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Avatar Grows Alan Moore’s ‘Yuggoth Cultures’

by  in Comic News Comment
Avatar Grows Alan Moore’s ‘Yuggoth Cultures’

Official Press Release

Avatar Press has announced that it will publish a career-spanning series of comic book horror stories from one of the medium’s acknowledged masters with ALAN MOORE’S YUGGOTH CULTURES AND OTHER GROWTHS. The three part, 40 page per issue series begins in September 2003 from Avatar with stories by Moore and artwork from a number of high-profile creators including Bryan Talbot, Val Semieks, Oscar Zarate, Jacen Burrows (ALAN MOORE’S THE COURTYARD, WARREN ELLIS’ SCARS), Juan Jose Ryp (ALAN MOORE’S ANOTHER SUBURBAN ROMANCE, FRANK MILLER’S ROBOCOP), and Mike Wolfer (WARREN ELLIS’ STRANGE KILLINGS).

The series features classic and little-known comic book stories from throughout Moore’s career, some hard-to-find tales that have appeared only in comic books outside the U.S., and some surviving stories from the tragically-lost Lovecraftian Moore epic Yuggoth Cultures, which will be seen here in comic book form for the first time. The YUGGOTH CULTURES AND OTHER GROWTHS series will include such gems as the now-completed first part of Moore and Bryan Talbot’s important lost classic NIGHTJAR, a story started 20 years ago which was supposed to appear in UK comic book WARRIOR, the legendary anthology where other Moore classics such as MIRACLEMAN and V FOR VENDETTA appeared.

“Perhaps because it was a symptom of the strangeness of existence or perhaps because it was an unnerving reminder of the cyclic nature of life, but it was really bloody weird returning to and finishing a work that I’d started and abandoned when I was a young underground comic artist trying to break into the mainstream,” says NIGHTJAR collaborator Bryan Talbot. “It was definitely weird inking a page drawn on yellowing watercolour board that another me had penciled over twenty years ago. It’s not that I’d forgotten drawing it: I could remember penciling those panels, on some, even the music that was playing at the time (a pretty common phenomena), but it did give me a peculiar frisson all of its own.

“I don’t know how he had heard about it but William Christensen got in touch, asking if I still had the artwork for the “lost WARRIOR story” NIGHTJAR,” Talbot continues. “WARRIOR was the groundbreaking UK comic art periodical published by Dez Skinn (now editor/publisher of COMICS INTERNATIONAL) where Alan Moore made his name before being headhunted by DC Comics, bringing his unique and magisterial talent for writing sequential art universal acclaim. Alan was already contributing MARVELMAN (later MIRACLEMAN) and V FOR VENDETTA and he and I had talked about collaborating on a strip for WARRIOR for a while. We decided upon a horror piece. I started drawing from his script, fitting it in around paying work until, to be mercifully brief, Alan and Dez fell out big time. As a result, Alan stopped contributing to WARRIOR and NIGHTJAR, now with no home, was shelved. NIGHTJAR would have been Alan’s first horror work. Many of the ideas he is playing with here emerge later in SWAMP THING, his concept of an urban sorcerer eventually manifesting itself in the form of John Constantine.”

As for the Lovecraftian fragments from the series, those stories are also emerging from a tragically-lost project of a different kind. “Yuggoth Cultures was originally intended as a series of texts that would have been inspired by HP Lovecraft’s poem cycle FUNGI FROM YUGGOTH,” recalls Alan Moore. “Unfortunately, when the texts were about half completed, I left the only copy of three or four of them in a London taxi cab. Since it was impossible to reconstruct, the work went on hold, remaining incomplete. Originally, THE COURTYARD was part of the proposed Yuggoth Cultures package, but there were some other interesting little fragments left over, and I suppose that what’s gathered in this series is a collection of those and other interesting fragments. Things from projects that were, for one reason or another, never completed, which perhaps which hold some interest in their own right. I’m looking forward to seeing what is done with them.”

Although several of the stories in this new series were scripted by Moore for comic books, the stories originally written for the Yuggoth Cultures series of texts are being adapted by frequent Moore collaborator Antony Johnston (ALAN MOORE’S THE COURTYARD, ALAN MOORE’S ANOTHER SUBURBAN ROMANCE) in consultation with Moore. “Once again I’ve risked my health and sanity, channeling the Northampton Bard through my weak plebiscite mind for the sake of entertainment. With each adaptation my grip on reality grows weaker, yet my stubble grows longer; a curious paradox, I hope you’ll agree. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but working with Alan on these stories has been an absolute pleasure. The pieces I’ve handled are some of the strangest, most evocative things I’ve read, forcing me to think in strange and unnatural ways to get the best results possible. I’m really happy with it.”

“The piece I am doing is particularly fascinating. It ties H.P. himself directly into the mythos of his fictional world in a truly shocking way,” says Yuggoth artist Jacen Burrows (ALAN MOORE’S THE COURTYARD, WARREN ELLIS’ SCARS). “I was white knuckled just reading the script and full of visual ideas. It’s the kind of project that made me want to do comics in the very beginning. This is the second Antony Johnston-adapted Alan Moore story I have worked on and I know that Antony and I are on the same page visually. I understand his pacing and dynamics better now and have a good idea of just what he is expecting. The fact that this is also a Lovecraft homage, like THE COURTYARD, makes it particularly exciting. It’s an wonderful visual world to be playing in. Once again I find myself in one of the most enviable positions in comics, working on an Alan Moore horror project with a publisher that doesn’t pull punches so we can portray the concept as it was meant. Don’t think for a second that I don’t realize just how cool this is.”

“With each successive illustrating assignment that I’ve been given by Avatar Press, I’m challenged in new and exciting ways to brings another’s words to life. LITVINOFF’S BOOK is yet another example of that challenge,” says artist Mike Wolfer (WARREN ELLIS’ STRANGE KILLINGS) of his Yuggoth collaboration. “It has been a longtime dream of mine to one day illustrate Alan Moore’s work, but equally exciting is that this story has allowed me to move in directions that I’ve rarely had the opportunity to pursue as a visual storyteller. Alan’s original words and Antony Johnston’s adaptation of that work hold such a lyrical quality that this feels akin to storyboarding a tragic, operatic short film. The rhythm of the artwork must be synchronized with the rhythm of the written words, but beauty aside, it still holds a gut-wrenching impact for the reader.”

“As a Moore fan from the WARRIOR days myself, I’m proud to be bringing this career-spanning range of Moore work to a whole new audience,” Avatar Press editor-in-chief William Christensen concludes. “There are a number of comic book stories here that are either long out of print or never saw print in the first place, and others that only saw print long ago in now-obscure UK comic books. And as for the Lovecraftian stories, we’ll be taking the same care and painstaking collaboration with Moore himself in adapting them to sequential form that made Alan Moore’s The Courtyard one of the most critically-acclaimed indy projects of the year.”

ALAN MOORE’S YUGGOTH CULTURES is a three part, 40 page per issue mini-series beginning in September 2003 from Avatar Press. The series features stories by Alan Moore with artwork from a number of high-profile creators including Bryan Talbot, Val Semieks, Oscar Zarate, Jacen Burrows, Juan Jose Ryp, and Mike Wolfer, with covers by Juan Jose Ryp. For more information, contact Avatar Press editor-in-chief William Christensen at william@avatarpress.net or see our website at www.avatarpress.com.

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