Top Shelf announced this one on Friday so I can break my silence about the book I’ve been working on since May 2021. The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic by Alan Moore and Steve Moore was first announced in February 2007. I’d created the cover design which was used for promotional purposes after which the project went into hibernation for several years. In 2014 Alan and Steve were back at work again, and were co-writing the final essay when Steve died suddenly in March of that year, whereupon the book retreated to limbo once more. Since 2007 my cover has been floating around the internet like the lid for an empty toybox, but the book really is finished at last, and will be published by Knockabout (UK) and Top Shelf (US) in October.
In addition to the cover design I was also slated to be working on two of the book’s internal features: The Soul, a six-part illustrated serial set in the 1920s which evolved out of the occult-detective strip that Alan and I were planning circa 1999; also a series of twenty full-page illustrations for a feature titled Magical Landscapes. When Tony at Knockabout informed me at the beginning of 2021 that the book was being revived I made the audacious suggestion to him and to Alan that I could, if need be, design the whole thing as well as illustrate my own sections. Alan readily agreed, saying he trusted me implicitly, which was good to hear; his sole brief was that the book should be “beautiful and psychedelic”. One reason for his trust is that we’d already made excursions into the Moon & Serpent zone together. I designed three of the Moon & Serpent CDs in the 2000s, and made the video that accompanied the William Blake-themed reading/performance by Alan and co. at the Purcell Room, London, in 2001. Consequently, I’ve often felt like a floating member of the Moon & Serpent cabal.
A couple of things are worth noting now that the book is about to enter the world. The first is that the contents are a little different to the press release from 2007 which announced a book of 320 pages, with 78 of those pages being brand new Tarot card designs. The authors subsequently realised that creating an entirely new Tarot deck is a huge task in itself, especially if, as was the intention, you wanted it to be as wide-ranging and authoritative as the Crowley/Harris Thoth deck. There is a chapter about the Tarot in the finished book but readers will now have to choose decks of their own. I can imagine disappointment being expressed about this, and about some of the other changes but the book as it now stands is actually bigger than the original proposal, with an additional 32 extra pages. The expansion is partly a result of my page design which put fancy borders on all of the text pages. I ended up doing a lot more work for the book than I expected, adding new pages here and there, creating a lot of extra graphics and illustrations, and breaking up the long final essay into sections which are illustrated throughout with small pictures.