♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer Scott Braden gives us his latest in his series of features on comic stories or series that never happened. This week it’s the turn of Stuart Moore’s America Force…
Stuart Moore’s America Force
Stuart Moore is a comic book genius. He’s been writing and editing great comics for decades, and he’s finally getting much-deserved praise with his Captain Ginger and Bronze Age Boogie series from AHOY Comics. Scott Braden had the chance to sit down with the master storyteller and discover Moore’s long, lost tale – America Force! – for himself. Now, the acclaimed creator is ready to share it with the world. Here’s how it’s going to go down:
So, how did Moore come up with America Force!? What inspired his series?
“The year was 2007,” Moore said. “I was coming off of a run on Firestorm at DC, and I’d just written the Avengers/Transformers miniseries for Marvel. I was also tremendously appalled by the Bush 43 administration’s cavalier approach to the war in Iraq, and to their policy of lying about it at every turn—a policy that the Republican Party has cemented in stone, of course, under the U.S.’s current prevaricator-in-chief.
“Another strong influence was Grant Morrison’s work, on books like Doom Patrol and Flex Mentallo and also The Invisibles, which I edited at DC/Vertigo. I loved the way Grant just threw off armies of new characters, some of them major players and others just clever throwaways. I wanted to build a tiny universe like that for myself. I returned to that idea, in very different ways, in EGOs (Image, 2014-2015) and my current series Bronze Age Boogie (AHOY Comics).”
What was Moore trying to say with his book, if anything?
“A trend in popular culture that struck me at the time,” Moore explained, “quite strongly, was the tendency to fetishize the military and military trappings. As with most such things, this had spread to super-hero comics. Every idiot hero at that point was ‘asking for a sitrep’ or ‘calling for extraction’ while pulling a tab of C4 out of his leather belt. Like the Iraq War, it all seemed to be about building to a catharsis, a massive punch in the face or a double-page clash of giant robots. This would make us all feel better about good and right and America and leave us spent, tired, and perhaps a bit regretful about loss of life…but wiser and more serene, like the most glorious orgasm in history.
“It was all pretty appalling.
“The best response seemed to be mockery. People who are very very serious and determined about pumping themselves up to bomb people don’t take too well to ridicule. Plus, I like my comics funny.”
What companies did Moore pitch America Force! to?
“I had to check my files,” Moore admitted, “but early on I ran the idea past Thrillbent, Avatar, and Top Cow (for their ‘pilot season’ series), but none of them bit. I wrote up the first script and handed it to Rob Steen. Then life got in the way.”
Of all the colourful characters Moore came up with which ones were his favourites?
“Oh, that’s tough,” Moore said. “I did like Lady ’Merica, the chain-smoking old woman in the patriotic swimsuit. Klankenstein, the robot, was a lot of fun; he was programmed with the brain engrams of the last five presidents and vice presidents of the U.S., which made him completely schizophrenic.
“And I love Scarz, the leader. He was always talking about his time in “the war,” but he had no military record. What he meant was the punks-vs-hippies conflict of the ‘70s. The scars on his face weren’t from combat—they were from unsterilized safety pins.”
“There were a lot of villains, too,” Moore added. “The Wolf liked to play pickup chess games in the park with homeless people, then eat them. He was based directly on Bush Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.”
Did Moore have an artist assigned to the series? How did they meet up? What did the artist contribute to the book?
“I approached Rob Steen,” said Moore, “a friend I’d met through Garth Ennis and Russ Braun. Rob is best known in this country as a letterer, but he’s also the artist of the bestselling British Flanimals books written by Ricky Gervais. Rob did some awesome, quirky character sketches; it felt to me like he was channeling certain kinds of underground comics. He definitely captured the sleazy underbelly of heroic fiction.”
What prevented this extremely funny political satire from coming out?
“The year was 2007,” Moore said again. “I was writing The 99, assorted Marvel and IDW specials, and I got a gig editing a line of comics for Virgin Comics and SyFy (then Sci-Fi). I was regular writer of Nightwing for three whole weeks—that’s another “Lost Tale” entirely. That didn’t last, but by 2008 I was pretty overwhelmed with work. Rob was lettering for Dynamite, Valiant, Marvel, and by my calculations he was probably working on Flanimals: The Day of the Bletchling around that point.
“Basically we just both got busy.”
America Force! is actually a hilarious series that has legs. We asked Moore if there was any chance we’ll see it at AHOY or another publisher in the future?
“Thank you,” Moore said. “To be honest, I haven’t given it much thought. To me, the whole thing is so wrapped up in a particular period…politics has now gotten so absurd that it’s hard to satirize. And I’ve got a lot of other things going at AHOY. But you never know.”
Finally, what projects is Moore currently working on? And, what’s coming up for him in the near future?
“Current: Bronze Age Boogie. My loving mash-up of apes, Martian invasions, kung fu, exploitation films, and other trash culture from the 1970s. Six issues from AHOY, with beautiful art by Alberto Ponticelli and rich colour by Giulia Brusco. Lettered by Rob Steen!
“My prose novel X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga, based on the original Claremont/Byrne/Cockrum comics, just came out from Titan Books. That was a fascinating challenge—Marvel gave me a lot of leeway to update and expand the story. Hopefully I did justice to Jean Grey.
“October 2019: Batman: Nightwalker, a YA graphic novel adapted by me from the prose novel by Marie Lu, with gorgeous art by Christian Wildgoose. While doing community service in Arkham Asylum, 18-year-old Bruce Wayne falls for a young inmate who may be a criminal mastermind herself.
“Next year: More Captain Ginger, my cats-in-space epic with artist June Brigman. And a new project that’s very close to my heart, and that I hope doesn’t become another ‘Lost Tale.’”
Lost Tales©2019 Scott Braden. All Rights Reserved