The internet is abuzz with news that Alan Moore, the enormously influential writer of such works as Watchmen, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, has announced his retirement from comics. It would, of course, be a monumental development, except that it happened nearly three years ago. So, why is it making the rounds again now?
It appears that the U.K. newspaper The Guardian, which reported Moore's original announcement, republished that story online, with the banner "from 2016." If you're wondering why now, it's because his final comic book work, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. IV, The Tempest #6, with longtime collaborator Kevin O'Neill, arrived in specialty stores on Wednesday.
Therefore, this week marks Moore's official retirement from comics; it's just that he announced in in September 2016, when he said he had "about 250 pages of comics left" in him. Well, "official" retirement, as Moore included a caveat.
"After that," he said, "although I may do the odd little comics piece at some point in the future, I am pretty much done with comics."
“I think I have done enough for comics," Moore told The Guardian at the time. "I’ve done all that I can. I think if I were to continue to work in comics, inevitably the ideas would suffer, inevitably you’d start to see me retread old ground and I think both you and I probably deserve something better than that."
Moore, 65, has long been an outspoken critic of modern superhero comics, which he himself greatly influenced, with the seminal Watchmen (with artist Dave Gibbons), Batman: The Killing Joke (with Brian Bolland) and Marvelman (with Garry Leach and Alan Davis). Although Moore has been slowly withdrawing from mainstream comics for years, he first publicly announced his intention to retire in a 2014 interview.
The release of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. IV, The Tempest #6 also brings to an end Moore's 20-year collaboration with O'Neill, a sprawling, steampunk-fueled alternate-history adventure that spanned the globe, and the centuries. The series debuted in 1999 with the story of team of extraordinary individuals from English literature -- Mina Murry from Dracula, Captain Nemo, Allan Quatermain, Dr. Jekyll, and Hawley Griffin the Invisible Man -- assembled to stop the machinations of Fu Manchu and Professor Moriarty, and save the British Empire. That miniseries inspired a 2003 film adaptation that panned by critics, and by Moore and O'Neill.
The comic book sequel drew upon the events of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, while subsequent volumes introduced other versions of the League, from other eras.
However, Moore and O'Neill don't say farewell without a parting shot at the comics industry, on the letters page of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. IV, The Tempest #6: