The Alaska Mink

by John Holbo on November 28, 2008

I can’t believe I beat Josh Marshall to this one. Check out this preview page for #3 of the new Top 10 run. To the right, in the center panel, see an elongated Don Young with ‘AK Mink’ – Alaska Mink – on his spandex. (See this old TPM post for backstory.) Also, Newt Gingrich is there. Of course I know all this because like a sensible person I listened to the John Siuntres Word Balloon podcast interview with Gene Ha, the artist for Top 10.

If you don’t know: Top 10 was an Alan Moore-authored series now being written and drawn by two of the original artists, Zander Cannon having shifted to writing. And so this seems like an appropriate time to reflect on the fact that Alan Moore is famous, and everyone has heard of Watchmen and V for Vendetta and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But I like a lot of other Moore work as much, if not better. Top Ten [amazon] is a police procedural set in a world in which everyone has super powers. Brilliance ensues on many levels. And Moore’s Supreme books (the first of which is out of print, but available at reasonable prices) may be my favorite Moore work of all. (I think Belle will even back me up on this one. She likes Supreme.) But everyone reads Watchmen and no one reads Supreme. In fact, in a Word Balloon podcast a month or so ago, it emerged that neither John Siuntres nor Jeff Parker, the writer for the new Age of the Sentry books (check out the previews) had read Supreme. Very strange. You should read Moore’s Tom Strong, too.



Rich Puchalsky 11.28.08 at 3:47 am

Watchmen wasn’t even Moore’s most influential work. His run on Swamp Thing was. And recommending Tom Strong while not mentioning Promethea seems a bit odd.


john holbo 11.28.08 at 3:59 am

Oddly, I don’t really like Promethea all that well. But you are right: Swamp Thing was where it all started. But, oddly, I’m not that fond of Moore’s Swamp Thing.


Doctor Memory 11.28.08 at 7:27 am

Hm. I love, love, love Supreme, and I think it’s a good contender for his best work ever, but I also sort of understand why it’s not as well-known as his other stuff. You probably have to be a pretty serious pre-Byrne Superman (and pre-Crisis DC continuity in general, especially the JLA/JSA crossovers and the Titans) ephemera geek to get a lot — maybe most? — of the jokes in Supreme. Read cold, without that context, I suspect it appears like a cute riff on Superman but not much more.


ArC 11.28.08 at 8:22 am

I’ve avoided his Supreme run since Rob Liefeld (or his band of even less talented employees) drew it. I am indeed this shallow.


Ray 11.28.08 at 8:37 am

Supreme is out of print, has art by Liefeld, and is about superhero comics and continuity. I like it, but I’m not surprised that no-one has read it.
Top Ten really is brilliant, the best of the ABC line.


Katherine Farmar 11.28.08 at 8:47 am

I took a look at Supreme and wasn’t all that impressed — there was a bit about Supreme’s superdog that was funny, but a bit… puerile, which is not what I expect from Alan Moore. I don’t have much time for superhero-comics-about-superhero-comics; it’s such a well-worn subject that I have trouble believing that anyone has anything new to say about it.

I had my mind thoroughly blown by his Swamp Thing run, though. I read it in the Titan black and white reprint, and when DC eventually brought it out in colour, I was a bit shocked at how garish the colouring was. I still prefer the black and white version for all of it except “My Blue Heaven”, which obviously doesn’t work in black and white.

For my money, Moore’s best work is From Hell.


Francis 11.28.08 at 12:14 pm

Supreme looked to me like a brilliantly crafted and superbly written series both homaging and lampooning something I simply wasn’t that interested in (Pre-Crisis Superman). Watchmen IMO is very good but overrated. Swamp Thing is just very good. As is Top 10 (which is IMO underrated). And for another favourite Moore of mine that no one has mentioned: his work on Wild C.A.T.S.

And what I’ve seen of the non-Moore Top 10 lacks just about everything that made Top 10 good.


Rich Puchalsky 11.28.08 at 1:45 pm

Puerile? You clearly haven’t read Alan Moore’s other creation — strangely enough not often mentioned in threads like these — D.R. and Quinch. The mind boggles, but Alan Moore started out doing Animal House in space.

John, your not-that-fondness of Swamp Thing is indeed odd. Without it, Sandman wouldn’t exist. But then you never seemed to like Vertigo.


jholbo 11.28.08 at 2:40 pm

Actually, I don’t like “Sandman”. I was just rereading it. It’s just not that good. It’s the sort of thing that I might write. On the other hand, I adore most other Neil Gaiman stuff.


Brian Jennings 11.29.08 at 7:47 am

Well, I don’t think Watchmen is overrated, though occasionally overpraised in certain sections, and I have loved the titles mentioned here, to miss “From Hell” and “Lost Girls” is to miss significant works. And, I didn’t like Promethea at first, but after a few rereadings, I became a convert.

And his work on Swamp Thing (where I first discovered him) pretty much changed the face of mainstream comics.

But that’s just my opinion.


Matt 11.29.08 at 10:11 pm

That’s a good one about _Sandman_ being “the sort of thing I might write”. I feel the same way about much of Hume’s work! (In truth, though, while I still like _the story_ of _Sandman_ quite a lot I now find that I like the dialog a lot less then when I first read it.) As for Alan Moore, my favorite stuff by him was the first 10 or 12 issues of _Miracle Man_, though they came out so rarely that it was really a pain to wait for them, and I’d mostly given up by the time Neil Gaiman took over, so I don’t know how his time on them was.


Martin G. 11.30.08 at 7:03 am

While Watchmen was definitely more influential, of his long-form works I’m more fond of From Hell, V for Vendetta and Promethea. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series feels like charming but less substantial works.

From Hell, in particular, seems to me to be his biggest achievement. The resonances with the historical references and the extra layers added by the author’s stated awareness of uncertainty in the appendix makes it a very rich work. And the graphic essay at the end adds another level of awareness.

Any thoughts on the other Eddie Campbell collaborations? The Birth Caul, for instance?


Ray 12.01.08 at 10:52 am

I don’t think The Birth Caul and Snakes and Ladders (?) are technically collaborations with Eddie Campbell. They were originally spoken-word performances, and his collborators were the people (whose names I can’t remember) who provided music and visual effects. Eddie Campbell adapted them later from the scripts.


Rajesh 12.02.08 at 4:19 pm

My favourite of the lesser known Moore works is the ballad of Halo Jones. It starts off very fluffy and then gets more of a character study with fairly dark themes.

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