This week Alan Moore celebrates his 60th birthday, and much of the comics community will be celebrating along with him.
(I’ll assume you know who he is and the part he’s played in elevating the comics art form to unprecedented heights. If you don’t know who he is, then please do yourself a favour and find out. )
That means that it’s ten years since I published the English language edition of Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman, a massive 350-page volume crammed with mostly-new birthday tributes of comics, illustrations and text pieces from 145 different creators, a collection edited by me and my Italian chum smoky man.
My own contribution was a twelve-page comic strip collage, the similarly-titled “Alan Moore: An Extraordinary Gentleman,” a potted history of the Bard of Northampton’s life to date, intended to serve as both an extended introduction to the book, and to the subject of the book.
Now, ten years on, “AlanMoore: An Extraordinary Gentleman” is finally getting published for the first time in full colour - not only that, it has been extensively updated, upgraded and corrected (with a great deal of thanks to Pádraig Ó Méalóid for that). Images have been replaced, errors have been fixed, panels have been re-sequenced and four pages’-worth of new material has been added.
Unfortunately for Moore collectors though, this new publication will be exclusively available through SEQUENTIAL’s digital platform for download in electronic form to your iPad. The good news is that Sequential are making this available free of charge.
So you can fill your digital boots via the SEQUENTIAL iPad app here.
This may also very well be my first digital comic – certainly the first digital-only one. (I was unable to ascertain whether my Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror strip “From Hell and Back” is - or has been - available in electronic form).
You may ask, why after only three years or so since my book Alan Moore: Storyteller, do I feel the need to retread this same territory again? You may also ask, why make it available only as an electronic version? The answer to both the questions is that because Russell Willis of Panel 9’s Sequential asked me to do so.
At first I resisted, having already turned down a couple of similar offers during the course of the preceding decade, but Russell won me over because he treated me like a professional and offered me money. I was looking for some new freelance work, and I was also looking to undertake more comics-related projects, so this seemed like a reasonable solution for all parties involved.
I do apologise to those who have no iPad and prefer their comics in physical form, but I can totally sympathise as I don’t own one myself either. For the foreseeable future the only way you’ll be able to own this shiny new version is in digital form.
But if you haven’t got it already, you physical book lovers can console yourself with a copy of with my own Harvey-nominated, lavish visual biography, Alan Moore:Storyteller, available from all good booksellers.
Alternately, if you already have Storyteller or merely can’t get enough of reading about the Magus, there is also a rather lovely new Alan Moore biography which has just been published, MagicWords: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moorewritten by Lance Parkin.
Parkin was the author of the original Moore biography the AlanMoore: the Pocket Essential Guide (which was the basis for my strip biography for Portrait) so he obviously has the credentials.
It’s an exhaustive, scholarly ‘literary biography’ which took the author three years to write and examines a lot of the detail that wasn’t covered in depth in Storyteller. It’s more critical than I was able to be, Parkin clarifies grey areas and sets the record straight in a number of areas. It’s packaged in an exquisite hardcover with spot varnish, belly-band and black-edged pages.
By all accounts, it’s a companion piece rather than a rival, and any Moore fan should really own both (as well of course as George Khoury’s mammoth interview/tribute book from 2003 TheExtraordinary Works of Alan Moore.)