Moore, Moore, Moore: Skizz (1983)

To me, Alan Moore is the most fascinating writer in comics. Not only has he created some of the most iconic and game-changing comics around, but he’s also built this incredible body of work that covers all possible genres and corners of the comic book world. Yes, he did DC Comics stories that fit in with the larger world. He did Doctor Who stories. He reinvented Miracle Man and the Charlton heroes. He did a shocking amount of comics for Rob Liefeld! And he also created a more real-world version of E.T. when he was still working for 2000 A.D., England’s preeminent sci-fi comic anthology (most well known for being the home of Judge Dredd).

A few years ago, I got this idea to do something — a book or maybe a podcast — about the works Moore created in the 90s, basically the time between Swamp Thing ending and the launch of America’s Best Comics. In addition to getting my hands on the issues in question, I figured that I also needed to read as much of his work that came before that as possible. So I’ve been amassing an Alan Moore library of books that are just sitting around. When we went on vacation, I took one of those trades, Skizz, and read it between The Colorado Kid and How To Sell A Haunted House.

I read the 2005 collection from 2000 A.D./DC Comics — a partnership I forgot existed and must have driven the writer nuts — written by Moore and drawn by Jim Baikie and published episodically in 1983. In it, an alien by the name of Zhcchz crash lands on Earth in Birmingham, England to be specific. Thanks to his enhanced senses, the alien later dubbed Skizz finds this new place overwhelming so he struggles to find a quiet place to rest, ending up in the shed behind Roxie’s house. Luckily, her folks are out of town because she discovers the visitor, re-dubs him Skizz and wonders how to take care of him with some help from her dad’s old co-workers Loz and Cornelius. So, to me, it reminded me of a combination of the aforementioned E.T. and problematic childhood favorite Short Circuit.

Meanwhile, government guy Inspector Van Owen has found the remains of Skizz’ ship (its computer made it self-destruct to keep the technology out of primitive human hands). It takes less time than I expected, but he soon gets his hands on Skizz and tortures him, thinking that he’s a spy for his homeworld. Roxie wants to help her friend though, so she hatches a surprisingly effective plan with Loz and Cornelius that takes advantage of the civil unrest in Birmingham at that time.

Skizz was such a nice surprise for me because I had no idea what it was about and it turned out to feature a story that could fit right in with the movies I was watching as a kid. Beyond that, it displays the kind of writing that Moore excels at, which offers fun action while expertly putting you in the characters’ heads. Even though he looks different, I could feel how overwhelmed and scared Skizz was at various times throughout the story. And while I’m not familiar with Baikie’s artwork, I thought it was perfect for the story. He gets so much detail out of what seems like a simple line that can just as easily render Skizz in his alien glory as well as intricately expressive facial expressions on everyone involved.

This isn’t a spoiler, but there’s this great moment in the book where the seemingly simple Cornelius expresses empathy for Skizz because he hates not understanding what’s going on and figures that the alien is going through the same thing. That was such a refreshing moment because looking at things from another’s perspective feels like a dying idea. At the same time, it also made me think about Moore as a kid, something I had never done before, always imagining him as the wizened master. With that incredible mind of his, did he feel like an outsider while growing up? Clearly I have to do more research if I want to work on my Alan Moore project, but I’m glad this new/old work of his got me wondering again.

To my surprise there’s actually more to the world of Skizz than I realized! I figured this was a one-off, but it turns out that Moore and Baikie returned to the world not once more, but twice with a pair of stories in the early 90s! I never would have known had I not gone to Wikipedia to figure out the book’s release date. Apparently the book I have is just the first installment, so I now I’m looking to get my hands on The Complete Skizz and you can too (plus, it’d be great if you followed that Amazon Associate’s link). When I do, you can expect to see another review about the story as a whole!

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