Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Alamy)


Watch Alan Moore's inexplicable 1975 gangster rap

Alan Moore is, without doubt, a British national treasure, widely heralded as simply one of the best comic book writers of all time. Many of his works have been adapted for the big screen, including WatchmenV for Vendetta and Batman: The Killing Joke – which served as an original story for the famous villain, the Joker.

Moore was born in Northampton in 1953, the child of a working-class family who had lived in the town for many generations. He was expelled from school for being what he phrases as “one of the world’s most inept LSD dealers”, though he disliked school for its seeming indoctrination of conformity in young children.

After working low-end jobs whilst living in his parents’ house and then in a small flat with his wife, Moore started working on his own comic books. He had read “omnivorously” as a child, including American imports of The Flash and The Fantastic Four comic strips.

Moore went on to write for several underground and independent publishers throughout the 1970s before having scripts accepted for 2000AD and some other comics published by Marvel UK. Moore would soon attract the attention of big-time American publishers, including DC Comics, where he would revive many of the previously neglected heroes of old, including John Constantine from Hellblazer.

Moore’s subsequent success in America led him to be regarded as one of the first British comic writers to truly crack the new world. His contributions also opened the floodgates for a wave of British writers to join DC Comics, such as Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison and Jamie Delano.

Whilst undoubtedly writing comic books is Moore’s primary craft, he is also an accomplished novelist, short story writer, musician and, amazingly, a magician. It’s said that Moore’s humble Northampton home, where he still resides, is akin to stepping into a time capsule crammed full of books, old records and magical artefacts.

Moore also once inexplicably claimed to have invented gangster rap when he wrote a poem in his early days as a young writer. “I would probably say that my first real experience of writing with a rhythm that satisfied me was a piece that I wrote when I was perhaps 23 years old,” revealed Moore. “This would have been around 1975 when I actually invented gangster rap. I was anxious to write a piece for reading aloud at public performances that really utilized what I had come to understand about rhythm. And so I wrote this piece where the only important thing in it is the rhythm. 

“Yes, it’s an interesting poem with some interesting images and things like that, an interesting atmosphere,” Moore added. “But the thing that takes the reader from the beginning to the end of this piece is its rhythm. And that’s why I wrote ‘Old Gangsters Never Die’.”

Check out a recital of Moore’s incredible poem/rap below.