Strange Animals 12oct2020: What’s Moore Interesting

Actually landing this a week from the previous one, as promised. It’s amazing how much extra brain space you get when you’re not working all the time and can actually focus on something for more than ten minutes.

Being off social media has also been restful – looking into space when you’re stuck on something rather than at your phone. What a concept.

1. Notes

Future, a graphic novel written by Tom Woodman with art by Rupert Smissen, originally to be published by Unbound Books, has been acquired by Cast Iron Books, who are running a Kickstarter to fund the print run. The campaign just launched, and it’s already more than 90% funded with 19 days to go as I write this. It’s a cool debut book, with a lot of hard work behind it. Check it out!

The initial orders for Giga #1 have exceeded 28,000 copies, which is delightful since I know how much blood and sweat have gone into this book. Let’s celebrate by looking at this sweet, sweet David Mack cover:

I’ve been giving some time to type design this week. I have two of my older fonts on my desk pending a remaster so I can release them, but since “remastering” here means redoing the metrics and rekerning (they were cobbled together at the time the way only a newbie can), I decided to procrastinate by designing a whole new font. It’s still in the initial stages, with only a first pass of the lowercase done so far, but this’ll be my continuing project over next week.

I’m aiming this one for a specific book, and the writer seems to be into it, though we’ll see once I actually use it in a balloon.

It’s clearly a take on Art Deco lettering – I was trying to see if I could imbue that with a calligraphic quality and use it for body copy lettering. I conceptualised most of the letterforms while I was in the dentist’s chair, because it provided some excellent distraction.

As I started actually drawing the letters, I noticed it’s got a similar feel to Kyle Baker’s hand-lettering in The Cowboy Wally Show, which is also an example of Art Deco-style hand-lettering. I tried to lean away from that by adding a flourish to some of the letters, like the z, the g and the a, which sent me into an interesting direction, which I’m thinking of following by creating true italics rather that just a slanted version of the regular, which would make it that much more distinctive.

2. The Show

A few years ago, Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins did a Kickstarter to fund Show Pieces, a series of short films that were intended to lead to a film and/or a tv series. The film is finally here, and you can watch the trailer for The Show here.

Someone at Deadline interviewed Moore about The Show, and while there are a few interesting questions about the film, there are one too many questions about superheroes – for which he’s been giving basically the same answer for the last decade, at least (as you’ll see in the links below), and predictably, people are once again angry that Alan Moore Hates Superheroes™. Leah Moore, herself an excellent writer and incredibly cool person who happens to be his daughter, explains the problem with this in a recent interview (you can watch the full interview here, about her own comics, and more about her father’s work).

The thing about Moore is that he’s an omnivorous autodidact who has far more interesting things to say about the world than the fact that he has, for some very good reasons, distanced himself from a medium and an industry that has caused him more pain than it’s worth. This is ignoring that he’s continued writing some of his best comics in this time – though they’ve not got much to do with capes – and that he wrote one of the most ambitious prose novels of the 21st century (possibly also one of the greatest) in Jerusalem, while also being a practicing magician and performing artist. And he’s willing to talk his ass off about any of these things incredibly entertainingly, and with a delightful sense of irony.

So here’s some free Alan Moore reading that is probably more worth your time than any waffle about the Deadline interview:

Here’s an interview from the time of the Show Pieces Kickstarter where Moore talks about transitioning to writing for the screen.

“Fossil Angels” is Moore laying out his ideas of magic, worship, philosophy and art, contextualising it within the history of magic and natural sciences. Part 1, Part 2.

Here’s an archived Salon interview from 2004 that actually covers a lot of the same ground as the Deadline interview, but gives Moore the space to actually formulate what stories are for in context of rising fascism.

This is one of my favourite “primer” interviews to send people, where Moore breaks down Jerusalem, and his idea of eternalism and anarchy. It’s got the obligatory little bit about superheroes, but the rest is gold.

Being that Moore’s B-sides and rarities are usually as interesting as his bigger stuff, here’s an archived interview about Unearthing, psychogeography, Dodgem Logic, politics and Neonomicon.

And to close out, here’s the Craft Interview – a monumental tome about his approach to writing, what he was trying to accomplish with his comics, and where he falls in context of his own personal canon (good stuff about Big Numbers and From Hell in this one, among many other things).

I also dug up interviews with him that I’d tweeted about when they came out and found these three that I haven’t had a chance to skim through before posting here, so proceed at your peril: a 15,000-word interview with Mustard magazine, a Quietus interview specifically about psychogeography and Iain Sinclair, and an archived one with Believer around the time of Jerusalem that I seem to have been ecstatic about.

If you’ve still not had enough, Pádraig Ó Méalóid also uploaded the text of three of Moore’s spoken word performances. They probably lose something in translation, but since those were live, and I can’t source the audio, this is cool:

And now I just hope someone does a proper, in-depth interview with him about The Show, because from what I hear, it’s a really interesting film.

3. Sundry

One of the nicest things about being part of the comics industry is that now I get sent advance PDFs of some of the comics I’d be buying anyway. Ryan O’Sullivan, Andrea Mutti, Vladimir Popov and Andworld Design did a fantastic job with Fearscape a little while ago, and I just got to read the first issue of the definitely-not-a-sequel A Dark Interlude, which is possibly even better (or just even smarmier if we choose to measure it by its protagonist Henry Henry). You should keep an eye out for it.

Since I’m not on Twitter for a bit, I thought it’d be fun to add some good old-fashioned linkblogging to the mix here at the newsletter (as if the rest of this edition wasn’t already linkblogging).

This week’s reading:

  • Experimental Film – Gemma Files: An intriguing “found footage” horror novel about found footage, that starts out as a film studies essay and turns into a Stephen King book. I enjoyed a lot of it, but it does turn into a King-style “fight against ultimate evil” by the end, and I much preferred its approach before that happened.

  • Diabolical Summer – Thierry Smolderen & Alexandre Clerisse: A sort of metafictional reboot of the old pulp character Diabolik, which wraps a more personal, grounded story around it. It’s an enjoyable enough story about nostalgia and what’s hidden under mundanity, but it’s the pop-art influenced artwork that’s the real star. Apparently the team is working on a Lovecraft-themed follow-up, and I’m looking forward to it.

  • City of Glass – Paul Auster, Paul Karasik & David Mazzuchelli: I don’t know how many times I’ve reread this by now. I lost my copy a while ago, so I got a new one while I was buying one for a friend. This is the comic that originally made me want to make comics, because I saw the way it took a prose book and turned it into a whole ’nuther book without changing the words. I love the prose novel too, but I like the comic just a little bit more.

4. Recommended App

This one’s a tad nerdy. I love my Kobo Libra, but I’m a fiddler by nature, so I was looking for alternative OSes I could install on it, and I found KOReader. I was a bit hesitant to try it on the Kobo (I’m always afraid of bricking a device, but also, I got my Kobo from the US, and god knows if I could get it fixed/replaced), but I saw it had an Android APK, and I installed it to test it on my phone before I committed a whole device to it.

Since I moved to an Android phone from iPhone, I hadn’t found a “just right” DRM-free reading app to replace the handy iBooks (Moon+ and FullReader are both fine, but not great), and honestly, this is the best one yet.

Because it’s built for e-readers, it has a black-and-white-only colour scheme, everything but the book disappears by default, and you can access all the options with gestures from the screen edge. And boy are there a lot of options. You can customise your reading experience in an incredibly granular manner (per book or universally), you can side-load fonts and adjust their contrast, and it can handle most file types you can throw at it (though I’ve stuck to epubs). It’s a little fiddly and the interface takes time to get used to (I mean, it is a custom OS for people who think e-readers don’t have enough options), but once you’re used to those, it’s genuinely an excellent reader for the phone.

Right after I wrote this, I went ahead and installed it on the Kobo, and you know what, it works great! In fact, if you have a Kindle, I’d definitely recommend trying this out, because it’s a far better experience than the default Kindle OS (which is woeful given it’s the world’s most popular dedicated-reading device).

5. From the Commonplace Book

From an article on how Kazuo Ishiguro used dream techniques to write the most polarising (and my personal favourite) of his novels, The Unconsoled:

My wife pointed out that the language of dreams is a universal language. Everyone identifies with it, whichever culture they come from. In the weeks that followed, I started to ask myself, What is the grammar of dreams? Just now, the two of us are having this conversation in this room with nobody else in the house. A third person is introduced into this scene. In a conventional work, there would be a knock on the door and somebody would come in, and we would say hello. The dreaming mind is very impatient with this kind of thing. Typically what happens is we’ll be sitting here alone in this room, and suddenly we’ll become aware that a third person has been here all the time at my elbow. There might be a sense of mild surprise that we hadn’t been aware of this person up until this point, but we would just go straight into whatever point the person is raising. I thought this was quite interesting. And I started to see parallels between memory and dream, the way you manipulate both according to your emotional needs at the time. The language of dreams would also allow me to write a story that people would read as a metaphorical tale as opposed to a comment on a particular society. Over some months I built up a folder full of notes, and eventually I felt ready to write a novel.

Filed under #writing.