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Alan Moore | Biography


Alan Moore was born on November 18, 1953, in Northampton, England, to working-class parents Sylvia and Ernest Moore. He lost himself in stories at a young age, delving into Greek and Norse mythology before discovering American comic books. Traditional superhero comics became a mainstay when he was a teenager, but his tastes changed shortly after leaving high school, when Moore discovered underground comics and the satirical MAD magazine. Both greatly influenced his desire to write and illustrate comics of his own.

Moore began his career by publishing poetry and essays in small, independent magazines. He usually wasn't paid, but he got valuable experience in meeting deadlines and honing his creative skills. After trying his hand at drawing weekly comic strips, Moore soon realized he worked too slowly to make a living as an illustrator, so he focused all his efforts on writing. In 1980 his first mainstream writing appeared in Doctor Who Weekly and the British comic anthology 2000 AD. In 1982 he began to get noticed for his distinct approach to the superhero genre, when he resurrected the 1954 British superhero Marvelman (known as Miracleman in the United States). His work was unusual—not only because Moore was one of the first to reintroduce a known comic book character, but also because Moore reimagined the superhero's story to explore the uneasy relationship between the godlike figure and the society he is tasked to protect. Often described as "violent" and "angry," Marvelman wrestles with inner turmoil, giving depth to a genre once regarded as campy fun for kids and teens.

Moore continued his examination of heroes' dark sides with V for Vendetta, a comic about a shadowy, vengeful superhero, which ran from 1982 to 1986. Early issues caught the eye of DC Comics executives, who hired Moore to reimagine the horror title Swamp Thing, originally published in the 1970s. Moore's version, which came out in 1983, was his first American publication. That led to the graphic novel Watchmen. Watchmen was initially conceived as a vehicle for DC's recently acquired Charlton Comics characters like the Question, Captain Atom, The Peacemaker, and Thunderbolt. However, Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons changed tack and created archetypes that paralleled not only the Charlton characters but also other well-known superheroes. This approach allowed them to create a dark commentary on the superhero genre as a whole. Moore's follow-ups to Watchmen departed from his usual examination of the superhero psyche: From Hell (1991–96) looked at the British Empire's decline from the viewpoint of serial killer Jack the Ripper, who was active in 1888; The League of Extraordinary Gentleman (1999–present) reimagines characters from classic novels as crime fighters.

Moore's relationship with DC Comics fell apart in 2006 over royalty disputes and disagreements about a proposed audience rating system; he severed all ties with the company and the work he did for it, including Watchmen. He departed from mainstream comics, and by 2009, he considered himself "divorced" from the medium as a whole, though he continued work on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with illustrator Kevin O'Neill. He has since dedicated himself to film, music, and prose. His 2016 novel Jerusalem is a 1,300-page tome about poverty and class in his native Northampton, where he still lives today.

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