Alan Moore (YGtCTO #186)

Marvelman/Miracleman

Comic book written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Garry Leach, Alan Davis, John Ridgeway, Chuck Beckum, Rick Veitch and John Totleben

Boom and bust happens with flowers, real estate, and art, as well as anything else that can be treated as a commodity. For American comic books, that happened in the latter two decades of the 20th century. All sorts of ridiculous behavior ensued, as with any such economic cycle. The big publishers, DC and Marvel, went through remarkable changes in fortune and ownership. Small publishers blossomed as everyone wanted in on the money. Who can forget Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters or The Fish Police? Some publishers promised big money to lure popular artists. Alternatively, they could reprint work from abroad, be it Corto Maltese or Marvelman.

Quality varied, which may go without saying. Even if the work by the artists was good, the materials used for printing might be downgrade. Editing staff might be shortchanged, leading to publication delays. Finance and legality might not be managed ideally.

Comic book conventions became huge as places to exchange comic books and not so much the entertainment expositions that they are today. Re-sellers set up tables of long boxes stuffed with the wee pamphlets. They prayed on one another, so you could just as often find a seller who had bought out another and was unloading thousands at negligible prices. Investment mattered less than turning over the volume. That was where I found issues of Miracleman as published by Eclipse Comics.

I had read enough recent superhero stories to know that they had taken a turn to the dark side, but nothing prepared me for this mix of humanity confronting the all-powerful myth of the superhero. While so many other similar attempts felt like wish fulfillment, this story never stopped dragging those childish hopes and dreams into adulthood.

Alan Moore

And then,

as a reader, you start trying to obtain the entire run of sixteen issues, which turns out to be difficult. Moreover, word starts seeping out that everything might not be acceptable with the way the artists have been treated. In fact, the situation is bad enough to fill a book. Lawsuits ensue among all sorts of surprising parties over all sorts of copyright issues. Feelings remain hurt.

Which drags the audience along into adulthood. They’re only comics? They should be innocent? There’s money in them thar’ hills. The question ends up asked: as a consumer of this particular work of art, are you supporting those who have harmed the people whose art you consume? Certainly, we have struggled on this very issue with our coffee and our clothing, but weren’t comic books going to be simple?

Kirby, Siegel, Shuster,… Wilde, Dickens,… So many who could never speak up…

What’s it all about?

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 114 more to go.

New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.

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