DiDio and Lee speak on Roberson, Before Watchmen, etc: here's that spade to dig your hole a little deeper

images DiDio and Lee speak on Roberson, Before Watchmen, etc: here's that spade to dig your hole a little deeper

This weekend at the LA Times Book Festival, Dan DiDio and Jim Lee appeared on a panel, moderated by Geoff Boucher and in a press roundtable beforehand, to talk about BEFORE WATCHMEN. The Beat’s own Shannon O’Leary has a nice, succinct report on their comments here at PW, and from what we understand, she asked some of the tough questions of the pair. So for those of you wondering when the eager “Will the Comedian be raping many people?” fan questions at events like C2E2 would stop, the DC brass have been faced with actual questions.

The results, frankly, are cringeworthy. Collider has a transcript of part of the talk, while CBR excerpts other parts of it. What follows is taken from all three

.

ON CHRIS ROBERSON tweeting his intention to stop working for DC and the subsequent cancellation of his FAIREST arc:

Lee: I don’t know the writer Chris and it certainly would have helped if I could have talked to him or if he had reached out to me. I didn’t know he felt that way so it was surprising to see that. It seemed odd to me as a creator, I would not publicly state I have a problem with the company that’s paying me to do work for them and I’m going to quit after I do this one project. It would seem wise to me to wait until you finished the project to voice that complaint. You have to imagine from our perspective, for our own internal morale, what does it say for a company to hire somebody who’s that vocally against our principles and yet we’re still paying them. From that standpoint, it doesn’t make any sense.

DiDio: As far as I’m concerned, he made a very public statement about not wanting to work with DC and we honored that statement.

On moving forward with BEFORE WATCHMEN despite ALAN MOORE’s unhappiness with the idea:

Lee: It’s interesting because in the Chris example, he alluded to an article in Comics Alliance that goes on about how Alan Moore has been unjustly treated. In this piece of journalism, it only cites interviews Alan has given. People will listen if it’s polarizing and one sided enough. This is not a situation where we have taken things from Alan. He signed an agreement and yet he said ‘I didn’t read the contract.’ I can’t force him to read his contract. So there’s all these things that people don’t know and Alan has said that explicitly – there are all these things that mitigate or go into the analysis. It’s not as clear-cut as people want to make it seem… It’s not a situation where we’re using the characters and Alan’s not being compensated. For everything that’s been done for Watchmen from the books to the movie, money has gone his way. The right amount that he deserves based on the contract. So we have honored that part of the agreement. It is something that can definitely be debated but to say that there is clearly one side that is right, I will dispute that.

Lee on objections from his former Image colleagues, Eric Stephenson and Erik Larsen:

Lee: [Laughs] Image has their model and strategy—I helped them invent it so I know what it is. If you want to get heard you say it in the most polarizing way possible.

Lee on the new material in general:

Lee: I guarantee you that every single one of these creators that’s working on these books, think they can outdo — match or outdo — what was done in the original.

Ugh.

Look, we’ve spoken to several of the people working on the BefWatch stuff. We’re in a difficult position because so many of them are very very good friends of ours. It is painful when you disagree with someone you like and respect. SO…that said…

Of course, it is great that everyone working on these books wants to do their best. They are, to a man and woman, the kind of people who ALWAYS do their best. So it’s nice that they think they can…outdo WATCHMEN.

A book that is taught in college courses across the nation. That was named to Time’s Best 100 Novels of the last 100 years. That remains DC’s best selling graphic novel ever.

I know some of you don’t like WATCHMEN, so this is not an argument for you.

For others, well…it’s not saying, “We’re going to outdo John Gardner’s James Bond books!”

It’s “We’re going to outdo Moby Dick!”

I actually know a couple of the BefWatch creators who do think they are improving on the original. I think some of the others would be horrified and depressed by such a statement. It’s not a winning situation.

From talking to some people at DC, I understand their viewpoint here: There is room in the canon for interpretation. Maybe DARK KNIGHT RETURNS was the best Batman story…does that mean there should never be another Batman story?

I find these faulty analogies. People since DARK KNIGHT have not been doing Batman stories just in the DKR universe, with 16-panel grids and a blue/grey color scheme. DKR is a very specific work, as is HUSH, or THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS by Chris Nolan, or BATMAN: NOEL by Lee Bermejo.

As for the first, it is expressly against the will of the co-creator of the work—the guy who invented the characters, the guy who changed comics forever, that guy there in the corner—that this is being done. A man who feels he has been cheated.

A man who was cheated.

JMS admitted as much in Chicago:

“Did Alan Moore get a crummy contract? Yes. So has everyone at this table. Worse was Segal and Shuster, worse was a lot of people.”


This has to be the dumbest defense of all. “Well, this beating wasn’t as bad as the other one, and didn’t break any bones, so it’s okay and let’s just look the other way anyway because Alan Moore is a cranky middle aged man.”

Really?

As we keep saying, is ANYONE surprised that Adam Hughes art looks good? As people keep pointing out, the quality of the work is not the issue….it’s that it exists at all.

There is one smallish group that is thrilled about BEFORE WATCHMEN, and that’s retailers. Several upped their already large orders after seeing the preview stuff.

BEFORE WATCHMEN is going to sell a lot of copies and make a lot of money for DC/Time Warner. And all the talk about creativity and who got screwed isn’t going to cover up the fact that WATCHMEN remains one of the best selling graphic novels of recent times.

Anyway, anyone who doesn’t think that is the main reason behind this, call me. I have some Louisiana land I’m dying to sell to you.

Comments

  1. AndyG says:

    Was it a mistake for Chris to discuss his objections in public or was it courage?

  2. CagedLeo730 says:

    Is it courage if you have nothing to lose? He stood for what he believed in but he isn’t a struggling artist.

  3. Right on, Beat … agree with your overall take on this.

  4. KirbyMonster says:

    I think one of the reason’s Roberson chose to speak out was because he was working on a title that he had created and belonged to him. Fables also was a creator owned property that he came in to write stories for. I think to him the Moore contract seems more applicable to his situation than if he was on a book like Superman or something that he doesn’t own or have a friend that does.

  5. Let me make a bold prediction and say that these books are going to be right up there with WOLVERINE: THE ORIGIN.

  6. For the millionth time…Alan Moore signed the contract…why is this even an issue? He didn’t hire an agent, get an outside opinion…he signed a contract and has spent the last twenty years whining about it. Only on comics do these things never end. Nobody made him sign the deal. He did and just won’t shut up. DC is 100% on the right here or Moore would be suing them.

  7. RegularSyzedMike says:

    Spot on, the Beat!

    It’s a shame that this whole release will be geared towards people who would push children aside just to get to the shiny toys and comic books they want.

  8. jaroslav hasek says:

    but will this in anyway affect the production of Watchbabies in: V for Vacation?

  9. Everyone talks about Alan Moore’s opinion in regards to all of this, but no one discusses Dave Gibbons’. I have zero knowledge of what his opinion is, but what if he disagrees with Moore? Does Moore carry more weight than Gibbons?

  10. Greg Morrow says:

    Alex, “legal” is not the same as “moral”. No one disputes that DC has the legal right.

  11. horatio weisfeld says:

    Lee: I guarantee you that every single one of these creators that’s working on these books, think they can outdo — match or outdo — what was done in the original.

    >>

    Don’t stop now Jim– go for it:

    HOLY BIBLE 2

  12. Yes, there are people who dispute that DC has the legal right, feeling that the contract does not represent a meeting of the minds as a proper enforceable contract does.

    As for Holy Bible 2, it’s been done. It was called The New Testament, and many people thinks it outstrips the original.

  13. I wonder if this much attention was given to Kirby who built the marvel universe yet was trying to earn money in animation while his creations became worldwide icons. At least Moore still gets publishing royalties. There were some real creators who got really screwed (remember the big bill finger kefuffle when dark knight came out? I don’t either). Yet avengers is coming out and I have yet to hear marvel acknowledge Kirby. I don’t get why some get deranged about this when there are far worse cases. Hundreds of people got shafted before the original watchmen was printed. I know that Moore is probably has more star power and there was the Simpsons gag. But I don’t know I feel many are very selective with what they boycott. Ive pretty much steered clear of the big 2 anyway, but i wonder if we are going to revisit this every time any piece of BW news comes out. It’s kinda getting tiring. And an obvious target.

  14. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Alex, if you are familiar with the situation, you will discover that the management at DC with whom Alan Moore was in discussion over the Watchmen deal were telling him something quite different than what was in the contract.

    They were making assurances for things which were not covered in the contract.

    In all the various stories, we are told that Alan felt that– being DC’s superstar writer at that time (and he definitely was)– DC had no reason to lie to him or screw him over.

    He made the decision to take these people at their word and trust what they were telling him.

    And, of course, snakes always rely on the legal distinction between what was said and what was written.

    This is obviously immoral behavior. It makes a mockery of the law by using it as a player in your deceit.

    I see, in the argument that you are making, a tacit approval of that behavior.

  15. Carlton Donaghe says:

    “As for Holy Bible 2, it’s been done. It was called The New Testament, and many people thinks it outstrips the original.”

    Holy shit, Nat, that’s funny.

    I was talking to some folks who tell me the sequel to the Quran’s better, too.

  16. jaroslav hasek says:

    speaking of impossible squeals, Hamlet 2 was actually a pretty decent movie.

  17. Dwayne Duggard says:

    @ Nat Gertler: Just to split hairs off track, and because Jewish culture is deeply embedded in the DNA of the art form this blog celebrates, the New Testament is actually the (EXTREMELY unauthorized) Torah 2, not the Holy Bible 2. Put the NT together with a reformatted version of the Torah and you have yourself a Holy Bible.

    But people who claim to be in the know say that Holy Bible 2: Judgment Day should be here any day now.

  18. It’s TESTAMENT II: SON OF GOD!

    kdb

  19. horatio weisfeld says:

    As for Holy Bible 2, it’s been done. It was called The New Testament

    >>

    Yeah, yeah -whatever.

    Only Jim Lee and his team can tell us what happens after that.

  20. Moore signed a contract, maybe a one-sided contract, but a contract nonetheless. DC, a division of Time-Warner, is obligated to its parent company and by extension to its shareholders to maximize profits by exploiting the properties it owns. That’s what corporations do. If you don’t want that for your characters, your creations, stay the hell away from them. If they eat you alive and spit you out, don’t say you weren’t warned. They can also make you a lot of money, make you famous, but you will lose control of your baby.

    As for other interpretations of his work — that’s been going on for years to other great works. For example: there’s been countless different versions of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and many movie adaptations after his death — why should Watchmen be exempt from exploration or additional material? Does the newer material diminish Arthur Conan Doyle’s work? Actually, it keeps Sherlock fresh, as in the recent PBS series. How many Tarzans have there been? How many Draculas?

    There are many people who got screwed over in the comics business, but I have a hard time feeling sorry for Moore. He knew the history of comic creators, and he still signed on the dotted line. If he were such a righteous dude, why did he ever get involved with DC in the first place? He knew how poorly Siegal and Schuster were treated, yet he ignored that and wound up with raw deal — what a surprise. Moore made a deal with the Devil, and the Devil always wins, because… well, because he’s the Devil. What do you think the “D” stands for in DC comics?

  21. @Alex The difference between the typical comic contract ignorance, and Moore’s is that DC is keeping Watchmen in print specifically to keep the rights away from Alan Moore. Moore’s contract specifies that the rights to his story shall return to him once the book goes “out of print” Every book goes out of print, The Dark Knight has been out of print a few times over the years.

    This is a case in which a company is plainly using loopholes to avoid granting a creator his rights. Rather than waving a contract in the face of Kirby, or Siegel. There are some cynical rumors, and conspiracy theories going around that DC will publish a few thousand copies of Watchmen, and store them in a garage simply to say the book is “currently in print”. Or promote the book at college campuses as curricular reading to keep demand, and print high.

  22. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Citizen Cliff, you’ve just made the perfect argument for why corporations should not have free speech, have the right to lobby or petition congress, or any of the other rights or freedoms granted to human beings by the US Constitution: They are not people, corporations are amoral entities designed only to devour.

    That is, Galactus.

  23. Oh, yeah, WHAT can they do? They have a contract. They HAVE to do a sequel and pay Alan exactly what they owe according to the terms of said contract.

    In the immortal words of John Stossel, GIVE ME A BREAK! And, his name is MR. MOORE. Show SOME SORT of respect!

  24. horatio weisfeld says:

    DC, a division of Time-Warner, is obligated to its parent company and by extension to its shareholders to maximize profits by exploiting the properties it owns.

    >>

    Really, CitizenCliff?

    And were were maximizing profits when they merged with Time, etc.—or bought AOL? Remember after that one – when the stock got maximized down from about $60 to about $5. I think the value the combined co fell about.. 100 billion?

    Can you explain to me how the wizards at Warner, who created about the biggest fiasco in business history, by having no real plans on how to integrate TW into AOL, are now protecting shareholders value in annoying top creatives by playing them for chumps ?

    I once read a long article (in one of the conservative financial papers) that explained how this company has been on something like a merger spree since it was just Warner Bros -Basically merging left and right, while creating little or no share holder value.

    Conclusion: If you have been holding this company’s shares for the last 20 years, then you have lost most of your money.

    Go ahead…Make my day.

  25. Joe S. Walker says:

    Actually, BIBLE TWO was the title of a novel by Jonathan King, British pop music performer, producer and impresario (and recipient in 2001 of a seven-year prison sentence for molesting teenage boys).

  26. The more I read interviews with DC brass, the more I want to stop buying their books. I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work.

  27. So much to delve into here.

    Let say Alan Moore did hire an agent or lawyer back in the 80s and asked for the contract to be renegotiated to his favor. Would DC have done that? Did they have a history of doing that back then?

    If not then the whole ‘he believed our lies and signed the contract so HA HA fuck you’ mantra is a moot point. Either Watchmen wouldn’t exist (at DC, or at all) or we’d have the same situation.

    And I’m really not sure what other ‘information’ (ie lame justifications) we need to hear from DC.

    Alan is the writer and co-creator of Watchmen and if he says he doesn’t want this done, then what else is there to consider for this to be against his wishes?

    Does DC have some secret information that says what they are doing is really respectful and in full cooperation with Alan’s desires? Come on.

    Also, Roberson didn’t say he was against DC’s principles. He said “I don’t agree with the way they treat other creators and their general business practices.”

    That this hurts the moral at DC is a good thing. Maybe one day they’ll decide shitting on the people who generated literally billions of dollars for them (Moore, Siegel and Shuster, etc..) is not the proper way to create creators and is not good business practice.

    Because the next creator of Alan Moore’s talent probably won’t work for them. I mean, why on Earth would they?

  28. Toby, I think you’re mixing up the phrases “out of print” and “out of stock,” which is when a book is between printings and temporarily unavailable. DC has no need to artificially keep WATCHMEN in print; the book is a perennial seller, as it’s considered one of the classics of the medium. DC is simply acting the way any book publisher would, by going back to print again and again on a popular title. The contract is an issue because, before WATCHMEN (so to speak), DC didn’t have a trade paperback backlist of any size, so there was no reason for the creators to expect the book to remain in print.

    And I have NO wish to take sides on the “Before Watchmen” situation, but: I highly recommend Toby Cypress comics to anyone on either side of the issue.

  29. Rich at 7:45 has it EXACTLY

    Why divide the only audience you have left?

    Great op-ed.

  30. saipaman says:

    Buy it or don’t buy it, but please stop talking about it.

  31. Apollo9000 says:

    “You better pay Bigs’ mama for using his lyrics” – Tony Starks

  32. horatio weisfeld says:

    Buy it or don’t buy it, but please stop talking about it.

    >>

    I think you have a point.

  33. Couple of notes:

    1. The idea that WATCHMEN would have gone out of print by now if DC weren’t conspiring to keep it dishonestly in print is nonsense. “Out of print” has a specific definition in any publishing contract, and even if DC temporarily ran out of copies, they’d have time to print more before the clause triggered. WATCHMEN is still in print because it keeps selling. This is not unheard-of: The publishing rights to CARRIE are still with Doubleday because it’s been selling for longer than WATCHMEN, and CARRIE isn’t the record-holder by any stretch, either.

    The point in dispute is that it was unheard-of at the time for a book like WATCHMEN to stay in print like that; DC was very much a periodical-based publisher back then, and no one, on either side, expected this result. That’s why Alan feels deceived — he thinks that they were agreeing to give the rights back in a year or so, and they probably thought so too, at the time. So what happened doesn’t match what he feels the intent of the deal was.

    [Also, printing up a bunch of copies and stashing them in a garage doesn’t make a book “in print,” not if you’re not making them available for sale. “In print” doesn’t merely mean that copies exist, it means that copies are available to the book trade.]

    2. The idea that DC is obligated to do WATCHMEN spin-offs due to their fiduciary duty to Warners stockholders is nonsense, too. Paul Levitz spent decades not doing them, after all. And surely if that’s the case, they’d be obligated to do a POWER COMPANY trade paperback, since it’d surely make some money, and if it makes money they’re obligated to chase it, whatever the project, merely because they can. Publishing and fiduciary responsibility don’t work that way. [If they did, the shareholders might have grounds to complain that annoying Moore to the point that he left, thus costing them all those TWILIGHT profits, was a fiduciary failure.]

    They’re choosing to do it because they have the legal right to and want to make money that way, not because they’re obligated to make money that way. They could try making money some other way, after all, as they have every year prior to this.

    3. I actually think that this is less about fans embracing companies over creators than it is about fans embracing whoever they see as the “caretaker.” As Ed Brubaker has pointed out, when a BUFFY remake that Joss Whedon wasn’t involved in or consulted on was in development, fans loudly sided with Joss. And I’d bet that if Alan and Dave wanted to do a WATCHMEN sequel and DC was preventing them from doing it, the fans would be overwhelmingly on the side of the creators, and DC would be horrible monsters for not acceding to the creators’ wishes.

    But Alan clearly isn’t going to do more WATCHMEN, so that makes DC the caretaker, in fan eyes, and the caretaker giving them more comics they like gets their vote. Sometimes, it’s not even about comics they like — the Siegel/Shuster lawsuits and Kirby case threaten (at least in some minds) the continued existence of the DC or Marvel Universes as fans know them, so they want that noise to stop, even when they’re loudly unhappy with the publishers over other things. If Superman can be taken away, that breaks the toys. The caretaker gets the loyalty, not the person who threatens the toys, even if it’s imaginary.

    This works out in the creator’s benefit when the creator is seen as an active caretaker, in the company’s benefit when the company is seen that way. Note that Spawn fans largely seem to think Neil Gaiman was a twerp who should be kicked downstairs for threatening to break up the Spawniverse, and Neil fans who didn’t care so much about the integrity of Spawn canon had no problem with it.

    In the end, it’s all a big hellacious mess, and a warning that however far we’ve come since 1938, it’s still worth being very, very careful, or even with well-meaning people on all sides, you can create a hellacious mess.

  34. Shannon OLeary says:

    Of note: In panel, when asked by crack reporter Geoff Boucher of the venerable LA Times which Watchmen characters Lee and Didio most identified with – Didio picked The Comedian and Lee picked Ozymandias. Boucher replied, “So you’re the psychopath and you’re the sociopath!” to Didio and Lee respectively. And they all laughed and laughed and laughed…

    That panel was a totally gross bro fest and PR love in as opposed to an actual discussion.

    Also, with all due respect to my colleagues at CBR and Collider (both of whom did TOTALLY AWESOME write-ups, btw), I think it’s fair to say that I was THE ONLY person in the room who asked “tough” questions, at least when it came to creator rights and the Roberson debacle.

    I was also the only person who raised their hand with a definitive no at the end when we were asked by Didio who would and wouldn’t be buying the books.

    After that, Lee suggested that I digitally steal them, which seems in keeping with his code of comics honor.

    Since I probably won’t be getting invited to anymore DC PR events anytime soon, I sincerely hope other press folks will keep the uglier side of the Before Watchmen discussion going when given the opportunity.

  35. Toby:

    “Every book goes out of print, The Dark Knight has been out of print a few times over the years. ”

    No, that’s not what “out of print” means — that’s “between printings”.

    Dark Knight hasn’t been OOP, ever, and it’s unlikely to ever be so.

    I’d be fairly certain that any reversion rights in the contract are specifically spelled out as to how long the book needs to be off the market to actually consist of “out of print”. Without every having seen that contract, I’m willing to bet that this is expressed in a period of YEARS not months (or as you’re trying to suggest) mere weeks.

    We can certainly look towards other creators who have reversion clauses in their creator-owned work, and I’d say that we’re probably normally looking at periods of 5 – 7 years.

    Citizen Cliff:

    “there’s been countless different versions of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and many movie adaptations AFTER HIS DEATH — why should Watchmen be exempt from exploration or additional material? ”

    I bolded what I think is likely the most significant difference. (that and “public domain”, but whatevs)

    -B

  36. blacaucasian says:

    @Kurt Busiek – Well said as always sir.

  37. Damnit, Busiek has a point! DC, make good with Moore and put on a REAL summer event, TWILIGHT OF THE GODS!

    I would buy that. Every issue. Twice.

  38. Ed Brubaker says:

    The main problem I have with this whole thing, is that the summer Watchmen was announced was the same summer that pros and fans rallied around Jack Kirby, it was the beginning of the “creators bill of rights” and many other things. And in that summer, DC touted Watchmen as a victory for creators rights.

    They proclaimed that the creators would own it and have control, that this was a new era, not like what happened to Siegel and Shuster, to Kirby, to countless comics creators that came before. They were saying DC was better than the other publishers by giving this great deal to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

    Now it turns out, that’s not the case, and it’s just like all the others that came before, and they’re acting like they never said that.

    I don’t care what’s in the contract, I don’t have any animosity for my friends and peers working on these books. And I totally understand why DC is doing it, and that they have the right to.

    But I was there when they announced it, and I remember how they talked about it then, and say whatever you want about Marvel and Kirby, etc. But no one ever held up the Avengers as a victory for creators rights.

  39. Chris Hero says:

    I have never read any of Toby Cypress’s comics. I’m also not up to snuff of Matthew Southworth’s work. Rather than wringing our hands over this mess, can someone please point me in the direction of works from both gentlemen? I think we need like a Beat support group where we buy and discuss the works of the people who comment on here. (I bought some Bomb Queen trades!)

    As for the idea of BW work outdoing the original…James Joyce and F Scott Fitzgerald wrote better novels than Moby Dick, so it can be done. But in both cases, they did it by making something new. I think that’s really important. I think new properties highlight new storytelling techniques because they’re not forcing a comparison to what was done before.

  40. Chris Hero says:

    @Apollo9000

    Ghostface Killa lines, and handles referencing the guy, are always made of win!

  41. Good point, Bru!

    FYI, Scott Amundson has awesome comics, too! BARBARIAN is on comiXology and KRAK is soon to come to comiXology and the comics shop. I also have a kickstarter linked up for anyone who REALLY wants to support independent creators.

    Cheers!

  42. kingmaker says:

    bottom line for me , the 1st Watchmen series pretty much paid for my home , i will be purchasing many many multiples of these prequels as a thank you to DC

  43. Thanks Kurt, and Brian. Best clarification I’ve seen yet explaining Watchmen’s complexities.

    I wasn’t there obviously, but it seems to me Alan Moore had tried to broker a contract reflecting a typical literary contract he was familiar with, if only for his personal interests, however many creators have held up his efforts as progress for creator’s rights.

    With the symbolism of this contract, even if unwarranted, why would successful creators want to touch the Watchmen property, and risk outrage from their peers?

    Alan Moore has explained that he believes the book is intentionally kept in print to avoid releasing the rights of his story to him. I always believed DC felt he had a case which is why they have always handled Watchmen with kids gloves. Maybe Before Watchmen is DC’s way of saying Alan Moore does not have a case at all. No more kids gloves.

    If so, why would creators want to be portrayed as taking sides?

  44. blacaucasian says:

    @Chris Hero – Matthew draws Stumptown with Greg Rucka. Great stuff.

  45. Matthew Southworth says:

    Thanks, Chris, for asking about my and Toby’s work. And thank you, blacaucasian, for the recommendation!

    Toby, who draws like he’s on fire, has done a number of books, including THE TOURIST with Brian Wood. But his magnum opus and his ongoing creator-owned project is RODD RACER, which he writes and draws, and which as far as I know you can only buy from him directly.

    Toby’s artwork is fucking amazing and makes me sad that I’ve wasted my life. Needless to say, I recommend it highly.

    As far as my own work, there’s STUMPTOWN with Greg Rucka and various fill-in projects for Marvel, like some work on THUNDERBOLTS with Jeff Parker and SPIDER-GIRL with Paul Tobin, and I’ve just put out a small sample of a larger project I’m writing and drawing called DAY FOR NIGHT.

    Thanks for asking, Chris!

  46. darren witt says:

    first of all, nice article. i agree with some of it, disagree with other bits. that seems fair.

    also, i have almost ZERO interest in these books. not sure i will never read them, but 99% chance i won’t BUY them. i love libraries!

    however, you say:

    “There is one smallish group that is thrilled about Before Watchmen, and that’s retailers.”

    and, well, unless retailers are reaaaly far off of their preorders, i don’t think we can properly stat that:

    only (my word, but implied by your text) “one smallish group… is thrilled”

    maybe thrilled is too strong to apply to the buyers/readers, but if that many of the books are ordered AND sell, then maybe there is at lest 2 groups that are thrilled? retailers and readers?

    cheers,

    dw

  47. Irwin Schwab says:

    One difference between Before Watchmen and a Power Company collection is that I would buy a Power Company collection.

  48. @William Harms

    I’ve brought up Gibbons before, here and elsewhere. He has given his approval, but no one cares. Apparently his “co-creator” status is only honorary. He’s just the guy who drew th pictures, after all.

  49. Moroney says:

    To bring up a point/question about the true originality of Watchmen in general: wasn’t Moore working on how to update/integrate the Charlton heroes into the DCU? As revolutionary as Watchmen is – isn’t it a deconstruction others’ ideas (as opposed to creations from Kirby and others)? I would almost say that most of Moore’s “classic” works are built off other’s IP. By no means is that a criticism (his work is in some cases the best stories those characters/archetypes have had) – but does point out the hypocrisy in some of his arguments. The contract issues are seperate issues.

  50. I just don’t appreciate the tone of everyone involved. Not that Watchmen is this amazing thing that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created, it’s, oh, well Alan should have read his contract. That’s nice. Happy that To Kill a Mocking Bird wasn’t originally a comic because we’d have the secret origin of Boo, Atticus’ first case, etc.

    “Forget it Jake, it’s comics.”

  51. Moroney says:

    Please forgive typos;) written from my phone…

    Main point/question is: who’s idea was it to update the Charlton characters into what became Watchmen (assume Moore … but…) and should we be also talking about their original creators (or Ditko for that matter)…

  52. Is there a creators Bill of Rights for the Charlton creators who created these characters originally, before Moore changed them into WATCHMEN? Same for Mort Weisinger and the Superman teams who were continually ripped off by Moore in SUPREME (which Eric Larsen is now using again)? I guess Ed Brubaker is okay with writing one of the comics creations that ripped off Jack Kirby as well. Face it people – this is an argument that no one can win. It will continually be argued through time, as creators revisit the work of previous creators and use their creations to generate new material. And, I might add, WATCHMEN was the work of TWO creators, not just one, and Dave Gibbons had desired to do something with the characters for years. I think he was happy with what he contributed to the movie and now would like to move on. Kind of like the rest of us should in terms of discussing this now incredibly tired topic.

  53. >> To bring up a point/question about the true originality of Watchmen in general: wasn’t Moore working on how to update/integrate the Charlton heroes into the DCU? >>

    Big deal. He and Dave started out with that, but were asked to change it, and came up with new characters, who, as they developed, became clearly their own thing.

    Max Allan Collins started out modeling his books on Donald Westlake’s “Parker” novels, but Collins still owns them. Building on inspiration isn’t somehow not-creation, unless you want to claim that Superman and Batman shouldn’t be owned by DC because they were inspired by other, pre-existing characters.

    DC clearly felt the characters were different enough that they offered a contract giving Alan and Dave ownership (under circumstances that may never happen, but they didn’t know that). If the company that owns the Blue Beetle thinks Night Owl is a new and different character, surely that means something.

    The whole “the project started out as something else, so it’s hypocrisy to treat these new characters as new characters, even the Minutemen and so forth” argument has no legs. It’s a rationalization, a way to gripe about Alan that wouldn’t even come up if people were talking about other characters.

  54. Thanks Matthew! I LOVE STUMPTOWN!

    I have a sense that there are people working in comics who would rather not compete with a creator owned industry. I think it’s starting to become divisive, and the statements by Jim Lee, DiDio, and JMS have given rationale to their argument.

    Comics are unfair.

    It’s part of our current identity struggle. The concept of corporations becoming more powerful than small countries.

    None of these people seem to address the medium of comics. They use Alan Moore as an example of what’s wrong in comics.

    Maybe they forget what it’s like to be creative.

  55. >> Is there a creators Bill of Rights for the Charlton creators who created these characters originally, before Moore changed them into WATCHMEN?>>

    The Charlton characters are still there. They got changed into different versions of themselves, but they didn’t get changed into the Watchmen. Some of the Watchmen characters were created to replace them in the planned story.

    If they were in fact the Charlton characters still, underneath, then DC would be in trouble, because they don’t own Peter Cannon, and thus couldn’t use Ozymandias. But they’re not.

    I think it would be lovely if the creators of the Question, the Blue Beetle and so forth got paid when DC uses them, though. That would be very nice.

  56. >> One difference between Before Watchmen and a Power Company collection is that I would buy a Power Company collection.>>

    I wouldn’t! Bah! I’d not spend a dime on them!

    [I’d get a box of them for free, mind you…]

    >> I’ve brought up Gibbons before, here and elsewhere. He has given his approval, but no one cares. Apparently his “co-creator” status is only honorary. He’s just the guy who drew th pictures, after all.>>

    I’ve brought up Dave before, too — the fact that he has equal standing with Alan and doesn’t have the same stance is part of what makes it all a mess.

    But yes, he seems to be roundly ignored. So does David Lloyd.

    kdb

  57. Matthew Southworth says:

    Kurt’s right–the straw man argument that “these were based on Charlton characters” is total nonsense. Yes, originally the idea was Moore and Gibbons were going to do something with the Charlton characters that DC had obtained license to or ownership of.

    But the Watchmen characters are no more derivative of the Charlton characters than Jim Rockford is a ripoff of Poe’s Auguste Dupin. The characters do not require any knowledge of and make no reference to the Charlton characters–the Question’s mother was not a prostitute and he didn’t split the head of a dog, etc.

    Were the piece more directly representative of those characters, you might have something like Paul Grist’s wonderful JACK STAFF, where he has a Captain America analogue named “Sgt States” and Jack Staff himself is a pastiche of Union Jack. That’s a very entertaining book that stands on its own but is clearly intended to be informed by the reader’s knowledge and love of other characters.

    Moore and Gibbons created a piece that is substantial not solely because of its characters but because of its structure and intent. THAT is what is being violated by the usage of the characters outside that context. Serial superhero comic books are generally created as action figures thrown into “cataclysm of the month” and are designed for that sort of flexibility…it’s why they never age, for example.

    But WATCHMEN was a complete piece in and of itself, designed meticulously and executed to its end (come on, there’s no such thing as 13 o’clock, 14 o’clock, etc., Dukes of Stratosphear be damned–and there’s an obscure reference for ya). In some ways, utilizing the characters outside of that structure is as sensible as copying the wallpaper pattern from Buckingham Palace for your dining room and claiming you live just like the royals.

  58. Matthew Southworth says:

    P.S. Read JACK STAFF!

  59. Moroney says:

    Bringing up Charlton is not to say that Watchmen is not more than valid on its own (clearly more people know Watchmen now)…but does bring up some of the hypocrisy from the other side (Moore). In the same way the Parker novels have been adapted by other creators, why should Watchmen be different. I get the contract issues. I wish (personally) that it was not being done without Moore’s blessing – but I’m sure Stroker, Wells and Ditko (and others) wish they had a say in how Moore “evolved” their works as well.

  60. Do I really want to respond? Ohh, it’s such a long dark hole…

    Kurt hit all the salient points regarding copyright of course, no news there. Just salient wisdom.

    Ed Brubaker follows through with some really pithy memories of how the age of Watchmen ushered in an age of disenchantment. Agreed. As both writers point out, Paul Levitz held a very difficult line in favor of the singular artistic statement of WATCHMEN for a very long time. And god bless him for that amongst the many other things.

    But this does NOT need to happen. This new work will in no way invigorate the product other than to piss fans of the original work off. Really, what’s the worth of these new series? Help to sell a product that is already selling? Well this project has proven to be such a stumble from the original that I can’t believe anyone will see these as “a real WATCHMEN story”. So why bother doing it, DC? For the opportunity to say it’s yours?

    Go ahead and enjoy that arrogance while you can..

  61. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Moroney–IT’S NOT FUCKING HYPOCRISY! to say that you are given a job based on one set of parameters, then make something new.

    He did not EVOLVE their works–The Question was put into his own series, as was Captain Atom, as was Blue Beetle, etc., and those series had nothing whatsoever to do with Watchmen.

    For someone to tell me, “hey, would you record a cover of “I’ll Be Back” by the Beatles?” and then say, “no, changed our mind, write something new”–that’s not “adapting” a Beatles song, it’s a new piece.

  62. Ed Brubaker says:

    JW – For your information, Joe Simon and Kirby’s family settled with Marvel over Captain America (which Simon claims more credit for creating, by the way) before I ever got the gig. That part of writing Captain America makes me happy, yes, and that it says Created by Simon and Kirby in the credits every month.

  63. Ed Brubaker says:

    Matt – In the back of the Absolute Watchmen, you can see that Moore had the idea for Watchmen and was originally planning to use the MLJ heroes, because he was simply looking for basic golden and silver age superhero stereotypes to insert into his idea.

  64. Bible 2 … would that be the Book of Mormon? You know? Where Jesus came over to America and did stuff?

  65. Alan still gets money from WATCHMEN?! Really? Wow! Because I remeber him saying that he signed over all the rights to any residuals to Dave Gibbons as he did with DAvid Lloyd and V for Vendetta ( especially after he saw what the Warchawski Brothers had done to it) and as far as I’m aware with the rights of From Hell ( I think the money goes to Eddie Campbell…though what residuals there were from the God awful abortion of a movie, I have no idea).

    As much as I love Dave and his work, I’m pretty sure that knowing the “Alan Moore way of Writing”, Dave pretty much drew what he wrote on the paper, that doesn’t mean to belittle the fact that Dave had to intepret those ideas and make the physical and mental effort to get them down on paper. But Alan probably (naïvely) thought that he was dealing with decent folk back at DC then. He probably was, Paul Levitz kept his word about not exploiting the properties, then he left and didio rubbed his sweaty palms together and said “Right! Let’s rape this fucker!”

    No wonder DC/Warner have Lee and Didio in charge, two yes-saying dumbasses is just what you want when you want to exploit the shit out of talented people. DC/Warner are now owned by Hollywood and they’ve been sucking the creative juices out of talent for over 100 years!

    Thank you Chris Roberson for being the only creator with the gonads to tell the talent-suckers to go fuck themselves(in so many words).

  66. Ed Brubaker says:

    And Watchmen wasn’t something he was assigned, it was an idea he brought to DC.

  67. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Alistair–he didn’t give away rights to publishing royalties; he has given away ancillary royalties from films, etc. He believes (rightly) that he deserves to be paid for the work he did but doesn’t want anything to do with the films.

  68. This is a tangled web and people are really going down a lot of paths. LEt’s rewind a little bit.

    The contract that Moore and Gibbons signed is actually pretty standard in publishing — the rights revert when it goes out of print. Pretty common.

    Where it differs is in this: In the book publishing world, in general, when an author such as Alan Moore writes a worldwide smash that is quickly enshrined as a future classic….you try to keep that person working or you so you can make even more money off their future works.

    DC, for reasons probably buried in their DNA from Jack Liebowitz, proceeded to alienate Moore by chintzing him on merchandise monies, and then subsequently alienating him by making him change The Cobweb stories and trashing an entire print run of LoeG.

    Is Moore a high maintenance creator? Absolutely.

    But you’ll note that the main Reason Diane Nelson, DC’s current president, was given reign over the company is because she was so good at handling another very high maintenance creator, J.K. Rowling.

    Would WB treat Rowling the way DC treated Moore?

    I don’t think so.

    No one at DC is an evil, money grubbing Mr. Burns. But I do think that “The company is always right, and creators are expendable” is in the DNA of the legacy publishers Marvel, DC and Archie. People who want to change that may come and go, but Siegel and Shuster really was the original sin of the comics industry.

  69. >> In the same way the Parker novels have been adapted by other creators, why should Watchmen be different. >>

    In the same way? You mean, by being inspired by WATCHMEN to create something new, as Max Allan Collins was inspired by the Parker novels to create the Nolan novels? Go right ahead. People were doing it all the time in the late Eighties.

    Or do you mean in the way that, say, THE HUNTER (the first of the Parker novels) was adapted into movies like POINT BLANK and PAYBACK? The answer there is that the author was all for it, liking the checks it brought in.

    Or maybe you think that doing new characters and stories inspired by the Parker novels is “the same” as doing BEFORE PARKER, about his younger days. But no one’s done that.

    People keep trying to draw frankly absurd equivalences between using public-domain characters to do something transformative and different (LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN is not an attempt to extend the Allan Quatermain brand by doing prequels, and neither is LOST GIRLS an attempt to rope in all those PETER PAN fans with “more like that stuff you loved”) and doing faithful prequels to work that, when it was done, everyone thought would be in the control of the creators, against one of those creators’ wishes. But those aren’t the same things, unless you’re deliberately simplistic and uncomprehending about it.

    Argue that DC has the legal right to do it, fine, but if you argue that Alan did the same thing by doing very different things with characters in different circumstances, you make no sense at all. If H. Rider Haggard was out there asking people not to use his characters, and it was through an odd stroke of circumstance that Allan Quatermain wasn’t in his control (rather than, say, the copyright expiring decades ago), then it might be a parallel. But he isn’t and it isn’t.

    Stoker and Wells are dead. Their works are in the public domain, and I doubt they or Alan would argue that copyright should last over a century. Ditko might (if he were inclined, which he’s not) gripe about what DC chooses to do with the Question, but he wouldn’t think he has any ownership of Rorschach, any more than Charlton or DC has any claim over Mr. A, who was created so that Ditko could tell stories he couldn’t tell with the Question any more.

    kdb

  70. I don’t care about who technically is right or wrong. This is like that whole I can’t define pornography but I know it when I see it. This is wrong, plain wrong it flies in the face of common decency and can’t be seen as anything other than a shameless money grab. I guess I should not be surprised, after all it pretty much sums up what we are as a people… I just still like to think of comics as a place that doesn’t exist but I am wrong and naive. It has been this way since Siegel and Shuster and none of it will ever change……

  71. I’m very skeptical of the notion that DC is going to make a lot of money doing this. I think they will lose their shirts; not because of the obvious complete lack of ethics they are displaying, but because the comics will inevitably be uninspired and boring. Regardless, I can’t imagine they wouldn’t have made more money giving the same creators the same money and publicity to create original works… and they may have even published something worth reading. As it is, they have made such a stink in the air by publicly pissing on Alan Moore that I don’t know if I’ll ever buy another comic they publish. There are so many good comics out there by companies that don’t rape the talent, why waste the money on DC books?

  72. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Ed–point taken. But I’d assume that was due in part to DC’s having control of those characters, and when he was asked (or chose, whichever) not to use the Charlton characters, in my mind the scale, scope, structure and character of WATCHMEN took flight.

    I think the arguments that Steve Ditko might be angry, etc., for what Moore did to the Charlton characters would hold water–had Moore done work featuring the Charlton characters (more directly, how did Ditko feel about O’Neil and Cowan’s work?). I don’t think he violated or affected the Question or Captain Atom in any way, since the final work bore no overt reference to those characters.

  73. It’s worth noting that one of the reasons Darwyn Cooke was so excited about doing his PARKER comics adaptations is that he had Donald Westlake’s blessing. And got to consult directly with him before Westlake died.

  74. Sorry, I should have said “put out by companies that don’t rape the talent.” As any ninny knows, companies can’t write comics.

  75. Ed – love your work, so I hate to perpetuate this argument, but do you consider this being a win for Jack Kirby’s family?

    http://www.deadline.com/2011/07/breaking-marvel-wins-summary-judgments-in-jack-kirby-estate-rights-lawsuits/

    I still struggle with the revisionist work of a writer using the creations of others to build their own creations, and then expecting full credit for them, even though an artist did as much of the heavy lifting and seems to be left out of the decision making as well. Also, I’ve heard Dick Giordano and others tell the tale of Alan bringing the story to DC, but it was of the CHARLTON characters. Because of the aggressive nature of the story, Dick asked him to change the characters enough so that the Charlton characters could continue to be used by DC in the future, as Paul Levitz had purchased the Action heroes for Dick to use. Despite what the book states, I heard this story from these people when the original WATCHMEN books were released, at the San Diego Con back in the 80’s. I’ve even heard Moore himself tell the tale. He wrote Charlton characters and then rewrote it to change them enough so that Giordano was happy with the changes.

    Archetypes or not, they were still created by other people first, and WATCHMEN would have never been as powerful without Gibbons. That’s my problem with all of the focus on Moore, let alone this ridiculous attempt to grasp truth from a situation that occurred 25 years ago.

  76. Alistair:
    >> Because I remeber him saying that he signed over all the rights to any residuals to Dave Gibbons as he did with DAvid Lloyd and V for Vendetta >>

    You’re mistaken. He’s asked that his share of movie money be given to the artists. Not publishing royalties.

    >> I’m pretty sure that knowing the “Alan Moore way of Writing”, Dave pretty much drew what he wrote on the paper>>

    Then you don’t know the Alan Moore way of writing, if you think the artist has no input until those massive scripts land on their desks. Talk to Steve Bissette and Rick Veitch sometime about how many ideas of their turn up in SWAMP THING. Creators talk to each other and develop with each other, often before the first word is typed.

    Ace:
    >>The contract that Moore and Gibbons signed is actually pretty standard in publishing — the rights revert when it goes out of print. Pretty common. >>

    That bit is common, but not the bits where the publisher gets to do spinoffs by other authors. You don’t see John Saul writing BEFORE CARRIE on the grounds that the book’s still in print. That would be very, very non-standard.

    kdb

  77. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Steve Swalley–“uninspired and boring” never kept comics from selling through the roof. I think, frankly, regardless of which side of the fence we’re on, BEFORE WATCHMEN is bound to sell really well regardless of quality.

    If quality was the primary measure, the Hernandez Brothers, Chris Ware, and Brandon Graham would outsell most superhero books every time.

  78. Ed Brubaker says:

    Matt – You should read the document. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the creation process of one of the best the medium ever had.

  79. >> I’ve even heard Moore himself tell the tale. He wrote Charlton characters and then rewrote it to change them enough so that Giordano was happy with the changes.>>

    He (and Dave) started out with the MLJ characters, changed it to the Charlton characters to pitch it to DC, then changed them into new characters on request.

    That does not make them the Charlton characters any more than it makes them the MLJ characters. They were changed, fleshed out, developed into new characters. New enough that even the owners of the Charlton characters thought they counted as new characters.

    kdb

  80. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Ed–I’m prettttty sure I have, if it’s also in the old Graphitti leather-bound WATCHMEN (the first big-time expensive comic hardcover I ever bought, back when it first came out). But it has been well over a decade if so, so my recollection of it would be pretty hazy.

    I’ll check it out again.

  81. Matthew Southworth says:

    P.S. Read CRIMINAL, motherfuckers!

  82. @Matthew Southworth

    Certainly, people buy a lot of garbage. But lack of quality rarely makes people buy second issues.

    Also, Chris Ware and the Hernandez brothers do outsell most superhero comics at this point… huzzah!

  83. It strikes me that I have some directly-similar experience in creation.

    When I came up with the Power Company, I intended it as a Marvel book. I didn’t get anywhere with it at the time, so I reworked it into a creator-owned book. Didn’t get anywhere then, so I reworked it into a Marvel book again. That was put into development, but stalled, so I turned it into a creator-owned book again, and pitched it to Image. I wound up doping other things for them instead, and later turned the idea into a DC book. DC bought it.

    So does that mean Skyrocket is really Monica Rambeau, because at one point the story was pitched with her in that role? Or that Sapphire is Wildstreek? Or that Josiah Power is Jeryn Hogarth? How does DC get to own these Marvel characters?

    I’d say that regardless of the fact that the book was pitched with Marvel characters in the cast (and also worked out with other characters, too), the characters in it are new characters, not hypocritical facades that should truly belong to Roger Stern, Tom DeFalco, Chris Claremont and others.

    Because that’s what we do when we change plans. We rework, rebuild and make something else.

  84. Admittedly, the Power Company won’t stay in print forever, because the book ain’t no Watchmen.

    But DC’ll own them anyway, because that was both the deal (and the understanding) we had.

  85. When is Before Watchmen supposed to come out?
    I’ll be surprised if the series is ever finished.

  86. @toby cypress

    Q: “When is Before Watchmen supposed to come out?”

    A: Never.

  87. I repeat my earlier question: What about Dave Gibbons? There’s a lot of talk about Moore wanting the rights back, but does Gibbons? What if he’s perfectly happy accepting the royalties from DC and views them as a reliable stream of income?

    Does one co-creator owe the other co-creator the opportunity to benefit financially from the work even if he/she disagrees with what has happened to the work at the hands of the publisher?

  88. Matthew Southworth says:

    @William Harms–that’s a good question. Apparently Moore and Gibbons are no longer talking due to some of the hassles resulting from the Watchmen film, though my understanding is that Moore simply washed his hands of the film, giving Gibbons the film money.

    Many collaborative relationships fall apart over exactly this kind of stuff, of course, though this is a pretty high-profile example. I think the best situation would obviously be one in which each creator deferred to the other’s wishes on something like this, but that doesn’t always work out as in this instance.

  89. >> I repeat my earlier question: What about Dave Gibbons? There’s a lot of talk about Moore wanting the rights back, but does Gibbons? >>

    Dave is very diplomatic when discussing it.

    >> Does one co-creator owe the other co-creator the opportunity to benefit financially from the work even if he/she disagrees with what has happened to the work at the hands of the publisher? >>

    In a vacuum, no. No more than one creator owes the other the opportunity to shut the whole project down whether he wants to or not. Co-ownership isn’t a matter of having to accede to your co-owner’s wishes out of obligation.

    In reality, it’s about relationships and how you feel about each other and other intangibles that make it a question that can’t be answered, other than to say: It varies.

    But I’d assume that having given Dave his share of the movie money, Alan doesn’t think that he’s in the red when it comes to benefiting Dave financially.

    And of course, if they did get the rights back, that doesn’t mean there’d be no reliable stream of income coming from them. It might mean those royalty checks were even larger, and said Dark Horse on them, or Top Shelf, or even Knopf.

  90. Jacob B says:

    “No one at DC is an evil, money grubbing Mr. Burns. But I do think that “The company is always right, and creators are expendable” is in the DNA of the legacy publishers Marvel, DC and Archie. People who want to change that may come and go, but Siegel and Shuster really was the original sin of the comics industry.”

    Wonderful bit of writing, Heidi!

  91. Bye bye, Estrella/Jasmine/Alan whoever you were. I don’t mind critical comments but when you use a string of fake names to do so, you get a restraining order in Nerd Court.

  92. Matthew Southworth says:

    Thanks for that, Heidi–enough of the silly fake trolling bullshit. This issue is contentious enough without that aggravation.

  93. Shane Davis says:

    I just wanted to draw the kid at the newsstand?!?

    SD

  94. I really enjoy reading conversations like this. Just a couple of things as food for thought:

    1) The current argument may be ignoring what might be the real source of Alan’s hatred for DC. As I recall, everything was going along quite nicely and everyone seemed to be extremely pleased….until Jenette (Kahn) took exception to something Alan had written for Swamp Thing which apparently had a specific reference or relation to Jesus. She subsequently “influenced” the unilateral change in that content (I’m trying to be diplomatic here) at which point everything was “on like Donkey-Kong” and it’s been one giant escalation ever since. The current Watchmen controversy might be viewed in fact as a side issue were it not for the fact that the book far outstripped anything else Alan wrote for the company and has subsequently become the cause celebre as it were.

    2) Am I missing something here? By virtue of Watchmen being finite, what do fans expect to see in Before Watchmen? By definition we know what happens to the characters, so that takes away any elements of suspense as far as I’m concerned. By virtue of this the writers will have to be somewhat supernatural if they expect to introduce anything even remotely astonishing or groundbreaking.
    It would be like trying to write a real world version of let’s say, Before Titanic: “It began as plain metal. They came and saw its potential and began to make it in the form of…..a boat.”

  95. Shane: Now I feel bad.

  96. kingmaker says:

    seriously , i just can not wait for these to come out , we are uo to 150+ subs/holds at our place for each title. Its only on the ‘net that that the minority again makes the loudest noise, almost like the Obama Birth certificate nonsense. People , get over it , the majority of the comic book buying public , do not care about the business aspect. They just want to be entertained. The comic book buying audience are already eating this up.

    I equate this to back in the 1970’s , the record labels issued every possible Jimi Hendrix recording despite Hendrix never wanting the music released, people made a lot of noise in the Music press, the end result the public did not care, WB alone sold 10 million records of music Hendrix never wanted released. The public never cares about the ethics. They just want things to spend their $$$ on .

  97. Dennis V. says:

    Sorry, I’m not going to pick up a torch and pitch fork and join the mob mentality against DC. Never a big fan of the original ‘Watchmen’ but I’ll pick up ‘Before Watchmen’ and give it a try. For those against the project? Don’t buy it. Ignore it. Pretend it doesn’t exist.

  98. This is what it boils down to:

    Comic book industry gains greatest writer in recent history; probably the greatest writer since William Shakespeare.

    Comic book industry (repeatedly) alienates greatest writer in recent history; probably the greatest writer since William Shakespeare.

    Comic book industry gets an “epic fail.”

    You can argue contracts and call “cranky old man” all you want. The industry screwed up a really good thing.

    If I was in charge, I would have done anything in my power to keep Moore happy and writing great comics. It would have been a sound investment.

  99. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Christopher Moonlight–I agree with your points, all with the exception of the “greatest writer since William Shakespeare”. That’s a pretty tall order, considering you’ve got

    Eugene O’Neill
    F Scott Fitzgerald
    Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    David Mamet
    Tennessee Williams
    Edgar Allan Poe
    Anton Chekhov
    David Foster Wallace
    JD Salinger

    and tons of other writers (those are just the ones whose works I know personally, and off the top of my head), many from other countries and in other languages.

    There could even be discussions about whether Moore is the greatest comic book writer, though I think he may be the best.

    In any case, I agree the guy’s amazing; I’d hate to diminish the praise he deserves with hyperbole.

  100. Nick Jones says:

    “The public never cares about the ethics. They just want things to spend their $$$ on .”

    “The public” (whoever they are) allegedly being filled with amoral drones who are brainwashed by the telescreen and drunk on soma has no bearing on whether other people choose to address moral issues where they see them. Hell, when the majority loses their ethical compass it’s all the more important for the minority to speak up in opposition.

    ($1 to the estates of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley.)

  101. Turkish says:

    “JMS admitted as much in Chicago:

    “Did Alan Moore get a crummy contract? Yes. So has everyone at this table. Worse was Segal and Shuster, worse was a lot of people.”

    This has to be the dumbest defense of all. “Well, this beating wasn’t as bad as the other one, and didn’t break any bones, so it’s okay and let’s just look the other way anyway because Alan Moore is a cranky middle aged man.”

    Really? ”

    It’s actually not a defense at all. It’s fact, and I don’t believe he should be ridiculed for it. Stating facts does not even come close to being a dumb defense, and in most cases, it’s considered the best defense.

    Alan Moore signing a bad contract is the only reason Before Watchmen can exist, and as such, it is the only justification needed.

    Say what you want about the project, but labeling the stating of facts as a dumb defense is just bad reporting.

    That said, I won’t be buying and will probably never read Before Watchmen because Alan Moore got screwed over and isn’t involved. I’m disappointed that individuals I like are involved in the project, but I will choose not to judge the rest of their endeavors based on one bad decision (especially considering that they probably had some large paychecks dangled in front of their eyes.) I will vote with my wallet…

    …and if you’re all smart, you’d do the same because the smart ones know that all of these books will be in the quarter bin by next summer or on ebay starting at $0.99 for the set with zero bids.

    Or worse…DC tanks the industry because this type of crap is what speculation booms begin with.

    And hey, what’s with the dig on Louisiana? Seems mean-spirited.

  102. Turkish says:

    “After that, Lee suggested that I digitally steal them, which seems in keeping with his code of comics honor.”

    Wait… you were given a green light to illegally download something by the copyright-holders?

    I can hardly wait until that whole “downloaders are thieves” bullshit starts up again.

  103. If Dave Gibbons has already signed off on Before Watchmen, then why is anyone still talking about this?

  104. blacaucasian says:

    @Shannon OLeary – “Of note: In panel, when asked by crack reporter Geoff Boucher of the venerable LA Times which Watchmen characters Lee and Didio most identified with – Didio picked The Comedian and Lee picked Ozymandias. Boucher replied, “So you’re the psychopath and you’re the sociopath!” to Didio and Lee respectively. And they all laughed and laughed and laughed…

    That panel was a totally gross bro fest and PR love in as opposed to an actual discussion.

    Also, with all due respect to my colleagues at CBR and Collider (both of whom did TOTALLY AWESOME write-ups, btw), I think it’s fair to say that I was THE ONLY person in the room who asked “tough” questions, at least when it came to creator rights and the Roberson debacle.

    I was also the only person who raised their hand with a definitive no at the end when we were asked by Didio who would and wouldn’t be buying the books.

    After that, Lee suggested that I digitally steal them, which seems in keeping with his code of comics honor.

    Since I probably won’t be getting invited to anymore DC PR events anytime soon, I sincerely hope other press folks will keep the uglier side of the Before Watchmen discussion going when given the opportunity.”

    You don’t seem much more objective then Boucher was acting.

  105. Shawn Kane says:

    In regards to Chris Roberson and how DC handled it, the same thing more or less happened with John Byrne at Marvel (not to mention many other creators over the years) and no one jumped to defend him at the time. I just can’t figure why Roberson is such a hero now when this has been happening for a long time. Is it because he put it on Twitter?

  106. “If Dave Gibbons has already signed off on Before Watchmen, then why is anyone still talking about this?”

    Gibbons has been a sell-out to his own integrity back when the movie was being made. Why should anyone bring up such a weak knee-jerk defense? Oh, that’s right, it’s only Aronson, late to the party and bitchy as usual.

  107. “Sorry, I’m not going to pick up a torch and pitch fork and join the mob mentality against DC.”

    Of course; publisher plants are pretty easy marks, after all.

  108. Sorry anyone who sells the rights for their work to be licensed as a film is a sellout? Really?

  109. kingmaker says:

    “Of course; publisher plants are pretty easy marks, after all.”

    we have had no one , that cares about the controversy at our store , not one person. we have had 150+ sign up for holds on the comics and more coming on every day. Sorry the few voices that are just making noise to same few voices , nobody us really cares.

  110. kingmaker says:

    the only people complaining are people who do not buy DC comics anyway , so why should DC care?

  111. @kingmaker

    I think yours is (for me) the only bright spot of all this, though I think it is the unabashed cockiness of it all that is turning so many off (great work Shannon).

    The irony remains that the one work that really legitimized superhero comics as part of the new art form is now being tasked with (for the summer at least) commercially saving it — without the blessing of its creator.

    Watchmen is now a brand, not a work.

    Heidi’s genome-mapping back to Liebowitz and Donenfeld is right on. It became the dominant business plan only because it worked so well.

  112. Kingmaker, I’m right with you. Tons of excitement about these books at the store, it’s just the same, typical angry online comics community that barely buys any comics anyway, bitching as usual.

  113. *sorry, that should read “that barely buys any OF THESE TYPES OF comics anyway”, meaning Marvel/DC “corporate” superhero comics.

    Roberson shouldn’t have spoken out against a current employer and agreed with an article boycotting their products, Moore’s still collecting paychecks for Watchmen, and some of the best creators in the industry are working on these books. I seriously fail to understand the viewpoints of people that feel anyone is getting “screwed” here.

  114. blacaucasian says:

    @KET – I’m not sure why anytime someone has a differing opinion from you, you have to dismiss them as a “corporate plant” or a “sell-out”.

  115. Roberson shouldn’t have spoken out against a current employer and agreed with an article boycotting their products, Moore’s still collecting paychecks for Watchmen, and some of the best creators in the industry are working on these books. I seriously fail to understand the viewpoints of people that feel anyone is getting “screwed” here.

    And I fail to understand how people continually fail to understand that money doesn’t solve everything. If money was all it took to make Alan Moore happy, then surely he would have taken all the Watchmen movie money, no?

    He’s got issues with Before Watchmen and all the other ancillary stuff being produced based on Watchmen that are important enough to him that he has turned down large sums of money on principle. In my book, whether you agree with him or not, that’s something to be admired.

  116. Ed Brubaker says:

    Kingmaker and Ryan – I don’t see anyone suggesting you shouldn’t sell these books. And in fact, the vast majority of commenters I’ve seen on various threads are more of the “screw Alan Moore, he signed a shitty contract, tough shit” variety.

    Which is why I chose to point out that originally, DC themselves proclaimed Watchmen a victory for creators rights.

  117. Chad, surely it is, but I don’t think that’s what some people are getting up in arms about. They think they have to lash out at DC on Moore’s behalf.

  118. I really wish someone would identify which of Alan Moore’s “creator rights” have been violated.

    The right to good working conditions? Both Moore & Gibbons spoke in glowing terms of their relationship with DC during the creation of Watchmen.

    The right to be compensated for one’s work? You may rest assured both Moore & Gibbons have been compensated quite handsomely for their work, and continue to be compensated.

    The right to own one’s work and control its use? Well, here’s the thing – the right to own one’s work includes the right to SELL the rights to one’s work – a right that Moore & Gibbons availed themselves of AND were compensated for, in their own words, “substantially”.

    The right to be dealt with in good faith? Given that everyone seems to agree that neither side – Moore/ Gibbons nor DC – reasonably expected Watchmen to stay in print this long, suggesting bad faith on the part of DC when the original contract was entered into seems misplaced. One can certainly quibble with DC exploiting the property in ways that Moore doesn’t approve of, but that’s not “screwing over” Moore – and Moore was angry at DC long before there was a Watchmen movie or prequel.

    Neither Moore nor anyone else has a “right” to have a contingency in a contract work out the way they planned. There’s an assumption underlying this discussion that because Moore feels cheated by DC, he therefore has been cheated by DC – which would place DC in a rather lengthy line of people and companies who have clashed with Moore.

    I of course cannot speak to conversations Moore had with people at DC 25 years ago, and it may well be that someone at DC lied to him at that time. If that happened, he’s right to be pissed off – but I can’t assume that happened just because he says so, and I’m not sure how anyone not privy to those conversations could.

  119. There’s one thing I’m not sure if people have considered, and remember this is a purely hypothetical situation.

    DC gives the rights back to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Moore decides he never wants to see Watchmen in print again. It remains unpublished until copyright expires seventy five years after Moore dies (so sometime next century).

    I wonder how many people would be in favour of Moore getting the rights back knowing in this situation.

    (Why bother even mentioning this? Because this is apparently what happened with 1963.

    From Steve Bissette’s account “But when we got to the actual contract process Alan made it clear he did not want any collection [of 1963] at all. Since he held veto power, that was the end of that.”

    http://srbissette.com/?p=8694

    )

  120. There is much to be seen here simply about the perils of collaboration. Even though you can seem to have the same interest and goals at the time of the creation of the work, they can diverse with time, and in this case we’re talking decades. Moore gets into such a situation on other fronts; see some of Steve Bissette’s blog posts on why there’s no collection of the 1963 miniseries for that. Gibbons has his own feelings about the situation and his own way of addressing them; were it merely up to him, this would be a very different situation indeed.

    But this can be viewed in ways beyond just whether it’s wrong or right, but whether this is truly a good idea for business. Yes, they’ve got orders for at lesat 150 copies we are told, and I don’t doubt there will be a strong profit against creative costs in the short term. But some of this looks like a case of “A goose that lays golden eggs? I bet that’s delicious!” The Before Watchmen work is unlikely to be considered vital a decade down the road (which is no condemnation of the talented folk involved; few comics stand that test of time)… but if it switches perception of the original work from being Something Special to being just another piece of Serial Product, then it could cost in the long term. Watchmen has been among the best-selling trade paperbacks year after year, long after its original release. Damaging its reputation could have a very real cost.

  121. Synsidar says:

    I really wish someone would identify which of Alan Moore’s “creator rights” have been violated.

    Well, there isn’t an aesthetic case to be made for doing WATCHMEN sequels or prequels without Moore’s blessing, only economic and financial ones.

    Suppose that copyright law was different, and copyrights on published works lapsed within, say, 30 years. How many people would take advantage of the opportunity to rewrite bestsellers, and produce unauthorized sequels, unauthorized prequels, etc.? The publishing world would be a jungle.

    As it is, copyright law is flexible enough to allow people to do obvious analogues of famous characters with only minor changes. If someone has an idea for the greatest Batman, Superman, or Spider-Man story ever told, he can create a similar character and tell his story. He might have trouble finding a publisher, however. Nothing would prevent the people involved with BEFORE WATCHMEN from doing similar things. BEFORE WATCHMEN is much more about name recognition and the potential market for WATCHMEN-related material than it is about anything else.

    SRS

  122. And I would say Bisette is a creator whose creator rights are being violated.

    At least DC is making Moore money. DC promoted Watchmen to the point of it being the critically acclaimed book it is. While Moore is denying Bissette money.

    That’s worthy of more vitriol that what is being pointed at DC.

  123. Chad, surely it is, but I don’t think that’s what some people are getting up in arms about. They think they have to lash out at DC on Moore’s behalf.

    Fair enough, but I’m also seeing a fair amount of lashing out at Moore on DC’s behalf. And given that it sometimes falls along the lines of “he’s getting paid, so he should shut up,” I just wanted to point out that money isn’t everything, especially in this case.

  124. MBunge says:

    “the vast majority of commenters I’ve seen on various threads are more of the “screw Alan Moore, he signed a shitty contract, tough shit” variety.”

    Those sentiments are largely in response to the relentless whining by Moore and on his behalf about how he’s been “screwed” over WATCHMEN.

    It’s a bit like Tim Tebow in the NFL. Everybody complains about Tebow-mania, but they leave out that the frenzy was based on the fact that people said Tebow couldn’t play in the league and hated the guy so much they never wanted him to get a chance to step on the field. Then Tebow finally gets that chance, has one of the most remarkable seasons in NFL history, and somehow it’s a bad thing for his fans to get excited about that.

    Mike

  125. free willy says:

    @allstarmatches: Good post. I generally support Moore, and I also support increased creators’ rights, but it’s easy to conflate these issues.

    To take another example, Len Wein apparently hasn’t been paid all that much for creating Wolverine. So his example alerts us to “creators’ rights issues”. But it doesn’t mean that Len’s rights were violated, or that he’s legally ENTITLED to more backpay from Marvel.

    I also agree with what Synsidar says above when he notes that there really isn’t an aesthetic argument for Before Watchmen. It’s all necessarily about profits, lack of originality, and a target audience wanting to aimlessly relive past glories. It’s possibly the best example ever of an aesthetically hollow project, no matter how pretty the pictures might look.

  126. @free willy – I don’t disagree that BW is all about “box office”, as it were. Clearly the book has survived for 25 years without a prequel, so the notion that there’s some “need” for one now is silly corporate PR.

    I would hope that *everyone* supports “creators’ rights” – I don’t think there’s any serious question that the comic industry has a loathsome history in regard to how freelancers have been treated. I just don’t think every creator who cries foul is automatically right. Each case deserves to be evaluated on its own merits. This particular case, based solely on the information that’s publicly available, looks weak to me from Moore’s standpoint.

  127. @Chad – If Moore really wanted to have nothing to do with Watchmen or DC, he’d deny the royalties for the comics. He’s not. He’s taking those checks to the bank every month.

  128. Chad, I think the backlash against Moore is the fact that his opinion really doesn’t matter in this at all. He’s passed this gig up long ago, and what’s more, Gibbons isn’t complaining. People are just getting sick of a few vocal bloggers harping on Moore’s rights (which aren’t actually being violated) and Moore’s feelings (which couldn’t be assuaged even if DC had a legion of wizards at their disposal).

  129. “I also agree with what Synsidar says above when he notes that there really isn’t an aesthetic argument for Before Watchmen. It’s all necessarily about profits, lack of originality, and a target audience wanting to aimlessly relive past glories. It’s possibly the best example ever of an aesthetically hollow project, no matter how pretty the pictures might look.”

    Which is something we have to be comfortable with if we want to be a profitable industry. We can have our art side, but we also need the commercially vibrant side. Sometimes they mingle, but, often, they won’t. Nothing wrong with a company making books to make everyone involved money. That’s the business side of comics.

    I also think it is a stretch to say that these creators haven’t come up with good ideas/stories for these books. With the talent involved, I think most of them will produce worthwhile books.

    Will these books have the longevity of Watchmen? Who knows? That would be great. But I doubt it. And in the end, they don’t have to. They just have to tell a good story that people have a great time reading.

    Retailers, like myself, might be a little biased toward the business side of the industry.

  130. Apparently most of the morning people are for Before Watchmen and most of the evening people are against it.

  131. Chad, I think the backlash against Moore is the fact that his opinion really doesn’t matter in this at all.

    The opinion of one of the co-creators of Watchmen doesn’t matter at all? I can tell you, it matters a great deal to me, and judging from some of the comments in this thread and elsewhere online, I’m not alone.

    @Chad – If Moore really wanted to have nothing to do with Watchmen or DC, he’d deny the royalties for the comics. He’s not. He’s taking those checks to the bank every month.

    OK, so turning down cash from the movie wasn’t enough for you, now he has to reject royalties from one of his greatest works? Come on. He did the work, he deserves to get paid.

  132. MBunge says:

    “He did the work, he deserves to get paid.”

    And if DC is going to pay him, that means it deserves to exercise the rights of ownership to which it is entitled.

    Mike

  133. Apparently most of the morning people are for Before Watchmen and most of the evening people are against it.

    Ha!

  134. “It’s all necessarily about profits, lack of originality, and a target audience wanting to aimlessly relive past glories.”

    The irony being, the very fact that these books are being made explains why the most recent DC or Marvel character worth mentioning commercially dates back to 1975.

    BEFORE WATCHMEN is DC selling off its crown jewels, basically. They’re going to make a lot of money, but they’re also watering down the most successful stand-alone book in their stable, while simultaneously reminding creators to never, ever give them anything of real value.

    Will the sales they get out of this be worth the longer-term damage? I seriously doubt it.

  135. Chad, absolutely no one is denying that Moore should be paid for the work he’s done. They just want to hear him stop bitching about the same thing over and over again.

    As someone else above pointed out, using 1963 for example, Moore might as well end all printing of Watchmen were the rights returned to him.

  136. @Joe Krolik: Minor point, but you’re mixing up two different incidents. Alan Moore has repeatedly told a story of being offended by a remark Jenette made, implying that if he didn’t want to write a sequel to Watchmen, DC would hire someone else to do it. (I have no idea if this is what Jenette actually said or meant, but this was a big sticking point for him.) The DC ratings controversy came up around the same time.

    The Jesus issue came up later, and had nothing to do with Alan Moore. It was the reason Rick Veitch quit his position as writer/artist of SWAMP THING.

  137. BEFORE WATCHMEN is DC selling off its crown jewels, basically. They’re going to make a lot of money, but they’re also watering down the most successful stand-alone book in their stable, while simultaneously reminding creators to never, ever give them anything of real value.

    What he said.

    Of course, efforts such as Paradox Press, Minx, Zuda, Helix, CMX and whatever other initiatves DC has made over the years to reach out to new markets and get creators to create new things now seem limited to Vertigo. So DC’s probably OK with that.

  138. Chad, absolutely no one is denying that Moore should be paid for the work he’s done. They just want to hear him stop bitching about the same thing over and over again.

    Then they should stop reading the articles in which he complains.

    I don’t want Before Watchmen to exist, so I’m not going to read any of the comics.

    See? Easy.

  139. Lame.

    The problem is the slanted coverage, painting this to be a huge issue for Moore. It’s not. Nothing happens to Alan Moore if Before Watchmen is published. Nothing happens to him if it isn’t. Moore is a non-issue. He’ll keep complaining either way. Gibbons’ consent to the prequels nullified any relevancy Moore might have.

    The comics media is distorting this. Look at all the attention paid to Moore versus that to Gibbons. It’s ridiculous.

  140. MBunge says:

    “reminding creators to never, ever give them anything of real value.”

    They don’t GIVE anything. They are PAID for their work.

    Mike

  141. Torsten Adair says:

    One difference about publishing contracts:

    Watchmen (according to the preview at Amazon) is owned by DC Comics, not Moore, et alia.

    Carrie is owned by Stephen King.

    Occasionally, you will hear of an author moving to another publishing house. Sometimes it’s a matter of money. Sometimes it’s the editor.

    An historical example: Pantheon. Their graphic novel line went into hibernation when the editor was fired. Matt Groening, who had published his “Life In Hell” collections via Random House/Pantheon, took his future titles elsewhere. (HarperCollins, owned by Fox, which broadcasts The Simpsons.)

    King possibly left Doubleday c. 1979 due to money. (He didn’t like the 50/50 split.)
    http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/03/09/lifetimes/kin-v-behind.html

    Then he went to Viking, and is now at Simon & Schuster since 1997. He gets 50% of the profits, and millions as an advance.

    Has anyone seen the Watchmen contract?

  142. Torsten Adair says:

    Also, Vertigo has changed their business model, due to pestering from Warner Brothers, making them less attractive to independent creators. The copyright may still remain with the creators, but WB retains media rights, so I’ve been told.

  143. swampy says:

    “Chad, I think the backlash against Moore is the fact that his opinion really doesn’t matter in this at all.”

    That may or may not be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that someone did feel the need to ask Alan Moore his opinion about it.

    We all know Alan’s opinion and aren’t too surprised by it. Dave Gibbon’s opinion probably wouldn’t generate the same amount controversy and traffic, so it’s not really written about. But then Dave Gibbon’s opinion really doesn’t matter in this at all either.

  144. First off, Kurt Busiek owns this thread. Owns it! I keep coming back in my mind to this “caretaker” idea; it explains the perplexing backlash against Moore beautifully. I wonder if DC announced a new Sandman book without Neil Gaiman’s consent if people would side with DC or Neil?

  145. gamemaster says:

    Despite some interesting conversation all around the web, cause it’s never too late to become enlightened to others’ suffering…all of the creator treatment issues of late serve best as a cautionary tale for any prospective talent looking to engage in corporate business.

    Seek advantage when making contracts, understand lawyering up as a necessary evil and an investment toward protection against the other party possibly at some point in time having an adversarial stance on your earning ability from your ideas.

    Bottom line: a loss of innocence.

    Also, if the contract is not fair, do not hesitate to offer ideas or work commensurate with your stake. I don’t see any reason why access to your very best ideas (as the creators involved in Before Watchmen have said to promise) would be given unless a profitable and properly valued incentive were present.

    All very relative and highly personal.

    If at the very least these incidents cause to expand awareness and whether by protest, end a system that seeks to draw value from the periphery in the form of individuals toward hoarding for multinational corporations’ benefit or if it ends that same system by offering work commensurate with the stake and incentive the creators have in it (I would think very poor quality) then so be it.

    These things are worthier topics of discussion than what is most likely the content of Before Watchmen.

  146. Swampy, right. It’s as relevant as far as a single question goes:

    “Dave, are you okay with Before Watchmen?” “Yeah, I suppose.”

    “Alan, are you okay with Before Watchmen?” “They can all rot in hell.”

    The end.

  147. swampy says:

    gamemaster gets it. well said.

  148. “So DC’s probably OK with that.”

    Which is odd, because neither DC nor Marvel can create anything. All they can do is to exploit the properties they’re given by writers and artists. So you’d think ethical behavior — the kind that makes more creators want to share their commercially viable ideas with them — was in their own best interest.

  149. swampy says:

    Michael,

    Don’t forget that Dave Gibbons is doing what some of the comments having been asking Alan Moore to do.

    He takes the money and doesn’t “whine”. He might get out ahead professionally with DC, but I’m not sure if he’s a spoken advocate of creator’s rights. In other words, he knows how to work well within the system, so he feels no need to see change.

  150. Synsidar says:

    The problem is the slanted coverage, painting this to be a huge issue for Moore.

    WATCHMEN is notable for being a hugely successful standalone work. There’s very little else published as superhero fiction that compares to it.

    If organizations such as the Authors Guild have ever weighed in on the Kirby and Siegel-Shuster lawsuits, I’m unaware of it. They wouldn’t be inclined to, because, from a creative perspective, Superman, Spider-Man, et al. died decades ago. If comics creators consistently produced standalone works, DC and Marvel probably wouldn’t exist. The length of time required for an artist to produce a graphic novel is a problem, but it’s a financial one, not a creative one.

    The differences between Moore’s standalone work and all the others based on serial characters hugely influence opinions.

    SRS

  151. Chris Hero says:

    The 1963 analogy is a bad one.

    First, if Moore and Gibbons were to have the Watchmen rights revert to them and then Moore or Gibbons were to refuse to ever put the work back in print, that would be ok. They’re the creators, they can do whatever they want with it.

    The 1963 problem stems back to some other issue between Moore and Bissette. Neither man has ever gone into detail over it. From what I can tell after reading many, many interviews, it has something to do with Moore and Bissette having a disagreement over something Bissette did as a publisher that affected Moore’s work.

  152. Matthew Southworth says:

    Agreed with Chris Hero–1963 is about collaborators disagreeing, not about creators and publishers disagreeing.

    Another point is that Moore is not “whining”–people keep asking him about it and he answers the question. I guarantee you people were bitching that Kirby was “whining”, too, when he took a stand about his original art and his role in the creation of the Marvel Universe.

  153. “If Moore and Gibbons were to have the Watchmen rights revert to them and then Moore or Gibbons were to refuse to ever put the work back in print, that would be ok. They’re the creators, they can do whatever they want with it.”

    Do you think anyone would really be supportive of that, given how culturally and artistically significant the work has become? Really?

    “Another point is that Moore is not “whining”–people keep asking him about it and he answers the question.”

    He’s whining, it’s just that people keep wanting to hear him whine, and then publish it as if it’s a big deal. The problem is the comics news media making out the whining to be something of significance when it’s not.

  154. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Michael Aronson–if Alan Moore has proven anything, it’s that he can express himself quite ably in his work. The guy was INSANELY prolific for years and years, and he has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t want to be bothered about Watchmen. Simply put, you’re wrong.

    And the “artistic significance” of the work makes no difference as to whether the piece remains in print; there have to be a million copies of the book out there already, and I can’t imagine it’s tough to find and would remain so were it to suddenly go out of print.

  155. Thomas R. Hart says:

    Other people’s characters, right. Yeah, I’ve heard that. Now, what needs explaining is that you’re talking about two or three different things, there. With The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, you’re talking about a literary phenomenon that has nothing to do with comics. I can get to that in a moment. But, in terms of comics, when I entered the comics industry, I was given characters that the company owned, which were on their last legs–ones which were so lame that they were practically on the verge of cancellation.

    Swamp Thing had been, I suppose, created by Len Wein (although in retrospect it really wasn’t much more than a regurgitation of Hillman Comics’ The Heap with a bit of Rod Serling purple prose wrapped around it). When I took over that character at Len Wein’s suggestion, I did my best to make it an original character that didn’t owe a huge debt to previously existing swamp monsters. And when I finished doing that book, yes, of course I understood that other people were going to take it over. That went for characters that I had created, like John Constantine. I understood that when I had finished with that character that it would just be absorbed into the general DC stockpile and I believe that I’ve expressed my admiration. I think that Brian Azzarello’s editor had heard that I quite liked the job that he did with Richard Corben on Hellblazer and he phoned up asking me for a quote. I don’t know if they ever used it, but I gave them a fulsome one.

    This is because those were characters the company owned and I understood that. And I understood that whether I had created the characters like John Constantine, or whether I’d simply recreated them beyond all recognition like Swamp Thing, that these would just go into the general comic company’s stockpiles. I’ve never objected to that. I mean, I don’t think it is necessarily the fairest thing, but I’ve not objected to that.

    The thing was, that wasn’t what we were told Watchmen was.

    To everyone who goes all rah rah rah on Moore being such a grmupy bastard who wants to take your toys away, this quote is from the very lengthy and in-depth Seraphemera interview here…

    http://www.seraphemera.org/seraphemera_books/AlanMoore_Page5.html

    … and to my recollection, he never did complain about what others did with Constantine.

    He did wish to have his name taken off the movie adaption for the same reasons he did so with all the other movies, after the clusterfuck that was the LOEG civil case, which left him very anti-Hollywood.

    But as Mr. Brubaker and Mr. Busiek have pointed out, Watchmen back in the day was something different, it was publicised as something different, it was hailed as a “victory for creator’s rights”

    It’s called “good faith”.

    Mr. Moore apparently went into situation with “good faith”, now, you can tear him all apart for doing so, but essentially that defense is “your problem if you date a rapist who claims he has learned his lesson.”

    In the end, though, here’s the thing.

    Any creative – outside people who want to write fan fiction wank (of which there are many) – will not bring anything of value to DC (or Marvel), because they know that the word of these people means shit.

  156. MBunge says:

    “Which is odd, because neither DC nor Marvel can create anything.”

    That’s like saying GM or Ford can’t create anything. What exactly are people driving around in?

    Mike

  157. “He has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t want to be bothered about Watchmen.”

    So who exactly is holding him at gunpoint and making him do all these interviews and answer all these questions about Before Watchmen?

    “And the “artistic significance” of the work makes no difference as to whether the piece remains in print; there have to be a million copies of the book out there already, and I can’t imagine it’s tough to find and would remain so were it to suddenly go out of print.”

    That makes the assumption that no one will want to read Watchmen in 30 years from now, or if they do, well sucks for them, they’ll just have to go find a used copy.

  158. Kevin says:

    “All of these interviews” Um…I only count one? Or are they’re *gasp* two that reference Before Watchmen. And that interview was mostly done to promote the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book…

  159. I think 1963 can be brought up in this conversation.

    If Moore and Gibbons get the rights back, and Gibbons wants the book published but Moore doesn’t and blocks publication, is that fair to Gibbons?

  160. Kevin says:

    Well, Before Watchmen is going to be released, there’s no stopping that. So, I’m not going to buy it mostly since it’s an unnecessary story that they’re telling I feel. And for people that want to read it, well, there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s good talent involved and I’m sure it will look pretty. But again this is just feels like fan fiction to me. The Watchmen story is a complete package, you get everything you need to know about the characters, the world, etc. in that book. That’s why they’ve stated that they’re focusing on the “characters” instead of the “world building” aspect. Also I guess it’ll be nice for DC to release a larger Absolute Edition of Watchmen including Before Watchmen so they can charge more.

  161. “He’s whining, it’s just that people keep wanting to hear him whine, and then publish it as if it’s a big deal. The problem is the comics news media making out the whining to be something of significance when it’s not.”

    Alan Moore will come and he will take away all your longboxes and man-dolls for saying that.

  162. Kevin gets it: the only issue at hand is the creative one – whether Before Watchmen is an endeavor worth taking for creative purposes.

    It’s not a moral issue. Moore would oppose it anyway. Gibbons doesn’t. Moore is still getting his royalties. The original work is still there. The original contract still happened. It doesn’t matter that Moore’s still alive, or that the characters aren’t public domain (would it be better/worse if Moore was dead and Watchmen was public domain and THEN DC made prequel comics? Would that really make any difference?).

    This is all about the value of the creative endeavor, and that’s a point worth discussing.

  163. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Here’s what all you corporate shills are missing:

    At one time, DC had Alan Moore working for them. He was their biggest-selling writer. He started making comics for DC that got them attention and sales far beyond anything else they were doing.

    And they treated him like just another “body to be moved around,” as management often likes to call their employees.

    To the uncreative types, like comic and media executives (and comic store owners, apparently) Alan Moore was just a body, a nameless writer, who could be interchanged with anyone. Like say, Geoff Johns.

    That’s what you guys don’t understand. DC’s own business practices– which they continue to this day– drive truly creative and innovative people away.

  164. I would so love it if a few of the posters here could see their way clear to defend Alan Moore *without* insulting Dave Gibbons. And I’m particularly aghast at the implication upthread that Gibbons was merely filling Moore’s shopping list.

    He and Moore are equal creators– it would have been a different work without him. Give him that respect, please.

  165. Kevin says:

    It is a creative endeavor we’re really discussing and is it worth being pursued? No. I don’t think so. And to the response of “Um…well legally DC is entitled yadda yadda yadda” Well, good for DC for being entitled, that’s wonderful, stupendous! But it’s not worth doing, sorry. And from that interview I see that as Moore’s whole point, they’re out of ideas. SO they have to use his again and again and again… into infinity.

    And frankly now if you have a great story…take it to Image or to a publisher that supports creators.

  166. Kevin says:

    Frankly I’d like to see DC use this pool of talent and create something new. Maybe a whole roll out of a pilot season, a new universe, all new characters, etc. Instead of the soft reboot that was 52 where things changed…um…slightly? But that’s too scary for them to try especially in this economy. Stick with the familar and tweak it.

  167. MBunge says:

    “DC had Alan Moore working for them. He was their biggest-selling writer. He started making comics for DC that got them attention and sales far beyond anything else they were doing.”

    Attention? Yes. Sales? Not so much. WATCHMEN has sold very well over the years. Moore’s other DC work hasn’t had nearly the staying power. When WATCHMEN came out as a monthly comic, it wasn’t a spectacular sales bonanza and I’m pretty sure the trade has been eclipsed in the sales rankings at times by other books.

    Mike

  168. JohnK (UK) says:

    The only issue at hand is a *moral* one. That’s it. To pretend it is otherwise is to be wilfully absurd.

  169. Matthew Southworth says:

    @JohnK–not true. The issue is far more complicated than that–it’s a moral one, it’s an economic one, it’s a legal one, and it addresses issues to do with pop culture, work-for-hire, creative ownership, and many others.

    Even if you agree with Moore’s problems with the prequels–and I do–there are other elements to the situation that should be considered (and addressed, by those who believe their dollars are votes, and particularly by those who choose to work with corporations).

  170. “Attention? Yes. Sales? Not so much. WATCHMEN has sold very well over the years. Moore’s other DC work hasn’t had nearly the staying power. When WATCHMEN came out as a monthly comic, it wasn’t a spectacular sales bonanza and I’m pretty sure the trade has been eclipsed in the sales rankings at times by other books.”

    Sure, it’s been outsold AT TIMES, but no other book historically comes anywhere close to the kind of sales (not to mention cultural relevancy) that Watchmen’s achieved. It’s sold, literally, more then a million copies– that’s amazing.

    Really, DC doesn’t care all that much about what we think; their target customers are the people in book stores that don’t know much about Alan Moore, but have read Watchmen and might read more Watchmen if it existed.

  171. @Ryan Higgins teaches WATCHMEN in his class and thinks Moore should get no royalties. Wonder what his opinion on population control is.

  172. JohnK (UK) says:

    @Matthew Southworth:

    I knew I should have kept my trap shut. I’m not here to argue but while all those areas are involved, yes, and a lively debate has been had around all of them, I think they all stem from the one root – the moral one. I may be mistaken. I have, after all, been reading comments for what seems like days.

    I’m still seeing the moral aspect as the primary aspect. However, I do apologise for my tone at least. It appears stridency is infectious after all.

  173. @MBunge

    In 2011 in the direct Market Watchmen is estimated to have sold 9232 copies. V for Vendetta is estimated to have sold 8111.

  174. MBunge: Attention? Yes. Sales? Not so much. WATCHMEN has sold very well over the years. Moore’s other DC work hasn’t had nearly the staying power.

    Categorically NOT TRUE. V For Vendetta, The Killing Joke and even LoeG are consistently among DC’s top selling gns year after years.

    Notice last year’s Bookscan here:

    and my analysis from 2010:

    http://www.comicsbeat.com/2011/02/11/what-were-the-top-selling-graphic-novels-of-2010/

    Here’s DC’s top ten:

    29,171 WATCHMEN MOORE ALAN
    20,808 V FOR VENDETTA NEW E MOORE ALAN
    20,063 BLACKEST NIGHT JOHNS GEOFF
    19,691 SUPERMAN EARTH ONE STRACZYNSKI J. MICHAEL
    17,471 BATMAN THE KILLING JOKE MOORE ALAN
    15,631 BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS MILLER FRANK
    13,525 BLACKEST NIGHT GREEN LANTERN JOHNS GEOFF
    12,579 BATMAN HUSH LOEB JEPH
    12,265 BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM 15TH ANN MORRISON GRANT
    12,096 FABLES V13 THE GRT FABLES CROS WILLINGHAM BILL

    A little hard to read, but Alan Moore is by any standard one of the best selling authors in comics history.

  175. Synsidar says:

    It doesn’t matter that Moore’s still alive, or that the characters aren’t public domain (would it be better/worse if Moore was dead and Watchmen was public domain and THEN DC made prequel comics?

    I was going to comment that “Who would think of doing a sequel to, say, The Scarlet Letter?” But I checked, and there are at least two sequels to Hawthorne’s classic novel. The reviewer of Noyes’s effort wrote:

    Sequels are ever popular, yet rarely reach the expectations set by the originals–and this in the sequels by the original authors. The literary oddity of a sequel written by someone else–often many years past the publication of the original–is a distinctly hazardous endeavor. Alexandra Ripley’s ghastly bodice-ripper, “Scarlett,” the sequel to “Gone With the Wind,” is one recent case in point. “Gone With the Wind” was itself a bit of a potboiler, so expectations were set far lower.

    So, being in the public domain does make a difference.

    SRS

  176. Matthew Southworth says:

    @John UK–no need to apologize, I didn’t take your comments as strident (though I fear my response may have read that way). I do think there is a moral element to the discussion but find the whole thing pretty complex and get a little irritated that so many comments seem willing only to focus on one side of the argument.

    Here’s hoping all of us actually LEARN something from all the chatter, though!

  177. Thomas R. Hart says:

    Fact is, the USA has a big problem with creatives in general as evidenced by the lack of moral rights that e.g. is enshrined in Germany’s “Urheberrecht”, which by the way doesn’t mean “copyright”, but the “right of the creator”.

    Moral rights are rights of creators of copyrighted works generally recognized in civil law jurisdictions and, to a lesser extent, in some common law jurisdictions. They include the right of attribution, the right to have a work published anonymously or pseudonymously, and the right to the integrity of the work.

    The preserving of the integrity of the work bars the work from alteration, distortion, or mutilation .

    Anything else that may detract from the artist’s relationship with the work even after it leaves the artist’s possession or ownership may bring these moral rights into play. Moral rights are distinct from any economic rights tied to copyrights.

    Even if an artist has assigned his or her copyright rights to a work to a third party, he or she still maintains the moral rights to the work.

  178. @Kevin -“Frankly I’d like to see DC use this pool of talent and create something new.”

    Me too, but I think companies are rather shy of creating new IP due to these legal conflicts.

    It seems to make more sense to revamp existing material.

    Heck, a standard practice now is that many stories are pitched in editorial, and then shopped to writers to develop so writers don’t even have a significant input to their own stories due to potential copyright battles.

    This industry is a team effort. Creators have ideas to develop, but no capital to exploit a property into a success. Companies have the capital to decide a property’s success, but not the creators with new ideas. It takes both interests to work equally/fairly.

    Since the beginning DC has exploited creators unfairly, without an equal partnership. Before Watchmen is DC’s statement that creators are not only irrelevant, but they will betray one-another for money.

    DC is not in the creative business anymore, but the real estate business. I don’t think we will see anything new from a company unless they can settle the score, and agree to a fair creative agreement.

  179. Ryan:
    >> If Moore really wanted to have nothing to do with Watchmen or DC, he’d deny the royalties for the comics.>>

    This is nonsense. And it has no bearing on any of the issues other than to gin up another way to disapprove of Alan in order to fuel the “I don’t approve of him for not being saintly enough (by my definition of a saint), so he deserves whatever comes” argument.

    It’s an interesting fake-out, though, to declare that if he’s mad enough at DC, he should arrange for them to make more money.

    Shawn:
    >> In regards to Chris Roberson and how DC handled it, the same thing more or less happened with John Byrne at Marvel (not to mention many other creators over the years) and no one jumped to defend him at the time.>>

    No, it didn’t, and yes, they did.

    John did not quit Marvel over ethical concerns about their treatment of past creators, but because he thought they were making bad comics he didn’t like and were steering themselves wrong, as I recall. John wasn’t and isn’t blacklisted at Marvel; whenever someone suggests to Marvel that they hire John, their response is, basically, “John says he doesn’t want to work here; if he’s changed his mind he knows the number.”

    And various people rallied to agree with John, while others didn’t — you can find a fair number of the agreers at John’s web forum. But John’s very opinionated about how to do comics “right,” and to no surprise, people who agree with those opinions tend to support him more than people who don’t.

    Michael:
    >> Chad, absolutely no one is denying that Moore should be paid for the work he’s done. They just want to hear him stop bitching about the same thing over and over again.>>

    Then stop reading it.

    It seems that he doesn’t go out of his way to bring it up, but various journalists ask him about it, he answers honestly, they report it, and lots of people complain that he somehow forced his way into their home to complain at them.

    He didn’t. If you don’t want to hear it, why even read this thread? The power to choose what you give your time to is in your hands.

    Torsten:
    >> One difference about publishing contracts:
    Watchmen (according to the preview at Amazon) is owned by DC Comics, not Moore, et alia.
    Carrie is owned by Stephen King.>>

    Publishing contracts can be written many ways, and indicia will reflect that. It’s entirely possible to own something, and have the publisher hold the copyright on it, but only temporarily.

    >> The copyright may still remain with the creators, but WB retains media rights, so I’ve been told. >>

    I can’t speak to Vertigo contracts (and Vertigo didn’t exist back then anyway), but I can say that not all creator-owned DC contracts do that. There are media rights clauses, but they vary in content and effect.

    Ken:
    >>I wonder if DC announced a new Sandman book without Neil Gaiman’s consent if people would side with DC or Neil?>>

    Neil has maintained his presence as the “face” of SANDMAN, even when he hasn’t been producing new stuff — I think he’s very much seen as the “caretaker.” Plus, he has a huge fan base, probably more than Vertigo does collectively. I’d think fans would side with him.

    Also, DC already did SANDMAN spinoffs, and they eventually died from lack of sales.

    Chris:
    >> First, if Moore and Gibbons were to have the Watchmen rights revert to them and then Moore or Gibbons were to refuse to ever put the work back in print, that would be ok. They’re the creators, they can do whatever they want with it.>>

    As I understand US copyright law (whether British copyright law says the same, I dunno), in the case of a jointly-owned copyright, any of the joint owners can use the work, so long as the others are compensated.

    So, for instance, if the rights were reverted and if US law applied, Dave could license a WATCHMEN reprint as long as he paid Alan half the money. This has come up in the Superman lawsuit, too.

    In practice, there may be personal reasons or reasons of publicity or whatever that would prevent this from being done in the case of, say, 1963. But normal joint copyright ownership does not give one rights holder veto power over the others. Unless I’m mistaken.

    MBunge:
    >> That’s like saying GM or Ford can’t create anything. What exactly are people driving around in?>>

    Things GM, Ford and others manufacture, but did not create, in the sense we’re using here. They had to hire people for that, and treat the ones who were good at it well.

    kdb

  180. DC has Vertigo obviously. Seems to me Watchmen would fit nicely there.

  181. Chris Duffy says:

    Of course it matters that Alan Moore is alive. He’s alive, kicking, and screaming. It’s entertaining to some, annoying to many, but very, very necessary, I think.

  182. Carlton Donaghe says:

    After having looked over the debate, I have noticed something about the nature in which each side is arguing.

    Those who support DC’s (and the writers and artists who were bought to do this work) right to produce this comic are making a legalistic argument.

    That is, they are arguing the “jot and tittle” of the law.

    Those who are against DC’s using of this material against the wishes of the man who created it are arguing in favor of the “spirit” of the law.

    I remember the fan press that surrounded the release of Watchmen, and I can concur that DC touted this project as a great leap forward in creator’s rights.

    DC publicly said that this would be a project in which its creators would own the rights.

    And there is no question that Alan Moore was involved because he was THE preeminent writer and creator at DC.

    That part was no accident, it was no mistake, it wasn’t some arbitrary incident that “just happened that way– it was on one’s design.”

    DC put their muscle behind Alan Moore because they knew he could deliver.

    And boy, did he.

    In fact, he delivered SO WELL to DC that people higher up, at Warner’s, noticed.

    When they saw what they had gotten from Alan Moore, they knew there was no way he’d get this back.

    And that contract? The “jot and tittle?”

    They had him. The “spirit” of the law did not matter. What matters is that DC and Warner are corporations, and they exist for one purpose only: To make money. They don’t exist to be fair. They don’t exist to support creator’s rights. They don’t exist to support human rights.

    So– congratulations, Brian Azzarello, Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Palmer, Len Wein, and everyone else involved.

    For the price of your big payday, you’ve set creator’s rights in America back to the very day Jack Leibowitz stole Superman from two kids from Cleveland.

    I mean this personally: I hope you are proud of yourselves.

  183. blacaucasian says:

    “So– congratulations, Brian Azzarello, Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Palmer, Len Wein, and everyone else involved.

    For the price of your big payday, you’ve set creator’s rights in America back to the very day Jack Leibowitz stole Superman from two kids from Cleveland.”

    A little hyperbolic, don’t you think? It’s not as if Before Watchmen makes Image cease to exist. Or makes sites like Kickstarter shut down. If anything good comes out of this whole mess it should make any creator crystal clear to be aware of what they are giving up when working with a major corporation and whether or not they want to give up anything. And to read your contracts fully and make sure you have independent trust worthy lawyers looking over that contract before you sign anything away.

  184. Kurt: “John did not quit Marvel over ethical concerns about their treatment of past creators, but because he thought they were making bad comics he didn’t like and were steering themselves wrong, as I recall.”

    I believe Byrne quit because he thought Marvel (Joe Quesada) gave him conflicting and unsatisfactory explanations for the cancellation of X-MEN: THE HIDDEN YEARS.

    Regarding Neil Gaiman and SANDMAN: Gaiman was willing to do a new story for the 20th anniversary of the character, but DC was offering him the same terms (royalties) that they offered him back in 1987. Since Gaiman thought he deserved more, he decided not to do the story (as is his right).

    Unless DC changes their mind, it’s unlikely we’ll see new SANDMAN stories by Gaiman in the near future. Will we see the character pop up in stories by other writers? I wouldn’t be surprised.

  185. Carlton Donaghe says:

    In regards to what I said, your comment is a little oblique.

    DC is behaving improperly– while perhaps not in the letter of their agreement with Mr. Moore, but certainly in the spirit of their agreement.

    The artists paid to produce the Before Watchmen material for the DC corporation are complicit in that act.

    That is what I am saying.

    I absolutely welcome an argument to the contrary, but you haven’t made it.

  186. Chris Hero says:

    I really wish we could find out which creators in particular think their BW books are going to be equal to, or better than, the original. That still cracks me up.

    I also wish we could stop using rape as a metaphore. I’m really tired of that one.

  187. >> I believe Byrne quit because he thought Marvel (Joe Quesada) gave him conflicting and unsatisfactory explanations for the cancellation of X-MEN: THE HIDDEN YEARS.>>

    There’s an issue to rally around.

    There’s usually multiple reasons going into the cancellation of a book (and many of them are the same reason phrased different way — “We thought we’d do better spending that money on something else”), and the idea that a publisher might cite different ones at different times is not, to my mind, a burning issue, but then, there’s only one publisher I’ve ever flat-out quit, and they don’t publish comics any more.

    [And in that case, my reasoning was, “You owe me money and won’t pay it; I’m going to work for publishers who pay me what they say they will,” which I’ll readily agree smacks of rampant self-interest.]

    >> Regarding Neil Gaiman and SANDMAN: Gaiman was willing to do a new story for the 20th anniversary of the character, but DC was offering him the same terms (royalties) that they offered him back in 1987. Since Gaiman thought he deserved more, he decided not to do the story (as is his right). Unless DC changes their mind, it’s unlikely we’ll see new SANDMAN stories by Gaiman in the near future. Will we see the character pop up in stories by other writers? I wouldn’t be surprised.>>

    I would be, at least in the near future. And if we do, I expect there’ll be information that Neil was approached about it and said okay.

    It’s not merely whether there are new stories, but about who’s perceived as the caretaker. Neil talks up the Absolute editions, he shows off art, he does sketches — to SANDMAN fans, he’s clearly still The Guy. I don’t think DC would want to give him reason not to be The Guy any more, at least not in the near future.

    With Alan, it’s clearly too late, and Alan is rather more abrupt about things than Neil. But even without new stuff, Neil and DC do well out of having a good relationship.

    kdb

  188. >>In regards to what I said, your comment is a little oblique.>>

    Is it?

    What you said was that creator’s rights in America have been back to the very day Jack Leibowitz stole Superman from two kids from Cleveland.

    Considering this is not actually true, you would seem to have engaged in hyperbole, which is what blacaucasian was pointing out.

    That doesn’t seem oblique to me, but pretty direct. I do not think the existence of BEFORE WATCHMEN erases my co-ownership of ASTRO CITY, say, or ARROWSMITH. Or Mike Mignola’s ownership of HELLBOY, or Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ ownership of CRIMINAL, ICOGNITIO and FATALE, and many other examples. As such, creator’s rights in the comics industry are clearly better than they were in 1938, however much we might like them to be better than they are.

  189. blacaucasian says:

    @Carlton – You said:
    “you’ve set creator’s rights in America back to the very day Jack Leibowitz stole Superman from two kids from Cleveland.”

    This simply isn’t accurate or true. Creator’s working on this project have only served to enforce the contract signed for this property. No more, no less. Bring me evidence that DC has wholesale changed their contracts for creator owned projects due to this whole situation and you might prove your point. But there hasn’t been any evidence that that is true from what I can see.

  190. Torsten Adair says:

    Aside from this mess, and corporate comics such as Superman, what other comics or publishers have questionable creator’s rights?

  191. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Okay, this is tough to do, but I will admit that I engaged in hyperbole by not really putting my complete thought on paper.

    I was only thinking of DC and Marvel as the comics industry.

    While many comics shops are changing, a lot of comics shops that I have seen– and being in New Mexico, I have not seen the best, although I have seen one very, very, good one– are set up to sell Marvel and DC Comics.

    There are exceptions, but that’s what comics shops are for, to get DC and Marvel Super-hero comics to boys and men who want to buy DC and Marvel super-heroes.

    That’s why– even with the significant changes and improvements that I certainly acknowledge– we don’t see a significant penetration of humor comics, funny animal comics, or comics for females of any age. There are quite a few licensed comics based on TV shows popping up, and that’s good, but that’s still not a large segment of the population.

    The fact is, DC and Marvel still dominate the American industry.

    I think the fact that this project exists shows that, while great improvements have been made, there’s also been regression. At Marvel and DC.

    But also at other companies. No one likes to talk about them, but other companies– of whose success we like to speak– have been and continue to be extremely exploitative of their creative help.

    So, excuse me for my hyperbole, but let’s not play with our jots and tittles and really say it.

    This Before Watchmen project is a step in the wrong direction for creators rights and the way that large comics companies treat their help. Not all treat writers and artists badly, but some do, and this is a clear, unambiguous example of it.

    And the creators participating in it, friends of the Beat and everyone else who knows them, are complicit in it.

  192. blacaucasian says:

    There’s the whole Walking Dead Kirkman/Moore controversy.

  193. >> I was only thinking of DC and Marvel as the comics industry.>>

    Even at DC and Marvel, creators are far, far better off than they were in 1938. Of the six creator-owned books I named as examples, four of them are published by Marvel or DC.

  194. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Torsten, if you are a journalist, or know one, this is definitely an issue you should look into.

  195. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Kurt, so Chris Roberson didn’t know what he was talking about? Or you have some other information that invalidates what he said?

  196. Carlton, so glad to have another “jot and tittle” man here!

  197. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Blacaucasion– thank you. And that’s at what publisher?

  198. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Dear the Beat,

    Hot Dog!

  199. blacaucasian says:

    @Carlton – The Walking Dead is published by Image.

    From what I can garner from Roberson’s Comics Alliance comments, he specifically was referring to how Alan Moore and the Siegel/Shuster heirs were being treated.

  200. >> Kurt, so Chris Roberson didn’t know what he was talking about? >>

    No, Chris didn’t make that claim. You did.

    >> Or you have some other information that invalidates what he said? >>

    What he said was not remotely close to the idea that things are bad bad as they were in 1938, even merely at Marvel and DC.

    What he said was that he didn’t like the way DC was handling things, to the point that he didn’t want to work there any more. I applaud him for taking a stand according to his principles, and following through on it.

    But if someone — in this case, you, not him — say that things are now as bad as they were in 1938, then they’re simply wrong. If they ameliorate that — and this would be you again — by saying they only meant DC and Marvel, they’re still wrong.

    And if they try to claim that pointing out they’re wrong about that — and this would be you again — means they’re challenging what Chris said, they’re wrong a third time.

  201. Shawn Kane says:

    Kurt,
    Thanks for clearing that up for me. I guess, to me, it was the creator versus the company vibe that I was comparing and how fans are willing to defend some but not others. I believe that Roberson was well within his rights to do what he did and DC was well within their rights to do what they did.

    Thanks for all your great comics by the way!

  202. Warren A says:

    DC did not become a subsidiary of Warner’s until 1989. Watchmen was originally published in 1986-1987. So the conspiracy theorist above who suggested that: “In fact, he delivered SO WELL to DC that people higher up, at Warner’s, noticed,” should at least get his timeline straight.

  203. >> I guess, to me, it was the creator versus the company vibe that I was comparing and how fans are willing to defend some but not others.>>

    Well, sure.

    Fans aren’t machines, after all, and won’t just support one side every time, blindly (as witness this very thread!). They’ll take it case by case, and will have different feelings about different issues.

    [Fans are even capable, at times, of railing against Marvel because they don’t let creators do what they want to do, and then railing against Marvel that they didn’t rein that guy who did that thing they didn’t like in more tightly. But so it goes.]

    >> Thanks for all your great comics by the way!

    Glad you liked them. Sorry about the sucky ones.

    kdb

  204. >> DC did not become a subsidiary of Warner’s until 1989.>>

    That may have been when DC was officially moved over to be a subsidiary of Warner Bros., the movie arm. But they’ve been owned by Warner Communications (later Time Warner), in its various incarnations, since before Warner Communication was named that.

    DC and Warner’s became part of the same company in 1969, and the conglomerate has been referred to as “Warner’s” since 1972.

  205. Carlton Donaghe says:

    I’m saying that what DC is doing with the release of Before Watchmen is definitely in the same league as what DC did with Superman.

    At the same time DC was screwing the creators of Superman, they were treating Bob Kane quite well.

    It all comes down to that contract.

    And Kurt, okay, let’s play your little word game again, because it’s so hard to get the spirit of what I’m saying when you want to argue with a strict interpretation of the words.

    I’m saying I don’t find your response to my argument quite honest, but here goes.

    Roberson said that DC was unethical. He quit over that.

    He said that they were unethical.

    But please, by all means, let’s have an argument over form and structure and how well a thought was expressed rather than the real issues.

    That’s hard for some people.

  206. MBunge says:

    “I’m saying that what DC is doing with the release of Before Watchmen is definitely in the same league as what DC did with Superman.”

    You’re not helping your side. Comparing Before Watchmen to DC stealing Superman is like comparing apples to Adolf Hitler.

    Perspective. Have some.

    Mike

  207. >> Roberson said that DC was unethical. He quit over that.>>

    Yes, he did. And I support him in acting on his principles, as I’ve said.

    Pointing out that things are better than they were in 1938 does not constitute contradicting Chris, no matter how much you tried to pretend it does.

    But I’ll note that I’m not so much arguing with a strict interpretation of your words as with your efforts to blame those who responding to what you said for responding to what you said. You may not have meant it, but that doesn’t mean they are responding to something else.

  208. Carlton Donaghe says:

    They were both properties created by individuals who approached DC and signed a deal.

    I’d say that the creators of Superman and the creators of Watchmen were both idealistic and maybe a little naive.

    Both were taken advantage of by DC over properties that ended up being some of the most significant in that company’s history.

    In both cases, despite verbal assurances made by the management and executives of DC, both creative teams– upon whom, in large part, DC is built– were screwed over by the letter of the law in that contract.

    There’s your perspective.

  209. Carlton Donaghe says:

    I was replying to Mike, not Kurt, in my last one, if that helps.

  210. Bill K. says:

    207 comments and nobody has addressed the real issue. Where was all this fan outrage over “Watchman Babies in V for Vacation”?

  211. Shawn Kane says:

    So what’s the perfect model? Image? What is the best case scenario for those against Before Watchmen (I’m not buying it but I don’t fault anyone who will)? DC no longer producing comics? All writers and artists boycotting DC? Dan Didio and Jim Lee vs. Alan Moore and Chris Roberson in a fight to the death at SDCC?

    I had written in a previous post this weekend that it seems to be corporate vs. independent in alot of ways. That can turn into Dorky Superhero Comic Book Readers Living In their Mom’s Basement vs. Snooty I Only Read Indie Comics So I’ll Sneer At Your Purchases. I just hate seeing this scenario. Disagreeing about it is one thing but slagging Roberson, Moore, Gibbons, and any of the Before Watchmen creators doesn’t do a whole lot for either side. All those people made a decision. Readers can make a decision when the books come out.

  212. Chris Duffy says:

    Hey, Kurt:
    Thanks for grounding this conversation! It really helps.

  213. Shannon OLeary says:

    @Turkish: To be fair, Lee was joking around when he said that. Like I said, the conversation was amiable.

    @blaucasian: No argument HERE in the COMMENTS section of an OPINION PIECE on a BLOG that I don’t sound terribly objective. But I don’t think anyone can say that my PW write up wasn’t fair. Tough, sure, but fair? TOTALLY.

    As a freelance writer, I’m not beholden to any standard of complete and total public objectivity about something I’ve reported on. I can do reporting one place, then express my opinion in another place. It’s a free country and I’m a dynamic individual like ‘dat.

    As far as Geoff Boucher goes, he seems like an affable and knowledgeable dude. I’d just like to see Hero Complex do more than the Big Two PR re-puking they seem to always do. Call me crazy, but I expect higher standards from The LA Times…

  214. Shawn Kane says:

    By the way my description in the scenario is not how I actually view indie vs. superhero just my comment on how the internet can get carried away with stereotypes.

  215. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Shawn Kane–I agree with your points, the whole snobbery and finger-pointing is nonsense, is destructive, and is poisoning the atmosphere.

    For me, the solution is this: buy what you think is good, buy what you believe in. If you think the BW stuff is bad news, don’t buy it, and if you support Alan Moore, go buy his work. Buy Kurt Busiek’s work–and if you’ve decided not to buy DC’s stuff as a result of this controversy and then find that your favorite writer Kurt has done some work for DC, instead of calling him a scumbag or a hypocrite or whatever, just DON’T BUY IT.

    Buy indie books that you believe in. Buy Big Two books you believe in (for example, Mar Waid and Paolo Rivera and Chris Samnee’s DAREDEVIL, which is excellent). From my personal perspective, I don’t buy a lot of “event” books because I feel they’re produced out of commercial concerns rather than out of creative concerns.

    Chris Roberson said “I don’t want to work for DC for the following reasons”. What he did NOT say was “I don’t want to work for DC, and if you do you’re a douchebag, and if you buy their books, you’re a moral cripple”.

  216. @Scott & Kurt – I teach a class? I absolutely want Alan to get royalties for Watchmen, I just think it’s hypocritical for someone to agree to one part of the contract (the royalties part), but disagree to the other (the not actually getting the rights part). If he’s that upset over it, and that “over” DC, shouldn’t he just give all the money to Gibbons like he did with the movie?

  217. @Matthew

    “Chris Roberson said “I don’t want to work for DC for the following reasons”. What he did NOT say was “I don’t want to work for DC, and if you do you’re a douchebag, and if you buy their books, you’re a moral cripple”.”

    But he did say he agreed with an article entitled “The Ethical Rot Behind ‘Before Watchmen’ & ‘The Avengers'”…

  218. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Ryan–the point w/r/t Moore giving up the royalties on the movie (and David Lloyd on the V for Vendetta film) is that he’s choosing to have NOTHING to do with the films. His name is not in the credits, he’s not “approving” them, doing press for them, etc. So he takes no payment and chooses not to be involved with those ancillary products.

    He wrote WATCHMEN and feels he deserves payment for it (I can’t see how there’s any disagreement from you or anyone else on that part–he did the work, he deserves payment just like you or I would). There’s no hypocrisy there.

  219. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Ryan–I agree with some things I hear on Fox News (rarely, but every once in a blue moon). I do not, however, agree with nearly everything else they espouse.

    So for Roberson to say he agreed with an article doesn’t mean that he “endorsed” it or that it speaks for him. He’s a writer–if he wants to make a point, he’ll make the point himself, not say “I heard something I agree with, and if you want to know what I think, you should read it”.

  220. >> If he’s that upset over it, and that “over” DC, shouldn’t he just give all the money to Gibbons like he did with the movie? >>

    No. Not unless he wants to.

    He should follow his own principles, not principles you invent for him and then fault him for not following.

    If you find yourself in a similar situation, perhaps you should do that, if you think it’s the best approach, though.

    For my part, I’d keep the movie money, too. But that’s me.

    kdb

  221. @Matthew – I don’t disagree, he absolutely should be paid royalties, BUT if he’s abiding by the contract, DC can do whatever they want with the characters, hence my claim of hypocrisy of wanting the part that benefits him, but not the part that doesn’t.

    Curiously, and I might have just missed this, does he get royalties for Before Watchmen, and has he stated what he’ll do with the money? I think I’ve only read one interview with him about this, and don’t remember if it was brought up.

  222. I don’t know of anyone who thinks that if you object to one part of a contract, the only proper thing to do is to make sure you do not benefit from that contract, while people who you feel tricked you do.

    In fact, in many contracts I’ve signed, there’s a clause that specifically says that if any clause in the contract turns out to be illegal or unenforceable, the other clauses will still apply, or something like that. There is no “Unless the contract is perfect, I refuse all benefit from it” clause, and I don’t think there should be.

  223. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Ryan–I can’t remember what he’s said on that front, either.

  224. @Kurt – Heh, actually I agree, didn’t think of it quite like that. But either way, I think it’s strange to be taking money with one hand, and punching the person in the face with the other hand.

    But then, people on the other side of this discussion think that DC is giving Moore money with one hand and punching *him* with the other, so I guess it comes back to money being the only important thing in the world.

  225. >> I don’t know of anyone who thinks that if you object to one part of a contract, the only proper thing to do is to make sure you do not benefit from that contract, while people who you feel tricked you do.>>

    No, wait, I do. That’s a pretty good paraphrase of Steve Ditko’s reaction to feeling he was treated unethically.

    Okay, only one person.

  226. >> I think it’s strange to be taking money with one hand, and punching the person in the face with the other hand.>>

    If the money’s being earned by your work, then punching someone with one hand while saying, “No, no, you keep it!” with the other seems even weirder.

    I assume Chris Roberson will still cash iZOMBIE royalty checks, and while Stephen King eventually disliked his Doubleday deal enough to go publish elsewhere, he still gets paid by Doubleday. I think it’d be possible to make a long list of people who don’t like what a company has done but who still get their share of moneys from work they did for that company.

    I think if you extend the idea to alimony, taking money you feel you’ve earned from people you no longer like is pretty common.

  227. blacaucasian says:

    @Shannon – Fair enough. I apologize. I should have read your article before posting. It was both tough and fair.

    @Matthew – His tweet in relation to the article was “This essay by @hermanos on @ComicsAlliance describes my own feelings pretty much exactly:”

    I see a vast difference between pointing people towards an article that makes points you agree with and what he says above. I suppose it’s neither here nor there at this point anyways.

  228. This thread is just another example of why I love Kurt Busiek.

    Even if he does root for the Red Sox.

  229. Shawn Kane says:

    @Matthew
    Guys like you and Kurt Busiek bring alot of class to the conversation. I’m glad to support guys like you.

  230. Go Sox!

    kdb

  231. Matthew Southworth says:

    Thanks, Shawn!

  232. Turkish says:

    “@Turkish: To be fair, Lee was joking around when he said that. Like I said, the conversation was amiable.”

    He still said it. And he probably does want you to steal them from the internet in the hopes that you’ll see the error of your ways and all that rot.

  233. Kurt B. = right about everything, but ESPECIALLY about them Red Sox!

  234. Alan Moore isn’t taking DC’s money, he’s taking Alan Moore’s money. It’s not a gift, it’s his cut, for work he did. Letting DC keep the money or transferring it to someone else will not change the situation he’s in, it will just keep him from the rightful reward for his work.

    The concept that the other work that Moore did for DC didn’t justify good treatment to him based on their ongoing sales is silly. Moore’s work is not only brought out again and again, but it is the only work I can think of at the moment to come out of DC which has generated DC income from produced cinema based directly on it. Moore co-created Constantine, the basis for the movie of the same name (as well as the basis for what off the top of my head is probably the longest-running comics title DC has launched in decades); he completed V For Vendetta at DC and apparently they ended up with the film rights through that; and elements that he created have ended up in other movies, such as the second Swamp Thing film. This has made Moore’s work quite valuable; a publisher would be glad to have had more of it.

    @Kurt: the specific situation of 1963 involves not just the American standard for shared copyright, but specific written agreements that exist between the creators which have the effect of giving Moore veto power on such a reprint. I have no idea if any similar agreements exist for Moore & Gibbon on Watchmen.

  235. Whoops, left out a clause, “at the moment to come out of DC SINCE MOORE STARTED THERE which has generated DC income from produced cinema based directly on it.”

  236. Also, I know how to spell the name “Dave Gibbons”. And while I was typing that flawed message, the corned beef that I was cooking was somehow becoming the flavor of pot roast… must be something in the air.

  237. Okay peeps, let’s all hit the shower for a while rest up and get ready for tomorrow’s part 2, in which we have a history lesson.