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Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore Paperback – 3 Mar 2016

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd; New paperback edition (3 Mar. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781312842
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781312841
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,800,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"In Magic Words Lance Parkin has crafted a biography that is insightful, scrupulously fair-minded and often very funny, a considerable achievement given its unrelentingly grim, unreasonable and annoying subject. Belongs on the bookshelf of any halfway decent criminal profiler."

(Alan Moore)

"Magic Words is a highly readable biography, never becoming too embedded in its comic book history elements to alienate the reader who isn’t interested in its minutiae, but still providing plenty of food for thought."

(Paul Simpson Sci-Fi Bulletin)

"A remarkably lavish thing, with black-tipped pages, a purple spine, inset illustrations, cartoons, and photos... This is quite literally the book that fans have been starving for over the course of decades to take its place alongside the more art-based books and interview collections that have appeared in recent years. Here you have a book that places Moore alongside other great cultural movers and shakers well beyond the sphere of comics and it’s an excellent resource for gaining a wider understanding of the man and his work."

(Hannah Means-Shannon Bleeding Cool)

"It is completist, and yet it never once approaches being overbearing. It is a book that deserves its level of introspection and intimacy with its subject... Parkin shows consummate knowledge of his subject, and the end result of it all is that you do see how vital to modern publishing Moore is, and therefore how essential this book is to everyone vaguely interested in comics... Brilliant."

(John Lloyd

"A brave attempt to get to grips with one of the titans of modern pop culture... readers are sure to love the chapters about the creation of those dazzling early masterpieces"


"May Moore live long and prosper and may many thousands of fans buy Lance Parkin’s excellent biography and find out more about what makes him tick."

(Eamonn Murphy

"The best study of Moore we have so far … valuable for anyone interested in keeping up with one of the geniuses working in fantastic literature."

(Joe Sanders The New York Review of Science Fiction)

“Superbly researched and lucidly argued, Magic Words encourages the reader to step back from the gallery of supposedly Manichean controversies and ossified preconceptions. With a determination to focus on the light rather than the heat of things, Parkin lends many of the most apparently unchallengeable aspects of Moore's career a new perspective… the portrait of its subject that emerges is enticingly fresh and repeatedly contrary to received wisdom… the disconnected expressions of genius and bloodymindedness are reframed as the product of one fascinating individual and his fiercely held principles and aspirations. It's a well-played accomplishment that makes Parkin's smart-minded analysis of Moore's work all the more compelling… I can only suggest that you drop everything and search out a copy of 'Magic Words' right now.”


"Magic Words is a book that manages to cater to all the different levels of the Moore fandom, whilst remaining simple and easy enough to read if you have never even heard of him. It is a biography that can be critical on occasion and at least once downright heartbreaking, but it is a fantastic and fitting portrait of a man who may, or may not be one of the greatest living comics writers of our time."

(Anton Krasauskas

"While Parkin is obviously a fan with an exhaustive knowledge of Moore’s life and work, he doesn’t allow his fanboy nature to blind him to the more abrasive and inexplicable actions and statements of his subject. He asks what we’re to make of Moore’s claims of magic, his sometimes baffling contrariness, and most tellingly, is it possible that the joke is on Moore’s most loyal and ardent fans? These valuable questions take Parkin’s book beyond casual biography and into much more challenging and worthwhile territory."

(Glenn Dallas San Francisco Book Review)

"Lance Parkin is witty and informed. He is a devotee of Moore's work, but not uncritical. He's also happy to point out his protagonist's contradictions. You come away with an understanding of Moore the artist, but his day-to day life remains discreetly hidden. Just, you suspect, as Moore likes it."

(SFX magazine)

"A fascinating and even-handed look at Moore’s life… Parkin’s gift for… pattern recognition elevates his book from a by-the-numbers account into an altogether more satisfying examination of Moore’s life and remarkable body of work, as well as the changing business of comics over the last four decades."

(Tom Murphy

"**** A surprisingly balanced biography that through carefully deployed new and archival interviews doesn’t always find Moore on the right side of the argument. Lovingly presented with a glistening spot UV cover and black-cornered pages, it’s an essential primer for even the most casual comic-book fan."

(SciFi Now)

"The real story behind Britain's most influential writer. No, not JK Rowling, but Alan Moore, the man who created V is for Vendetta, From Hell and Halo. Lance Parkin's biography will have you running to read them again."


"A fascinating and comprehensive biography of one of the living masters of comic book writing... This is an essential book for any serious comics fan."

(Publishers Weekly)

"Magic Words shines brightest when it aims its insight at Moore’s work. Parkin’s dissection of Moore’s vast oeuvre, the opuses and the marginalia, are penetrating and fresh, with plenty of cogent contextualization regarding the history of comics as it pertains to Moore, and vice versa. And his breakdown of Moore’s creative process is fascinating in both its detail and its eerie quietude."

(A.V. Club)

"A fantastic history of one of our finest writers."

(Kim Ukura

"I'd suggest taking this book in one day at a time, really soaking up all of the information here ... because it truly is a lot. This is one of the most insightful, in depth biographies I've ever read."


"Beautifully researched, written and designed, Parkin's book is the perfect Christmas present for the comic book lover in your life, even if that lover is yourself." 


"Amusingly written, sharp in its analysis of Moore’s work."

(Daily Telegraph)

"A wonderful piece of work for Alan Moore aficionados that also doubles as a fascinating introduction of the man, myth, and legend for those somehow unfamiliar with the subject. It’s inevitable that more Moore books will be published and perhaps future tomes will be more intriguing or balanced, but for now this is the finest study of Alan Moore’s life and work currently on the market."

(Phil Brown cgmagazine)

“This biography is a great success and by far the finest book on Moore in existence (not to mention that it’s probably the most beautiful hardcover I’ve ever seen) … Colloquial, smart and often funny, the book will appeal to multiple audiences — scholars, fans, and general readers who want to know about the Magus and his mediums.”

(D. Harlan Wilson Los Angeles Review of Books)

About the Author

LANCE PARKIN is a British author, best known for writing fiction and reference books for television series, most notably Doctor Who. He is an Alan Moore completist, having followed the comics maestro's career since the 1970s, and in 2001 he wrote an acclaimed guide to Moore's work, which has since been updated and reissued. In addition to contributing pieces to magazines such as TV Zone, SFX and Doctor Who Magazine, he is also the co-author of Dark Matters, a guide to Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. He lives in the USA.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a nice little package, the printing on the cover is oddly luminous, the pages have black edges and there are (as you might hope) plenty of illustrations to guide us through the worlds of Alan Moore. And as another reviewer has commented this is really a quite comprehensive analysis not just of Alan's work (I don't know why I think I can refer to him as Alan, but I do) but also his life. In fact it is the biographical details that make this book so special. Most of the information about his work is familiar stuff to me, but its' the story of his life that is more interesting. Seeing where Alan Moore comes from is a great key to figuring out why he does what he does, and in this book we see where he came from and where he ended up. (Short answer: Northampton.) It doesn't go into minute details about his personal life or his relationships with other people in a tabloid manner, though it has the odd nice domestic detail, like a nice gag towards the end about how Moore not having the internet means he's not likely to know what a hashtag is, unless it's the sticker on a biscuit tin he keeps half-hidden in his kitchen. It's also very up-to-date, with mention of current and upcoming works.

Parkin is also clever enough not to offer just one perspective on things and to challenge the general agreements on the man's works, like pointing out that Watchmen is a very clever, very witty joke or assessing the importance of Lost Girls in terms of what it represents to Moore's goals. And as the other reviewer mentions, Parkin doesn't shy away from shining a light on the fallings out with publishers and collaborators down the years.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A compelling read with many interesting topics covered, especially the sections on magic and the controversies over movie adaptations. After the rudimentary groundwork is established this becomes a very engaging book that I did not want to put down and I enjoyed it for the most part. However I found that the author sometimes tried to offer or suggest value judgements on Alan Moore's work or life choices which were often unimaginative and limited (and unnecessary). I did feel better informed after reading this book, but not all that much more intimate with the man himself. In summary a good comprehensive read about Alan Moore but no substitute for reading the man's own words. I recommend buying this book alongside Shuggoth Cultures to make up the difference!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Okay, I haven't read the academic American texts about the world's most famous graphic novelist but I have read the more accessible ones and this really is the best. Unlike the most recent biography (Alan Moore: Storyteller) by one of Moore's mates, this isn't authorised and author Larkin is prepared to delve into some of the more controversial aspects and in detail.

There's as much about Moore's relationships and attitudes towards the comic book industry as there is about the comics/graphic novels themselves. Just one example: there is a very detailed exploration of Moore's widely publicised dispute with DC Comics which the author looks at from both sides and attempts to evaluate the situation. He also discusses Moore's possible motives for his reactions to a variety of issues. So what makes this book stand out above others published to date is that this is as much about Alan Moore the man as Alan Moore the writer, something very much missing from the other title I cited and which I noted in my review of it here on Amazon. Actually, the two books complement each other quite nicely.

That said, it you only gotta buy one book about Alan Moore then this is one: perceptive, witty, and highly readable it's worth every penny.

Perhaps a little surprisingly, the man himself has given it a tacit nod of approval.
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Format: Hardcover
'Magic Words' is an excellent biography of its subject, but it's also something more than that. It gives the reader an insight into the economics and conditions of writing for comics, following Moore from the depths to the heights of the industry over a long period of time and in both the UK and the USA. Even readers who are agnostic about Moore's 'genius' - the author is respectful without being brown-nosed - should find a great deal of interest here; not just colourful tales, but serious analysis of such issues as creator control and the fraught relationship between comics and film.

The real Moore fan should be well-satisfied. This is a literate and properly researched book about a talented, larger-than-life and highly influential artist.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved it excellent reading would recommend to family and friends I enjoyed reading it my friend has asked for a read of it when i am finished with it
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