Saturday, 11 January 2014

Meaningful Narratives

Are the DC and Marvel universes "...meaningless..." as Alan Moore described them in his recent interview with Padraig O'Mealoid (see earlier link)? Maybe they are neutral territory but it is possible to create meaningful narratives within them, as Alan Moore himself proved. I used to reflect on the superficiality of superhero fiction which never, for example, deduced any social consequences from its fantastic premises. A friend replied, "They are only comics," but the telling of a story in both pictures and words need not entail that the story has to be simplistic. On the contrary: films do not have to be either insubstantial or uni-dimensional.

I never suspected that someone, namely Alan Moore, would address what I saw as this specific lack in comics. I could not have filled the vacuum that I was all too aware of but was well primed to appreciate the work of someone who could do so and who thereby opened the door to many successors now consistently writing comics at a qualitatively higher level than before. We do not know how much of this would have happened eventually even without Alan Moore but we do know that he did a lot of it and gave a lead. Neil Gaiman came back into reading, then writing, comics because of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing.

I am not taking sides between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. I have had time to read just some of Moore on Morrison and vice versa but not all of it, thank the gods, because I am not setting out to judge this case. They present factually different accounts of their first meeting. This alone warns us not simply to read and accept one of the accounts. In Alan's account, Grant was, at that time, an aspiring writer. In Grant's account, he was already a published writer. He claims that publication dates bear this out. So maybe Alan was not aware of it at the time? Thus, neither of them needs to be lying.

My impression of Grant, only an impression subject to revision in the light of any further information, is that he is at least not as bad as Alan perceives him. But, if he were, then the way to address the issue would be by private talks between them, not in a public forum.

The question implicit at the beginning of this post, what sort of fiction do we need to address current reality, is a weighty matter and I feel privileged to be able to address it in however small a way in a public discussion.

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