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.