WORKING WITH ALAN MOORE
I had heard some impressive things about this British comics writer in the early 1980s from folks at DC, but the first thing I actually read by Alan was his script for Saga of the Swamp Thing #22, which I was given to letter by the editor in 1983. Needless to say, I was blown away, not only by the amount of detail and thought that the script contained, but by a writer who had the ability to take an existing DC character which I loved, and which he also obviously had great respect for, and in a few pages make it something uniquely his own that I loved even more. This was writing talent that I had rarely encountered in the comics world! In the course of lettering that story a became a lifelong Alan Moore fan. I only wish I could have lettered more of those great Swamp Thing stories, but John Costanza had the gig, and did a fine job with it, so I had to settle for simply reading them.
I did get to letter a few other Alan Moore stories for DC: a Green Arrow backup two-parter in Detective Comics 549-550, with nice art by Klaus Janson, and two Omega Men backups, for issues 26 and 27. The weird thing about those two was that I had just become the regular writer of the main feature, so in effect, Alan was writing backups for my stories, a most absurdly unusual circumstance! Of course, his backups were terrific, better than what I was doing in the front of the book, and remain the only small part of the series ever reprinted. The one shown here was an early teaming of Alan with artist Kevin O'Neill that continues today.
But my favorite DC story of his that I was privileged to letter was the two part "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" that ran in the last two Julie Schwartz-edited Superman books, Action Comics 583 and Superman 423. This was a wonderfully written and loving tribute to the Superman that Alan (and I) had grown up with, that was shortly to be swept away in a revamp by John Byrne, hence the assignment. Certainly the best Superman story ever, in my opinion, and what a thrill to work with Alan and artists Curt Swan and George Perez.
My one and only meeting with Alan happened around this time, when he made a visit to the DC offices. Perhaps his only one. I got a chance to chat with him for a few minutes, and told him how much I enjoyed his work. I like to think we made a connection, but it's hard to say. A few years later, Alan severed all ties to DC in a dispute over rights and licensing money for some of the wonderful work he had done for DC, especially Watchmen, which remains one of his best works, and one of the most acclaimed works in comics. I did production work on many of the issues, and even got to letter one page of it: the inserted Black Freighter comics page, with art by Joe Orlando. But Alan moved on to other projects for other publishers, and our paths did not cross again for some years.
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All text and images ©Todd Klein, except as noted. All rights reserved.
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