The old clichÃ© is that you should never meet your hero. If you have read and absorbed everything your hero has created, if you truly believe in his genius and unfailing imagination, then the man can never live up to the sum of his lifeâ€™s work. He can never come close to meeting your expectation of his brilliance, his wit, his knowledge and his unique and utterly absorbing perspective on things which exist and things which do not.
Unless your hero is Alan Moore.
Yes, I have gone soft in the head and weak at the knees. Iâ€™m waxing romantically and lyrically about a man who writes comic books. If you arenâ€™t aware of his work (and I donâ€™t mean the Hollywood hatchet job movies of recent years), then stop reading now, go and buy his entire back catalogue and come back when you are as obsessive a fan as I.
The rest of you will know what Iâ€™m talking about. Alan Moore is just freaking awesome and today I found myself in the enviable and surreal position of hanging out with him, shooting the breeze, as you do. Well, I do. You just read this blog about it and maybe turn a little green.
This particular chain of events began when a friend asked me if I wanted anything from New York, as he was visiting there on business. I asked him to pick me up a copy of Alan Mooreâ€™s book Lost Girls, as it is not currently available for sale in the UK. My friend had no idea that the book was highly controversial and extremely explicit, so he was a tad bemused when the sales clerk scuttled off to the back room to retrieve their only copy of the sealed set of volumes, handing it over with a knowing and slightly disgusted look. The book was flown home and handed to me safe and sound, and I was delighted with it. A few weeks later, my friend received an email from another speaker at the forthcoming event, Magical Northampton (that being the home of Alan Moore and the location of the talk). My buddy noticed the name of Moore and recognised it, so forwarded the email to me. I would not otherwise have known about the talk, as it was a small and local affair.
So along I went to a small and hot room in the basement of Northampton Museum and Art Gallery to hear Alan Moore address me and about 55 other people on the history of magic in Northampton. He talked about witch trials, the Crusades, the death of queens, the Dark Ages, and all manner of delightful and gory history mysteries. He was utterly compelling the entire time. I wonâ€™t repeat his stories because I canâ€™t do them justice, but I will hint that if you thought Princess Diana was buried at Althorp Park, think again ;)
After the talk I got to hang out with him and listen to him chat happily about his forthcoming projects (oh, bliss!) including a rather amusing-sounding jaunt to find the Holy Grail in a mental hospital.
If meeting your hero is bound to be a disappointment, then I can only conclude that Alan Moore is no hero of mine, because he was everything I expected and better. He has a fascinating and amusing philosophy, somewhere between skeptic and woo, despite the reputation for â€˜magical thinkingâ€™. He explained by â€˜magicâ€™ he simply means viewing the world romantically to enrich his own experiences, which he claims is the driving force behind great artists, poets and writers (of which he is all three in my opinion). Heâ€™s a much an advocate for scientific evidence as the most hardened skeptic, but as delighted with mystery as the frilliest woo. If his worldview is what drives him to create work like V for Vendetta, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Top Ten, then I say let him have it without criticism. Even if we reject his brand of magic, we can all be a little better off for his writing.