New Alan Moore barbaric yawp: two wrongs don't make a right

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201203140324 New Alan Moore barbaric yawp: two wrongs don't make a right
A new Alan Moore interview, a new round of controversy! This time it’s a 90-minute chat with Seraphemera Magazine that reveals Moore’s feelings on BEFORE WATCHMEN—he doesn’t like it—their creative teams—uncreative—and so on. He also addresses the “Moore Hypocrisy” with which fans love to cut him down to size: if touching the Watchmen is so bad, how come you can write LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN? Yeah, answer that, big boy!

Yeah, I know that people think I’ve been terribly mean to the poor little American comics industry.  It’s so unfair when you think about it, isn’t it, that you’ve got a barely-educated fuck from the English midlands picking upon this huge multinational corporation.  You know, I ought to be ashamed of myself.

With regard to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, what I’m doing with that is a kind of literary game that has been going on as long as books have been around.

I mean, it probably started with whoever came up with Jason and the Argonauts, who thought, “Hey wouldn’t it be great if we had a sort of Justice League of ancient Greece.  And we got Hercules and Jason and all of these other characters and you know…”

More recently, you have authors like Edgar Allan Poe.  He writes The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.  Jules Verne thinks it’s great, so he writes a sequel to it.  H.P. Lovecraft–he likes the same story, so he writes his conclusion to it in At the Mountains of Madness.

I don’t think any of these people would have minded because they were all good writers who were all bringing something new to the mix.  They weren’t exploiting the original works.  Jules Verne called his novella, The Ice Sphinx or Le Sphinx Des Glaces.  He didn’t call it The Return of Arthur Gordon Pym.

So, what we’re doing is taking these characters that are mostly in the public domain.   If they’re not in the public domain, they are only referred to glancingly, as a bit of a cultural joke.

It’s a bit different to bringing out a comic called Rorschach.

I don’t mind people referencing my characters.  It happens quite a bit.  I don’t even mind, like I say, with characters like John Constantine–who I’ve got no interest in anymore.  I expected him to be handled by other writers.

But there’s no real comparison.  In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I am not adapting characters.  I am flat out stealing them in what I think is an honorable way.


Moore also goes on about his WATCHMEN contract (they were supposed to get it back when it went out of print…HA!) , his falling out with Dave Gibbons…all stuff that has been hashed out before but here gets hashed out at length in a “Director’s Cut” version.

Predictably, fans have yowled and howled about Moore’s yowlings and howlings. But you know, thinking about all this for a bit, so WHAT if Moore wrote LOST GIRLS? That doesn’t mean that doing BEFORE WATCHMEN against his express consent is a GOOD thing. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s a false moral equivalency.

I think I have the same reaction when every one of these interviews comes up: Let Alan be Alan. It’s sad that he badmouths some talented current creators but…well BEFORE WATCHMEN is just Not a Good Idea. Yes, yes, we need it to save the comics industry.

But since this is the industry where rehashing the ideas of a singular talent is way more feasible than trying to get NEW ideas from singular talents like Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, and Brian Azzarello…well, you can see why some folks, like Alan Moore, are a bit ambivalent on saving THAT particular industry.

Comments

  1. The end of this got just a bit histrionic, didn’t it?

    I’m really surprised that “how do you feel about this, Alan?” is still a question, because as far as I know Watchmen was 100% work for hire. His feelings are basically irrelevant. This strikes me as the comics press version of sensationalistic journalism.

  2. And BTW, that’s not me defending the integrity of Before Watchmen. I just feel like this issue has been way too dragged out. It’s happening, we can’t change it, and Alan Moore has no real right to complain.

  3. Earth-2 Chad says:

    I’m really surprised that “how do you feel about this, Alan?” is still a question, because as far as I know Watchmen was 100% work for hire.

    According to Moore in the linked interview (and elsewhere), it’s a bit more complicated than that. Me, I’m surprised it’s still a question simply because we all know how Alan Moore feels about it at this point. That said, I can’t stop myself from reading his answers every time the issue is raised.

    I just feel like this issue has been way too dragged out. It’s happening, we can’t change it, and Alan Moore has no real right to complain.

    What? He has every right to complain. As you note, he can’t stop Before Watchmen from happening, but come on, he’s perfectly within his rights to complain about the fact that the series is coming out, and in a perfect world, fans would listen to him and not buy it.

  4. What’s wrong with LOST GIRLS?

  5. Come on, it’s not like we’re reading some unknown dude’s opinions. I think Mr. Moore has a realistic gripe… that the industry of comics in America is much like the rest of the entertainment industry. It’s run by greedy, talentless, soulless corporate businessmen. There aren’t new ideas in the big two, there’s just rehashes, re-tellings. There’s no forward motion artistically, there’s just commerce. Who wants that?

    Just for the record, I have no interest in ‘Before Watchmen’. Go back and read the source material. None of these new books are going to tell us anything about these characters than isn’t already in Mr. Moore’s legendary work. These hack writers are just picking up characters Moore created and playing with them. Pretending to be writers.

    Alan Moore is one of the greatest minds in this medium. When he speaks, I listen.

  6. Harry says:

    The guy is nuts, paranoid, wacko… Too much dope and this is what happens to once upon a time genius writer.

  7. Rich Johnson says:

    I must first identify myself as a former DC employee. For years I sold Watchmen into bookstores and libraries and was proud to do so and I always assumed that the book was kept in print for one reason – it continued to sell. Year after year it was a top selling book in both the direct and book markets. One of the reasons Watchmen is a classic is that DC had the resources to keep it in print and alive for all these years. One wonders what would have happened to the book had the rights reverted back to Mr. Moore. Would it have achieved what it did if it didn’t have the resources of a company like DC behind it? The ability to have books in stock and available for all retailers was an enormous asset when graphic novels expanded into other markets and helped comic shops build their graphic novel business.

  8. I think fans like to point out the hypocrisy because we are tired of hearing his exhaustive shit. Now it’s to the point where he is burning bridges with his past collaborators. And while he cuts out gibbons from his life, I’m sure he is still enjoying the print royalties he gets from the trades he finds so abhorrent. Sales, I’m sure, which are help by Mr. Gibbons superior and innovative artwork. And the whole ‘my bastardization of other creators characters is ok because it’s been done forever and they would’ve really really liked it I’m sure’ is rather silly and hair splitting to me. But whatever helps him sleep at night.

  9. I remain unconvinced doing Before Watchman is a GOOD thing but I suspect yowlers see BW not as a case where “two wrongs make a right” so much as “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” I hope we can all agree that illegally using someone’s intellecutal property is wrong but what about when it is legal? Is there a moral difference between using characters in the public domain vs. using characters for which a company (fairly or unfairly) retains rights vs. using someone else’s characters for parody/satire? Moore thinks original authors “wouldn’t have minded” but, when one is stealing/swiping/satirizing, does perceived permission even matter (what about Fleming’s Bond or Lost Girls)? I don’t have the answers so that’s what makes this brouhaha so interesting to watch.

  10. I have no interest in who owns what; under any sane copyright regime, all of these characters would have been in the public domain a long time ago. But I do care about whether creators whose work I admire waste their time telling uninteresting stories.

    The story of the characters in Watchmen has been told. Completely. Move on.

  11. Correct me if I’m wrong here:

    Alan Moore/Gibbons et al still own the copyright to Watchmen and its characters. Creating new Watchmen stories with these characters is copyright infringement. It’s like if Marvel all of a sudden started publishing new Batman stories. Or perhaps more accurately: if DC began publishing new Sandman stories without Gaiman’s consent. DC have the power of attorney over Moore so are essentially signing consent forms against his will so they can do what they want. So he publicly comes out and says, as loudly and with as much venom as possible, “No”

    Re: Watchmen being “100% work-for-hire”. Read up on the subject for five minutes and you’ll see that’s a nonsense statement. The deal was not a work-for-hire deal. I don’t think even DC dispute this.

    Rich Johnson – I find it unbelievably that you suggest Moore and co. wouldn’t keep Watchmen in print once the rights returned to them. That’s fantasy land. Particularly if, as you say yourself, it was selling so well. One of three things would have happened: 1) Moore/Gibbons would publish it themselves 2) They’d move it to another publisher or 3) they’d have simply signed a new publishing deal with DC allowing them 5 or 10 years to continue publishing it. In my opinion, had DC acted ethically and with some common business sense, 3 would have been the likely option. Instead, they went for the quick buck.

    The Big Two are eating themsevles. Before Watchmen won’t save them. The New 52 won’t save them. Avengers vs. JLA won’t save them. Because they continually make bad business moves, alienate not only their customers but also their most successful, profitable and unique creative talents (look at all those folks jumping to Image this year: the writing’s on the wall). Comics is the only business in the world that punishes those who are really good at it. Why is that?

    What I found interesting about the article (which no news site seems to have picked up on) is his insight into DC’s publishing schedule: it was supposed to be BW first and when they ran into legal trouble they rushed out the New 52. This does gel with reality: The New 52 was a rush-job with sloppy planning and execution while BW seems to have been done and dusted (story and art) for a while now.

    I won’t be buying Before Watchmen. I will continue to buy Cooke’s Parker series of books which are excellent and I’ll always check out Azzarello’s projects. I just wish we had a comics industry that would give these guys the same amount of motivation, enthusiasm and publicity for their own work than they do for rehashing past glories.

  12. Kenny G says:

    The new52 was rushed but I doubt it was because BW ran into legal problems. Their sales were tanking. GL was #1 in February with 71k sales. They had no midlist, and lower selling titles were languishing at 20k.

  13. Fair enough KennyG. It was probably a number of factors but as you say, sales is likely to have been the big one. I do think the New 52 was their best opportunity to really innovate their line and push things forward so I do wish they had taken more time and planning for it and really nailed it instead of the big, giant mess of a thing that we got instead.

    I buy more Image and Dark Horse than either of the Big Two these days anyway. And I do feel good about it because I know I’m directly supporting the creators involved. But it is the stories I’m most interested in and DC/Marvel don’t seem to have any of those left in them, unfortunately.

  14. Rich Johnson says:

    From PreacherCain

    “Rich Johnson – I find it unbelievably that you suggest Moore and co. wouldn’t keep Watchmen in print once the rights returned to them.”

    Preacher – I don’t know why you would find it “unbelievably”, or even unbelievable for that matter, as the world was different back in the mid 1980’s for graphic novels. Most publishers did not have a significant publishing program for graphic novels, and there was almost no presence (aside from a few titles) in bookstores and libraries for these books. Another publisher (or Moore and Gibbon on their own) might have not had the financial resources to keep a book alive in a limited market. Additionally, it is common practice in publishing for there to be an out-of-print clause. DC keeping Watchmen – along with other books – in print helped to build graphic novels as a viable category in new markets.

  15. Spelling aside (ouch! by the way), that doesn’t take into account my third and most likely option.

    Surely DC would have offered to continue keeping it in print due to its profitability and ability to open new markets hitherto unknown to comcis and Moore et al would have likely agreed had things been done differently and DC didn’t insist on such self-destructive businesss policies.

  16. hcduvall says:

    @Rich

    One thing to remember is that foolish as the contract was, before Watchmen nothing stayed in print. It was basically a gentleman’s agreement/expectation that it would sell what a trade back then usually sold, it would get a couple of runs and then revert. DC is well within legal rights to continue, but no one expected a perennial seller. And there’s an argument to be made that it doesn’t matter if DC has kept it in print, a work can go to crap if the creator’s want it to–not that they did. We want it available, as the audience and as the consumers, but that doesn’t trump the creator’s wishes to me. It could just as easily been sold a couple of times and licensed back. Books change publishers all the time. What rights and expectations there are over public domain characters, with dead creators is something else again.

  17. Justin H. says:

    “I think I have the same reaction when every one of these interviews comes up: Let Alan be Alan. It’s sad that he badmouths some talented current creators but…well BEFORE WATCHMEN is just Not a Good Idea.”

    Pretty much my take.

  18. Doing “Before Watchmen” is like some film maker doing “Citizen Kane: the Early Years.”

  19. Synsidar says:

    I’m sympathetic to Moore’s complaints, simply because of the aesthetics. WATCHMEN wasn’t conceived as a classic work, but was hailed as one quickly. People at DC were resistant to commercially exploiting WATCHMEN, presumably because they know that the exploitation will hurt DC’s image and diminish WATCHMEN’s status. Compare the exploitation of WATCHMEN to, say, taking a hit TV series and creating five or six spin-offs. The talents involved might try their best, but they’re not likely to match the success of the original; the original series will be damaged by the dilution of talent, shifts of attention, and oversupply of programming on one topic; and creative failures in the spin-offs will reflect badly on the original series. Everyone would be better off if WATCHMEN was allowed to remain a singular work. If the themes in WATCHMEN are appealing, then do original stories that make use of them.

    SRS

  20. Sarah Velez says:

    @Rich: Well From Hell is a classic, and IMO the best thing Moore’s done. Certainly didn’t need DC’s loving arm around it to achieve that status. Look at Frank Miller’s Sin City stuff–it’s very well regarded–again, didn’t need the big two keeping the rights to make it a classic.

    A classic is a classic. In print or out of print. I think Elektra Assassin is out of print again, it’s still one of the best books Marvel has ever done.

    As for Moore, I think many of the points he raises about the industry, particularly the fan culture around the industry that enables these abuses, are pretty important.

    The Comic industry has needed for the longest time, and still needs, unionization. But it’s the willing-scab fanboys who make that impossible.

  21. If we are tired of hearing his exhaustive shit (and we are) and we already know the answer (and we do), then why do we keep asking him the question?

  22. “If we are tired of hearing his exhaustive shit (and we are) and we already know the answer (and we do), then why do we keep asking him the question?”

    The man has a right to defend himself and speak his mind. Nobody is forcing you to read it. Move on to something else if you’re not interested.

  23. “A classic is a classic. In print or out of print. I think Elektra Assassin is out of print again, it’s still one of the best books Marvel has ever done.”

    Rich’s point, however, is that the sales velocity of the book (which is WHY, in fact the SOLE REASON, that DC wants prequels — those 21k copies each and every year in the bookstores, and, likely, an equal amount in the DM) might not be such if DC hadn’t kept in print continuously.

    ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN *is* a wonderful, weighty, classic work, but when it comes back into print this year, I’m guessing that the print run will be well south of 10k, and, if we judge by Marvel past performance, it will slip back out of print within 18 months. And why? Because Marvel has done a terrible job over the last three decades of keeping the book in print and “active” and ATTRACTIVE on the market.

    It actually turns out that maintenance of backlist (keeping books in print, refreshing the trade dress periodically, making sure the book gets racked) is actually incredibly impactful for how that backlist sells.

    *If* the rights had reverted in, say, 1990, I am certainly not convinced that the book *would* be in print today.

    -B

  24. Is there an audio version of this interview? “This time it’s a 90-minute chat with Seraphemera Magazine” bit makes it sound like there could be an audio file around somewhere. If so, (and if you’ve got a link), could you post it? Thanks!

  25. Rich Johnson says:

    Brian

    I agree a classic is a classic, but because DC has kept Watchmen as well as a host of other books in print over the years, they are more in the minds of fans and consumers that sadly ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN. The book market has been the only market where DC has consistently beaten Marvel is sales over the years and they still do. Is there a reason KINGDOM COME outsells MARVELS by a 5 to 1 ratio? I would argue that one of the reasons is that DC has consistently kept the book in print for the past fifteen years and Marvel has not. That constant presence is what help expand the audience for what is considered a “classic”.

  26. Chris Hero says:

    I agree with JeffF and I’m solidly a pro-Moore guy. He’s said everything he possibly has to say about the topic and it’s clearly an emotional topic for him. No wonder he says some stuff that rubs people the wrong way. I don’t know anyone who can calmly talk about a topic they’re really mad about over and over without saying a few emotionally charged things.

    And no wonder Moore is paranoid. Read the section about Gibbons again. The dude got offered $250K to sign off on BW and then continued to pester Moore about it after Moore asked him not to. If most of my friends were bought off by a company I’d been trying to distance myself from, I’d be a bit paranoid, too.

    I dunno. I find it hard to disagree with anything Moore said. Cooke, Conner, and Jae Lee are phenomenal talents who have been pissing their gifts away and will likely never create anything worthwhile. Cooke’s Parker books are just adaptations of someone else’s novels, Conner has only dabbled in non-DC work, and besides Hellshock, has Jae Lee done anything creative? Like Moore said, these guys aren’t creative…they’re talented illustrators.

  27. Charles says:

    @Brian Hibbs

    What does Marvel have to do with this discussion?

    Obsessed much?

    Watchmen was a solid success back then and yes, if Moore got the rights back he could have moved the work to other publishers not necessarily Marvel.

  28. goggles says:

    It’s nice to see Moore can still work the system. He needs to plug his LOEG book so he does an interview that creates some headlines about a topic he insists he won’t talk about and is “over”.

    He signed a bad deal and got screwed. Fine. If he’s “emotionally detached” why does he lash out at everyone (including fans)? Because he’s not over it and he’s acting like a child about it.

    It’s nice to know he can put such qualifiers on his friends where they have to call him to thank him for the money. Even though, Gibbons is a co-creator.

    As a retailer, should I call him and thank him for the money or should I mail back all my copies of his works since I am not the fan he wants? Oh, but it’s nice to know he is “out of comics”.

    This doesnt even touch on how ridiculous his argument is how his stealing characters is okay but others writing Watchmen, that is company owned, is not.

    The man is entertaining, but damn is he a walking contradiction.

    Maybe he should

  29. “What does Marvel have to do with this discussion? Obsessed much?”

    I was specifically replying to Sarah Velez above, who made equivalency to ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN — both classics, but one is out of print most of the time, and doesn’t sell all that well when brought back.

    Hard to discuss E:A without mentioning the name of the publisher?

    -B

  30. goggles says:

    *Maybe he should actually walk away, like he claims he has.

  31. Andre Z says:

    Hibbs never passes up a chance to express his hatred of all things Marvel. Wish he would just stop carrying their product so we wouldn’t have to listen to him whine about them anymore….

  32. Chris Hero says:

    One more thing…

    The whole Lost Girls/LOEG/”stealing literary characters” thing…it’s an old tradition!

    Authors have been co-opting each others characters into their works for *centuries*. One of my favorite is the French gentleman thief, Arsene Lupin, who squared off against Sherlock Holmes, but Conan Doyle got upset over it, so then Lupin’s nemesis became Herlock Sholmes.

    Another difference is these authors aren’t taking sole ownership of these characters. They’re just borrowing them.

  33. “I was too stupid and naive to read a contract I signed” is a sad statement, but whining about his fuck up all these years later shows he’s unable to accept HIS mistake and move on (or his willingness to exploit the sensational side of Watchmen to help his other books).

    No one comes calling to interview him about Lost Girls do they?

    It’s hard to swallow the hypocrisy regarding reuse of other characters in his own work. He thinks DC are “stealing” from him (by legally using characters he created), but he’s above it all morally because he’s utilizing a historical literary tradition? That’s a high level delusion right there.

    He’s a great talent, but his legacy is turning from great writer to great whiner.

  34. goggles says:

    @Chris Hero

    ..and none of the DC creators will own the Watchmen characters either. They’re doing work for hire.

  35. goggles – I never have the sense from these interviews Moore is gearing to talk about the book or the issues surrounding it. He has divorced himself from comics and unless the interviewer decides right out of the gate to ask him about it, I don’t see him really focusing on it. But if asked he answers, and Alan Moore is essentially an Ent and his answers take a long time, because anything worth saying is worth taking a long time to say.

    And I have to disagree with you on his stealing of characters. I did not know who Alan Quartermain was until LOEG, and I’m not an unread person. If Watchmen is full of pastiches of the Charleton comics characters it is because that company failed and the characters were sitting around for DC to use. An Alan Moore book is an Alan Moore book. I am not reading it because of some fascination with whichever obscure Charleton character Dr Manhattan was based on. I read the very first issue of Supreme, and had no interest in reading another until Moore wrote it.

    Before Watchmen is an explicit attempt to sell exactly the characters Moore transformed into something that was readable.

    The creators working on Before Watchmen may in fact take these characters and do something very different with them, transform them into something new and unique that moves them away from Moore’s work, but every single one of those issue #1s is being sold with Moore’s name in invisible ink on the cover, no matter what anyone tries to say otherwise.

  36. I don’t think anyone is arguing that DC hasn’t done a fine job on the whole keeping Watchmen in print all these years and making it a centerpiece of the graphic novel market in book stores. They obviously have.

    But I also think it’s unfair to argue that Moore and Gibbons couldn’t have made an equal success with the book on their own. We’ll never know! And the reason we’ll never know is because they were never allowed to get the rights back. I think there’s a fair case to be made that even though the graphic novel market wasn’t at all what it is now in the late ’80s, there were longterm successes that were not pioneered by DC. Maus stayed in print all these years through Pantheon, remember.

    The question is whether or not Moore and Gibbons were misled – unintentionally or otherwise – at the contract phase. All public records on this matter from the ’80s through today seem to indicate that someone at DC made them feel like they’d earn their rights back eventually. That they haven’t means at the very best, whoever that person was communicated with them as poorly as anyone negotiating anything ever has, and at the very worst, it means they were lied to.

    Any way you slice that, it reflects poorly on DC as a publisher who cares about keeping A-list talent well informed or happy.

  37. goggles says:

    @William Owen

    Agreed, it’s sales driven. Agreed, Before Watchmen is with his invisible name on the cover. No question. I agree with much of what you say.

    It’s difficult for Moore to come up with an answer to how his using the characters (he never owned or licensed like James Bond) is different from the generation of Before Watchmen. That’s all.

    And I’m not debating whether they SHOULD be made or not. I’ve heard plenty of good arguments either way.

    The only difference I would offer about the interview is that he IS still making comics and he does the interview specifically to plug the book. If the transcript is the entire interview, you can see how the subject magically jumps to the book plug at the very end, like in every other interview with any one on TV, etc. He has clearly not divorced himself from comics.

    And he is like an Ent. lol

  38. Watchmen is one of the five best comics released to the US market (though a product of the UK, I know).

    Watchmen might be THE BEST American comic. Might be, maybe not. I’m sad and angered that the people don’t miss an opportunity to tear down a writer who has given so much and has lost so much.

    He’s a much better man about what has happened to him than I would have been in his position.

  39. Torsten Adair says:

    http://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?v1=29&ti=26,29&Search_Arg=Watchmen&Search_Code=TALL&CNT=25&PID=mddJ3JlpUGrHcgdVjbf7Ls2d8H5&SEQ=20120314140934&SID=3

    “Copyright Claimant: D C Comics, Inc.”

    Amazon has a “Look Inside!” preview, which shows the copyright page.
    The compilation and the original series is owned by DC Comics.
    They also claim trademarks on everything in the book.

    As to the reversion clause: that is quite common in publishing. Many bestselling authors are published by two or more publishers, usually when the author switches over to a better deal (Stephen King), or an editor gets fired (Matt Groening). Usually, the copyright is owned by the author, with publishing rights reverting when a title goes out of print.

  40. Here’s a question I’m not hearing addressed as much as I’d like to is, why and when should one co-creators wishes trump the others? Two questions, technically.

  41. William Harms says:

    @Darryl: What has he lost? He wrote something twenty-plus years ago that’s gone on to sell truckloads of copies and earn him non-stop royalties for all those years. He (and Gibbons) even had financial participation with the movie. I wish all comic creators had those problems.

    If he didn’t want DC publishing the book, he didn’t have to sign the contract. And the “rights reversion upon the work going out of print” is not some dirty trick. That is standard for any book publishing contract and has been for a long time.

  42. goggles says:

    @Darryl Ayo

    Destroying relationships, minimizing other’s works as well as creators and lashing out at fans tends to rub some folks the wrong way.

    He’s gotten riches and fame from his success and beloved by MANY. He strikes me as the type that is constantly moving the goal posts. As evidenced by the fact that he humg Gibbons out there on “thank me for me the money” bullshit.

  43. If, as he says, Alan Moore still owns the copyright to Watchmen, then 35 years after he signed the initial contract granting DC whatever rights he granted, he can reclaim all those rights. So if he signed in 1985, then he can get all his rights back in 2020–eight years away, not so long in legal time. And if he signed earlier, say, ’84, it’s even sooner. Start making plans with a US copyright lawyer now, Alan, since it takes a few years to go through the process of reclamation.

  44. If we all just stopped asking him about Watchmen, I think we all could stop pitching a bitch about it.

  45. Derrick A. Richardson says:

    @ William Harms

    “rights reversion upon the work going out of print” is an out. If it doesn’t sell, the creators get their creation back. If it does sell, and in Watchmen’s case like gangbusters, then keep them presses goin’, they’re never getting this golden goose back!

    Just because it’s standard, doesn’t make it right. It’s amazing the things you can get financially desperate and business unwise creatives with stars in their eyes to sign and give away. This industry was created on them. Still is.

    As always Heidi, thank you for the heads up on an amazing and powerful interview. Unfortunately, just about everything he said is right.

    Arrested development indeed.

  46. Joe S. Walker says:

    Where Moore really comes across as a prick in this interview is in the stuff about giving the artists all his money from the movies and only wanting them to say “Thank you”, and breaking off relations with them when they didn’t.

  47. blacaucasian says:

    I’m so tired of this whole thing. Alan Moore signed a contract. No one put a gun to his head to sign it. You play with big multi-national conglomerates, your probably going to get screwed. There are a lot better examples of people getting screwed in the comics industry (Kirby getting NOTHING from Marvel, Ditko vs Stan Lee, hell even Siegel and Shuster have a sketchier case then Alan Moore) then Alan Moore. If he wanted to rights back, he should have had it in the contract that they revert back in x amount of time regardless.

    He signed a shitty contract (that he still, according to all accounts, gets payments from DC periodically on). Talk to any number of musicians in dealings with the record business, any filmmakers dealing with Hollywood, you’ll find stories like this for ages before. It wasn’t the 40’s or 50’s or even the 60’s, it was the 80’s.

    For as brilliant as Alan Moore is touted as being, the fact that he signed this crappy contract in the 80’s after a history of corporations taking advantage of artists they employ strikes me as dumb, not naive (as he states).

    Life is tough, sometimes people lose out from doing stupid things like signing bad contracts. Suck it up, do that art you want to do as you say you want to, and move on.

  48. Goggles – Again, I don’t think it is difficult for him to explain or for others to understand his approach.

    Before Watchmen uses Moore’s creations to tell Watchmen-like stories that lead up to Watchmen.

    They aren’t taking Rorschach and dumping him on another planet where the people’s psychology manifests in chromotic pigmentation changes and Rorschach is made into a sort of shaman because his face is only black and white.

    That would not be a Watchmen story. That would be more like taking a group of classic literary characters and making them into a super-hero team in late victorian England fending off an Alien Invasion. The Wilhelmina Murray character I think I know at the beginning of LOEG is not the Wilhelmina character in LOEG.

    The difference is that just by naming Before Watchmen ‘Before Watchmen’, I already know exactly who those characters will be at the end of that story.

  49. “I’m sad and angered that the people don’t miss an opportunity to tear down a writer who has given so much and has lost so much.”

    I’d imagine most people wouldn’t try to tear him down if he didn’t use every interview as an opportunity to tear down other creators, often for no good reason whatsoever.

    Great writer or not, the man is a petty, narcissistic asshole.

  50. I’d say he has every reason to tear into those other “creators”. At least one of whom whose work he supported in the past. It’s a shit move on their part and they all know it.

    ‘Least Morrison did the honourable thing. And Morrison and Moore don’t even seem to like each other all that much but Morrison still has the integrity and respect to realize this is a shitty (and creatively pointless) thing to do.

  51. Finally, I think it’s important not to get too sidetracked by these ancillary issues. I do personally feel he has every right to be angry and to call out these so-called peers of his and demand an explanation. Every right. I can see why people don’t like this, of course.

    Regardless of whether you like Moore or not, regardless of whether you think he should or shouldn’t be speaking out against everyone involved in the BW project, regardless of any inferences of madness or hysteria or narcissism or arrogance you might take from that interview, I think the MAIN point he was making throughout the interview, the point he repeatedly returned to was absolutely, 100% correct.

    The Big Two’s business model is broken. It does not work. Their antagonism towards the creative side of what they do, their punishment of those who produce the most successful and profitable comics (not just Moore, but many, many others (look at the most recent Static Shock debacle), their maltreatment not just of creators but also their customers and retailers: it does not work. The practices of the US mainstream comics industry are entirely self-destructive and creatively reductive, and those creators/readers who support it have to share in the blame. That’s why sales are plummeting. And no quick fix like The New 52 or BW or anything else is going to solve the inherent problems at the very core of their business model.

  52. William Harms says:

    @Derrick: If you were to go up to the average writer and ask them how they’d feel if they wrote a book twenty-years ago that was still in print and still earning royalties, I bet every one of them would be happy with that arrangement.

    It’s the way publishing works. It’s the way publishing will always work. It’s not some scam.

    If DC had kept the book in print all these years and paid nothing in royalties, then Moore would have a legit bone to pick. But that’s not the case.

  53. adfas says:

    “Two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s a false moral equivalency.”

    But the point is, it isn’t really an equivalency at all. Not beyond an extremely myopic viewpoint.

    Moore’s ground up Nietzchean refurbishing of Marvel Man/Miracleman is NOTHING LIKE someone doing a comic about cases Rorschach (that same character) solved in the past, as already referenced in Watchmen.

    Moore taking Mina Harker into the future and having her meet the Invisible Man and Captain Nemo is NOTHING LIKE someone going back and telling a story with the Comedian set in Vietnam… because Moore ALREADY basically told us about the Comedian’s history. But Bram Stoker didn’t even think about Mina Harker as if she continued to live into the 20th century.

    These lines of comparison don’t work at all to cast aspersions on Moore. If anything, they only go to show how much more innovative and creative he is any anyone else who ever worked in comics besides maybe Jack Kirby. I don’t see how anyone capable of thinking about ideas within larger contexts, as opposed to picking and choosing tiny infinitesimal factoids, could even entertain these comparisons for more than two seconds. What Moore did with the Lost Girls characters was incredibly transgressive, genre-breaking and historical. It’s loads different from plotting out a comic that just flashbacks to when the Silk Spectre was younger.

    It’s like people are trying to equate “dramatic reenactments” in news shows with historical dramas. It’s like saying “Yeah, Schindler’s List is just a ripoff of something that already happened, so Spielberg is really no better than any nameless producer who guides you through how a house was recently burglarized.

  54. Chris Hero says:

    Gah…I just don’t understand the people who look for reasons to hate Moore. I just don’t…..

    Moore’s beef with Gibbons isn’t only over Gibbons not thanking him. Did anyone who thinks so read the interview? Moore couldn’t have given a more thorough, heartbreaking answer on it.

    As far as tearing down other “creators,” who can blame him? It’s an emotional topic people keep pestering him about. Who hasn’t said something bad about someone else while they were angry?

    And the people who are unsympathetic about the contract….you guys have hearts made out of stone.

  55. MBunge says:

    “If anything, they only go to show how much more innovative and creative he is any anyone else who ever worked in comics besides maybe Jack Kirby.”

    Except for that whole thing about actually creating original stuff as opposed to brilliant work that is derrivative of what someone else did.

    Mike

  56. I presume he means innovative in terms of storytelling techniques and literary devices etc. etc. Not many people understand storytelling mechanics like Moore, to be fair. He’s able to conjure up atmosphere like few others.

    Kirby’s one of those other guys that got screwed for being really good at what they do, isn’t he? ;)

  57. You know having thought about this…
    I think that the new creators should have their say with “WATCHMAN-esque” derivative works as long as they…
    SIGN THE DAMN CONTRACT THAT ALAN MOORE WAS GIVEN.

    Every single creator living today has benefited from his sacrifice. And they will still be benefiting from his stand on the issues well after Alan Moore is gone.

    As for me, I will mentally replace all their covers as I walk by with memories of U.S.1 when they are on the comic racks. Yes, they will exist but only as myths of the corporate mandated crap that they really are.

    As for the creators…
    A nice note to Alan Moore telling him how much you appreciate him changing the industry in your financial and creative favor would be nice. He’s a gentleman’s gentleman (yes, I’ve met and talked with at length) and he’d think well of the gesture. Oh, and I don’t think he’s bothered by the creators doing this anywhere near as much as the corporation that won’t let his contract expire.

  58. MBunge – V for Vendetta, From Hell, a bajillion future shocks, D.R. and Quinch, Top 10, Big Numbers – actually created original work that is brilliant without being derivative.

  59. Chris Hero says:

    I’m addicted to this stuff…what about Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson? I’m still angry both of them have been screwed over so horribly by the comics industry.

    The comics industry feasts on the genius of people like Finger, Robinson, Kirby, Ditko, and Moore and the fans lap it up by demanding more stories based on their favorite IPs. And the fans don’t care who’s hurt or lied to, they just want more and more and more.

    And why do the fans even want superheroes when they’re not interested in real life morality? They just want simple stories of someone with a green ring fighting zombies but they can’t read it a level deeper and ask who are the zombies?

    And maybe it’s just me, but I see the difference in like Eric Shanowar’s Oz books at Marvel and Moore’s various literary themed books from Batman and Superman stories because novels are different from comics. Shanowar and Young have new things to say abour the world of Oz; Moore and O’Neil have new things to say about all their characters. There’s a reason to read that stuff.

  60. The wrong-headed animosity so many diaper-wearing fanboys harbor for Alan Moore is a truly nauseating spectacle to behold. I wonder how many of these bleating man-babies even read the linked interview before opening their brainless and hateful maws? I hope they’ll at least do Mr. Moore the simple courtesy of no longer reading the comics he writes, as he requests.

  61. Jim Kingman says:

    I am truly sorry for all the bad blood and bad business between Mr. Moore and DC Comics. Still, that can never change how grateful I am for the work that Mr. Moore (and his co-creators) have produced AND how grateful I am to the companies, including DC Comics, that have published his tremendous body of work.

    I’ve certainly instigated and endured a lot of screw-ups in my own life, and will always appreciate the fantastic escape that these comics, along with so many others, have provided for me before, during and after my own personal lows (and equal number of highs).

    I stand by and am proud of these works and how they have positively influenced and involved me, even if the ever escalating business and personal debacles surrounding them may never be resolved.

    That’s all. I just felt a more positive note should briefly interrupt these proceedings.

  62. @PreacherCain-
    I’m not just talking about his shitting on the creators involved with Before Watchmen (which I think is uncalled for anyway). Moore has for some time now been consistently insulting to all comic book creators, regardless of what they have to do with Moore (usually nothing).

    Remember when he said there was nobody with any talent in the comic book industry?

  63. Will Naslund says:

    Moore’s a brilliant writer, and I’m not without some sympathy for him and his understandable frustrations with w/r/t Watchmen. Yeah, he signed a contract — but he did so clearly believing that DC would let the book fall out of print at some point. That DC has chosen not to do so doesn’t violate the letter of the agreement, but it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t violate the spirit of the understanding Moore and DC had to some degree.

    That said, the linked interview is full of gratuitous, unwarranted (and frankly absurd) passive-aggressive potshots at Len Wein (seriously, did he run over Moore’s dog or something?), Stan Lee (sure Alan, Jack Kirby did *all* the creative work at at early Marvel — f*** off), Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, JMS, and a host of others.

    And despite its vitriolic length, the interview still doesn’t address one of the key rhetorical elephants in the room: The relevant issue is not Before Watchmen vs. LoEG/Lost Girls/etc. — it’s that the Watchmen characters are basically palette swaps of the Charlton superheroes wholly owned by DC/WB. If Moore and Gibbons had published Watchmen on their own, DC/WB could have sued them, much as they did Fawcett re: Shazam or Marvel did with Rob Liefeld’s Agent America. It’s not nearly as cut and dried an issue of trademark ownership as Moore asserts.

    Additionally, though Moore is clearly a gifted and articulate fellow, in this interview he comes across as something of an emotional adolescent. Ending a professional collaboration with Dave Gibbons b/c the latter had the temerity to ask him about Watchmen spinoffs was a douche move, and his falling out with David Lloyd also seems to have stemmed (at least partially) from a similarly immature reaction.

    I mean, it must suck to be Alan Moore’s friend. Broach a subject with him that he doesn’t want to talk about or take anything less than the most uncharitable view of someone or something he doesn’t like (Moore may be right about DC trying to use Steve Moore to entice him to accommodate them on certain things, but there are enough other reasonable explanations that attacking Gibbons for believing something a little closer to Occam’s Razor is more than a little churlish) and ~that’s it~, your friendship is OVER.

    I wish Moore continued success with LoEG and his other projects, but his willingness to tar other well-respected comics creators (Gibbons, Cooke, etc.) with an increasingly broad (and ill-informed) brush has grown beyond tiresome — and I hope this latest interview really is the last bit of venom he’s going to spew on the subject.

  64. Derrick A. Richardson says:

    “The comics industry feasts on the genius of people like Finger, Robinson, Kirby, Ditko, and Moore and the fans lap it up by demanding more stories based on their favorite IPs. And the fans don’t care who’s hurt or lied to, they just want more and more and more.

    And why do the fans even want superheroes when they’re not interested in real life morality? They just want simple stories of someone with a green ring fighting zombies but they can’t read it a level deeper and ask who are the zombies?”

    @ Chris Hero- ” Dude, you’re my hero for those two paragraphs.

  65. X-fan says:

    My only thought is this.

    You have all these talented creators exploring ideas Alan has laid the ground work for.

    It never occurred to use that talent pool to create something new? Surely their names and talent would have amounted to some reasonable sales and royalties.

    Maybe if DC had charged them with outdoing Watchmen they might have been able to rise to the occasion. “let’s show that crazy Englishman what we can do.”

    We will never know.

  66. So I’ll ask again, when should one co-creator’s rights trump another’s?

  67. Derrick A. Richardson says:

    @William Harms,

    So I just want to make sure I understand what you’re saying. So it’s ok for a company to negotiate in bad faith, knowing that they have no intention of ever releasing the IP back to the creators, as long as they keep paying hush money (I’m sorry, royalties) to keep the creator “passively compliant” to the screwing over that they’re getting.

    Is that what you’re saying?

    Mr. Moore absolutely has a bone to pick. They intentionally keep the IP in print to prevent him from getting the rights back. As I said previously, the clause is an “out”, put in the contract so the company doesn’t lose regardless of what happens. As he stated in the interview, he wasn’t familiar with contracts at the time. Most creative people I know aren’t familiar with contracts, legalesse, and the sociopathic ways in which most corporations function.

    I’m fortunate to know the history of both comics, and the comic strip (Thanks Jim Steranko, Jerry Robinson, and Maurice Horn!) along with the screwing over that Esquire magazine gave to Alberto Vargas back in the 40s & 50s. As a creative, I made a point of learning the business & marketing end so that that wouldn’t happen to me.

    To see “fans” & peers throw this man under the bus just because he wants to be treated fairly, and have a say in the destiny of his own IP (God forbid) is stunning to observe.

    Whatever happened to “Truth, Justice, & The American Way” ?

    My friend & mentor used to always say to me about working in the business “just alway remember, the comics industry is incestuous & cannibalistic. As long as you remember that, you’ll do fine”.

    I used to think that was seriously harsh & incorrect. But seeing the way Mr. Moore is being dragged through the mud for his views, and the way it’s screwed over it’s best creators from the beginning, it looks like my mentor was wiser than I gave him credit for at the time.

  68. “So I’ll ask again, when should one co-creator’s rights trump another’s?”

    When one co-creator’s share of creating was greater by a fair amount than the other’s?

    Just to weigh in on a couple of things, I doubt that if it hadn’t been revealed in the press or wherever that the Watchmen were based on the Charlton characters any of us would have ferreted that out very fast. They are significantly different.

    Second, most of Moore’s stealings have been of characters whose creators are long dead. I think that makes some difference. I’m not saying all, but most.

  69. Jim C says:

    But I also think it’s unfair to argue that Moore and Gibbons couldn’t have made an equal success with the book on their own. We’ll never know!

    Forget Before Watchmen, I think this would be a better comic to read: “What If: Moore and Gibbons Had Gotten The Rights To Watchmen Back In The ’80s?” Of course, that being a Marvel title, it would have to be an Elseworlds branded book with some hyper-punny name instead, but we could get some top creative types to write and draw the title – Gibbons himself could do interiors or exteriors if he wanted – and they could even make it some sort of spun-out anthology with different authors offering different conjecture on just how well it would have worked out. [I think we need to approach Bendis to write and, say, Brunetti to draw it. I'm just curious what his Alan Moore would look like, sorry]

    On another note, why is it every time someone sneers at how naive Alan Moore was when he “signed that awful contract” or however it’s phrased, all I hear in my head is: “Shana, they bought their tickets! They knew what they were getting into! … I say, “Let ‘em crash!”

  70. @tekende “Remember when he said there was nobody with any talent in the comic book industry?”

    I remember that quote being taken out of context and willfully obscuring the point he was actually making, yes. Ragardless he clarified it in this interview (and later in the previous one too, by the way) by saying it’s specifically directed at DC (and presumably Marvel). Moore has praised a number of comic creators and provided pull quotes for them in recent years, like Craig Thompson, Harvey Pekar, (I think) Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes, Brian Azzarello (whose Hellblazer run w/ Richard Corben Moore mentions in the interview), numerous former collaborators and, of all people, Leah Moore.

    Secondly I feel his point was that nobody at these companies has created a work that has matched Watchmen in terms of sustained success, profitability, influence and ambition. Bar his friend Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, he’s right about that too. If the guy wants to brag, he’s backing it up with hard, cold facts. DC obviously agrees too as they’re basing their entire summer event around 12 issues of a comic written by Alan Moore over 20 years ago. That’s a very clear sign DC don’t feel anyone else is worth putting that much time, energy and money into creating something that could match or surpass Watchmen. And that’s DC’s problem, not Moore’s. He’s just pointing it out and nobody likes hearing the ugly truth.

    As for people not reading contracts before signing them, I have one question for all of you: how many of you read the terms and conditions before installing your internet browser, signing up to your email provider or any app/program you ever downloaded from Apple and/or Microsoft? A show of hands, please.

    (And yeah I know it’s not the same thing and I’m being facetious, but if anyone out there can translate any of these legal clauses/corporate language found in these kinds of countracts into English, let me know)

  71. Kevin says:

    It seems fans have a problem with Moore because of his arrogance. I personally love it. He’s the Muhammad Ali of comics.

  72. Ummn, I want to respond to a few things here but, frankly, I’m worried I’m going to all this swam of vitriol over my boots before I start.

    Still, important work breeds controversy it seems and WATCHMEN is inarguably one of the most important moments in recent comics history.

    So this will be a long thread to make it through the mire.

    Eric makes a point about rights revision up above and that opens the bigger issues: the rule of rights reversion in 35yrs is in danger of going away very,very soon. SOPA and other backdoor arrangements are built upon the notion of keeping copyright in the hands of corporations able to support a legal staff big enough to protect them and away from the artist community these characters and ideas were born in. We all, as artists and an artist-friendly community of fans, need to support the idea of copyright that protects the artist if we hope to have important work like WATCHMEN made in the mainstream, punch-and-crunch industry that corporations suggest comics will always be.

    But aside from thinking about developments in the future of copyright law it’d be good for a people to keep an eye on the history of comics. WATCHMEN was made at a very unusual moment in that history.

    Rich is right, no one knew what this would do. Hell, we talk about it as a “best selling graphic novel” but it was created when there were, what, three graphic novels in the American market? Hell, it wasn’t even a graphic novel. When it was released it was a “Baxter book”, that new idea of limited series on high-quality paper that was a part of the then-burgeoning direct sales market. No one made special deals for this level of success because the bookstore market was still unknown and spinner racks were still, from legal’s perspective, the guts of sales.

    WATCHMEN was a unique moment and none of us can blame Alan Moore, a respected though comparatively new journeymen writer at DC Comics, to have anticipated the future of artist’s rights within the direct market. Oh, he was smarter than most, god bless, and saw all of the changes happening in the industry around that time, but he had the opportunity to work new material with a publisher he’d worked with before and that he knew could give him the audience and paycheck he’d need to do something new.

    Are we going to fault him for not knowing what could come next? Shit, that’s hindsight. Like blaming Jack Kirby for collecting a paycheck.

    But we do have the option to say, as fans, that this is just the resuscitated corpse of something brilliant brought to us not with a unique reason for being but through the continued contracts of numerous creators who we all know could do better.

    It’s not just the shambling corpse of a once brilliant idea, it’s a pale, dissected copy controlled by a corporate master that is perfectly happy to assign new talent, bright lights that are capable of their own unique ideas that might re-invigorate a dying industry, to make a clownish masquerade of what-fandom-honestly-wants into what they believe is pre-stamped coin of success.

    Not successful new work, mind you, but accomplished work by talented people told to “give us another WATCHMEN book to sell” that you won’t own either.

    What’s new about it is that DC owns it and they say you’re allowed, encouraged, to do it. It’s legal and a paid assignment. Nobody wants to talk about whether its just.

    Except Alan. Can we blame him for wanting to make fans ask themselves this question?

  73. Chris Hero says:

    @Derrick A. Richardson

    Thanks, dude. You made my day!

  74. I knew I shouldn’t have read the comments.

  75. >> If Moore and Gibbons had published Watchmen on their own, DC/WB could have sued them, much as they did Fawcett re: Shazam or Marvel did with Rob Liefeld’s Agent America. >>

    No, they really couldn’t. Or at least, they wouldn’t have any grounds to.

    The Watchmen characters aren’t similar enough to their inspirations from Charlton to have grounds for a lawsuit — Alan and Dave may have started there, but they developed and changed the characters enough so that, while they’re still fairly generic, they’re not close enough to infringe.

    Nite Owl is an acrobatic superhero with a flying ship. That’s not anywhere near close enough to the Blue Beetle for a lawsuit. Rorschach is a vigilante in a trench coat and full-face mask, but that’s not close enough to the Question to infringe.

    The Comedian is a character they created to replace the Peacemaker in their plans, but he’s not the Peacemaker. And so on.

    Inventing arguments to claim that DC owns the characters when the contract that was signed says DC doesn’t own the characters, they just control them as long as the book is in print, is a pointless exercise.

  76. William Harms says:

    @Derrick: I mean no offense when I say this, but do you really consider royalties “hush money”? Do you really think that a for-profit company would intentionally keep a work in print if it made no money, simply to screw over a creator? If the book isn’t making money, the IP has no value.

    Moore may not like the contract, but it was far more equitable and fair than the contracts for the other creators that you cite. And as I’ve mentioned, the contract (as Moore explains it) is modeled after a traditional book contract — when a publisher publishes a novel, they secure the rights until the book goes out of print. Does that mean that every author who continues to earn royalties from the sale of their novels is also being paid “hush” money?

  77. Charles says:

    Thanks Kurt.

    I don’t know how people say that DC could have sued Moore when those characters are practically nothing like the Charlton characters that he originally intended to use.

    Point still stands that the characters in the book belong to Moore and that he could have published It elsewhere.

  78. I think Moore’s yawp is needed— if just to counter all the numerous yelps of “Before WATCHMEN” p.r. being rolled out as articles in various comics sites…

  79. Derrick A. Richardson says:

    @ William Harms

    No offense taken, we’re just having a discussion.

    Did you read the interview? Did you read what I said about the context in which that clause is written into “standard contracts” ? Just because it’s standard, doesn’t make it correct.

    A creative could negotiate for the IP rights to revert back to them at a certain point in time, negotiate publishing rights in particular territories for a specified time period with the publisher, and now have the freedom to control his IP’s destiny in various media, and on various platforms.

    Unfortunately until recently, new creatives had few options other than the big media companies to get their work out to the world. If they were even remotely aware of contract terminology, they had no leverage ( such as sales, fanbase, etc.) with which to obtain satisfactory terms with the company. The company knows this, and takes full advantage of it. If the creative wants to make a living, they have to grin and bear it.

    Fortunately, with the continuing proliferation of digital platforms like the iPad, Nook, Kindle Fire, XBox, etc., an opportunity is presenting itself to finally change things to a more balanced outcome for both parties. Or, if the creative so chooses, just doing it themselves.

    Things will be much better for creatives within the next 5 to 10 years.

    Current royalty structures have just been the best that creatives with any leverage could get with regards to long tail compensation for their creations. But relative to what companies make through licensing and exploitation of IP across multiple international platforms, it’s usually barely a drop in the bucket.

    This needs to change.

    Let’s just agree to disagree, and leave it at that.

    Thanks for a lively discussion.

  80. I agree with Mr. Moore. And I like what his daughter had to say elsewhere- that DC should’ve had those Before Watchman creators get to work on the “next” Watchmen. Milking cash cows is the American way, but there was a time when the American way was more about pioneering new frontiers.

  81. @Kurt Busiek (and whoever he was responding to)- A couple of years ago in the pages of Ditkomania, there was an excellent article exploring just how successful would the Watchmen have been if the Charlton characters had indeed been used. Could fans accept Captain Atom blasting the Question into nothingness?
    The conclusion reached was that those characters would’ve maintained too much pre-packaged association for the overall story to have held as much impact. New characters really were necessary. The divergence from Charlton to new characters was not merely Moore acting alone. DC’s editors had their say in the matter early on in the creative process, when the project was still being mapped out.

    And the Comedian is way more Sarge Steel than Peacemaker.

    Also, I think if individual creators had approached Moore asking his blessing to continue Watchmen, even though it’s clearly not his legal power to grant such permission, he would have a far more approving tone towards Before Watchmen. Instead of the idea obviously being birthed in a corporate board meeting, with designs towards monetary gains precluding creativity as a starting point. Like the pulp writers he cited in the interview- they were, if not friends then at least quite knowledgeable of each others’ work, and were pulled into the creative challenge of sharing a sandbox. It wasn’t a matter of editors at publishing houses trying to kick a dead mule. Comic books more than any other medium really struggles with the bottom line truth that “Creative Industry” is a total freaking oxymoron.

  82. Ironic that so many Big 2 comic book fans love reading about heroes standing up for what’s right but when someone in real life does they immediately yell “hypocrite” and tell the person to sit down and take their lumps from the 1%.

    Moore had every right to believe he’d get the rights back. Almost every interview with the creators or article about Watchmen that I can ever remember reading mentioned this fact. It was pretty common knowledge. And no I won’t cite a course since I couldn’t care less. Moore’s a pretty smart guy and I trust him more than the smarmy corporation that continuously and flagrantly puts out trashy products and treats creators like second class citizens who deserve a smaller share of the pie than some corporate hack who did nothing to create the book.

  83. >> The divergence from Charlton to new characters was not merely Moore acting alone. DC’s editors had their say in the matter early on in the creative process, when the project was still being mapped out.>>

    Plus, of course, Dave Gibbons.

    But DC’s editors having input doesn’t somehow mean they own it — editors have input on stuff that authors own all the time. It’s part of the process. Maxwell Perkins, one of the all-time great editors, had input into the work of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and others. Those authors still owned their work.

  84. @Goggles Moore expected Gibbons to thank him for the entire Alan Moore share of the WATCHMEN movie money, which he got along with his own share. If you believe that that action does not deserve a thank you, you need to go back to finishing school.

    I am truly astonished at how well Moore carries himself and appalled by the behavior of many comic book readers.

  85. William Harms
    03/14/2012 AT 3:17 PM
    @Derrick: If you were to go up to the average writer and ask them how they’d feel if they wrote a book twenty-years ago that was still in print and still earning royalties, I bet every one of them would be happy with that arrangement.

    Ah, yes, the average writer. But of course, we’ve just heard from the above average writer in question and he is not happy. Your whole argument is completely invalid. Please take an introductory logic course. Thank you.

  86. Chris says:

    Honestly, I am an old comic fan and I hate this discussion and it almost makes me want to check out of comics (thank god for Mignola) but if you don’t agree with Alan don’t read his comics and give back the respect HE gave the industry. Alan brought this medium to a new level. Go back to your 5 monthly BatBooks and wait for the Rorshach team-up.

  87. goggles says:

    @scott – actually what Moore is doing is putting qualifiers on his friends. And using those missed qualifiers as reasons to shitcan the friendship. Does that sound like any friendship you have? A missed thank you costs you years of time spent together? Probably not.

    The man is trying to control every situation and every thing from what people buy and read to what his own friends can and can not do.

    I get it, you love the guy and his work. Or you love the guy because of the work. It’s fine.

    But his treatment of people and actions (and I am basing this solely on these interviews) speak to him having a massive ego that has no problem crushing friends and strangers alike because he was duped out of Watchmen rights 25 years ago. Again, if he were over it he should act like it.

    And again, if he were really “over” and “out of” the industry then he wouldnt be doing an interview that is pushing his upcoming comic book work. He looks like an ass pushing a comic book while ripping the entire industry and every fan except those that kiss his ring.

  88. Chris Beckett says:

    Like Jamie Coville above – I wish I hadn’t read the comments. Did half the people (mainly those piling on Mr. Moore) actually read the whole interview? Doesn’t sound like it. they make foolish, willfully ignorant suppositions they state as “fact” and then throw their arms in the air when somebody calls them on it by utilizing CONTEXT (i.e. the full text of the interview) to point out the inconsistencies.

    Thank you to those who are able to read and understand the full context of the words on the page.

    And to Chris above – I think you hit the nail on the head with the word respect. Moore’s vitriol toward the comics INDUSTRY (note he always discusses it in these terms) comes from a desire to see these corporations show respect to the artists and writers who are providing the content upon which their profits are “earned.”

    Thanks to Moore’s vocal arguments against how he was treated, there were some changes made (Neil Gaiman directly relates his working relationship with DC/Vertigo on Mr. Moore’s stand vis-a-vis Watchmen, V for Vendetta, et al.), but not enough. If there were better working practices for creators at DC and Marvel, we might see more new creations within these shared universes from those writers and artists whose work we enjoy.

    As it is, it seems the likes of a Darwyn Cooke, or Brian K. Vaughan, or Joe Casey, or Amanda Conner, either need to rehash old ideas or go somewhere like Image with their new ideas. At least there are alternatives. It’s just too bad they aren’t as lucrative for these creators as working at the Big Two.

    Ah, well.

    chris

  89. @goggles Who doesn’t “put qualifiers” on their friends? If my friends annoy me or do something that sucks, I’ll probably stop hanging with them and might even say they suck. What is YOUR issue with that? Just because they collaborated on a few comics, Moore has to let Gibbons walk all over him? I really don’t understand your argument.

  90. “But you know, thinking about all this for a bit, so WHAT if Moore wrote LOST GIRLS? That doesn’t mean that doing BEFORE WATCHMEN against his express consent is a GOOD thing. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s a false moral equivalency.”

    BTW who is to say writing BEFORE WATCHMEN without his consent is a bad thing? Who dictates that? Its legally right for DC to do that, therefore it isn’t against the law. Whether its morally right or not, its fairly ambiguous. As far as the law is concern, DC have every right to reproduce it and therefore calling it a WRONG thing isn’t valid.

  91. “The Watchmen characters aren’t similar enough to their inspirations from Charlton to have grounds for a lawsuit”

    If its one or two characters, fine, nothing to say. If anyone did a adaptation of the whole of your team of Astrocity, would you or DC take action? We’re not talking about just adapting say one member of the group, but every single one of them.

  92. “You have all these talented creators exploring ideas Alan has laid the ground work for.

    It never occurred to use that talent pool to create something new? Surely their names and talent would have amounted to some reasonable sales and royalties.

    Maybe if DC had charged them with outdoing Watchmen they might have been able to rise to the occasion. “let’s show that crazy Englishman what we can do.””

    The recent Spaceman that Azzarello did didn’t even break 25k for its first issue.
    Even Mark Millar and Leniel only sold 40k in its first issue and ended its 7th issue with 20+k.
    Critical acclaimed or not, its obvious that people are not willing to buy things that are new.

  93. goggles says:

    @scott

    I am reacting to your post that validates dropping a friendship for apparently not saying thank you. If you feel that’s a valid thing for a close friend to do then I can see how you side with Moore.

    It’s not an argument at all. I find it to be petty is all.

    Moore torches creators, friends and just about whoever else publically. I find it to be classless. But if you think it’s all justified then its an opinion I can respect but can’t get on board with.

    I get the heat about the rights to the Watchmen topic. Not the being a dickhead left and right to people publically.

  94. >> If anyone did a adaptation of the whole of your team of Astrocity, would you or DC take action? >>

    Astro City is a setting, not a “team.”

    And if anyone created a mess of characters that were inspired by Astro City characters but as different from them as the Watchmen characters are from the Charlton cast, they’d effectively be new characters. Neither DC nor I would care.

    >> We’re not talking about just adapting say one member of the group, but every single one of them.>>

    Actually, no, we’re not.

    Silk Spectre is only described as a variant of Nightshade because she’s female. She’s actually inspired by non-Charlton characters like Phantom Lady.

    Plus, there are the Minutemen and various other characters — so whether by “every single one of them” you mean all the characters in WATCHMEN, the lead cast or all the Charlton characters, it’s not true.

    [For that matter, DC doesn't own Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt, so even if they agreed with this kind of argument, they wouldn't want to say so, since if the Watchcast are somehow considered identical to their inspirations, Pete Morisi would own one of them.]

    kdb

  95. So Alan Moore thought he got a raw deal back then and took it because it was the best he could get? He never wanted Watchmen to be a movie? Here’s a direct quote from his Twilight of the Superheroes pitch written pretty directly after Watchmen:

    “Ideally, it might even be possible, while appealing to the diehard superhero junkie, to produce a central story idea simple, powerful and resonant enough to bear translation to other media. I mean, I know that I’m probably still intoxicated by the Watchmen deal, but it never hurts to allow for these things as a possibility, does it?”

    Planning for “translation to other media” and “still intoxicated by the Watchmen deal” really stick out to me. I am a fan of his work, I’m just tired of people acting like he’s the last bastion of truth and decency.

    He’s just a man, maybe a wizard, who knows?

  96. Chris Beckett says:

    @SeanStoltey: Are you even familiar with the issues surrounding Watchmen?

    Your statement: “So Alan Moore thought he got a raw deal back then and took it because it was the best he could get?”

    Took it because it was the best he could get? Do you understand how foolishly unfounded that remark is? Apparently not.

    This is the biggest problem I have with these debates, as I stated above, the willful ignorance of some of the participants.

    That goes for @Sam just above here as well. Dumb, dumb statements.

    chris

  97. @GoGgLes Read the article.

  98. @Chris Beckett – I was repeating one of the many things the Moore-defenders like to spout. When it’s pointed out that he signed the contract, they say “It was the best he could get so he took it”. I’ve seen that stated in quite a few threads and to me this statement by Moore directly refutes that. Just like everything he said in his recent interview goes against his own words from back then when this was all going on.

  99. As I said, I’m not trying to hate on Moore. I’m just REALLY tired of all the mind-readers trying to act like they know the entire situation as if they were there.

  100. “And if anyone created a mess of characters that were inspired by Astro City characters but as different from them as the Watchmen characters are from the Charlton cast, they’d effectively be new characters. Neither DC nor I would care.”

    That probably depends also if its a huge franchise. If someone copied adapted all 7 characters of Justice League made them much different but have similar looks, and its a huge payoff, DC would definitely take action.
    Not sure whether they consider Astrocity a huge franchise or not, but Shazam and Superman are pretty much different characters with the only similarity being that they’re both boy scout like character. One deals with magic, the other is an alien. Pretty much different concepts as well.
    They also got sued and Fawcett comics closed. Dint they?

    “Silk Spectre is only described as a variant of Nightshade because she’s female. She’s actually inspired by non-Charlton characters like Phantom Lady.

    Plus, there are the Minutemen and various other characters — so whether by “every single one of them” you mean all the characters in WATCHMEN, the lead cast or all the Charlton characters, it’s not true.”

    Whatever the case, you’re making your arguments based on characters that are the most different in their adaptations.
    Captain Atom and Dr Manhattan,
    The Question and Rorschach are the ones that are very similar.
    As similar as Shazam is to Superman. I’m pretty sure if Alan Moore did an exact same story, he would definitely get sued. Sure he can go ahead and make a different cast, but if its not published by DC or got such a huge publicity from its adaptation, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be as commercially successful as this, either ways no one knows the outcome of that. DC has done a much better job at keeping books stay in print that any other publishers.

  101. >> That probably depends also if its a huge franchise. If someone copied adapted all 7 characters of Justice League made them much different but have similar looks, and its a huge payoff, DC would definitely take action.>>

    If they were as different as the Watchcast? No, they wouldn’t.

    Heck, people are already doing books like SUPURBIA, where the hero character are much closer analogues to the big DC names, and DC’s not making a peep.

    Or take a look at the heroes in LOVE & CAPES.

    >> Not sure whether they consider Astrocity a huge franchise or not, but Shazam and Superman are pretty much different characters with the only similarity being that they’re both boy scout like character. One deals with magic, the other is an alien. Pretty much different concepts as well.
    They also got sued and Fawcett comics closed. Dint they? >>

    If Fawcett had created their Captain Marvel today, there’d have been no lawsuit. Back then, there were a lot fewer superheroes, so similarities stood out. Today, there are so many that they need to be substantially more similar in order to trigger a lawsuit.

    >> Whatever the case, you’re making your arguments based on characters that are the most different in their adaptations.
    Captain Atom and Dr Manhattan,
    The Question and Rorschach are the ones that are very similar.>>

    Rorschach was one of my first examples, actually. He’s not close enough to trigger a lawsuit. Dr. Manhattan isn’t that much like Captain Atom, either. They’re both atomically-powered, but then, so’s Firestorm, so’s my Atomicus, so’s Dr. Solar.

    As for Rorschach, you’d have to come up with an argument that he’s too similar to the Question, while Mr. A isn’t, despite having a more-similar costume, more-similar philosophy and more-similar civilian identity.

    DC clearly doesn’t think the Watchcast are similar enough, since they made a deal that says those characters belong to Alan and Dave, even if Alan and Dave have never gotten control of them back.

    >> I’m pretty sure if Alan Moore did an exact same story, he would definitely get sued.>>

    You’re simply mistaken. I don’t think you realize how different the characters are, or maybe don’t know how many characters there are who are similar to DC’s heroes without getting sued.

    What do you see as the smoking gun when it comes to Rorschach being too similar to the question? Keep in mind that “wears a trench coat,” “has a full-face mask” and “fights crime” are not remotely enough.

    kdb

  102. Hardy Gilbert says:

    Hell, the “wears a trench coat” is even more remote considering that the Ditko Question rarely, if ever, wore one; I don’t believe that particular item became “Question-able” until the O’Neil/Cowan relaunch. You’d have better luck saying, “They both wear hats.”

  103. True enough, Hardy. “Coat and hat,” maybe, since they’re somewhat-unusual-but-not-unique superhero trappings.

  104. Mike L says:

    I don’t get where League of Extraordinary Gentlemen — or even Moore’s run on Swamp Thing — has anything to do with Beyond Watchmen, except as a vehicle to pile on Moore for being outspoken.

    To me, the outrage over BW is over the integrity of the original work itself. Watchmen isn’t really about the characters, per se, because all of them are essentially derivative or based on popular archetypes. It was about the story itself, the idea that there were superheroes — or at least A superhero, and a bunch of costumed crimefighters — in a world that needed saving, from itself and the threat of nuclear armageddon. That was a very chilling concept when the book was originally published because it was a very real threat lurking outside the window of the reader. The fact that the story still has a resonance to post Cold War generations says something about the quality of the work. Moore didn’t create the Watchcast as characters first, then found a story for them, it was the other way around, the characters were crafted as a result of the roles they needed to play in the story. It was really a graphic novel, not a bunch of individual comics collected in a single volume. There’s a difference.

    Watchmen subverts a lot of genre tropes — for instance, the ‘bad guy’ essentially wins, and saves the world in the process — and the biggest trope subverted is that there is a sense of finality to it. It’s not the never-ending story of most superhero comics. Maybe, if things hadn’t soured between Moore and DC, he would’ve done a prequel or a sequel himself and expanded the story. It’s hard to say what more Moore Watchmen would’ve been like, but I’ll bet it, too, would’ve taken something away from the original. Watchmen was one of those examples of lightning caught in a bottle, something that may never be repeated, not even with the exact same creative team at the helm.

    BW is solely exploring (or more aptly, exploiting) the characters and doesn’t even have a central narrative. Instead it’s a bunch of ‘interconnected’ storylines that focus on the characters, and that misses the point of Watchmen. The characters started out as the various Charlton characters, then when that specific bit was shot down by editorial, were adapted into something bigger, to represent the various popular archetypes of characters in superhero fiction.

    In other words, the characters themselves aren’t daringly original, it was the context they were used in the story. The characters weren’t groundbreaking, the attitude and the story were. If you’re doing new stories based around just these characters themselves — treating them like any other intellectual property, the common garden-variety comic book superheroes — then that completely misses the point and runs counter to the spirit of Watchmen as a whole. A big part of Watchmen was exploring the possibities of a superhero world where the status quo didn’t need to be maintained so that the reader could come back next month and spend more money. It was to Moore’s credit that in a relatively short span of time — in a dozen issues rather than dozens or hundreds — he made the reader get attached to the characters the way they did.

    It’s not like Moore didn’t explore the backstories of these characters within the original work itself, and what he did include he did so as part of a larger whole, to provide context to the central narrative. BW is just exploiting the mentality of the steroetypical comic book fan, who is apt to support anything with their favorite characters featured in it.

    In all actuality, BW is probably not going to really ‘damage’ the original all that much, but it is kind of ironic: if you’re buying and supporting it, then you really didn’t get the key points of the original in the first place — to me, you’re not the ‘huge’ Watchmen fan you profess to be. You’re sort of the butt of the joke by even wanting more Watchmen, no matter who creates it.

    All this legalese over who owns Watchmen is just a easy soapbox to express an opinion on Moore or DC as a whole (and I have to admit doing that myself).

    >> Critical acclaimed or not, its obvious that people are not willing to buy things that are new.

    Sadly, that’s true, but that’s as much our fault as fans / readers as it is the publishers. We enable publishers to be creatively bereft by our desire to see more of the same things. Not that ‘more’ is a bad thing, but there’s a point where you’re supporting a product line instead of supporting an artistic endeavor, and we’re all pretty much guity of that from time to time, no matter how enlightened we feel we are or how discerning we think our tastes to be.

    There’s a catch-22 there that people who don’t like Marvel or DC can be quick to point fingers and sneer saying “well, it’s not me, I don’t buy that crap, it’s the mindless fanboys-slash-zombies”: we need to enlighten them as to what they could be reading instead of mocking them for what they are.

    They’re really the deciding factor, if they stop giving the Big Two the leeway to publish successful, but creatively mediocre, material, then we wouldn’t have Before Watchmen, we’d have something that was considered the ‘new’ Watchmen. It’s a chicken or the egg thing, before we start getting that caliber of original, new material there has to be fans that are willing to reject the easy, marketing driven stuff and demand it.

    (Which all sounds good, but I have to admit I’ll still roll my eyes at anyone who thinks BW is a good idea.)

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