Alan Moore says comics have been all downhill since Watchmen

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

Watchmen is considered one of the best comic books of all time and a seminal work in the field. We all know that. But according to author Alan Moore, the 1986 book was actually the pinnacle of an art form, and nothing as good has been published since then.

In this Stool Pigeon interview, Moore explains how painful that is:

Initially Watchmen gained a lot of its readership because it was taking an unusual look at superheroes, but actually it was more about redefining comics than it was about redefining one particular genre.... And, as you say, there hasn't been a more sophisticated comic released in the 25 years since, which I find profoundly depressing, because it was intended to be something that expanded the possibilities of comics rather than what it has apparently become -- a massive psychological stumbling block that the rest of the industry has yet to find a way round.

That may come as a smack to fans of The Dark Knight, Sandman, Hellblazer and even Alan Moore's later work (say, Top Ten or the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). But while some might find Moore's statement one of arrogance, he seems honest in his assessment that the superheroes on the page aren't nearly as interesting as the superheroes in real life:

Everybody is becoming [a superhero]. In the past I've tried to say, 'Look, we are all crappy superheroes,' because personal computers and mobile phone devices are things that only Batman and Mr Fantastic would have owned back in the sixties. We've all got this immense power and we're still sat at home watching pornography and buying scratch cards. We're rubbish, even though we are as gods.

In the interview Moore also discussed his most recent project, Unearthing, a two-hour spoken-word reading with instrumentation. He also touched on personal details, such as his formerly heavy LSD use (50 or 60 trips a year), his current use of mushrooms (in ritual use only) and his practice of magic.

But as with his other interviews (which he rarely gives), the conversation always goes back to Watchmen. Unlike most comics, which are scripted panel by panel before the artist can start to draw, Watchmen was written "as it went along." Moore (with the help of artist David Gibbons) realized he could take his premise farther than he initially realized. "In every issue, we were trying to push it a bit further. We were thinking, 'Are we doing something new with the storytelling? Are we doing something that hasn't been seen before?'" Moore succeeded. With a complex storyline and subtle references that demand re-reading, Watchmen really is a genre-defining work.

You can say whatever you want about Moore in the comments (within our guidelines, of course). He'll probably never read this, because he doesn't use the Internet.

Make Your Inbox Important

Get our newsletter and you’ll be delivered the most interesting stories, videos and interviews weekly.

Sign-up breaker