Talking to an Extraordinary Gentleman of letters part one – Pádraig chats with Alan Moore

Published On May 6, 2009 | By Joe Gordon | Comics, Interviews, Pádraig's interviews

Well we’ve been teasing you for a while now that Pádraig Ó Méalóid had managed to get his travel visa stamped for entry to that strange, sometimes amusing, sometimes disturbing, always fascinating mythical land which lies on a distant part of the ever changing map that is formed from the mind, thoughts and words of Mister Alan Moore, our island nation’s wizard of words. Well the teasing is over and its time to make good on it all – Alan has indeed very kindly given a generous portion of his time and spoken to Pádraig at length. In fact at such length we’re going to have to present this to you in three parts as we fear to bring it all forth in one piece would make it a bit much to read in a single sitting and besides, such a large helping of Moore in one piece could potentially warp reality in much the same way that a singularity warps gravity. Not that we have anything against warping reality, you understand – actually we’re quite partial to it –  but everything in moderation, as they say.

So with the first part of the brand new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Century:1910, published by Top Shelf in North America and Knockabout in the UK) about to hit the shelves, the first of a three volume series which will take us through a century to the modern day, we present the first part of this interview, which mostly concerns itself with matters League related, the importance and uses of music, serial killers, gangsters (both real, fictional and even the comedic), Michael Moorcock, New Worlds and much more, even drawing in the Clangers and Monty Python. Over to Pádraig and Alan:

Alan Moore Pádraig � Méalóid.jpg

(for the Reservoir Dogs reunion Mr White and Mr Blue decided to dress down)

Pádraig Ó Méalóid: The first part of the next volume of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is coming out in May, I believe.

Alan Moore: I believe so.

PÓM: Do you want to give us a brief rundown on that?

AM: Yeah, me and Kevin [O’Neill] are really excited about it. Kevin is just off to America in a couple of hours’ time, and has been told that the first copies will be waiting for him in his hotel when he gets to California, and he’s going to send them on to me. We’re both incredibly excited about it. It’s, I mean, I’ve only seen the first six pages of Ben Dimagmaliw mouth-watering colours but I can’t wait to see the whole thing as it was intended.

This is promising to be I think the most exciting book of the League, at least for me and Kevin, since it appeared. We’re pushing into new ground, we’re telling a different kind of story and, because we’re progressing over the three books that make up this third volume, we’re progressing from 1910 to 2009, it’s quite a dizzying rush of culture, because of course in the League’s world, we’re not talking about what the world was exactly like in 1910, we’re talking about what the world of fiction was like in 1910, or in 1969, or in 2009.

League of Extraodinary Gentlemen Century 1910 Moore ONeill.jpg

(cover to the League of Extraodinary Gentlemen Century: 1910 by and (c) Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill, published by Top Shelf and Knockabout)

So, that alone has made a difference to the kind of story that we’re telling simply because, when we were doing the first two books of the League, set in the nineteenth century, we were pretty much limited to fictional characters from the novels and books of that period or of, you know, earlier periods, whereas, of course, since the end of the nineteenth century our number of entertainment media has greatly expanded, so in the first book, in 1910, we’re taking advantage of that by expanding into opera, or at least into the stage musical perhaps, with Berthold Brecht’s Threepenny Opera. So, we weren’t sure how that was going to work as a comic book but, the answer is, it works splendidly.

I was a bit worried that what was going to happen was that it was going to be like all those bad Elvis Presley movies, where he’s sitting there in a café and somebody throws him a guitar and then everybody starts singing in syncopation, and it completely destroys the reality of the scene. So we thought that might happen with some of the very tense and dramatic scenes that we’ve got in this first part of volume three, but actually it turns out that having a kind of Greek chorus, singing along with the scenes, it kind of heightens their reality, rather than decreases it. It underlines the emotional and dramatic reality of the scenes in a way that we hadn’t expected, so we’re really pleased with that, and Kevin’s artwork is a joy to behold. It’s stunning, I mean I think it’s his best yet – I know I say that with every new volume of the League, but that’s I think genuinely because we push a little bit further with each one.

So, yeah, I think that I can promise, we can promise the readers a very interesting ride on this one, and I think we’re taking the League into new territory that we haven’t explored before although, for those who liked the gas-lit era, you know, the 1910 volume should at least, it’s only twelve years after the Martian invasion, so it should be comfortable enough for them, but for people who are looking forward to us getting to grips with the Swinging Sixties and the present day, I think that it’ll be quite an enjoyable ride. So, yeah, that’s going to be out, I believe, at the end of April. It’s all looking good.

PÓM: Now, because there’s musical input in 1910, is there going to be musical input in 1969 and 2009 as well?

AM: There certainly is. In the 1969 one, which I’ve already written, there are some songs that are pastiches, if you like, of actual songs of the period. There is also a really brilliant Berthold Brecht song in that second chapter where, it’s a kind of an epilogue to the second chapter which, as we’ve said, it mostly takes part in 1969, but there’s a very bleak little epilogue that is set in 1976, which of course was the Punk era, and we’ve got – whereas in the first, in the 1910 edition, one of the people who sings most of the songs, other than MacHeath himself, who sings a couple of them, but the main person who sings them is Suki Tawdry.

In the 1976 version we’ve got a punk band called Suki and the Tawdrys who are doing a number that is, it’s a Berthold Brecht piece called The Ballad of Immoral Earnings, but because this is the punk version it’s now called Immoral Earnings in the UK, and so, yeah, that’s carrying on, and into the third book, where I’m hoping to work in a couple of Brecht songs – suitably updated for 2009 – but I’m hoping to include – ‘cause I’ve just started writing that, so I’m only about four or five pages in, but I’m hoping to include The Cannon Song and also The Moon Over Soho.

PÓM: And what’s that from?

AM: I think that’s from the Threepenny Opera as well…

PÓM: OK, yeah.

AM: “So where’s your moon over Soho.”

PÓM: I don’t remember…

AM: It was certainly in the film version.

PÓM: OK, I read it recently, just for preparation, and I don’t remember that. Now, hang on a second. You’re setting it in 1910, the first part of Century. Isn’t Threepenny Opera set at the coronation of Queen Victoria?

AM: No, I believe it’s set at the coronation of King George V, which was when Haley’s Comet was passing over, in 1910, and certainly in – ‘cause there are versions…

PÓM: Yeah, that was what I was thinking, ‘cause the one I read was set – I mean, I know they virtually threw together the Threepenny Opera really, at the time. In a way it was just somebody translated the other thing, the Beggar’s Opera…

AM: Yeah, John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera, I mean, we’ve established that John or Jack MacHeath is a descendant of Captain John MacHeath from John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera, so we’ve kind of brought them into continuity together, but we’ve kind of taken it a bit further in that we’ve looked at some of the influences upon Brecht’s Mack the Knife, and one of the obvious ones seemed to be Jack the Ripper, so we’ve conflated Mack the Knife and Jack the Knife. We’ve come up with a credible fictional way in which the fictional Whitechapel murderer, who I think Mina referred to in the first volume…

LOEG Century Jack MacHeath sings.jpg

(back from the sea, MacHeath sings his return to London in LOEG: Century 1910)

PÓM: Yes, she does, yeah.

AM: She does, in passing, so it’s obvious there has been a Whitechapel murderer in the League’s world, but this is obviously the fictional Jack, so what we’ve done is, we’ve taken – as opposed to From Hell, where it was all taken from accounts that were supposed to be true – what we’ve done is taken it from the accounts that were self-confessedly fictional. So we’ve got the scene from Pandora’s Box, which was done by Pabst in the twenties, starred Louise Brooks, and which was based upon a play called Earth Spirit by Frank Wedekind, and which starred the unfortunate goodtime girl Lulu, and at the end of the film – and at the end of the play – she brings home the wrong customer, and he turns out to be Jack the Ripper.

Now the film, which was done in the twenties, seemed to be referring to a slightly earlier period. It seemed to be set in around about 1910, which is twelve years after Jack the Ripper had been prowling the East End so we thought, “Well, maybe there’s some way we can tie that together logically.” We also noticed that in the marvellous film The Ruling Class with Peter O’Toole there’s a kind of coda to that film which also involves Jack the Ripper, and also seems to be set in around about 1910, or thereabouts, sort of.

But anyway, what we’ve done is, we’ve actually come up with quite a logical explanation as to how all these things could have happened, and could all have been related to each other. We’ve tied that in with the Doctor Stanley story, where Doctor Stanley is the fictitious name for an early Jack the Ripper, he was said to have left for Argentina after the final murder, so that’s how we’ve worked the dates out, and it all fits in quite nicely and, actually, MacHeath is a fantastic character to work with. I think me and Kevin both enjoyed it, and he gets some of the best songs and the best lines in the entire book.

The other character that we take from Brecht, the other major character, is Pirate Jenny. I’ve always found that a spine-tingling song, whether it was being done by Judy Collins or whether it was being done by Nina Simone, it’s just such a wonderful song.

PÓM: Yeah. The version I first came across was the Steeleye Span one.

AM: Steeleye Span, they did one?

PÓM: Yeah, they did. It’s great!

AM: Fantastic. There was somebody who did one on that Lost in the Stars, the Hal Willner compilation, which was also very good. Loads of Kurt Weill songs. But, what we’ve done is, we’ve kind of inverted the original Brechtian song a little bit, without changing it. I mean, in the original Brecht and Weill version it’s a very sad song. It’s full of anger, but it’s impotent anger. It’s somebody who’s in a really miserable position, and her only consolation is these spectacularly violent fantasies, in which she is able to take revenge upon all the people who’ve sneered at her and have downtrodden her.

Whereas, in the League, it’s actually a lot more serious than that. It’s not an innocent fantasy any more because of the way we’ve worked the Pirate Jenny character into the overall League narrative. She actually is what she thinks she is, which provides quite a rousing climax, me and Kevin feel, to the book. I mean we were, I have to say, we were fuelled by anger for a lot of this first part of the third volume, just because this was what we were doing when we were still getting messed around by our former publisher.

So, yeah, I think it’s fairly safe to say that we did take out a lot of our rage in the final scenes of the comic. I think that’s particularly true, I mean, you can probably hear it in most of the song lyrics all the way through. In Kevin’s drawing I can – there’s a climactic double-page spread that I won’t spoil by telling you anything about – but that was, I believe Kevin deliberately leapt ahead, because he normally does it a page at a time, but he leapt ahead to the specific illustration, because that was the day that he’d been told that they weren’t going to be bringing out the record with the Black Dossier, so he got a lot of the spleen out of his system, and I think that when the readers actually get the book and see the page, the spread that I’m talking about, they will understand the strength of our feelings over these issues, you know.

Yeah, I mean, it didn’t do any harm to the story, in fact I think it rather spices it up a little, you know, the genuine black rage which informs at least the final pages of it. So, yeah, I think it’s going to work really good.

PÓM: I was just – I noticed that by the time you’ve got to the end of that particular volume, there’s only two of the original League, the original Victorian League, left. I mean, was it difficult having to kill people off?

AM: Well no, I mean, because the thing is that the characters at least all potentially are still available to us if we simply decide to set an adventure during a period when they all lived. I mean, it was always inevitable that if we carried on with the League, that if we kept it to the original line-up, which everybody loved, and they all loved that time period, but if we kept it to that, then it would stagnate really quickly, and it would lose a lot of what made it appealing to me and Kevin, and to the readers in the first place, you know, so we decided to, let’s not kind of artificially freeze-dry these characters in their period just because that’s what sells.

We happen to believe that – yeah, we thought that we might lose a lot of readers when we moved out of the Victorian time period but, in doing the Black Dossier, which has sold, I think, better than the first two volumes, that sort of suggests that, yeah, though people did love the Victorian stuff, there are a lot of people who are quite interested in fictional characters that actually emerged in their own century.

LOEG Century original League.jpg

(some of the 1910 League members regard a portrait of their Victorian predecessors)

PÓM: Well, yeah, I was going to ask you, actually, one of the things a lot of people asked me about, a question I got a lot of was, what are the sources for 1969 and for 2009. What should people read in advance to know who you’re dealing with?

AM: Well, let me see. In 1969 we thought, there was an awful lot of films out by 1969, which there hadn’t been in 1910; there were a lot of television series, so what we’ve done is, we’ve kind of gone back to some of the cult cinema that was around at that time. I think that, probably having a look at Nick Roeg’s Performance – Nick Roeg and Donald Cammell’s Performance – wouldn’t do any harm.

PÓM: I got a copy of that, I see that, is it Litvinoff was a dialogue coach on that?

AM: Yes he was, David Litvinoff, the author of the apparently mythical Litvinoff’s Book, who was also an occasional partner of Mr Ronald Kray of that ilk. An interesting man, David Litvinoff, but, yes, he was the dialogue coach, and he came up with some of the strange elliptical dialogue that doesn’t seem to mean much, but conveys the flavour of the period excellently, So, yeah, there’s probably going to be a couple of references to Performance, that’s a pretty safe bet.

PÓM: Are we around Clockwork Orange time?

AM: No, because Clockwork Orange was, I mean, it was later. It was actually made in the seventies, I believe, and it was set in a kind of a future, so we’re not sure with that one, we haven’t made any references to that. But films of the period like Get Carter, there are certainly a couple of nods to that; other crime films of the period, like Richard Burton’s Villain, which starred a young Ian McShane as the boyfriend stroke criminal gang member of the central Ron Kray-alike criminal played by Richard Burton. One of the things we’ve done in the 1969 version is we’ve taken all of the characters that were based upon Ronnie Kray or the Kray Brothers, and decided that they were all rival East End villains of the period.

So we’ve got Harry Flowers from Performance, who was based on Ronnie Kray, we’ve got Harry Starks from Jake Arnott’s later written but set in the sixties The Long Firm, who was based upon Ronnie Kray, we’ve got Doug and Dinsdale Piranha (from Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Joe), who were based upon the Kray Brothers – I mean, they’re referred to, as part of this warring set of criminal factions around in the East End. Then of course there’s the Richard Burton character, who was also based on Ronnie Kray.

So we’ve got all of those in play, there’s also references to things like Big Breadwinner Hogg, which was a very obscure, very violent nineteen sixties crime show about a young thug trying to rise to the top in the London criminal underworld – I think it was taken off the air after two or three weeks, but it made an impression on me, so there’s at least a passing reference to that. There’s references to the fictional music scene of the times, which includes pirate radio – we had to go quite a way to find a fictional pirate radio station, but we found one in an episode of Dangerman.

And then there’s also a lot about the sixties occult scene, which is the thread that really ties all three of the chapters together. In the 1910 chapter we’re talking about, well, we start this thread of the character Oliver Haddo, who was referred to in the Black Dossier as a way of preparing people for some of the stuff that we’ve got coming up in the future, and what we’ve done with Haddo, who is from Somerset Maugham’s The Magician, and was based upon Crowley, is to tie him in with all of the other surrogate Crowleys that appeared in the literature of the time and also in the films and books that have appeared since.

So we’ve got our essential Oliver Haddo character, who was supposedly dead at the end of The Magician, which I think happened in 1908, or something, or at least was published around that time, but we’ve also explained that, just as the real Crowley took on lots of assumed identities, that Oliver Haddo was also a character called Doctor Carswell Trelawney, which combines MR James’s Carswell, who was based upon Crowley, from Casting the Runes, with Dr Trelawney from Anthony Powell’s Dances to the Music of Time, who was based upon Crowley, and we’ve also included the bizarre architect from The Black Cat, played by Boris Karloff, who name was, I think, Hjalmar Poelzig…

LOEG Century 1910 Haddo Crowley.jpg

(dark dream premonitions of Crowley-like magicians in Century 1910)

PÓM: Right! I’ll look that one up, so. [I subsequently looked it up, which is why I’ve got the spelling right…]

AM: Yes, look that one up! He was based upon Crowley, and we’ve also tied in Adrian Marcato from Rosemary’s Baby, who was the father of the Satanist in the film, and was based on Crowley. We’ve tied a lot of the supernatural films, at least by reference, that came out in the sixties. We’ve also got, as well as Adrian Marcato, we’ve got Mocata, the similarly named Crowley-based protagonist and black magician of The Devil Rides Out, which was probably set earlier, but the film version was released in the sixties, so we’ve got all of these neatly tied together as one man, and we managed to – oh yeah, there’s also, I’d forgotten, there’s a character called Cosmo Gallion, who is a Crowley-alike magician from I think the second series of The Avengers.

There’s an episode called Warlock, which has a character who is bearded, and reminiscent of the younger, mountain climbing Aleister Crowley, and who wanders around saying, “Do what thou wilt” all the time, so we’ve got him as a key figure. We’ve also tied in Robert Irwin’s Satanist from his brilliant book, Satan Wants You. Robert Irwin is a fantastic writer and I actually spoke to him and asked if it was OK to use the character name from Satan Wants You, and he was, he likes the League apparently, so he was OK with that.

So, it’s the usual eclectic mix; Jerry Cornelius turns up. I mean, I know he appears briefly as a child in the Black Dossier, but he turns up in his 1969 form as a black-skinned white-haired figure in a panda-skin coat. There’s a nice little exchange in the heart of Soho, where we’ve got lots of references to stuff from Moorcock’s New Worlds, and a couple of little gags thrown in for people who remember Berwick Street in the late nineteen sixties; it doesn’t matter if people don’t get the gags, but it’s still a compelling narrative without them. But when it comes up to the 2009 stuff, we’re sort of using characters that, I think for obvious reasons, it would be kind of difficult to actually talk about too much.

P: Yeah, I imagine that there are certain copyright reasons, and that people are a lot quicker to jump at these kinds of things of late…

AM: Well, that’s it. It’s sort of – we’ve preferred to be discreet about some of those, you know, but, I think, just in the background of the five pages that I’ve written so far we’ve got – the third book opens in the middle of, it’s the tail end of the disastrous American and British invasion of Qumar which is, I believe, I don’t watch the show myself, but I believe it’s the Iraq surrogate from West Wing, so you’ve got some stuff there, there’s a reference to an excellent short story by Gerard Kersh called Colonel Cuckoo – Corporal Cuckoo – I’d forgotten, I promoted him [the story is actually called Whatever Happened to Corporal Cuckoo? – PÓM], and Corporal Cuckoo makes a brief appearance in the pages that I’ve done, and there are references to, let me see, Armando Iannucci’s Time Trumpet, Viz, there’s a couple of background references to Lost – only a very, very, very background reference – and I think also to the show Entourage, which again I’ve never seen. It’s useful to have a fictitious actor who makes fictitious films to work into the background detail of the League’s world. We’ve got some pretty good stuff from comedy shows, which, I actually like a lot of modern comedy, so people can expect some references to modern comedy shows.

I’ve been watching Nathan Barley again, because that has got some really brilliant little bits in it.  Fictitious magazines like Sugar Ape, and things like that, those will probably turn up in the background. We’re going to try and be as comprehensive as possible about modern culture, good and bad, and we’ll try to fit it all together into a version of our world that isn’t quite our world, just like the Victorian era League wasn’t quite the real eighteen nineties, but by bringing all of the fictitious parts of our culture together it will give quite a good if bizarre snapshot of what our culture’s like at the moment, you know. And I thank that overall this third volume is going to be quite a dizzying ride, because it sweeps through a whole century in three seventy-two page volumes, and I think that the way that our fictional landscape has changed, it parallels in certain ways the way that our real landscape has changed…

PÓM: Undoubtedly, yes.

AM: And I think that that’s going to be quite interesting, and quite a rush for the readers, you know. And also I should mention that there’s a backup story running through all three issues, that’s called Minions of the Moon. It’s presented as if it were a three-part story from a late nineteen sixties issue of Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds of Science Fiction, but obviously we couldn’t use the name Michael Moorcock or New Worlds of Science Fiction, because those were real, so what we’ve done is, we’ve, I found a quote from Brian Aldiss, from when New Worlds was going through all of its problems, he had at one point jokingly suggested that they change the name to Lewd Worlds of Science Fiction, so Minions of the Moon is from Lewd Worlds of Science Fiction issues 183 to 185, edited by James Colvin, who was one of Moorcock’s pseudonyms.

I believe that James Colvin, they ran an obituary for him in New Worlds where it said that he’d been crushed under a filing cabinet of rejected manuscripts. This is obviously back when James Colvin was still alive and, yeah, Minions of the Moon, the author of it is John Thomas, which was a pseudonym used by John Sladek for his first couple of sales to Galaxy, ‘cause it’s his first two names, John Thomas Sladek, but he wasn’t selling many stories under the name John Thomas, so he decided to change tack and just called himself John Sladek, but we’ve kind of made a reference to that, because Sladek was one of me favourite authors, but that’s just the title panel to it really, the actual content of the strip is looking pretty fantastic so far.

It ties together, as far as we know, almost every fictional reference to the moon. It’s a story set in 1965, but it’s got everything from Wells’ Selenites to Verne’s Baltimore Gun Club, and maybe even a reference or two to The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street through the Baltimore connection. It’s got things like Mysta of the Moon from Planet Comics, which is brought into continuity with Maza of the Moon by Otis Kline, and Amazon Women of the Moon, which was a soft-core porn film with a lot of naked women living on the moon.

So we rationalised all of this, along with Lucien and Baron Munchausen’s journeys to the moon by waterspout, and Mister Godwin of Northampton – I’ve forgotten his first name for the moment – the guy who wrote his account of travelling to the moon in a goose-pulled chariot in the sixteenth century (I suspect this is either Francis Goodwin or possibly Johannes Kepler – Joe). So we’ve got all them tied in – obscure things like Honeymoon in Space, which was a narrative serial from a British magazine in 1910 – we’ve got all of these things, oh, and the black monoliths, of course, from 2001, and a load of other things.

Oh yeah, the Clangers, the soup dragons, the Lunar hoax of 1947, I believe, where someone said that through a telescope he’d seen bat-winged creatures and moon-bison – it turned out just to be a journalistic hoax, but it’s a fiction, of its kind, so we’ve worked that in, along with all the soup dragons and Clangers and Amazon Women of the Moon and Ant-people and, yeah, there’s also, we find out what happened to Professor Selwyn Cavor who figured in the first volume, and we also find out what eventually happened to Professor James Moriarty. He becomes important to the plot, but this’ll be running over the three books.

We’re having a load of fun with it. It originally came from a suggestion that Kevin said that he’d like to do a story set on the moon, and I hadn’t got much idea as to what to do with the backup pages before he’d said that, but once he made that suggestion I suddenly thought, “Yeah, the fictional moon, that would be splendid.” So that’s almost as much fun as the lead story itself, and in fact it ties in, I’m writing it so that it does connect up with the lead story of the third volume, but it won’t be apparent until volume three exactly how it connects up.

PÓM: Right, OK. I wanted to say, actually, you mentioned earlier on that you, as we were moving forward in time, there were new media like television and cinema, and things like that. As we’re going into 2009, does that mean you’re dipping your toe into things like the Internet, by any chance?

AM: Well, if I can find fictional Internet characters that seem appropriate to the story that I’m telling, then, yeah, at least potentially, I’m not ruling it out, although I haven’t really got any good examples in mind.

PÓM: Neither do I, it was just it struck me when you said it, you know, that it was a potential medium.

AM: Oh yeah, potentially, it is, I mean, like, it’s one that I don’t know very much about, but then that goes for pretty much the whole of 2009 culture, really, I mean I’m having to research this a lot more than I did the eighteen nineties.

LOEG Century 1910 Janni runs away.jpg

(Janni proving as stubborn and determined as her father, Nemo, decides to leave, which gives us a good excuse to ogle Kev O’Neill’s wonderfully detailed architecture)

P; Yeah, I mean, musically and stuff, if you’re trying to make music from this part of the twenty-first century, would it be something you’d have a lot of familiarity with?

AM: Well actually, we’ve named – each of the chapters has got a title that is taken from a song of around the period, so the first one is called What Keeps Mankind Alive?, which is taken from the Threepenny Opera. The second one is called Paint It Black, this is the one that’s set in 1969, and the third one, which I’ve just started writing, is called Let It Come Down, which is my dear mate Jason Spaceman with Spiritualized, and I think it was certainly twenty first century, and I just thought it was a lovely title for a lovely album, so we’re using that as the suitably apocalyptic title for the part of volume three.

PÓM: OK. Seeing as there’s a – I think you may have been asked this before – but seeing as there’s a lot of musical numbers all the way through, is there any possibility you’re going to release an album of the…?

AM: That is a possibility because we were so disappointed that, having recorded the double-sided 45 single for the Black Dossier by Eddie Enrico and his Hawaiian Hotshots, which is a Thomas Pynchon reference from The Crying of Lot 49, but we’d recorded this, you know, two-sided – a double B-side, perhaps – we recorded this single and then at the last minute they were screwing around, and they decided that they weren’t going to bring it out as they’d promised, so what we’re thinking is that there’s at least a possibility that we might include it with an album to be included with some sort of special edition of the collected volume three, say, in which we would be able to include that with other songs from the book – I don’t know, we’re still thinking about it, and I haven’t heard from Tim Perkins for  absolutely ages, but there’s possibilities so, yeah, I wouldn’t be too surprised if there wasn’t some sort of musical inclusion with the collected volume three.

PÓM: Is there any chance you’re going to collect together all of the old songs you did with the likes of the Sinister Ducks and Emperors of Ice Cream, maybe?

AM: Well, I mean, I doubt it. I mean, the ones with the Emperors of Ice Cream, the band, as most bands do, split up acrimoniously and, you know, it just all came to pieces, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable about releasing commercially any of the stuff we did without those people’s permission, which I’m not really inclined to seek, you know. Who knows? You know, I’m doing a gig in a couple of weeks on March the thirteenth – I think it’s probably all sold out by now – but there a gig on March the thirteenth at
the Frog and Fiddler in Northampton which I’m doing on behalf of the Lovelight Romanian Orphanage charity (see Alan Moore Stands Up – Joe)that I’ve had quite a bit to do with over the past few years, and some friends of mine who handle the Northampton end of the charity said would I like to do a performance, with the proceeds going to Lovelight, so I’m going to be doing three quarters of an hour of, well, talking, basically.

If anybody laughs, I’ll pretend that it was my stand-up debut. If nobody laughs, then it was just a brilliant and incisive monologue, you know. But then for the second half I’m going to be doing – I mean, if I haven’t completely ruined my reputation by the end of act one – then I’m going to absolutely throttle it to death by the end of act two, when I’m going to be doing a few songs, which will include a couple of early pieces – an earlier version of Murders on the Rue Morgue that was done before the Emperors of Ice Cream; Old Gangsters Never Die, which I shall be doing unaccompanied; and Madame October, which was co-written between me and the late great Tom Hall, so I’ll be doing that.

And then I shall be doing another three or four songs that I’ve written over the last year with a guy who lives around the corner, a very talented young musician called Joe Brown – not the Joe Brown of Joe Brown and his Brothers fame – but a younger and more musically varied person of the same name, so Joe and his band, the Retro Spankees, are going to be backing me on the final four numbers and, yeah, I’m not promising it’s going to be any good, but it’s all for charity, mate, and it’ll turn out a good night, I’m going to do the best I can.

PÓM: I’m sure it’ll be wonderful. Will there be a recording?

AM: Well, we’re hoping to set that up. We’re going to check out whether there could be a recording through the desk, and if it’s any good, possibly some video footage, just to see if there was any way that we could, then we could bring it out as a way of raising more money for the charity.

PÓM: Well, I’ll buy one!

AM: Well, fantastic. So, yeah, it’s happening in a couple of weeks, and I suppose there is a possibility in the future, me and Joe might put something together to release. We haven’t talked about it much, we’ve just been doing them for fun, really. And me and Tim are still supposed to be doing another
magical album at some point, but like I say, he’s bringing up two young children and I haven’t heard from him in a while, actually. I imagine he’s very busy.

The second part, in which Alan and Pádraig discuss future work, and the third part in which Alan answers some questions from readers, will follow on the blog soon, so stay tuned. FPI would like very much to thank Alan for again sharing his time so generously with our readers and to Pádraig for orchestrating the interview and sacrificing the health of his fingers to transcribe it all into print. Thanks also to the nice folks at Knockabout and Top Shelf for help and images. The interview Pádraig had with Alan on here last year can still be read on the blog, with part one here and part two to be found here.

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

3 Responses to Talking to an Extraordinary Gentleman of letters part one – Pádraig chats with Alan Moore

  1. Stu Shiffman says:

    If only Alan could tie in Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy and his Moon Maid character and storyline (and Diet Smith and his magnetic Space Coupe) that was cut from continuity…

  2. Doug Currens says:

    …and now that we’ve got the Cavorite (and First Men in the Moon) in play, could we get a big black monolith in a crater somewhere? Thunderbirds or SuperCar might have a moon connection in the sixties if you dug deep enough, and if Spielberg didn’t have it all tied up at the moment, I think we’d love to see TinTin and Captain Haddock and Snowy up there as well! Colonel Bleep with Scratch and Rags travelled in space from Zero Zero Island and are now showing up on YouTube. Time Tunnel? Lost in Space, or at least the evil Doctor Smith?

  3. Stu Shiffman says:

    Doug, you’re absolutely right that the black monolith should be shown too! And how many others remember Colonel Bleep?

    I expect a Captain Scarlet or UFO reference too!