4 comments on “Episode 150 — Top 10

  1. I am a big Alan Moore fan. I found it a little off-putting that the pod was critical of Moore for using references, but then praiseful of references in other works – from nine-fox-tailed creatures to Finnegan’s Wake, etc. I think that great art works on various levels, and I think all art draws (consciously and subconsciously) on earlier references. Readers/viewers can enjoy the surface story, and can return to work repeatedly and often spot additional nuances that weren’t noticed on early readings. I’d say that Top Ten is Moore’s second most referential work (right behind League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) – chock-full of references to comics, from early pulp to 90s Image… and yet, as your hosts stated, on an initial reading, the surface of plot, characters, and setting work just fine – without necessitating getting all the references. I don’t think Moore is putting anyone down who can’t spot the references on their first read-through – he just included lots of fun detail to enhance future readings.

    • Hey Joe thanks for the comment.

      For my part (and who knows if I came close to being eloquent about it in the podcast) what I was trying to drive at was the happy medium between references that enhance a work versus references that are required to understand a work.

      I personally feel at that Moore (both in his public comments and artistic choices) is, at times, sometimes crossing over into a form reference that can make a work difficult to understand. Now, I think Top 10 actually doesn’t have that problem overly much but I wonder if sometimes a reader might be put off by the density of his references and feel like what he is trying to do is inaccessible.

      What I think we were trying to work through is whether or not that is “bad”. I ultimately don’t think so but I dislike the culture that can sometimes arise in literature where if one does not get all the layers of a work one is somehow not literate or intelligent or “good” enough to be a reader or part of the “club”. I DO think that Moore can be that way but as an intellectual and as a public persona and I don’t really understand it. Then again, maybe I am missing something about him and his work and am feeling alienated in a way that has nothing to do with him.

      We live in an age where we are often forced to grapple with the art and the artist together, to consider a work and know the mind behind in a much more visceral way than ages past. Maybe I am revealing my issue with the artist rather than his work. I’ll let the other hosts offer their thoughts.

      Brant

  2. In your recent discussion of Top 10 you all seem to agree that books by Alan Moore often minimize the work of the artist. I’m not sure I agree, but most certainly disagree in the case of Promethea. You did acknowledge the art in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but I found myself silently screaming out J.H. Williams III! His work on Promethea is the best of his that I have seen (Batwoman being a close second and Sandman: Overture a distant third). His varying styles and compositional feats firmly ground Moore’s shifting layers of reality and make his treatise on Cabalistic mysticism not only comprehensible but fun and interesting (unlike in Sandman, where I feel the too-busy art only serves to further muddy Gaiman’s esoterically fluid lyricism – it’s beautiful, but also kind of hard to look at.) I feel Williams deserves recognition for pulling off the rare achievement of making a Moore book visually stunning while at the same time enhancing the communicative power of each page.

    • I haven’t personally read Promethea, Joseph. But I can readily believe that if anyone is an exception it’s JH Williams III. Truly an extraordinary artist.

      But I think the larger point stands, insofar as when Moore is writing a book it is most often the case that the writing takes center stage with the art serving a more supporting role. I don’t think anyone this side of Chris Claremont can fill a page with walls of text quite like Alan Moore.

      This might be a good topic to revisit in our next comment response section.

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