11 Nov

Insane or genius? The Mindscape of Alan Moore.

Posted by Bryan White | Tuesday November 11, 2008 | Reviews

I’m not into comics like I used to be.  As I got older, the medium failed to mature with me in a mainstream sense and I wound up leaving most of my old favorite titles behind.  Briefly at the end of the 90’s, I experienced a period of renewed interest in the capes books again thanks to people like Grant Morrison being involved but I fell out again, mostly because those god damn things cost so much these days.  I still have a few contemporary favorites but the medium’s most revolutionary creators are still at the top of my list with books that they published in the 80’s.  Among them, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore.

For my money, Alan Moore is one of the most fascinating minds in the entire world and if I could spend a half hour picking his brain and analyzing the timeless qualities of his comics, even the ones deeply rooted in British domestic policy in the 1980’s, I could then die happy.  He’s the prototype of the contemporary insane British comic book personality exemplified by people today such as Warren Ellis and the aforementioned Grant Morrison.  Even his most mainstream books were on the edge, flirting with seriously subversive ideas about what constitutes a hero in these modern times. But there’s a lot more to Moore, ahem, than you might think and this excellent documentary lets the enigmatic writer tell you all about it in his own words.

Summing up the plot of documentaries is tough because I’m tempted to tell you everything while the movie should be doing that, but The Mindscape of Alan Moore takes the conventional route in the beginning.  We get a look at Moore’s Black Sabbathy beginnings in shit-industry England among a desperately poor backdrop, chronicling his early experiences with comics and his rise to status as writer until the whole thing shifts gears and starts explaining Moore’s philosophies of life, the universe and everything.  What begins as your average biographical documentary winds up with Moore explaining how we’re all one spirit, the spirit of the universe and how by 2015 the human race will have accumulated more knowledge in a tenth of a second than we had in our first 50,000 years of existence.

Moore is operating on a much higher level than the rest of us.  His understandings of human relationships with one another is entirely stranger than anything you could conceive of and his understanding of our relationship to everything else is even weirder.  Director Dez Vylenz does his best to sort it all out and present it in some linear fashion that the average comic fan is going to be able to understand.  With the approaching Watchmen feature, smart money says that whether he wants it or not, Moore is going to be getting a lot more attention than he might want and the doc serves as a vehicle to answer a few questions about the man who just isn’t up to answer your questions or sign your copies of Watchmen from the original print run.

The film is peppered with some creative moments featuring Moore’s explanations of how comic x came about in the form of V suiting up for a night in fascist England while Rorschach is seen is writing in his diary as passages are read from both V For Vendetta and Watchmen.  Unfortunately, most of it is a straight on shot of Moore smoking and talking and while he’s completely fascinating and everything he says is entirely interesting there’s not much more to it.  There’s truth in advertising by calling it The Mindscape of Alan Moore but I think what I was expecting was more information about Moore rather than a rambling philosophy of a guy who practices magic and studies the tarot as if he were the new Aleister Crowley.  The entire film has this quality to it that suggests that no one is at the controls and that it’s going wherever Moore is taking it, though, and it seems quite dangerous.  Where it begins with comic books, it takes a sharp left turn around half way through and starts addressing some seriously esoteric ideas yet never loses steam.  It may even inspire some people to either read The Book Of Law or smoke pot.  Whichever will suffice.

The Mindscape of Alan Moore is a solid document about one of the world’s most unsung thinkers, a seriously heavy dude with a big-ass beard and intimidating finger armor.  If you, like me, have ever wanted to know what makes the most important contemporary comic book writer tick, this is the place to go.  You’ll find that he’s completely crazy, totally paranoid and makes a persuasive argument about why you should also be crazy and paranoid like that.  You’ll also find out why there isn’t more genuinely quality comic book porn.

8 Comments 

  1. November 11, 2008 2:16 pm

    thebonebreaker

    I am going to go add to this to my Netflix Queue, right now!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. November 12, 2008 12:53 pm

    NekroDave

    Cool, I had not heard of this. I’ll have to check it out.

    Just yesterday, I placed my order for the preview of his new horror book, “Alan Moore’s Neonomicon Hornbook”. The preview should be out in January and the regular in fall 2009.

  3. November 13, 2008 12:30 pm

    jsc4president

    awesome man. I had no idea there was an Alan Moore doc. His best work was Swamp Thing IMO… And Grant Morrisons is/was animal man… just an fyi

  4. November 13, 2008 1:38 pm

    Bryan White

    If I had to put a finger on my favorite Alan Moore, it’s definitely V For Vendetta. I totally love it. But his Swamp Thing run constitutes what I consider to be the perfect comic book. That heaven and hell arc that introduces John Constantine nearly brought a tear to my eye in the end.

    Also, I’ve been meaning for years to read Morrison’s run on Animal Man but I never remember to pick them up when I’m in a comic store. Of what I have read of his, I can’t see how anything can top The Invisibles. He also did a one-shot called Kill Your Boyfriend that I think is the shit. The copy I have is so beaten up from being read by everyone I know.

  5. November 14, 2008 11:11 am

    jsc4president

    wish you lived in NYC so i could take a look at (your copy of) Kill Your Boyfriend. lol I have been looking for that comic for the past 6 months and have opted not to take the easy route and buy it via ebay.

    I never really understood the value of Morrison’s Doom Patrol… i had the first few issues of his first story line.. Crawling from the Wreckage and it did not capture my attention. I will look at the Invisibles. I often confuse the Invisibles and the Filth.

    Meanwhile…. there is a website where they analyze ever single panel of Watchmen,…. page by page… book by book. All i can say is that Moore and Gibbons were absolutely brilliant with the detail of each issue. Of course, i am anti-Watchmen movie… so i dont discuss Watchmen like i used to.

    Overall… i think DC Vertigo has produced some of the finest comics in our lifetime. I am 32 years old and would assume you are a similiar age.

  6. January 14, 2009 9:30 am

    Jeremy Couturier

    I really admire Moore and his seemingly Grumpy Old Man attitude. His work overall really outshines Miller, who with the Spirit movie, shows the lack of depth in his writing skills AGAIN! This is the reason why Moore is against people filming his works. I mean if the source material is so great why change it. I hope Moore never changes, although the Watchmen movie looks great. If Dave Gibbons was impressed thats a good sign to me.

  7. January 14, 2009 9:59 am

    Bryan White

    I’ve had this argument with people about Frank Miller, but I really like his books. The Daredevil run is so great. It’s not quite Dark Knight Returns but you could see that he was trying to move Daredevil in that direction to make him a darker more serious character. Great stuff. I also LOVE Sin City. But I don’t know what happened to Miller. At some point he started embracing mediocrity and hasn’t kicked out anything good in a really long time. His flirtations with film have been disastrous, though.

  8. January 15, 2009 1:18 am

    Jeremy Couturier

    I LOVED the Born Again series, just amazing and his 80s work is stellar but after Sin City he seems to be coasting. Really I wouldn’t criticize him if I weren’t such a fan. That being said my affection for Will Eisner and the Spirit run deep. Miller grew up idolizing Eisner and is greatly influenced by the man. The movie could have been so much more. Now the general public views the Spirit as some shallow Sin City knockoff.


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