Wednesday, October 3, 2012

1983 - Alan Moore's "Blinded by the Hype"

 In 1983, Alan Moore wrote a two-part article, entitled "Stan Lee: Blinded by the Hype - An Affectionate Character Assassination" which appeared in the UK comic The Daredevils #3-4.

Here are some key clips:
  • Stan Lee is the name of the flawed genius responsible for the Marvel Comics empire in its entirety. Without Stan Lee, you would not be reading this. Without Stan Lee there would have been no Fantastic Four, no X Men, no Hulk, no Thor, no nothing. Without Stan Lee there quite probably would have been no Conan movie and it is almost certain the comic book industry as a whole would be vastly different, assuming that it existed at all.”
  • I mean, I myself have been known to pen a page or two in my time, but the thought of a workload like that makes me tremble uncontrollably and give voice to funny squeaking noises. The man must have had eight pints of black coffee where most of us have blood.
  • Probably the most remarkable thing that Stan Lee achieved was the way in which he managed to hold on to his audience long after they had grown beyond the age range usually associated with comic book readers of that period. He did this by constant application of change, modification and development.
  • The worst thing was that everything had ground to a halt. The books had stopped developing. If you take a look at a current Spider-Man comic, you’ll find that he’s maybe twenty years old, he worries a lot about what’s right and what’s wrong, and he has a lot of trouble with his girlfriends. Do you know what Spider-Man was doing fifteen years ago? Well, he was about nineteen years old, he worried a lot about what was right and what was wrong and he had a lot of trouble with his girlfriends.
  • “Readers don’t want change. Readers only want the illusion of change.” Like I said, it sounds perceptive and well-reasoned on first listening. It is also, in my opinion, one of the most specious and retarded theories that it has ever been my misfortune to come across. Who says readers don’t want change? Did they do a survey or something? Why wasn’t I consulted? If readers are that averse to change then how come Marvel ever got to be so popular in the first place, back when constant change and innovation was the order of the day? Frankly, it beats it beats the hell out of me.
  • Now, I don’t want to cause too much alarm and despondency by talking about Marvel’s imminent downfall. Some of the recent developments over there in the home of the hamburger look very promising indeed and it looks as if it might just be possible to save the day at the last minute, the way it always happens in the comics. But, and it’s a big but, it’s been left awfully late. Maybe too late. We’ll have to wait and see.
  •  He has had an influence upon the medium which is as benign as it is poisonous. Oddly enough, it is imitating the superficial stylistics of Mr. Lee’s ‘Marvel Renaissance’, most of these imitators seem unable to recognize the single most important quality that he brought to the comic medium. Stan Lee, in his heyday, did something wildly and radically different. And as far as I’m concerned, his vacant throne will remain empty until we come up with someone who has the guts and imagination to do the same. Any offers?


  1. Jason,

    I loved this article. No one has done more for the comic book industry than Stan Lee. No one. Most people that work in the industry know and respect him for it. There are a few with an agenda that try to deny his place in history. It is sad really. Thanks again for another wonderful post. I check your blog often every single day. I do not want to miss any of the awesomeness that was Marvel in the 80's.

  2. Thanks for the comment, James. I appreciate the kind words about my blog!

  3. thanks for the amazing stuff. great blog.

  4. One glaring omission from that article and that is the contribution of one Jack Kirby. It's well known Moore isn't a fan of regular mainstream super-hero comics as we enjoy , he quotes them as 'using the same musclebound platitudes' in the intro to Miller's Dark Knight. He makes some valid points. But I believe comic readers enjoy the familiarity of there characters and like change but not radical change, as the check the unpopularity of the clone saga and the blue superman, The characters evoke powerful feelings of nostalgia in adults. The people who read them as kids. The medium has changed, in terms of more adult themes being explored.

    1. This article is quite old and in the years since its publication, Moore has repeatedly expressed his interest and love for Kirby as a creative figure, in public statements and in his work. He's even one of the few who defends Kirby's very idiosyncratic (unsettling to some) writing style. You might want to check out this Moore interview from the late 1990s in which he discusses all things Kirby :



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