I have to say that I haven’t seen a comic, much less a superhero comic, for a very, very long time now–years, probably almost a decade since I’ve really looked at one closely.
Does any of this stop him from opining about them, negatively, for paragraph after paragraph? If your answer is “yes” then you haven’t been following Moore’s interviews over the past few years.
His blanket dismissal of superhero comics in this long, fascinating interview with Wired’s Adam Rogers echoes earlier comments he made about his distaste for the Hollywood mode of filmmaking; this time, however, he’s expanded his beef with Tinseltown cinema to include the use of CGI, and indeed the entire medium of film:
One of my big objections to film as a medium is that it’s much too immersive, and I think that it turns us into a population of lazy and unimaginative drones. The absurd lengths that modern cinema and its CGI capabilities will go in order to save the audience the bother of imagining anything themselves is probably having a crippling effect on the mass imagination. You don’t have to do anything. With a comic, you’re having to do quite a lot. Even though you’ve got pictures there for you, you’re having to fill in all the gaps between the panels, you’re having to imagine characters voices. You’re having to do quite a lot of work. Not quite as much work as with a straight unillustrated book, but you’re still going to do quite a lot of work.
I think the amount of work we contribute to our enjoyment of any piece of art is a huge component of that enjoyment. I think that we like the pieces that engage us, that enter into a kind of dialog with us, whereas with film you sit there in your seat and it washes over you. It tells you everything, and you really don’t need to do a great deal of thinking. There are some films that are very, very good and that can engage the viewer in their narrative, in its mysteries, in its kind of misdirections. You can sometimes get films where a lot of it is happening in your head. Those are probably good films, but they’re not made very much anymore.
There seems to be an audience that demands everything be explained to them, that everything be easy. And I don’t think that’s doing us any good as a culture. The ease with which we can accomplish or conjure any possible imaginable scenario through CGI is almost directly proportionate to how uninterested we’re becoming in all of this. I can remember Ray Harryhausen’s animated skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts. I can remember Willis O’Brien’s King Kong. I can remember being awed at the artistry that had made those things possible. Yes, I knew how it was done. But it looked so wonderful. These days I can see half a million Orcs coming over a hill and I am bored. I am not impressed at all. Because, frankly, I could have gotten someone, a passerby on the street, who could have gotten the same effect if you’d given them half a million dollars to do it. It removes artistry and imagination and places money in the driver’s seat, and I think it’s a pretty straight equation—that there is an inverse relationship between money and imagination.
If you haven’t got any money, you’re going to need lots and lots of imagination. Which is why you’ll get brilliant movies by people working upon a shoestring, like the early John Waters movies. People are pushed into innovation by the restrictions of their budget. The opposite is true if they have $100 million, say, pulling a figure out of the air, to spend upon their film, then they somehow don’t see the need for giving it a decent story or decent storytelling. It seems like those values just go completely out the window. There’s an inverse relationship there.
I wish this weren’t so, but those statements are frankly embarrassing. If your dad started talking in this fashion at Thanksgiving dinner you’d get up to use the bathroom. If a fellow commuter started opining in this way on the train, you’d turn your iPod up. Moore has already copped to not watching much of this stuff–including the very adaptations of his comics that tend to set him off on these jeremiads, not that I think he’s missing much–but even if these statements were offered after he was handcuffed to Harry Knowles for a year, they’re still breathtakingly, willfully ignorant of and dismissive and insulting to everything from the skill required to pull off convincing computer effects, to their utility in telling an engaging and provocative story, to the intelligence or engagement level of the audience for film, to the ability of film to challenge and discomfit as well as dazzle and entertain. (As though the latter two are something to be ashamed of!)
This blog has already hosted some lively debate over Moore’s frequently expressed disdain for aspects of culture he admittedly knows little about anymore, from film to television to superheroes and superhero comics to, if what he says above is to be believed, comics in general. Then as now, I want to make it perfectly clear that not only does Moore have every right to be upset about his shoddy treatment at the hands of his publisher, and his work’s shoddy treatment at the hands of the studios and filmmakers who’ve adapted them, he is in fact right to be upset. I don’t begrudge him that at all–hell, I cheer him on! It’s when he uses this bitterness as a springboard for ill-considered write-offs of entire genres and methods and media that he comes across as a crank, even a fool.
That said, there’s a lot of great stuff in that interview about how he’s approaching the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and various other projects, so do read the whole thing.