How does one contact Moench to ask about his old work? Does he even want to be contacted? Failing that, does anyone have interviews he conducted where he mentions his FF work? He wrote 11 issues starting in 1980: FF219 and 222-231. Did he say anything in the comics press when he took it on? His "official" site has very little information and uses very old photos.
What I want to ask:
I am gradually working on my perverse theory that The Fantastic Four, issues 1-321, forms a single story with a beginning, middle and end. The more I look at it in that light, the more important Doug Moench becomes. His 11 issues are usually remembered as "the bad issues just before John Byrne." And they are certainly jarring: they don't fit the easy going style that came before or after. Most fans either dislike them or forget them. But the closer I look, the more I love them. In several ways they are superior to Byrne's much lauded FF work.
To me, Moench has more layers. Byrne's effort all goes into the surface appearance and events, but Moench seems to care more about the characters. Comparing Byrne's 65(?) issues to Moench's 11 issues (opinions may vary):
- Byrne is easier to read.
- Byrne is more spectacular - i.e. more spectacle.
- Byrne's dialog is more theatrical - to me, his people sound like they belong on TV or movies, they don't sound real.
- Byrne had more issues to develop his themes.
- So Byrne sold better and is more fondly remembered.
- But Moench is truer to the established characters (Byrne ignored years of continuity)
- Moench shows more character development
- Moench's issues tell a more unified story
- Moench is more layered - he rewards a close inspection in a way that Byrne does not
- Moench's characters are far more likeable - to me (personal opinion, obviously)
- Moench is more realistic (the Bill Sienkiewicz art helped, but I find his dialog more believable)
- Moench, more than any other writer, gets to the core of what the FF are. This is opinion of course, but I speak as someone who has devoted a long time to making the FF work as a single, developing story. Moench really nails it.
Obviously, the long term development was not planned. I doubt that Kirby left a secret blueprint behind. The bigger story evolved almost by accident. but I am intrigued to know what Moench was thinking at the time. If he even remembers.
In a way I feel a little guilty. As a big Jim Shooter fan I had always dismissed Moench as a man who wrote a couple of good series but was out of touch. I think I may need to eat humble pie.