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Alan Moore's underground: The formation of a dissident cultural practice

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Abstract:

This article addresses Alan Moore's earliest work for zines and underground papers from 1971 to 1980. It argues that the hippie counterculture was a formative influence not only on his anarchist politics but his approach to cultural production, and an awareness of its significance is therefore crucial to the critical understanding of his oeuvre as a whole. Equally Moore's experience of the underground augments historical understanding of the UK counterculture itself and the role of comics within it, and challenges dominant chronological narratives that insist on a definitive split between its political and cultural wings during this period. This article considers Moore's output in illustration, poetry and prose, but particularly focuses on his earliest comics, featured in Embryo, anon. and The Backstreet Bugle. It looks in detail at the Northampton Arts Lab and the underground press as counter-institutions, and spaces in which Moore developed highly politicized aesthetic and creative strategies that he would carry into his later professional work. These included a commitment to the realization of non-alienated and collaborative artistic production, a partisan engagement with key political issues, an insistence on formal experimentation and an emphasis on a demystified and enabling relationship with the reader.

Keywords: ALAN MOORE; ARTS LAB; COMIX; COUNTER-CULTURE; UNDERGROUND PRESS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/stic.2.1.21_1

Publication date: 2011-07-01

More about this publication?
  • Studies in Comics aims to describe the nature of comics, to identify the medium as a distinct art form, and to address the medium's formal properties. The emerging field of comics studies is a model for interdisciplinary research and in this spirit this journal welcomes all approaches. This journal is international in scope and provides an inclusive space in which researchers from all backgrounds can present new thinking on comics to a global audience. The journal will promote the close analysis of the comics page/text using a variety of methodologies. Its specific goal, however, is to expand the relationship between comics and theory and to articulate a "theory of comics". The journal also includes reviews of new comics, criticism, and exhibitions, and a dedicated online space for cutting-edge and emergent creative work.

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