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Acclaimed British Writer Michael Moorcock [Interview with Jose Carlos Neves]

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  • Jerry Cornelius
    Corsair of the Second Ether
    • Dec 2003
    • 98

    Acclaimed British Writer Michael Moorcock [Interview with Jose Carlos Neves]


    by Jose Carlos Neves

    "The creator of Jerry Cornelius has been compared by reviewers to Tolkein and Raymond Chandler, Wyndham Lewis and Ronald Firbank, Mervyn Peake and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Charles Dickens and James Joyce.� Sunday Times (U.K.)

    Best known in Brazil for his famous comic’s albino character Elric of Melniboné - Epic Illustrated, Marvel Comics - Michael Moorcock is one of Britain's greatest writers and considered also the most consistently experimental author in the world of fantasy literature. He practically invented modern British fantasy and reshaped it’s Science Fiction as an editor. And he is also an exponent of mainstream literature - though he vehemently rejects to be confined into the boundaries of genre fiction. As some very good Brazilian and Latin American writers - André Carneiro, Borges among others - he actually writes a kind of literature that has been called magical and/or fantastic realism.

    Michael Moorcock has won two World Fantasy Awards, including one in 2000 for Lifetime Achievement; a Nebula award; The Guardian Fiction Prize; a John W. Campbell Memorial Award and even a nomination for the Whitbread Prize. He also has a collection of six British Fantasy Awards: four August Derleth Awards, one for the short story category and, of course, the 1992 Special Award for his lifetime achievement. Moorcock has about a hundred books to his name and has had his gifted intellectus manifested in any number of media -his comics work is visually stunning and sophisticated and his book about fantasy forms in literature Wizardry and Wild Romance, is one of the best books about fantasy written by a fantasist.

    Hi is also a good friend to Alan Moore - who has written an Introduction to his new book The Firing Cathedral - as well as one of the famous ‘collaborators’ to the upcoming homage-book AM:Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman.

    To share with us a little bit of all this, we invited Moorcock for the following ‘questionaire’.

    -First of all, please let’s begin with some background. Your age, marital status, sons? Where did you born, grew up and lives today? Academic graduation and profession?

    Married, two daughters, one son, two grandsons. Born South London 18 December 1939.

    Mostly unconventional schooling. Left school at 15. Became professional writer at 16. Edited amateur magazines from the age of 9 (Outlaws Own, Book Collectors News, Burroughsania) and became editor of juvenile magazine Tarzan Adventures at 17. An editor on Sexton Blake Library and various juvenile magazines and annual ‘albums’, then editor of the Liberal Party’s Current Topics, wrote pamphlets and speeches, then editor of New Worlds in 1963, am now publisher of NW which still produces occasional issues. Have been a professional writer (in most areas of writing) since 1956. I’m also a performing musician, having worked with Hawkwind, Blue Oyster Cult and Deep Fix, among others, putting out various records including one solo album The New Worlds Fair.

    -How did you get started?

    I started doing amateur magazines and was invited to become editor of Tarzan Adventures. Most of my opportunities have been editors asking me to work for them. The same is true of my music.

    -What is it that attracted you to writing? What were your influences?

    First authors I read as a child were George Bernard Shaw, H.G.Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Bunyan. It never occurred to me not to be a writer!

    -How you first become interested in Fantasy and Science Fiction stories? What are your earliest memories as far as that go?

    I was an early reader and the above books were all of an imaginative kind. I thought that writing was about symbolism from the very beginning - that you wrote on at least two levels, probably three -- symbolic, allegorical, realistic.

    -As a child, did you spend a lot of time indoors reading?

    I spent as much time outdoors reading as indoors reading! I was an active, sociable child, not especially solitary, though I enjoy my own company.

    -Why the interest for comics, also?

    No great interest in comics. In fact I disliked most comics. I liked Captain Marvel and I liked The Eagle. Those were about it. When I took over Tarzan I actually reduced the amount of comics material!

    -What was the first comic by Alan Moore did you read?

    Probably the early 2001 work, which I wouldn’t necessarily have recognised as Alan’s work. I think I met Alan before I’d read much of his work.

    -Did it had a special impact on you? Why?


    -What do you think is his best work to date? Why?

    My favourite work by Alan is his current League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, especially the second series.

    -Could a graphic-novel comprise all the complexity of human existence, common life, the whole Universe and so on, as an unique, united system, as AM intended to do with Big Numbers?

    Definitely, in the hands of a good writer like Alan.

    - The mexican writer Armando Salinas, in an interview for this site (see has commented on your novels Blood, Fabulous Harbours and The War Amongst the Angels as “a series of novels based on the basic tenets of Chaos Theory”. -Do you agree with Chaos theory that our world (and the Universe as a whole by extension) is ruled by fractals, strange attractors and so on, where a little alteration on initial conditions could cause big and unexpected alterations on the final ones? Have you really created these novels based in Chaos Theory?

    Chaos Theory was like being given a map of my own mind. The logic it provided enabled me to expand my ideas considerably.

    -What are your ideas about Watchmen's innovations?

    I like Watchmen but, of course, having little experience of superhero comics didn’t understand the work to be innovative! Maybe I was attracted to the series because it did appeal. In some ways the reasons I liked Captain Marvel at the time were because he seemed more human than, say, Superman. He had ordinary human failings, wasn’t really all that smart (which made it more logical that he would be fooled by the villains so frequently) and reflected, even better than most of the others, the wish fulfilment of the powerless - most alter egoes are poor, crippled, socially inadequate. Moore’s work seems to reflect that more knowingly. He is conscious of the symbolism of his own work, perhaps as I was when I began writing fantasy.

    -And for From Hell, do you think it could be considered a history of the cradle to the 20th Century, with all its paranoia, conspirations and corruption?

    That’s its appeal.

    -What are your considerations about Time? Do you think about it as being “the” Fourth Dimension of space as theorized by Einstein, or not?

    No, I think Space is a dimension of Time. My theory is that Time is a field and that Space exists as an aspect of Time.

    -What do you think it would be The Fourth Dimension? How you would conceive an object (the so called Tesseracto) and a being for the 4th D if it could appear in our tridimensional world?

    I think there are probably countless dimensions, of which we perceive only a fraction.

    -Have you read the books by Soviet matemathician/philosopher P.D.Ouspenski, mainly his Tertium Organun and A New Model of Universe? What do you think about his ideas of Time and Space?

    Haven’t really read much Ouspenski. Certainly not since I was a kid.

    -Do you think that comics can be a political instrument , that they can reach and appeal to a large audience?

    Absolutely. I think that’s exactly what they do much of the time, which is often their appeal to me. I’m thinking of the comic Bryan Talbot did in the US, for instance, in which whole chunks of Marx were quoted, without the reader being told they were Marx.

    -And AM's debuting in mainstream literature with Voice of the Fire, do you think it accomplished it’s intention, to tell the history of magic, wichtcraft, shamanism and so on, through the history of Northampton? In a short, how you would review it?

    I’d review it favourably. Yes, I think he achieved his intention.

    -Tell us how you become involved in this new, upcoming tribute book about him? (see as well as my Bibliography, Wants List and Publications Links somewhere at this Site).

    I was invited to contribute. Or I might have invited myself. I don’t actually remember!

    -Any other projects related to Alan?


    -We know you are friends. Have you been personally with him? How is he in personal contact?

    I haven’t been in direct touch with Alan much. We met in the early 1970s as I recall.

    He remains a very pleasant, engaging person.

    -What do you think about Magic and about Alan's lyrics, CDs, The Birth Caul and Snakes and Ladders?

    I don’t have Alan’s profound interest in Magic, but I do understand his fascination with shamanism, for instance. It’s not that unusual for poets and writers to have that understanding, to see themselves as the modern equivalent of the shaman. I suspect I see myself in that light, too.

    -Movies and mainly music, can affect us deeply, rousing imprevisible emotions. So it is Poetry. They all can transcend its limitations as a genre. What about comics? Could it have this quality also?

    Of course they can. Especially when the writer and artist are the same person, or are very closely connected. This is particularly true of anime. I would guess that many find From Hell achieves this. While the artist is well suited for the work, I am not as fond of the artist as some.

    -Could you mention examples?

    The best anime, I think. I can never remember names. But there’s some brilliant stuff out there.

    -Returning to your writing and books, tell us more about them, their's motivation, generation, objectives and so on . What do you think is your best one till now and why?

    I’ve written a lot of books in most genres. I’ve written a lot of literary fiction. I have different motives for different kinds of fiction. Some is more evidently imaginative, symbolic than others, depending very much on the purpose of the book or story in question. That’s why I write in so many different idioms. And addressed, to a degree, to different levels of readership - the Elric books, for instance, though written on a level which also appeals to adults are essentially aimed at young adults, while the Pyat books (comic novels about the Nazi holocaust) are aimed at a sophisticated literary audience. I like to think that reading my simpler novels can help readers discover the point of my more complex novels. I have found, to my satisfaction, that readers who might start with an Elric comic eventually read something like Mother London, Byzantium Endures or King of the City, all books written on a complex, literary level.

    -What about your own comics? Unfortunatelt they have not been appeared here yet, but we have seem them in English. We are interested mainly in your Multiverse series. Has it some correlaction with Chaos also? Could you explain?

    Yes, Multiverse is a further exposition of fairly sophisticated novels forming a trilogy as Blood, Fabulous Harbours and The War Amongst The Angels. I have always wanted to write novels where the characters can move easily between the world of the imagination and the ‘real’ world of our common experience, just as we move in our minds from one to the other. So I look for forms which will carry this kind of capability. The comics develop the theoretical, Chaos rationales, if you like, more than the novels, but they are all connected.

    -Due to the highly sexed, violent, and seeming amoral antics of their central protagonist, your Adventures of Jerry Cornelius comics, written between 1965 and 1976, were originally banned in Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Spain, Italy, and Burma. Later it became the inspiration for the film The Crow, the Luther Arkwright graphic novels, and even - as someone has written somewhere - Alan Moore's "Watchmen". Do you agree?

    The Cornelius comics were a very small part of the Cornelius canon and weren’t specifically banned. It was the books which were banned here and there. They are no longer banned, to my knowledge. I’m flattered if Cornelius has been such an influence. The creators have mentioned this, at different times, so I am glad Cornelius has transmuted, as it were, in other hands. He was also a very transmutable character (cf Moebius’s The Garage of Jerry Cornelius).

    -Any chance that you send us a short-story for publication (in English and translated to Portuguese, also?) Of course we are just fans, and could not afford to pay for it...

    Happily. I’ll let you have a Jerry Cornelius story!

    -As for Musics and Movies, it is well known that you have been involved with some Bands and some projects to Movies based in your stories. Could you inform us better about this?

    I have always been involved with rock bands, from the first ‘skiffle’ band of the mid-1950s, The Greenhorns, through The Popular Music Ensemble in the early 60s, to performing with Hawkwind from the early 70s, writing for Blue Oyster Cult from the late 70s and so on.

    By a fluke I came by a Platinum Disc in the 70s for being part of Hawkwind when Warrior on the Edge of Time (my concept) did so well. I enjoy song-writing and performing, though it has only occasionally been central to my career.

    -What do you know about Brazilian’s Literature, Comics, Music and way-of-life?

    Only a broad general knowledge, a sense of zest, social involvement. Obviously Brazilian music is what non-Portugese-speaking people are most exposed to and that’s what I know mostly.

    -Do you know the comic-art of the famous Brazilian artist Mike Deodato?

    No, I’m sorry. But then I don’t know the work of most comic artists. I buy very few comics (I don’t live anywhere near a comic shops, for a start) and tend only to know the work of those artists I work with, such as Walter Simonson, with whom I’m currently producing a new Elric comic for DC.

    Well, Michael, that is it for now. Great success to your new books and all projects, and many thanks to share your very precious time with us.
    Thank you. Sorry I couldn’t elaborate more in certain areas!

    Source: ALAN MOORE: Lord Of Chaos
    URL: http://www.alanmooresenhordocaos.hpg...revistas33.htm
    Last edited by The Cosmic Balance; 10-09-2008, 05:30 AM. Reason: Rogue characters removed and reformatted for clarity
    "Jerry Cornelius was based, for instance, on a young man I used to see around Notting Hill where there was also a greengrocer called Cornelius of London."

    --Michael Moorcock
  • lordmarioh
    Corsair of the Second Ether
    • Dec 2003
    • 92

    Does that means we have another brazilian guy in the forum? And another who (probably) likes comics and visits Rapadura Aأ§ucarada website?