Shiny Shelf

Alan Moore’s Writing For Comics

By Eddie Robson on 05 June 2003

Not strictly speaking a comic, but the nature of this publication means that it easily falls under the remit of our reviews section. It arrives at a highly convenient time for me – I’m working on a pitch for Marvel’s Epic imprint and trying to come up with ideas for any comic publisher with an open submissions policy – and I snapped it up.

There isn’t actually a massive amount to say about this because its appeal is self-explanatory. It reprints a series of four essays on the art of comics writing which Alan Moore put together in 1985 and adds a new afterword (and I mean ‘new’, it’s dated less than a month ago) in which he comments on his earlier advice from the perspective of a man who has, by now, seen the industry from all angles. Altogether it’s 47 pages long, it’ll take you about an hour to read and it is essential reading for anybody who has the slightest interest in writing for comics.

Those at the top of their creative profession are not always the best people to talk about it. They may be great, but they may also be arrogant, didactic, or simply poor at explaining their own craft. Thankfully this is not true of Moore. Not only is he the best creative mind that comics has ever been blessed with but he writes about the medium with more insight than practically anybody. He also does not talk down to the reader, treating them as a potential colleague whilst simultaneously being brutally frank about general standards of comics writing (sadly, this element of the essay still holds true today).

Not only is this vital reading for prospective comics writers, it will also be interesting for Moore fans – his advice in the afterword about subverting what your audience expects you to do with each new project explains a great deal about his career path (I also happen to think it’s a laudable principle). And given that a lot of his advice revolves around how to develop ideas, how to connect with your reader, how to make a story interesting and so on, it’s not all specific to comics. I’d say that eighty per cent of what’s here is useful advice for any writer.

For all those persons mentioned above, this is the very definition of a sound investment. It’s what you call learning from the master.

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By Eddie Robson

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