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Monday, October 5, 2015

What’s Wrong at Marvel and DC Part 4-Everyone Wants to Be Alan Moore

 Alan Moore is one of the most influential comic witers of the 20th Century. From Superman to Swamp Thing to Miracleman to Watchmen to V for Vendetta to Supreme Alan Moore has made an impact on readers and creators in the comic book industry. In fact, he’s made so much of an impact I just wish everyone would stop trying to copy his style.

As Alan Moore himself has said Superheroes are a cultural catastrophe. Why? Because everyone at Marvel and DC  wants to be the next Alan Moore. And because everyone wants to be the next Alan Moore superhero comics at Marvel and DC SUCK.

Identity Crisis?  A pitiful attempt to get as complex as Miracleman but with none of the payoff or the emotion set up in the classic Kid Miracleman arc.  Civil War? Another pitiful attempt to copy Moore’s Watchmen and V for Vendetta and all the political and social commentary involved in it. All the blood and gore we see in comics today? An attempt to copy the carnage Moore’s Kid Mircaleman participated in when he destroyed London in Miracleman#15 with none of the emotion and heart of that classic series.

Heck, Captain Marvel in Kingdom Come is derived from Kid Miracleman’s descent into madness without the rape. 

Here’s a news flash to every comc book writer or anyone who aspires to be in the comic book business:  YOU ARE NOT ALAN MOORE. YOU WILL NEVER BE ALAN MOORE.

Alan Moore is Alan Moore. So stop trying to make your work like Alan Moore’s. and stop trying to grow a beard like his. Just be yourselves.

You know what? I don’t want to be Alan Moore. I want to be Shawn James. And I want to show my readers what’s special about a Shawn James story.

When I write stories like The Temptation of John Haynes and the Isis series I want them to see the unique mix of action adventure and humor I present in my tales. I want them to be able to read the dialogue and listen to the distinct “voice” and experience the way my characters speak to each other.  

Yeah, I get my influences and inspirations from people like Billy Wilder, Harold Ramis, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, John Byrne, George Perez, Tim Burton, and Salli Richardson Whitfield. But I don’t try to copy them. I don’t want to be them.

I want to be me. And I want every reader to know it’s my work from the first sentence.

Alan Moore left an indelible imprint on comics. But writers and artists have to start making their own distinct fingerprints on the medium if it’s going to reach readers of today. Everyone can’t be dark. Everyone can’t be grim and gritty. Everyone can’t be deep and cerebral. That approach to storytelling just doesn’t fit every character.

One of the big problems at DC is that every writer is trying to apply a dark and gritty style and tone to characters who are bright and optimistic like Superman and Wonder Woman. Trying to turn the Justice League into the Watchmen and Superman into Miracleman.

And over at Marvel, Every almost storyline is trying to follow Moore’s watchmen to the letter, trying to be a big huge epic story.

 You know what I miss? DC being DC. And Marvel Being Marvel. What makes their charcters distinct has been lost in everyone’s attempt to be more like Moore. I no longer see the spirit of Lee and Kirby at Marvel, or the fingerprint of Julius Schwartz and Jeanette Kahn on DC.

Instead I see a bunch of guys over at Marvel and DC trying to be Alan Moore and trying to have the same impact he did on comics.

And instead of getting all the praise Moore got in the past all they get reviled and attacked by readers who buy less and less comics every year. Because everyone doesn’t want to buy a rip-off of Alan Moore comic. It’s not everyone’s taste. If people want to buy Alan Moore comics they go out and buy Alan Moore’s comics.

Y’know what we need in comics? More people who want to be themselves. People who want to express their own style. People who want to tell their own stories. People who want to put their own fingerprint on the medium. If those people got a chance to express themselves I think the big two could start reversing two decades of decline.


  1. Loving this series of article, Shawn. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks! there may be another part coming up soon.

  3. Replace "Alan Moore" with other big-name writers/artists and you've explained 50% of current woes in the world of comic magazines (the other 50% comes from a startling lack of common sense that is a rare substance found in entertainment).