Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - Frank

Pages: [1] 2 3
General / Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« on: 19 May, 2019, 09:29:41 pm »

Thrillpower Overload describes how IPC tempted Pat Mills into creating 2000ad with the promise that the title would be 'contracted out' (page 12). Creators would have a continuing financial stake in work they originated.

Though IPC later withdrew that offer, prompting Mills (and Wagner, who he'd invited to recreate their Battle partnership) to down tools (page 12), those are the terms under which the launch strips, including Dredd, were created.

Pat Mills accepted a bigger paycheck to return and launch 2000ad on IPC's terms, but Wagner - a freelancer, not an employee - only ever worked on the nascent Dredd under the original terms.


IPC were free to withdraw those terms, but that doesn't mean they owned the characters created under those terms. Wagner would have to assign them his copyright.

Under the old IPC system, that was done by creators completing a docket and signing the back of the cheque they were depositing/cashing.

BUT WAGNER NEVER DID THIS   (to be read in an Adam Curtis voice)

From an interview Wagner gave to the 2000ad Thrillcast:

'IPC still didn’t speak to me. As far as they were concerned I wasn’t there. In fact, in order to pay me, Pat had to write scripts himself and pay them to me. I realised I had been getting royalties from some of these scripts, like Mach One, and had to tell them to stop paying me because they weren’t mine'

So Wagner signed the back of cheques, but not cheques for developing or even writing Judge Dredd. John Wagner never assigned IPC his copyright for creating Judge Dredd. *

IPC NEVER owned Judge Dredd. That invalidates all subsequent changes of hand between publishers, since Judge Dredd was never IPC's to sell. Any subsequent contracts could be invalid if predicated on prior agreements.

* This is the same loophole that got Hilary Robinson the rights to her characters back. So there's precedent, although that case was never tried in court.

News / Strontium Dog Without Wagner or Ezquerra
« on: 15 May, 2019, 07:58:17 am »

John Wagner and Alan Hebden panel at Enniskillen Comic Convention

Wagner wants editorial to continue Strontium Dog without his involvement*. He says Carlos's family should receive royalties from future stories - if Tharg's prepared to bend his rules and pay creators royalties when others use company-owned characters, he gets major Good Guy points.

More interesting, to me, is Wagner's desire to continue Ezquerra's Spector character with either Colin MacNeil or Simon Coleby.

* It's interesting that, in this case, it's editorial who were reluctant to carry on making cash by passing the character on to another creator. It's a Bizarro World version of how things usually play out in the comic industry

General / Bootleg Movie Universe Anderson Doll
« on: 19 December, 2018, 06:11:53 pm »

If stupid Tharg won't give the fans the high-quality merch they desire, then others will step up to fulfil their fantasies.


General / John Burdis KTT (hons)
« on: 15 December, 2018, 07:48:08 pm »

It's a jumper.  A jumper.

Knitting by Rachael B, photography by JJ Abrams.

Film & TV / Grant Morrison developing The Invisibles for TV
« on: 08 November, 2018, 07:12:49 pm »

Claims Morrison first came to the attention of comic readers on Animal Man, which is outrageous. How can you ignore Captain Clyde?

Grant Morrison Inks Deal To Bring 'The Invisibles' To UCP
Rob Salkowitz

Superstar comics writer Grant Morrison may be best known for his work on iconic DC superheroes like  Superman, Batman, Justice League and Green Lantern, but he first made his mark on the industry in the late 80s and 90s with surreal and subversive titles like Animal Man, Doom Patrol, and his magnum opus of revolutionary weirdness, The Invisibles.

Yesterday, it was announced that Morrison will be developing The Invisibles for television as part of an overall content deal with Universal Cable Productions. UCP is currently producing Happy!, an adaptation of the graphic novel by Morrison and artist Darick Robertson, which is going into its second season on SyFy.

Variety reports the Glasgow-born Morrison will "work with the studio to develop and producer original content for network and streamers." This follows similar deals struck with high-profile comics creators like Mark Millar (Netflix), Robert Kirkman (Amazon) and Neil Gaiman (Amazon).

The Invisibles, which debuted in comics form on DC's mature-themed Vertigo imprint in 1994, features a multicultural and gender-fluid crew of adventurers who use magic(k), altered consciousness, time travel and other metaphysical machinations to battle secret threats to humanity and unravel conspiracies against freedom.

It was simultaneously ahead of its time in its use of a traditional superhero-style of comics to tell a complex and sophisticated story, and very much a product of the technopagan Mondo2000/Burning Man counterculture of the mid-1990s.

The series was a modest success and cemented Morrison's status as comics' philosopher-king: a writer capable of smuggling the truly radical visions of people like William S. Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, Robert Anton Wilson and Terence McKenna into the pages of DC comics.

But as he was spinning these stories of subversion and reality hacking, he also moved decisively toward the superhero mainstream in his other work, with best-sellers like JLA, X-Men, All-Star Superman, Final Crisis, and a 10-year stint at the helm of Batman.

He also found time to write plays, author a book on the iconography of superheroes, edit the long-running science fiction magazine Heavy Metal, and pocket an MBE honor from the Queen for his contributions to British art and letters.

For long-time fans of Morrison, the possibility of seeing The Invisibles adapted into episodic TV is a cause of excitement, particularly in the current cultural environment. The idea of a revolutionary cell devoted to the liberation of consciousness and a never-ending battle against the dark psychic powers of fascism and oppression seemed trippy and cool in the 90s. By 2020, when the UCP series is set and is likely to debut, it may well feel like current events.

The comics, which featured the artwork of Steve Yeowell, Jill Thompson, Chris Weston, Phil Jiminez and others, deftly combined action, suspense and character interplay with high-concept plots and thematic overtones. Reading it often felt like watching a TV show. Now Morrison will have the chance to bring his masterpiece to that medium, hopefully with the vision and impact undiminished.

I am an author, consultant and educator with a professional interest in the business implications of new media and a personal passion for comics and visual communication. My 2012 book Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture (McGraw-Hill) looks at trends in entertainment. I'm faculty at University of Washington CommLead, and consult on future trends in technology and entertainment.


Books & Comics / Do you follow characters or creators?
« on: 04 November, 2018, 02:15:00 pm »

In terms of 2000ad or other titles.

The nineties (and subsequent) reboots made me aware that it was the work of specific creators I had been enjoying during the original runs, as opposed to Stogie, Durham Red, or even Judge Dredd just being inherently great in themselves.

In terms of other publishers, the only reasons the spare room contains a few W.I.L.D.C.A.T.S* and X-Men comics are the brief tenures of tetchy British magi on both. Dropped them right after.

But you might think different. Are you up for Simon Furman and Leonardo Manco's Return To Armageddon or do you think only Michael Cook and Simon Jacob can be trusted to continue the legacy of Dead Meat?

* Which I actually thought contained some fun ideas

Books & Comics / George Orwell On Comics
« on: 22 September, 2018, 12:33:02 am »

Sort of.  A fascinating survey of the weekly story papers that were the forerunners of the violent sci-fi crap that rotted our brains and stunted our emotional development. I strongly encourage you to read the full (magnificently written and acutely observed) text here - what follows are heavily-edited passages chosen to highlight how little has changed in the last ninety years.

Some proper nouns may have been changed for my own amusement:

George Orwell: Boys' weeklies

You never walk far through any poor quarter in any big town without coming upon a small newsagent's shop. Probably the contents of these shops is the best available indication of what the mass of the English people really feels and thinks.

Certainly nothing half so revealing exists in documentary form. Best-seller novels, for instance, tell one a great deal, but the novel is aimed almost exclusively at people above the £4-a-week level.

The weekly paper with a smallish circulation and specialized subject-matter only exists because there is a definite demand for it, and these stories reflect the minds of their readers as a great national daily with a circulation of millions cannot possibly do.

Here I am only dealing with a single series of papers, the boys' twopenny weeklies, often inaccurately described as ‘penny dreadfuls’. What the circulations of these papers are, I do not know. The editors and proprietors refuse to name any figures,

The heroes of these papers continue week after week and year after year, never growing any older. Very occasionally a new character arrives or a minor character drops out, but in the last forty years the personnel has barely altered.

All the principal characters are still having much the same kind of adventures and talking almost exactly the same dialect. And not only the characters but the whole atmosphere of 2000ad has been preserved unchanged, partly by means of very elaborate stylization.

The stories are signed ‘John Wagner’ and 'Pat Mills’, but a series lasting forty years could hardly be the work of the same person every week.

Consequently, they have to be written in a style that is easily imitated — an extraordinary, artificial, repetitive style, quite different from anything else now existing in English literature.

There is a constant, untiring effort to keep the atmosphere intact and to make sure that every new reader learns immediately who is who. By a debasement of the Dickens technique a series of stereotyped ‘characters’ has been built up, in several cases very successfully.

Sex is completely taboo; occasionally girls enter into the stories, and very rarely there is something approaching a mild flirtation, but that is all it ever amounts to. Even the bad boys are presumed to be completely sexless.

The editors evidently expect their readers to be aged round about fourteen, but it is quite common for people to write to the editor and say that they have read every number of 2000ad or The Megazine for the past forty years.

It is well worth getting hold of some back issues simply to have a look at the correspondence columns. What is truly startling is the intense interest with which the pettiest details of life in MC1 or Tir Nan Og are followed up. Here, for instance, are a few of the questions sent in by readers:

'How old is Johnny Alpha?’ ‘What rank is Rogue Trooper?’ Can the Council Of Five overrule the Chief Judge?’ ‘Who is the Prime Minister of Brit-Cit?’ ‘Where is Downlode situated?

It is clear that many of the boys and girls who write these letters are living a complete fantasy-life. The characters are so carefully graded as to give almost every type of reader a character he can identify with. If one studies the correspondence columns one sees that there is probably no character whom some or other reader does not identify with.

The mental world of 2000ad and The Megazine, therefore, is something like this:

The year is 1977 — or 2018, but it is all the same. You are a 10-year-old boy, Noel Edmonds is on the telly, and the pound is worth a pound. Everything is safe, solid and unquestionable. Everything will be the same forever and ever. That approximately is the atmosphere.

Merely looking at the cover illustrations of the papers which I have on the table in front of me, here are some of the things I see. On one, an engineer is lighting a stick of dynamite while a steel robot feels for him with its claws. On another, a man in airman's costume is fighting barehanded against a rat somewhat larger than a donkey. On another, a nearly naked man of terrific muscular development has just seized a lion by the tail and flung it thirty yards over the wall of an arena

Death-rays, Martians, invisible men, robots, helicopters and interplanetary rockets figure largely: they owe a great deal to H. G. Wells, who, rather than Jules Verne, is the father of ‘Scientifiction’(?). Naturally, it is the magical Martian aspect of science that is most exploited.

The other thing that has emerged in the boys’ papers is bully-worship and the cult of violence. Instead of identifying with a schoolboy of more or less his own age, the reader is led to identify with some single all-powerful character who dominates everyone about him and whose usual method of solving any problem is a sock on the jaw.

This character is intended as a superman, and as physical strength is the form of power that boys can best understand, he is usually a sort of human gorilla. You get real blood-lust, really gory descriptions of the all-in, jump-on-his-testicles style fighting, written in a jargon that has been perfected by people who brood endlessly on violence.

But, after all, it is the lack of development that is the really striking thing. Foreigners are exactly the same figures of fun that they always were. If a Chinese character appears, he is still the sinister pigtailed opium-smuggler of Sax Rohmer. If a Spaniard appears, he is still a ‘dago’ or ‘greaser’ who rolls cigarettes and stabs people in the back.

George Orwell: ‘Boys' weeklies’
First published: Horizon, No. 3. — GB, London. — March 1940

News / GOOD NEWS! Frank Miller no longer right-wing racist
« on: 28 April, 2018, 10:19:46 am »

Comic fans breathed a sigh of relief this AM as the realisation slowly dawned that they no longer had to pretend Year One isn't the best Batman comic ever published.

Underneath a photo of his ruined face that looks like a Cubist portrait, it's revealed that Frank Miller is just another aspect of the comics industry which Neal Adams has fought hard to put right:

"Whenever I look at any of my work I can feel what my mindset was and I remember who I was with at the time. I don’t want to go back and start erasing books I did, I don’t want to wipe out chapters of my own biography. But I’m not capable of Holy Terror again.”

It’s worth noting that whatever his detractors may think of his politics, Miller still happily inveighs against “white, heterosexual family values” and has no interest in defending his views on Occupy Wall Street. “I wasn’t thinking clearly,” he confesses. Does he support Donald Trump? “Real men stay bald,” he says with a grin, lifting his hat to run a hand over his bare scalp.

Miller got his start in comics when he convinced his idol (Neal Adams) to take a look at his portfolio. It was “awful,” Adams says, laughing. “It was so bad. My heart sunk, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, one of these guys.’”

Many artists were so humiliated by the harsh feedback Adams gave that they never came back – not Miller. "I made it hard for him! If you’d gone through it, you’d have gone home crying. I never would have thought that he’d turn out to be what he is. He’s become like a son to me. I didn’t teach him any other of life’s lessons, unfortunately, and I should have. That was the bad part.”

Adams blames the traditional trappings of fame – bad influences and alcohol. When asked about his absence, the limit to Miller’s candour is revealed. “I just got very distracted by real life,” he says. “I’d rather not go into it.” Through a publicist, he declined to respond to his mentor’s assessment.

Adams wishes he’d told Miller that life wasn’t just work. “We just talked about work. And if you don’t teach family or good health to somebody, then suddenly you turn around and go, ‘Oh, my God. We didn’t have that conversation.’ And you feel like shit, because Frank didn’t. And now he’s having to learn it.”

In part, he blames Miller’s success for the years he says his friend sacrificed to that lesson. “You cannot accept other people’s view of you. You cannot believe when other people say, ‘Oh my God, you’re great, you’re a legend.’ You cannot accept that. It’s no way to live. And as soon as you do, you start convincing yourself that you’re something that you’re not, that somehow you can drink two bottles of whiskey and nothing will happen to you.”

In his last conversation with Miller, Adams says he told his protege he was going to die. “I told him he was white trash, and I’d be surprised if he makes it for six months, because he’s taken his life and ruined it, and he said, ‘Well, I’d like to show you I’m not that way,’ and I said, ‘If you recover, I’ll see you in six months, maybe a year.’”

“‘I think of you like a son,’” Adams remembers saying, “‘and I’m gonna lose you.’” Now he believes Miller “will mend”.


'The Rebellionverse begins here'

US format, full colour one-shot - 'The Leopard From Lime Street, Adam Eterno, The Steel Commando, Dr. Sin, Pete's Pocket Army and Blake Edmonds (Deathwish) team up to face Von Hoffman and Dr. Mesmer'.

Released August 2018, available in newsagents as well as your local comic shop. Furman and Coleby are joined by 'guest creators'.

John Freeman has the scoop: https://downthetubes.net/?p=44964

Edit to add the cover from the 2000 AD blog post

General / House Characters In Comics
« on: 30 September, 2017, 01:47:23 pm »

Obviously I'm quoting this because it accords with my own views, but it's worth reading/hearing in its own right, not least because it's more incisive than anything we've produced in the prog review thread lately.

Julius Howe, from an unusually thoughtful* episode of the Everything Comes Back To 2000ad podcast:

'Dredd's always been a story that's about forward momentum, whereas War Buds reflects on the past. I'd love to know where Wagner's taking Dredd, because all that will happen at the end of this is the other writers will go back to satirical strips that don't take the story forward.

The book Simpsons Confidential does a really good job of showing how the success of that show wasn't down to one person. Sam Simon told the writers to mine their personal history as story material, which is why those early episodes felt so honest.

When John Wagner writes Dredd, you get John Wagner in the story, and I think that's something missing from a lot of 2000ad stories. Dan Abnett is a great writer, but I don't know who Dan Abnett is because you don't get a lot of Dan Abnett from his stories. Dredd feels so consistent because there's so much of John Wagner coming through.

When those original Simpsons writers moved on, the writers who replaced them were basing what they wrote entirely on The Simpsons. I think that's the same kind of thing you get with Dredd. You've got this Icon (or Titan) of British comics, with all this history, and the writers are basing their stories on the back story.

Rob Williams is writing stories he wants to tell but with Dredd in them; Al Ewing and Michael Carroll are replicating Wagner stories but bringing a bit of themselves. They're really good writers, but the stories don't quite work because the character's so closely associated with his creator.

Even though other writers have come and gone, it's always been John Wagner who took the strip forward. Now we've got this power struggle to see who's going to be the voice of Judge Dredd, but the voice of Judge Dredd is always going to be John Wagner.

I don't think anyone can replace him, because Judge Dredd is not a corporate character - he's too closely tied to his creator. It would be like someone else writing ABC Warriors, or replacing John Smith on Devlin Waugh.

Rebellion are trying to look at these characters as if they're Marvel properties, but they're not. The difference between US and UK characters is they're creator owned characters who aren't owned by their creators.

The characters Tharg tried to treat like corporate IPs - Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog(s), Robohunter - should have been a lesson learned. Treating these characters as anything other than the product of their creators doesn't work.

With a few exceptions, Alan Grant's recent Anderson stories haven't been great. I don't think he feels he has more to say with the character, but I don't think bringing in another writer helps. New writers need to develop new characters that embody their personalities and take them forward in their own way.

Judge Janus is universally hated, but she was a character who embodied the interests of Grant Morrison and Mark Millar. The stories weren't very good, but they were of their time and of their creators.

I don't think putting Morrison and Millar on Judge Anderson would have made the Anderson strip better, because that strip is such a product of its creators.

Creators need to feel appreciated or they're not going to produce their best work.

If you treat creators separately from their creations, you don't foster a relationship with those creators. Especially with a creator like John Smith, who's quite out there, you've got to put a lot of effort into that relationship and getting them where they need to be to produce their best work.

John Smith was terrible at endings - people just basically turned into lizards or something - but the enjoyment of the stories as they went along was immense. I couldn't understand a lot of what was going on in Revere, but I still enjoyed reading it every week.

Rebellion want a situation like the Marvel production line, but with 2000ad that results in something quite ordinary. That kind of system produces a structure that's functional but lacking the vital spark of originality that makes the best work so memorable.'

The aspect of this commentary I find most persuasive is that it doesn't figure other writers as hacks who lack talent or idiots who simply do not understand what makes a character so great. As Garth Ennis and Douglas Wolk demonstrate, it's possible to write fairly ordinary Dredd strips but still be able to write eloquently and powerfully about Dredd.

The other aspect of Julius's disquisition that resonated with me is the focus on the connection between reader and writer, as opposed to between reader and character. I've never really understood why comic readers follow characters, as opposed to creators.

It's the personality of the writer ** that shines through and causes me to invest in Dredd, Strontium Dog, Indigo Prime and Devlin Waugh. I'm not sure there's anything inherently special about those characters (or any others) - the ordinary-to-awful results of Tharg's previous attempts at turning original creations into house characters suggests not.

* I say thoughtful, but you have to fast forward through an (admittedly entertaining) hour of middle aged men drinking gin and singing cartoon theme tunes to get to the incisive analysis: https://2000ad.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/ecbt2000ad-ep340/

** ... and, in the rare case of Strontium Dog, the artist

Film & TV / Scorsese makes Joker movie - or The Death of Culture
« on: 23 August, 2017, 08:16:27 pm »

He's only producing, but - before you think that restores a shred of dignity - he's hired The Hangover guy to direct.

I'm not linking to the press release, but it's a classic. It's a full house for anyone playing DC Cinematic Universe bingo - "dark ... gritty and grounded ... set in the eighties ... more of a dark crime movie than a traditional superhero adventure".

I don't blame him for taking Time Warner's cash for putting his name on this  - he's 100 years old and hates the world for not going to see his Japanese priest torture porn movie.

General / Rare Interview With Legend Ian Gibson
« on: 02 February, 2017, 11:00:45 pm »
I've never heard an interview with Ian Gibson before; now I know why. He doesn't feel the need to be diplomatic about anything or anyone. One former Tharg is a waste of oxygen and even Darth Vader feels the sharp end of Gibson's tongue.

His early life is so Sixties it sounds like Austin Powers' biography - he dropped out of art school to teach himself sitar! His apprenticeship under Blas Galego, walking out on Samantha Slade, and rewriting X-Men all make for great stories, explaining his character and his career.

Gibson puts forward a very different version of Halo Jones's creation than most of us would imagine, claiming the central theme and whole way the first book was told were his ideas, and that he and Moore tried to take the strip to French publishers after the latter grew to despise Tharg.

For all the fun had, Gibson's explanation of why we'll never see more comics from him again is heartbreaking. Essential listening:




Books & Comics / Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« on: 21 November, 2016, 01:55:35 pm »
So many great nuggets of information are mentioned in passing round here, remembered only by a few and never seen again, I thought it would be a good idea to have one place to post information or artwork that didn't make the edit on the official history of 2000ad.

This is the detail that set me off on this train of thought; how could John Smith have been interviewed about the history of 2000ad without mentioning he almost became Tharg? *

reproduced with permission

* I asked a follow up question, but I'm working on the assumption that Smith was offered the role following the departure of McKenzie. The Burton/McKenzie succession seemed an orderly one, and Smith says it was pre-internet - which rules out Tharg's Bishop/Diggle regeneration.

Books & Comics / Alan Moore's Jerusalem +++SPOILERS+++
« on: 26 September, 2016, 07:55:23 pm »
Despite visits from three Amazon associates in white vans, two of them wielding parcels the size of unusually lengthy books, my walk home from work was unencumbered by 1000 pages of psychogeography, ill advised rape scenes, and ranting against Northampton Town Council.

Undaunted, I thought I'd pave the way for this thread of exhaustive literary analysis - which I expect to receive as many as three (brief) replies - with the first Moore interview I've read in ages that lets him speak affably and entertainingly on the vast range of topics he knows more about than almost everyone else, rather than bear baiting him to have a go at superhero comics and their readers.

Works on a tabloid level too. There's a hilarious dialogue with a tramp about Dave Gibbons/DC, and Dominic Wells identifies the 'girlfriend' Moore and his first wife shared - whose familiar surname was a revelation to me at least:

“I continually monitor the possibility that I might be going mad.”

Moore and I are holed up in an Italian restaurant in Northampton to discuss the culmination of a lifetime’s work, research and philosophy. “Bigger than the Bible and I hope more socially useful”, is how Moore describes his sprawling magnum opus, Jerusalem, with his customarily deadpan humour.

Moore hasn’t lost the astonishing verbal felicity with which his every sentence emerges fully formed, sub-clauses and all. It’s as though he were writing rather than speaking; or as though he already knows how each sentence will end before he embarks upon it.

In 1994, Moore experienced an “absolute, crystalline understanding” during a magical ritual. Since then, Moore has believed, as Einstein supposedly did, that time is a solid in which our lives are embedded; it is only our perception of it which makes it appear linear.

“The thing is,” says Moore, “we don’t have free will, or at least that’s what I believe, and I think most physicists tend to think that as well, that this is a predetermined universe. That’s got to pretty much kill religion because there aren’t any religions that aren’t based on some kind of moral imperative. They’ve all got sin, karma or something a bit like that.

In a predetermined universe how can you talk about sin? How can you talk about virtue?”

“We’re talking here about heaven and hell, we’re talking about them as being simultaneous and present, that all the worst moments of your life forever, that’s hell; all the best moments of your life forever, that’s paradise.

So, this is where we are. We’re in hell, we’re in paradise; both together, forever. I’m saying that everywhere is Jerusalem. That in an Einsteinian block universe, where all time is presumably simultaneous, then everywhere is the eternal heavenly city.”

This is why, as in Alan Moore’s first novel, Voice of the Fire, almost all the action in Jerusalem takes place within a small geographical area of Northampton, but ranging across different historical eras, each centring on different protagonists who end up interconnecting in surprising ways.

It’s part social history of Northampton, part thinly fictionalised history of Moore’s own family, part philosophical treatise, part rip-roaring adventure in which a gang of kids maraud through the afterlife in a central section Moore describes as like “a savage, hallucinating Enid Blyton”.

As if that wasn’t hard enough to pull off, Moore adapts his writing style to the inner voice of whoever is the chapter’s focus.

One is written as a play, in the style of Waiting for Godot, and throws together the spirits of Thomas Becket, Samuel Beckett, John Clare and John Bunyan – all of whom have some connection with Northampton – as they observe and comment on a husband and wife wrestling with a terrible family secret …

Another chapter, described from the point of view of James Joyce’s mad daughter Lucia who was institutionalised for 30 years in a Northampton mental hospital, is written in a mangled, pun-filled gibber-English as a homage to Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. It was so laborious to compose that Moore took a year’s break after finishing it.

If this makes Jerusalem sound like hard going, it isn’t. It’s gripping, full of stylistic fireworks, frequently laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes terrifying, occasionally frustrating. Could it have been shorter? Of course. But it’s the digressions and bizarre connections that make the book, the nuggets of pure gold that Moore has sifted from the silt of local history through prodigious research and banked in his near-photographic memory.

“Nearly everything is historical fact,” says Moore, before deadpanning: “I’d take all the angels and demons with a pinch of salt. A lot of it is actually 100 per cent materially true, but I think all of it is emotionally true.

We are not just our bricks and mortar, we are not just our flesh and blood, we are not just our material components. Everything in our world has got an imaginary component. As individuals, we’re always telling people the legend of us. The same goes for our houses, our streets, our towns, our country – there is a huge imaginary component to human life and if in the interests of scientific realism you ignore that, you are not describing reality.

But science cannot measure the bit that isn’t material. Science is a brilliant tool for analysing our material universe, but science cannot talk about what is inside the human mind: it’s beyond the realm of proof, it’s beyond the realm of science. So I say they should be left to art and magic, which are pretty much the same thing.”

One of the most moving aspects of the book is how Moore exhumes the oral working-class history of Northampton, resurrecting and giving voice to those who had none when they lived, such as a homeless teen who died of exposure, whom Moore makes a key character, or “Black Charley”, who emigrated to Northampton from America.

"These are the things that need to be preserved. Because they are wonderful. And yet, who cares?

These things must have happened in every little deprived area, all across the world. But we’re not interested in deprived areas, it’s got to be the history of Church and State and Monarchy – that’s the only history that counts, apparently.  I would say that’s the only history that’s simplistic to keep track of” ...

... “So, yeah,” he deadpans. “I am still worshipped as a God by the primitive and superstitious people of Milton Keynes.”


Pages: [1] 2 3