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This month’s featured creator is…

 Alan Moore

With all of his past success in mainstream comics, one would think that the man who co-created Watchmen (with artist Dave Gibbons) or who gave Swamp Thing his utterly original retro-origin tale, would be anything but “Indie.” But one need only look at his more recent works such as Lost Girls, From Hell, or even his literary fantasy series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to know otherwise. Alan Moore is a singularly independent writer, who continues to challenge and astonish readers around the world with his unique literary voice.

Top Shelf Productions recently connected us with Moore, who chatted via telephone with PREVIEWS brand manager Jenny Christopher. She spoke with the author about the League, artist Kevin O’Neill, writing and recording songs, and much more.

What follows are excerpts from the longer conversation, which will be updated periodically in its entirety on PREVIEWSworld.com.

PREVIEWS: What can you tell us about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III #1—Century: 1910?

Alan Moore: It’s a departure from the previous books, the first of three which will comprise the first volume. The overall title of the volume is Century, and the first part which will be out in March is called “What Keeps Mankind Alive.” We kick off in 1910 where we have, as usual, characters and situations drawn from the literature of that era. We’re relying heavily on Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, which was set originally in 1910.

We’re also working in references to films made in or around that period, including Lulu, the film by Pabst, which features the delectable Louise Brooks, so someone that looks a bit like Louise Brooks turns up briefly.

We’re referring to some of the odder Jack the Ripper films in the story, working those into the general narrative.

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We’re also looking at the occult stories that were written around the time, such as Carnacki, from The Ghost-Finder by William Hope Hodgson, who is one of the principal characters in the 1910 League. The make-up of the League would be Mina Harker, Alan Quatermain, who we thoughtfully made immortal.

There’s also Orlando, already immortal, and Carnacki the Ghost Finder, and there’s also the gentleman-faced A.J. Raffles. To be frank, as a group, they’re not very good. They’re great characters to write about, but they don’t really work together as a group anywhere near as well as the earlier versions of the League. From the League’s point of view, this new book is a rather difficult outing — and indeed the whole three books are not a lot of fun for the characters. I’m hoping it’s a lot of fun for the readers, but it’s a pretty dismal descent.

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PREVIEWS: With this first book, did you go into it trying to create a Brechtian mood of foggy seascapes and a soot-covered London?

Alan Moore: We went a bit further than that. The thing everybody likes about Threepenny Opera is the songs. So what we tried to do — and I think we succeeded — is write new librettos for the songs, which keep to the spirit of Brecht’s original, but skewed towards the stories we’re telling. There’s a new version of “Mack the Knife,” which conjoins the character with the Jack the Ripper figure, who was probably the inspiration for Mack the Knife, and, as a sideline, ties in the original Beggar’s Opera on which it was based. I’ve written new words to “Pirate Jenny," as Pirate Jenny is one of the main characters, and in many ways she’s more a principal character in this book than the League.

We’ve followed the basic thrust of Brecht’s original Pirate Jenny, except in Brecht’s original she’s a victim, a girl who works in a waterfront hotel who is disregarded by everybody, and has violent fantasies about how she’s the Queen of the Pirates, and that one day the Black Freighter — the ship with eight sails — will come in, kill everybody, and take her away to a life of luxury as a Pirate Queen.

In our version, it’s not actually a fantasy, which makes an interesting conclusion to the book — dark, angry social commentary, just as you’d expect from Brecht. We also have got versions of “Macheath’s Plea From the Gallows,” and “What Keeps Mankind Alive,” the title song, if you like, which we close the story with.

PREVIEWS: Are you planning on recording any of the songs?

Alan Moore: I have been thinking about the possibility with the final book, that it may be the time to start thinking about recording some of these. Or perhaps recording a general album of League-related songs, throughout the whole of the century, which would give us a chance to include the ones that were missed out from The Black Dossier.

PREVIEWS: What is it like to work with Kevin O’Neil?

Alan Moore: Kevin is one of the real genuine artists in the comic book field. He’s not coming from the same place that a lot of other comic book artists are coming from. Kevin’s coming from the great British caricaturists and satirical cartoons, from Gillray and Rowlandson, and Hogarth even. Just the tiny little faces, the grotesques that he fills his crowd scenes with, they’re fantastic. The amount of detail he brings to any story, a lot of the background references are ones that Kevin has dropped in. He’s very erudite about the world of fiction; he certainly knows more about the world of fiction than I know about the world of art. He’s one of the last big board people. I don’t think there’s been a Brian Bolland original that actually existed in a physical form for about 10 years now, and I think the same is true for Dave Gibbons. But Kevin’s old school. I think that he really likes the feel of the board under the pen.

PREVIEWS: How did you feel about the last book, The Black Dossier? And how did those experiences color the creation of Century?

League Black DossierAlan Moore: My mood has lifted a bit since for the 1968 section, so it's not always sort of a period diatribe, but the way we were feeling seemed to go quite well with the angry and sardonic aspects of Bertolt Brecht's storylines for the 1910 section. There's a double-page spread — there's only one in the book, so the readers will know which one it is when they get to it — that I know, based on how Kevin was working... Kevin works a page at a time, he does page one, he does page two, he does them in order, he doesn't jump ahead and do his favorite bits, but he was about eight or nine pages away from this double-page spread, and this was on the day that he found out the record with The Black Dossier wasn't going to be included, and he jumped ahead to this double-page spread, and his feelings about that just flowed out through his pen, through his brush and I was, I have to say, quite startled, quite impressed, when I looked at it, and I just, "Jesus...and I thought I was crushed." Kevin, he's quite fiery, and the readers should perhaps look out for that spread and see if they can capture some of the flavor of what we were feeling at the time when we were creating those pages because it's pretty evident.

PREVIEWS: How has been your experience in working with Top Shelf as a publisher? It sounds like a completely different world.

Alan Moore: It is completely different, and that in itself is affecting the work, because we're working for somebody now who is now actually supportive and not, in some instances, trying to sabotage the work, that has been a tremendous advantage.

Chris (Staros, Top Shelf) is a great publisher, as me and Melinda found out with Lost Girls. That was the thing that proved him to me, I think, and the experience has been great. As good as Chris is, I think it should also be said that, a bit like your new President-Elect Barack Obama, he's got a big job in front of him. We don't know whether the sort of things he's got to do are actually humanly possible. There's a lot of expectations, and we don't know what sort of politician he's going to turn out to be. We've got our hopes, but the best thing that you can say about him, which will make a huge difference to the whole world, is that he is not George Bush. That's sort of basic, you could have elected a busted toaster, at least it had that going for it.

This is not to say that the forthcoming League adventure is not dramatic. It certainly is. But we haven't felt compelled to have a fight every five pages or something dramatic happening every few pages. It builds up to a tremendous climax, but it builds up very slowly. The pacing is a bit different. It's difficult to say quite what the difference is, but I think both me and Kevin have noticed it. It feels a bit more, I don't know, grown-up in the storytelling. Even in The Black Dossier, which I think some people perhaps found too abstruse for them, but the basic story is a fast-paced chase story that's holding it all together. With this, we've tried to explore different ways of telling the story. The Threepenny Opera is full of drama, but actually there's not an awful lot that happens in it. It just builds up very convincingly and very satisfyingly. It made a big difference.

Working with Top Shelf has made us perhaps approach the material in a way that we haven't felt pressured to actually fit in with the standard processes of the industry because Top Shelf is so different to the mainstream of the comic industry that both me and Kevin consider it to be outside of the industry to a degree. It's certainly what it feels like. So we're experimenting, it's like we've kicked off tight and restrictive shoes and we're trying to keep the enthusiasm and energy up on the project and that means that we have to keep changing it. I know that some of the readers, I'm sure, would wish that we'd have just carried on doing stories about Mr. Hyde and the Invisible Man and Captain Nemo, all set in the 19th century. I'm sure there are some readers who feel like that, and I'd only ask them to understand that if we had done that then it would have become dull and repetitive and predictable, the exact opposite of what we wanted to achieve with the League. So we're trying out new things.

Each of these time periods we've got in this new volume, each is a new experience in itself. And one of the things I think you're going to see very clearly over this third volume is how much we, as a society, changed in a hundred years. Now, I know that the League's version is a skewed and literary reflection of society. It's the culture of the times and characters from the fiction of the times, but that does reflect, very closely, the actual times that you're talking about, the hopes and fears of those times, the times in which these stories are set. I mean, American 1950's science-fiction films, even the trashiest, most throw-away one, often have eerily appropriate, sort-of accidental subtexts to them that say a lot about the times. Invasion of the Body Snatchers which was partly, in its original incarnation, about the fear of communism, that the person next to you might be a communist and you'd never know, which was fitting with the McCarthyite-era that it emerged from. It's the product of any given time, I'm going to say a lot about that time, and they're going to reflect the time in which the work was created in a peculiar way.

Having gone through 1910, we then move on to 1969 and Swinging London and lots of references to the films and fictions of that period. That is quite an interesting narrative, that section is quite good, lots of references to the television series of that time. And the third one, I'm just now writing the opening pages. It's opening in Qumar, which I believe is the surrogate Iraq from The West Wing, so it's reflecting the situation in the real world, and it's quite a brutal shock to the characters, and there is this overarching plot thread that starts with the occultists in the first volume and winds through the remaining two volumes, the remaining two chapters rather, as a kind of occult plan that has had its origins around the turn of the century but that has grown to include things like Rosemary's Baby and other supernatural films of that vintage and which has come to a head spectacularly and horribly in 2009 which will be the climactic third part, third chapter of volume three.

So, it's looking pretty good I think. The first chapter, now that I've had a chance to sit down and read it with Kevin's pictures with at least some of the coloring, I think that people are going to be knocked out by it.

PREVIEWS: You're happy with it?

Alan Moore: I'm very, very happy with it. For my money, it's the best one yet, but as ever the readers themselves will have to decide, y'know.

I think that, when we did The Black Dossier, The Black Dossier actually sold better than the previous three volumes had which came a bit encouraging. It suggested that the readership for stories set in the 20th century might ever be bigger than the readership for stories set in the 19th century. And as we get closer to the present day and a lot of the readership are going to be finding references to television shows they are familiar with, then I think that will perhaps add a layer of interest for a lot of them. It's interesting to see how this is evolving, and of course this is about as far up to date as we're wanting to bring the League. Any future votes we might easily go back and tell a story from the 17th or 18th century from one of the intermediary incarnations of the League that we've hinted at.

I should also tell you about the text story, that we decided to make each of the chapters as interesting and full of goodness as the previous volumes of the League have been so we've written, I've written a kind of 1960's "new wave" science fiction-type story about the League that is running as a serial throughout the three chapters, and it's called "Minions of the Moon" and it basically ties together nearly every story about the moon that you've ever heard, including Amazon Women of the Moon, which we've got basically a big fight between the Amazon Women of the Moon and those kind of celenoids, the ant-like things from H.G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon and every other lunar story that we could find. Actually, all fitted in quite sensibly into a stirring three-part story.

I didn't actually have any idea what we were going to do for the text feature until the last minute when I'd been casting around and not coming up with much until Kevin, bless him, he said, "Well, I've always had a kind of perverse desire to do a story set on the Moon." And I said, "Well, I'll sort of take that as directions from God," and sort of I fell into this story. It's got everything, it's got references to 2001, it's got references to Lucian and Munchausen and to everybody else who ever claimed to have been to the Moon, so that's a lot of fun. And it does tie in vaguely with the main storyline, it's got its points of connection.

One thing that might be interesting to your readership is that there are hints of super-hero activity in part of the text of the story. There's a couple of British super-heroes mentioned and one very obscure old American super-hero that is featured, at least in the text and in one of the illustrations that Kevin has done. So this points to possibilities for future League stories proper, so we're not going to run out of ideas for a long while yet. And like I say, we can jump about from hero to hero so that we can keep it fresh for ourselves and for the readers.

I want the readers to be able to expect a level of commitment and energy when they pick up a copy of the League. I want them to know that me and Kevin have really worked hard on putting together the best thing that we possibly could. They might not like it all time, and that is of course their right, but then we have got such an intelligent readership on the League and I'm very confident that they're going to stick with us and that they're going to enjoy this. It's new territory.

PREVIEWS: But it's exciting territory.

Alan Moore: It's exciting territory, exactly. And I mean, both me and Kevin are really keyed up about it, and I think that's going to show in the actual work.

PREVIEWS. I think the fact that you did make the jump from the romanticized Victorian period into the 20th century. Everything's in flux. It's a completely different environment. Readers are going to love it.

Alan Moore: Well, I think so. It feels like the best one yet to me. I've yet to complete it. I've got seventy pages or something yet to write, but based on what they're saying, each of these chapters is seventy pages long, and they're designed to be standalone chapters, even though they do all build up into this sort of overarching story that comes to a climax in the third chapter. So if there is a wait between issues, I'm hoping that it won't be too excruciating. We're not going to leave you with many real cliffhangers, that the stories are complete in themselves even though they do fit into a bigger design, so it'll be a very challenging read, I think.

PREVIEWS: You've mentioned Kevin, and I know you've worked with other creators in the past. Are there are any current creators whose work in the comics community you admire?

Alan Moore: I've got to say, I'm not very connected to the comics medium these days. I'm mostly involved with the writing of my second novel, Jerusalem, and that means that I've become very distant from the comics medium, no not the comics medium, the comics industry. A lot of the experiences... I've had some pleasant experiences, but a lot of the experiences have been unpleasant. And rather than just hang around and just become more bitter and grudging, I've pretty much limited my entire comic book output to the League. The other things I'm doing, they have some aspects of comic book stuff in them, but they're by no means comics. I don't feel a lot about comics, I don't go in comic shops, I'm sure that there's some great work, and it's not meant as any great dismissal, but I don't happen to read a lot of it. I mean, I don't read a lot of anything, to be perfectly honest, because writing this book is consuming all of my time.

PREVIEWS: Are there works you do go back to and continue to read because they're constantly inspiring you?

Kirby King of Comics HCAlan Moore: I got, just the other day, the second volume of Dark Horse's collected Herbie (AUG080040, $49.95), which is something I can always look back on and marvel at. Also, my daughter Leah and son-in-law John, they got me a copy of that big Mark Evanier Kirby book (Kirby: The King of Comics HC, DEC074132, $40.00) for Christmas. I've got to say, I've got a bit Kirby-ied out by the generally excellent Jack Kirby Quarterly, that I'd got a little bit worn out by looking at that and just because of all the minutiae of Kirby, it was a bit overwhelming, whereas this book is beautifully designed and the pieces are beautifully chosen and the narrative is great and that kind of got me excited about Kirby again. Not so much for any specific work, but just because of his general spirit, just the incredible rush of invention the man was capable of. I'd like to think that when I'm working in comics or not that I could be capable of that much sheer imagination, that type of benchmark to aim for.

And actually, one of the reasons why I've been looking at the Herbie book, even though it's always a pleasure and I've got most of the original comics, it's because, actually, Herbie and some ruminations about his Herbie and his creator Ogden Whitney do turn up somewhere in the immensity of Jerusalem. One of the characters has an immoral obsession with Herbie. It's a book that's nothing to do with comics at all, but there is one character who spends a couple of pages, blissfully thinking about forbidden worlds, Herbie, Richard Hews, and Ogden Whitney. So it's partly been research, looking at these Herbie stories, but very enjoyable research, I must say.

PREVIEWS: Aside from the Lost Girls one volume, your other project with Top Shelf is The Moon and Serpent Book of Magic.

Alan Moore: The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic, yes. Now, this is proceeding apace, it's proceeding slowly, because I'm working, me and Steve Moore, in composing the book between us, on the writing of it, and this means that both of us, we co-write all of the pieces for it, and at the moment Steve, his brother -- the two of them live together in the same house they were born in -- Steve's brother is terminally ill at the moment, he has motor neuron disease, which is the same thing Steven Hawking suffers from, but Steven Hawking is a complete anomaly in that he's still alive. But Steve and Chris are handling it incredibly. I tend to go down there about, because Steve can no longer go out, he's having to look after Chris all the time and his work on Hercules and the various other things that he's doing, and I tend to go. He used to come and visit me and then I'd go down and visit him and we'd alternate. But he's been tied to the house for a couple of years, so I've been going down there every three or four weeks.

We generally get together and we can do three or four pages for the Bumper Book of Magic and we're something like 70 pages in. It's coming on very well, and the stuff that we're doing we're really excited about because both me and Steve are arrogant and prideful when it comes to our intellect and we both previously assumed that we just knew everything, but for the stuff that we're having to research for this book of magic, we're learning all this fantastic stuff and we're finding out things that everybody else has missed. It's really exciting.

We've found out, for example, we've worked out the actual true story of Dr. Faustus, where it came from, what its basis in reality was, and more important things like that fact that it's basically a retelling of the story of Simon Magus, which was a story that was put together in the early days of Christianity to discredit Gnosticism. The story of Simon Magus, because it was confusing two characters, deliberately confusing two characters: Simon the Gnostic, the head of Gnosticism, basically a rival religion to Christianity, and it's conflating him with Simon the Magician, who was traveling charlatan and magician, who was allegedly invested in a magical competition in front of the Emperor Nero against St. Peter. So the early Christians conflated these two characters in order to sort of say, "So you see, Gnosticism never wins."

The Faust story is a retelling of the Simon Magus story, but instead of being set at the birth of Christianity, this is at the birth of Lutheran Protestantism, nearly fifteen hundred years later. Here we've worked out the tangled web of Georgius Sabellicus Faust, the child molester and fountain of necromancy as he styled himself, Johannes Faust, who was the completely blameless doctor of divinity at Heidelberg University, who was known as the demigod of Heidelberg, and we've worked out how these two got mixed up together by people who were just confused by all these Fausts and that even Georgius Sabellicus Faust, in the first reference to him, he refers to himself as "Faustus Secundus," and we were looking at this, and I said, "But that makes 'Faust Second,' and this is the first Faust that we've ever heard referred to" — he's refered to by Johannes Trithemius — so we thought, "Who was Faust the first, then?" And Steve looked up in his Latin dictionary, and the word "faustus" means "fortunate, lucky, prosperous, auspicious," so it would have been a great generic name for a sort of generic folkloric magician, like we might say, "Oh, he was a bit of a Merlin," and they were saying, "He's a bit of a Faust, he's a lucky man," with an implication that his luck comes from magical means, like Prospero was a good name for a magician. This is a Latin word, that is presumably, there must have been a Faust in folklore before any of these other jokers got in on the act. That's just in one page of The Book of Magic, because we're only giving one page to each of the lives of the great enchanters that we're including.

There's about 50, 52 pages, something like that, where we start out with the first Ice Age dancing sorcerers, the prehistoric figures on cave walls, and we just come up through all of the important magicians, fictional, real or otherwise, the ones that you can't decide about, whether they were real or whether they were a heavily romanticized version of a real person, or whether they were a complete fantasy. The thing is that they're all important in that they added to the ideas about magic. We've found where the first witch comes from — it was Medea. Medea flies through the air and she works her magic using the cauldron, so that's obviously where a lot of the ideas about the contemporary witch come from, like the witches from Macbeth stirring their cauldron. We're putting together a very coherent picture of how magical thinking has evolved and how important it's been, and this is just in one section of The Book of Magic. This is the lives of the great enchanters section, but that is all part of this wonderful compendium, there's so many other things spread throughout the book.

There's a fictional story, a kind of magic, occult, decadent pulp fiction text story illustrated by the wonderful John Coulthart, that is spread throughout the Bumper Book. This is a fictional story, but it basically contains real magical information that we couldn't contain in any other way. One of the main things about magic is that a lot of magical experiences happen entirely within the mind of the magician. That's not to say they aren't real, but they're not happening in the same, real, physical 3-dimensional, material world that we think of as the real world, they're happening in the world of the mind. So personal experiences that me or Steve might have had, it's not really proper to talk about them in the factual parts of the book where we've been very careful to give a logical account of magic that is actually very rational, where we're checking all of our facts, where we're trying to put forward a kind of an argument for magic that is incontrovertible, so you can't really talk about personal magical experiences in that context without coming over as one of these, I don't know, New Age fellows or people who claim to had have a supernatural experience and that is the basis for their entire thoughts about magic, something that they claim happened to them. Now, as a reader, that's not good enough for me. It's a subjective experience, however you want to dress it up, it might be very powerful, but you can't expect your readers to believe that. That stuff we're working into the fiction which, we think, will give a lot of the flavor of what it is like to approach magic without actually saying, "We did this, I did that, this is how it happened," without making any claims that people might justly argue with. There's that running story.

There's a little comic strip by Kevin O'Neill, I think there's about eight one-page chapters in it, and it's done in the style of old British radio fun, or film-fun comedy comics of the 1940's and 50's, and this is the adventures of Alexander, and it's account of the life of Alexander of Abonuteichos, the charlatan who created Glycon, who is the deity I am personally attached to, and that's very funny and very scurrilous, but it's got an awful lot of important factual material in it as well.

There is an article on the theory of magic, as we understand it, a practical theory of magic.

Then there are these rainy day activity sections where we tell people about the practice of magic. It's divided up into a number of different areas where we tell them how to get into the magical state, or at least ways that people have done in the past, where we've been pointing out the potential dangers, as well as the potential benefits, of any of these particular methods that we're talking about. We're not advocating any of them, we're simply saying, "This is how people have done it in the past, this is what we think about the techniques, these are some potential dangers you might want to watch out for." Once the magical state has been attained, we are talking about things that can be done including mentally projecting into real or otherworldly mindscapes, contacting people at distance, scrying the future, divining, conjuring entities, invoking or evoking. We talk about the important of art and magic, considered in union, and we propose a very artistic form of magic that will actually get some results that you can show other people. We also talk about "old school" magic like how to conjure a god, how to conjure a demon, things that might go wrong with it. Primarily, you may end up completely barking mad. I mean, this does not include the demonic powers of the entities concerned; it's just that magic is the territory of the unreal, or the territory of the immaterial, and it's very easy to lose your way and end up besotted with some nutcase cult or other.

We don't want to do a book for credulous people. This is a book for people who are naturally skeptical because, actually, skepticism is about the best attitude with which to approach magic.

We've also got a complete set of tarot cards which we are designing ourselves and I believe that me and José [Villarrubia] are going to be... me and Steve, I mean, I will probably be coming up with most of the design ideas, but I shall be consulting with Steve. It's just that I happen to know more about the tarot than Steve does; he's more of an I Ching man. But Jose has said that he would very much like to do this tarot deck, so that in itself will be a huge job, but yeah, they'll be a complete set of all 78 tarot cards with a book or instructions for their use and interpretations.

There will be a Qabalah board game where the winner is the first person to actually achieve enlightenment as long as they don't make a big thing out of it. We've got that kind of half-designed, but we're still having some trouble fitting it even onto a fold-out board. We think we've got the main, the way in which you play the game, pretty much sorted out.

Hopefully Melinda [Gebbie] will be contributing a pop-up temple for today's modern magus on the move, that it will be a portable shrine and a kind of memory theater, and it will be pop-up, and pop-up is one of the most magic things there is as any sort of six year-old would tell you. That's one of the main things about the Book of Magic, yes it is unique in a number of ways.

To the best of our knowledge, there has never been, prior to the publication of the Bumper Book, there has never been a grimoire, a book of magic, that was intended for the mass populace ever before. The ones that were done by Alistair Crowley or John Dee, these were all done for a select band of initiates and occultists, of whom there were very few. This is a book which is attempting to make magic clean and plain for the everyday person, to strip it of a lot of the sinister mystery that a lot of its practitioners have chosen to dress it in. We're not trying to be spooky or gothic. Magic is something that is very profound, very beautiful, sometimes very funny, in our experience, and we want this book to reflect that. We want it to be a lot of fun and we also want it to be exactly like the way you would have imagined a book to magic to be when you were a small child and had first heard of such things. You want it to tell everything about magic, but you want it also to have all sorts of lovely surprises in it. So that's very much the kind of perspective we're going for. We want this to be a profoundly informative book about magic, possibly one of the most informative books ever written, certainly the most comprehensive. We want it to be incredibly entertaining, we want it to be a real lot of fun, we want it to have activities that you can play and things that you can do that will be genuinely magically instructive.

Like I said, we're only 70-odd pages into it, but so far we're immensely smug about the job that we've been doing so it's turning up surprises because we're having to research things that we didn't know. It's been a very enriching experience for both me and Steve, and I hope the readers find it equally so.

PREVIEWS: In your research, what's the most interesting thing that you've found. What were you most surprised by?

Alan Moore: The Faust thing, that was quite impressive, but it was the fact that we were just looking at this stuff and I suddenly noticed that Faustus' character meets an airborne demon, at least according to the Christopher Marlowe version, that is how he's able to fly, and he has a relationship with Helen of Troy, and he's basically ruthlessly searching for knowledge. That is his downfall. He wants to know everything about this world and the next, and I was just looking at this, and I said to Steve, "Hang on, this is the story of Simon Magus" which also had Helen of Troy, him being carried through the air by demons to his duel with St. Peter, and he is a Gnostic. That is his sin, he wants to know. That was interesting.

Also, for our money, probably the greatest magician of all time was John Dee. No one else comes close. We were surprised to find that Dr. John Dee's creation of the angel language, which was allegedly transmitted to him by angels through the medium Edward Kelley, and which was transmitted with the letters all backwards or transmitted with the words spelled backwards, because they were too powerful to be spelled forwards or whatever, and the Enochian language which resulted from that has been one of the mainstays of occultism ever since, this is ever since the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First in the 1500s. What we happened to notice was that Paracelsus had actually created something called the "Alphabet of the Magi" which in some places looked similar to Dr. Dee's Enochian squiggles and, more importantly, it was used for writing the names of angels, backwards apparently. Now, Dee must have known, he would have studied Paracelsus. I could say it's a rather esoteric, technical point, but to students of magic it's quite interesting because that does ask some interesting questions about where the Enochian language actually came from. Was Edward Kelley influenced by his previous readings of Paracelsus?

We also found out that Paracelsus invented modern medicine. This was quite interesting. We found out he was the first person to say that epilepsy was an illness rather than a madness. He was the person who pioneered the use of anesthetics and antibiotics. He was the first person to say that disease originated from outside the body and that illness came from agencies outside the body, which is the beginning of disease theory. He invented homeopathy, and he was a magician.

It points out how much of our culture, all of it, the science, the medicine, the art, has seemingly sprung up from a hardcore magical basis. That most of the people, like Isaac Newton who was an alchemist, who ideas were based on those of John Dee, who was a flat-out necromancer, and even Einstein, his ideas were very much influenced by theosophy, which was the product of the fantastic 19th century fraud, that inspired fraud of Madame Blavatsky. So it's interesting, much of the culture that surrounds us comes out of magic, pure and simply. That was something I suspected for a long time, but doing the research for this book, that is something which is becoming more and more evident, and we are gathering the evidence for that point of view with every new aspect of it we research.

PREVIEWS: Alan, I don't have any more questions for you. I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

Alan Moore: I hope somewhere in all that ramble there's some material you can use.