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Skizz by Alan Moore and Jim Baikie, from 2000 AD

Alan Moore (b. Northampton, 18 November 1953) started out in comics as a cartoonist in the underground idiom, drawing strips like "Anon E. Mouse" for Anon and "St. Pancras Panda" for the Back Street Bugle. His first professional strips were published in the late 1970s in the music magazines NME and Sounds, using the pseudonym "Curt Vile", as well as the daily strip "Maxwell the Magic Cat" in the Northampton Post, under the pseudonym "Jill de Ray" - the pseudonyms were necessary because he was also claiming unemployment benefit.

Concluding that he wasn't a good or fast enough artist to make a living at it, he asked his friend Steve Moore for advice on writing scripts for comics. He started selling scripts to 2000 AD, mostly one-off "Future Shocks" and "Time Twisters", and back-up stories to Marvel UK's Doctor Who Weekly and Star Wars Weekly. His first series for 2000 AD was "Skizz", a British take on E.T. influenced by Alan Bleasdale, drawn by Jim Baikie. This was followed by "D. R. and Quinch", a comedy about a pair of alien juvenile delinquents expanded from a popular Time Twister, drawn by Alan Davis, and "The Ballad of Halo Jones", about a futuristic everywoman, drawn by Ian Gibson. He also wrote scripts for Eagle and Scream!. For Marvel UK, he had a run on Captain Britain, drawn by Alan Davis, which appreared in Marvel Super-heroes, The Daredevils and The Mighty World of Marvel in 1982-1984.

When Warrior was launched in 1982, Moore contributed two series to its initial lineup. "Marvelman", drawn first by Garry Leach and then Alan Davis, was a gritty revamp of a derivative superhero series published in Britain in the 1950s and 60s, and "V for Vendetta", drawn by David Lloyd, was an original political vigilante strip set in a fascist future Britain. He later added a third strip, "The Bojeffries Saga", an English working-class version of the Addams Family, drawn by Steve Parkhouse. All three series were taken up by other publishers after Warrior folded in 1985.

In 1983 he was hired by DC Comics in the USA to write Swamp Thing, an ailing monster title which he, along with artists Steve Bissette and John Totleben, successfully revitalised. This led to the serialised Cold War superhero graphic novel Watchmen (1986-87), with artist Dave Gibbons, as well as stories involving Superman, Batman and other DC characters. However, his relationship with DC deteriorated and he stopped working for them in 1989.

In 1988, in response to legislation against the "promotion" of homosexuality by local authorities, Moore set up his own publishing company, Mad Love, and published a benefit anthology, AARGH (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia). He then used Mad Love to publish his next major project, Big Numbers, a contemporary drama inspired by chaos theory, illustrated by Bill Siekiewicz. It was planned as a twelve-part series, but Sienkiewicz dropped out and attempts to replace him came to nothing. Only the first two issues were ever published.

At the same time, he was writing two serials for Steve Bissette's horror anthology Taboo: "From Hell", a fictionalised account of the Jack the Ripper murders, taking in magic, gender politics, and just about every significant historical figure of the period, drawn by Eddie Campbell; and "Lost Girls", an explicit sexual fantasy interpreting the adventures of Lewis Carroll's Alice, Peter Pan's Wendy and The Wizard of Oz's Dorothy in sexual terms as the three women meet in later life shortly before the first world war, drawn by Melinda Gebbie. Both were eventually completed as graphic novels, and Moore and Gebbie married in 2007.

In the 1990s he wrote several superhero series for Image Comics and its splinter-groups, and in 1999 he set up America's Best Comics as a subsidiary of Jim Lee's publishing company Wildstorm, to publish a line of new series: post-modern historical superhero Tom Strong, drawn by Chris Sprouse; magical superheroine Promethea, drawn by J. H. Williams; deadpan superheroic police procedural comedy Top 10, drawn by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon, anthology Tomorrow Stories, and Victorian fiction team-up series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, drawn by Kevin O'Neill. Before launch, however, Lee sold up to DC, and Moore found himself working for a publisher he had previously fallen out with. More disputes, mostly over film adaptations, followed, and he completed most of the ABC series and quit DC again. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen continues, published by Knockabout in the UK.

In 2009 he launched his own Northampton-based underground magazine, Dodgem Logic, which includes articles on a variety of topics and comic strips by himself and Josie Long, among others.


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