There's a wonderful bit in Eddie Campbell's latest book, After the Snooter,
where Alan Moore reveals what his mad builder mate Fred did for him in the
basement of his Northampton home. Fred excavated him a cave out of the
foundations. This was evidently part of Alan's ongoing attempt to turn his
ordinary terraced house into a Moorish palace. He does his magic down there.
In his little cave. Under his terraced house in Northampton. Muttering to
the 2nd Century Roman snake deity he chooses to focus his workings through.
Consulting with the rungs and lizards of his own DNA. Think about that when
you read this book, because he probably came up with it down there.
SNAKES AND LADDERS, like The Birth Caul, was a public spoken-word
performance. But there's no tape of this one, so SNAKES AND LADDERS is the
only public record of the piece; an adaptation of the text into comics. It
shares a theme with his other performance pieces in that it's a meditation on
magic, history and place. This, as well as the cave, is where Alan, as a
practising magician, does his workings: art as magic and magic as art. These
are the demands of the discipline; that magic becomes the focus of your life.
This is what he talks about here, telling the stories of such as Austin
Osman Spare in serpentine fashion. Ups and down, ascension and descent.
It's a compelling, beautifully visualised treatise on how magic, and life,
are games fraught with snakes and ladders.
Warren Ellis has written around thirty graphic novels, comics, prose fiction, journalism, videogames and screenplays. Sometimes he take photographs. He also creates and co-creates websites, including this one. He has awards and stuff, he's been in big magazines and newspapers, and he's been published in Nature, which he always mentions because it makes him laugh. He's on the web at warrenellis.com and diepunyhumans.com.