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Exceptionally idiosyncratic Alan Moore.

Photograph: Phil Fisk


There is a certain degree of swagger, a sudden interruption of panache, as Alan Moore
enters the rather sterile aterstones office where he has agreed to speak to !e. The "ut
of #eard, the ringed fingers, the walking stick one feels he could use as a wand or a
cudgel at any !o!ent: he looks like $agrid%s wayward #rother or &andalf%s louche
cousin. $e has a laugh that !ight topple #uildings, though ' dou#t the !an who
rein(ented the superhero co!ic would want such powers. $e is here to pro!ote
Fashion Beast, a pro"ect that is unusual e(en in ter!s of a career that has #een
exceptionally idiosyncratic. Fashion Beast, an idea initiated #y punk legend Malcol!
Mc)aren, was to ha(e #een a fil!. 't is now * +, years later * a co!ic #ook. The story
charts the relationship #etween a reclusi(e fashion designer, -elestine, an apprentice,
.ign into the &uardian using your Face#ook account
Alan Moore: %hy shouldn%t you ha(e
a #it of fun while dealing with the
deepest issues of the !ind/%
Alan Moore talks about Fashion Beast, Jacques Derrida and
modern superheroes
Stuart Kelly
The &uardian, Friday ++ 0o(e!#er +123 24.11 &MT
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5onni Tare, and their fa(ourite !odel, 6oll. As one !ight expect fro! the author of V
For Vendetta, Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Lost Girls, it
co!#ines satiric wit and furious philippic, the politically radical with the sexually
a!#iguous. Perhaps strangest of all, Moore can #arely re!e!#er writing it.
' tell Moore how delightful it is to #e speaking to hi! a#out an
un!ade fil! that turned into a co!ic, rather than a co!ic of his
turned into a fil!. Moore has #een outspoken in the past a#out
his disdain for the latter. $e !akes a characteristic cross #etween
a laugh and a harru!ph, and says: 7't was certainly a lot !ore
agreea#le fro! !y point of (iew. My !ain point a#out fil!s is
that ' don%t like the adaptation process, and ' particularly don%t
like the !odern way of co!ic #ook8fil! adaptations, where,
essentially, the central characters are "ust franchises that can #e
worked endlessly to no apparent point. 'n !ost cases, the
original co!ic #ooks were far superior to the fil!. ith this, it
started out as !y first8e(er fil! script or atte!pt at one. ' was
pleased with the results and ' think that Malcol! was 9uite
pleased with the results, #ut through circu!stances 9uite
unconnected to either of us the fil! ne(er got !ade. .o it was
kind of existing in a weird hinterland of !y !e!ory.7
7't was pro#a#ly ne(er going to #e realised,7 he continues, 7#ut
when !y pu#lisher said he%d !anaged to find a copy of the screenplay and suggested
that perhaps he get the excellent writer Anthony 5ohnson to do the adaptation '
didn%t know whether it would work #ut it sounded (ery handy in that ' wouldn%t ha(e to
do any la#our at all. That was what attracted !e to the pro"ect. :ut then when the
!aterial started to co!e in, it was (ery unusual. For one thing, the adaptation had #een
really s!ooth. And when ' started to see what Facundo Percio had done with the
artwork, it was a fantastic experience #ecause '%d co!pletely forgotten e(erything to do
with Fashion Beast. 't really was like reading so!ething that was #y so!e#ody else, and
' was 9uietly i!pressed with !yself. ' was pretty pleased with it,7 he #ea!s.
Fashion Beast
#y Alan Moore,
Malcol! Mc)aren
Tell us what you
think: .tar8rate and
re(iew this #ook
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For a story concei(ed in 2;,<, Fashion Beast #oth foreshadows later Moore works and
see!s eerily as if it were written with foreknowledge of what would transpire in the
world in the inter(ening years. 72;,</ :li!ey=7 he #ellows, with a startled look in his
eyes. 7as it that early/ ' hadn%t re!e!#ered it was ,<, #ut ' had accepted it was
pro#a#ly late ,1s and ' was (ery surprised #ecause there is a lot of the politics that
would #e expanded on in other works, the sexual politics certainly. There%s also so!e
precursors to !y !agical thinking> we%re talking a#out fashion as an al!ost sha!anistic
acti(ity, so ' was (ery surprised to find that '%d #een thinking a#out all these things #ack
then.7
Mc)aren, Moore says, was pitching the fil! as 7a !ash8up of Beauty and the Beast and
the life of -hristian 6ior. $e had these other ele!ents as well * a #it like Chinatown
and a #it like Flashdance, which ' was #owled o(er #y. ' think he was expecting !e to
#ring political depth and sexual politics to the !ix.
7't was Malcol! who suggested that the !ain characters #e a #oy who looks like a girl
who looks like a #oy and (ice (ersa. hat was strange was that, actually, in 2;,< this
was no#ody%s (ision of the fashion industry. .ince then, fashion and fascis! ha(e crept
closer: you%(e got 5ohn &alliano doing his pro!otional #its for the Third ?eich, you%(e
got Alexander Mc@ueen killing hi!self, you%(e got Aersace and that horri#le, (iolent
stalker co!ing for hi!. .ince it was written, al!ost all of it has co!e true apart fro!
the nuclear winter, #ut ' think we%re working on that. The actual society that the story
happens in is !uch !ore like the society we ha(e now than culture was in 2;,<.7
Mc)aren was descri#ed as a 7couturier situationniste7, and ' wondered what Moore felt
a#out the !o(e!ent. A few !o!ents of trading slogans co!!enced B7't is for#idden
to for#id7, 7:e rational: de!and the i!possi#le7, 7A !ental disease has swept the
planet: #analisation7C, and Moore was in full flow. 7'%! a lot of things,7 he says. 7'%(e got
a great deal of sy!pathy with the situationist position. .ituationis! is one of the roots
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of psychogeography.
7' like 5ac9ues 6errida, ' think he%s funny. ' like !y philosophy with a few "okes and
puns. ' know that that offends other philosophers> they think he%s not taking things
seriously, #ut he co!es up with so!e !ar(ellous puns. hy shouldn%t you ha(e a #it
of fun while dealing with the deepest issues of the !ind/ The situationists * ' like their
style, ' like their attitude, ' like the %#elow the street the #each%> ' like that it was
#asically a !ore intellectual take and a !ore artistic take on anarchist principles.
Malcol! was a situationist: the last ti!e ' was talking to hi!, he was trying to !ake
!usic with so!e people out of &a!e :oy chips. 't sounded like it !ight #e ru##ish, #ut
' liked the spirit he #rought to e(erything. $e was fiery, he was su#(ersi(e and ' think
he !eant it.7
Dne underesti!ates Moore at one%s peril: yes, he !ay ha(e written Swam Thing, #ut
he did so while reading continental philosophy. Fashion Beast is a#out oedipal
influences * who can inha#it and su#(ert the !aster%s (oice/ .e(eral writers ha(e
acknowledged Moore as a key influence: 0eil &ai!an told !e Moore !ade a whole
generation possi#le. Fashion Beast is a#out apprentices and !asters, pupils and
teachers. .o how does he feel a#out this/ 7' don%t generally read (ery !uch at all. '%(e
got no pro#le! with people taking certain inspirations or perhaps #eing interested in
one of !y ideas, #ut it%s i!portant they !ake it their own (oice, not !y (oice or an echo
of !y (oice. 'f #eing influenced #y !y work is part of a process leading the! to de(elop
their own proper (oices, then '%! glad. ' #elie(e -hina MiE(ille gets a lot of respect> '%(e
not read his stuff, #ut '%(e heard he%s done that. &rant Morrison has actually
self8confessedly !ade a tactic of not only #asing so!e of his narrati(es on !y style or
!y work #ut also trying to !ake hi!self !ore fa!ous #y slagging !e off at e(ery
opportunity. ' ha(e nothing to do with hi!.7
hen ' !ention that &eoff 5ohns has done a whole series of Green Lantern #ased on
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his story 7Tygers7, he gets tetchy. 70ow, see,7 he says, 7' ha(en%t read any superhero
co!ics since ' finished with Watchmen. ' hate superheroes. ' think they%re
a#o!inations. They don%t !ean what they used to !ean. They were originally in the
hands of writers who would acti(ely expand the i!agination of their nine8 to
238year8old audience. That was co!pletely what they were !eant to do and they were
doing it excellently. These days, superhero co!ics think the audience is certainly not
nine to 23, it%s nothing to do with the!. 't%s an audience largely of 318, F18, <18, 418year
old !en, usually !en. .o!eone ca!e up with the ter! graphic no(el. These readers
latched on to it> they were si!ply interested in a way that could (alidate their continued
lo(e of Green Lantern or Sider!"an without appearing in so!e way e!otionally
su#nor!al. This is a significant ru!p of the superhero8addicted, !ainstrea!8addicted
audience. ' don%t think the superhero stands for anything good. ' think it%s a rather
alar!ing sign if we%(e got audiences of adults going to see the #$engers !o(ie and
delighting in concepts and characters !eant to entertain the 2+8year8old #oys of the
2;<1s.7
$a(ing seen co!ics turned into !o(ies, and fil!8scripts turned into co!ics, Moore is
!ost concerned with %erusalem, his fiction.
7' a! currently on the last official chapter, which ' a! doing so!ewhat in the style of
6os Passos. 't should #e finished #y the end of the year or close to it. ' don%t know if
anyone else will like it at all,7 he !uses. ' say that ' can%t wait, and that it strikes
!e that the style he and the likes of 'ain .inclair and Michael Moorcock pioneered has
#eco!e central to literary culture. $e sighs, shaking the walls: 7Dh &od, ha(e we/ Dh
no, we%re the !ainstrea!=7
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