Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Secret World of the Magus of Northampton - Part III: From Magic to Logic

by Manuel Espírito Santo


In 1996 he finishes his first prose book “Voice of the Fire” by Victor Gollancz making a narrative that takes place around Moore's hometown of Northampton, England during the month of November, and span several millennia from 4000 B.C. to the present day; where Moore writes according to the sounds that he imagines on his mind that were pronounced throughout the ages on each chapter. In here we also see Moore making magic with words and sending us with words right back to each period of history.

Spoken words performances

In 1995 Moore created “The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels” that was the name of a group of occultists and performers including himself, Bauhaus member David J, and musician Tim Perkins, who perform occult "workings" consisting of prose poetry set to music. Several of these "workings" have been released onto CD. It was also the name of the group's first performance piece which was released as a spoken word CD released by Cleopatra records in 1996.

On 18 November in 1995 Alan Moore did a spoken word performance called “The Birth Caul” (A Shamanism of Childhood) with music by David J and Tim Perkins, which was soon released on CD that was staged at the Old County Court in Newcastle upon Tyne. The text is essentially an examination of the connections between our language, our identity and our perceptions of the world. The narration regresses from early adulthood, adolescence, childhood, infancy and prenatal existence in a quest for a primitive consciousness existing before language. Ultimately the quest aborts as there are no words to describe that consciousness.

Note: After completion of “From Hell” in 1998 Campbell visited Moore and he played the CD recording to him and he decided to turn it into a comic book that was published in 1999 by Eddie Campbell comics.

1997 - The artist gave another spoken words performance with Tim Perkins “The Highbury Working: A Beat Séance” that tells of the brutal gangland slaying of Jack the Hat (by those 'legends' of mayhem the Krays) or the opium-tinged reveries (and nightmares) of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge being released by Steven Severin on 2000.

1999 - Alan Moore gave a performance called “Snakes and Ladders” at Conway Hall in Red Lion Square, with music by Tim Perkins. It deals with the disinterment of Oliver Cromwell and  writer Arthur Machen's visionary experiences. That was adapted to a comic book by Eddie Campbell an Moore and published at Eddie Campbell comics on 2001.

In 2001  Moore reads works based on the life of William Blake, with an experimental music backdrop composed by Tim Perkins with his performance “Angel Passage” (soon to be an illustrated book by Melinda Gebbie in the future). 

America's Best Comics - 21st Century


From 1999 to 2005 starts working with artist J.H.Williamsn on a character called “Promethea” where he’ll put all his knowledge into it as a magician and occultist, making 32 issues representing the most common of tarot cards deck.

Major points:

Issue 10 that has a prolonged sex scene between Promethea and Jack Faust in which he also teaches her a lot about magick throughout history.

Issue 12: A tour through the 21 major arcana cards of the tarot with Mack and Mike the 2 snakes from Promethea's caduceus explaining history of the world to her.

Issue 32:The end of something old to transform into something new.

Notes by Alan Moore: ”First read the Promethea dialog only in all the pages in the order that they are printed. When the pages are upside-down, just rotate the page and read the dialog (monologue, really), left page first and then right and left side of the page to the right and top to bottom. After you are done, go back to the start and read the additional captions on each page in the same order you read the dialog... Then, take off the staples, and be careful with the bits of glue that hold the pages together. Tape all the pages in the correct order, two new giant pictures will appear and read each one of the sides again, this item in a slightly different order from the first that according to Alan will make even more sense... there are also paths of stars and ankhs connecting the captions that define yet another sequencing...“ 

Artist J.H.Williams was inspired in several artists and historical and biblical references while doing the covers for this series:

01. The Radiant Heavenly City (Promethea in the center with Thoth in a blue circle to the left of her and Hermes in a red circle to the right.)
02. The Judgement of Solomon (says somewhere that this cover is a tribute to a noir movie poster (possibly The Big Sleep))
03. Misty Magic Land
04 A Faerie Romance (after Morris)
05. No Man's Land (after Leyen-Decker)
06. A Warrior Princess of Hy Brasil (after Brundage)
07. Rocks and Hard Places  (Obviously a take off on various True Romance Comic Books published from the 50's onwards)
08. Guys and Dolls (Terry Gilliam)
09. Bringing Down the Temple (A stained-glass window)
10. Sex, Stars and Serpents (based on “Sgt. Pepper” The Beatles cover album on the background one can see on the background people such as: Mata Hari, Billie Holiday, William Blake, Andrew Eldritch , Bettie Page, Aleister Crowley,David Bowie, Oscar Wilde, Winsor McCay,Janis Joplin , Clara Bow, Timothy Leary, H.P. Lovecraft,Orson Welles,Rita Hayworth,Albert Einstein,Lucille Ball, Charles Fort  and in the foreground on the left are Dorothy and Toto from the Wizard of Oz series and on the right is the little man in the red suit from Twin Peaks.)
11. Pseunami (Reminiscent of B grade SF schlock horror movie posters from the fifties).
12. Metaphore (after Maclean)
13. The Fields we know (after Parrish)
14. Moon River (attempting Virgil Finlay)
15. Mercury Rising (thanks Escher)
16. Love and the Law (thanks Peter Max)
17. Gold (after Dali)
18. Life on Mars (after Frazetta)
19. Fatherland (for love of Van Gogh)
20. The Stars are but Thistles (after Richard Upton Pickman)
21. The Wine of Her Fornications (Promethea here takes the place of the whore of Babylon sitting on a scarlet beast with 7 heads and 10 horns)

22. Et In Arcadia Ego ... (inspired by Poussin)
23. The Serpent and the Dove (inspired by Mucha)
24. Cross, Moon, Star, Shapes in the Sand (As can be seen on the cover the Cross refers to Christianity while the Star and the Moon are symbols of Islam)
25. A Higher Court (inspired by McCay)
27. When It Blows Its Stacks (Inspired by Ross Andru)
29. Valley of the Dolls (with admiration for Warhol)
30. Everything Must Go! (the word "sun" on the cover was intentional. this represents the sun card which is why we used the word and the image together. which will be much more apparent when the next 2 issues come out, 31 being "aeon" and 32 being "universe".)
31. The Radiant Heavenly City (inspired on the Art Nouveau movement)
32. Wrap party (A wrap party is the name given to a party at the end of the run of a play or the production of a film). 

Tomorrow Stories

From 1999 to 2005, Moore creates short funny stories and new characters:

Cobweb – Created by Moore and Melinda Gebbie
First American – Created by Moore and Jim Baikie
Greyshirt – Created by Moore and Rick Veitch
Jack B. Quick – Created by Moore and Kevin Nowlan
Splash Brannigan – Created by Moore and Hilary Barta

All the short stories of these characters  were real funny and I particularly love was issue 5 with a new technique by Melinda Gebbie that cut lots of old magazines and glued them making an excellent collage with drawings of cobweb everywhere and issue 9 with delirious drawings by artist Dame Darcy.

Top Ten
Released from 1999 to 2001 as a 12 issue, the story revolves around the day-to-day lives of the police officers at the 10th Precinct Police Station and is similar in tone to classic television police dramas like Hill Street Blues, which Moore has described as an influence. The book also addresses a wide range of prejudices and issues, but with a science-fiction twist; monsters, robots and fantasy creatures often face the bigotry and problems faced by real-world human minorities.

The series is noted for its comic-book references and visual "sight gags" relating to the genre. For example, a caped street-corner watch-vendor uses a cardboard sign advertising "signal watches", and a hot-dog vendor cooks his wares with heat vision. One plotline involves a boy-band called Sidekix whose hit single was called "Holy Broken Hearts". Likewise, most advertising, signage and graffiti in the Top 10 universe contains references to the world of comic books and super powers (e.g. a clothing store called "The Phonebooth") and crowd scenes usually feature many characters from sci-fi and comic books. 

On 2005 was released Top 10: The Forty-Niners that is set in 1949, in the founding days of Neopolis. After World War II, realizing that average citizens do not want to live next door to the science heroes, mutants, and robots largely responsible for the Allied victory, the U.S. government built Neopolis, where all of these exceptional people can live together. The story primarily follows a young Steve Traynor, a.k.a. Jetlad, the boy fighter ace who will later become Captain of Neopolis Police Precinct 10, from which the series derives its name. The primary story lines follow Jetlad's meeting with the great love of his life (seen at the end of Top 10: Book 2) and the formative days of the Neopolis Police, as they try to prove that they can bring order to the chaos of Neopolis in the face of vampire gangsters and bigotry against robots.

Dodgem Logic

Alan Moore always wanted to make a professional fanzine and Dodgem logic was what he made edited and published by him. The first issue appeared in December 2009, and there have been eight issues published until Spring 2011. Each issue features comics, stories, and articles by Moore, including the regular feature "Great Hipsters in History". The general tone of the magazine is irreverent and subversive, after the manner of The East Village Other and the National Lampoon. Regular artists and writers include Dave Hamilton, Melinda Gebbie, Kevin O'Neill, Steve Aylett, and Josie Long.

The first issue included a CD titled "Nation of Saints, 50 Years of Northampton music" (with new songs by Moore pseudonym Translucia baboon)  Included with the second issue, as an insert, was an eight page Alan Moore comic book, "Astounding Weird Penises" written and drawn by the magus.

Using Language, Imagination and Will, we create Reality
Alan Moore

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