Alan Moore vs the world in League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009
Watchmen's author Alan Moore continues to revise the characters of popular culture in Century 2009...
The wizard behind many of the great graphic novels of the modern age, Alan Moore, has been the talk of the town this month.
Most of the conversation centres around the Before Watchmen event that's been launched this month by DC Publishing - Den of Geek has articles on this here. Before Watchmen has come under criticism from many fans of Moore's series, claiming that any additional material published would probably not add anything to what is widely considered the best graphic novel of all time.
There is also the issue that DC have decided to go ahead with the publication despite Moore’s expressed wish that they should not. Add to the mix the issues of sold rights, creator-owned work and whether new and different authors can add something solid and worthwhile to the vision of an original character - cough, Sherlock anyone? - and you have a melting pot of controversy.
This debate is old news - so what else has got people discussing Moore now?
Published this month is the third part of Moore’s League Of Extraordinary Gentleman epic, Century 2009. Although the League isn’t a new concept, with its first issues published over a decade ago, it has transferred many of literature's iconic characters in situations far from their fictional plots into new circumstances.
In Century 2009 a new character has been added to Moore's growing cross-fictional tableau: a wizard with a scar who rides a magical train to a school of magic. Make no mistake - this is no Harry Potter. This parody version of JK Rowling's famous wizard portrays him as the Antichrist in what appears to be a sardonic commentary on book franchises, media portrayal of wizards, the education system, pop culture or whatever else you would like to read into it.
Moore’s latest offering is released in tandem with Before Watchmen, and re-working a character like Harry Potter could be considered be the ultimate slap in the face of our regurgative literary culture. Then again, it could be coincidence.
This Independent reports, "What better representative of modern pop literature than JK Rowling's boy wizard? Moore's distaste for modern culture is made obvious, in keeping with his stance on the comics publishers he feels betrayed him."
What is clear is that changes to character names and situations are to provide protection from Rowling. It seems a shame when the other characters in the books are so far from copyright as to not need such disguises.
Use of unoriginal characters and parodies further muddies the water with regards to intellectual copyright, whether that be in a comic book or a novel, and it's unfortunate that some good work may be lost in a haze of rage that follows such publications. After all, fans of Harry Potter are unlikely to look too kindly on seeing their favourite wizard portrayed in such a manner.
Perhaps it's best not to judge a book by its characters' previous incarnations?
League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009 is available in comic stores and online.