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Posts Tagged ‘Alan Moore’

Let The Bitching Begin

March 6th, 2008 No comments

Costume photos from the upcoming film adaptation of Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel Watchmen have just surfaced. Some folks are already pissed off because Nite Owl doesn’t look enough like a pudgy Adam West in tights.

Look, I get it: the Nite Owl of the original story is a somewhat pathetic fortysomething who recognizes the absurdity of dressing up in a Halloween costume to fight crime. But if you put a live actor in this outfit:

You get this:

Which is fine if you’re going for comedy. If you put Arthur from The Tick in a trailer for a general audience unfamiliar with Watchmen, they’re going to assume it’s a spoof. Which it’s not. At all.

Besides, the “tubby guy in tights” deconstruction has been done–repeatedly–since Watchmen was published in 1986. It’s not just The Tick, which at least played largely to the fanboy base, but one that pretty much everyone has actually seen: The Incredibles. Hell, even DC Comics’ Blue Beetle–the character that provided the basis for Nite Owl–went through his own portly phase.

There are other ways to express Nite Owl’s character without making him look like a schlub in a leotard.

Me, I like the costumes. But what do I know? I thoroughly enjoyed the film version of V for Vendetta, and even got a kick out of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. So my perspective about Alan Moore adaptations is suspect. (Alan Moore would certainly agree.)

The photos give me hope that the filmmakers are at least trying to do justice to the source material, as does the news that they intend to produce “Tales of the Black Freighter,” the story-within-a-story that parallels the main plot, as a DVD extra. It’s the sort of thing you could never do within the movie proper, but it’s perfect for DVD. Maybe they’ll produce some of the other sidebar material from the original novel as well.

The Black Dossier

January 2nd, 2008 No comments

Last night, I finished reading The Black Dossier, Alan Moore’s recent follow-up to his popular comics miniseries The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And by “finished” I mean “skipped over all those tedious text passages and suffered through the unsatisfying, short and obtuse comics sections.”

Unlike previous LoEG projects, this one is less a straightforward narrative than a collection of articles, comics and pastiches of various works of literature, all concerning various incarnations of the League. It’s certainly a handsome and intriguing volume, with sections printed on various paper stocks and, in the case of the tipped-in Tijuana Bible, different sizes. It all sounds good until you sit down to actually read the thing. I am not a Shakespeare fan at the best of times, so the last thing I want to read for entertainment is a pastiche of one of his plays written in Olde Timey English.

Same goes for most of the other distractions from the main story, such as it was. I may get back to them at some point–and I’ll admit that Jeeves and Wooster vs. Cthulhu sounds like it would be worth a chuckle–but I didn’t have patience for them last night.

The original miniseries appeared to be built around the deceptively simple premise “What if the greatest figures of Victorian fantasy fiction (plus Mina Harker from Dracula) formed a superhero team?” That’s pretty much all the movie adaptation of LoEG turned out to be, and although it’s a heresy to say so, I rather enjoyed the flick on its chosen level. The comics themselves, being written by Alan Moore, offered a great deal more depth. Furthermore, he expanded the premise to incorporate all manner of classic (and not so classic) literature, and reading the books became an extended game of “spot the unbelievably obscure reference.”

One of the big problems with The Black Dossier is that that game takes center stage. Rather than being a story about famous figures of literature and their adventures together, it’s page after page of cameo appearances by characters you’ve never heard of (plus Mina Harker from Dracula). That was fun when it was going on in the background and one could experience an occasional “Aha!” moment, but not so much when everything is background.

What really surprised me is that despite being set in the 1950s rather than the 1890s, I probably caught fewer of the references this time. Too many appear to come from early to mid 20th Century British pop-culture rather than anything familiar to a worldwide audience. I did recognize some ’50s movie aliens during the British spaceport sequence, and there was an amusing gag (requiring a perhaps too elaborate setup) revolving around the kids’ puppet series Fireball XL5. I enjoyed Moore’s attempt to tie together 1984, The Prisoner and James Bond, but too little of the narrative was so recognizable.

Then, in the last twenty pages or so, the wheels went completely off the cart and I was suddenly confronted with a blackfaced whatsit and a couple of horny manikins taking our heroes off on a cruise into a 3-D phantasmagoria, complete with a pair of 3-D glasses designed to make the reader look exceptionally stupid. I didn’t get the point, and I couldn’t care anymore.

In the end, I think that The Black Dossier doesn’t do anything at all by way of trying to do far too much. The presence of characters from all manner of fiction–mythology, literature, comics, movies and TV–suggests that the premise has moved well beyond its roots and become impossibly unwieldy. If all fictional worlds coexist in a single reality, how can any of them make sense? When Adam Strange, Dagwood Bumstead and Dobie Gillis can team up to face the combined threat of Count Yorga, Count Dooku and Count Chocula, it’s just pointless madness, the equivalent of the noteworthy fanboy spoof song “The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny.” Who’s the winner? Not me.