By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“To some degree, getting involved in magic is almost like deliberately going mad — in a controlled way. The very nature of magic is connected to the irrational — you’re gonna have to step out of the realm of conventional sanity at the very least. For a lot of people, that means stepping out of conventional sanity into conventional insanity.
“For me, I’d say that these days I’m turning out an awful lot more work than ever, even when I was a sleek young gazelle bounding over the precipices of my imagination in my 20s. I’m also very pleased with the quality of it. I’ve done some things in the last few years that I would never have been able to imagine doing before. It’s not that I never did anything good until I discovered magic, but that discovering magic, or at least my notion of it, has given me a bit more of an idea of how I did those good things. The understanding that I’ve gleaned from magic might be wrong-headed for all I know. But as long as the results are good, then I’m not really complaining. I’m on a pretty good roll here, and I think I know why.”
Moore is on a roll. Since embracing magic in 1994, he has finished work with illustrator Eddie Campbell on the 500-page graphic novel From Hell, an exhaustively researched examination of the Jack the Ripper murders (Jack’s a Masonic doctor on a black-magic bent) that has won critical acclaim and been made into a stylish (if barely related) feature film by the Hughes Brothers; published Voice of the Fire, his first prose novel, set across 6,000 years of Northampton history; performed several public “workings” under the auspices of the Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, two of which have been adapted into comics by Campbell; released one original CD and three others based on the Moon and Serpent workings; and, in the meantime, launched America’s Best Comics, a line of genre-themed color comic books that has won a ton of industry awards and been singled out for praise by longtime Moore fan Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of the comic-centric novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. (One of the series’ titles — The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a lighthearted, lovingly crafted Victorian adventure illustrated by Kevin O’Neill and populated by some of the era’s fictional characters, including Captain Nemo, Allan Quatermain and the Invisible Man — is in pre-production at Fox as a feature-length film with a rumored $80 million budget.)
Until 1994, Moore’s relationship with the occult was that of an interested outsider: “I was at least as knowledgeable about the occult as any fantasy-comic writer has to be. But it was theoretical. What was interesting to me was that people believed these things. There was no way that I could say whether their beliefs had any validity.”
Moore began experimenting in magical rituals, cobbled together from various occult traditions and his own intuitions. Occasionally undertaken with one or more of his close friends, the rituals initially involved the use of psilocybin mushrooms, a drug that Moore — a self-described “old hippie,” even in the ’80s — was comfortable with from long experience. But nothing prepared him for the Philip K. Dick–like experience he had with a friend during an eight-hour ritual on January 7, 1994.
“When you’ve found that you’ve spent at least part of an evening talking to an entity that tells you that it is a specific entity — in my case, a second-century Roman snake god called Glycon — there’s only so many ways you can take that. The most obvious way is that you had some sort of hallucination or mental breakdown. Which makes sense, unless there were other people with you who had similar experiences at the same time. Then you say, ‘All right, this was some sort of real experience.’ But you then have to think, ‘Well, was it something that was purely internal? Was this some part of myself that I’ve given a name and face to, or projected in some way?’ That’s possible. Or ‘Was this what it said it was? Was this some entirely external entity that actually was what it claimed?’ The thing that feels most satisfying is the idea that actually it might be both of them. It might be both inside you and outside you. That doesn’t make any logical sense, but that satisfies me most emotionally. It feels truest.
“Of course, the philosopher Lucien explains that the whole Glycon cult was an enormous fraud, and that Glycon was a glove puppet,” he continues, laughing. “To me, I think that’s perfect. If I’m gonna have a god, I prefer it to be a complete hoax and a glove puppet because I’m not likely to start believing that a glove puppet created the universe or anything dangerous like that. To me, the idea of the god is the god. It doesn’t Ã£ matter what form it takes. This is one of the problems that Christianity has for me. Christianity’s got some lovely concepts. You’ve got this wonderful story with complete integrity. As a story, it’s fine. It’s rich in symbolism. It’s rich in moral awareness. However, Christianity also insists upon a historical Jesus. If it was ever proven that Jesus didn’t exist, the whole of Christianity would fall to pieces. Because they insist that this was definitely real, that he was definitely born of a virgin, that he definitely died on the cross and then definitely physically ascended to heaven. All of which sounds like bollocks to me.