Tuesday, October 9, 2007

36 days - Black Dossier!

Well it's only thirteen months late, but League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Black Dossier is arriving in stores Wednesday, November 14th. Black Dossier will be a 208 page hardcover (all new story, not serialized like the previous two Leagues). Alan Moore has said that Black Dossier isn't the third League book (that's next years Century, being told in three graphic albums taking place over the course of a century), but rather a look at the various other characters that were in different Leagues throughout history with Mina Murray and Allan Quartermain acting as our tour guides. Alan Moore has said that Black Dossier started as a sourcebook, but since all sourcebooks are crap, Black Dossier will actually have a narrative structure (but I'm going to guess a not very conventional narrative structure). In a Wizard interview Moore gave about a year ago, he stated that: "The Black Dossier isn't the best comic I've ever written, not the best comic ever, it's the best THING ever." In another recent London Telegraph interview, Moore said: "Black Dossier is better than the Roman civilization, penicillin...creation. Better than the Big Bang. It's quite good." Now usually I'm concerned when a creative person says this about something they've got coming out (and saying stuff like this creates unrealistic expectations that the work usually can't live up to), but Alan Moore hasn't ever hyped up a project of his like this before its release, so I'm going to guess that Black Dossier will truely be all that. To say I can't wait is an understatement.

I've never seen the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie, nor do I plan to after hearing it's just a loud action film that has nothing to do with the books. As a sidebar for those wondering why the League movie is so different: Alan Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill sold the movie rights to League while they where still working on the first story. The studio was attracted to the title and the concept and just went their own direction working with an alleged plagarized screenplay script (Alan Moore actually had to go to court to address this even though of course he didn't have anything to do with the movie script which had nothing to do with his League comic), so ultimately he regretted selling the movie rights to League and this incident became another in a long line of reasons for why he distances himself from Hollywood, especially any "adaptations" of his books.

So while waiting for the Black Dossier, I thought it'd be a good time to reread the first two League of Extraordinary Gentlemens (well it's always a good time to read Moore books!). For the three people reading this post that don't know what League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is about, it's a gathering of Victorian fictional characters brought together to help out London in times of crisis, kind of a Justice League of America, except these characters haven't worked together except maybe in some alternate reality (grin) or fan fiction stories (speaking of fan fiction, the only negative things I've heard about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Lost Girls is that they are glorified fan fiction and that the original creators wouldn't be happy about their characters being used in this fashion - I, of course disagree, but that's a post unto itself for the future).

The first League volume is mostly an introduction of the characters who make up the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and as much as I enjoyed it, it's really not until volume two where our familiarity with what Moore and O'Neill are doing with these characters gets into overdrive (with H.G. Wells War of the Worlds martian invasion being the big threat and is foreshadowed in volume one several times) and we see how these characters, all with very colorful pasts of their own, clash and work with and against each other. Kevin O'Neill's art is perfect for this series and it would be hard to imagine anyone else drawing League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I understand that for some people O'Neill's art could be considered an aquired taste (like Mignola, Kirby, and to some degree Quitely, other artists with distinctive styles that can divide people), but I'd say that anyone who'd read a good block of League of Extraordinary Gentleman, would come to see that O'Neill is indeed perfect for this series. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is one of those concepts that people are amazed hasn't been thought of earlier (just as it's amazing that no one's has ever thought of vampires in Alaska before 30 Days of Night) because it's rich with so many possiblities especially when idea man and wordsmith extraordinaire Alan Moore is at the helm. Like Moore's other great works, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen defintely rewards the reader each time they reread these volumes because you can appreciate how multi-layered each volume is unto themselves and to each other.

Postscript: As I'm finishing up this post a young couple comes in from Dallas, Texas (he said he goes to Zeus Comics there and that it's a great store - I told him I know, as my wife is good friends with the owners and they won the Eisner comic retailer of the year in 2006), looks around the store, stops by my Alan Moore section, looks at the first volume of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and wonders outloud if it's like the movie. So of course I go over and talk to him and tell him that the book and movie are two entirely different creatures (I also asked him if he'd read any Alan Moore before and he said yes). I told him that it's a money back guarantee book and asked him if he lived here in Vegas and that's when I found out that he was from Texas. I always get a warm fuzzy feeling when I sell an Alan Moore book because I know that the person who reads said book will totally be getting their moneys worth as well as getting the finest this artform has to offer (and don't let my warm fuzzy feelings scare any of you out there away from picking up an Alan Moore book here at my store or anywhere else!).

3 comments:

aaron s. said...

I didn't think the movie was any better or worse than any other big, dumb, and loud summer action movie. Given the quality of the source material though, it does seem odd that the filmakers didn't try to make something at least a little bit smarter.

atrium said...

Since you work in a store, are u positive that the Black DOssier is actually comin out ion November. I cant really handle another delay......

Ralph Mathieu said...

Yup, 29 days to go! Entertainment Weekly has a four or five page excerpt from Black Dossier.

And the wait's been killing me too!

Happy New Comics Wednesday 12/13/17 - Mister Miracle, Wonder Woman, Coyotes, Port of Earth, Star Wars, Fighting American, Daredevil edition!

 Mister Miracle & Wonder Woman are especially good this week!! Looking forward to reading the second issues of Coyotes and Port of ear...