Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Importance Of Knowing Who Wrote A Comic

When I got back into reading DC Comics in the late 80's after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, I followed characters, not writers, let alone artists. I asked a fellow comics fan why he read something called Swamp Thing. He replied, "Don't judge it without having read it," to which I replied, "I am not judging it but deciding whether to read it." After all, I decide not to read Mills and Boon romantic novels without having read them and, not having read them, I do not make any judgements about whether they are good or bad romantic novels.

Alan Moore's Swamp Thing is undeniably worth reading but only because it goes far beyond the limits of its title. In fact, Moore's reinvention of the character could more accurately be re-entitled Plant Elemental. I kept hearing the name "Alan Moore." He was writing the best-selling Watchmen. He sometimes wrote in 2000 AD which was one reason why the Swamp Thing fan, who was doing a PhD in Mathematics, sometimes read 2000 AD - something else that I could not understand at the time.

When Alan (having met him, I think we can use first names), addressed Preston Speculative Fiction Society, he was asked, "Did the publishers place any restrictions on what you could write?" and he replied, "No. As long as it was about Swamp Thing, I could write whatever I wanted!"

I thought, "That doesn't leave you much scope," because I had not read it yet. What I had been reading was Miracleman so, when Alan said that Watchmen addressed the same theme of superheroes appearing in the real world, I remarked that I would definitely read that and Alan replied, "Yeah, check it out man!" And I still check it out sometimes to this day.

I told the Swamp Thing fan that he should definitely read the "last Superman story," "Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?" When I showed him my copy, the first thing he said was, "It's written by Alan Moore." I had not looked at the credits. So that is the true story of how I learned the importance of knowing who wrote a comic.

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