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Reading Alan Moore’s Thunderman by Alex Grand

Read Alex Grand’s Understanding Superhero Comic Books published by McFarland Books in 2023 with Foreword by Jim Steranko with positive reviews by comic book professionals, Jim Shooter, Tom Palmer, Tom DeFalco, Danny Fingeroth, Alex Segura, Carl Potts, Guy Dorian Sr. and more.

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Alan Moore encountered a disappointing experience with the comic book industry, as did Siegel, Shuster, Kirby, Ditko and others; [Spoiler Alert] so he compares continuing comic book creators and their fans to drug addicts in “What We Can Know About Thunderman,” a novella in his anthology book Illuminations (2022). The story functions as Moore’s impression of the dysfunctional history of superhero comics and provides his perception of how to understand it using fictionalized names that substitute for their real or mostly real analogues.

I enjoyed it, mainly to find out how he feels about the events that I know about and to read his suggestions of how Marvel and DC became successful through secret deals with greater powers. However many have called it mean-hearted and that’s probably true mainly because he has no love for the corporate-run comic book industry. That being said, it became fun to identify who the real life counterparts to Moore’s creators, fictional superheroes and companies (within 51 or more %) were so I came up with this probable list. He also substituted real people for other real people. If anyone thinks i got something wrong let me know. There were some I couldn’t figure out, and either they weren’t meant to be a person or I didn’t put it together. I put a question mark if I’m connecting it with uncertainty.

American Comics – DC Comics
Massive Comics – Marvel Comics
Goliath Comics – Atlas Comics
Punctual Comics – Timely Comics
Banner Comics – Charlton Comics (?)
Sammy Blatz – Stan Lee
Jerry Binkle – Roy Thomas (?)
Brandon Chuff – Len Wein (?) or Nelson Bridwell (?)
Sherman Glad – Gardner Fox
The Streak – The Flash
Mr. Ocean – Aquaman
Moon Queen – Wonder Woman
Omnipotent Pre-Teen Militia – Teen Titans
Esme Martinez – Ramona Fradon
Pete Mastroserio – Dick Giordano
Mimi Drucker – Jenette Kahn
Dick Duckley – George Carragone
United Supermen – Justice League of America
Blinky Comics – Archie Comics
Tombstone Kid – Two Gun Kid
Abnormal Tales – Strange Tales
Journey Into Strange – Journey Into Mystery
Tales of Astonishing – Tales to Astonish
Ormazda – Thor
King Bee – Batman
World’s Best Adventure – World’s Best Comics
Exploit Comics – Action Comics
Thunderman – Superman
Peggy Parks – Lois Lane
Manhunt – Detective Comics
Alarming Adult Reverie – Amazing Adult Fantasy
Freak Force – X-Men
Julius Metzenberger – Mort Weisinger
Jim Lawes – Bill Gaines
Jim Lawes Sr – Max Gaines
SP Comics – EC Comics
Nutcase – MAD
Schuman and Kessler – Siegel and Shuster
Zando – Krypto
Demento – Bizarro
Thunderstones – Kryptonite
The Vindictives – The Avengers
Joe Gold – Jack Kirby
The Unrealistic Five – The Fantastic Four
Felix Firestone – Lex Luthor
Dr. Unrealistic – Mr. Fantastic
John Monster – Ben Grimm
The Tank – The Thing
Insubstantial Girl – Invisible Girl
National Guard – Captain America
Robert Novak – Steve Ditko
Beetle Boy – Spider-Man
David Moskowitz – Paul Levitz
Brothers Brothers – Warner Bros.
Bee Attitude – Batmania
Jimjon – Biljo White
Davis Burke – Dick Sprang
Hooded Vigilante – Alter Ego
The Massive Collector – Rocket Blast Comic Collector
Fishman – Sub-Mariner
Thundermite – Mxyzptlk
Professor Abnormal – Doctor Strange
Disturbing – Creepy
Inappropriate – Eerie
Shaw Magazines – Warren Magazines
margins – Witzend
Slim Whitaker – Wally Wood
Squack – Zap
Buzz – Robin
Caretaker – Guardian
Bee Buggy – Batmobile
Denny Wellworth – Archie Goodwin
Edward Hannigan – Jerry Robinson
Ron Blackwell – Bill Finger
Richard Manning – Bob Kane
Ralph Roth – Marv Wolfman (?)
Cosmax – Galactus
Corpse Clutcher, Necro-Filing Clerk, Morgue Minder – The Old Witch, Crypt Keeper, Vault Keeper
Unbelievable Stories – Amazing Stories
Albert Kaufman – Harry Donenfeld
Sidney Rosenfeld – Jack Liebowitz
Distance – Kinney
Sol Stickman – Julius Schwartz
Hector Bass – Robert Kanigher
Our Unshaven Army – Our Army at War
Thunderland – Krypton
Bernard Essler – Max Fleischer
Zoom Wilson – Flash Gordon
Flip Fraser – Buster Crabbe
Donald Adams – Kirk Alyn
Victor Richards – George Reeves
Zoron – Jor-El
Sir Laurence Olivier – Marlon Brando
Dirk Bogarde – Gene Hackman
Saul Richard – Christopher Reeve
Elaine Merchant – Lois Lane
Lord Varex – Zod
Macropolis – Metropolis
Val Guest – Dick Lester
Brian Ball – Dean Caine
Kate Porter – Teri Hatcher
Asher Tarrant – Tom Welling
Derek Danner – Michael Rosenbaum
Christopher Gent – Brandon Routh
Stephen Beacher – Henry Cavill
Ellie the Escort – Millie the Model
Jackie Berman – Martin Goodman
Frank Giardino – Vince Colletta
The Brute – The Hulk
Miniman and Minimaid – Ant-Man and Wasp
Wendy Dietrich – Flo Steinberg
Massive Pigsty – Marvel Bullpen
Andrew Donald – Alex Raymond
Roy Shaw – Jim Warren
Gene Pullman – Jim Shooter (?)
Glenfield – Riverdale
Bottleneck – Jughead
I couldnt figure out Dan Wheems, Milton Finefinger, and Worsley Porlock, however enough names are decoded to figure out where Moore is coming from in his overall critique with the professionals and fans that maintain the industry.  The journey of Moore’s disappointment with mainstream superhero comic books can be traced in a series of interviews from 1985 to 1991. Toward the end of his Swamp Thing run, Alan Moore was interviewed in 1987 about what he was trying to achieve with his literary approach to comics, and he displayed an excitement of depicting superheroes in a realistic manner.
He specifically points to the intrigue of how superheroes would behave if they were real people, as imperfect creatures who would not be noble paragons of virtue. In 1985, he was interviewed by another outlet and he specified working on his series Watchmen for Dick Giordano at DC Comics as an expansion of this concept.

As he developed the story with David Gibbons, he began to realize that he could push the boundaries of the comics medium as a serious storytelling device that can relay complex ideas and emotions, which he explains in 1989.

However, in 1991, he explains what he intended for the superhero genre with Watchmen versus what he ended up getting in this 1991 interview from Prisoners of Gravity.

He became disappointed with the fandom surrounding the post-1986 “postmodern” superhero comic book movement that resulted from his unintentional revitalization of the genre, which he explained again in 1997.

Alan Moore’s journey in the comic book industry, as depicted in his anthology Illuminations (2022) and interviews, illuminates the often painful tension between creative vision and commercial exploitation. His evolution from an enthusiastic creator keen on portraying superheroes realistically to a disappointed critic of the industry’s corporatization offers a poignant narrative of the trials faced by artists in mainstream success. His critique, while viewed by some as mean-spirited, raises essential questions about the comic book industry’s practices, its treatment of creators, and the unintended consequences of its rampant commercialization. Moore’s experience serves as a crucial reminder that industries like comics need to continually reassess their relationship with creators, to ensure the fostering of innovation and respect for artistic integrity, underpinning the necessity of his critique as a wake-up call to the industry.

Much of that disappointment is expanded upon in Thunderman, which a lot of readers would miss without knowing what exactly he’s referring to. Unfortunately, there are some fanatical Alan Moore fans who prefer to repeatedly reread his and Frank Miller’s comics ad nauseum while ignoring older works, and fall into the trap of preferring not to know who exactly he is talking about because they would rather ride along the artistic fairy tale that is presented in this novella. It is that hopeless adherence to the fantasy of a presentation which Moore is criticizing, because there also comes a blindness to the reality that inspired it in the first place. For example, how many Spider-Man fans are there that haven’t heard of Steve Ditko, the hero’s visual creator and conceptual co-creator? Or the phenomenon of what Moore observed in his novella, how fans consumed comic books more vigorously when the older generation of writers and artists who tried to start a union at DC for better pay and healthcare got replaced by younger talent who were superhero fans that settled for the status quo quality of living. Not identifying, at least mostly who is being referred to is a mistake because we can use that information to extrapolate what Moore is identifying and how he specifically feels about it. This enhances ones understanding of comic book history, and gives us an idea of what Moore has taken away from his study and experiences of it. That to me is the greater point to Thunderman, rather than enjoying another cone full of sweetness.

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Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy and his 1930s Era War on Crime by Alex Grand

Read Alex Grand’s Understanding Superhero Comic Books published by McFarland Books in 2023 with Foreword by Jim Steranko with editorial reviews by comic book professionals, Jim Shooter, Tom Palmer, Tom DeFalco, Danny Fingeroth, Alex Segura, Carl Potts, Guy Dorian Sr. and more. In the meantime enjoy the show:   Chester Gould created “Plainclothes Tracy” in 1931.  His…


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