Celebrating Michael Moorcock

Six Degrees of Michael Moorcock

Michael Moorcock knows everybody. Well, not quite, but after a spending any amount of time studying his diverse creative life as a writer, musician, and editor and it quickly becomes apparent that he has crossed paths with most of the entertainment world. We’re not just talking about those he’s worked just directly, though that list impresses: legendary writer J. G. Ballard, Nobel prize-winner Toni Morrison, Motörhead founder Lemmy, artist Michael Whelan, Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts, punk icons The Sex Pistols, and countless others. Much like the similar Kevin Bacon exercise, a “Six Degrees of Michael Moorcock” game is possible. But unlike Bacon, Moorcock’s work intersects the entire strata of entertainment media.


A few examples:

 

  • Kevin Bacon in four

Bacon(1) starred in a Few Good Men with Tom Cruise(2). Cruise starred in War of the Worlds. WotW director Steven Spielberg(3) also directed Empire of the Sun, which is based on the novel by J. G. Ballard(4). Ballard contributed regularly to the Moorcock-edited New Worlds.

 

  • H. P. Lovecraft in five

Lovecraft(1)’s agent was Julius Schwartz(2). Schwartz also represented Ray Bradbury(3). Bradbury served as the best man at Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett(4)’s wedding. For the infamous Last Dangerous Visions anthology, Harlan Ellison(5)purchased a story by the duo as was a Moorcock tale.

 

  • William Shakespeare in three

In the 19th century, William Blake(2) famously illustrated a collection of Shakespeare(1)’s works. Peter Ackroyd(3) crafted the acclaimed biography Blake (1996). Ackroyd’s writings appeared in the Moorcock-edited New Worlds.

 

  • Britney Spears in six

Spears(1) starred in Tamra Davis(2)Crossroads. Davis directed Billy Madison with Darren McGavin(3), who famously portrayed the seventies supernatural-chasing TV reporter Kolchak. Richard Matheson(4) crafted the screenplay for the original Kolchak film, The Night Stalker. The first film adaptation of Matheson’s I Am Legend (The Last Man on Earth) featured Vincent Price(5). Price played the lead in Robert Fuest(6)’s The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Fuest directed and produced The Final Programme, the movie version of Michael Moorcock’s novel of the same name.

 

  • Will Eisner in four

Eisner(1) created The Spirit. When Quality reprinted the originally black & white strips in the early forties, Joe Kubert(2) colored them. In 1976, Kubert founded the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. One of his graduates, Stephen R. Bissette(3)collaborated with writer Alan Moore(4) on Saga of the Swamp Thing. Moore later created Tom Strong. With Moore’s blessing, Moorcock wrote two issues of that comic.

 

  • Danielle Steele in four

Steele(1)’s literary agent is Morton Janklow(2). In 1998, Janklow partnered with Lynn Nesbit(3) to form Jankow and Nesbit Associates. Prior to that, Nesbit worked for the International Creative Management, where she represented Toni Morrison(4). Morrison edited the first American edition of Moorcock’s Breakfast In the Ruins.

 

  • Billie Holliday in five

In her only major film appearance, Holliday(1) performed in New Orleans (1947) opposite Louis Armstrong(2). One of the pallbearers at Armstrong’s funeral was Ed Sullivan(3). The Beatles(4) famously appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show (three consecutive Sundays in February, 1964). Dave Edmunds(5) played with ex-Beatles Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. As part of Hawkwind, Moorcock recorded several times at Dave Edmunds’ music studios.

 

While an argument exists that we are all within six degrees of anyone, most of the Moorcock connections happened in less than five. Practically everyone in sf/f , who started their careers after 1950, fell within that group, as did a large number of filmmakers and musicians post 1950.

How many Moorcock connections do you see?

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