Cover concept by Chip Kidd.
I noted the imminent arrival of Gary Spencer Millidge’s labour of love last month and the volume itself turned up this week, and what a book it is, a heavyweight hardback that’s far more lavish than I anticipated. The first surprise comes when removing the dust jacket to find Alan’s scowling visage embossed on the boards. Inside there’s a wealth of Moore ephemera from biographical material (lots of family photos) to insights into the scripting process behind the comics. I already knew Alan made little thumbnail sketches of his comic layouts before writing his scripts, having been fortunate enough to see one of the work-in-progress books for From Hell one time when I was chez Moore. Now everyone can have that opportunity. In addition there’s a thorough overview of Alan’s career, from the earliest juvenilia through to recent issues of Dodgem Logic. The comics career often overshadows his other work but in a later part of the book there’s considerable attention given to his collaborations with musicians, dancers and others for the Moon and Serpent performances. For my part it’s a pleasure to see some of the designs I created for the Moon and Serpent CDs printed large-size and in better quality than pressing plants manage with compact discs. None of those releases sold in great quantities and all are now out-of-print so the artwork often feels lost.
The front board.
What else? How about two sections of the book with fold-out pages? How about the first ever public appearance of Alan’s huge chart mapping the progress of every character through the unfinished Big Numbers? How about an introduction by Michael Moorcock where he calls Alan “a Robert Johnson of the Age of Doubt; questioning, confronting, mourning and yearning, representing his readers in profound ways, an intellectual autodidact, one of my few true peers for whom I have limitless respect.”? How about a compact disc featuring extracts from the Moon and Serpent CDs plus many other previously unreleased songs including pieces by the Emperors of Ice Cream? This is a gorgeous production designed by Simon Goggin and art directed by Julie Weir, and I haven’t even begun to read it yet. Is it necessary to state that it’s an essential purchase for anyone with more than a passing interest in Mr Moore and his many talented collaborators? Yours for twenty-five quid from Ilex Press. Some page samples follow.
Front endpapers showing Alan’s working notes and sketches.