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the following interview originally published in Ptolemaic


Terrascope issue 8, 1991

PT: When did you recognise that you actually had a talent
for drawing and writing?

AM: I wouldn't say that I ever recognised a talent, only that I


enjoyed doing it. Ever since I was a kid I've had an extremely heavy
fantasy life. I've always been interested in dreams, mythology,
science fiction, super-heroes and the rest of the physical real-world
around me I paid very little attention to. I remember the hippy
period. It seemed like everyone was harking back to an earlier
agricultural time, or some sort of mythic past, but what it really
was, was a Peter Pan generation which had reached the point
where they were going to have to grow up. It was an age when you
were almost encouraged to indulge in your fantasy life - it suited
me perfectly.

And I suppose I just liked creating things. I really like being around
other people who are creating things, and at the Grammar school
then there were a lot of creative people around. There was the
Northampton Arts Lab - that was a massive part of my
development. It encoraged me to experiment so much. It gave me
an attitude to Art that lasted me for the rest of my life, taught me a
lot more than any of the lessons at school did.

PT: Then there was the 'Embryo' magazine...

AM: Yeah, I've read a couple of issues since and not without some
embarrassment! There were some good poets in there.

PT: I've got them lurking in the attic somewhere....

AM: Don't drag them out and print them, Gerald. It's more than
your life's worth! I'm earning enough now to have you killed!
[Laughs]. 'Embryo' was good fun to do at the time, though. I think
probably that somewhere in it was a vehicle for chatting up the
girls at Notre Dame School, if I'm totally honest!

Alan went on to get himself expelled from school on a


trumped up drugs charge and "for wearing a green wooly
hat to school". He got himself a job in a hide and skin
yard taking the wool off of sheepskins with chemicals for
two months, got fired for the same reason as he'd left
school, cleaned toilets, worked at a stationers, got
married at 20 and "at one point was involved in the
building of Milton Keynes, for which I'm going to burn in
Hell" - and eventually ended up on the dole and decided
never to work at a job again, concentrating instead on
doing something creative. "I did that for about a year

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without actually doing anything, and then suddenly


something clicked and I thought right, I'm going to
interpret this into a comic strip". The next step was to
submit, unbidded, a "bizarre alcoholic detective strip
about a character who thinks he's Sam Spade and talks
out of the side of his mouth' to the now sadly-defunct
'Sounds' weekly music paper. A telegram was received in
return agreeing to run it each week.

AM: It was a couple of months before I could afford to go legit and


sign off the dole, which is why I was using the Kurt Vile pseudonym
at the time. Then there was this really strange story.... my local
newsagent shop knew I had a strip in 'Sounds' and there was this
rep. from the Northants Post [newspaper] who went in there who
said they were looking for a strip. I worked hard and did a sample
strip called 'The Nutter's Ruin' which was a parody of The Archers
[radio show] - very strange and surreal. The rep had meanwhile
been fired because he was going around telling lies to people; I
'phoned them up and they said 'Oh, bring it in anyway and let's
have a look' so I took it in and they didn't like it, said "If you can do
something geared more towards children, perhaps a strip about a
little cat or something....". I didn't really want to so a strip for
children about a little cat but I did something, 'Maxwell The Magic
Cat', which was sort of based on a cat we had at the time called
Tonto. The first few episodes were more or less children's fare and
then I started sneaking things in... it just got stranger and stranger
and eventually they moved it off the children's page and onto the
entertainments page. I'd do ones about tins of cat food waiting on
Death Row. Liver chunks in oyster sauce and scenes like the one
from that Cagney movie where he screams all the way to the chair;
I had one of these tins of cat food screaming all the way to the can
opener.

PT: What about the pseudonym 'Jill de Ray'?

AM: I just like using pseudonyms. Kurt Vile, although it was


spelled 'Vile' was obviously Kurt Weill and Jill de Ray is a
corruption of Gilles de Rais who was a notorious French child
murderer. It was because I was pissed off with them for asking me
to do a children's strip. Maxwell The Cat was fun though, I carried
on doing it long after it was profitable for me to do so.

PT: And you were doing the 'Sounds' strip, 'Roscoe


Moscow'?

AM: When Roscoe Moscow finished I did another strip called 'The
Stars My Degredation', science fiction parody script. That was very
good but mainly I was doing an apprenticeship in public, learning
the ropes and getting paid thirty five quid a week for it. With the
ten quid I was getting for Maxwell, that put me over the forty-five
quid so I could sign off the dole and I was actually making a living
doing something I wanted to do.

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PT: In 1980 you started to do some scripts for 2000 AD


and the Dr. Who comic?

AM: I was starting to realise that basically I couldn't draw well


enough, or fast enough, to make a living out of it and at the same
time I had picked up an awful lot about how to tell a comic book
story. Since script writing seemed to be something I could do a lot
faster and a lot quicker I got hold of a friend, Steve Moore, who was
working at British Comics at the time and asked him how to lay out
a script and who to send it to. They rejected the one I sent in but
said they liked the way I told a story so I wrote another which was
accepted, so I was supplementing my income from the sale of the
strip and Maxwell the Magic Cat with the occasional script for
2000 AD and Dr. Who Weekly, and slowly I got more script writing
work.

PT: So do you see that as really the beginning of your


career?

AM: I don't know, it's all an evolution, there's no point where it


starts. I stopped drawing altogether and I've been doing nothing
but script writing for the best part of ten years now, and it's been
really rewarding. I don't know though, I may take a break from
doing comic writing.

PT: There's been lots of notable quotes about you from


quite famous people. Michael Moorcock said you are to
comics what Verdi was to opera, and there's been all sorts
of quotes from people like Brian Aldiss. As a comic writer
and strip writer you've won may awards. Let's just take
you through the years when it really started to happen for
you; in 1981 for example you were approached to do
'Warrior' magazine. How did that come about?

AM: It was basically at the point where I had been working for
2000 AD, I had been working for Dr. Who and it was nice doing
stories I enjoyed doing, but they were only basically little
background fill-in stories, nobody had offered me the chance to do
an extended series with one character that I could develop. With
'Warrior' the deal was with was a sort of comic entrepreneur, a
bloke called Des Skin who was quite notorious in the industry at
the time as a bit of a shark - he offered us a deal whereby we
wouldn't get very much money but he would allow us to do what we
wanted which was a very heady and inspiring idea. I think all the
people who worked on 'Warrior' turned out some of the best work
of their careers to date. The strip I was mostly involved in was
'Marvel Man' which was an update of the dopey 1950s British
super-hero of the same name.

PT: Was there copyright on that?

AM: No, it had gone out of copyright when the company had gone
bust. It was in the hands of the official receiver, so it was up for

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grabs. We tried to do comics as we wanted them to be, it was the


artists and writers being allowed to do the sort of comics that they
wanted to do.

PT: Were you in contact with other writers?

AM: Yeah, it was really a good feeling of cameraderie then - one


which I've not had since. There were seven or eight writers and
we'd go down to London and meet up and have a drink and try to
impress each other. It was friendly competition.

PT: Were you working with a particular artist at the time?

AM: I was working with two or three artists. Mainly with Gary
Leach and, following that, Alan Davies and on 'V for Vendetta', the
other strip I started on, with David Lloyd who is a very, very good
artist.

PT: How did you communicate with one another?

AM: Mainly by telephone, postal, or sometimes on rare occasions


we would meet up and talk face-to-face. So there was still that
sense of cameraderie. To me, one of my greatest skills as a writer is
nothing to do with how I write, it's how I relate to artists. It's a very
intense, almost emotional relationship with an artist. It's like
having babies, creating something that is important to both of you
and which is going to have something of both of you in it. There's
not many arts that allow that sort of collaboration, and I've always
tried to put the relationship with artists first and foremost; I want
the artist to be happy with what they're drawing. My scripts are the
longest and the most detailed in the industry, for one page of actual
comic I've probably written three to five pages of script. Working
with different artists, they're all creative people in their own right,
they've all got their own viewpoints, their own ideas. Working with
Melinda Gebbie (on 'Lost Girls') has taught me more about colour
than I have ever known before. Working with Bill (Sienkiewkz, on
'Big Numbers') has taught me a lot about style and light. Every
artist, every collaboration, ought to teach you something. It's a
really healthy process, you feel good after it.

PT: After you did the 'Warrior' comic, the Americans


started to take an interest?

AM: I started to get 'Eagle' awards for the Warrior, the name comes
from England's most famous comic, The Eagle, and they're voted
for by a couple of hundred comic fans... it's no indication of quality,
but I won them for two or three years running which didn't mean
anything really. I don't like the awards system, there's too many
losers and only one winner, but the Americans are very impressed
by awards, they thought "Gee, there's this award-winning English
author, let's get him over here". I didn't actually get over there, I
was working in London and sending the scripts over. I was given
this book called 'Swamp Thing' which was really the pits of the
industry. At the time it was just on the verge of cancellation, selling

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17000 copies and you can't do comics beneath that level.

PT: Who was it originated by?

AM: It was a DC comic originated by two guys called Len Wein and
Bernie Wrightson back in the '70s. It had been a fan favourite at
the time, but after they left it had gone downhill and wasn't very
interesting. They had revived the title because of the first Swamp
Man films; somehow they had sold the rights to do a movie which
they thought was going to be a smash hit. As it turned out it was a
complete flop, one of the most awful films I have ever seen in my
life. You could even see all the zips running down the back of the
creature's legs! So they were stuck with the comic book, it was
losing sales so they had nothing to lose and sent it to me. I was
lucky enough to be working with two brilliant artists who have
since become close personal friends, Steve Bissette and John
Totleben. There was a lot of enthusiasm between the three of us
and we really had fun doing Swamp Thing. We changed the whole
character around and it started picking up readers, became really
popular and started winning awards. It pretty well cemented my
reputation in America.

PT: You did the 'Watchmen' with DC comics - you got a lot
of mainstream interest, a kind of credibility evolved and
your international fame started to happen...

AM: All of a sudden I didn't just get recognised if I walked into a


comic shop, I was getting recognised by people in the street who
had seen me on telly or had seen my photograph in 'The Observer'.

PT: Then there was a big bust-up with DC Comics?

AM: What basically happened was that there had been trouble
brewing ever since we did 'Warrior' - the comic creators of the past
had been people who looked upon it as a job, "I'll write a few silly
stories for kids, I can do that easily and make a bit of money".
When I started writing for comics I would have said that my
average readership would have been around nine to thirteen year
olds. Now, I remember that when I was that age I was a pretty
smart cookie, so I would always try not to write down. I vowed I
would never do anything that I didn't enjoy because that would
have been worse than carrying on cleaning toilets or dragging
sheep skins out of vats of blood. It would have been compromising.
Now I'm a grown-up I cannot indefinitely enjoy childish stories,
I've got a very low boredom threshold - I wanted to do stuff that
was interesting. When I started talking about things that were
more grown-up, more adults started to look at the strips because
there were things in there that they could relate to. So by the time I
did '2000 AD' a lot of the readers were not 9 - 13, they were 9 - 18,
and by the time I was doing 'Swamp Thing' we were getting letters
in from 25 year olds as well. That struck me as great, now I put my
readership somehwere between thirteen and forty year olds, and
that's how I want it.

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PT: It's never existed before I suppose?

AM: Comics have changed. As I say, the guys who used to work in
the medium just picked up their pay cheque, they hadn't got any
artistic potential. People of my generation, mostly a bunch of
ex-hippies, got into the medium because we liked comics, we
thought there were possibilities in comics. To me, comics is an art
form that is just as capable of producing great work as the cinema,
literature, conventional painting and music. The tragedy with
comics is that it's been kept in the nursery for too many years, it's
only seen as a children's art-form. Now you've got a whole
generation of cartoonists who want to address concerns that they,
as adults, are interested in. When 'Watchmen' came about there
was Frank Miller's work on 'Dark Knight', there was the Fernandez
brothers working on 'Love And Rockets', there was Art Spiegelman
doing a brilliant retelling of the Holocaust in terms of mice and cats
entitled 'Maus'. And all those things were very personal visions
which all came about at roughly the same time, about 1986; all of a
sudden there looked as if there was a renaissance in comics.

PT: But then DC said 'No'.

AM: Well, no they didn't. Because it was making DC money they


went along with it, but they were a company who had been in the
business since the 1930s and hadn't changed significantly since. In
the mid-80s the whole comic world changed upon its axis, they
were getting attention from reputable magazines, getting television
attention and being taken seriously. 'Watchmen' is now a set book
in two American universities and I've got loads of dissertations at
home ripping it apart; it was that sudden change, that quantum
jump, that threw DC into a panic. For the first time in 15 years they
had passed Marvel comics in terms of sales which they were
ecstatic about, but they increasingly found themselves in a foreign
landscape, they were getting worried about the adult content of the
books. What happened was, two people, one a retailer and the
other a distributor, sent letters to DC Comics requesting a rating
system. DC were so worried about losing the moral majority or
having a stink kicked up in the newspapers about 'Satanist comics
corrupting our nation's pure bodily essences', that they brought in
a rating system without consulting the creators. Unfortunately the
creators were not willing to take DC edicts at face value. Frank
Miller and I and a bunch of other creators took a full-page advert in
the main trade paper, The Comic Buyer's Guide, just saying that we
were very alarmed about DC's stance, that we couldn't go along
with DC bowing to pressure from what we saw as a cranky
extremist religious pressure group. DC responded by simply
reiterating their position, in which case I said I couldn't work for
them any more.

PT: What happened - are they still going?

AM: Of course they're still going - they own Batman, Superman,


WonderWoman...

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PT: And have they got a rating system?

AM: Well, they brought in a half-hearetd rating system but really


Frank and myself made nearly half their profits that year, and since
we walked out of the door they've had more creator's rights. It's
helping people in the industry, they're now talking about giving
people their copyright but the comic industry's history is one of
complete inequity. I don't own 'Watchmen', I don't own 'V for
Vendetta', I don't own 'Marvel Man', I don't own 'Swamp Thing'. I
get royalties from it, but that's a pretty recent innovation.
'Watchmen' has made me hundreds of thousands of pounds, but
that's not a fraction of what DC made out of it. I'm one of the lucky
ones, I'm somebody who became famous and have got enough
financial clout to have some say in what they did with their lives.
Most creators have got no choice other than to keep on labouring
away month after month after month and never getting and
royalties. There are young artists, working for Marvel, who are not
getting a lot of money, they really want to do comics though so they
spend two weeks existing on coffee and cigarettes and then die of a
heart attack. That's too high a price to pay. There just came a
point...

PT: Where you decided to get out of it, to rethink your


career?

AM: At that point I was the most successful comic writer that had
ever been. I felt weird because with the best will in the world you
can get cut off from people if you become a success; all of a sudden
your time is taken up doing TV things, doing interviews - not like
this one, but interviews with some magazine in Holland, another in
Germany, another in France; you're filming documentaries about
your life... I suddenly had a fit of complete disgust at the practices
of the comic industry and decided that if there was a future in
comics it would have to be with the artists taking control, that the
artists would have to publish their own work and not trust to
publishers who cannot be trusted.

PT: So then you were on your own again, rather like being
expelled from school I suppose...

AM: Yeah.

PT: And you were visualising what to do and how you'd


retain some anonymity when Clause 28 came out. Can
you explain a bit about that?

AM: What happened was, after I left DC I burnt my bridges, I


wouldn't work for Marvel on principle and it had got to the point
where there were very few comic publishers that I could work for.
One option was to work for a reputable book publisher like
Gollancz or Penguin who would at least treat their creators as
proper individuals, the other possibility was self-publishing. What
pushed me into self-publishing was Clause 28 which was a piece of

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anti-homosexual legislation that the Conservatives successfully


brought in in 1988 - as far as I know it's the first piece of British
legislation aimed at suppressing a minority group. Quite unique,
and very vicious and I couldn't countenance that, I really felt it
needed a voice in opposition. The logical step was to produce a
comic anthology that was addressing these issues.

PT: And this was when 'Aargh' came out?

AM: That's right, 'Artists Against Rampant Government


Homophobia'. We 'phoned up everyone we knew, including
big-time comic stars like Frank Miller, Art Spiegelman, the
Hernandez Brothers, Dave Sim, Dave Gibbons, Dave Lloyd and
also people outside the field like Alexei Sayle and Kathy Acker,
friends who said they were willing to do a page or so and we put
together all our money... it was a non-profitmaking thing so we
made sure all the money went to Gay Action. We published it
ourselves because we were the only people we could trust to make
sure all the money went where it was supposed to be going. And
then we thought, 'Why don't we keep it going, why don't we keep
on self-publishing?'

PT: Was this when your 'Brought To Light' project began?

AM: Yes, 'Brought To Light' was going on at the same time as


'Aargh'. In the morning I'd be researching sodomy and heresy in
early modern Switzerland, and in the afternoon I'd be researching
heroin smuggling in Thailand during the 70s. I'd put super-heroes,
fantasy and science-fiction firmly behind me at the end of my
career at DC and I decided that I wanted to do something where
you don't have to have a guy dressed in tights coming through the
window half way through and I found that research was really
enjoyable, perhaps 'enjoyable' is too strong a word in the case of
'Brought To Light', it was exhiliarating though compiling all that
information, making it fit and then finding a way to convey it to the
readership in an interesting and entertaining way. At the same time
it was harrowing. I mean, I've written a lot of horror comics but
Oliver North is a much more horrifying being than any of those.

PT: Did you ever get any come-back from 'Brought To


Light'?

AM: The thing is, it exposes a collaboration between the CIA, the
Mafia and various right-wing groups around the world and I had to
think long and hard before accepting the job; I'm not a brave man
necessarily. Originally 'Brought To Light' was going to be published
by Warner Books and then all of a sudden we got the word that
Warners had pulled out. There was a speculation that someone at
Warner's had seen that we were bringing out this book about the
CIA's dealings with the Mafia and decided it wouldn't be a good
book for Warner's to produce, so it ended up with Eclipse Books
producing the whole thing. It was made into a stage play over here,
a monologue by a guy called Phil Judge. Phil did a great job of it. It

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was a big jump for me, a long way from talking about super-heroes.

PT: Let's bring you right up to date now; what are you
working on at the moment?

AM: I'm working on 'Big Numbers' part 4, which is part of a 480


page book, and after that I shall do the final chapter of 'A Small
Killing' for Gollancz and then another chapter of 'From Hell' for
Eddie Campbell then a bit of 'Lost Girls' and then I'll go back and
do 'Big Numbers' part 5. They've all got a structure, I know exactly
what I'm doing with them. I've got the skeleton there before I write
the first word.

PT: Do you ever change it at the end?

AM: I modify it slightly sometimes. In 'Watchmen', half-way


through I realised that one of the characters was definitely going to
have to die because there was nothing else the character could do. I
have to leave myself space for that sort of thing. The flesh changes
and doesn't look how I expected it to look, but the skeleton remains
the same.

PT: When do you envisage 'Big Numbers' finishing?

AM: A couple of years, it's taking a long time to write and draw. But
when it's finished it's going to be a magnum opus I think. I wanted
to do something more complex than 'Watchmen' but at the same
time much more accessible. 'Watchmen' is quite a daunting piece of
work, a lot of it is obvuiously just showing off, there's a lot of
cleverness on the surface because I wanted to show what comics
are capable of and what I am capable of. With 'Big Numbers' I want
to be quieter, there's a lot of cleverness there but we're trying to
make it more ordinary, just ordinary conversations that haven't got
any dramatic meaning.

PT: There's two parts out at the moment and there's going
to be twelve - when do you think it will all start adding up
in people's minds?

AM: I think around about Issue 4. It snowballs from there. In issue


3 Christine Gathercole does an interview with the local paper, just
as a minor local celebrity, and they get her name wrong and the
name of her record wrong and all that stuff that local papers do. In
issue 4 the paper is published with the interview in and you see
that various characters have got copies of the paper. Her old
boyfriend sees it, and it turns out that he's this particularly nasty
police officer who was the father of her aborted child; you also see
Mr. World the psychotic who has wild fantasies of mutilation
carefully cutting out Christine's picture and folding it and putting it
into his wallet - you start to see the strands coming together. The
little plastic figures on the station platfrom, they've got a
continuing story. You see their world becoming stranger and more
surreal as the story goes on. There's a role playing game that some
of the children are playing and their characters have got stories

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that are parallel to the children's stories and it's just this sort of
complex tapestry of people's lives which builds up into what I hope
is a picture of the real town. Because the real town of Northampton
is not just what happens and who we are and the buildings and
streets, it's what's in our heads as well.

PT: Is it a universal metaphor for a lot of places in the


Western world?

AM: Yes, I'm trying to write specifically about Northampton in


order, in some weird way, to write about everywhere.

PT: As an art form, as a form of expression, there's been


nothing like it, has there?

AM: Well, I'm trying with 'Big Numbers' to create a comic-book


mainstream. We've got scientific comics, detective comics,
super-hero comics, romantic comics - but no mainstream. Comics
are at the same stage now as films were in the 1920s. All the great
comics are yet to be written, all the masterpieces, all the Citizen
Kane and stuff. It's really exciting but very nerve-racking because
you have to build the ground in front of you. Also, there's a charm
and innocence which has gone from comics and a lot of that is my
fault, I feel bad about that. There's a lot of very cynical and nasty
comic books being done now which have taken their cues from me.
On the other hand comic books are starting to break into all sorts
of areas, anything can be done with them. Like in 'From Hell'
which I'm doing at the moment with Eddie Campbell, that's an
historical piece that's based around the Jack the Ripper murders;
an historical investigation of all the different threads of events and
myth that led from the Whitechapel killings. Like, the Elephant
Man was in hospital 50 yards away from the first killing, Buffalo
Bill was in town and was interviewed by the police, Oscar Wilde
lived just down the road from one fo the prime suspects; then
there's all this weird Masonic stuff relating to the arhitecture of
London, Hawksmoor and his churches, a lot of pagan mysticism
that seems to be inbuilt into the City of London which I'm trying to
explore. I've done 150 pages already and I haven't got to the first
murder, I've just been building up the characters. It's really
facinating to actually try to use comics as an historical tool because
although I'm only doing it as fiction, there's a great application
there. It could be a tremendous teaching medium.

PT: What else are you working on at the moment?

AM: The only one I haven't mentioned is 'Lost Girls'. That's an


interesting project... I'm trying to do a work on pornography. Well,
more erotica. I don't know what the difference between the two is
apart from the income bracket of the person reading it quite
frankly but it's undoubtable that most pornography is ugly, it sort
of makes you feel ugly when you read it. The way I see it though is
that if you can devote energies to detectives and super-heroes and
science fiction and horror, they are relatively rarified areas of

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human experience, but all of us think about sex and it seems like
there's something wrong if sex cannot be spoken of in the same way
as any other subject. So what Melinda Gebbie and I are trying to do
on 'Lost Girls' is to come up with an erotic novel, a graphic novel
about 240 pages long, which is beautiful and dreamlike and has an
air of reverie about it and real emotions in it, saying something
about what it means to us.

PT: Is any of it published yet?

AM: No, it'll be serialised, in colour, in a magazine called 'Taboo'


issue 5 (which is also where 'From Hell' is appearing).

PT: Are the pictures very different to Bill's?

AM: Bill's got a very photographic realistic style, Eddie Campbell


has a very scratchy, expressionistic style, with Melinda Gebbie it's
all done in beautiful colour, there's no black lines - the nearest
thing is like old Disney films, the way you remember them, the
colour of them, that warm inviting feeling and incredible sense of
texture and light. I'm writing each strip for the artist, I'm writing
'Lost Girls' for Melinda because I know what her art's capable of
and I want to express that. I'm writing 'Big Number's to show what
Bill's art's capable of and like all these books, they're all very
different but what they all hang together on is that they're all about
human beings and human events.

PT: Are they all timed to finish in a sequence and then


you'll start a new work?

AM: I've nearly finished 'A Small Killing', after that the next book I
finish will be in about a year's time will be either 'From Hell' or
'Lost Girls', and then I will finish 'Big Numbers'. After that I'm not
sure what I'm going to do. I want to take a year off from comics at
least - I've just been cutting some tracks with a band at the
moment, and I've really enjoyed that, going into a studio with a
bunch of guys and having fun.

PT: Who are the people you've been working with?

AM: There's Curtis who used to be in Venus Flytrap and before that
The Gift, he's really ace. There's Chris Barber on bass - I've known
him since I was 17, he used to be in the Arts Lab. Tim Perkins who's
currently also playing with Eric, he's a brilliant violinist. Then
there's Kevin Haskins on drums from Love & Rockets. It all came
together by accident. I was asked to do a track on a compilation of
local bands, they wanted me on it because I was a famous
cartoonist and they figured it would be good to have a famous
somebody on the album even if it was a famous house decorator or
something. But we enjoyed doing it and did some more and now we
have two or three tracks in the can and we're really happy with it;
excitement is a good chemistry. RCA are apparently interested in
bringing out the album so that looks nice.

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PT: You've found a singing voice for these tracks as well?

AM: Well, I'm still staggering towards one. I think the worst thing
about the band at the moment is my voice because all the other
guys are very proficient at what they do and I'm like the poor
relation. But I'm working on it, you know. I don't know if I can be a
singer, I don't know if I can be an artist, but I'm so smugly
confident about my abilities as a comic writer that I know I can do
anything I want to do. I'm starting to get bored, starting to set
myself ridiculously higher hurdles each time just to keep
interested. 'Big Numbers' is an insanely complicated piece of work
and it's also an indication of the encroaching boredom of the
creator I think.

PT: How are your critics keeping pace with your work at
the moment?

AM: To tell the truth I don't read reviews any more because very
seldom does criticism actually mean anything to me. 'Big Numbers'
hasn't got as many readers as 'Watchmen', but it's still 60,000. It's
obviously a much more difficult work than 'Watchmen' on some
levels - especially because it hasn't got any super-heroes in it. In
any other field, not having super-heroes wouldn't present a
problem, but in the comic world it's difficult to imagine something
without super-heroes. So a lot of people have gone into shock over
that. I think I'm probably regarded in the same way as Eno was
after he stopped doing songs on his own and started doing that
funny ambient music; I don't know, I may be drifting off into some
sort of stratosphere. The reviews are still very good when I bother
to read them, but that's not what interests me. I know I'm doing the
best work of my life. I used to think I was working towards
something, some imagined perfection in my head - and that is
sterile. If you ever became perfect you would just have to kill
yourself, wouldn't you? It's the journey towards perfection that's
the interesting thing, not ever reaching the destination because the
destination is the end.

(c) Ptolemaic Terrascope, 1991

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