Saturday, February 4, 2012

Jack Carter, Alan Moore and A Watchmen Prequel?

Among the highlights of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III Century 1969 is the appearance of Jack Carter. Carter is an iconic figure in British crime writing culture. People know of him either through the novel Jack's Return Home or from Mike Hodges's brilliant Geordie Noir, Get Carter. If you haven't read the book or watched the film then you are really missing on a treat and you must do so at once! I saw the film first which stars Michael Caine in his best movie role as a London gangster who returns to Geordieland to find out what happened to his recently deceased brother. In the course of one weekend he manages to raise enough hell to last for decades. 
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Century 1969 takes place just before Carter's trip to the north. Although he doesn't officially join The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Carter plays a pivotal role in (temporarily) ending the reign of terror of an Aleister Crowley figure who has not only killed Brian Jones but now wants to take over Mick Jagger's body. With steely determination Carter (drawn in the comic as Michael Caine) finds out what happened to Jones and tracks Crowley down to his lair. As a precaution against the libel lawyers many of the names of real people in Century 1969 have been changed (and in real life of course it was Jimmy Page who was obsessed with Crowley not Jagger) but they're easy to spot with a little effort. 
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Alan Moore has been in the news recently bitching to The New York Times about DC Comics' plans for a Watchmen Prequel. I think DC is making a mistake attempting to do Watchmen without Moore and it will sully the reputation of an almost perfect comic the way the Matrix sequels ruined the mythology of the Matrix. But the big beardy Necromancer from Northampton is attempting to have it both ways. Moore himself freely borrows other peoples fictional creations: Allan Quartermain, Jack Carter, Mina Harker etc. in his League comics. And as Mark Hughes points out in a Forbes Magazine blog (?!) this is only the half of it. Moore's erotica comic Lost Girls takes Peter Pan, Wendy, Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz) et. al. to places where no one really wants them to go. Lost Girls is not quite as shocking Hughes's portrayal of it in his piece but I completely understand his point about the hypocrisy of Moore's stance. 
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Saying all that though I am firmly in the camp that wishes the Watchmen prequels were not happening. Greed rather than fan demand is what's driving DC here.