Alan Moore, legendary comic-book writer and co-creator of “Watchmen” — still considered the greatest comic book of all time — currently has a problem with men in tights.
More specifically, men of a certain age taking an interest in them.
Speaking with the Guardian about his latest graphic novel – “Fashion Beast,” which started out as a film but wound up in his hands for comic treatment – the 60-year-old Brit, who also penned “V for Vendetta” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” said superheroes are “abominations” … and that grownups who still obsess over them have to justify their obsession so as not to appear “emotionally subnormal.”
“I haven’t read any superhero comics since I finished with ‘Watchmen.’ I hate superheroes,” Moore told the Guardian in an interview published late last week. “I think they’re abominations. They don’t mean what they used to mean. They were originally in the hands of writers who would actively expand the imagination of their nine- to 13-year-old audience. That was completely what they were meant to do and they were doing it excellently. These days, superhero comics think the audience is certainly not nine to 13, it’s nothing to do with them. It’s an audience largely of 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year old men, usually men.”
(He’s certainly right about that men thing — only 29% of the opening-weekend audience for “Thor: The Dark World” was women.)
“Watchmen,” which Moore created with artist David Gibbons and colorist John Gibbons, is credited with changing the genre when it was published in 1985. Moore still prefers the term “comic” to “graphic novel” (which most use to describe the long-form classic “Watchmen”), and told the Guardian that fanboys of a certain age started using the term to justify their habit.
“Someone came up with the term ‘graphic novel,'” he said. “These readers latched on to it; they were simply interested in a way that could validate their continued love of Green Lantern or Spider-Man without appearing in some way emotionally subnormal. This is a significant rump of the superhero-addicted, mainstream-addicted audience.”
Moore’s comments sparked a spirited debate on Twitter — among the fanboy set, of course, most of whom dismissed the comments as merely the subversive ramblings for which Moore has been known. Among them was Deadpool creator Robert Liefeld, who’s always good for a thoughtful Twitter weigh-in when the debate turns to superheroes and movies, and who used to work with Moore:
I would take Alan Moore’s comments with a heavy grain of salt. He is a performance artist on oar with Andy Kaufman. Also – a car salesmen
— robertliefeld (@robertliefeld) November 25, 2013
Still, there was no punch-pulling on Moore’s part, who’s happy to keep creating comics — he’d just rather see kids going to see their film adaptations.
“I don’t think the superhero stands for anything good. I think it’s a rather alarming sign if we’ve got audiences of adults going to see the Avengers movie and delighting in concepts and characters meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of the 1950s.”
If you’re old enough to remember when “Watchmen” came out and just doffed your Thor winged helmet in shame, all we have to say to you is …. well, we can relate, brother. We can certainly relate.