I watched a couple of vintage documentaries about two of my favourite writers on Ye Olde Interwebs this week that I haven’t seen for bloody years. I guess it says a lot about my particular strain of temperament that [a] I can get genuinely excited about watching vintage documentaries I haven’t seen in bloody years and, [b] I never previously thought of checking the likes of YouTube or GoogleVideo for hot-damn, good-shit examples of the aforementioned [a] that I didn’t bother videotaping when they were first broadcast. Proof if proof were needed, then, that I’m still an analogue man living in a digital world.
Anyhow, the first was an BBC Arena doc from 1994 about SF author Philip K Dick called A Day in the Afterlife. I was 23 when I last saw it and, until then, the only PKD book I’d read was Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep in my capacity as a dutiful fan of the film Blade Runner. After watching the doc, I greedily devoured every PKD book I could lay my badly-manicured mitts on.
This is it:
The other vintage doc I revisited this week was brought to my attention that sage of online omniscience, Gentleman Pete Ashton. Called Monsters, Maniacs and Moore it’s about the Bard of Northampton himself, comics writer extraordinaire Alan Moore [who, as Pop Will Eat Itself once astutely observed, “Knows the score”]. The last time I saw this one was when it was first broadcast in 1987. I was even younger then.
Unlike the PKD doc, this didn’t turn me onto the works of the Bearded One: it was more a case of preaching to the converted. Watching it now, two decades later, reminds me of how exciting comics were back then. This was the period of Moore’s Watchmen and Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – of Barefoot Gen and Maus – when even Marvel Comics were publishing English language editions of Moebius albums. To put it another way, this was a period when comics seemed to grow up just as I was supposed to be growing out of them.
Part 1 is below [parts 2-4 are here]:
Monsters, Maniacs and Moore was part of an 80s documentary series called England, Their England which was broadcast by what we used to call Central TV. That’s right, this brilliant and thoughtful documentary about a staggeringly brilliant writer working in a widely despised medium was broadcast on ITV. Possibly at prime-time.
Times have certainly changed.