What’s grabbed our attention this summer? Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Tempest Moore’s last comic, which cannot be missed, a new series The Magic Order from Mark Millar, review by Hugh Ogilvie, and and the last word from Jules Feiffer in the Ghost Script. So here our blog begins….
Written and Art by Jules Feiffer
In the 1950’s America was caught up in the hysteria of anti-communism, and reds under the beds. The House un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was a government committee empowered to investigate and expose disloyal and subversive activities on the part of private citizens and organisations. During the McCarthy era the committee became focused on Hollywood and the House of un-American Activities Committee became synonymous with the Hollywood blacklist, which included such great names as Charlie Chaplin. These were turbulent and divisive times when writers and artists, in fear of never being able to work again, were called to give evidence against their colleagues and confess their political allegiances in front of the HUAC. This is the world that “The Ghost Script”, the last part of a trilogy, brings us into. Feiffer says that he never meant the trilogy to be political “it was dreamed up as an old man’s homage to the noir fiction and films of my boyhood” but it is clearly greatly influenced by Feiffer’s own experiences of the un-American Activities Committee during the McCarthy period. Although this is the final part of the trilogy “Killing My Mother “and ”Cousin Joseph” Feiffer provides sufficient flash backs to ensure that “The Ghost Script” makes sense when read on its own. We open with a left wing protest and our protagonist Detective Sam Hannigan being chased both by cops and right wing counter protestors. This is followed with introductions to the other key players in the story such as Lola, who since she was blacklisted by the Un-American Activities Committee is forced to work as a cabaret singer and high class escort, Elsie and Patty who host a radio gossip show on the artists, and scriptwriters who are blacklisted, the enigmatic Cousin Joseph, and the characters behind the committee who support the purge of socialists from Hollywood and America. If this sounds too complicated, as the back-story for what is basically a detective story then you will be wrong. Feiffer is a master of sequential art and he takes us effortlessly on a story of betrayal and revenge with plenty of twists to the plot to keep the tempo fast moving and totally engrossing. The characters are created with both empathy and insight that ensures they keep our attention and the plot stays believable. If you are an existing Feiffer fan, which I admit I am, or have never encountered Feiffer’s work before then this is your wake up call before you miss out on one of the top comic creators and minds of the 20th and 21st century. Jules Feiffer is a satirical cartoonist, screenwriter and author, born in 1929 in New York City. The Ghost Script is published 4 September 18.
Written by Alan Moore
Art by Kevin O Neil
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series began in 1999 and is collected in five volumes including the Nemo trilogy. Set in the late Victorian era in an alternate universe the characters, who are based on classic literary figures, are assembled in 1900 as a team of superheroes to protect Britain. The action in LOEG Tempest takes place between Kor Uganda and the British Intelligence in London, and moves from past to the future of 2996 with our familiar team of unconventional superheroes fighting a disaster that started in 2010. No spoilers here on the plot line though, except like all Moore’s work this is something you will reread and explore finding new gems hidden in the panes. LOEG Tempest brings us the not only the grand finale of the series but also marks both Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neil’s departure from comics. It is impossible to write or talk about Moore without lapsing into superlatives such as
genius, greatest comic writer in history etc. It is indisputable that Moore, writer of so many iconic comics such as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Batman the Killing Joke, The Ballad of Halo Jones and not to forget the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has been a massive influence and light in the comics’ world. So all I can say is his departure from comics needs to be marked at least by giving your full attention to this final part of The LEOG and you would be downright silly to miss it. LEOG will be released in a six part series.
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Oliver Coipel
Pairing up for this new venture with artist Olivier Coipel and mood-enhancing colorist Dave Stewart, Mark Millar introduces a cast of fiercely modernist characters in a setting that veers archly between the gangland 1950s and the present or near future. Eschewing the teenage kingdom of Rowling’s wizardry, Millar’s protagonists are altogether less likeable and reassuringly sinister. Starting off in near darkness, populated by dark orange and purple skylines, a brutal murder leads swiftly into the introduction of various members from the Moonstone clan. Wands are snapped in two symbolically at a funeral for the murder victim, a former magic fellow, when we encounter Madame Albany, who attends complete with a shape-shifting partner in crime. The action then abruptly shifts to a supermarket, the frozen wastes of an unknown territory dominated by a squid-like mega monster then back to San Francisco where the panels morph into a sequence from Inception with human bodies being swallowed up in the bricks of buildings. The reader is left with a puzzling cliffhanger and the remnants of a clutch of fascinating yet confusing ideas. It is unclear whether this will lead to a classic or a series of slightly frustrating interludes. Yes, ‘tis beautiful to look at but it feels too early to be rooting for any specific character. The pull for the curious reader will inevitably rely upon a level of consistency mixed with shock and surprise. This story’s originality is its saving grace so far – emotional developments and altered mind states may await those of you hungry for a break from the traditional superhero or dystopian hinterlands. Overall, a promising comic from Millar and Co, with ample layers of mystery.