No name carries the weight that “Alan Moore” does in the comic book world. He is a man universally recognised as one of the all-time best comic creators in the history of the medium. Some may even go as far as claiming he impacted 20th century thinking, especially among the more underground cultures and fans of the horrifying, thought provoking and the bizarre.
He is most well-known for his work on Watchmen – which is one of the most horrifying looks into the super hero genre – as well as 2000AD, a grim satire of mid-20th century Britain with a dark comedic dystopian twist.
Beyond these large breakaway hits that have spawned high budget Hollywood adaptations and changed popular culture as we know it, Alan Moore had always had a particular talent for horror comics; a difficult genre and one that is deeply under-appreciated in the comic book world.
Alan Moore has always had tremendous talent for the subtle unease and discomfort necessary to truly perfect the genre and become a guiding figure in it.
1. From Hell: A Haunting and Inspiring Breakaway Hit
From Hell was Alan Moore’s first acclaimed horror graphic novel. It was serialised in the late 80’s before reaching a conclusion and being published as a nearly 600 page long graphic novel.
The title comes from the famous serial killer Jack the Ripper’s letters to British police –affectionately known as Scotland Yard for these purposes.
The harrowing pages of the graphic novel follow a fictionalized version of the serial killer’s career. Taking a different approach than most versions of the Jack the Ripper tale, the comic goes beyond a shallow horrifying focus on the gore and disgust of the crimes.
Instead, it creates a twisted narrative in which a royal doctor commits these murders in the name of preventing a scandal for the royal family. Throughout, the doctor lives a twisted and vivid fantasy that by killing these women he is maintaining and supporting the natural order of men’s dominance over women.
Not only is the subject matter of the comic beyond horrifying on a deep psychological level, it also manages its fair share of shocks and turns. Most importantly, the comic’s almost sketch-like style gives the horrifying subject matter a life of its own.
The messy lines, the unbearable black and white, and the undefined shifting faces make the comic an uneasy read that seems to translate the very madness that the characters face. The work is widely considered a masterpiece and is a must-read for horror comic fans everywhere.
2. Crossed: A Horrifying Look at Humanity’s Worst Impulses.
Crossed is an independently owned and published horror comic. While Alan Moore did not create Crossed, he wrote many issues for it and was massively influential over its production.
Crossed follows the events of a horrifying zombie like apocalypse. An infection spreads wildly throughout the world overnight with horrifying ramifications. All those infected immediately begin to carry out their darkest and most violent impulses.
Crossed differs from the average zombie apocalypse story by the fact that the crossed, unlike your normal everyday zombie, are just as intelligent as any normal person. Just incredibly violent, psychopathic and sadistic.
The various volumes of the comic follow different survivors of the apocalyptic hellscape, fending off the intelligent and sadistic crossed and surviving each other.
Alan Moore’s contribution to the series is in a volume titled Crossed plus 100, a haunting vision of the world one hundred years after the initial spread of the Crossed infection.
Alan Moore’s writing is apparent throughout the chapters and his influence is seen throughout the entire series. His intelligent and haunting approach to creating fear, dread and despair are fundamentally what allows the comic to shine through beyond the ocean of zombie fiction that was being published at the time.
To this day, Crossed is an influential and haunting part of horror comics.
3. Alan Moore’s The Courtyard and Pioneering Lovecraftian Horror in Comics
The Courtyard is a two volume graphic novel penned by Alan Moore. The graphic novel delves into the world of Lovecraftian horror, a genre where humans are insignificant creatures, and Elder gods see them as nothing more than bacteria or insects running around.
The Courtyard follows the investigation of an FBI detective who pursues a link between three seemingly unrelated ritual murders across the United States. Throughout the volumes, Detective Sax retraces many parts of the Cthulu Mythos and HP Lovercraft’s works – inevitably leading to his own fall to insanity and violent urges.
The Courtyard has two sequels, both written by Alan Moore, in which the horrifying world of these cosmic horrors is explored more.
The first was Neonomicon, in which two FBI agents following up on Sax’s investigation to discover an underworld of occult mysticism, and inevitably discover a series of events that lead to the birth of the elder god Cthulhu.
And Providence, a two volume series following a writer that pursues and investigates an American subculture of the occult in an attempt to write a great American novel. All of these graphic novels are critically acclaimed, winning many awards and gaining their own cult followings.
4. Yuggoth Creatures and Other Growths
Continuing the theme of Lovecraftian horror, Alan Moore contributed greatly to an anthology of Lovecraft-inspired short comics titled Yugoth Creatures and Other Growths. The short format of Alan Moore’s contributions to Yugoth is different from his other works we mentioned earlier.
Many of Alan Moore’s most important works in comic books, whether horror or otherwise, are long form ground-breaking graphic novels. Alan Moore’s short form contributions to the Yugoth creatures anthology gives a more interesting perspective into his works, and it allowed him to explore new kinds of stories that he previously had not been able to bring out in his other works.
His short stories in the anthology run the full circuit of Lovercraftian horror with strange gods from beyond the stars and fungus-like creatures controlling the flow of history.
Alan Moore explores a horrifying imagination that is as terrifying as it is interesting. The more bite-sized nature of his work here allows for a smoother and silkier enjoyment compared to his usually more emotionally exhausting long form books.
5. Alan Moore’s Contribution to Horror and Comics
There are many smaller or less well-known works that are still worth mentioning.
Future Shock – is a spinoff of 2000AD, one of Alan Moore’s most important contributions to history of not just comic books but popular culture and science fiction literature.
In Future Shock, Alan and other authors of varying quality explore horrifying and unique – hence shocking – takes on technology and society in the future. The influence of it can be seen in such famous hits like the popular TV show, Black Mirror.
Swamp Thing – is a DC Comics character and one of the most famous antiheroes in the comic world. Swamp Thing has had many different writers throughout its long history in comic books, but one of the most important is, surprise, Alan Moore.
While Swamp Thing was featured in many different works of comics and in many different genres, his characteristic stories often have very horrifying twists and turns that Alan Moore skilfully deployed in one of his more commercial pieces of work.
Fashion Beast – is one of Alan Moore’s more psychological horror stories following the stories of a young girl that yearns for stardom, an insane and paranoid designer that keeps himself locked up for mysterious reasons and prevents his employees from leaving his care, and an abusive second in command. The series is a psychologically horrifying story told through fear, paranoia, desire, violence and abuse.
Alan Moore is More Than Just the Sum of His Work
If you want to experience horror in comic book form in a way that you have not really experienced it before, then there is no better recommendation than checking out any of Alan Moore’s horror works.
As a matter of fact, though Alan Moore has done more than just write amazing comics and graphic novels, he has managed to truly change the public imagination about many things. His two most famous works “V for Vendetta” and “Watchmen” have changed many people’s perception of the world around them and how they view their culture and political reality.
Today, his work is readily taught in the classrooms and college lecture halls around the world.
Despite all this, he has maintained an impressive down to earth and unpretentious feeling to all his work. Meaning, no matter how smart or deep his work may be, if all you want is to sit down and be crushed by the horror of human existence, you can easily just open any of his graphic novels and enjoy.
Alan Moore was born November 18th, 1953. From everyone at ScareStreet, we would like to wish him a happy 65th birthday!