In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, learn about the time that Alan Moore drew Morbius, Black Knight and Silver Surfer in a comic with…SANTA CLAUS!?!
Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and twenty-ninth installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends. Click here for the first part of this installment’s legends. Click here for the second part of this installment’s legends.
Alan Moore once DREW Morbius, Black Knight, Silver Surfer and Santa Claus in an official Marvel comic.
Years ago, I wrote about how Alan Moore got his first assignment working for Dez Skinn, the guy who would later hire Moore for the Marvelman feature in Warrior which, in turn, would quickly catapult Moore into comic book stardom. As Moore once noted to George Khoury, “I remember that what was generally happening was that everybody wanted to give me work, for fear that I would just be given other work by their rivals. So everybody was offering me things.” That eventually led to his DC gig and, well, the rest was comic book history.
However, years before he became a superstar writer, Alan Moore was more commonly doing comic book ART. He recalled to Ptolemaic Terrascope in 1991:
AM: It was a couple of months before I could afford to go legit and sign off the dole, which is why I was using the Kurt Vile pseudonym at the time. Then there was this really strange story…. my local newsagent shop knew I had a strip in ‘Sounds’ and there was this rep. from the Northants Post [newspaper] who went in there who said they were looking for a strip. I worked hard and did a sample strip called ‘The Nutter’s Ruin’ which was a parody of The Archers [radio show] – very strange and surreal. The rep had meanwhile been fired because he was going around telling lies to people; I ‘phoned them up and they said ‘Oh, bring it in anyway and let’s have a look’ so I took it in and they didn’t like it, said “If you can do something geared more towards children, perhaps a strip about a little cat or something…”. I didn’t really want to so a strip for children about a little cat but I did something, ‘Maxwell The Magic Cat’, which was sort of based on a cat we had at the time called Tonto. The first few episodes were more or less children’s fare and then I started sneaking things in… it just got stranger and stranger and eventually they moved it off the children’s page and onto the entertainments page. I’d do ones about tins of cat food waiting on Death Row. Liver chunks in oyster sauce and scenes like the one from that Cagney movie where he screams all the way to the chair; I had one of these tins of cat food screaming all the way to the can opener.
PT: What about the pseudonym ‘Jill de Ray’?
AM: I just like using pseudonyms. Kurt Vile, although it was spelled ‘Vile’ was obviously Kurt Weill and Jill de Ray is a corruption of Gilles de Rais who was a notorious French child murderer. It was because I was pissed off with them for asking me to do a children’s strip. Maxwell The Cat was fun though, I carried on doing it long after it was profitable for me to do so.
Eventually, Moore recalled that around 1980, “I was starting to realise that basically I couldn’t draw well enough, or fast enough, to make a living out of it and at the same time I had picked up an awful lot about how to tell a comic book story. Since script writing seemed to be something I could do a lot faster and a lot quicker I got hold of a friend, Steve Moore, who was working at British Comics at the time and asked him how to lay out a They rejected the one I sent in but said they liked the way I told a story so I wrote another which was accepted, so I was supplementing my income from the sale of the strip and Maxwell the Magic Cat with the occasional script for 2000 AD and Dr. Who Weekly, and slowly I got more script writing work.”
Before that point, though, Moore drew a two-page Christmas-themed gag strip for Marvel UK in 1978. Dez Skinn had worked for Marvel UK for a few years. While there, he launched a number of titles, including Marvel UK’s answer to Mad Magazine, Frantic. Before making it into an ongoing series, Marvel UK gave the book two try-out issues. A Winter issue and a Summer issue.
Moore, using his “Kurt Vile” pseudonym, wrote and drew a Christmas two-pager in the Winter 1979 issue with cameo appearances from Marvel characters Black Knight, Silver Surfer and Morbius…
What a funny little strip…
Morbius will soon have his own movie, but he can also say that he was drawn by Alan Moore! I wrote about the writing aspect of this legend years ago, but I realized that the fact that Alan Moore DREW all of these characters was a fascinating legend in and of itself.
CHECK OUT A TV LEGENDS REVEALED!
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MORE LEGENDS STUFF!
OK, that’s it for this installment!
Thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo, which I don’t even actually anymore, but I used it for years and you still see it when you see my old columns, so it’s fair enough to still thank him, I think.
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well! Also, if you have a correction or a comment, feel free to also e-mail me. CBR sometimes e-mails me with e-mails they get about CBLR and that’s fair enough, but the quickest way to get a correction through is to just e-mail me directly, honest. I don’t mind corrections. Always best to get things accurate!
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