Saturday, March 10, 2012

Monsters, Maniacs, and a little bit Moore



Monsters, Maniacs, and a little bit Moore
By Howard Lee
More than Just Comics

Alan Moore’s Watchmen graphic novel is now a major motion picture sans Alan Moore’s name on the credits. But that is typical Alan Moore when it comes to turning his stories into movies. But I remember a time when Alan was more that happy to lend his name to the media. In the late 80’s Alan Moore hosted a special about himself called “Monsters, Maniacs, and Moore” on British TV Channel Four where Alan interviewed a special guest namely Alan Moore. This is not a review of that program but my own memories of meeting Alan Moore in London in 1984 and working with him on a special project to benefit AIDS research. That’s why I called this “Monsters, Maniacs, and a little bit Moore”.

As I mentioned I first met Alan Moore at a comic book convention in London in 1984 at the time Alan was not the “comic god” he is now, but he was definitely on his way. I was at the convention when three people walked up to my table. Now normally I don’t give people a second look unless at the time they are buying from me. (Back then I was a money grubber I mellowed a bit) Two of the people seemed like ordinary comic collectors a man and a woman. But the second man was dressed to attract attention with an all white suit top hat, cane, long hair and beard, he was hard to miss.

I don’t know why he came over to my table, maybe because I was just as unusual as he was being an African-American comic dealer from Chicago at a London comic con. So Alan walks over to my table and starts to look over my books. “Do you have American Flagg” he asked. “Yes, I do under my table I was saving them to put out later today”. “I know how hard they are to get here”. I said “Yes they are, can you get more” He said. “Yes, I can let me have your name, I can send you issues from the States”. I looked at the card and saw the name Alan Moore Comic Writer. “Alan Moore, you write ‘Swamp Thing’ right?”. “Yes that’s me” He said. “You know ‘Swamp Thing’ is a big seller in my shop in Chicago” “So what are you working on now?” I asked. “Well, I am writing some new Swamp Thing stories, a couple D.R. and Quench for 2000 AD and new stories Miracle Man, and V for Vendetta”. “But mostly I am working with other artist and writers on a book to help AIDS awareness”. “If there is anyway I can help let me know, I would be glad to” I said. “Ok let’s talk later”. Then Allan and crew moved to the next table.

After I got back to my shop I called Alan at home. “Alan I have an idea for you, I was thinking about what you said about your AIDS awareness book”. “What is it going to be called” I said. “Strip AIDS the book is artwork done by top comic and writers, all the profits are going to AIDS research and prevention” “So what’s your idea?” he said. “Well, I am having an Underground Comic Book Party at my store this week. With underground comic artist Jay Lynch, Kim Deitch, Skip Williamson, Dan Clouse, and Monty Beaucamp the publisher of “Blab”. I said “That’s great, I would love to meet those guys I have a lot of their work” “You know I used to draw underground comics, “I did a version of Fat Freddy’s Cat” he continued “I have to send you some, Did you contact Robert Crumb about this?”. “Yes I did but, he did not want to come, but he does support what we are doing”. I said. “What about you Alan do you want to come? I asked. “I can’t, I am working on two new stories for “Swamp Thing” and “Miracle man”. “But do you think the guys would send me some artwork from the party for the Strip AIDS book? He said. “I am sure they will, I will make it part of the party”. “What about you are you going to do some artwork? I asked. “I am thinking about it”. He said. “Ok Alan, I will call you after the party to let you know who came”. Then I ended the call.

On the day of the Underground party we had artists Jay Lynch, Dan Clouse, Kim Dietch, Fred Williamson, Monty Beaupcamp, and surprise guest Del Close all at my store for a night of celebration of Underground comics. During the party I told them about my conversation with Alan and he was a fan of their work. Some of them like Jay Lynch did not know much about Alan or his work so I show them copies of Swamp Thing written by Alan Moore. But Dan Clouse of artist and writer of Lloyd Llewellyn did read Alan work and was surprise that Alan read his work. [Hey, it was the 1984 Alan wasn’t that well known then] I along with Monty Beaupcamp of Blab magazine got the entire artist together and we did a montage of all of their most famous characters, but left the middle spot open for Alan’s contribution. Then we all took a photo for Alan to send him with the artwork.

The next day I called Alan and told him what happened at the party and about the artwork that was done by the underground artist. “Well, Alan it’s up to you now you are my last guest of the Underground comics’ party”. “I am sending you the montage” I said. “So can we use the artwork in the Strip AIDS book?” Alan asked. “Yes, you can just send me some copies of the book when it is done so I can give them to the artist at the party.

About a month later I got a package from Alan inside was copies of the completed artwork with Alan’s Maxwell's Magic Cat meekly standing in the center of the with an autograph book raised up toward the other underground characters with the caption “”I you guys older stuff”. So I got into touch with the other artist and let them know that Alan completed the artwork and sent them all signed copies to keep. Here is where is where they surprised me they told me to keep all the copies as souvenirs of the Underground comics party. Then several months later the Strip AIDS book came out with artwork from the Underground party as part of the book. Even though I don’t have the artwork any more I am still proud of my meeting and working with Alan Moore, the underground artist, and the project we worked on to help bring awareness about the problem of AIDS all over the world.

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