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So I decided to do two or three things with that initial idea of the "Fighting American." Yes, he's a patriotic character, he's satirical, but it's going to be at least as much the satire of Harvey Kurtzman as it was of Simon and Kirby. Because, actually, Kurtzman's satire was sharper and funnier. So combining those elements, and also bringing it up to date so that it's not turned against the Red paranoia of the '50s, but against contemporary phenomena, like The Jerry Springer Show, reality television, etc. -- Alan Moore

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Remember: There's not really a vehicle around now to carry on the innovations Eisner was reaching for. I mean, even Eisner doesn't do The Spirit anymore! There's really no vehicle around now where you can do those wildly experimental stories within that kind of framework. So that became something I enjoyed exploring, and continue to enjoy, with "Greyshirt." -- Alan Moore

Tomorrow Stories Special #1 )

Also, since I might as well include it here as anywhere, here's the Cobweb episode that was originally intended for TOMORROW STORIES but ultimately got pulled by DC over worry that the lawsuit-happy Church of Scientology would go after them for dissing L. Ron Hubbard. It was eventually published by Top Shelf, unchanged save for a name and palette swap for Cobweb for copyright reasons.

La Toile The Cobweb in 'Brighter Than You Think' )
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The main thing I wanted to do was not pastiche or do a homage to The Spirit but to do a homage to the spirit of The Spirit, if you like. The very best thing about Eisner's Spirit was the incredible experimentation, the constant attempts at new storytelling techniques. -- Alan Moore

It's just a pity that those old "Phantom Lady" stories, other than the fact that she's got such wonderful cleavage, there was nothing else to recommend those stories at all; they weren't at all interesting. So with "Cobweb," what I decided to do was to take this kitsch, camp, '50s glamorous crime-fighter character, like the Blonde Phantom or the Black Cat or the Phantom Lady, any of those, and to use it playfully, so that we could do whatever we wanted, where we could jump around and show, I dunno, a five-year-old Li'l Cobweb if we wanted to. -- Alan Moore

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It was taking comic book characters I thought were exceptional and stood out from the herd. I suppose Plastic Man, Fighting American the Spirit... they all stand out in some way from the average super-hero. Those strips have intelligence, a sense of humor, a sense of personal style. -- Alan Moore

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Some modern science is so bizarre they are almost like a Lewis Carroll logic children have. It didn't seem like a huge step to have this ten-year-old boy with all of the mad, ludicrous ideas that ten-year-old boys have, but to actually make it so that, yes, in terms of science as we now understand it, as it turns out, he's absolutely right and is just a complete genius. -- Alan Moore

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To some degree, I tend to think most super-heroes, at their essence, if you boiled them down, are only a name and a chest emblem. You think about that with, say, Batman. There is no resemblance at all between the avenging Batman originally created in the late '30s to the smiling, avuncular Batman of the '50s, to Neal Adams' taut/tense/grim/gritty Batman of the '70s, or to Frank Miller's Dark Knight in the '80s. These are not the same person. The only thing continuous is the name and chest emblem. And that, to me, is part of the appeal of the character. I mean, who cares about continuity, really? I thought it would be interesting with Cobweb that, yes, we know she's got a sidekick and has a cobweb design on her belt. Given that, we can do whatever we want with the character. -- Alan Moore

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I didn't start Vertigo. I did Swamp Thing and I think Vertigo was an attempt to build off that. When I wrote Swamp Thing, I was just approaching a DC horror book in a certain way because I thought that would be interesting. It was just me and my pre-occupations about sex, politics, environmentalism, and all the rest. There's no reason why they should take my pre-occupations and make them into a line of books written by other people. -- Alan Moore

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I decided, "Yeah, all right, we're going to do a Plastic Man-type character, only make him liquid instead of plastic." We'll also mix Kurtzman satire with Jack Cole in the same way we mixed Simon and Kirby with Kurtzman on the "First American." There was also an attempt to allude to the Max Fleischer animation of the '20s and '30s, the weird early ones, like Koko and Out of the Inkwell, because they had very fluid shapes. -- Alan Moore

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We couldn't do an episode of "Jack B. Quick" in every issue of Tomorrow Stories, as it takes Kevin [Nowlan] a long time to complete one -- and, I've got to say, it takes me a long time to write them, because you have to get yourself into a certain mind set to write "Jack B. Quick." So Scott [Dunbier] suggested Hilary Barta as somebody who could do a strip to alternate with Kevin. This brought me to another of my favorite super-heroes -- along with the Fighting American and The Spirit -- who is, of course, Plastic Man. -- Alan Moore

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With Cobweb, I've always thought characters like the Phantom Lady, the "glamour heroines," who really have no purpose other than to stand around in a skimpy costume looking glamorous. That was the reason why everybody bought those books. But at the same time... maybe because it was sort of a sexist '50s thing that has vanished with modern sensibilities, I miss that relatively innocent camp glamour girl of the '50s. Especially when you compare that kind of Vargas figure, with the sort of c*m-spattered porn starlet we have today. I thought that there was a charming innocence in it. - Alan Moore

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Another one of my favorite archetypal comic characters is Fighting American. It's one of my favorite pieces of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon's work, and one aspect I like is that it clearly started out as a serious patriotic strip with its first issue. Then, I presume because it was published during the McCarthy era, Simon and Kirby were at least smart enough to realize you couldn't really take this kind of stuff seriously, so they changed their character from a Red-baiting, serious, patriotic hero to this incredible satire upon the whole idea, with these ludicrous Communist villains like Hotsky Trotsky and Poison Ivan. I was thinking, "Yeah, that's really good. The idea of a patriotic super-hero who is a satire on issues that were contemporary at that time." -- Alan Moore

Trigger warning: rape

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I decided to take that boy inventor character, last seen messing around with '50s and '60s science, and bring him up to date, at least scientifically. Still keep him in this rural, Kansas, timeless, bygone American period. But this kind of science he's talking about, it's this ridiculous quantum science we have today. -- Alan Moore

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As regards nostalgia in general terms, according to a recent issue of New Scientist, a little of it can be good for us, psychologically and neurologically. It was, however, initially diagnosed as a potentially fatal illness, something elegantly demonstrated by the South Park clip that John Higgs showed everyone at the recent Hexagram 23 event, with the ’Memberberries, or the Private Eye cover around eighteen months ago, with a UKIP candidate standing by a UKIP-decorated taxi cab, the driver of which is asking “Where to, guv?” and the candidate is replying “The 1950s, and step on it”. -- Alan Moore

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I used to love Kellogg's Variety Packs when I was a kid, because you could have Cocoa Puffs one morning and Sugar pops the next. There was variety. I like variety. In some of the old comics, you'd get two stories, four stories, eight stories, all of different sorts and different lengths between the covers. You got a sense of having had a full meal, a full five-course dinner or something. That was something I wanted to try and instill into Tomorrow Stories. -- Alan Moore

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Alan Moore: "It’s always something that I used to fancy doing back in my mainstream days at DC, but back then I never got the opportunity, because there was a universe in place already. This is the first chance I’ve had to do it, and it’s been great to see these characters realized. First, the initial sketches by Rick Veitch, because he designed a lot of them, were all wonderful little character designs. They look totally archetypal yet are completely new. They’re sort of recognizable, but you’ve never seen them, which is a great quality.

Also seeing some of the artwork come in, which are some wonderful treats. For example, we’ve created a slew of Western characters as part of Judgment Day. The section in the first issue pertaining to those characters—Kid Thunder, The Brimstone Kid, and an Indian sorcerer called Night Eagle—were drawn by Gil Kane. I didn’t realize until I got the artwork back that he’d be doing it, and I have to say after seeing it that it’s the best artwork I’ve seen Gil Kane do in years—and that’s coming from a big Gil Kane fan. It’s perfect! It looks like he had a ball doing it, and it’s just brilliant stuff. These two or three pages of Gil Kane are going to be worth the price of admission alone, as far as I’m concerned.

It’s been fun watching these characters materialize. There’s been a great deal of pleasure being able to repopulate a comic landscape that for the past 15 years or so has been stripped down to nothing but super-heroes. What will come of it, I don’t know, but the early response has been warm, and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it."


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Alan Moore: "It seems to me the only thing that was ever really interesting about comics when I was a kid was the sense of wonder involved in it. The genuine imagination that had gone into them. You got people like Mort Weisinger, who takes a lot of stick and probably a lot of it is deserved. I'm sure he probably wasn't the nicest person to work with, but that world that he and the people under him created with the Superman of the '60s, it was a very personal one for him. Rick Veitch was telling me about a recent biography that he's read, or a book on the comic industry, that says that most of the stuff, the Bottle City of Kandor, the Phantom Zone, all of these classic '60s elements have got a lot to do with the elements that play a large part in Mort Weisinger's mental breakdown. That's how much of his imagination he was investing into it, and that was what fueled the magic of those comics for me when I was a kid."

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