Shiny Shelf

Alan Moore’s Yuggoth Cultures and Other Growths #2

By Eddie Robson on 01 December 2003

A word of warning: do not read this comic on the bus. Or on the train, or in a cafe, or indeed anywhere that someone might see you. Not because it’s embarrassing in the way that being caught reading Chuck Austen’s ‘Uncanny X-Men’ is, but because there’s a story in here – ‘Recognition’ – that’s so explicit it features the disclaimer ‘All characters depicted in this story are over the age of eighteen’. Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘graphic novel’, I can tell you.

Avatar’s collection of Moore miscellany holds more appeal for those with a particular interest in Moore than those simply on the lookout for a good read. It’s the comics equivalent of The Beatles’ ‘Anthology’ CDs and this issue of ‘Yuggoth Cultures’ is more of a mixed bag than last month’s, offering nothing as historically interesting as the long-lost ‘Nightjar’. However, its variety of short stories makes it more self-contained and an effective demonstration of the great man’s versatility.

We get another couple of extracts from the aborted ‘Yuggoth Cultures’ novel set to images here, and it has to be said that this is not the ideal way to present them. If Moore wasn’t a comics writer nobody would have thought to attempt this, and with good reason: but ‘Recognition’ is the most successful attempt thus far to adapt one of these pieces into sequential art, since it’s by far the least abstract, and it functions reasonably well.

In addition we get a couple more collaborations with Bryan Talbot – ‘Cold Snap’ and ‘The Nativity on Ice’. The latter is a frenetic and rather thin gag strip, but the former is a great example of Moore’s ability to get mileage out of situations where others would stall. The idea of dinosaurs acting like people has been done several times, but Moore finds some great jokes still to be had: ‘We should never have elected a Lesothosaurus. I mean… what do we know about him? Nothing!’ The other strip, with some nice Val Semieks artwork, is ‘Itchy Peterson: Born Lucky I Guess’, a cleverly worked examination of the life and times of a werewolf-turned actor.

The one obvious thing missing from ‘Yuggoth Cultures’ is any information on when the material was originally written and where it first appeared (or where it was supposed to have appeared, in the case of previously unpublished pieces). After Talbot’s very good article on the genesis of ‘Nightjar’ this comes as a disappointment, since all this issue needs is a page of text to round the anthology off. Perhaps this could be rectified in issue #3, which features the eagerly awaited Moore/Zarate ‘From Hell’ coda?

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By Eddie Robson

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