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Alan Moore Career Overview

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Alan Moore Career Overview

Old 04-03-22, 12:51 PM
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Alan Moore Career Overview

In the game thread one candidate for our lists brought up some rather heated defense when I said he wasn't on my list, and how I viewed his influence on other writers as not always being a positive one (continuity be damned, more or less).

That really brought up some ardent support of Moore, and a defense of his work against what was seen as an unfair and ill informed criticism.

And, to be honest, it's nice to see such passionate response when it comes to a comic writer . I feel much the same way about Stan Lee when Kirby fans take shots at him.

As part of the discussion, I was advised that Moore wrote the two part Superman story, "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" I've got the Eaglemoss hardcover collection with that story and two others that Moore wrote. It hadn't clicked with me until then that it was THAT Alan Moore that wrote those stories. So I finally got around to reading that main story, and found it to be very good, if nothing more than a well written Elseworlds story. (Funny, that - it was outside of continuity. )

Then, this morning, I read the Superman/Swamp thing story in that book. That one was really odd. A very different take on Superman, and, again, something that we hadn't seen before and wouldn't really fit in with the regular continuity outside of a Team Up type book with Swamp Thing. Fairly well written, but, I don't know, just a little off for Superman.

His DC career started by making some radical changes to Swamp Thing...
Moore's work in 2000 AD brought him to the attention of DC Comics editor Len Wein,[30] who hired him in 1983 to write The Saga of the Swamp Thing, then a formulaic and poor-selling monster comic. Moore, with artists Stephen R. Bissette, Rick Veitch, and John Totleben,[31] deconstructed and reimagined the character, writing a series of formally experimental stories that addressed environmental and social issues alongside the horror and fantasy, bolstered by research into the culture of Louisiana, where the series was set.[25][26] For Swamp Thing he revived many of DC's neglected magical and supernatural characters, including the Spectre, the Demon, the Phantom Stranger, Deadman, and others, and introduced John Constantine,[32] an English working-class magician based visually on the British musician Sting; Constantine later became the protagonist of the series Hellblazer, which became Vertigo's longest-running series at 300 issues. Moore would continue writing Swamp Thing for almost four years, from issue No. 20 (January 1984) through to issue No. 64 (September 1987) with the exception of issues No. 59 and 62.[3]: 82  Moore's run on Swamp Thing was successful both critically and commercially, and inspired DC to recruit British writers such as Grant Morrison, Jamie Delano, Peter Milligan, and Neil Gaiman to write comics in a similar vein, often involving radical revamps of obscure characters.[25][26]
But that was closer to the beginning of his career, in terms of working on high profile titles (or titles that would become high profile over time).

Watchmen, V For Vendetta, and several others are highly respected and have iconic status.


Old 04-03-22, 01:19 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
I'm not sure how it is for other people, but I'm fine with people not liking or holding in high esteem the same creators I do. I will speak up though if I feel like someone is drastically miscategorizing someone's work without having any familiarity with it. If some says "I was never a fan of Alan Moore, just never got into his stuff" that's fine, but if you go "oh and I think he's responsible for the Clone saga and other stuff I hate so I won't even go near him, plus he's a weirdo" well that to me prompts a discussion.

There have been tons and tons and tons of retcons before and after Moore, though, in both Marvel and DC. Usually these retcons even result in there being multiple Earths or a Crisis or event. Moore did not start this. It is a work for hire business (at least in the superhero world) and when you get hundreds of creators a shot to write their own stories, they're going to change things up, even things that are held in high regard, but I wouldn't blame Moore for that at all.
Moore's first major retcon/reworking/reimagining was Swamp Thing in 1983. Before Crisis.

And Marvel never made radical changes like Peter being the clone, the, "Clone," still being a live (after being incinerated ), and then Norman Osborn showing up alive (and, worse plot points for that return of Norman storyline) - until the 90's.

No one was willing to throw out key events in a character's history until Moore reimagined Swamp Thing. It was a highly influential run. Like Hollywood, people copied that idea (changing a character or his/her history when past events get in the way of the story you want to tell). Up to that point the most radical change I could think of would be Spider-Woman, and they just tweaked the origin slightly to make more sense for a brand new character when the original writer really kind of wrote in some details that would derail a long running series.

Look, from the stories I've read over the last 16 hours I can see that Moore is great with words. I can see how he developed into an iconic and influential figure.


Old 04-03-22, 01:48 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Originally Posted by B5Erik View Post
Moore's first major retcon/reworking/reimagining was Swamp Thing in 1983. Before Crisis.

And Marvel never made radical changes like Peter being the clone, the, "Clone," still being a live (after being incinerated ), and then Norman Osborn showing up alive (and, worse plot points for that return of Norman storyline) - until the 90's.

No one was willing to throw out key events in a character's history until Moore reimagined Swamp Thing. It was a highly influential run. Like Hollywood, people copied that idea (changing a character or his/her history when past events get in the way of the story you want to tell). Up to that point the most radical change I could think of would be Spider-Woman, and they just tweaked the origin slightly to make more sense for a brand new character when the original writer really kind of wrote in some details that would derail a long running series.

Look, from the stories I've read over the last 16 hours I can see that Moore is great with words. I can see how he developed into an iconic and influential figure.
If Moore hadn't reinvented Swamp Thing, the book probably would have been cancelled before the year ended. Not all character revamps / reinventions are a bad thing or idea. For proof, look at Batman in the 50's / 60's before Denny O' Neill and Neal Adams revamped the character, or Claremont 's X-Men revamped in the mid 70's. X-Men was cancelled before the 60's ended, and Batman was heading for the same fate.
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Old 04-03-22, 01:58 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Originally Posted by ddrknghtrtns View Post
If Moore hadn't reinvented Swamp Thing, the book probably would have been cancelled before the year ended. Not all character revamps / reinventions are a bad thing or idea. For proof, look at Batman in the 50's / 60's before Denny O' Neill and Neal Adams revamped the character, or Claremont 's X-Men revamped in the mid 70's. X-Men was cancelled before the 60's ended, and Batman was heading for the same fate.
The Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams revamping of Batman didn't go outside what little continuity there was with the character before that. They didn't change his history. They didn't say, for example, that his mom didn't really die. The events of prior issues remained intact. The same was true of the X-Men. We just got a handful of new X-Men. The events leading up to that revamping remained intact.

Having said that, I'm not intending to criticize Moore in any harsh way. I'm not a fan of changing a character's history, but he felt it needed to be done, and the fans, by a wide margin, liked his changes.

And he is great with words.

What would you point to as his best work?
Old 04-03-22, 02:11 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Originally Posted by Hokeyboy View Post
This is so disturbingly incorrect about Moore it hardly abides the telling. He didn't destroy what came before with Swamp Thing, he built upon it and recontextualized it in a way that not only respected the history and continuity, it improved it in such a way that not only the creators approved, so did readers.
Moore reconfigured the Swamp Thing's origin to make him a true monster as opposed to a human transformed into a monster. In his first issue, he swept aside the supporting cast Pasko had introduced in his year-and-a-half run as writer, and brought the Sunderland Corporation (a villainous group out to gain the secrets of Alec Holland's research) to the forefront, as they hunted down the Swamp Thing and "killed" him in a hail of bullets.The Saga of the Swamp Thing (vol. 2) #21 (Feb. 1984), "The Anatomy Lesson", signaled a change in the character's mythos by having an obscure supervillain, the Floronic Man (Jason Woodrue), perform an autopsy on the Swamp Thing's body and discover it was only superficially human, its organs little more than crude, nonfunctional, vegetable-based imitations of their human counterparts, indicating that the Swamp Thing could never have been human. The Swamp Thing was not Alec Holland, but only believed it to be so: Holland had indeed died in the fire, and the swamp vegetation had absorbed his consciousness and memories and created a new sentient being that believed itself to be Alec Holland. The Swamp Thing would never be human again because he never was human to start with. Woodrue also concluded that, despite the autopsy, the Swamp Thing was still alive and in a deep coma due to the bullet wounds and imprisonment in cold-storage.[2]

Moore would later reveal, in an attempt to connect the original one-off Swamp Thing story from House of Secrets to the main Swamp Thing canon, that there had been dozens, perhaps hundreds, of Swamp Things since the dawn of humanity, and that all versions of the creature were designated defenders of the Parliament of Trees, an elemental community also known as "the Green" that connects all plant life on Earth.
That's a pretty hard reboot, and a complete change to what came before. That's not just, "Recontextualizing," the character, it's a drastic, radical change.

And while I know it was a very popular change, it's not one that I like. What little I read of Swamp Thing in the 70's (a Brave and the Bold issue and one other) I liked in terms of Swamp Thing being a human transformed into a plant creature, and being desperate to find a way to cure himself. The change Moore made made it impossible for the character to be cured because it wasn't the original guy at all, taking away the hopeful side of the character that held out a belief that he could be cured at some point.

Again, I don't want to sound like I'm dumping on Alan Moore. That's not what this thread is about. But there has been a near deification of the man as a writer, and, while I understand why people love his work - and I agree that he's great with words - that doesn't mean his work is beyond any criticism.

The things he did fundamentally changed how a lot of writers approached comics after that. Was that for the better or for the worse?
Old 04-03-22, 02:30 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Have you actually read the work, though? Or just a synopsis of the work?
Old 04-03-22, 02:52 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
Have you actually read the work, though? Or just a synopsis of the work?
What's your take on that work. Would you agree that the above synopsis from Wikipedia is accurate? And, either way, what do you think about Moore's run on Swamp Thing (and what do you think of the original Len Wein run)?
Old 04-03-22, 03:41 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Yeah, the article is mostly accurate.

To be more concise, the main change that Moore made was that, instead of Alec Holland turning into the Swamp Thing monster, the Swamp Thing is now a monster that has the memories and possibly soul of Alec Holland. And Moore later expands this idea into having the Swamp Thing be a god/elemental/avatar of the plant kingdom.

I find Moore's Swamp Thing run to be pretty great. Aside from Moore's writing the artwork by Bissette and Totleben is really gorgeous and fits the story well. I think that, pre-Moore, in the Wein/Wrightson era, Swamp Thing was a pretty generic character -- man turns into monster, tries to cure himself -- elevated by Wein and Wrightson. Moore then took this and turned it into something more interesting.
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Old 04-03-22, 03:53 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

If Moore had never done anything but Watchmen, he'd deserve to be on most top ten lists in comic book history. Probably the most influential comic book (graphic novel for pretentious readers) published since Action Comics #1 because it helped convince adult readers the medium was capable of far more than simple four-color adventure tales. But of course, Moore left so many masterworks like Miracleman, Swamp Thing, From Hell, Supreme, and others that he's a massively important figure in modern comics. Even Moore's unpublished stuff ended up being influential - his "Twilight of the Gods" manuscript about DC's future served as a huge inspiration for Mark Waid's Kingdom Come.
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Old 04-03-22, 03:55 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

I like Alan Moore, but I wouldnít say Iím a huge fan. I like Watchmen and The Killing Joke. Tried to read his run on Swamp Thing but I didnít really get into it.
Old 04-03-22, 04:13 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Originally Posted by Josh-da-man View Post
Yeah, the article is mostly accurate.

To be more concise, the main change that Moore made was that, instead of Alec Holland turning into the Swamp Thing monster, the Swamp Thing is now a monster that has the memories and possibly soul of Alec Holland. And Moore later expands this idea into having the Swamp Thing be a god/elemental/avatar of the plant kingdom.

I find Moore's Swamp Thing run to be pretty great. Aside from Moore's writing the artwork by Bissette and Totleben is really gorgeous and fits the story well. I think that, pre-Moore, in the Wein/Wrightson era, Swamp Thing was a pretty generic character -- man turns into monster, tries to cure himself -- elevated by Wein and Wrightson. Moore then took this and turned it into something more interesting.
Yeah, his changes to Swamp Thing don't work for me. At all. There's a reason why I'm a big Len Wein fan - he was a great writer.

To me, saying that Swamp Thing wasn't really Alec Holland just makes him an uninteresting creature. Nothing tragic, nothing interesting. Just a man's memories transferred into a swamp creature. No hope of a cure, no hope of somehow resuming a regular life - just forever a sentient plant. That's not a retcon that I can get behind.

Oh, and the god/elemental/avatar thing - I really don't like that kind of character/concept in general. But that fits with Moore's own personality and personal beliefs. He's a pretty weird dude.
Old 04-03-22, 06:22 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Just to be clear, I'm not bothered one way or another if you do or don't like Alan Moore. It was more the basis of your argument that I took issue with. You might be right that you won't like him, but basing that on a Wikipedia synopsis and a lot of dubious preconceived notions struck me as odd.
Old 04-03-22, 07:01 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Originally Posted by rocket1312 View Post
Just to be clear, I'm not bothered one way or another if you do or don't like Alan Moore. It was more the basis of your argument that I took issue with. You might be right that you won't like him, but basing that on a Wikipedia synopsis and a lot of dubious preconceived notions struck me as odd.
And since a few people were emphatic about him I read one of his Superman stories last night, and another this morning. I just started reading Watchmen, and I'm 3 issues in. It is VERY well written, a very detailed world they live in, but there isn't a protagonist. There isn't anyone to like, no one to root for, no one to care about. That's a big problem. That was my problem with the Joker movie - I hated every single character. I just wanted it to end after about 20 minutes, but I had to wait another two hours.

This isn't as bad as that. There are some halfway sympathetic characters, but while I want to root for Rorschach (since he was the first one to figure out what's wrong, and he just wants to help make everything right), but he's nuts, and not all that pleasant.

I don't have any idea if this is typical of Moore, but while Watchmen is a fascinating read through 3 issues (and, very well written, like I said), I don't really know how much I like it.
Old 04-03-22, 08:22 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Originally Posted by B5Erik View Post
And since a few people were emphatic about him I read one of his Superman stories last night, and another this morning. I just started reading Watchmen, and I'm 3 issues in. It is VERY well written, a very detailed world they live in, but there isn't a protagonist. There isn't anyone to like, no one to root for, no one to care about. That's a big problem. That was my problem with the Joker movie - I hated every single character. I just wanted it to end after about 20 minutes, but I had to wait another two hours.

This isn't as bad as that. There are some halfway sympathetic characters, but while I want to root for Rorschach (since he was the first one to figure out what's wrong, and he just wants to help make everything right), but he's nuts, and not all that pleasant.

I don't have any idea if this is typical of Moore, but while Watchmen is a fascinating read through 3 issues (and, very well written, like I said), I don't really know how much I like it.
I applaud you for engaging with the work and not just making assumptions. I think Watchmen is an monumental achievement, and deserves the attention of any fan of superhero comics. That said, I probably wouldn't put it on a list of my "favorite" comics. There are plenty of other books I enjoy more on a purely superficial level. But at least now if you hate it, you can explain why in a more educated manner.
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Old 04-03-22, 11:37 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Yeah, I finished Watchmen, and it was... OK.

Very uneven, and while there were a couple of protagonists in the last third of the story, it still lacked something. It's a very well thought out world that the story is told in, but there's something missing, something off.

Oh, well. Moore is obviously a very talented writer. Just really out there.
Old 04-04-22, 02:31 AM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Read it again.
Old 04-04-22, 07:39 AM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Originally Posted by B5Erik View Post
Yeah, I finished Watchmen, and it was... OK.

Very uneven, and while there were a couple of protagonists in the last third of the story, it still lacked something. It's a very well thought out world that the story is told in, but there's something missing, something off.

Oh, well. Moore is obviously a very talented writer. Just really out there.
You read it in a day? Not saying it isn't possible (or that it would even change your experience much), but it's such a dense piece. Did you read all the text based stuff? I reread the whole thing maybe every 5-7 years and I find it best to fully absorb one issue at a time before moving onto the next.
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Old 04-04-22, 08:15 AM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

If you’re reading something like Watchmen in a day then you’re reading wrong.
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Old 04-04-22, 10:31 AM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
If youíre reading something like Watchmen in a day then youíre reading wrong.
I read fast. I didn't have a whole lot going on, so I had a couple hours free (in different spurts), and I wanted to see how it ended, so I just kept going. I usually read 2 or 3 issues per night before bed, but yesterday I read that in the afternoon and again later in the evening.
Old 04-04-22, 11:08 AM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Originally Posted by B5Erik View Post
I read fast. I didn't have a whole lot going on, so I had a couple hours free (in different spurts), and I wanted to see how it ended, so I just kept going. I usually read 2 or 3 issues per night before bed, but yesterday I read that in the afternoon and again later in the evening.
Thatís fine, wish I was a faster reader.

But I think what some of us are trying to say is that Watchmen isnít the type of work that you can or should read like a normal comic. There is stuff going on in those panel backgrounds. Itís very intricately plotted and drawn. The text pieces in each issue are important. It makes me think and linger every time I re-read it. Canít imagine having the headspace to read and take in more than a couple issues a day, if that.

But weíre all different. Glad to see you willing to try his stuff at least.
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Old 04-05-22, 11:44 AM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

I really enjoyed Top 10 and Promethea.
Old 04-05-22, 01:06 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

In the mid 80s, the trade paperbacks of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns really got me into comics (and following that up with guys like Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, and pretty much everything in DCs Vertigo line until the mid/late 90s).

Watchmen was my first exposure to Alan Moore, but I went back collecting his earlier work in Swamp Thing and Miracleman. That was before there were trades of those issues, and there was no internet to download digital copies, so I remember scouring local comic shows to fill in my collection. John Constantine's first appearance (Swamp Thing #37) was a toughie to get, but I see it listing for a lot more now. But I never really cared about the collecting ... I just wanted to read the stories.

Miracleman probably lost a lot of its punch today due to many stories that are dark twisted takes of a Superman-like character. But I still remember how harrowing it could be (especially in the confrontation with his young sidekick turned supervillain). And unlike other stories, the main character was noble and good and there were touching and tender moments that seemed atypical for comics (although it was a trait Alan Moore brought out in a number of his stories).

Originally Posted by Josh-da-man View Post
To be more concise, the main change that Moore made was that, instead of Alec Holland turning into the Swamp Thing monster, the Swamp Thing is now a monster that has the memories and possibly soul of Alec Holland. And Moore later expands this idea into having the Swamp Thing be a god/elemental/avatar of the plant kingdom.

I find Moore's Swamp Thing run to be pretty great. Aside from Moore's writing the artwork by Bissette and Totleben is really gorgeous and fits the story well. I think that, pre-Moore, in the Wein/Wrightson era, Swamp Thing was a pretty generic character -- man turns into monster, tries to cure himself -- elevated by Wein and Wrightson. Moore then took this and turned it into something more interesting.
Originally Posted by B5Erik View Post
Yeah, his changes to Swamp Thing don't work for me. At all. There's a reason why I'm a big Len Wein fan - he was a great writer.

To me, saying that Swamp Thing wasn't really Alec Holland just makes him an uninteresting creature. Nothing tragic, nothing interesting. Just a man's memories transferred into a swamp creature. No hope of a cure, no hope of somehow resuming a regular life - just forever a sentient plant. That's not a retcon that I can get behind.

Oh, and the god/elemental/avatar thing - I really don't like that kind of character/concept in general. But that fits with Moore's own personality and personal beliefs. He's a pretty weird dude.
I'm with Josh-da-man on this. I read Len Wein's short run, and the first 19 issues of The Saga of the Swamp Thing reboot (which actually started as a tie-in with the Wes Craven movie). Personally, I found the direction Moore took the series to be much more interesting. True, there's no hope of a cure or a normal "human" life. But Swamp Thing is a sentient living being with emotions. The story was about what he would do with his life now that he knew the truth about himself. What was his purpose in the world? Could he still find love? [Which led to one of the most unusual issues where the entire thing is Swamp Thing having sex with Abby Arcane]

I didn't care as much when the series starting laying heavier into the "plant avatar" mysticism aspect (which later writers leaned more into). Although I liked how Mark Millar (who was pretty much unknown at the time) ended that volume of Swamp Thing by going into an apocalyptic direction, essentially making Swamp Thing the villain (with John Constantine as the hero).
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Old 04-05-22, 01:32 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

I thought that Moore's reimagining of Swamp Thing was genius, and yet did not invalidate all the previous Swampy stories, it was an amazing sleight of hand. And yeah, the title was on its way to being cancelled before Moore took over, and his whole run on the title was fantastic.

I'm also a huge fan of Watchmen and League of Extraordinary Gentleman, some of my favorite comics ever, I love Alan Moore.
Old 04-05-22, 01:55 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

Quick aside, but this year I’m doing a Swamp Thing read-thru as part of my reading goals. One issue a day of every major appearance (heck, maybe even the cameos) starting with House of Secrets 92.

I doubt any long-running title has a stable of writers as good as Swamp Thing over the decades.

Len Wein
Alan Moore
Rick Veitch
Nancy Collins
Grant Morrison
Brian K Vaughan
Scott Snyder
Charles Soule
Len Wein again
Ram V
Jeff Lemire
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Old 04-05-22, 02:06 PM
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Re: Alan Moore Career Overview

For mainstream superhero comics (that never went Vertigo), Daredevil is pretty good:
Stan Lee
Denny O'Neil
Roy Thomas
Marv Wolfman (there's a Len Wein sighting in between)
Jim Shooter

then it just goes off the charts with
Frank Miller
Ann Nocenti
D.G. Chichester (many probably don't recognize him but he did fall from grace)
J. M. DeMatteis
Kevin Smith
David Mack
Brian Michael Bendis
Ed Brubaker
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