Alan Moore must be a tough gig for a biographer. Where other comics creators can recount tales of jet-set adventures, big-screen success and, in Grant Morrison's case, apparent alien abductions, Moore has spent his life happily in one place: his home town of Northampton. Sure, he's had the sex and the drugs, but he's open about that stuff anyway. There appears to be little gossip to uncover.
Instead, M agic Words tells its subject’s life story through his work. The biggies ( Watchmen , V For Vendetta and so on) are covered in depth, but so are obscurities like Maxwell The Magic Cat . Gary Spencer Millidge's 2011 book Storyteller covered much of this with the aid of unpublished material, but this volume beats it for the sheer level of detail.
Central to the book is Moore's, er, fractious relationship with the comics industry, most notably DC over their handling of Watchmen . From the outside it's sometimes seemed like Moore was careless in his business dealings, but Magic Words leaves you with the impression of an artist who, perhaps naïvely, assumed that he was working with friends.
Throughout, Lance Parkin is witty and informed. He's a devotee of Moore's work, but not uncritical. He's also happy to point out his protagonist's contradictions. You come away with an understanding of Moore the artist, but his day-to-day life remains discreetly hidden. Just, you suspect, as Moore likes it.
Will Salmon twitter.com/evilrobotbill
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