Friday, March 14, 2008

Alan Moore spoofs Frank Miller

I was going through some old magazines and found an issue of the Marvel British comic anthology DAREDEVILS dating from way back in 1983. As the title might suggest, there is in fact a DAREDEVIL story in it, a reprint of the American issue 167, cover dated Nov. 1980. That's from early in Frank Miller's original run (so early, in fact, that he wasn't even writing it yet -- David Michelinie was). Besides that bit of Marvel nostalgia, we've also got an early chapter of the CAPTAIN BRITIAN revival with beautiful (black and white) art by Alan Davis and a smart, spooky script by an up-and-coming writer named Alan Moore.

Those two features would be enough to make the issue an interesting read, but what's really fascinating is a four-page story that combines elements of the two: a detailed, joke-stuffed satire of Miller's early DAREDEVIL written by none other than ... Alan Moore.

And here it is (click to see them in a readable size):

If you're only familiar with Miller's work from ALL-STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN, DARK KNIGHT or even his later run on DAREDEVIL (with David Mazzucchelli), it's hard to convey just how accurately Moore captures the feeling of those early '80s issues. Everything from the overblown narration to the armies of bag ladies and guys with boomboxes on their shoulders is right out of Miller's initial run on the book. Even the background jokes (Josie's Bar, "Vote for Cherryh") refer to long-forgotten bits of business. Some of the art by Moore's partner in satire Mike Collins (especially the "Pigseye" panels on page 3 and the "Eretkra" close-up on page 4) are dead-on images from the original, and the use of Zip-a-tone, silhouetted skylines and abundance of water towers are straight out of the Miller/Janson ambience.

But is it funny? Well, sort of. The jokes are juvenille, but not too bad, and Moore is clearly paying tribute to the throw-in-every-joke-that-fits style of Kurtzman's MAD. But it's not exactly a perceptive, startling satire that questions the use of comic book violence and forecasts the dark trends to come in both comics in general and Miller's work in particular.

There is, however, this caption...

Good thing Miller never really wrote anything that silly, isn't it?

It sure is, true believers. It sure is.


Chris Sims said...

That is flat-out awesome.

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Tripp said...

I love the "Miller eats babies" graf in the fourth panel. *chuckles.

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Mike Collins said...

Well, probably the most appropriate time for this to be reprinted, considering Frank Miller's version of the Spirit is so much on people's minds (check out Kyle Baker's brilliant take on the criticisms of the movie on his blog).

This was my first paid gig and Alan pushed for me'n'Mark to get the job and we didn't know if we were going to get another, so we went to town on the Kurtzman style sight gags, and amped up the zipatone to get that Janson vibe.

Looking back (dear lord, 25 years?!) I think it holds up well, and Alan's script (which, yes, for a 4 page story was about 10 pages long) is brilliantly funny still.

Thanks for running it, Will!

Will Pfeifer said...

You're very welcome, Mike. Thanks for stopping by!

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