“V for Vapid Vendetta’ Why Alan Moore is Giving BLM His Comics Royalties

 

 

On September 13, 2023, Alan Moore announced to the UK periodical The Telegraph that he was altering the conditions of his royalty arrangement with DC Comics. Prior to this announcement, Moore had refused any of the profits DC assessed as belonging to him due to DC’s earlier contracts with Moore for such properties as WATCHMEN and V FOR VENDETTA. He gave permission for the accountants at DC to re-route any such profits to his collaborators, while at the same time Moore refused to allow DC Comics to utilize his name on properties he had completed under those earlier contracts. As of September 13, however, Moore has communicated his wishes that DC should funnel any and all profits due Moore to the American activist organization Black Lives Matter.

 

This story is so recent that as yet no journalist has managed to ring up any of Moore’s collaborators to ask what they think of this alteration. But of course, none of them will be able to say much of anything beyond, “It’s Alan’s money and he can do what he wants with it.” The artist Dave Gibbons was paid both his original page rate for the WATCHMEN project and all subsequent royalties accruing to him. Thus any extra money he got due to Moore’s desire to wash his hands of All Things DC can only be regarded by Gibbons as pure gravy. If any artist-interviews of this kind take place, one or two artists may be offended by Moore’s baffling comment to the Telegraph that said collaborators have not “lived up to their principles,” a rather batty statement Moore does not elaborate upon. But none of the collaborators are likely to say Word One about Moore’s choice of charities.

 

 

Curiously, given Moore’s tendency for long political rants, he offered the Telegraph no justification for favoring Black Lives Matter. I’m led to wonder if, given his long-time residence in Northampton, England and his disavowal of the comics business for roughly ten years, he’s heard any of the scandals attached to BLM. Still, living in England doesn’t cut Moore off from all developments in the former colonies. Back in May 2023 The Daily Mail carried the story that BLM only directed 33% of its $90 million dollar donation income to charitable distributions. Of course, since Daily Mail is viewed as a right-leaning tabloid, Moore may have heard this claim and dismissed it, given his long history as an “anarchist” with marked Liberal leanings.

 

But still, there are millions of charities around the world, many of them in England, and many that might benefit Moore’s stomping grounds of Northern England. So why BLM?

 

Absent any justification from Moore himself, the most likely explanation is that Moore wants to encourage anything suggesting the sort of social revolt against conservatism that marks much of his work. Long before Moore’s acrimonious interactions with DC, he and David Lloyd began V FOR VENDETTA in 1982 for WARRIOR magazine. According to Moore the conflict of the revolutionary “V” is one of “anarchism” revolting against “fascism,” but all of Moore’s targets are standard representations of conservatism as they exist in both Britain and America. If there are ways in which “anarchism” could be “anti-Leftie,” Moore does not present any examples in V. Later, without any prompting from Moore personally, various activists adopted the “Guy Fawkes mask” seen in the Moore-Lloyd graphic novel and in the 2008 film adaptation, and to this day protesters continue to use the mask irregularly for various unrelated activist posturings. In a 2011 interview with The Guardian, Moore expressed amusement that Time-Warner, the corporation that owns the VENDETTA property as well as merchandising Guy Fawkes masks, was in effect encouraging anti-corporate sentiment to make its daily bread.

 

 

But I think the basis of Moore’s revolutionary ethos goes deeper than his wanting to twist the tail of DC Comics for having wronged him. In a graphic novel of the LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN under the title CENTURY, Moore devotes the first chapter to making the characters of the League— mostly Mina Murray, Orlando, and Alan Quatermain—look stupid while their author amuses himself with a reprise of Berthold Brecht’s incredibly overrated THREEPENNY OPERA. And even though the CENTURY series ends with the defeat of an Antichrist-like entity bent on universal destruction, Moore titles the third chapter, “Let It Come Down.”

 

I think it possible that Moore’s antipathy for all the things he deems “fascist”—including the entire superhero genre, if it’s not being directed at small children only—has affected his judgmental abilities. He displays no ability to discern when a given revolutionary group may be poorly organized, meretricious, and even harmful to the people it supposedly means to benefit—all accusations I would not hesitate to apply to BLM. That organization is all about causing chaos and letting other people clean up after them, and there’s ample evidence that they’re much more corrupt than, say, DC Comics. Again, Moore is free to send his money where he likes, but he would not be the first person to make a deal with a greater devil to defeat a lesser one.

 

*****

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Gene Phillips

Gene Phillips has been writing about comics (off and on) for roughly forty years, particularly in the pages of print-zines like AMAZING HEROES, COMIC INFORMER and COMICS JOURNAL. His JOURNAL review of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS was selected for Gale Publishing's CONTEMPORARY LITERARY CRITICISM. Currently he's engaged in attempting to review, not just every superhero movie, but every "superhero-adjacent" movie he can find on the blog THE GRAND SUPERHERO OPERA. Likes to honk off political critics by comparing popular culture to mythology.

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