How many of these characters can you name?
The chances are you’ve seen most of them many a time in a wide variety of media. Some of us even grew up watching Adam West fighting a myriad of baddies while holding a cat or Lynda Carter’s proneness to spin until her clothes exploded into new ones. These and many more characters have survived through decades of ups and downs in their popularity, mostly because of the talent shown by the people behind their stories, particularly when reinvention and innovation are called for.
One of these people is Alan Moore, an English comics writer who during the 80s and 90s helped redefine the way stories are told and the treatment the characters in the medium get. He focused on giving those stories a depth that was mostly lacking in the comic book industry by filling his narrative with multiple layers of meaning and imagery. Although his works partially spawned the term ‘graphic novel’, he himself isn’t too keen on it.
Just to give you an example of the extent of his influence in modern media, here’s someone I think many of you will recognise:
Heath Ledger’s Joker is unanimously acclaimed as the best characterisation of the madman to this day. The inspiration?
Largely, ‘The Killing Joke‘, Alan Moore’s recap of the Joker’s origins. But what about Mr. Moore’s own origins? Here’s what the internet has to say about it:
“Alan Moore was born November 18, 1953 in Northampton, England, an industrial town between London and Birmingham. The oldest son of brewery worker Ernest Moore and printer Sylvia Doreen, Moore’s childhood and youth were influenced by the poverty of his family and their environment (as well as the eccentricities of his highly religious and superstitious grandmother). He was expelled from a conservative secondary school and was not accepted at any other school. In 1971, Moore was unemployed, with no job qualifications whatsoever.”
He then worked for several magazines as a writer and cartoonist, finally deciding to concentrate on his writing. During the late seventies and early eighties, Moore successfully contributed to several publications, prominently Warrior magazine. It was at this time that he started working on a story about a masked crusader fighting for freedom and the right to self-dermination in a fascist version of Britain. Such story would become a milestone in the comics industry for it’s complexity and variety of storylines as well as its detailed narrative and stylistic merit.
More than 20 years later, a film adaptation of V for Vendetta would swipe the box office and the Guy Fawkes mask would become a symbol of the people’s voice in several contexts, sometimes not completely free of irony.
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