Legendary comics creator Alan Moore appears to be done with the industry.
Moore’s fabled 1980s series Watchmen led to a resurgence in comics aimed at mature readers. His work often explores deeper themes such as power, US expansionism, and critiques of the superhero genre as a power fantasy.
The news comes as Moore has released the final ever issue of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a decades-spanning series with Moore’s creator-owned characters. Moore had suggested that the last issue would mark his exit from the industry.
While the retirement is sure to surprise fans, Moore has toyed with it for some time, mentioning it as his future plan back in 2016.
The British writer has long had a love-hate relationship with the comics industry. Moore has long refused to attend any conventions or travel outside of his native England. He has strained relationships with many companies, and has said repeatedly that he would never again work for Marvel or DC.
Reprints of his work, including a Marvel reissuing of his run on Miracle Man no longer bear his name, instead giving credit to “The Original Writer.” Much of his frustration with the industry stems from a decades-long practice of merely paying writers and artists for the work that they do to produce comic books, but offering up no legal ownership to the characters that they created. This practice, known as ‘work for hire’, was the subject of several intellectual property lawsuits.
While filmmakers have adapted some of Moore’s work (including Watchmen and V for Vendetta), he has refused to have his name to any of these films, turning down royalties in the process.
Moore once estimated in an interview that this refusal had cost him, “at least a few million dollars.”
“You can’t buy that kind of empowerment,” he said.
“To just know that as far as you are aware, you have not got a price; that there is not an amount of money large enough to make you compromise even a tiny bit of principle that, as it turned out, would make no practical difference anyway. I’d advise everyone to do it, otherwise you’re going to end up mastered by money and that’s not a thing you want ruling your life.”
For all of Moore’s problems with the industry, his career is heavily tied to the artform of comics. He long balked at the idea of adapting Watchmen to film as he intended it to showcase comic books’ capabilities.
The retirement does not necessarily mark the end of Moore’s creative work in general. His book Jerusalem took a decade to write and was published in 2016. Should he decide that his retirement is not the end, however, he will be far from the first to undo an exit from comics. The late Marvel figurehead Stan Lee tried to leave the industry several times.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor