Is Heroes and Villains Client Zack Kaplan the next Alan Moore?
Moore’s Retirement Leaves Room for New Comic Book Writers With New Ideas
“Behind this mask there is more than just flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea – and ideas are bulletproof.”
Alan Moore’s retirement from the comic book industry is leaving some very big shoes to fill. The (often dystopic) alternate universes or near-futures that Moore masterfully constructs in his comics have been used to criticize and comment on the current political climate, warning of nuclear apocalypses and the risk of ultra-conservative politics leading to reigns of terror. A most critical and relevant social commentary seen throughout Moore’s comics is the plague of classism, a serious issue our society has been struggling with since the 99% movement.
Comic’s historian George Khoury claimed that, “to call this free spirit the best writer in the history of comic books is an understatement,” and interviewer Steve Rose referred to him as “the Orson Welles of comics” who is “the undisputed high priest of the medium, whose every word is seized upon like a message from the ether” by comic book fans. Now, Moore will never be able to be replaced, or replicated, but hopefully, in the wake of his retirement, talented comic book writers will step up to take on the challenge of continuing his legacy, creating politically-minded and socially reflective new works. Here are five writers we think may be up to the task.
The last book in Kaplan’s first comic series, Eclipse, was released earlier this year. It’s exciting to find such a promising comic book writer still at the start of his career. Eclipse has many dystopic themes, including the question of power, corruption, and desperation in a world turned hostile. Even the slightest contact with sunlight can kill in this environmentally and politically motivated new series. Kaplan describes the world in his narrative as being very “conscious of our limited resources, such as food, water and energy, but I found it very interesting to explore a world without one of our most generous resources: the sun. I think it’s truly a haunting proposition that something so life-giving would become so deadly. What would happen to our society and the people in it if we couldn’t go outside anymore?”
Matthew James Daley
Another relative newcomer, Matthew James Daley is gaining notice thanks to dystopic steam punk series Lantern City. The idea for the series originated with Trevor Crafts, Daley and actor Bruce Boxleitner, with Daley serving as the primary writer. Along the way, he’s been aided by other writers, including Marvel veteran Paul Jenkins, and Transformers comic writer Mairghread Scott. Lantern City takes place in an alternate reality where a vicious police force acts as the hand of the Grey Empire, a manipulative upper class that controls the city with fear and brutality. That alone clues you in on the relevant political nature of the whole series. The main character is a reluctant hero shaped by a tough upbringing, trying to do his best for his family and a working-class revolution he supports, and to do that, he is asked to go undercover as a member of the oppressive Lantern City Guard. Lantern City will have readers wondering how far they would go for their family, and their country.
Currently writing for Marvel, Dark Horse, and Image Comics, Wood has been churning out revolutionary dystopic comics for decades. The comic that landed him on my list is called The Massive, which tells the story of environmentalists trying to save and survive a post-apocalypse, “post-everything” world. The politically conscious comic follows characters who have devoted their lives to saving the planet, but how can you save a planet that’s already doomed? The looming questions haunting these pages will force the reader to question what they know about what it means to stand for something, despite all the odds.
An Egyptian political activist who gained fame in the aftermath of the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, Ganzeer turned from street art to comic art to produce his controversial debut graphic novel. The Solar Grid takes place nearly 1,000 years after a catastrophic global flood. What civilization has risen since then is now completely dependent upon a vast grid of solar panels to power its factories ceaseless, in this world without night. Constantly working and fighting to survive, the only clean water in the world is essentially being held hostage by the worlds richest man. Both environmentally and politically relevant, this series really captures the daily struggle that is the reality of modern day underdeveloped countries by focusing on class and the gravely serious water crisis Egypt is facing today. Ganzeer says the plan is to release a print edition of the complete series once it’s done, so for now, if you want to read The Solar Grid, digital versions of the ongoing comic are available on the official site.
Brisson brings us a fresh twist on the dystopic genre: the pre-apocalypse comic book. His series Sheltered tells the story of a community of men and women hiding inside Safe Haven, a community dedicated to preparing for any-and-all end of world scenarios. However, their bunkers, weapons and training can’t save them from the one threat they never could have expected, and have no idea how to fight: their own children. One man leads a crew of teenage murderers, claiming to be preparing for an imminent disaster that requires sacrifice. Surrounded by death and destruction from inside and without, this unique story is packed full of questionable moral dilemmas and a worrisome glimpse into a very possible future, raising questions on raising children, and controlling by way of sensationalism and hysteria. It takes a very close look at the consequences of extremism, a social issue that’s been in the news for decades.
Though none of these comic book writers can replace the man who inspired millions to take action against fascist and rights-infringing governments through his powerful and terrifying stories, they can help to encourage the conversation to stay alive by breathing new life into the dystopic and politically motivated comic book genre.
If you know of any comic book writers that should be on this list, please comment below!
Featured Image: DC Comics