THE most vivid characters in Alan Moore's graphic novels are antiheroes of ambiguous morality and identity: costumed avengers like Rorschach, the disturbed street vigilante of "Watchmen," or the crusader known only by the letter V, who commits catastrophic acts of terrorism in the dystopian tale "V for Vendetta."
With inventions like these, and a body of writing that spans nearly three decades, Mr. Moore, a 52-year-old native of Northampton, England, distinguished himself as a darkly philosophical voice in the medium of comic books — a rare talent whose work can sell solely on the strength of his name. But if Mr. Moore had his way today, his name would no longer appear on almost any of the graphic novels with which he is most closely associated. "I don't want anything more to do with these works," he said in a recent telephone interview, "because they were stolen from me — knowingly stolen from me."
In Mr. Moore's account of his career, the villains are clearly defined: they are the mainstream comics industry — particularly DC Comics, the American publisher of "Watchmen" and "V for Vendetta" — which he believes has hijacked the properties he created, and the American film business, which has distorted his writing beyond recognition. To him, the movie adaptation of "V for Vendetta," which opens on Friday, is not the biggest platform yet for his ideas: it is further proof that Hollywood should be avoided at all costs. "I've read the screenplay," Mr. Moore said. "It's rubbish."
In 2001, the first film adaptation of one of Mr. Moore's graphic novels arrived in theaters. "From Hell," distributed by 20th Century Fox, was based on his extensively researched account of the Jack the Ripper murders, a 572-page black-and-white title illustrated by Eddie Campbell. Mr. Moore had no creative participation in the film, and happily so. "There was no way that I would be able to be fair to it," he said. "I did not wish to be connected with it, and regarded it as something separate to my work. In retrospect, this was kind of a naïve attitude."
But Mr. Moore does not seem likely to change his mind this time. For one thing, his schedule is almost entirely consumed with other comics projects, including a new volume of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," to be released in late 2006 or early 2007 by the American publisher Top Shelf Productions. This summer, Mr. Moore said, Top Shelf will also be publishing "Lost Girls," his 16-years-in-the-making collaboration with Ms. Gebbie, a series of unrepentantly pornographic adventures told by the grown-up incarnations of Wendy Darling of "Peter Pan," Alice of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and Dorothy Gale of "The Wizard of Oz." "I refuse to call it erotica, because that just sounds like pornography for people who've got more money," Mr. Moore said. "It would seem to be possible to come up with a kind of pornography that was meaningful and beautiful, not ugly."
Ms. Gebbie said she was more excited to see Mr. Moore finish his novel "Jerusalem," another years-long project that he estimates will total 750 pages when complete. "It's his story, his heritage, his blood ties and his amazing, wonderful system of beliefs," Ms. Gebbie said. "This book for him is an unfolding of his real, deep self."
But Mr. Moore suggested that his comic-book writing has already defined his identity. He recalled an encounter with a fan who asked him to sign a horrific issue of his 1980's comic "The Saga of the Swamp Thing"; the admirer then disclosed that he was a special effects designer for the television series "CSI: NY." "Every time you've got an ice pick going into someone's brain, and the close-ups of the little spurting ruptured blood vessels, and that horrible squishing sound, that's him," Mr. Moore said. "So that's something I can be proud of. This is my legacy."