Perennially correct comics crank Alan Moore gave a rare interview to Deadline this week where he bemoaned the state of the comic book industry while seeming excited about its future. On the ink-and-paper side of things, the creator behind Watchmen and the iconic Batman comic The Killing Joke commented on the way the industry moved from cheap entertainment for broke and/or thrifty children to an expensive hobby for well-heeled adults.
“When I entered the comics industry, the big attraction was that this was a medium that was vulgar, it had been created to entertain working class people, particularly children. The way that the industry has changed, it’s ‘graphic novels’ now, it’s entirely priced for an audience of middle class people,” he said.
Though Moore can see the dollar signs behind the decision to focus on adult graphic novels over cheap weekly comics, he doesn’t believe the move will serve the industry in the long-run. Dwindling sales and corporate consolidation have left an industry made of lumbering dinosaurs, and Moore thinks COVID-19 might be the meteor.
“I doubt the major companies will be coming out of lockdown in any shape at all. The mainstream comics industry is about 80 years old and it has lots of pre-existing health conditions. It wasn’t looking that great before COVID happened,” he said, before noting a bright spot.
“I can see that changing, and perhaps for the better. It’s too early to make optimistic predictions but you might hope that the bigger interests will find it more difficult to maneuver in this new landscape, whereas the smaller independent concerns might find that they are a bit more adapted. These times might be an opportunity for genuinely radical and new voices to come to the fore.”
Moore notoriously hates comic book adaptations. (He’s earned that right after watching two generations miss the point of his work when it came time to film it.) And he didn’t hold back any of that vitriol in his latest interview. He thinks turning children’s characters into movies for adults is “grotesque” and accused the glut of blockbuster superhero movies of “infantilizing the population.”
“I have no interest in superheroes, they were a thing that was invented in the late 1930s for children, and they are perfectly good as children’s entertainment,” he said. “[Superhero movies] have blighted cinema, and also blighted culture to a degree. Several years ago I said I thought it was a really worrying sign, that hundreds of thousands of adults were queuing up to see characters that were created 50 years ago to entertain 12-year-old boys.”