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. 

34 comments:

Ken said...

never read a graphic novel is this a good place to start?

adrian mckinty said...

Ken

No.

League III Century 1969 isnt a graphic novel yet anyway. It will be one day but at the moment its still in comic book form. (Part 3 comes out in a few months.) And its far too confusing to start with this one.

Start with Watchmen. Its got a neat, tight self contained story.

Batman: The Dark Knight is also good. And if you like that I rec Batman: Red Son.

Steven Miscandlon said...

Joe Straczynski (one of the writers involved with the Watchmen prequels) presents his perspective on it here, it's well worth a read: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=336153143086222&id=139652459402959

I'm not sure about greed driving it but, yeah ... profit, certainly. But that's what companies do.

speedskater42k said...

Another good graphic novel is Neil Gaiman's Sandman series.

speedskater42k said...

But, on further reflection, the graphic novel I'd highly recommend is Art Spiegelman's Maus I and Maus II. These are spectacular books.

Gavin said...

I think Alan Moore's case is even worse than just what he's done for "League," where you could at least argue that Mina Harker et al are in the public domain.

Some of his great early work was on titles like "Swamp Thing" and "Superman." Siegel and Shuster (the Superman creators) were as upset at DC as he claims to be.

Gavin said...
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Matt said...

Good read Adrian.

Ken, if your tastes run towards crime (which is likely since you follow this blog) I strongly suggest Scalped by Jason Aaron.
If you enjoy war stories, try Battlefields or War Stories by Garth Ennis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TzlAnlMmj4

Cary Watson said...

The best graphic novel I've ever come across is The Arrival by Shaun Tan. He's an Aussie from Melbourne, and he's won a ton of Australian and international awards, including an Oscar for best short animated film in 2011. The Arrival (winner of a Hugo award) is a wordless graphic novel about the immigrant experience but done in a fantastical/alternate reality style. I found it shelved in the kids' section at the library, but it's really more appreciated by adults.

adrian mckinty said...

Steven


Its a good piece and I respect what he did on Babylon 5 but I still wish he wasnt doing it.

adrian mckinty said...

Speedskater

Yeah Maus is the obvious choice. Duh.

adrian mckinty said...

Gavin

Siegel and Shuster were so screwed over by DC its almost unbelievable.

I dont know if Marvel treated people any better but you dont hear tales like that from Stan Lee.

adrian mckinty said...

Matt

Garth Ennis is a favourite of mine too.

adrian mckinty said...

Cary

Shaun Tan came to my daughter's school to talk and read The Arrival and now she's got a signed copy. I was skeptical of how good a "silent comic" could actually be until I read the bloody thing. Brilliant.

adrian mckinty said...

ahh, the first of the Australian reviews of The Cold Cold Ground is in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning.

adrian mckinty said...

And here's the review in my hometown paper


The Melbourne Age

adrian mckinty said...

Oh and here's what the Irish Times has to say about The Cold Cold Ground this morning:

The Irish Times

Money Quote:

"The novel is a literary thriller that is as concerned with exploring the poisonously claustrophobic demi-monde of Northern Ireland during the Troubles, and the self-sabotaging contradictions of its place and time, as it is with providing the genre’s conventional thrills and spills. The result is a masterpiece of Troubles crime fiction: had David Peace, Eoin McNamee and Brian Moore sat down to brew up the great Troubles novel, they would have been very pleased indeed to have written The Cold Cold Ground."

adrian mckinty said...

That last review is from my brother in arms Declan Burke but it still counts.

seana said...

I don't think we should downplay Declan's review just because he knows you. He's a very just reviewer.

I had no idea and was uite amazed that there was any connection between the Get Carter movie, which was great, and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie, which, to be tactful, was not.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

True. Declan is scrupulously fair and honest. And if he thinks something youve done is bullshit he'll tell you to your face. In fact he has to me.

There is no link between the movie and the movie. DC comics sold the movie rights to League and they wrote an original story based on the League premise. All 3 League comics have been good unlike the movie which was terrible. Alan Moore of course has disowned every movie adaptation of his comics and has insisted that his name be removed from the credits of every one of them.

I think the 4 hour cut of Watchmen is about the best movie version of a Moore comic.

seana said...

I realized that there was not a filmmaker's connection, but I didn't even know that the characater of Carter had any kind of life outside the movie, and, well, Michael Caine.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

Yup there's a book and I think two prequels.

And there's League III Century 1969 where he has quite a big role.

seana said...

For some reason it really fascinates me that Carter would jump out of a fairly realistic work into such a fantastical one.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Ken, you might also like Ex Machina, a political/comic/fantasy story about a man who acquires the power to communicate with machines and gets elected mayor of New York City. Or the superb Scalped.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

I wonder if Moore got permission to use the Carter character or Michael Caine's image. I suspect not.

adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Ex Machina I've read and liked.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, it's no surprise to me that someone who lived in New York might like Ex-Machina's take on the city. That's a nice fantasy, to have a virtuous, wise-cracking mayor who loves comics.

Matt said...

Adrian, I don't know if you ever read Ennis' series about the Belfast private investigators...not for the easily offended...and perhaps for the juvenile...

L.H. Thomson said...

Bah. I assume by almost perfect you're referring to the giant squid.

Everything was absolutely brilliant up until then. I actually liked the movie ending better.

Not sure there's a point in a Watchmen prequel, but some crossovers featuring the heroes from the 1940s and 50s (from war jingoism to McCarthyism) would be cool.

adrian mckinty said...

Peter

And where is Ed Koch when we need him.

adrian mckinty said...

Matt

Havent got to that one yet.

adrian mckinty said...

LH

Giant Squid and tales from the black freighter which went on too long for me.

seana said...

No, where is Fiorello La Guardia when we need him?

Yes, he was before even my time, but I remember my parents telling me about him reading the comic strips over the radio. I only just learned that this was because the newspapers were on strike, and he told the parents to gather the kids to listen.

Also, he was an oxymoron in contemporary politics--a liberal Republican.

Peter Rozovsky said...

I think Koch gets a mention or two in Ex-Machina. Not sure about LaGuardia.