done in an exploitive, pornographic way, you understand. It would simply be added for realism.

  5. On various train journeys in recent years I have found myself sitting near Paul Cornell (whilst reading Human Nature!) nice chap – have subsequently chatted to him at the Faringdon Arts Festival and Gareth David-Lloyd (who was on his way to the read-through for the last series at the time.)

    Yesterday I told a woman off on the train for using her mobile in the quiet carriage. She then spotted that I was reading DWM and asked if I had read the interview with Thomas Knight yet. Turned out the young boy and girl with her were the younger Knights!

  6. This is starting to sound competitive! I did see Kim Newman on a Number 73 bus a few months ago but I didn’t summon the courage to talk to him, even though I had a book of his in my hand at the time.

  7. Sadly I’d ask him why he’s been so up his own arse recently, slagging off the film versions of V for Vendetta and Watchmen, and describing himself as ‘Magician and writer’.
    I’ve just found out he’s written Jerusalem, a follow-up to the stunning Voice of the Fire – so that’s answered my second question!


    Only slightly off topic, I stumbled across some Mooreage here:

    ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Which comedies do you like watching?
    ALAN MOORE: Well, over here, at the moment, we’ve had some very good ones. There’s The Mighty Boosh, which is [Laughs] idiotically wonderful, childish, surreal, fantasy. There’s also a show called Snuffbox, and it’s one of the darkest, funniest comedies I’ve seen in ages. And I’m a very big fan of South Park.
    EW: Have you seen the Trapped in the Closet episode?
    MOORE: [Sings] I’m trapped in the closet! Yeah, that was terrific. I thought the way that South Park handled that bit with the Scientologists was wonderful. I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta [Guy Fawkes] masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow.

    Okay, that’s it, I still love him.

  9. Having clicked around the links tracking the meme responses I’m just amazed at how many people have actually really bumped into Mr Moore! And here I was thinking he lived in a Crystal Cave, cut off from the real world…

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