Images © Avatar Press & Alan Moore.
Written in 1994 or so as a prose short story, and originally published in the anthology “Forbidden Acts” (Avon, 1995), this new graphic novel version is adapted by Antony Johnson with quite nice painted art by Felipe Massafera. Without having seen the original story, I’d guess the adaptation is faithful. Certainly the text reads like Alan’s work throughout. Perhaps in this case, adaptation was more deciding which bits to leave out, and how much to put on each page.
The subject is television as a godlike force, given power by all of us as we watch it, spreading influence across the world over the last century. Not surprisingly, Alan doesn’t think too highly of that influence. It’s also a synopsis of the discovery and growth of the technology and the medium, but seen from a particularly British perspective. Television has been called “The Glass Teat” by Harlan Ellison, and Marshall McLuhan said “The Medium is the Message.” Alan Moore makes the case for television as humanity’s new religion, one we created, and one that takes more from us than it gives.
The text is more an artful essay than a story, though. There are no speaking characters other than the godlike presence, no dialogue, no real plot. The adapter and artist do what they can, but the book, like much of television, is rather cold and uninvolving. Some text is put into dialogue balloon shapes to give the semblance of, but it’s just more of the same godlike musings. An interesting experiment, attractive art, but not a great success, in my opinion. Mildly recommended.