The Supreme Writer: Alan Moore
Interviewed by George Khoury
Kirby Collector #30
(Interviewer's note: Lately I'm finding that the more interviews
I do, the more difficult it becomes to write these introductions. Maybe it's
because you never want to overlook the accomplishments of the subject, but when
the subject is Alan Moore it literally becomes impossible and nerve wrecking.
No matter what dictionary you look in, there are no words that can capture either
who Alan Moore is or what he means to comics. But that doesn't mean we
aren't going to give this the old college try.
Alan Moore did something to comic books that was wonderful, magical and
beautiful. He brought a renaissance—a revolution to the art form, armed
only with his vision and his pen. Moore brought a cerebral edge to comics, the
likes of which have never been seen, making innovations and bringing back imagination.
He expanded the boundaries and destroyed any limitations with his storytelling.
His writing gained the love of the fanboys and the respect of the mainstream
because he is a great writer in any medium.
The British six-foot-two resident of Northampton has earned a well-deserved
place in comics folklore alongside Jack Kirby and Harvey Kurtzman. His work
on Swamp Thing, Watchmen, From Hell and other classics will forever stand as
a testimony to the kind of greatness comics can achieve. And every month, a
whole new generation of readers continue to get dazzled by his work on America's
Moore like Kirby is a pioneer and a gentleman. And like the King, we are
all better for having known him and his work. This interview was conducted in
two sessions during a rainy November in 1999.)
THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR: How powerful an influence was Jack Kirby for
ALAN MOORE: Well, I'll have to go all the way back to my very early
childhood for that. I first discovered comics when I was about seven; this would
have been around 1959 or 1960. When I said "comics" I meant American
comics; I had read the homegrown British fare before that, but when I first
came across the Superman and Batman comics of the time, the first couple of
appearances of the Flash, things like that, these were a revelation. I became
completely addicted to American comics, or specifically to the DC Comics that
were available at the time. I can remember that I'd seen this peculiar-looking
comic that I knew wasn't DC hanging around on the newsstand and it looked
too alien. I didn't want to risk spending money upon it when it wasn't
stuff that I was already familiar with. And then I can recall on one day, I
think I was ill in bed—I'd been seven or eight at the time—and
my mother said that'd she get me a comic to cheer me up while I was confined
to the bed. I knew that the only comic that I could think of that I hadn't
actually bought was a Blackhawk comic that I'd seen around. So I was trying
to convince her to sort of pick up this Blackhawk comic, kind of explaining
to her what it was and that it was a bunch of people in blue uniforms. Much
to my initial disappointment she brought back Fantastic Four #3, which I read.
It did something to me. It was the artwork mainly. It was a kind of texture
and style that I've just never seen before. The DC artists at the time,
I didn't really know their names, but their style was the one I was accustomed
to: Very clean, very wholesome looking, and here was something with craggy shadows
with almost a kind of rundown look to a lot of it. It was immediate; literally,
from that moment I became a devoted fan of the Fantastic Four and the other
Marvel books when they came out—particularly those by Kirby. I mean, it
was Kirby's work that I followed more than anybody else as I was growing
up. Just the work in Thor and "Tales of Asgard," the Fantastic Four
during that long classic stretch in the middle, and then when Kirby went over
to DC and the Fourth World books. This was around the time that I was approaching
my psychedelic teenage years and the subject matter of these books seems to
be changing along with me. I absorbed actively every line he drew in those years,
or at least the ones that I was able to lay my hands on. There's something
about the dynamism of Kirby's storytelling. You never even think of it
as an influence. It's something that you grew up with, kind of understanding
that this is just the way that comics were done. So I'd say yeah, that
I would account for the influence of Jack Kirby upon my own work. It's
almost like a default setting for my own storytelling. It's sort of like
if you can tell a story the way Kirby would have, then at least that's
proper comics; you're doing your job okay.
TJKC: Had you read Challengers of the Unknown prior to Fantastic Four?
ALAN: I'd seen the Challengers of the Unknown but I don't think
I'd seen the Kirby issues, I'd only seen a couple of the later ones.
If it had been the Kirby issues for some reason they haven't clicked with
me, but I rather think they were some of his lighter stuff. I saw the Kirby
Challengers stuff later and loved it, but I think the only Challengers of the
Unknown that I had seen at that point was by the later artist that took over
after Kirby moved on from the book.
TJKC: What exactly made those classic Marvel stories so revolutionary?
Was it that the storytelling was more mature than DC?
ALAN: An extra dimension had been added to both the storytelling and
the art. In a sense the DC characters at the time were archetypes to a certain
degree. Archetype means they are one-dimensional. Stan Lee and his collaborators
in terms of the story overlaid a second dimension of character. He gave them
a few human problems. These weren't three-dimensional characters but they
were of a dimension more than what we'd been used to, and something about
the art kind of corresponded with that. With Kirby there was a level of attention
to detail and texture and intensity about the art that seemed to give another
dimension to the super-hero—to the comic book—than what was used at
the time. It just seemed to be much more visceral, much more real. The Human
Torch finding the Sub-Mariner in a bowery slum; that kind of had a visceral
reality to it that was much more engaging.
TJKC: It seems that everyone at the beginning finds Kirby's artwork
a bit awkward. Did it take you a while to get used to it?
ALAN: Well for a while, probably seven or eight pages, but yes there
was that kind of shock of something unfamiliar. But then again, in my life that's
generally been a sign; something I'm almost repulsed by to start with will
be something I'll be enduringly fascinated by later. Some of the underground
artists, the first time I saw their work, genuinely repulsed me, but later I
became addicted to them and the same is true to a different degree with Kirby.
Yeah, looking at his art for the first time there is that shock of something
that is unfamiliar, and at first the shock might feel unpleasant, but pretty
soon it's a strong acquired taste and you have to have more of that.
TJKC: You used to draw more often when you were younger?
ALAN: Yeah, I used to sort of draw. I did my share of Kirby swipes and
sort of old exercise books and that sort of stuff. Yeah, I had delusions of
adequacy as an artist right until the start of my comic book career. It was
only then I realized that I could never draw quickly enough or well enough to
actually make a living on that so I switched over to being a writer.
TJKC: Do you think your style of comics writing is a natural progression
to what Lee and Kirby did in the Sixties?
ALAN: I guess it must be to a degree. That's some of the early stuff
that I saw, so like I said, that's almost a kind of default setting.
TJKC: But namely with your super-hero work....
ALAN: Yeah, but there again that was the only kind of comic I'd
seen at the time: Super-hero comics, really. Even war and western comics were
super-hero comics in drag, so basically that is almost a default storytelling
style. Lee and Kirby: It's just basic. It's something that's
omnipresent—you don't even think about it. You don't even notice
it. It's there like air is there.
TJKC: Have you ever tried writing in the Marvel style? Scripting to
already plotted and illustrated artwork?
ALAN: The nearest I ever got to that is when we were doing 1963; partly
that was a matter of expediency. We needed to be able to do these things quite
fast, without a huge amount of extra typing work for me. Also, it was appropriate
that we did them in a Marvel style. I'd layout a page with, say, six panels
in it. I did two or three pages like that. I phoned them through to Rick Veitch
or Steve Bissette. So what we did was I'd read them the panel descriptions
over the phone like there's somebody in the left foreground, or there's
somebody in the right background. We're in this kind of setting. These
are who the characters are. This is kind of roughly what they're saying
to each other. One of them looks angry. The other one looks impassive. Then
I go through that bit and they send the artwork. Probably before I'd even
seen the artwork, I'd touch up the dialogue and send that over to them.
So I'd get the dialogue done and they'd have to work from that because
I'd already know what was going to be in the panel because I'd described
each panel rather than just give a plot breakdown to the page. So it was a bit
more of a shorthand version than the way I usually write. It wasn't quite
TJKC: I remember hearing that one of your instructions when they were
drawing the 1963 book was that you wanted a rushed look to the art to get that
ALAN: To a degree, I was kind of writing it faster as well. That was
to try and get that thrill, that rush of creativity that I'm sure must
have been a part of working on those early Marvel comics back then.
TJKC: Do you know normally work in full script?
ALAN: I always work in full script—and not only full script, fuller
than normal scripts. My scripts are gigantic. They are huge amounts of detail
and description that the artist is quite free to ignore if they want to. It's
sort of just there if they could use it. So yeah, they are very lengthy scripts.
TJKC: How would you say that you broke into the industry?
ALAN: I started doing a strip for a music paper. I was writing and drawing
a weekly strip for a music paper, Sounds, over here. Then I started doing a
weekly strip for a local paper in Northampton. It just gave me enough to support
myself and my wife and my baby. I could just about support myself. I started
to do script work for the British Marvel Comics on Doctor Who and for 2000 A.D.
doing short stories for them, and slowly started to move more over to script
work. Did the stuff on Warrior and then got snapped up by America. From then
on it was Swamp Thing and all the rest of it.
TJKC: You knew early-on that this was what you wanted to do?
ALAN: I think I always knew that I wanted to be involved in comics in
some way. I think at first I thought I might end up drawing them; when I realized
that wasn't to be, I switched over full tilt to writing them.
TJKC: How far ahead do you usually work?
ALAN: It depends. At the moment with the ABC books, doing five of them,
I'm not really getting a chance to work very far ahead with any of them.
I'm just a little bit ahead of the artist. If time allows, I like to be
as far ahead as possible.
TJKC: What did you think of Kirby's written work? Does it have
certain uniqueness to it?
ALAN: Yeah! There's a primitive power to it. The dialogue, the punctuation;
these things are sometimes a bit strange, but that doesn't take away from
just the raw feeling and energy in those works and storylines. He was somebody
that always shot from the heart. I thought that was a quality that came over
in his writing.
TJKC: Did you feel any excitement when his Fourth World would come out?
ALAN: Oh yeah! I remember that we were all really thrilled by them. I
remember at the comic convention where I actually saw some early copies of Jimmy
Olsen work, just how excited everybody was just to see them coming out—whenever
it was that Kirby's Fourth World stuff came out. Yeah, I can remember everybody
being very thrilled; we were all absolutely devastated when the books seemed
to finish without a proper ending.
TJKC: What was the oddest Kirby book that you ever read?
ALAN: I don't know. Devil Dinosaur, maybe; that was pretty weird.
I don't know, there's a certain oddness to all of Jack's stuff,
it was all pretty wild. Probably Devil Dinosaur if you have to pin me down to
The final product was a bit odd, but Kirby's original proposal for Devil
Dinosaur showed no signs of Moonboy.
(Devil Dinosaur ™ & © Marvel Characters, Inc.)
TJKC: Did you follow his return back to Marvel in the mid-Seventies?
ALAN: I must admit I didn't like it as much as his early Marvel
work or his DC work. It's Jack Kirby so it's all got its own charm,
but compared to the early work; no, I wasn't so thrilled about it. Although
I know of some people who think of that as his best work. I guess it's
a matter of personal taste.
TJKC: From the work that Kirby did on the Fourth World, were you able
to distinguish what Lee and Kirby each contributed to the Sixties Marvel books
ALAN: My position on that without knowing is that I'm sure that
Stan Lee did a lot of contributing to it, but I always got the impression that
probably the bulk of the work was Kirby. That might be being unfair to Stan
Lee, I just don't know; but I get the impression that the bulk of the storytelling
and everything was done by Kirby—and even a lot of the suggestive dialogue,
so I really don't know. You can see a certain polish missing from the dialogue
in the Fourth World books, but there was certainly still all of those powerful
ideas there. I suppose you can draw your own conclusions from that.
TJKC: Probably one of the more positive things that happened to you
when you came to the States was that you were able to meet Jack Kirby in person.
What type of an impression did you get? What did he say to you?
ALAN: It was very brief. It was a bit of a tense time because it was
during that panel where we were talking about getting Kirby's artwork back
from Marvel. So I met Jack very briefly before or after that panel, but all
I remember was that aura he had around him. This sort of walnut colored little
guy with a shackle of white hair and these craggy Kirby drawn features. This
sort of stockiness. I just remember him chatting with me and Frank Miller and
he was saying in this kind of raspy voice, "You kids, I think you're
great. You kids, what you've done is terrific. I really want to thank you."
It was almost embarrassing to have Jack Kirby thanking me. I just assured him
that it was me who should be thanking him, sort of because he had done so much
to contribute to my career. He had a glow around him, Jack Kirby. He was somebody
very, very special.
Moore and Kirby meet at a 1980s San Diego Comicon. Photo by and courtesy of
TJKC: Do you have any favorite Jack Kirby comics or images that stand
out in your head?
ALAN: I really liked some of that Three Rocketeers stuff that he did,
where he was using all those weird collage effects ahead of his Fantastic Four
work. Some of the Galactus stuff in terms of impact, yeah, that was stunning.
Ego, the Living Planet: The page at the end of that issue of Thor where you
suddenly get that full-page picture of Ego, the Living Planet with the little
tiny spaceship of Thor or The Recorder or whoever it was in the foreground;
that is probably the single page that stands out in my mind.
TJKC: You've mentioned often that you've had some regrets
of how Watchmen influenced other comics; is that why you went retro with 1963?
ALAN: I'd been working outside super-heroes for a long time. When
I returned to them I felt that I'd probably prefer that super-heroes have
all of the energy that I remember from the comics of my youth; sort of less
of that misery that Watchmen, in part, had brought to them. So yeah, that was
probably part of the decision to have some fun with an older style of comics
TJKC: One of the many things you wanted to show with 1963 was the difference
between the heroes of yesterday with the heroes of today. Do you feel you were
able to do that?
ALAN: No, we never got to finish that series for various reasons, which
was a shame, and also because events kind of superceded it, but I think pretty
much that would have been the conclusion: To put the two super-heroes in contrast
together. But I guess just the fact that 1963 was appearing on the stands at
the same time as did those heroes kind of made the contrast implicitly anyway.
So yeah, I guess in a way we did, but not as thoroughly as we originally intended.
TJKC: What are some of the differences between the 1963 and 1993 comics?
ALAN: Back in '63, there was a kind of boundless optimism; no matter
how many anxieties or fears there might be hanging over the work, that venues
into this incredible optimism—that everything was possible. That was true
of the artists who were working with the form. They were experimenting. They
were trying things. They were caught up in the energy and experimentation of
the times. I think that perhaps in '93, there were some very good artists
but it seemed like there was a kind of lack of energy. A lack of fierceness
to the work, a lack of desire to push boundaries or to experiment which was
there in the Sixties.
TJKC: How would you describe Kirby's use of mythology and other
genres in his work?
ALAN: It was great. He obviously got a real feel for these archetype
figures. I remember "Tales of Asgard" being some of his best work,
and the way he blended together myth and science-fiction in Thor was terrific.
I thought he got exactly the right degree of relevance for the original material
and exactly the right degree of irrelevance, where he was prepared to sort of
change it and do new things with it; that kind of made the myths live in a sense.
TJKC: One of the most amazing things about Kirby is the more you see
his work, you start to notice the great versatility he had jumping from genre
ALAN: Sure, it's stunning. You look at his westerns, Boys'
Ranch, the romance stuff; that's the sort of thing which I've always
tried to emulate. I've always liked to think that I could have as much
breadth and versatility in my work as Kirby did—obviously in a different
way because I'm a writer and he was an artist/writer. Yeah, I've always
admired that in him. I think more people should. If you're going to take
something from Kirby, don't take just his style; take his sense of adventure,
take his willingness to explore other forms and take a few chances.
TJKC: Society in general still tends to trivialize comics, yet embraces
its concepts in other mediums. Do you think this will ever change?
ALAN: It's already changed to a certain degree. It's changing
by degrees. I don't think it's going to be the overnight change that
we once imaged it might be, but I think we've gained a small foothold,
or I at least think some work has. It can only help to sort of hope that comics
will eventually creep into some social acceptance, although what comics need
social acceptance for, I'm not entirely sure.
TJKC: How did the Demon's appearance on Swamp Thing come about?
ALAN: It was Steve Bissette wanting to use the character because he was
a big Kirby fan; he and John Totleben liked the Kirby run on the character.
I'd seen some of the Demon stuff and so we decided to work from there.
I took from what was the current state of the Demon at that time and tried to
suit it up to serve my own design. Yeah, we got a very good three-part story
out of it.
The cover of Demon #16, pencils by Kirby, and the Rhyming-One as he appeared
under Moore's guidance from Swamp Thing #26, art by Steve Bissette and
(Demon ©DC Comics.)
TJKC: I read that for you to write the character you had to get into
ALAN: Oh yeah, but that's the same with most characters. With the
Demon with those particular rhyming bits of dialogue, that was a little bit
more difficult. I've got a method actor approach to most characterizations,
but with the Demon I was trying to imagine how he might move, he might think
TJKC: I tried to interview Garth Ennis about how Kirby influenced his
Demon run, and he said that your Demon was his influence.
ALAN: Well, that's nice. Garth's a great writer. I'll
always have a soft spot for Garth and his writing.
TJKC: But this is a bit strange, don't you think?
ALAN: I guess so, but then again there are people who love the Fantastic
Four and never saw it while Kirby was doing it. It's a bit strange, but
there are people who like my run of Swamp Thing who didn't know that Len
Wein and Bernie Wrightson created him. It's just how comics is, I guess.
Characters pass from one creator to another and it just depends which phase
of the character you happen to be familiar with.
TJKC: One of my favorite things about Kirby is his use of allegory in
stories. Is this something that stands out for you?
ALAN: Yes, to a degree; in the Fourth World stuff it started to become
more noticeable. It's there, obviously. It was something that he had a
love for. I mean, he liked to philosophize with his work; that is something
that set him apart from a lot of his contemporaries. This was something that
came over when I met him. This was somebody who was a fighter. His work was
part of a struggle to get his ideas across. There was the same sort of spirit
in his artwork as I'm sure he must have had in the streets of wherever
it was he grew up.
They were very broad allegories. They were very grand, magnificent things, which
was appropriate to the stature of Kirby's artwork. I enjoyed his allegories
but I'd have to say that I enjoyed his elemental fantasies every bit as
much. Kirby's allegories were great, but it was mainly just his storytelling,
his artwork, and his vision—the kind of moral that might be drawn from
Kirby's work when you're talking about good and evil, those sort of
generational problems. These are big things that have been explored by lots
of different artists and writers in lots of different mediums, whereas the thing
that I responded to most in Kirby's work was the bit that was individual
and uniquely him in whatever way that was presented. Whether it was in elemental
fantasy like the Fantastic Four or the more allegorical stuff in the Fourth
World saga or even the pretty crazy stuff in Devil Dinosaur. So the thing that
probably drew me to Kirby's artwork was more not the ideological depth,
but just the pure energy of being Jack Kirby.
TJKC: Could you tell me a little about the "New Jack City"
story in Supreme?
ALAN: The basic story was that some sort of mysterious citadel seems
to have appeared overnight somewhere in some high, inaccessible Tibetan mountain
valley or whatever. So Supreme goes to investigate and what he finds is this
bewildering landscape which is in fact a great number of different landscapes
sort of fused together. There's bits of it that look like a 1930s Depression
era bowery slum, where he meets a kid gang and a costumed hero that the kid
gang are obviously accomplices of. They have some battle with a suitably super-villain
type. I believe we have a huge Atlas monster rising from the depths. Supreme
wanders down a tunnel to find himself coming out into a trench of a battlefield
where there are lots of grizzled multi-ethnic soldiers: An obvious Irish one,
an obvious Jewish one, an obvious Black guy, all very much like the Sgt. Fury
line-up and a whole slew of patriotic heroes. This carries on until Supreme
actually meets the supreme creator of this world, who kind of turns out to be
Jack Kirby. This is very difficult to explain because it took a whole story
to tell the story, but it's basically that this gigantic floating head
changes from this kind of Kirby photo montage—the head is changing, it
always looks like Jack Kirby drawn or both. This gigantic entity explains to
him that he used to be a flesh and blood artist but now he is entirely in the
realm of ideas, which is much better because flesh and blood has its limitations
because he can only do four or five pages a day tops, where now he exists purely
in the world of ideas. The ideas can just flow out uninterrupted. He talks about
the very concept of a space where ideas are real, which is the kind of place
to some degree all comic creators work in all their lives, but Jack Kirby maybe
more than most. So it's kind of an idea that being free of a physical body,
this artist is then able to explore endless worlds of imagination and ideas.
Rick Veitch art (with unfinished Supreme figures) from the "New Jack City"
story in Supreme.
TJKC: What is the significance of the Kirbyesque drawings on the ceiling
of the precinct in Top Ten?
ALAN: It's just something Gene (Ha) and Zander (Cannon) decided
upon because they thought there should be a mural in the police station. They
thought, "What would be a good mural style and something that doesn't
look like Gene or Zander's style?" And it just seemed that a Kirby
style would be perfectly suited for murals in the city. So that was Gene and
Zander's idea, but I gather that it was for the reasons I described. They
needed something that looked like a convincing mural style to go with the metropolis
as we presented it in Top Ten that contrasted with their own story, and Kirby
was the perfect choice.
TJKC: Was there ever a Kirby character that you might have wanted to
tell a story for?
ALAN: That's difficult really because I enjoyed doing the Demon
in Swamp Thing back then. I guess that if things had worked out differently
and I had gone to Marvel rather then to DC during that period in the '80s—if
I hadn't had such an early falling out with Marvel—then I guess any
of them might have been fun. Fantastic Four, obviously. Thor was terrific. I
managed to get a lot of that out of my system during the 1963 stuff. All of
Jack Kirby's characters were great. I'd prefer to work with my own
characters now anyway but back when I was working with other people's characters,
it's difficult to think of a character Jack Kirby created that wouldn't
have been interesting to write.
TJKC: In a hundred years time, say, how do you think Kirby's role
in comics will be defined?
ALAN: That very much depends not so much on Kirby's undoubted talent
and genius, but upon the taste of the audience in 100 years. There's a
way things should be and the way things might be. In an ideal world, Kirby should
be realized as someone who did incredibly dynamic poignant work in the comics
medium, but during its very early stages. Work that had an enduring impact and
influence upon everybody that comes after him; that should be how he is remembered.
But of course, there are an awful lot of wonderful comic book artists, for example,
I've never heard of and I don't really care about seeking out, because
they are fixated largely upon an art style or a group of artists who became
popular in the '80s and '90s or whatever, and they don't have
very much regard for history. This is not a sweeping condemnation of comics
fans, but just culturally in general. There are an awful lot of people who do
not deserve to be forgotten who are forgotten because culture is often such
a fickle and shallow thing. I guess that while there are people with the enthusiasm
for Kirby... which is obviously shown in the Kirby Collector. It's your
job—and everybody else who cares about any particular artist's work—to
make sure his or her work is still being discussed in 100 years time, by you
TJKC: It's funny; lately I've been thinking that what Kirby
did in comics can be compared to what Beethoven and Mozart mean to music.
ALAN: Right, you can say for certain that there will still be music in
100 years in some form or another, but we hope that there will be comic books
in 100 years' time.
TJKC: You've said yourself that one of the reasons that you got
into comics was for the aesthetics, the art form. Is there still room for more
ALAN: Of course there is. There's always room for innovations. It
just depends whether there are that many people who care to make them. People
like Jack Kirby are remarkable because they don't come along very often.
There were more people like Jack Kirby in the early days of comics. Individual
creators like a Will Eisner and a Harvey Kurtzman who could have an incredible
impact on the way comics were put together and conceived of. These were sort
of giants. There have been some other people who have made bold experimental
moves. I don't see a lot of that around any more. I see a lot of people
going through the motions; there are people making an effort certainly. It's
been a long time since there was any one individual creator who sort of really
tried to push the boundaries of the medium or to impose a unique individual
style upon things in the way that Kirby did. Yes, the possibilities for comics
are endless but it depends upon coming up with men and women who are just capable
of realizing those possibilities, which is something that is totally unpredictable.
TJKC: I hear all the time from people who say that all the super-hero
stories have been told, that they're done; that these stories and ideas
can only be fresh once.
ALAN: Yeah, so then you have to go to the trouble of actually going and
making something else fresh. It is a bit of work and I can understand how a
lot of creators these days don't really seem to be prepared to do it. They'd
rather wait for somebody else to do the innovation and then jump aboard because
that is much easier. It's much safer in terms of your career. If you wait
for somebody else to prove that it works and then jump aboard, you'll probably
get more out of it in terms of profits—and so will your characters—than
the actual person that did the innovation ever did. You could carry on doing
stories about super-heroes forever. There's still new cowboy stories to
be written. If anybody disbelieves it, they should pick up the works of Cormac
McCarthy and try picking up Blood Meridian and see if that's not a new
way to tell a cowboy story.
I do get a little tired of hearing people saying that everything is done that
can be done. "All the great innovations were in the past." What kind
of culture would we have if everyone always thought like that? Certainly people
have been thinking like that for a long time. I'm sure that ever since
any form of art or music began there's always been a huge crowd of people
thinking, "Well, that's it, really," thinking, "How could
we ever top this?" And then somebody comes along who doesn't believe
that and doesn't buy into that—doing something which is completely
revolutionary and changes everything around, and then everyone is euphoric for
however long it takes for the buzz to wear off, and then they say, "Well,
now all the great ideas have been had. There's no possibility of anything
in the future"; which I think is a weak and defeatist attitude. I think
that any creator worth their thoughts should not be believing that there is
a point further down the highway, but trying to reach it.
Creativity or the advance of any medium is like one of those old Warner Brothers
cartoons, where you'll have a railroad train running across the desert
with Daffy Duck having to chop up the railroad train itself in order to lay
tracks in front of the train. I don't know if you are familiar with the
particular cartoon image I've got in m'head: Sort of laying tracks
in front of you where there are no tracks, which is a giant leap of faith. You
have to first believe that there is something in front of you, then you have
to do your best to actually reach that point rather than say, "We've
reached the very edge of creativity because I can't think of anything to
do. Therefore, I will decide that the entire humanity has reached the edge of
creativity just because I've given up," which is a very cowardly and
If only more artists could grab the medium by the horns in the way that Jack
Kirby did and sort of decide that they are going to make up their minds whether
we've reached the end of ideas and whether there might be a few more in
there. My basic position is that ideas are infinite, limitless, but it just
depends whether we're prepared to do the work to actually bring them in.
Whenever you get creators talking about some inherit fall or failure in the
medium or in any particular genre, they are mainly talking about their own flaws
and failings in their own creativity. You can't blame the medium: "I
guess there weren't that many super-hero ideas. I guess that we've
used them all up." It reminds me of the ancient Greeks when they were coming
up with all these myths in the first place. The world of ideas is inexhaustible
and infinite. You just have to find them, which an awful lot of people are not
prepared to do. They'd rather let someone like Jack Kirby do all the hard
work and mining and the back-breaking; mining an industry for thirty or forty
years and then the nuggets that he happens to throw to the surface always find
them and they put a new spin on them. They don't want to do the hard work
themselves. This is not a blanket condemnation of the whole industry. I think
it's fair to say there are a number of people in the industry who are much
happier sort of working with stuff that's already been placed, rather than
to try and build up their creative muscles and do some of that work themselves.
But that's just my own particular feeling I'm sure.
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