That author is Alan Moore, in case you didn’t know or couldn’t guess.

§ April 9th, 2021 § Filed under collecting, fantagraphics, Uncategorized § 7 Comments

So when I crack open the shipping boxes from my distributor(s), it’s not often that I’m caught off guard by what I find inside. …Okay, wait, scratch that, I am frequently surprised by stuff like getting a single plastic Legion of Super-Heroes ring by itself in a full-sized box, or even this week, when I received 53 extra, unordered copies of a variant for the new Magic: The Gathering comic.

What I mean by “surprised” in this case is a good surprise, as I’d completely forgotten that I ordered copies of this for the shop:


This is a treasury-sized reprint of the classic story from issue #2 of the 1986 Anything Goes anthology. It was a surprise because I 100% forgot I’d ordered it and that it was coming.

The story itself is 13 pages, presented here in full color and looking possibly even more beautiful than it did in its original appearance. The rest of this 24-page publication is mostly text (with some illustrations), addressing the creation of the comic, what Anything Goes was for (raising legal costs for Fantagraphics), talking a bit about the fact The Author’s name isn’t on the cover, that sort of thing.

Now, to be fair, I haven’t read this yet. I mean, the original comic I read plenty of times since its initial publication, as I was one of those guys buying Anything Goes as it came out, and I was in the bag for anything The Author was writing (thanks to his Swamp Thing work, natch). But there are a couple of nice alternate covers for In Pictopia by the story’s primary artist, Don Simpson, in here, which apparently were art commissions or for a planned reprinting that didn’t happen.

I did catch somewhere in here where it said the story was “much anthologized,” which I wondered about. The only place I could come up with off the top of my head is the 1990 Fantagraphics collections Best Comics of the Decade (which I also own), and the Grand Comics Database entry I linked above mentions a 2016 collection. I don’t know of others, but honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me.

A quick Googling around seems to reveal at least some of the backmatter in this book had appeared on Simpsons’ own blog, but that’s fine. It’s nice to have a print copy in hand that I can still read long after the internet is destroyed for the good of humanity.

What’s funny is that I almost missed ordering this…it’s stuck in my head as being titled just “Pictopia,” and that extra preposition was enough to throw me off just a tad. Plus, not seeing The Author’s name in the credits also misled me to a degree…look, when I’m doing my orders, I have tons of different solicitations in the catalog all vying for my attention so sometimes even the most obvious things can take a moment to make it through my occasionally-working eyeballs and into my brain.

And then on top of that, once the hamsters started to turn the wheels in my head a little more quickly and I realized what “In Pictopia” was, not seeing The Author’s name made me think “wait, are they doing new Pictopia stories without him?” Yes, I actually thought that for half a second. Well, okay, maybe a full second. It just didn’t dawn on me that maybe Mr. The Author wanted his name off more than ancillary Watchmen products. (And actual Watchmen and other DC releases, too, but given the existence of Doomsday Clock it’s fair to say the “Keeping The Author Happy” boat has long sailed, at least for the comic books.)

Despite all that, this In Pictopia tabloid is a great looking package, presenting the comic in a good ‘n’ big size, with what looks like pretty dense discussion of it accompanying the story. The comic itself is an allegory for the comics medium and the crushing of the old in favor of the new…so on the nose that it barely counts as an allegory and is more an explicit description of what The Author thought was happening at the time. I suppose the follow-up I briefly imagined would involve a thinly-disguised Raina Telgemeier rushing in to save the day.

It still holds up a good, and melancholy, tale. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. It remains a concise, pointed masterpiece.

Should also note the contributions of Mike Kazaleh, Pete Poplaski and Eric Vincent, so that the guy who doesn’t want his name involved isn’t ironically the person I refer to the most here.

7 Responses to “That author is Alan Moore, in case you didn’t know or couldn’t guess.”

  • Oh, I got one for myself, but how many did my scurvy comics manager order for the shelf? Double Goose Eggs. Even *after* I explained who He Who Wants No Credit is.

    Still, I’m super looking forward to reading that back matter.

  • Adam Farrar says:

    In Pictopia was also reprinted in the “Brighter Than You Think” book that collected ten short ALAN MOORE works (that’s the selling point, they’re not shy) along with essays about each story. Comparing the printing of In Pictopia in that book to images I’ve seen of this collection, the new version is a huge improvement.

  • Scott Rowland says:

    It amuses/frustrates me no end that Fantagraphics is respectful of Moore’s wishes on this, but used an Alex Toth self-portrait for a Comics Journal cover against Toth’s wishes. Yeah, I get it was probably part of Moore’s requirements for giving permission to reprint the story legally, and evidently the Toth piece they found some loophole for. But “keeping the author happy” is clearly dependent on which author is being discussed.

  • Aethelred says:

    Well, only a fool pisses off a Chaos Mage. Ask DC about that.

  • Brighter Than You Think is the most recent anthologizing of this story that I am aware of, edited and with essays by Marc Sobel. Well worth tracking down, Mike!

  • Chris V says:

    Before Brighter than You Think, it was reprinted in The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore as a recoloured version.

  • philfromgermany says:

    For a wild moment there, I thought Alan Moore had written the latest Magic The Gathering comic. That would have been wild.

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