The creator’s position viewed through the lens of Alan Moore

201204250154 The creators position viewed through the lens of Alan Moore

Photo by Jose Villarubia

I wanted to finish up a few things on Before Watchmen and then, hopefully I’ll wrap this up. I finished Monday’s post while I was hopped up on Benadryl and that is not something I recommend for anyone. I was not able to articulate my name the main reason why Before Watchmen (BeWa) can be viewed as a depressing reality for the comics industry.

I’ll start with reprinting one of my comments on the previous thread:

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 for 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.


In one of his searing posts on the matter, David Brothers presented a timeline:

1. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen is an enormously successful comic book, on creative, critical, and commercial levels
2. Moore and Gibbons both signed a contract that gave DC the rights to Watchmen until the book went out of print for a year (I believe), at which point they’d receive the rights back
3. Watchmen was an unheralded success, and the book has yet to go out of print. As a result, Moore and Gibbons never got their rights back.
4. DC promised to share revenue from Watchmen-related merchandise, and then went ahead and produced merchandise and classified it as promotional and didn’t give M&G anything
5. These shenanigans, along with a coming ratings system that Moore disagreed with, led Moore to cut ties with DC entirely
6. DC brought Wildstorm, which came along with America’s Best Comics. Moore felt that leaving DC again would screw his artists over, so he stuck around
7. DC continued screwing with Moore over the years, from pulping his comics to either sabotaging (or botching to such an extent that it might as well be sabotage) the release of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier
8. Moore cut ties again, and has consistently refused DC’s money, overtures, and renegotiations.
9. Before Watchmen is a series of prequels to Watchmen, some thirty-five issues that will shed light on characters from the book
10. Alan Moore gives grumpy, hyperbolic interviews, but his basic point is that he’d prefer it not happen (and not because he wants money [he doesn’t, by his own word] but because it’s shameless and ugly).
11. For all his faults, Paul Levitz refused to let Before Watchmen happen on his watch. As soon as he left, it was on.
12. Before Watchmen has an economic motivation, not an artistic one. No one said “Boy, I have this great Nite Owl story.” Dan Didio said, “Hey, we need to make more money, and Watchmen is just sitting there. Who do we have who wants to sign on for fat cash?”


I’m sure there are many addenda and different opinions on this timeline, but let’s use it as a working model. And where people really need to expand it is item 7, because the whole DC/Wildstorm/Alan Moore history is where things really got snarled in all of this.

Moore had signed up to do his ABC line for Wildstorm BEFORE it was purchased by DC in 1999. And when that purchase become public, Moore had to be promised that he wouldn’t be messed with on the books. Which he AGREED TO.

But then things happened.

201204250103 The creators position viewed through the lens of Alan Moore

The Watchmen Toys that were not to be.

Despite Moore’s current stance—and what I’m writing is based on my memories, and not citations because it seems to have occurred when the Internet is not the Glinda’s Big Book that it is now—there actually was a detente between Moore/Gibbons and DC in 2000 leading up to some events for Watchmen’s 15th anniversary. There were going to be toys, and a new recolored edition of the book, and Moore and Gibbons had actually given their blessing for it.

M&G were so on board with the idea that a DC film crew went and interviewed them for HOURS about Watchmen. These interviews were edited down into an hour long version which lopped continuously at the DC booth at San Diego in 2000. I was working for DC at the time, and every time I was in the booth that film would be playing. Miracles could happen, everyone thought. There was talk of new back matter.

It was like the ping pong team going to China. It was a tiny crack, but for the first time, it looked like maybe there was a way for Moore and DC to get along.

And then TOMORROW STORIES #8 happened. Moore had written a Cobweb story which contained statements about L. Ron Hubbard that DC legal thought might be litigious. Although they had already published a version of it in a previous Big Book. Moore and DC legal actually went over the story, and agreed to changes…but after going through the whole process the story was still pulled.

And Alan Moore became angry. And Gibbons sided with him in solidarity.

And there would be no 15th Anniversary edition and no toys (until the movie). And no Alan Moore cooperating with DC ever again. Moore discussed this in an interview with Newsarama from August 2000 called “Moore Leaves The Watchmen 15th Anniversary Plans,” according to Wikipedia, but sadly the story was scrubbed in some Newsarama clean-up.
UPDATE: Thanks to Rodrigo Baeza for find the story. Here’s the relevant portion although the whole thing is a must-read:

The current disagreement between Moore and DC involves the long-delayed Tomorrow Stories #8, which, according to Moore, contains a story that is in the public domain, and involves characters who are dead. “We did the story in good faith and it is completely non-actionable,” Moore says. “It was a true story. All the people in it are dead, but apparently Paul Levitz felt it was too risky to print it. I went through DC’s legal department, and the DC lawyers seem to be very sane, practical people. As a creator, I’ve heard for a long time what ‘lawyers’ are like, but actually speaking to Lillian Laserson, she was practical, sane, responsible, professional and logical. We went through it for an hour, taking about this six-page story, and the reference book that I’d taken most of the story from, how it’s all in the public domain and is all over the Internet, and it’s been in two or three magazines and a book. This is stuff that there’s no possible threat of litigation, which I think Lillian pretty much agreed with, and then Paul Levitz apparently said, even so, he didn’t want it to go out, which I think was the case all along. I think Lillian was a bit perplexed as to why an hour of her and my time had been wasted going through the legal ramifications of this thing when they were never very important in the first place.”

There was also the pulping of LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN #5 due to an actual real vintage ad for a product called the Marvel Douche was included in the back pages. But the damage had been done.

201204250159 The creators position viewed through the lens of Alan Moore

I point this out to show that Moore has not ALWAYS been The Great Wall of No. Maybe the things that happened aren’t what you or I would revolt over, but it’s Moore decision to make. And he made his ground rules clear going in.

DC Comics with Alan Moore is kind of like the guy who gets all tongue tied and clumsy around the cute girl. Marvel is the same. They keep doing these little bumbling things (or big honking insulting things) that proved to Moore that he was right all along. For instance, when Moore was busy renouncing all his movie money, including the V for Vendetta film, I interviewed him. He had just received the new hardcover edition of the book. And on the back instead of saying “Have a pleasant day” — one of the book’s memes– it only said “Have a pleasant.” (I will never forget Moore’s voice as he told me this.) Marvel did a similar dumbass thing with a copyright line.

Oops.

Again I ask:

Would WB treat J.K. Rowling the way DC treated Alan Moore?

Because in all these comments about Moore the hypocrite, Moore this, Moore that…I mean…this is the man who changed the face of comics writing. Neil Gaiman got his “in” for writing comics because he was a friend of Alan Moore. And after that, nothing was the same.

And yet, the subtext we often hear is not “Wow, this is a creator who has written lasting works, is an intellect, one of the most unique voices the medium has ever seen” — it’s “Alan Moore the comics writer should be grateful someone gave him a chance, and published his books. He needs us more than we need him.”

I got news for you, bub. Moore was a successful writer in England before DC came calling for Swamp Thing. And if they hadn’t, I suspect he wouldn’t have written Watchmen but he would have written other things. And he night have gotten screwed by one publisher but he’d have kept writing. And we’d have a whole different row of masterpieces sitting on our shelves.

And in our own reality Alan Moore’s books have been turned into FIVE movies, become “canon,” influenced countless other creators, and continue to sell and sell and sell. Besides Watchmen, LoeG, V for Vendetta and The Killing Joke are best sellers for DC year after year after year. Those new editions of his Swamp Thing issues are selling just fine. And will continue to sell and be read and move people.

As we are all well aware, there is a certain equation that dictates diminishing returns for the crankiness vs usefulness ratio. Hollywood provides the clearest examples of this. For instance, screenwriter Joe Ezsterhas was known to be difficult, but people worked with him because his movies made money. At some point his movies didn’t make as much money, and being difficult was the biggest thing anyone could remember about him. And he wasn’t all THAT difficult…just someone who spoke his mind.

I know of several novelists I won’t name who are known to be difficult nutters. But their books keep getting published. By the same publishers. Because these nutters make money for those publishers.

So, you adjust. A happy Alan Moore would have made more money for DC than an unhappy one. (The unhappy one has made a ton.) Think about the value of a happy Jim Lee, a happy Geoff Johns, a happy JMS. JMS was happy at Marvel…until he was unhappy. And SUPERMAN EARTH ONE made a lot of money for DC.

201204250200 The creators position viewed through the lens of Alan Moore

BeWa makes me sad because what we really, really need in comics is NEW successful ideas. A new book by Darwyn Cooke, a new book by Brian Azzarello, a new book by Adam Hughes. Amanda Conner telling DC “Here is my new project I want you to publish,” should be cause for excitement and high fives.

But it isn’t.
Did you know that when SPACEMAN, the new book by Azzarello and Eduardo Risso came out last fall, in the middle of the New 52 firestorm, only a single preview was published anywhere on the internet? One week before the book came out, Io9 put out a five page preview. I know because I had been looking for preview pages to run to promote it and there weren’t any.

You know, the new book by the team behind 100 Bullets. 100 Bullets, one of the most acclaimed comics of the previous decade.

The series won the 2002 Harvey Awards for Best Writer, Best Artist and Best Continuing Series, and the 2003 Harvey Award for Best Artist, as well as the 2001 Eisner Award for Best Serialized Story, and the 2002 and 2004 Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series.


In terms of prestige, this is like the new movie by Alexander Payne. The new book by Junot Diaz. The new TV show by J. Michael Straczynski.

In a world where creators were the story, a new project by an award winning team should be just as big as The New 52. It should be greeted with huzzahs and champagne.

What it did get: a $1 #1 issue and a five page preview on i09.

In todays market that’s actually really good. But it’s not what the company owned projects get.

And I get that. I understand the economics of it. It’s not in Marvel or DC’s DNA to put the creator first. Go read Gerard JonesMen of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book The creators position viewed through the lens of Alan Moore The men who created the US comics industry were often glorified gangsters, one step up from the porn industry. They were interested in page counts not creators. They needed men (and women) who could fill the newsprint with fantasies and larger than life characters. When one passed out, he was pulled off the oar and another one was put in his place. It’s an attitude that came all the way down to the 70s when Siegel and Shuster fought for a stipend and credit for the character they created, Superman.

And then, as the direct sales market emerged and the faceless newsstand faded—ironically as fan tastes for favored creators began to really take hold—the idea that the creator was important and more than a cog in the machine began to make some headway.

201204250205 The creators position viewed through the lens of Alan Moore

Jenette Kahn, Paul Levitz and Dick Giordano made some strides at DC, Jim Shooter and Archie Goodwin did some things at Marvel. Vertigo came along and tried even more. There were royalties and copyrights. I’d like to quote one more comment from yesterday, this one from Ed Brubaker:

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.

Watchmen came out in a time where creators were driving sales, not editorial retreats. And like Brubaker, I was there, and that’s how I remember it, too. At the time, Marvel and Jim Shooter were engaged in a war with the pros and fan press over not returning Jack Kirby’s artwork. Kirby was alive, and he was a cranky old man, but people rallied behind him like crazy. Good thing there was no internet because in 1986 if fans had been posting that Jack Kirby was greedy everywhere Roz Kirby would have destroyed them.

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Charles Lippincott, Harlan Ellison and JMS in 1989. via

And now my memory is very hazy on this…there was once a radio show in LA called Hour 25, that had been hosted by a guy named Mike Hodel. But he died and sf writer Harlan Ellison took over as host. Although SF focused, Ellison was a big comics fan and once in a while had comics guests on. (I used to listen to it at midnight every Friday and then wake up at 7 am when my clock radio went off with some weird noise music show on that was fucking awesome.) I’m pretty sure Ellison had a show about the Kirby controversy with (possibly?) Marv Wolfman and Len Wein as guests. Something like that. Probably Mark Evanier. And you can believe that Harlan would rant about how Kirby deserved his artwork back and all the credit in the world and all the rest.

After a couple of years, Ellison left the show. And do you know who took over? J. Michael Straczynski. Did he ever do a show about Kirby getting his art back? That I don’t recall. It wouldn’t have been surprising, though, because it was such a strong issue for pros in the LA area. Not supporting Kirby would have been a very unpopular stance. My memory of JMS the radio host was that he wasn’t quite the rabble rouser Harlan was, but it wasn’t like Bill O’Reilly suddenly took over for Jon Stewart.

So yeah, there was a different mood all that time back when Watchmen was created. Vertigo and Image and the Legends line at Dark Horse, and the Bravura (!) line at Malibu and Tundra and many other things—some that failed horribly, some that made it—were all testament to the idea that by giving creators some freedom and equity and treating them like stars you would make great comics and sell lots of them. Marvel was out of it at that point due to the horrible Perelman years. And that led to the distributor wars, and the implosion and the crash and since then every penny has been counted. And storing up your IP and squeezing it for every drop of revenue and then squeezing it some more is the modus operandi for most publishers. Creators are useful for enlivening that IP and relaunching it, and crossing it over and sitting in retreats and figuring out how to eventize it. You couldn’t do any of that without creators, in fact. But luckily for the publishers, there are editors to make sure the creators color inside the lines and stay on target and keep that legacy IP flowing. And a long line of eager new replacement creators who want to be given the chance to go to that retreat. And retailers who know that their customers will only order something they know, and readers going into stores who only want to relive their nostalgia, and before you know it, an entire system based on retreading old ideas is in place.

And before you know it, you have a pre-sold hit like Before Watchmen.

And that’s where we are today.

I’ve spoken to quite a few of the people working on the Before Watchmen books. And they are all proud of their work. I’m not going to gainsay their pride. And I’m not going to call them sellouts or other names. I’ve said a few things here and elsewhere but I will no longer question their motives. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

And also…can you imagine what the message boards are going to be like when these books come out, no matter how well made they are? That’s going to be punishment enough.

201204250153 The creators position viewed through the lens of Alan Moore
I very much like Tom Spurgeon’s “Before Before Watchmen There Was Spain Rodriguez” campaign. Rodriguez is one the of great, lively cartoonists of the last 40 years who should be enjoying comfortable golden years based on his body of work. And he’s still working, turning out good work. He has a new book out called, improbably, Cruisin’ With the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Toote The creators position viewed through the lens of Alan Moore Go buy a copy.

I’m not going to boycott Before Watchmen news. Or Avengers news. It’s news. Like a new Tom Hart book or a new Alison Bechdel book. I definitely prefer that kind of news, however. And if you don’t like that, go read another website.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with a quote from Image publisher Eric Stephenson’s latest credo.

It’s such a simple deal – the creator owns 100% of the work – and you don’t have to be a superstar to get it, you just have to be good. It’s a deal extended to everyone we publish at Image, be it a first-time writer, a fan-favorite artist, or someone in-between. As long as there are writers and artists eager to create their own characters and tell their own stories, Image Comics exists so they can do just that, secure in the knowledge that they will retain complete control over their work.


Stephenson is very much positioning Image as the anti-Before Watchmen. It’s a strong move for the times we live in. In the history outlined above, we’ve seen many well intentioned things go awry. Tundra, funded with Kevin Eastman’s vast piles of Teenage Mutant ninja Turtles money, was one of the best intentioned ideas ever. And one of the worst publishers, as Eastman would later admit. The heartache and human toll was staggering.

So it doesn’t always work out.

But we should try. Image is trying. They are offering a different model. A model that does not spring from the cold heart of Jack Liebowitz. As an industry we need to try to let creators create and let new ideas flourish. And support a market that supports new ideas. Some would say there isn’t the money going around for that. Maybe. But we should try.

And now I’m done.

Comments

  1. blacaucasian says:

    Bravo, Heidi. Very well written, thoughtful, and fair piece.

  2. Great article that puts things in perspective. I most likely will not be buying Before Watchman (unless I am weak and the Darwyn Cooke stuff draws me in), but I might check it out of the library if I see it there.

  3. jacob goddard says:

    *applause*

  4. I’m not sure what the point of bringing up Spaceman was. Would it be great if everyone was coming up with new books and new ideas? Sure! But who’s going to support them, especially in this economic climate, in today’s comic industry? Look at the state Vertigo’s in. Not a whole lot of people supporting those books. Look at the Beat’s monthly independent comics sales charts. The highest is usually Walking Dead, with something like 35k units sold, or less. That’s good for WD, but it’s the exception, not the rule. There just isn’t a market for this kind of stuff right now – at least, not a particularly profitable one.

    Can you blame DC for going to an old well of familiar characters that’s sure to make a lot of money in the short-term? Well, sure, but, if you look at the rest of their – and Marvel’s – output, you know, it’s 99% franchise characters that were created over 30 years ago. That’s what these companies do. That’s what they represent.

    And that’s okay. They fill that niche. They meet that demand.

    And as Heidi took time to point out, Image provides the counterpoint, if creators are so financially confident as to take the risk and investment to put out original work. But it’s a risk.

    Should we debate whether it’s worth it for DC to mine their most successful graphic novel property? Sure, as long as we realize there is a debate. It’s not just about Alan Moore being mad about stuff.

  5. Mike Chary says:

    “The trouble is, Mr. Goldwyn, you are interested in art whereas I am interested in money.” – George Bernard Shaw.

  6. blacaucasian says:

    “I’m not sure what the point of bringing up Spaceman was.”

    I think the point is, and as a fan of that book and the books Vertigo puts out in general I am continually frustrated by this, an overwhelming amount of their marketing focus is based on things like the New 52, where a book like Spaceman only garnered, as The Beat notes, one 5 page preview (on a niche website no less) and a $1 1st issue.

    I wouldn’t expect DC (although maybe I and the creators involved in the book should) to over saturate the market with news on this (or for that matter the 4 new books Vertigo just launched) but there has to be a happy medium where their marketing department is able to use their vast PR muscle for more then a 5 page preview on a niche website for a book like this.

    As Brian Wood shared in an earlier thread, “creator owned” at DC still means that DC control the IP (depending on the contract) and as such them paying a little more attention to books like these would seem to be a win for the creators and a win for DC.

    With things like this, they would seem to be shooting themselves in the proverbial foot. Better yet, why bother putting these books out at all if your support is going to be minimal at best.

    I remember going to a Vertigo panel at NYCC a couple years back where Karen Berger asked the crowd what they could do to get more of a word out about Vertigo books. My question to people like Bob Wayne is, why is it up to Karen Berger to have to ask those questions to people who are already buying the books?

  7. Bravo Heidi! Thankfully a recounting of the history of the story. Not the endless rambling that has been going on about the whole thing. Look either buy or don’t buy Before Watchmen period, end of story. I wish that people would stop bitching about the whole thing and put all of this wasted hot air being blown around into more positive things like the CBLDF or The Hero Initiative. Or for that matter supporting creator owned books. I have purchased comics and TPB for non comic readers to get them into a good book.

  8. filippod says:

    Very good piece. Yet it strengthens my puzzlement over the fuss BW caused.

    I don’t like the idea itself (but neither am I offended on a purely narrative point of view) and it’s unfortunate it’s happening in the light of the history between DC and the creators involved.

    But I think it’s mostly an heritage of the past.

    It seems to me that today’s creators have the possibility to make an informed decision about their career path – much more than any of their forefathers ever had, even in a shrunken market.

    Plus, there is hope for the future. Look at the video games market: until a few years ago it was the prerogative of big publishers – then indie gaming exploded and now small companies and indie creators thrive.

  9. Great article, Heidi.

    A correction: I believe the pulping of LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN #5 happened before the conflict over TOMORROW STORIES #8.

    The Newsarama article from August 2000 is archived, and it’s a must read:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20081216124434/http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?threadid=34286

    It’s interesting to see how different things were back then. At that time, DC decided to cancel a WATCHMEN reprint just because Moore and Gibbons weren’t on board. The idea of doing prequels with new creative teams would have been unthinkable.

  10. Colin.ynwa says:

    “BeWa makes me sad because what we really, really need in comics is NEW successful ideas. A new book by Darwyn Cooke, a new book by Brian Azzarello, a new book by Adam Hughes. Amanda Conner telling DC “Here is my new project I want you to publish,” should be cause for excitement and high fives.”

    But maybe this is what those creators want to do, regardless of what certain people, yourself amongst them, perceive the industry needs?

    You will run news on ‘Before Watchmen’, ‘cos that’s what this is a news website. So regardless of what you feel about this and how you choice to editorialise on this (as is your right on your site of course), you will still run with it and possibly (guess work on my part here entirely so apologise if I’m wrong.) reap the benefit of people visiting to read the news and kick up more of a fuss etc etc. Its what you do running a comics website.

    Just as you choose to do that, these professional’s have chosen to create new stories, they are doing this using these particular characters as they, as professional storytellers, think there is something worth telling. A new idea within this world, rather than another, be it pre-existing or newly created.

    Personally I think what the comics industry needs is good stories. Some will come from already created worlds, some will come from pre-existing ones. One is neither more important or valid or less so. Just as Alan Moore often chooses to make stories with pre-existing characters that doesn’t stop them being good and valid stories.

  11. blacaucasian: “an overwhelming amount of their marketing focus is based on things like the New 52, where a book like Spaceman only garnered, as The Beat notes, one 5 page preview (on a niche website no less) and a $1 1st issue.”

    Exactly. DC’s dependency on decades-old properties is in large part (but not entirely) a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  12. blacaucasian says:

    “At that time, DC decided to cancel a WATCHMEN reprint just because Moore and Gibbons weren’t on board.”

    This probably had more to do with who was in charge at the time than anything else. Which I do have to admit, makes Heidi’s point about keeping the creator happy even more perplexing in reference to this time at DC.

    They are able to scrap reprints and action figures, but are willing to pulp issues and pages from an issue of the comic, when clearly editorial interference from Moore is tantamount to the ultimate disrespect, it would seem from his position.

    Very curious. It would seem their current stance on Moore from DiDio and Lee’s standpoint is likely, “That bridge is brunt and destroyed and is never getting rebuilt.”

    Maybe it is the wrong stand for DC to take. But it seems a lot more decisive then the push me/pull you stance they seemed to take towards Moore during the Levitz era.

  13. “Maybe it is the wrong stand for DC to take. But it seems a lot more decisive then the push me/pull you stance they seemed to take towards Moore during the Levitz era.”

    I don’t think it’s unrealistic either. Given the history of both DC and Marvel trying to make amends and screwing it up with little mistakes, I think anyone bowing down to do Moore’s bidding until he’s happy would be a wasted effort. It’s not like he’s lightened up over time.

  14. Thanks for your perspective, Heidi. Well done.

  15. blacaucasian says:

    “Exactly. DC’s dependency on decades-old properties is in large part (but not entirely) a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

    I’m not one to put the fault for this entirely on DC’s shoulders, however. The general readership is a huge part of the problem here too. If the top ten books month in month out are Batman, Justice League, X-Men, Avengers, and Wolverine, these corporations have a duty to their shareholders to exploit these properties.

    However, R&D is going to be the future of any company. And DC and Marvel could most definitely be doing more than they are currently doing in these departments. The complete lack of proper A&R is what completely killed major record labels. If the DC and Marvel aren’t careful, the same thing is going to happen to them.

  16. “However, R&D is going to be the future of any company. And DC and Marvel could most definitely be doing more than they are currently doing in these departments.”

    But isn’t Mark Chiarello the editor on Before Watchmen? Man, the stuff he put out in the last decade was phenomenal. Solo? Wednesday Comics? New Frontier? The guy championed all the really creative stuff, and it all sold underwhelmingly. It’s really hard to blame them for not trying. They did try. The stuff just didn’t catch on, and the public embraced more Batman stuff.

  17. blacaucasian says:

    “It’s really hard to blame them for not trying. They did try. The stuff just didn’t catch on, and the public embraced more Batman stuff.”

    The point is, and one of the points The Beat is trying to make (please correct me if I’m wrong Heidi – I don’t want to put words in your mouth) is you never stop trying.

    I would argue putting a 5 page preview up on a niche website for one of the most acclaimed creative teams of the last decade can hardly be called trying.

  18. @Beat -“Don’t hate the Player, Hate the Game”
    is a quote popularized by millionaire athletes who dunk on each other, and share lap dances at the end of the day.

    [Edited by admin]

  19. First – Spaceman is awesome and everyone should read it.

    It’s interesting to note Image’s importance historically. In retrospect I think it’s been a wonderful thing for the industry as a whole. I love a lot of their books and their publishing model in general.

    But while it was great in establishing a viable creator-owned publishing model, it actually led to Marvel (and to a lesser extent, DC) actually pushing harder than ever the notion that the characters, and not the creators, were the stars. Rightly or wrongly, Marvel felt hugely burned by the departures of the Image founders and responded by majorly downplaying creators. (Remember when it was “Marvel Characters, Inc.” and they wouldn’t put creator credits on the cover?)

    I think there is a good argument to be made that being creator-friendly is good for business. I’m not sure Alan Moore is the best example of that, though, because I think there’s literally nothing DC can do at this point to salvage that relationship. Before Watchmen is barely the tip of that iceberg.

    I definitely appreciate the perspective of folks who were tapped into the comics scene at the time Watchmen was published, though. I was 12 at the time and had no access to conventions, fanzines etc. – that era is a real wasteland for those of us used to using google-fu to research these types of things.

  20. blacaucasian says:

    @Toby cypress – I don’t understand the need for name calling. Clearly your feelings are intense on this. I’m not sure that still warrants the insults.

  21. Chris Hero says:

    The thing that really gets me, and this is a small thing, but whatever, is that by all accounts, Moore is said to be a wonderfully nice, polite person. So, saying things like he’s cranky or people should bow down and do his bidding is just ludicrous.

    I’ve been really, really curious, though…what happened to Karen Berger? Moore and Gaiman both have seemed to love her over the years and now it seems she’s not running Vertigo. I don’t understand…wouldn’t you want to keep her, one of the greatest editors ever, in a position of power?

  22. Synsidar says:

    The stuff just didn’t catch on, and the public embraced more Batman stuff.

    It’s hard to separate the publishers’ emphasis on series from reactions to original material, and original GNs specifically. When someone creates a (successful) standalone novel, he’s creating a complete work. The characters are just elements in the work. Promotion of the novel emphasizes the creator: he or she has a new novel out that fans will love!

    Promotion of DC and Marvel superhero comics is the exact opposite. The characters are more important than the stories, more important than the creators. The Previews system with its promotional blurbs and preorders works only because fans anticipate getting more issues with their favorite characters.

    To sell original GNs well, a publisher has to advertise them and promote them to reach readers who want to read complete stories. That means readers outside the superhero fanbase.

    SRS

  23. Heidi, a wonderful piece. I do want to clarify something you said early on, though.

    You earlier wrote, “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 for you so you can make even more money off their future works.”

    First off, a standard book publishing contracty might well lock a writer in for years to a publisher that they don’t want to be with anymore. Probably the most prominent example of this is Stanislaw Lem’s SOLARIS, which was first published in the US in a poor translation (made from a French translation, not from the original Polish). Lem complained about the poor quality of the work, but the rights were tied up by his publisher in Poland (Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej), who had no financial incentive to create a new translation, and Lem had no legal leverage to force them to.

    However, bad as that situation was, no one would ever think that because WMON had an exclusive right to reprint SOLARIS and sell translations, that they could hire someone to WRITE A SEQUEL against Lem’s wishes. So that’s not “pretty standard”; in fact, it’s basically completely unknown.

    Second, yes, there are publishers who are happy to continue to take money for continued sales of an author’s existing books even after the author has moved on, amicably or otherwise, to another publisher. Probably the most striking example I can think of is John Norman, who published one volume a year of his once-successful GOR series with Daw Books for about 20 years, after Ballantine/Del Rey decided they didn’t want any new volumes. But Del Rey kept the first six in print for the whole time that volume 7-27 were coming out from another publisher. A lot of paper publishing is built around the small but steady streams of money coming from moderately successful backlist titles. (I’m not sure I can think of any backlist titles as successful as WATCHMEN where the publisher and the writer were no longer working together, but there might well be some.)

  24. allstarmatches: It’s also important not to overstate (early) Image’s committment to creators’ rights. It took decades of legal action for Neil Gaiman to get his promised share of payments for the use of characters he co-created. Most of the early Image titles were built around studio systems of interchangable creators; the fact that studios were run by artists did not necessarily mean that the studio workers were getting full participation in the success of their work.

    The modern Image (or at least Image Central) really does seem as much like a true creator-owned collective as one could hope.

  25. TOby you know I love you — everyone read Rodd Racer — but I am scrubbing your comments. They are written from passion but name calling is not appropriate here.

    Here on The Beat I am not going to tolerate any name calling for ANYONE working on anything Before Watchmen — from Dan DiDio on down.

  26. I think there have been sufficient stories concerning creators and rights to creations and things not going too well or smoothly or fairly at image that they are not in a position to claim holier than thou.

    The comics industry is very different than the book industry. It is, I would say, far closer to the music industry, where stories of shenanigans against writers and performers run rampant.

    The internet has made the music industry very nervous, both because of the downside of file sharing, and because it gives bands the opportunity to get their work to the public and bypass the established system entirely.

    So, yeah, VERY similar to the comics industry.

  27. Great article Heidi!

  28. It is pretty pathetic that in the comics industry, standing up for your rights is seen as being a “high maintenance creator.” In all of his public statements, Moore’s reasoning has seemed perfectly reasonable to me. The problem is with DC, not with Moore.

  29. swampy says:

    @Toby Cypress

    Strong words. You hit home with “every creator who made mistakes in their youth, and spent their lives regretting” and trying to fix the system for the younger generation.

    That cute saying about history, forgetfulness, and repeating doom seem to come to mind.

  30. Charles Knight says:

    What I find amazing is how quickly we went from DC saying how respectful they were of the original piece to Jim Lee saying that the work was going to be better than Watchmen – talk about making a rod for your own back…

  31. Torsten Adair says:

    Spaceman is written by Brian Azzarello.

    He wrote the original graphic novel “Joker” which was a bestseller for DC.

    He’s writing “Wonder Woman” in the New 52.

    He wrote “Superman: For Tomorrow”, which got the Absolute treatment, which is like a hall of fame for DC.

    Was this on the PR? Do retailers know to mention this when selling the book? Will we see any of this when the deluxe edition is published?

    1984 was when I started collecting and studying comics. I didn’t read any of the press until 1987 (when Don Martin left MAD), but rereading Comics Interview (volume one is available POD), I’m amazed at the excitement that was occurring at the time.

    Occasionally, I’ll find an old Amazing Heroes Preview Special and wonder where it all went wrong… and right.

  32. @ allstarmatches

    This period was even when only observed from the lines a great time. Creator´s rights were an important topic, and back then DC was making the first steps to change things, and they made sure that even non-insiders took notice.

    And if you read about all those company things which came to the surface, how disgustingly Marvel treated Kirby, the Siegel/Shuster problem, or how Jim Shooter explained in the Fleisher trial that the company is technically the author of the work in the WFH system – from his standpoint absolutly true, I guess – then you really had the impression that things gained momentum to be better in the future. Fairer. And – and this is important – not because managment had the idea of change, but because there were artists who were so successful with their work that they could change the system.

    Also those changes brought forth many comics which would be unthinkable before this time. All these books Pacific and Eclipse published like American Flagg for instance. And even Marvel followed DC with the royalties-system or the Epic line.

    As a customer it was an exciting time, and when you read about Frank Miller or Alan Moore championing for creator´s rights and against censorship, or later McFarlane and Lee becoming free agents, so to speak, you supported their work.

    But this has happened a long time ago, comics have again become a different game. BeWe doesn´t interest me, it is just a reminder that there where it counts nothing much has changed in this industry. Except the stakes are higher with the moviemania and the positions are more entrenched then ever.

    Heidi is right with her Rowling analogue. Which is sad.

  33. Did any site other than IO9 make a request to DC for a Spaceman preview?

  34. This article encompasses so many of my feelings and conflicted views of today. Thank you for writing it for the world to read.

    I had been working at DC when they bought WildStorm, and the Alan Moore conflict of interests didn’t even occur to me until someone pointed it out later in the day. Then came the plane trip to England by Jim Lee to discuss and reassure Alan. I do think that senior management understood the VALUE of WildStorm as a separate studio operating in different offices. It’s my belief that part of the reason that WildStorm wasn’t folded up sooner was the understanding that Alan would do business with them, but not DC central.

    I’m totally on board with not hating the creators behind BeWa, but I simply won’t look at it. I’d rather read a new crop of IMAGE books with that money. There are so many great ones that just started…

    Saga
    Thief of Thieves
    Fatale

    older ones like…
    TURF
    WALKING DEAD
    SHARKMAN
    INVINCIBLE

    the new MillarWorld books like…
    Secret Service
    Supercrooks
    Superior

    Believe me, there’s GREAT comics out there…and I’ll just pass on the BeWa product. It’s not for me. I’d rather read old issues of Alan’s SUPREME, or 1964!

  35. Kevin,

    >I’m not sure I can think of any backlist titles as successful as WATCHMEN where the publisher and the writer were no longer working together, but there might well be some.

    Usagi Yojimbo is not of the same stature as Watchmen, but volumes 1-7 are still being printed by Sakai’s first publisher, Fantagraphics, while the rest of the library is printed at Dark Horse. It’s a little similar to your Gor example.

  36. Bill Kartalopoulos says:

    Heidi,

    Thanks for adding your own historical perspective here. I was thinking the other day how sad it is that fan culture, whatever its pros and cons, has gone from celebrating creators to regurgitating corporate values. Arguably, the major achievement of early fan culture was celebrating artists and writers who had often labored in obscurity for low wages and no long term prospects. Fan culture made Jack Kirby feel like the valuable artist he was after a career’s worth of contentious relationships with publishers. Fan culture brought Carl Barks and John Stanley out of obscurity, remedied the neglect of their publishers, and gave Barks a more or less happy ending to his career. Fan culture made people like Harvey Kurtzman, Wally Wood, and Bill Everett — who all led difficult professional and personal lives — feel appreciated for their cultural contributions. Fan culture couldn’t fix these people’s lives or give them everything they deserved, but to the best of its ability fan culture recognized and celebrated the achievements of creative individuals who didn’t receive similar recognition or commensurate compensation from the industry they worked for. Clearly, something has changed, and I’m sure there must be many reasons. I think the shift must be strongly tied to the evolution of something like the San Diego Comic-Con from a gathering of people with shared enthusiasms to a media event that markets marketing as entertainment. It’s too bad.

    Bill Kartalopoulos

  37. jaroslav hasek says:

    so i take it we’re still waiting on word about Watchbabies in V for Vacation?

    anyone else fine with what DC AND Alan Moore’s position here? worst case is the BeWa books suck, the market ignores them but the creators still get paid and DC loses some money. and probably retailers, which would be the worst of it. best case is they’re alright to great, some non regular comic buyers spend some dough that would otherwise not be circulating through the industry and everyone gets paid. the legacy of the original series should be fine. didn’t they release a ton of substandard Lord of the Rings material after Tolkien died? i dont think that diluted the stories any.

    a potential positive corollary to all this is altho BeWa may not be comicdom’s finest hour, it may draw attention (though great articles like this one) and shine more light on comics history and get people to pay more attention to the mountain of awesome original material being produced in the comics medium every week.

    also alan moore can say whatever he wants. whats the point of getting mad at him for voicing his opinion? hes not actually stopping DC (or Marvel) from publishing anything. its ok if he has different opinions or thinks differently than you or I, thats why hes able to write such mind blowing radness.

    also when are we going to see Sir William Gull actions figures?

  38. One thing to keep in mind is that all of this is down to decisions made by people. It’s not “DC” and “Marvel” who make most of these decisions, but responsible executives and editors and creators working at and with these companies. As long as these individuals don’t change their behavior, the rules in the industry won’t change.

    As long as those responsible soothe each other with the notion that “this is the way things are,” nothing’s going to change for the better. It’s a bullshit excuse. Everybody’s responsible for their own actions, no matter the circumstances.

    One thing I’d like to hear from Jim Lee, for instance, is why exactly he thinks the position he’s taking is ethically justified. Surely, as one of the founders of Image Comics, he must have an opinion on that.

  39. Great article, Heidi, and I’m not going to disagree with most of what you said.

    What I do want to say, though, it that every situation is unique. In the case of Watchmen, it was a genre-defining book, but no one could have known that when the signed the contracts. DC is owed much for the success of Watchmen, just as the publishers for JK Rowling is owed much for the success for Harry Potter, because the company allows the creator to reach a level of popularity that would be difficult to reach on ones own.

    What’s funny is most of the destruction of Alan Moore’s relationship with DC was at hands of Paul Levitz, not the current administration. From what I remember, and please correct me if I’m remembering this wrong, it came out Moore was approached by DiDio to write more Watchmen, which they’d then sign the rights to the characters back over to Moore. He refused, so DC continued on without him.

    Funny about Neil Gaiman and Sandman. I love Sandman. I love Neil Gaiman. Gun to my head, it’s my favorite comic of all time, and Gaiman is my favorite creator of all time. But at the end of the day, Sandman is a DC character, owned by DC Comics. They could do whatever they wanted with the character. Is it right? Would it be good? Who knows, but it would be DC’s right to do whatever they wanted with it. I’d argue that it’s impossible to know what the “best” version of a character is, because no one knows what the future will hold. Do you get mad at Geoff Johns for “ruining” Martin Nodell’s original creation? Maybe Gaiman ruined Kirby’s Sandman for someone.

    Is it morally right for DC to publish Before Watchmen? That’s debatable, as we’ve seen. Is it legally right for DC to publish Before Watchmen? Yep. Last I checked, DC is a for-profit company, and at the end of the day, they’ll do what makes them money. Some people will boycott and refuse to even look at them, some people will think they’re the best comics that have ever been published. Time will tell if this was a good move or not, we’re too in the thick of it to see.

  40. Fantastic piece Heidi. We need to find the audience for original comics and make it grow. This constant retreading of stories in comics, film etc. is appalling. I guess it’s the same short sighted business approach behind the great recession, a frantic grab for short term profits at the expense of industry health.

  41. Because primary industry outlets are dominated by two companies that are pummeling the creator/publisher synergy into ethical oppression, then the only recourse for the humanely perceptive among fandom, creators and the comics press, in order to influence towards improvement, is to raise a strong public voice for fairness that will reverberate through the entertainment media and hope to discourage the destructive trends. Hats off to this inspiring and beautifully articulated commentary, Heidi.

  42. I’m sure I’ll have more to say later, but I really enjoyed reading this, Heidi. Thanks for writing it.

    I didn’t expect it at all, but your Spaceman example is crucial. I took a look around. CBR posts every preview that DC puts out, and the most I found was the preview for Strange Adventures #1 back in MAY as far as Spaceman material. io9’s preview was for issue 2. If you’re curious about Spaceman, good luck, sucker, because you’ll have to seek out an entirely different comic to find out what it looks like. There was a USA Today feature with no interior art, too.

    This seems like such a failure of imagination. You have a bankable series by proven creators who are HOT off the back of a well-received crossover book (which got nommed for an Eisner the other week) and you don’t even show the insides of the comic like you do EVERY other comic? Pathetic.

  43. Justin H. says:

    Thank you, Heidi. Excellent article.

  44. Phil Hester says:

    Goal!

  45. It’s interesting you bring up Spaceman, because I ordered a good amount of the #1 issue to give away to customers and fans of 100 Bullets. Almost universal disinterest for the series, no one liked it. I sell a handful of copies, and most people that are getting it get it because it’s Azz. A few have told me they don’t even like it, they just want to support the creators. Maybe DC knew it was gonna bomb and decided to wash their hands of it and not bother promoting it?

  46. I am glad to see reasoned discussion about this issue, and not just hype over the project. Props to Brothers for helping to raise awareness of the issue, and props to Heidi for bring more “mainstream” attention to it.

    I guess I echo what many have said before, I respect and enjoy the work of many of the creators involved in BWM. I don’t respect some creators attacks against Moore. I personally won’t be buying any BWM material for moral reasons, and in some cases I will be avoiding the work of some of the creators that have unleashed more of the vicious attacks against Moore, as that was uncalled for.

    If my neighbors house is robbed, thats no excuse to rob mine. And if my house does get robbed, I really hope people won’t insult me for complaining about it regardless of where I live and how often my neighbors get robbed. Wrong is still wrong no matter how often it happens.

    I wish I knew what was in Lee’s head on this to be honest. To date, all he has really done is spout the company line, and I guess I expected better of him then that. I can understand why the company is going down this road, but I guess I expected more out of some of the people involved, and I am really disappointed in the whole mess, and in a number of the people on a personal level.

    On the flip side, there are a number of projects that are out at Image that I plan on supporting. And I am excited about some of the new stuff Dark Horse is doing too. Hopefully some of this annoyance with the larger corporate publishers will drive interest into some of these well deserving books coming out.

  47. Dave Elliott says:

    Great well thought out piece Heidi.

    For better or worse we are not in the same place we were 25 years ago. Corporations have gobbled up the world’s resources and the age of innocence has long passed us by.

    In this industry more than any other I can think of we hold fast to two diametrically opposed points of views;

    1/ The Creator as God. We love you! Love all your work!! Now do more Batman/Spider-Man.

    2/ Creator as the Devil. How dare you deny us your creations! Love for the creator to get credit and money just as long as it doesn’t effect my reading habits.

    Now these points of view are just threads on message boards. No one outside our community cares. Little Johnny wants a Spider-Man costume to wear at Halloween and his birthday party. Who cares whether Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby designed it? Who cares that Marvel editors made more money selling Jack’s artwork than he did?

    Just bring on Avengers 2!! Maybe it will include Marvelman on the team…

  48. David Scroggy says:

    Thank you, Heidi. Insightful and well-written.

  49. RE: Spaceman – if anyone is on the fence about buying it or having trouble finding previews, there are free 3-page previews of every issue available on comixology’s app. They do this for almost every title available in their store, so you always have a resource to preview new titles, even if you’re not into digital comics otherwise.

    Neither here nor there re: whether DC should have promoted the series differently/ better, but if you’re curious about the book this is a relatively easy (and free) way to check it out.

  50. r.j. paré says:

    I love indie comics [why I create my own] and I really dig the occasional one-off/ non-continuity/ elseworld type stuff.. BUT I cannot stress this enough, growing up without my monthly fix of Avengers, JLA, New Teen Titans etc etc — I am certain I would not have found the medium so addictive – why I love great TV more than great films – always tuning in to see what happens next.

    As a young fan, my favourite comics weren’t the indies – even though I have come to enjoy many indies in the years since – I still love reading tales of my favourite characters and I’m still more apt to plunk down $3 bucks on Nightwing – than I am an unfamiliar character.

    From a creator POV it may be more interesting to tell stories of new characters instead of established ones… but if the fans have a choice – between the latest issue of “Batman” or “Captain Dark and the Marauding Nightmare” — they’ll choose Batman more often than not.

    I think, one of the most troubling notions for creators in North America.. is that the characters and more specifically – the characters in continuity.. are more popular than any of the creators who have ever worked on them. It’s probably unfair and frustrating – but I really think it is true. But… I became a continuity obsessed DC fanboy in the 70’s and 80’s and was totally enthralled with my monthly four-colour fixes of their daring-do..:) Others, I am sure, will feel differently.

  51. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    If Moore were giving interviews talking about how DC screwed him, and how outrageous their legal fancy footwork like classifying tie-in merchandise as promotional to avoid paying him his fair share, I’d be right in his corner.

    But that’s not what he’s doing. He’s giving interviews sneering and the creative and moral bankruptcy of the creators writing and drawing the “Before Watchmen” books.

    Now, I’m not going to touch on how Moore’s great “original” works, which he’s been so praised for, since “Watchmen,” have been re-uses of existing characters whose now-dead creators would probably disapprove of his use of them. (Well, I guess I just did, but that’s it for “LOEG” and, what was it? “Lost Girls”? in this comment.)

    But let’s look back at “Watchmen” itself: This story was conceived for MLJ Comics’ “Mighty Crusaders,” and proposed to DC using the Charlton Comics superheroes recently acquired by DC Comics. When Dick Giordano at DC objected that the Charlton characters might have value that would be negated by mangling them and raping their stinking corpses, Moore then barely filed off the serial numbers and slapped a really thin coat of paint on them.

    And never once in this process, as far as I’ve ever heard, did he seek approval from Steve Ditko, Joe Gill, Pat Boyette, Pete Morisi — the creators of those Charlton characters. Never did he show the slightest sign of caring what they thought.

    Would Steve Ditko have approved of The Question, having solved the murder of The Peacekeeper by Pete Cannon, Thunderbolt, refusing to overlook the evil of that crime in order to save humanity, being murdered in his turn by Captain Atom? Would Joe Gill have been all right with Ted Kord sleeping with Captain Atom’s girlfriend, Nightshade?

    For all I know, they would have loved it, and been proud to have their characters re-imagined to take part in Moores indisputably brilliant Magnum Opus! But we don’t know, because Moore never asked, and as far as can be determined, never cared.

    Bob Ingersoll has stated that, in his educated legal opinion, Marvel would and should have lost a copyright lawsuit from DC over the “Squadron Supreme,” Marvel’s thinly-disguised versions of DC’s JLA. I don’t think there’s much case to be made that Dr. Manhatten and Rorshach are further from Captain Atom and The Question than Hyperion and Nighthawk are from Superman and Batman.

    If the Squadron are mere stand-ins for the League, then the Watchmen have no more claim to originality.

    And Moore’s cavalier willingness to use and in some cases destroy those characters in the first place leaves him no moral standing to object to DC’s re-use of them. It’s not that he should shut up and take it because it’s been done to others before him.

    It’s just this: It’s not okay for him to attack other creators for doing exactly what he did in the first place.

  52. >>>Did any site other than IO9 make a request to DC for a Spaceman preview?

    Unknown. However you’ll note that the DC blog usually posted previews from other sites and then the sites that weren’t given the exclusive would pick the pages up from there. My inbox is stuffed with previews every day from all kinds of publishers daily.

    Bill K: Thanks so much for you comment. I had actually thought of the fan example of rediscovering Barks and Stanley but the piece was too long to go into that aspect. I appreciate your bringing it up.

    Jaroslav: >>>didn’t they release a ton of substandard Lord of the Rings material after Tolkien died?

    No. Unless you count the tabletop RPG, which had a female Ringwaith and that kind of thing. There has never been a “Great authors write their stories set in Middle Earth!” book. There has, however, been reams and reams of fanfic.

    Ryan H: appreciate your kind words since I know retailers have a very different outlook on Before Watchmen.

    Thanks for the thoughtful commentary, everyone.

  53. Matthew Southworth says:

    Great piece, Heidi.

    The primary piece of the puzzle that I don’t hear being discussed relates to the now-omnipresent issue of IP. I, too, would LOVE DC to publish new original work by Darwyn Cooke and others instead of BW. But Darwyn doesn’t NEED DC to publish it–there are smaller publishers who may not have the market share or the marketing muscle, but he’ll retain all the rights.

    DC, as you’ve pointed out with your SPACEMAN example, doesn’t put a lot of energy into creator-owned work because the return on it is not as great as yet another Flash-centered rehash crossover or whatever.

    The problem here is that that leaves DC or Marvel or whoever with limited, aging IP. Creators don’t WANT to make up new stuff they won’t own or won’t share in the success of–they rightly save that for the books they own. Meanwhile the big superhero publishers are forced to reheat properties created 50, 40, 30 years ago and hope that ubiquity equals success.

    Which means that we’re not likely to see a big comic book publisher putting the money and effort into high-profile original material by major creators because they won’t own the IP. And sadly, the comics business has gotten the smell of money in its nostrils now that comic book movies (and the real money-maker, the related merchandise) are so common–

    –so now, making comics is not about “making comics”, it’s about IP.

  54. “for doing exactly what he did in the first place.”

    That’s a rather loose definition of “exactly”.

  55. This is great comics journalism — editorial, not snarky.

    I’m sure many executives find Rowling difficult as well: she ended the series, won’t do cartoons, comics, etc. But they build a relationship. Whether artistic or economic, it’s still respect. As others have said, it seemed to be moving positively for Moore (and us as fans), until those dumb mistakes. Can’t come back from this one, though.

    It’s not nearly as good an analogy for many reasons, but look how Marvel treats Bendis. He does not own his Marvel characters, but the relationship they have forged is surely positive for both in that it allows economic success as well as a wide latitude for Bendis to (seemingly) do what he wants to.

  56. r.j. paré says:

    Here! Here! Jonathan Andrew Sheen…:)

    I agree completely. I know JM Barrie would not have approved of Wendy’s use in Lost Girls.

    It is curious that Moore adheres to two completely different sets of ethics – one for himself and one for everyone else.

  57. filippod says:

    Re: Spaceman.

    Ok, no preview is stupid, but was it really under-exposed (at least when compared with other titles)?.

    I remember seeing features on MTV Geek, on IGN and on iFanboy and it was even covered by USA today.

    DC ran ads for it on Wonder Woman and issue #1 was sold at $1 as a promotional move (I guess with the intention to have Comics Shops pushing it, like in Ryan Higgins’ case some comments up).

    Even I picked it up because I noticed it on several sites and tried it because it was $1. And I wasn’t reading Wonder Woman nor was I particularly familiar with Azzarello’s work.

    Infact, I picked up Wonder Woman only after having read Spaceman.

  58. Blahblahblah

  59. Mikael says:

    “This is great comics journalism — editorial, not snarky.”

    You must’ve missed this: “I got news for you, bub.”

    Anyway – if Alan Moore felt he was wronged, or even cheated, by DC based on the original contract why didn’t he ever take them to court? My guess? He knew he had no case.

  60. blacaucasian says:

    “The problem here is that that leaves DC or Marvel or whoever with limited, aging IP. Creators don’t WANT to make up new stuff they won’t own or won’t share in the success of–they rightly save that for the books they own. Meanwhile the big superhero publishers are forced to reheat properties created 50, 40, 30 years ago and hope that ubiquity equals success.”

    Do you think the answer is then that Marvel and DC abandon all original content and just refocus on those IP’s they have? It seems like that’s what’s happening.

    If they’ve created a niche for themselves in that space, is there anything wrong with them focusing their efforts on that? I’m not trying to be combative here…I’m genuinely asking the question.

    It seems we are slowly ending up with an analogue to the music industry – with Marvel and DC acting as the Major Labels using their marketing power to push whatever (in my opinion) THEY make relevant in the pop spehere and the independent comics companies serving as the punk, hardcore and indie labels serving to a specific audience for their output.

  61. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Jonathan Andrew Sheen–your argument is faulty and has been every time I’ve seen it in these discussions, no matter who was espousing it.

    Rorshach is not named “The Question” in Watchmen. He is not the Question. Of the 8 godzillion people who read the book, have seen the movie, wear the shirt, buy the action figure or whatever, none of them call that character the Question and most of them have never heard of the Question.

    They are NOT the same characters. Your statement that he “filed off the serial numbers”, while that’s an excellent metaphorical image (seriously, I like it!), is faulty. A great deal of backstory and plot and detail went into making those characters distinct from their Charlton origins. I don’t recall the Question’s mother being a prostitute. I don’t recall Captain Atom walking around nude, 60 feet tall and blue, engaging in virtual group sex and crying on Mars. Those things would have been inappropriate to the original characters, and it may be that Ditko, et al would have had problems with them.

    But that’s not what happened. Moore and Gibbons created something new and extremely, exquisitely detailed. The use of the characters in the new BW stuff will not and simply CANNOT reproduce the structure, intricacy and authorial integrity of the original book because they are A) sequels and B) created by a dozen different authors.

    THIS is Moore’s complaint. Not “they’re using my characters!” (see his complaints about people writing John Constantine–don’t see any?, neither do I). WATCHMEN is a complete work and DC showed good taste in not breaking this gorgeous Victorian mansion into small apartments, but now they’re choosing to do so.

    If I built that house, even if I sold it under completely legitimate circumstances and didn’t feel I’d been misled or lied to, I’d still be heartbroken to see it diminished in that way.

  62. blacaucasian says:

    “Anyway – if Alan Moore felt he was wronged, or even cheated, by DC based on the original contract why didn’t he ever take them to court? My guess? He knew he had no case.”

    Or being tied up in case for years and years with DC’s lawyers wasn’t worth the time, money and potential outcome (whether in his favor or not). The lawyers are likely the only ones who win in that scenario.

    This argument never really has made sense to me, especially the way our legal system is set up.

  63. @Michael Aronson

    “Can you blame DC for going to an old well of familiar characters that’s sure to make a lot of money in the short-term? Well, sure, but, if you look at the rest of their – and Marvel’s – output, you know, it’s 99% franchise characters that were created over 30 years ago. That’s what these companies do. That’s what they represent.”

    Michael, as some (Heidi, Tom Spurgeon, Marc-Oliver above) keep saying, this is a cop-out. The Marvel/DC business model didn’t fall out of the sky – it’s the result of actual decisions made by actual people over a period of decades. DC could have treated Alan Moore like JK Rowling. Marvel could have treated Jack Kirby like Walt Disney or Shigeru Miyamoto. They could throw equal muscle behind old and new ideas, as Pixar (not to mention every book publisher) does. They have decided to become “legacy IP” companies and we don’t have to concede that as an inevitability.

  64. Matthew Southworth says:

    @blacaucasian–“Do you think the answer is then that Marvel and DC abandon all original content and just refocus on those IP’s they have? It seems like that’s what’s happening.”

    I think that basically that is what is happening. And I don’t fault them (from a business perspective) for doing so…they’re in the business of making money, not in the business of making me feel like comics are fun or artistic or whatever.

    I didn’t intend my comments there to sound like an accusation, just like an observation. As I’ve said before, I LIKE working for Marvel and DC. I like the people there, and I like some of those characters and I have fun doing it.

    But I think the days of writers and artists being wildly creative for a page rate and no ownership have ended, and I think DC and Marvel believe the future is in the exploitation of the property they already own rather than in gambling on new models of compensation in hopes of getting new characters.

  65. Well done, Heidi. An excellent read.

    @Michael Aronson: “I’m not sure what the point of bringing up Spaceman was.”

    I didn’t see anyone address this elsewhere, but it’s very important to bring it up. When DC puts out a non-DCU creator-owned title and does nothing to promote it so that it fails, DC has the cover necessary to further the myth that “yes they do creator-owned original books” and “they don’t sell.” Over time, people will forget that the project was promotionally abandoned and only look at the sales figures (“See? Toldja. Look at those numbers”). Any creator-owned book at DC or Marvel is just publishing fodder; at Image, it’s the company’s reason for existing.

    For companies that want to own creative work outright, it’s important for them to dismiss things like Hellboy and The Walking Dead (and dozens of other successful creator-owned comics) as anomalies in order to keep creators doing company-owned work and too nervous about stepping out on their own.

  66. Matthew Southworth says:

    P.S. Blacaucasian’s reference to Marvel and DC as major record labels is spot on. The radio airwaves are controlled by major labels–not directly, but by their dollars and their market ubiquity.

    This is true of comic stores–TONS of comic stores have that neon Batman symbol in their window, which in effect now not only means “Batman!” but also means “Comic Store!”

    Comic stores are, by and large, Marvel and DC outlet stores.

  67. blacaucasian says:

    “I didn’t intend my comments there to sound like an accusation, just like an observation.”

    Nor did I intend to say you did, so I apologize if that was in the tone of my post.

    And I totally agree with you. Whether from this whole mess or the rise of Image or however of the many examples you can tie it to, it seems clear to me the the paradigm has indeed changed for good.

  68. jaroslav hasek says:

    @the beat – i meant this stuff: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_History_of_Middle-earth

    i never read any of it tho. in fact i stopped reading halfway into fellowship. the hobbit was enough for me :)

    anyway, point is not that LOTR:History of Middle Earth::Watchmen:BeWa, its that DC could publish an encyclopedia’s worth of “cannon” material about watchmen and it wouldn’t think it would diminish watchmen at all.

  69. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Matthew Southworth

    Speaking of flawed arguments:

    Moore went into “Watchmen” intending to mangle actual characters created by other creators, whose rights he had no visible concern for. It wasn’t his choice to very slightly alter them in order to leave the original characters useable, it was Dick Giordano’s.

    And, again, I’d say that the versions of the characters that appeared in “Watchmen” differed no more from their Charlton progenitors than Marvel’s “Squadron Supreme” differed from DC’s “Justice Leage of America.” If the latter can be viewed as such a close reproduction as to be legally actionable — you can take that argument up with Bob Ingersoll — then calling the “Watchmen” characters original creations is, as far as I’m concerned, disingenuous as best.

  70. Mikael, taking people to court in civil cases is not always the best course of action for every individual.

  71. Chris Hero says:

    @Matthew Southworth and Toby Cypress

    Will either of you be at MoCCA? I’d rather buy your work directly from you so you get more of my money. Otherwise, I’ll buy your works from a store. I just wanted to check first.

  72. A few thoughts.

    First, DC botched (deliberately, I’m sure) the release of LOEG: Black Dossier after Moore moved future stories to Top Shelf. He had every right to, they’re undoubtedly a better fit, but he and DC were on ready in the sad/angry relationship they’re in now before that happened. DC’s actions were more fuel to the fire. Not the cause.

    Second, most of what I’ve read online about Before Watchmen has been as critical as your piece, so I don’t know where the Kirby analogy comes from.

    Third, and once again(!), where does Gibbons fit into all this? It is easy to cast this as an insult to creator’s rights, but only if you ignore his position.

    Finally, for what its worth, here are my thoughts on the project (I have not signed up, but may check out the trades if the feedback is positive): http://david-bird.blogspot.ca/2012/03/before-watchmen.html

  73. blacaucasian says:

    @Tom Mason – “When DC puts out a non-DCU creator-owned title and does nothing to promote it so that it fails, DC has the cover necessary to further the myth that “yes they do creator-owned original books” and “they don’t sell.””

    Do you really think the intent is that intentionally nefarious though? I doubt, for example, any of the editors at Vertigo, work on a book in order for it to fail so DC can rack up another IP and use the PR to say “we still put out creator owned books.”

    “Comic stores are, by and large, Marvel and DC outlet stores.”

    I know I live in a bigger city (Boston) so I’ve never experienced this, but I’m astounded when I hear about stores in smaller cities and towns who won’t carry anything other then DC and Marvel. And yet it does happen. It’s really a shame.

  74. Dave Elliott says:

    Hi Jonathan Andrew Sheen,

    I find your point of view interesting.

    Alan and Dave were asked to do a fresh take on the Charlton characters. As you yourself pointed out, what they did was so different and mature that Dick Giordano preferred to have them use their treatment to create something completely new. After all they wanted to use the Charlton characters again.

    So Alan and Dave didn’t need to go to anyone else for approval or their opinions, they were now effectively creating something new.

    Maybe if DC had decided to keep it as the Charlton characters we’d be having a completely different conversation now, but it isn’t Alan and Dave’s fault it wasn’t the Charlton characters.

    As for public domain characters Alan has use like anyone else has use of them. It is the great thing about copyright entering public domain that people can get creative and experimental with old concepts and telling stories through a modern perspective.

    Don’t forget it was mainly public domain stories that built Disney.

  75. Ed Brubaker says:

    Yes, the answer to “who will support them?” is whoever is buying all my non-DC and Marvel books, and whoever is buying Hellboy and Walking Dead and Saga (which outsold most Marvel and DC books last month) and whoever is buying all of Mark Millar’s books.

    The audience for original works in comics is growing, not shrinking, and in fact it’s grown a lot this year for Image already. Fatale is the best selling book that Sean Phillips and I have ever done, and we own it 100 percent, with total control. Saga is selling twice what Y the Last Man sold through Vertigo.

    I don’t know why it’s not growing for Vertigo, because they publish some great books. It might be that be a sliver on the side of a massive superhero company doesn’t help them.

  76. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Chris Hero–I WISH I was going to Mocca. But no, not this time. Please message me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or go to my tumblr (matthewsouthworth.tumblr.com) and we can get you a book. Thanks for your interest!

    And definitely grab something from Toby, who is doing beautiful work.

    @blacaucasian–no, I didn’t take any stridency, no apology necessary. Just was trying to make my own position super-clear.

    @Jonathan Andrew Sheen–“disingenuous at best”–then what might it have been “at worst”? What is disingenuous is for you to make an allegation, then when I make the point at length that Moore’s point is not that it’s work that is somehow violating his characters but that the entire point of WATCHMEN was that it was a complete piece of architecture that needn’t now be subdivided and that that subdivision violates the value of the work itself, you just reiterate your original point. THAT’s disingenuous.

    Let’s both stop arguing for a second, though. Did you read WATCHMEN? Did you enjoy it? Did you think it was beautiful? I did, and I suspect you must have liked it too, right? If so, did you appreciate the structure and the thematic density and the clear, organized intelligence with which it was written? Or did you just like the way the Comedian’s costume looked or thought Rorshach’s grappling gun was cool and wanted to see more scenes with the grappling gun. Did you think “man, I wanna see Dr Manhattan go to MERCURY! And then maybe there’s some way he could go to ATLANTIS!”

    No, I don’t think you did. I’m guessing that you thought, damn, that was good. And my point is that Moore made a complete, gorgeous piece of work he feels is being cut into pieces and has every right to feel that way.

  77. blacaucasian says:

    @Ed Brubaker – I don’t expect you the answer this if you can’t, but do you feel that Marvel has put the same amount of promotional push behind Criminal that you’ve gotten from Image with Fatale?

    And how much “promotion” do you think the artists should have to be responsible on things like this. A main difference I’ve noticed between many of your creator owned books and the books Vertigo puts out is I feel like I see a major article or interview with you every time an issue is released where as I don’t think I see that as much with other creators on their books.

  78. I sometimes think about the contrast between what Marvel has to offer and what Disney has to offer. Disney gets new intellectual property all the time, but they’re dealing in realms where one pretty much needs a large corporation to create (movies, series television). Marvel is dealing in comics, where for decades now we’ve known that you don’t need the big company to at least make a serious attempt. Off the top of my head, the most recent Marvel published creation to be licensed from Marvel and released on the big screen is Elektra; the most recent for DC is Constantine (I’ll put an asterisk next to A History Of Violence, because I don’t know where that was licensed from.) Does that mean that newer properties can’t be licensed for movies? No… as witness the Marvel and DC published creator-controlled properties such as Kick-Ass, The Road To Perdition, Stardust, and LOEG, in addition to various non-Marvel/DC comics.

    The big publishers have the resources to market intellectual property and to maintain material in print that eludes many smaller rights-owners (admittedly, maintaining material in print also seems to elude Marvel). If they can show that they will be able to handle the material in a way that’s to everyone’s advantage and within the creator’s comfort, there would be a broad range of new material available to them.

  79. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Bill Kartalopoulos said,

    “I was thinking the other day how sad it is that fan culture, whatever its pros and cons, has gone from celebrating creators to regurgitating corporate values.”

    Can I offer a theory on that?

    The “fans who celebrated creators” in those days came into comics in the days of newsstand distribution when comics were everywhere, or perhaps before the comics crash of the early 90’s, when the number of stores dropped by more than half.

    In the days when comics were available everywhere, in every city and small town, even in out-of-way vacation spots up in the mountains, the readership of comics was much more diverse.

    And I would emphasize that the economic backgrounds of the readers were more diverse. You had a great deal more rural readers, for instance.

    Now, you don’t have that.

    Comics readers now live in large cities or medium-sized cities with a college… and that’s it.

    In the entire state of New Mexico, the fifth largest state in terms of geographic size, there are a total of five comic stores. Maybe six. All of them are located in one city, Albuquerque, in the center of the state.

    If you live in Lordsburg, Farmington, Clovis, or – God Forbid! – Hatchita, you could well grow up having never seen a comic book in your life.

    And this is only one state. It turns out that, with only about 2,500 stores, and perhaps less than half of those selling nothing but Marvel and DC, there is much less variety of reader.

    Today’s reader is more upscale in income (or their parents are), more urban, and more sympathetic to the Romney argument that “corporations are people, too,” because it is likely that they or their parents work at a management or executive level in a corporation, or in a highly-prized technical component of that corporation.

    It is no wonder that today’s reader will find less sympathy for the one who actually labored to create the product than for the corporation who’s money funded it and owns it, legally and on paper.

    It turns out, and there’s been a lot of press on this lately, that the more upscale in income you are, the more self-sufficient you are likely to see yourself.

    You are not, or you don’t see yourself as, benefiting from the larger community, or even nation, of which you are a part. You have less compassion for those less fortunate than you, and you might even believe that the only reason a person is not rich or well-off is because of the “poor choices” they made.

    People further down on the economic ladder don’t think that way. They know, and may be one themselves, that there are good, honest, hardworking people, thrifty and industrious, who never get ahead because there are dicks out there in the world, especially in the working world, who will screw you over without a second thought and never even once stop to consider the effect their actions might have on another.

    It’s no wonder to me that we see so many smug, arrogant opinions on how Alan Moore is a cranky old man, or that “people just need to shut up about all this.”

    These people come from a burgeoning culture in which “compassion for the laborer” is a socialist value to be mocked and shunned.

    But you know, thankfully we’ve got something new on the horizon.

    Mark Waid’s push for digital comics has been like a revelation for me.

    Even in New Mexico people have computers.

    Maybe compassion for creators and their rights, over the “rights” of the non-human corporations and their IP, will come back to comics fandom.

  80. This the truth of it.

    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.

    And…

    12. Before Watchmen has an economic motivation, not an artistic one. No one said “Boy, I have this great Nite Owl story.” Dan Didio said, “Hey, we need to make more money, and Watchmen is just sitting there. Who do we have who wants to sign on for fat cash?”

    That’s the comic book business. WHO don’t know this??

  81. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Matthew Southworth:

    And, for your other flawed arguments:

    “I don’t recall the Question’s mother being a prostitute. I don’t recall Captain Atom walking around nude, 60 feet tall and blue, engaging in virtual group sex and crying on Mars.”

    Well, no, and that’s why Dick Giordano asked for the characters to be changed. Moore wanted to do with existing, recognizable characters what he ended up doing with his thinly-disguised versions, as he felt that doing so would have vastly more impact. He was probably nice.

    “WATCHMEN is a complete work and DC showed good taste in not breaking this gorgeous Victorian mansion into small apartments, but now they’re choosing to do so.”

    This, combined with your earlier “they’re sequels,” betrays a complete misunderstanding of “Before Watchmen.”

    They’re not sequels, they’re _prequels._ Moore and Gibbons’ “Watchmen” clearly establishes that those characters all had past lives that included a number of adventures not shown in the book. DC’s new projecct will show some of them. Unless created with supreme incompetence, it will do so in a way that doesn’t conflict with “Watchmen” in any way.

    You talk about somehow defacing or debasing or cheapening “Watchmen,” but that simply cannot happen. Story has it that a graduate student was once interviewing James M. Cain, and sympathetized to him, “It’s a shame how Hollywood has ruined all of your books.” “No,” Cain is said to have replied, pointing to a bookshelf, on which his body of work stood lined up in hardcover, “they are all still right there.”

    The very worst-case scenario is that DC will have published, in addition to an iconic Comics novel, some crappy comics, which will be quickly forgotten.

    The very best is that “Watchmen” will now have a set of stunning and worthy companion pieces, written and designed so that readers of them who read “Watchmen” will fins it has even greater impact and resonance.

    Your house isn’t being broken up into apartments. Vacant neighboring lots are having houses built on them designed by talented architects to make a harmonious setting for it. Those houses might end up being eyesores, but your house remains the same as it always was, and you may end up living in the centerpiece of a gorgeous neighborhood designed to highlight it.

  82. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Carlton–you’re right. Digital comics COULD change everything, could bring all kinds of comics into people’s homes.

    Here’s hoping that happens and that the great variety of available comics will now be as varied (or more!) than what prose fiction can offer and that reading comics becomes as common as reading magazines.

  83. r.j. paré says:

    @ Dave Elliot – Wendy Darling is not Public Domain though. The LOEG characters are.. but not Wendy.

    Great Ormond Street Hospital – was granted the rights by JM Barrie so they could raise money for the children’s hospital. They continue to use them in the fashion the author intended [though outside of UK some creators/studios have tried to circumvent their copyright].

  84. r.j. paré says:

    Moore was against the movie as well… LOL Which I’d argue was as entertaining but with a better ending..:)

  85. Another point. I may be wrong, but I believe Vertigo is responsible for promoting its titles and not the parent company. Something they’ve been doing a terrible job of, if sales are any indication.

  86. Brian Wood says:

    @David Bird not really true, its all one PR department. Vertigo used to have, years back, its own dedicated person handling Vertigo, but that was no longer the case (at least not when I was last working there).

    b

  87. Ed Brubaker says:

    http://www.twomorrows.com/comicbookartist/articles/09moore.html

    For anyone interested in the genesis of Watchmen as a story.

  88. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Matthew Southworth:

    BTW: As you can now see, what you called disingenuous on my part was merely breaking my response into separate parts for the separate topics. My argument isn’t flawed just because you disagre with it. It stands as it is.

    And, by another way, one of the things that Moore and Gibbons did so well in “Watchmen” was that they _did_, in fact, make me want to see the previous adventures of these characters.

    When we see Rorschach and Nite Owl together in the Owl-Ship — “Don’t wish to interfere with operation of ship, but…” — it gave a flavor of what must have been in some other universe, a “The Brave and the Bold”-esque book in which those two very different characters melded into a fun team, and I’m hopeful that “Before Watchmen” will give me an issue of that book.

    But, better still, it gives these creators the ability to do what Tom Stoppard did with “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead:” Because we know the fate that awaits these characters, looming ahead of them, unavoidable and certain, the stories can be created to play up that fate, foreshadow and resonate with it.

    That’s not a cheapening of Moore and Gibbons’ “Watchmen.”

  89. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Matthew – If digital comics can get comics back out into the general readership, I’m hoping and praying to see Stan Goldberg or someone who draws like him to a soap opera “dramedy.” Somethig like Ugly Betty, but with that awesome Stan G. art from a 1970 Millie the Model.

    That would just be the cat’s furry pajamas.

  90. Dave Elliott says:

    @r.j. paré

    Yes, I’m aware of Peter Pan’s rights being held by GOSH, I was referring more to LoEG.

    However, last I looked it up, only the original Peter Pan book and adaptions of it were owned by GOSH and that specific copyright kept alive in perpetuity not derivations of them. That’s how many perceived it and continue to do so.

  91. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Mr. Sheen, your understanding of how Watchmen originated is deeply flawed and fundamentally inaccurate.

    What you are saying sounds good to fit your arguments, but your argument is based on false assumptions.

    Therefore, you are wrong.

    As for what your inaccuracies are, try following Mr. Brubaker’s link, above, to the TwoMorrows site. I have no doubt you will still try to twist the facts to fit your ideology, but at least you will not be ignorant of the facts.

  92. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Jonathan Andrew Sheen–well, I guess that’s where we differ. Where WATCHMEN was so well-written that it made you want to read previous adventures, it made me use my imagination.

    That’s what I use books for.

  93. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Carlton Donaghe

    I had about separate WikiPedia articles open and referred to them in other tabs as I wrote what I wrote. What I wrote is accurate to those sources. I’ll read your source as well, but I don’t give TwoMorrows any more credibility than WikiPedia’s sources unless I’ve got pretty pressing reasons to do so.

    So, no, I’m not wrong. Moore started out intending to make “Watchmen” with existing characters created by other creators, and when he was coming up with those ideas, I’ve seen no claims that he was concerned with those creators’ ideas about what he wanted to do with them.

    He’s got plenty of legitimate complaints. The creative bankruptcy of the writers and artists making “Before Watchmen” isn’t one of them, because they’re doing nothing he didn’t.

  94. Chris Hero says:

    @Carlton Donaghe

    Best piece written on this topic yet. I was literally just exchanging some e-mails with a teacher in my hometown 5 minutes ago about some fundraising for her classroom. We were just discussing how we’re products of our community and all the great teachers in our schools and even though I don’t live there or pay taxes to the schools anymore, I still owe it to my community to give back. It’s compassion; you’re so right about that. I’m compassionate to creators. We don’t have to agree politically or socially or whatever but I still want them to feel appreciated and supported for their work.

    @Matthew Southworth

    Tweet coming soon! I’ve been tied up in other stuff and reading this thread with one eye peeking over.

  95. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Carlton Donaghe

    And, reading the TwoMorrows link, Moore himself is backing me up.

    I’m not wrong about the origins of the Watchmen, and Moore says so.

  96. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Mr. Sheen:

    Wikipedia. Oh, well then.

  97. r.j. paré says:

    The very nature of comic publishing in North America has always been about serialization. I know some creators hate this and wish desperately that comics were published more like traditional books – where publishers are ONLY publishers.

    Interesting aside… some book publishers have been taking their cues, seemingly, from comic publishers in recent years, hiring writers to create series aimed at youth audiences that are owned by the publishers [who can and do hire new writers when they like].

    Comic fans in North America have always loved continuity driven universes. They find that style of storytelling addictive. They always want to know more… what happened next? What happened before?

    One can [and should] create indie comics for the indie market – but fandom will still be wanting more Wolverine, etc. And there’s no reason BOTH types of publishing cannot exist.

  98. J.A. Sheen said:

    You talk about somehow defacing or debasing or cheapening “Watchmen,” but that simply cannot happen. Story has it that a graduate student was once interviewing James M. Cain, and sympathetized to him, “It’s a shame how Hollywood has ruined all of your books.” “No,” Cain is said to have replied, pointing to a bookshelf, on which his body of work stood lined up in hardcover, “they are all still right there.”

    —–

    I understand that idea in theory, but it actually *can* happen. For example, for me, the sequels to “The Matrix” have made me feel less strongly about the original film, which I thought was a watershed movie when it first came out.

    Of course what’s interesting there is that the creators of the original participated in the destruction of the concept, and part of what makes it so depressing to me is finding out “so this is what they thought all this was about?”

    Anyhow, my point is, sequels (and, really, prequels are another kind of sequel, so let’s not play wordgames, okay?) can have a cheapening effect on the original, despite what wise folks like Cain say.

  99. Chris Hero says:

    @Jonathan Andrew Sheen

    The way you take facts and tie them together with your personal opinions and then defend those opinions as facts is, quite frankly, amazing. I cannot believe you’re saying any of that with a straight face. Your contempt for Moore and Gibbons while wanting to read more Watchmen would explode a brain with dissonance if it was real.

  100. Thanks Brian.

  101. Respect to all the working creators that are speaking up on the issue. I think even the very polite and reasoned statements they have been making (here as well as on twitter and other locations) are brave given the climate being what it is.

    Other thing, does anyone get the sense that DC was ready for blowback but then none came at first? Everyone was being polite and knew that no amount of complaining was going to make a difference. Then at that recent con they made the statement that everyone is ok with BWM, and that made this whole thing blow up? I dunno, I find this amusing in a lot of ways, as DC seems flatfooted with how to respond now that they have had their “Mission Accomplished” moment.

    Also, FWIW, The Massive at Dark Horse is in my must buy list. And I hope that Brubaker does more Image work after Fatal is done. Thanks everyone for allowing these to be available digitally for those of us that are done with paper.

  102. Ed Brubaker says:

    That’s actually a Raymond Chandler quote, not James M Cain.

  103. Nick Jones says:

    “Spaceman is written by Brian Azzarello. . . . Was this on the PR?”

    Despite my being the likely audience for that sort of book, the only thing I knew about Spaceman prior to it coming out was its name, which wasn’t enough to get me to pay attention to it. Now that I’m actually hearing more about it (not from DC/Vertigo, naturally, but from word of mouth), I’ll probably check it out when the trade hits.

    Now, compare that with the gobs of information relating to the DC reboot that I was inundated with at the time, despite the fact that I had absolutely no interest. I’m a potential customer for DC/Vertigo, but they failed utterly to reach me in regard to something that I would consider buying and instead buried me under a mountain of PR for stuff that I would never buy.

    Maybe my experience isn’t typical, but if it is then it wouldn’t take much for DC to expand awareness of its non-“dudes in tights” books. Really, they’d just need to stop pretending that Vertigo doesn’t exist and start to promote it with even a fraction of the same gusto that goes into hyping the main line.

  104. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Chris Hero:

    I have no contempt whatever for Dave Gibbons, and my contempt for Moore is limited to his castigating in others what he has done himself throughout his whole career. His work is brilliant, and you’ve never heard me say it isn’t.

    I don’t lie about you, so stop lying about me.

    @Ed Brubaker: I heard the story first in a Stephen King interview. He referenced Cain. Can you point me at a source to confirm it’s Chandler?

  105. Matthew Southworth says:

    Think there’s something to be said re: Spaceman and waiting for the trade. For me, if I’m a fan of the writer and know he or she tends to write in long, well-constructed arcs, I will buy an issue, then if I like it I wait (I know that I’ll wind up with the book eventually, so I don’t want to double-dip).

    Strangely, if I’m nuts about the art, I’ll buy the issues individually (I do like Risso’s work a LOT but for some reason did not do this with SPACEMAN). Could be that Spaceman is suffering from “wait for the trade” syndrome and that folks aren’t paying as much attention as it warrants. Maybe?

  106. r.j. paré says:

    @ Nate C. — I loved the Matrix Trilogy and the animated shorts included in the DVD! I didn’t think the story was cheapened in any way.

    Did they tell the story exactly as I would have [as any writer tends to ask themselves, LOL] – well no… but thank goodness as that would have been rather boring for me if there were no surprises!

    Ultimately, the only thing I ask of fiction – is to entertain me. If I am entertained than its mission is indeed, accomplished.

    Everything else is gravy…

  107. I don’t know if the Rowling argument holds.

    Let’s say Harry Potter was a smash hit in the 80s and continued selling to this day. Let’s say it also had a contract that gave Time Warner the rights to Harry Potter as long as it remained in print. Let’s say that the relationship went sour over the years.

    If Rowling was unwilling to write any more Potter stuff for Time Warner and she was so frustrated with Time Warner that she wouldn’t write anything else for them to publish, I bet they would then make new Harry Potter stuff for the masses. It doesn’t make business sense not to. They are in business to sell books, movies, etc.

    Do you really think Time Warner would act differently with Rowling if she behaved the same way as Moore and had a similar contract as Moore?

    Now, the problem has been the way Moore was treated in the past causing a grudge that is held to this day. The current regime at DC is not at fault for that. Or are they? I don’t know. But I do know that the current regime will lose their jobs for not having good sales figures, whether or not they produce great art. So they will go with creating things that will create good sales figures.

    Now for those who want to create great art, there are many avenues to do that.

  108. Chris Hero says:

    @Jonathan Andrew Sheen

    Sheer genius. I’m not lying about you, merely inferring this is all an act based on your conflicting opinions. But then you say I am, putting me on the defensive and obscuring the issue. It’s a version of the Byrne classic, “Did you stop beating your wife yet?” Hats off to you for your twisted genius. You’re clearly having more fun than the rest of us.

  109. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Chris Hero

    You claimed I had contempt for Moore and Gibbons that was incompatible with wanting to read more books that worked with their book.

    Yet, I said throughout that Moore and Gibbons’ work was brilliant, and my only criticism of Moore has been his catigation of others doing what he’s a made a career of doing.

    Yeah, that’s you lying about me.

    No, I don’t like it, and I’m not going to let it pass uncontested.

  110. Ed Brubaker says:

    No, I misremembered. Chandler quoted Cain in a letter. Anyway, Cain’s books were treated far better by Hollywood than Chandlers, overall. (other than Murder My Sweet and Big Sleep, which are excellent).

  111. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Ed Brubaker:

    Good to know I haven’t been inaccurate all these years. Many thanks!

  112. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Jonathan Andrew Sheen–still despite the number of posts you haven’t addressed the point that Moore’s complaint is about what he perceives as a bad choice to explode a complete and integral work, not about the adaptation of characters, as you assert.

    I sense that it’s more important to you to appear “Right” than to actually be right.

  113. @blacaucasian: I wasn’t talking about editorial policy or the editor’s role at all. I was talking about DC corporate. And yes, as the founding editor of the long-ago Bravura imprint, I do believe what I wrote.

    @Tom Mason – “When DC puts out a non-DCU creator-owned title and does nothing to promote it so that it fails, DC has the cover necessary to further the myth that “yes they do creator-owned original books” and “they don’t sell.””

    Do you really think the intent is that intentionally nefarious though? I doubt, for example, any of the editors at Vertigo, work on a book in order for it to fail so DC can rack up another IP and use the PR to say “we still put out creator owned books.”

  114. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Matthew Southworth

    I’m not making up Moore’s complaint. He’s said, and said it more than once, that working on “Before Watchmen” is a display of creative bankruptcy.

    That said, I _have_ addressed the complaint that you want to focus on: There is no exploding of a complete and integral work. There is additional work support a complete work which has plenty of room in its continuity and texture for such prequels.

    Therefore, that complaint of his is nonsensical.

  115. r.j. paré says:

    @Matthew – I thought Jonathan’s posts were rather cogent and did indeed address that particular issue, as well as others.

    BWM in no way diminishes “The Watchmen” — each will be their own separate works. For example, I hate the Star Wars prequels.. but they don’t affect my love for the original trilogy.

  116. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Matthew Southworth

    And, by the way, I’m more than capable of differing with your arguments without attributing motivations to you. Try to do likewaise, and your positions will be more respectable.

  117. Alan Moore based Rorshach on the Question, a character Steve Ditko created–but didn’t Ditko himself base The Question on his own character Mr. A, a creation Ditko owns the rights to?

    In all the back-and-forth about Alan Moore’s rights being trampled, I find it odd that Steve Ditko is never mentioned. It seems to me that Rorschach–arguably the most popular of the Watchmen characters–is clearly a revamped Mr. A. If Ditko had asserted his rights back in 1985 mightn’t he have had a case?

  118. Matthew Southworth says:

    @r.j pare–Agreed on the STAR WARS prequels…I’ve just not seen them. I decided that my experiences with the original films were best left alone, particularly when the glimpses I saw of the newer films didn’t appeal to me.

    But there is a difference. WATCHMEN again was written as a complete integral work. STAR WARS was written deliberately as a series of episodes, with pieces deliberately left out of the original puzzle, and then completed by its original author.

    Not the same thing. Does the 1978 Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie enrich the experience of listening to the Beatles’ album? Sure doesn’t. But I was a 7 year old kid when I saw that movie–before I heard the album, and it did have an effect.

    I don’t know Paul McCartney’s thoughts on the movie, but I think he’d be within his rights to say he thought it was a bad idea.

  119. Joseph says:

    I can’t wrap my head around so many people being so deeply offended by every aspect of Before Watchmen (although I am not one of them), but giving the creators involved a pass. If these comics pros took a stand and refused to do the work, wouldn’t that have made a bolder and more effective statement than anything else? The game can’t be played without people willing to play it, after all.

  120. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Jonathan Andrew Sheen–thanks for your moral instruction, I’ll keep that in mind. I believe my arguments are quite respectable and indeed respectful of those involved.

    HOWEVER–I was completely mistaken about your not addressing my point. I missed that post, and I apologize both for that and for the comment about “appearing right”.

  121. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Joseph, I think this should be hung around every participating creator’s neck like a mill-stone, engraved with the words, “The creator of this work said, ‘No.'”

    I know I have no respect for them.

  122. Brian Wood says:

    @Joseph I agree with that as a general principle. However you view Before Watchmen, its only fair to apply that to everyone involved in its making. The creators can’t even use a “just following orders” excuse like a low-level staffer might – they signed up for it. As much as I would hate to see any of my friends get shit.

  123. Chris Hero says:

    @Jonathan Andrew Sheen

    Your comic zaniness continues to make me laugh. I mean, on the surface, insiting Matthew or I have done something we haven’t is quite a genius form of a passive aggressive attack because it’s an ad hominem attack disguised as a defense. But, you’re up to comedic tricks here, and I know better to be a volunteer to a stand-up comedian.

    Ok, so, in three days we’ve had a rape analogy, a Hitler analogy, and commenter on commenter attacks…any other clichés we haven’t hit yet?

  124. Matthew Southworth says:

    Just want to make clear (why?, I’m not sure why it matters, but anyway) that though I respect Moore’s feelings on this matter and defend him, I also don’t have any ill will toward Azzarello, Conner, Kubert, Cooke, etc., and I don’t subscribe to the “scab” theory or think they deserve scorn.

    I’ve never seen any instance of Darwyn Cooke being anything other than a straight-up guy, principled and fair, just like I’ve never seen any instance of Alan Moore being anything other than considerate, thoughtful and principled. So for those who are vilifying people–as opposed to making decisions on what to buy based on what you believe to be right–I think that does harm to everyone involved and is regrettable.

  125. Synsidar says:

    BWM in no way diminishes “The Watchmen” — each will be their own separate works. For example, I hate the Star Wars prequels.. but they don’t affect my love for the original trilogy.

    The problem is that the BeWa stories aren’t written for the same purposes that the original WATCHMEN storyline was, and replicating the reading experience is practically impossible.

    Whenever a writer has a character die in a story for the sake of its dramatic effect, the death should remain in effect. Whenever another writer decides that he wants to use that character again because he’s so popular, because he had a “good” story idea for him, or is just believes the principle that nobody dies in comics, the original story is damaged by negating that dramatic death. The same thing happens when someone retcons a story by someone else, claiming that what happened in a story wasn’t what actually happened. Even if a vast number of readers think that the story with the retcon is entertaining, or even better than the source material, the original is damaged. The retcon is a form of disrespect for the work of the first author.

    Prequels only work aesthetically if they’re part of an overall plan for a depiction of characters and their themes. That can’t happen with the BeWa material.

    SRS

  126. Matthew Southworth says:

    If, for example, I’d been asked, “hey Matt, do you wanna work on a Dr Manhattan miniseries written by Ed Brubaker or Brian Wood or Greg Rucka (or some other writer whose work I admire)?”, I’d have to do some hard thinking.

    A) I don’t particularly think we need more Dr Manhattan stories and suspect they’re not going to be that great, certainly not in comparison to their source material
    B) I would love to work with that guy (Ed, Brian, Greg, whoever)
    C) I’m in the hole financially and this work would pay well up-front and no doubt result in lots of royalties
    D) the original creator strongly disavows the work and I’ve admired him for years
    E) what does this say about me and the career I’m trying to build for myself?

    Among other questions. In other words, it would be a difficult decision. So, knowing that others made a decision that I may or not make for myself doesn’t make me hate them, it makes me sympathetic with them.

  127. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Chris Hero:

    You disdain commenter-on-commenter attacks in your commenter-on-commenter attacks?

    Gosh, no wonder you defend Moore’s contempt for people for doing the exact same thing he did in creating “Watchmen.”

  128. Jesse Post says:

    @Kevin J — On the topic of mainstream book contracts, the other difference between the Watchmen deal and a standard publishing contract is that Watchmen was a rights buyout while a book deal is more like a lease; the author grants the publisher the right to do certain things with the material in certain ways for certain payment over a defined period of time that expires. Now, I’ve been in and out of NY book publishing since 1999 and I’ve never seen one of these “auto-renew while it’s in print” deals, but even a deal like that doesn’t give the publisher ownership of the IP; it just gives them the right to make more books.

    Reading Heidi’s piece got me thinking about that; the crux of the matter with Watchmen seems to be that Mr. Moore wanted a book publishing deal (and thought he was getting one after assurances) but instead he got an IP development deal. It’s like, because of the origins of the industry, its main publishers simply can’t do anything other than what they’ve always done: create, develop, and then license out IP. You press the button every time and every time the same thing comes out: a comic series, an animated show, a video game, a movie, comic sequels, apparel, rinse and repeat. They have a hammer and every idea they’re presented with is a nail: “We have this IP, why haven’t we pressed the button on the IP machine yet?” We laugh when Jim Lee says this is the only way to keep their line fresh and new because we know that isn’t how it works in publishing, but it’s the way it works in his business of IP development.

    This is why that line of original GNs from Vertigo didn’t work, or Minx: “We’re the best comics publisher in the world, why are we getting lapped in the lit comics race by Random House and Macmillan?” They acquire the coolest books we’ve seen in forever, then they fire Jonathan Vankin and go back to doing what they always did best: serialized adult genre fiction collected into bind-ups.

    It’s also why you’re seeing those short Italian gag Toy Story comics from Marvel these days instead of Jesse Blaze Snider’s incredible adventure stories that Boom published: Disney needs their content to be modular, made once and delivered to publishers around the world as all-purpose as it can be, whether or not it suits the market. It’s their business model (we used to call it “the boilerplate program” when I was there); getting sign off on an original, single-use project there was like trying to teach someone a new language. It’s not part of the model.

    I’m not trying to sound fatalistic about it (because individuals in business always have the option to make an exception if they choose), but it might boil down to the fact that a singular work should never have been brought to an IP development company in the first place. We can demand and expect the IP companies to not develop certain IP, sure, but I’m wondering if the best possible outcome of all this attention is that creators know the difference, and more of them choose to publish their work instead of sell it off.

  129. Brian Wood says:

    @matthew I agree they shouldn’t be vilified or scorned simply for participating, but they are just as responsible for BW being a thing that exists as anyone else involved is. I think if any of them take it a step further and made dumb comments, like JMS did, I think they should be called on it (like JMS was).

    b

  130. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Synsidar:

    “Prequels only work aesthetically if they’re part of an overall plan for a depiction of characters and their themes. That can’t happen with the BeWa material.”

    While it’s not a prequel, I think that Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” disproves your assertion. There are trade-offs, and the advantage of creating a new work derived from an apocalyptic one like “Watchmen” is that it makes it possible to create stories in which the vast shadow of the source falling on the new work becomes an integral part of it.

    When you watch the Stoppard play, and see the fun and humour and wordplay, we know these guys are doomed. It’s right there in the title, and it’s right there in Shakespeare’s complete and integral work in “Hamlet.”

    So their clueless antics as they rush headlong toward their deaths are simultaneously fall-down funny and truly terrifying. We can laugh at them as they play “Questions,” even as we want to scream at them like they women in slasher movies, to get the hell out of there while they can.

    That couldn’t be done without Hamlet’s bloody finale as the the favor to which we must come, but it’s nothing Shakespeare had in mind when he decided to have Fortinbras offhandedly declare that “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.”

  131. Chris Hero says:

    @Joseph

    I know it’s pointless since people say this stuff all the time and it never does any good, but I cancelled my pre-order for Cooke’s next Parker book and I’m not going to buy any work from any of the people involved ever again. I’m sure they’ll all go on to do fine, wonderful work in the future, but I’d rather spend my time and money hunting down new work from creators trying to make it based on their own merits, not from signing on to the biggest controversey they can find.

    I mean, even if someone like Mr. Brubaker or Mr. Wood writes something like, I dunno, Captain America seems like a fair example…any attention they receive comes from their own hard work on characters everyone agrees belongs to those companies without resorting to clever legal loopholes. But someone doing BW knowing it will upset and anger a colleague and knowing the big paycheck is to rehash that same creators ideas? No thank you.

    I’m still really amused any of them think their work is as good as, or better than, the original. That kind of arrogance is bordering on narcissism. I can’t imagine that person will care if I’m buying their works or not, so it seems they and I can happily co-exist.

    For me, a lot of this comes down to a question of what my moral responsibility is as a person who interacts with the art I encounter in the world. For the next person, maybe it’s just a question of does this piece of work look entertaining? We’re living different lives and that’s ok.

    All sparring with Jonathan Sheen aside, I don’t care if he hates Moore while rabidly anticipating BW. I can only decide how I interact with both the art I encounter and the people who make it. I’m predisposed to like and respect the people who create new comics, so I want to interact with all of them based on that predisposition. JMS has made it clear he regards someone like me as a moral simpleton; Cooke has disagreed with just about every comment he’s made in his career. So, I’m done with them, Jae Lee, Amanda Conner, etc. It’s a shame because everyone is very talented, but the works of people like Wood, Brubaker, and Southworth will keep me happy.

  132. Carlton Donaghe says:

    Chris, I agree.

    I also don’t think that any one of them should be allowed to make an argument for what they’ve done without countering that argument.

    All that any one of those creators have to stand behind is that, by the letter of the law, DC owns that material.

    They can, in no way, make a credible moral case for what they are doing.

    No one can.

  133. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Chris Hero–all respect to your choice not to buy BW or those creators’ other works, but I would caution that the pseudo-quote we have heard in which people say their work will be “better than Watchmen” shouldn’t play much part in your decision.

    Mainly because we can’t know A) to what degree they were kidding or just being goofily provocative (I might say my next album will be “better than Abbey Road” just to aggravate a friend who deifies the Beatles, for example), B) we don’t know if they were picking specific examples of how it might be better–say, in the coloring, or that Lee Bermejo’s anatomy is better than Dave Gibbons’ or whatever, and C) we don’t even know who said it.

    I certainly do appreciate your support of me and my peers, of course. I’d like to recommend that those who don’t want to buy BW put the money they might spend on that material toward Brian’s LOCAL or DEMO or Ed’s CRIMINAL or FATALE or some such.

  134. Matthew Southworth says:

    And Brian, I agree with you.

  135. blacaucasian says:

    “We can demand and expect the IP companies to not develop certain IP, sure, but I’m wondering if the best possible outcome of all this attention is that creators know the difference, and more of them choose to publish their work instead of sell it off.”

    I’ve definitely had my opinions adjusted from hearing from many of the creators on all this, and I think my opinion on this whole situation has definitely be altered by a lot of what people has said.

    I definitely agree that creators should hopefully be much more aware of what they are signing and what they are giving the rights away of when dealing with big corporate owned companies like Marvel and Disney (and probably in the case of smaller companies as well. The Gaiman/McFarland and Kirkman/Moore situations seem to show us even in the case of Image books it isn’t all necessarily wine and roses when a company touts themselves a creator friendly).

    The one thing that kind of sticks in my craw still however, is the argument of the spirit of the contract vs what the contract says itself. 2 things with this 1) The spirit of the contract (whatever it may have been) seems to mean absolutely nothing at the end of the day. If the spirit of the contract would have seemed to be rights would have reverted back to them at some point, why not work to have that as a part of the contract. And does Moore not shoulder any responsibility at all for signing the contract as it was? 2)On a larger scale, at what point does a creator have to take responsibility for signing a bad deal? Where is the distinguishing point between where someone was cheated and someone was just foolish or naive?

    Not trying to stand up for corporations, but I feel that at some point people do need to take responsibility for what they did or didn’t sign away.

  136. Chris Hero says:

    @Matthew Southworth

    I think you hit on a point I’ve wondered about…if DC offered you work on BW and you were in a financial bind and really needed the money, how does that change things? I’ve wondered that in regard to both Cooke and Conner because I don’t think either is financially set for life. Like, JMS can go screw himself because he had plenty of money and career opportunities without doing this and attacking Moore and Moore sympathizers. But Cooke and Conner, and really Wein and Joe Kubert, are they in position to turn down a HUGE payday? I don’t know and it’s none of my business, but I have wondered about that and it adds a huge moral wrinkle.

  137. Chris Hero says:

    @blacaucasian

    I’m not trying to sound like an arrogant jackass here, but your question about spirit versus letter of contracts is at the heart of contract law…or it was while I was in law school. Legal scholars much smarter than me have debated that topic a lot and to the best of my knowledge, there is no clear consensus on it. There’s a LOT of really great writing out there about it. I’m just mentioning this because I think you’d enjoy it.

  138. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Jonathan Andrew Sheen–I can appreciate your ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN example, but I think there is a significant difference.

    Stoppard’s play is not enjoyable simply because it fills the holes for those who wonder “hey, what were R & G doing when they were offstage?” It does so in a totally different tone, with significantly different intent than that with which HAMLET was written. In other words, it’s an adaptation of those characters and situations, not simply rewriting HAMLET from the other side of the room.

    And HAMLET has been interpreted many many thousands of times and is the most famous play in the history of the English language. I’d argue that Moore’s use of public domain characters in LOST GIRLS is akin to R & G ARE DEAD.

    However, there’s also the matter that Tom Stoppard is a genius, a real-live true-meaning-of-the-word genius, and so what might have been nothing more than a Saturday Night Live skit turns out to be a real work of art on its own. It’s not the characters and it’s not the desire to create a sequel or a prequel (and yes, I understand the difference between them, despite your assertion), it’s the intent of the work of art that makes the difference.

  139. Chris Hero says:

    @Matthew Southworth

    I definitely see your argument about not knowing who said their BW work was on par with the original or why they said it. Hopefully it was said in jest. I mean, if someone said their record was better than Abbey Road, I would also be blown away at that comment if there wasn’t a hint of playfulness in it. That being said, I don’t want to buy any of their works anymore. I’d rather read and interact with people trying hard to bring something new to the table. It doesn’t make the BW creators bad people, just creators I’ve lost interest in.

  140. blacaucasian says:

    @Chris Hero – I appreciate the info! I will definitely have to look into it more.

  141. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Chris–yeah, I think that’s 100% valid. And I hope you’ll find a bunch of new great stuff to enjoy in its place; while I still enjoy a few superhero comics, I find more and more independent stuff to fall in love with every day.

  142. r.j. paré says:

    And here’s the thing: NONE OF US will be able to comment on the quality of BWM until we actually see and read them.

    Considering the talent involved, they could very well be masterpieces in their own rights.

    As for the poster who said he’d no longer read PARKER books by COOKE. Geez, that’s harsh. I just got my hands on the 1st collection and their fantastic..:)

    As with any creative work – judge the content itself – rather than resting on pre-conceived notions or politics.

  143. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Matthew Southworth:

    The thing about the intent of the work is that there are different intents at different levels. What’s DC’s intent? To make money. Of course, that was DC’s intent in commissioning the original “Watchmen” in the first place, wasn’t it?

    Then there are the people who will actually write, draw, ink, color and letter the “Before Watchmen” comics. What are their intentions?

    Given the talent assembled to make the actual “Before Watchmen” books, I think the intentions are to create truly awesome books that will both honor and resonate with Moore and Gibbons’ original work.

    Will they end up with something as great as “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”?

    I don’t know, and neither does Alan Moore. But, given the extraordinary talents working on the book, it’s certainly possible, and I think that’s a Good Thing for the world of comics, for “Watchmen,” and, in all honesty, for Moore, whether he welcomes it or not.

    And, as I’ve said elsewhere, the worst-case scenario is a handful of crappy comics that will be widesly slammed for a few months, and then forgotten while “Watchmen” remains the classic it’s deservedly known as.

  144. Matthew Southworth says:

    @r.j and Chris–Yeah, you’ll get my PARKER from me when you pry it from my cold, dead hands! And really all of Darwyn’s work, actually, I love his work. So I’ll be interested to see what he does on the Before Watchmen stuff despite my misgivings about it on other levels.

  145. Jesse Post says:

    @blacaucasian, I think you can reason through that question just by asking yourself what you would do in the situation, if you were the publisher and a friend and collaborator of yours had a problem with a contract you negotiated. Would you say, “Oh well, you should have read it more carefully” or would you say, “Fine, point ceded, let’s renegotiate”? My point is that human beings are behind all these deals — the contract helps define the relationship but it doesn’t supersede it. The executed contract isn’t in charge of DC’s publishing; DC’s publishers are. That’s why Jim Lee’s statement that Alan Moore should have read his contract bothers me so much: Jim Lee certainly can’t force Moore to read a contract but no one is forcing DC to enforce it, either.

    I’ve been in the middle of this exact dispute over the spirit vs. the letter of the contract several times in my career. More often than you would think at a major media company (I was on the big media side), the big media meanies chose to honor the spirit of the deal and cede the dispute to our business partners for the sake of the relationship. We never said, “Oh well, I guess we have to ruin that person’s life … Not our fault, it’s the contract!” On occasion I would hear, “Sorry, upstairs decided we can’t budge on this one,” but even that is part of a continuum of conversation between the disputing parties.

    So, in essence, if you want to empathize win Alan Moore, you can — you don’t have to stop feeling bad for a human being who feels wronged by a former business partner just because a media corporation has a piece of paper in their files.

  146. I found an old interview online with Moore from 1987 that you might find interesting. You can read it at http://www.tcj.com/archive-viewer-issue-116/?pid=10411 in it it says:

    Question: Do you actually own Watchmen?

    Moore: My understanding is that when Watchmen is finished and DC have not used the characters for a year, they’re ours.

    Gibbons: They pay us a substantial amount of money…

    Moore: … to retain the rights. So basically they’re not ours, but if DC is working with the characters in our interests then tehy might as well be. On the other hand, if the characters have outlived their natural life span and DC doesn’t want to do anything with them, then after a year we’ve got them and we can do what we want with them, which I’m perfectly happy with.

    Gibbons: What would be horrendous, and DC could legally do it, would be to have Rorschach crossing over with Batman or something like that, but I’ve got enough faith in them that I don’t think that they’d do that. I think because of the unique team they couldn’t get anybody else to take it over to do Watchmen II or anything else like that, and we’ve certainly got no plans to do Watchmen II.

  147. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Jim–EXCELLENT find. Thank you for that.

  148. Chris Hero says:

    Cooke’s a phenomenally talented individual. Up until the BW announcement, I really enjoyed his work. I’m probably going to miss his work the most. But I dunno…this isn’t even Amanda Conner signing onto a huge profile assignment to draw more attention to her excellent work…. Quite frankly, of everyone involved in BW, Cooke has the most potential to make something game changing on par with the original Watchmen.

    Like I understand and can empathize with Conner…no one’s giving her work the attention it deserves and I’m sure she’d like to continue making a living at comics, so I understand if she thinks the best way to do that is working on a highly controversial project with the hope of a big payday.

    But Cooke…he could really do something great with his talent. Like Watchmen great…so to see him pee it away on a crash grab prequel…it’s heartbreaking, but I think it speaks to his ambition. If’s he’s content with treading water to collect a paycheck, ok, but I’m not going to follow.

  149. Here is another interview from 1986 http://www.tcj.com/archive-viewer-issue-106/?pid=8595

    Question: Two questions about Watchmen – Do you own the property, and when is it coming out?

    Moore: (Answer about when it is coming out skipped). As for the rest of your question, we got the contract, and it was work for hire. We said we’d rather not work for hire. They said, “Sure.” The way it works, if I understand it, is that DC owns it for the time they’re publishing it, and then it reverts to Dave and me, so we can make all the money from the Slurpee cups. [Laughter].

  150. blacaucasian says:

    @Jesse Post – I would argue that DC’s shareholders (right or wrong) are forcing DC the enforce the letter of the contract.

    I think what I would do and the contract I would offer has no bearing on whether or not I think Alan Moore should share some of the responsibility for him signing his contract as it was. In a wold of lollipops and rainbows, everybody would get what they want in any of these situations and all would be right with the world.

    The thing that rubs me the wrong way is people acting and defending Alan Moore as if he shares no responsibility in the big bad corporation taking his rights away. He did sign the contract. If he read it or didn’t read it, that’s on him and I think he should share some of the responsibility.

    My problem is that at a certain level, I don’t empathize with Alan Moore. I suppose that’s cynical (and I’ve been called cynical for having this opinion) which is fine because I’ve been called worse. But I really find it hard to find sympathy (Jim Lee’s defense aside- I as well found his response kind of astounding) for someone who, after a history of creators being taken advantage of by the industry, chooses to willfully not read the contract (if indeed this is true) or doesn’t fully understand the contract as written (which I think is more likely but still bears some personal responsibility by the person who signs it) and then complain about it afterwards.

    Mind you, I think Alan Moore has every right to complain until his dying breath. I just find it very difficult to garner the sympathy for him that others so stridently have.

  151. Anyone that wants to read an interview from when Moore first left DC, that can be found here: http://www.tcj.com/archive-viewer-issue-118/?pid=10668

  152. Scott Peterson says:

    I would argue that DC’s shareholders (right or wrong) are forcing DC the enforce the letter of the contract.

    No. You can argue that DC has an obligation to the TimeWarner shareholders to maximize profits, but that’s very different from saying they must publish more Watchmen material. After all, perhaps these prequels will damage the original, thus hurting profits. (Highly, highly unlikely, but not absolutely impossible.)

    What if DC had renegotiated the contract when Alan first became unhappy, thus placating him? Perhaps they would have made far less money on Watchmen, but what if he’d then gone on to create another series as profitable—or more? What if he’d created a half dozen more books in the same neighborhood of profitability? That is most certainly not out of the realm of possibility, given his track record.

    What if he’d been so content at DC that he’d gone on to write a Batman maxi as profitable as Hush? Or as Dark Knight Returns? Or a Superman maxi that successful? Or a Wonder Woman, or Green Lantern? And so on and so forth.

    And, as someone (Kurt?) said previously, if DC was absolutely obligated to do these prequels, why didn’t they do them at any point during the previous 20 years?

    No one is obligated to work on these books. These are choices being made here.

  153. Jesse Post says:

    @blacaucasian, the shareholders expect the corporate officers to do what’s best for the company as the officers see fit, not to conform to a predestined set of rules. Business circumstances change all the time and a smart executive rolls with it. The best thing for the shareholders in the personal cases I brought up was to maintain a lucrative business relationship rather than crash and burn it and possibly litigate. I’m not judging DC’s actions, just saying that it actually is possible for a company to renegotiate or overlook certain clauses in pursuit of a long term goal; I’ve seen it happen and done it myself.

    As for whether or not to sympathize with Alan Moore, that’s all up to you. If, like me, you naturally feel sympathetic to his side, then you’re already predisposed to understand what I was saying about the spirit of the deal and the value of business ethics over legal wrangling. If, like you and many others, you’re not sympathetic to his side, then you’re going to look at the executed contract as the end of the argument. There’s no way to change either perspective, because it’s a difference of personality and outlook on life, not facts. The facts that we both point to are both true.

  154. Chris Hero says:

    Jim is doing some astounding work with all these interviews he’s pulling up. Wow.

  155. Carlton Doanghe says:

    Blacaucasion, I think what you are missing, in your refusal to show compassion to Alan Moore is that he was lied to.

    I’m sure he sat down and had not one, but several long discussions with the Powers at DC, went through every point of his concerns and was probably pretty explicit about what he wanted.

    I’m sure that DC looked exactly like they were negotiating. I’d imagine they behaved as if they were thoroughly explaining exactly what was in the contract, point-by-point, and detailing specifically how the deal was supposed to work.

    You are– the way it’s coming across– acting as if Alan Moore was not making what a lot of people would consider an informed decision when he signed that contract.

    I know that when most people– most people, seriously– buy a house, the single largest purchase they will make in their lives, they DON’T read the contract. Some of these people might have someone else read it for them, but most rely on having it explained to them by the seller.

    Most young people with a little college who’ve never bought a house or been anywhere near the actual process find that shocking. How could a person do that? It happens a lot. A lot. I worked in a foreclosure firm for awhile, until one day, my conscience forced me to have a Chris Roberson moment. The contracts are not written in a language that most people could understand very easily.

    However, with Mr. Moore, I’d bet his case was different.

    If I understand him, he’s a person who wants to trust the people he does business with. He doesn’t want to have to concern himself with paranoid thoughts of what motivations might lurk behind the masks of those he is dealing with. He wants to trust people, and take them at their word.

    Of course, when they don’t live up to their word, he cuts them off.

    I understand that. There are lines and walls all around us. Some, we allow strangers to cross that we would never allow a close friend to get near. Some lines, once crossed, should never be forgiven.

    Therefore, there is nothing DC could say or do that would ever have got him to agree to this. And it’s not over one instance, it’s over many.

    That is why, for me, I can’t read DC anymore, or Marvel, for that matter.

    Despite what good some paid employees might give them credit for, again and again they’ve got back to the same old well. It’s not just Alan Moore, it’s not just Dwayne McDuffie. As Heidi says– it’s just in they’re DNA.

  156. blacaucasian says:

    “You can argue that DC has an obligation to the TimeWarner shareholders to maximize profits, but that’s very different from saying they must publish more Watchmen material. ”

    I’m not sure I agree that, DC at least, doesn’t see these as one in the same, even if you or I don’t.

    “What if DC had renegotiated the contract when Alan first became unhappy, thus placating him?”

    Reading the several interviews that Jim was so good to post links to above, I’m not so sure anymore that Watchmen is at the center of Moore’s problems with DC. I think his problems are so numerous and varied and were likely enflamed over periods of time from the mistake here and there made by the company that I can’t even begin to posit a response to where this would have ever been possible or likely.

    At the end of the day, DC and Alan Moore were an incredibly bad match for each other, despite the works that came out of their relationship.

  157. Carlton Doanghe says:

    Yeah, Jim, those interviews are great. A real historian uses primary sources!

    Hot Dog!

  158. Carlton Donaghe says:

    My god, I’ve misspelled my own name!

  159. r.j. paré says:

    I’d say that interview with Moore and Gibbons that Jim posted pretty much makes DC’s case airtight. They [Moore & Gibbons] both knew the rights would revert ONLY if DC was done with The Watchmen.

    What else is there to say?

  160. Thanks Chris and Matthew. Sadly, I think I am done for now. I have been neglecting my actual job far too much with this distraction. About the only other thing I found which I found interesting but does not 100% relate is an old newspaper story about Watchmen (http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=O3tPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YpADAAAAIBAJ&pg=5546,407978&dq=watchmen+alan+moore&hl=en). Hope what I did find is useful to people, and credit is really to TCJ for having their archives online.

    I will see if I can find anymore later if I get time.

  161. I have that TCJ — the one Jim posted the link to.

    I had forgotten how Moore leaving was over how DC handled the ratings fiasco and their firing of Marv Wolfman.

    Now, of course, we have DC firing Roberson for daring to say they treated freelancers less than ethically in the past.

  162. Cameron Stewart says:

    @Jonathan Sheen – Matthew Southworth already covered this a bit but to expand on it:

    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – as far as I can tell – was not conceived by Tom Stoppard looking over some numbers and deciding that Hamlet was a big cash cow and he would stand to make a killing if he wrote a sequel to it. It was – again, as far as I can tell from the information available – conceived and created independently for artistic purpose, cleverly recontextualizing the characters and scenario of a centuries-old play from a long-dead author.

    Before Watchmen, on the other hand, has as its origin someone deciding that Watchmen was a big – the biggest? – moneymaker for DC, and so more of that should be made (this has been more or less explicitly stated, particularly in the “we won’t leave our best players on the bench” analogy from the other day). The intent was to create a money-machine, the execution of it stems from that alone.

    (A much more accurate analogy would be if a film or theatre company decided to launch “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Back!” and got Ben Elton to write it, despite Tom Stoppard’s objections.)

    This is what rankles a lot of people – the transmutation of “art” into “product,” particularly when the very reason the original has enjoyed such prolonged success is precisely because it is accepted as a work of art.

  163. >>I’d say that interview with Moore and Gibbons that Jim posted pretty much makes DC’s case airtight. They [Moore & Gibbons] both knew the rights would revert ONLY if DC was done with The Watchmen.<<

    I dunno, I guess its a matter of what you are pre-disposed too. When I found those interviews the way I took them is Moore was a bit naive and believed something different then what actually played out. In the earlier interview he clearly says "when DC is done publishing them". I think its understandable to think he figured when the final issue was out, DC would be done publishing them.

    The later interview demonstrates a better understanding of the matter on his part, but still shows that he fully expected to get the rights.

    What I was looking for and unable to find so far is any material by DC talking about who owns this. I am sure there is something out there somewhere and we have just not dug hard enough yet.

    I do agree that Moore's issues with DC were all over the place, and to some extent he was looking for a reason to be angry. But, I work in an industry where the product we deliver relies on talent. The people I have that work for me are important, and a core part of the product we sell. If I don't take care of them, the talent I have working for me will go work elsewhere. I can understand where some companies don't like that, and they would rather have "meat machines" that do the work for them. Thats how you get McDonalds.

    Myself, I would rather buy a burger that is made by a chef that knows how to cook and not someone that is following instructions. It seems like DC had a world class chef working for them that was excited about the future (if you read the articles I linked too, Moore talked in a very positive manner about his future DC plans) and in a short period of time they ruined that. The issue is bigger then Watchmen, its just BWM brought it to light.

    Again, I guess I am just disappointed that in the ethics of many that are involved in these books.

  164. blacaucasian says:

    “I think what you are missing, in your refusal to show compassion to Alan Moore is that he was lied to.

    I’m sure he sat down and had not one, but several long discussions with the Powers at DC, went through every point of his concerns and was probably pretty explicit about what he wanted.”

    I’m not missing that because I, like you, don’t know that that’s what happened with any degree of certainty. I believe Alan Moore believes he was lied too, and if I was Alan Moore I’d likely believe I was lied to as well, or at least as I had years to think about it, come to the bottom line today that I was lied to.

    The interview links posted above don’t provide anymore proof, at least how I have comprehended them, that your recounting of events is as it happened. Again, this whole thing, in short, is a big fat mess. What is clear from Alan Moore’s interviews above and others I have read more recently, is the issue Alan has with DC moves far far beyond Watchmen.

  165. blacaucasian says:

    To add and quote something Jesse Post said – “There’s no way to change either perspective, because it’s a difference of personality and outlook on life, not facts. The facts that we both point to are both true.”

  166. Great article, Heidi, but speaking as someone who has worked with Alan Moore, I’ll go on record as saying there’s a big difference between “high maintenance” and simply wishing to be treated with integrity and respect.

  167. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Cameron Stewart–EXACTLY.

    Product for the sake of money is not the same thing as art that winds up making money.

  168. I’d be more apt to feel sympathy for Alan Moore if every time he did an interview about comics his response wasn’t “it sucks and I haven’t read it,” But I guess that’s more of a failing of these news sites that keep asking him stuff.

  169. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Cameron Stewart:

    He did, and I rebutted him:

    “The thing about the intent of the work is that there are different intents at different levels. What’s DC’s intent? To make money. Of course, that was DC’s intent in commissioning the original “Watchmen” in the first place, wasn’t it?

    “Then there are the people who will actually write, draw, ink, color and letter the “Before Watchmen” comics. What are their intentions?

    “Given the talent assembled to make the actual “Before Watchmen” books, I think the intentions are to create truly awesome books that will both honor and resonate with Moore and Gibbons’ original work.”

    No comic has ever been commissioned or approved by any publisher ever for any reason other than the belief that there was money to be made.

    Believe me, that’s how Tom Stoppard could afford to keep writing plays after R&G, too: Someone thought they’d make money staging productions.

    And, just as Moore and Gibbons creating “Watchmen” for a publisher who wanted to make money produced brilliant work in the process, and just as Stoppard writing a derivitive work in the shadow of probably the greatest drama in the history of English language managed to produce another of the most brilliant plays ever seen, there’s no reason that DC’s profit motive in releasing “Before Watchmen” has to preclude them from being masterpieces in their own right.

    Is it guaranteed? Of course not.

    So what? DC publishes lots of crappy comics every year, and a few more are no skin off anybody’s nose, including Moore and Gibbons. If “Before Watchmen” doesn’t produce a single comic worth reading, “Watchmen” will remain a classic of the field.

    But it’s perfectly possible that amazing comics will be created that will honor and resonate with “Watchmen,” and how is that bad for anybody, Alan Moore included?

  170. Carlton Donaghe says:

    I agree with the sage post (whose author I’ve forgotten, sorry) which suggested that

    It would have been better if DC had assembled the very same art teams, threw the kind of money at them they did for this project, and said “Do something new… and blow Watchmen out of the water.”

    Now, you might think that’s a tall order, and it is, but is it any different that asking them to come up with a sequel to Watchmen? That is also a very tall order. I mean, to simply come up with something worthy of the name.

    Or if not that, exactly, then assemble the same teams, give them the same fantastic $$, then put Darwyn Cooke in charge as creative director/fellow creator, and have a project basically guided by one vision.

    I personally may not have gotten behind that project, either, but I would have applauded it for what it was– a bold attempt at creating something new– and I wouldn’t have actively hated it for being the smarmy move BW is.

  171. Cameron Stewart says:

    @Jonathan Sheen –

    If memory serves (I haven’t read the links posted above so excuse me if I’m mistaken), Moore & Gibbons were not approached first with the idea for Watchmen, conceived at executive level, and charged with making it into something – they had the idea *first,* and pitched it to DC, who, yes, as businesses do, thought it had commercial potential (art and commerce occasionally intersect).

    With BW, the idea came from corporate, and they asked around to find people to execute it. I imagine (again, could be wrong, but don’t think so) that few of the creators involved had these ideas for Nite Owl and Comedian comics burning away in their notebooks for years, waiting for the opportunity – they were approached, offered money, and then set to the task of thinking about how to do this. Will they be well-crafted? No doubt, because I’ve said many times before that everyone involved are great talents. Is the intent and concept flawed and questionable? I think so, and even that is sadly enough to taint my perception and enjoyment of them.

    And again, I know that DC is a business, I know that most of their output past and present is commercially driven, but Watchmen is supposed to be different. Watchmen is supposed to be the one that’s art, the reason why it’s famous and revered and examined in schools and on bestseller and “Best Of” lists. It’s a different thing, supposedly a better thing. It’s “gut-feeling wrong” to acknowledge and exploit that reputation, whilst wilfully disregarding the reasons it earned it.

  172. Slow 1980s clap. Awesome.

  173. @Sheen: “No comic has ever been commissioned or approved by any publisher ever for any reason other than the belief that there was money to be made.”

    No, that’s not quite true.

    You don’t want to go the other way too often, however. There lies Tundra.

  174. I just hope that one day DC Comics will do the right thing and give Alan Moore back his sleeves.

  175. Cameron Stewart says:

    @Sheen: “But it’s perfectly possible that amazing comics will be created that will honor and resonate with “Watchmen,” and how is that bad for anybody, Alan Moore included?”

    Well, a question for you – do you work in the business in any creative capacity? Are you a creator yourself or only a reader?

    If the latter, then yes, I can perfectly understand why this is your perception – “it may lead to good – even great – comics, which will be enjoyable to read.” Yes, that’s true.

    But for those of us in the business, it sets an unfortunate precedent for works to be taken and exploited without the consent of their authors, something that I think very few of us are comfortable with.

  176. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Cameron Stewart:

    It was an idea that was pitched because all involved thought it would make money. It did. At the same time, it achieved a status of classic.

    If you think the fact that DC came up with a notion as nebulous as “Let’s see some stories about the ‘Watchmen’ characters _before_ the Moore/Gibbons series” will somehow prevent the gigantic talents that are actually working on the books from producing something equally classic, that’s up to you, but I won’t sign up for that silly claim!

    @Nat Gertler:

    Please, name some comics that were commissioned and published not wanting or expecting to make money.

    (Unless you’re not counting “benefit” comics like the post-9/11 Marvel-DC fundraisers, or “Heroes for Hunger.” I’ll grant that stuff like that isn’t meant to make a profit for the publishers. Does either of us think that’s applicable to what I was talking about?)

  177. Cameron Stewart says:

    (In before “well lots of comics in the past have been taken and exploited without consent of their creators” – yes, but again, Watchmen was supposed to be different, and the sins of the past do not forgive the sins of the present)

  178. @Sheen: “No comic has ever been commissioned or approved by any publisher ever for any reason other than the belief that there was money to be made.”

    Disagree. Come to my indie comics publishing panel this Saturday at MoCCA and you’ll know it isn’t.

  179. Richard Starkings says:

    Heidi! Image isn’t trying! Image is SUCCEEDING!

  180. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Cameron Stewart:

    And, just BTW:

    No, I’m just a fan, not a pro, but…

    “it sets an unfortunate precedent for works to be taken and exploited without the consent of their authors”

    That precedent was set generations ago. I don’t think there’s a soul, including Alan Moore, who believes that DC isn’t contractually permitted to do “Before Watchmen,” and as I understand it, Moore has been refusing for years to negotiate with DC in any way, shape or form, so that contract is all there is to dictate rights — in other words, consent.

    Is that untrue? Has Moore expressed a willingness to come to the table with DC about “Watchmen?” If so, cites, please.

    If it’s not untrue, however, then DC has Moore’s consent, right there over his signature.

  181. Cameron Stewart says:

    @Sheen: “If you think the fact that DC came up with a notion as nebulous as “Let’s see some stories about the ‘Watchmen’ characters _before_ the Moore/Gibbons series” will somehow prevent the gigantic talents that are actually working on the books from producing something equally classic, that’s up to you, but I won’t sign up for that silly claim!”

    Do I think it’s IMPOSSIBLE for these talents to create great, equally classic comics? No, of course not, it’s certainly possible. Do I think it’s *unlikely*? Sadly yes.

    The reason why is that I think key – essential, even – components of great art are sincerity and passion, and usually these two things are found in great abundance when it’s a *personal* work, not an assigned one – something created because of an artist using their unique voice to express something meaningful to them, separate from financial motive or concern.

  182. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @The Beat:

    I can’t attend _any_ panels, anywhere.

    But if you can provide cites on comics commissioned and published with no thought to make money, whether as profits or as fundraisers for some cause, I’d be intersted in learning of them.

  183. Carlton Donaghe says:

    “If it’s not untrue, however, then DC has Moore’s consent, right there over his signature.”

    No, they do not. You can go to any number of interviews where he says “don’t do this.”

    Whatever Moore consented to, it was not that.

    What he believed he was signing was not that DC could pull a fast one on him that he’d have no recourse to redress over.

    I read a Rod Serling interview where he explained why there so many stories about people signing deals with the devil in which the protagonist was outsmarted by the devious words on the paper.

    It’s because they were writing what they knew.

  184. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Cameron Stewart:

    I don’t think there’s a single one of those talents who put their names in for the “Before Watchmen” books without both sincerity and passion to do those stories.

    The fact that a story is a derivative work precludes neither, and the opportunity to work with/against/in the orbit of/in the shadow of a work as magnificent as “Watchmen” is as likely to produce sincere and passionate work as any premise I can think of.

    And, again, if it doesn’t, so what? DC puts out a few more forgettable comics, bloggers spend a few months snarking about how stupid trying to do a “Before Watchmen” project was, and “Watchmen” remains an iconic classic of the field of comics. Who loses, other than DC?

    But if the best occurs, we are all enriched, including Alan Moore, whose work — if the “Before Watchmen” books are as good as they can be — will become for future generations of readers the pinacle of a greater story cycle, a glittering jewel in the crown.

    There’s no downside for Alan Moore.

  185. Cameron Stewart says:

    @Sheen ” I don’t think there’s a soul, including Alan Moore, who believes that DC isn’t contractually permitted to do “Before Watchmen”

    Of course not – DC is absolutely in the letter-of-the-law legal right to do this, that’s not in question.

    It’s that Dr. Ian Malcolm line about *being so caught up in whether they *could* do something they never stopped to think about whether they *should.*” It’s what I referred to earlier as “gut feeling wrong” – nebulous, yes, and entirely legally unenforceable, but still enough to give significant pause.

  186. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Carlton Donaghe

    A contract is a solemn agreement between multiple parties, in which those various parties give consent and make assurances of value offered in exchange.

    So, yes, when Alan Moore signed his contract, he gave consent. If someone can show that the contract doesn’t provide such rights, I’d be interested in learning that, and it would then be true that it’s without his consent.

    But if the contract gives that consent, Moore giving interviews doesn’t undo that. A new contract would be needed. My understanding — and I’ll be pleased to be corrected if this is incorrected — is that DC has made multiple overtures to Moore to try to bring him back to the table to make a new contract, and that Moore continues to refuse.

    So if there’s a contract that gives consent, and Moore refuses to renegotiate it, how can you claim he doesn’t consent?

    I’m sorry, I don’t see it.

  187. Cameron Stewart says:

    @Sheen – I’m going to bow out of this now because we’re at an impasse but I can sum it up like this:

    I sincerely (for real, sincerely) hope you are right, but my gut tells me you aren’t.

  188. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Sheen–let’s for a moment say that Woody Allen does not own the rights to ANNIE HALL and that they are owned by MGM (I don’t know whether that’s true, let’s pretend).

    Does that mean it would be a good idea to remake ANNIE HALL with a different director? Let’s assume that director is competent or even brilliant, that the cast is talented, that they’ve got a great band contributing songs to the soundtrack.

    In this scenario, MGM has the legal rights to do so, and we have to assume that this cast and director have good intentions. But we also have to say that Woody Allen would have a right to complain.

    Or would you then say “how dare he? He was hired to dub a Japanese movie and call it WHAT’S UP TIGER LILY, so he’s a hypocrite”?

    ANNIE HALL is just fine as it is, and I don’t need to know anything more about Alvy Singer’s previous relationships than the author himself already told me. I don’t need to know whether Annie goes off and gets married later. The movie told me what it was supposed to tell me.

  189. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    Well, I’ve been unimpressed by Woody Allen’s movies since “Take the Money and Run,” so that doesn’t particularly enrage me.

    My position is that, if in the legal situation you describe, MGM decided to make “Before Annie Hall,” they had that right. And, while Woody Allen would have some right to complain, if he complained bitterly that nobody had a right to re-imagine the work of another filmmaker, along with the fact that there are plenty of great re-makes to rebut him — by his logic, we wouldn’t have Bogey in “The Maltese Falcon,” or even Warren William in “Satan Met a Lady:” we’d have to settle for Ricardo Cortez in the by-all-account awful 1931 version of “The Maltese Falcon” — but, yeah, the maker of “What’s Up Tiger Lilly” has very little moral standing to claim that it’s sleazy to make changes to a previous filmmaker’s version.

    And he’d be positively inane to claim some moral and creative bankruptcy in a latter-day prequel to “Annie Hall” if it had been a reworking of the characters from “Yours, Mine and Ours.”

    And, again, Hamlet told you what William Shakespeare wanted it to tell you, and the Bard would have thought you mad if you’d suggested that the callousness of the fates of two very minor characters made them deserving of a broader and deeper examination at the center of a whole new play, but “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” remains a classic work of art in its own right.

  190. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Sheen–okey-dokey, if you say so.

  191. X-fan says:

    Please name me one company or partner thereof who hasn’t screwed a creator at one point or other. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

  192. Chris Hero says:

    @Cameron Stewart

    I already have some of your work, but if you’re at MoCCA, I’m going to buy some more from you.

    @blacaucasian

    I’m not a lawyer; I only went to law school then went back to the engineering world. Still, I’m really impressed by how many of your thoughts/questions/etc are exactly the stuff contract law classes and cases are made of. There are sooooo many cases written about the questions you have.

    The essential problem with contracts is they’re kinda tricky to pin down. There is no one right way to read a contract. It’s some heady, intellectual stuff. I really believe you’ll enjoy reading about it.

  193. “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” Heidi? If there were no players there would be no game.
    I’ve said before that “creative industry” is an oxymoron, but I think it’s Orwellian double-speak as well, where regards both DC and Marvel in today’s world.

  194. @Sheen, I won’t follow your moving the goalposts to cover “wanting” to make money; even on a project created for other reasons, it would be rare for someone to prefer not to make money. But I can tell you that when I put out, say, the “Welcome to Heaven, Dr. Franklin” one-shot, while I wouldn’t have minded making money, that was neither the primary goal nor the expectation. I expected to lose money, and hey, I was right! But it was a work I thought deserved to be out there, with a creator that I wanted to support.

    And I can tell you that in my decades of working in the comic industry, I have heard fellow publishers and editors talk of similar projects, things that they thought should exist even though they were likely to lose money. Would that describe most of the output from the big two? No. But your absolute statement seems like nothing more than a cynical assumption, and an uninformed one at that.

  195. @CameronStwart: “But for those of us in the business, it sets an unfortunate precedent for works to be taken and exploited without the consent of their authors, something that I think very few of us are comfortable with.”

    If a creator doesn’t want a work to be taken and exploited without his consent, then he better not sign a contract that allows the publisher to do it!

    That’s the big lesson in creator rights that Before Watchmen gives. (In case previous screwups from various publishers didn’t taught that)

  196. Cameron Stewart says:

    @Chaka – rewind to a thousand posts ago where that particular item has been addressed.

  197. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Gertler:

    Okay, I’ll rephrase: “While there have been a vanishingly small number of comics commissioned and published at an expected loss, surely ‘Watchmen’ wasn’t one of them. But for those very few ‘pro bono’ cases, comics are published for only one reason: to make money.”

    That said, I didn’t “move the goalposts.”

  198. I say we all band together and start a kickstarter fund, to by DC comics, and give Moore his stories back.

  199. r.j. paré says:

    Listen – I am a creator AND a fan. Obviously, like most creators I started off as a fan. I went through my obsessive collecting stage in my teens and started making my own in University. All that being said – without ever having worked for the major publishers – I do understand that IF I did it would be “work for hire”. All creators working for the Big 2 should know this [I’d be astounded if they did not]. One would, I’d imagine, have to go back to the days of Seigel and Shuster to find a time when creators did NOT understand this basic fact about working with DC & Marvel.

    I create indies because I love owning and creating my own stories – but I make barely enough to cover my print costs, not remotely enough to support myself. Should I get the opportunity to support myself making comics – I’d imagine it would be a “work for hire” situation – like DC & Marvel.

    The thing about Alan, and Gary Friedrich for that matter, is they seem to be suffering from “sports star syndrome”. You see it in sports, all the time. An athlete signs a contract – has a surprisingly good year and then wants the team tear up that contract and give him a new one. Much like publishers, there are many valid reason to dislike team owners, but abiding the terms of a contract – isn’t, IMO, one of them.

  200. Dave Elliott says:

    @Nat Gertler,

    As then publisher for Tundra UK I can tell you that making money was very much on our minds. We tried to be selective with projects that we thought had legs and did extensive research showing projects ahead of time to publishers around Europe so we could be sure of rights sales for them.

    What I felt many people missed was that Kevin was so willing to have the creator’s project be exactly what they wanted it would often reach a point where sales could never cover the production costs.

  201. Even using interviews, trying to pin down the origins of Watchmen are difficult to do. Like any writer of fiction, Moore doesn’t necessarily tell the truth. The Charlton bit has been well-documented (and obviously visible a mile away), but he also at times says he wanted to use the Archie/Radio heroes. Moore is a deep student of comics history and plucked things here and there from deep in the canon and from books that came out a year before. That is not plagiarism or unethical: Watchmen, as all great literature does, comments and questions the world, it doesn’t just copy it.

  202. Matthew Southworth says:

    @r.j. pare–No, that’s not strictly accurate. When I work for Marvel or DC, that IS a strictly work for hire deal. But often creators work under modified agreements, some which may fall under “work for hire”, some which may not.

    It appears to me that the Watchmen contract was not a strictly work-for-hire, “you do the work, we give you a check, and you shut up” kind of deal.

    If the contract said that Moore and Gibbons would receive the rights a year after nothing had been done with the characters or some such, as stated above by someone who read the contract, then that bears no resemblance to the contract I have signed with either company.

  203. Cameron Stewart says:

    @RJ Paré: “…they seem to be suffering from “sports star syndrome”. You see it in sports, all the time. An athlete signs a contract – has a surprisingly good year and then wants the team tear up that contract and give him a new one.”

    Hypothetical situation for you. I don’t know what you do for a living but let’s say that at your job, you come up with something, some innovation in product or system, that dramatically increases income for the company. All of a sudden profits shoot up, and it can be directly traced back to your work, your innovation, and while the people in the nicer office reap the benefits of it. Maybe they come to your cubicle and slap you on the back and say “Good job RJ, thanks for that, we couldn’t have done it without you,” but you continue to make your same salary while they take a big bonus for it. Would you be comfortable with this? Would you continue to do your job faithfully, maybe even work diligently on some new product that will make even more profit, all the while knowing that your station will remain the same? Or would you develop a “rock star syndrome” and feel that for your hard work and contribution to success, you deserve a proportionate compensation?

    This isn’t even a comment on Moore or Watchmen, I’m just legitimately curious as to your world view.

  204. R.J. Moore didn’t sign a work for hire contract, in regards to Watchmen. It’s a creator owned book.

    As someone who has dealt with a lot of contracts, it’s important to know that they are tricky things, made even trickier when you think the people you are signing with are your friends, and you can’t afford a lawyer that can give you the heads up you will always need.

    It’s all well and good to know these things in hindsight and know what you would do, but we don’t know what we would have done in Moore’s shoes.

    Even after all that, Moore tried to play nice, but again and again, companies went out of their way to try and control him, by buying up his properties, withholding work from his friends (an issue not yet covered here, but Steve Moore comes to mind) and using his friend to send him unwanted messages.

    AND, even after all that Moore’s main point has been, why can’t we focus on building NEW and BETTER works?

  205. Maybe DC just wants Alan Moore to wear a pair of these and call it a day:

    http://funnybookfanatic.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/drmanhattan.jpg?w=500

  206. “Like any writer of fiction, Moore doesn’t necessarily tell the truth.”

    Brad, we writers see a distinction between fiction and truth. Good writing is always honest.

  207. Chris Hero says:

    @Matthew

    I sent you a tweet with my e-mail addy. No rush, I just hope you got it. Despite being an engineer, I can also be technically illiterate.

    @Everyone Else

    I really miss Tundra. I bought a lot of their comics. Caliber, too, but a lot of their material didn’t appeal to me. Still, Graphique Musique and Oz were awesome, awesome comics.

  208. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Chris–weird, I don’t see it. Hm.

    I liked Tundra, too.

    Also, to Sheen’s point about comics only being published for the money, that ignores a huge portion of Fantagraphics’ output, ignores the beautiful work smaller publishers like NoBrow Press put out, etc. Of course everyone is hoping to make money, but there’s a LOT of stuff being published that everyone involved knows will never make a profit.

    See also independent film and “prestige” films that studios routinely produce in hopes of raising the profile of their companies.

  209. @Dave Elliott

    Sorry; I didn’t mean to imply that Tundra never thought about profit; more of an example of how, if you lose money on projects with too much consistency (intentionally or not), there end up being no more projects of any sort.

  210. I am in NO WAY trying to compare BeWa to it, but the Sistine Chapel was commissioned work. I think folks that impose limits on the possibilities of work because it starts by someone getting hired to do the job, instead of pitching to get paid, are projecting. Just like there are some that see strong editorial direction as oppressing while others see it as challenging, there are some that create their best works at the behest of others, rather than through a spark that occurred entirely independent of others.

    That said: you’re all entitled to your opinions, naturally. I just felt the need to share the above.

  211. James Schee says:

    I just wanted to say a quick thanks first to Jim for that TCJ interview. I still forget how relatively new I am to reading comics at times.(since late 90s early 2000s) I had never heard of the ratings debacle thing the interview brought up or the like, fascinating reading!

    I feel in a weird position on this.

    I really feel sympathetic for Alan Moore in this. I just can’t help but wonder why no one could sit down and make some type of compromise that would benefit both sides better than what they have now.

    Yet on the other hand I really enjoy many of the creators who are going to be working on the books. I also, having financial issues the past 4 years after being downsized by US Postal Service, don’t begrudge anyone taking a job that will likely afford them a decent financial windfall.

    Especially when you see how short a creator’s time in comics can be, or the stories of comic creators needing to ask for assistance for health or other issues that they have to endure.

    (I also hope many of these use that windfall to do CO work of their own.)

    I’m leaning towards buying the BeWa issues that have creators I enjoy, because that’s how I approach comics. Buying from creators whose work I expect to enjoy. Be it Brubaker’s Captain America , Winter Soldier, to his Fatale, Complete Lowlife and The Fall. To even strictly CO creators like Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting, Leland Purvis’s sadly too quickly ended series VOX, etc.

    Do I change that because of other outside the comics themselves elements? I’m not sure. Honestly thinking of it, since I haven’t sat down to figure up how much the BeWa issues will cost. That might in and of itself make me not read them.

    Anyway thanks to Heidi (and many others on here) for giving so much information and theory for me to think about.

  212. Chris Hero says:

    @James Schee

    I can definitely see your point of view in this – buying work from creators you enjoy and not begrudging a paycheck. I think that’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do. I wish more people considering BW had your approach.

    @Matthew Southworth

    I tried tweeting you again directly from your Twitter homepage. I’m a bit daft, so who knows if that will work. Feel free to try me @TheKennyShow

    @Kevin Huxford

    I was thinking a similar thought earlier. Kubrick’s “The Shining” is genius and it was both commissioned and an adaptation, so yeah, greatness is possible, but I feel like we’re talking about statistical anamolies.

  213. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Chris–still no dice, and I can’t seem to find your Kenny Show address either. “Follow” me on Twitter, which should give me the link, and I’ll follow you back and we’ll tawk.

  214. blacaucasian says:

    “Kubrick’s “The Shining” is genius and it was both commissioned and an adaptation, so yeah, greatness is possible, but I feel like we’re talking about statistical anamolies.”

    From what I’ve read, Stephen King supposedly hated it. Interesting at the very least.

  215. Chris Hero says:

    @Matthew

    Done.

    @blacaucasian

    I’ve read the same. The nice thing is King owns the rights and has the option of trying to get it adapted again. I dunno, probably a new can of worms. ^_^

  216. Matthew Southworth says:

    Chris–wrote you back.

    King DID get The Shining remade as a TV miniseries, as a matter of fact. My understanding is that it was not very good.

  217. blacaucasian says:

    @Matthew – It depends on what your looking for. If you looking for a more faithful adaption yo the book then it is absolutely that.

    If you looking for something like the Kubrick movie, then it is most assuredly not.

    I’m a bit of a King fanatic and the Shining is my second favorite book by him. It’s funny because I feel that Kubrick’s movie has an atmosphere that captures the book (could be this is because I saw the movie before I read the book though) better then the remake but other then on a basic level doesn’t really follow the plot of the book all that clearly.

    Because it was a made for TV movie, the remake is in no way as scary as the Kubrick film, but is much much much more faithful to the actual plot of the book (which may actually be why it falters so much. There’s some crazy stuff at the end of the book that’s kind of silly when adapted to film)

  218. Since the Constantine movie fiasco I have always wondered why nobody at WB would offer a million bucks to Moore to develope an original movie franchise; maybe along Terry Gilliam (who is so pissed about not being the director of the Harry Potter adaptation).

    No. They prefer to invest 70 to 120 million bucks on adaptations of graphic works which are basically imposible to get right on premise alone.

    The “Alan Moore treatment”, in any other industry, would be considered blatantly moronic on economic terms alone.

    Ces´t la vie.

  219. Sam Thielman says:

    Bravo, Heidi. As lucid a breakdown of this ugly situation as I’ve ever seen. Now do “Miracleman.”

    I have absolutely no intention of debating folks who’ve confused having the last word with winning an argument, but there is a major qualitative difference between characters identified with single works (like the LOEG agents or the Lost Girls, uh, girls) and the utterly deracinated shells we call mainstream superheroes.

    The former have some life of their own from being part of a coherent narrative vision; the latter are sock puppets only as good as the hand inside them, and that, sadly, is the real reason Alan Moore is so popular: he writes a mean mainstream comics character. Guys like Dave McKean are just as talented in the writing department but they’re not as handy on Green Lantern. Moore is almost infinitely versatile, and that’s one of the things that makes him great.

    The other thing that makes him great is his ability to see more or less any concept through to its logical conclusion, and that’s why he’s so dangerous to superhero comics. It’s a business model that depends on people never aging or growing emotionally; on Peter Parker always being a sad sack who can’t quite get it together, or Batman always chasing after vengeance without ever quite going off the deep end. What makes Moore’s superhero work so totally satisfying is that it offers catharsis after decades of unfulfilled promise: Miracleman finally rolls up his sleeves and takes over civilization. Swamp Thing finds peace. Tom Strong reconciles with Paul Saveen. Promethea ends the world. Are these characters either somebody else’s invention or so close that it’s just a matter of names and costume designs? Sure. But the very basis of Moore’s body of work is that THINGS HAVE ENDS. To take a perfectly unified story like “Watchmen” and tack on some bullshit backstory invented solely to make a buck either fundamentally misunderstands the foundation on which BW is built, or (much more likely) just doesn’t care about the integrity of the original at all.

    It also turns the first kind of character mentioned above – the kind with verve and vitality – into the second kind, and that’s pretty unforgivable, at least aesthetically.

    Moore’s vast influence over superhero writers pretty much means he’s won in the long run. He’s has killed mainstream comics; it’s just taking them a long time to die. I’m not saying there won’t be superhero stories on the newsstand in the future, but I am saying you can expect to see a lot more work like Garth Ennis’s run on “The Punisher,” after which the sane reader never feels the need to read another take on the character. That’s good. That’s fine. We don’t need to still be reading “Superman” in the 22nd century.

    I’m not terribly worried about the new series somehow sullying the good name of “Watchmen.” The book’s integrity survived the wretched movie adaptation and I suspect in a few years “Before Watchmen” will be to “Watchmen” as “The Two Jakes” is to “Chinatown.”

    But I am heartily disappointed in everyone involved in the new project.

  220. “hire” “Alan Moore” “Movie”

    Does not compute.

    BTW I don’t think anyone should cry for Alan Moore’s ultimate position. Sure when a reporter calls up he’s prone to quotable broadsides, but he seems to be a happy chap when left alone, and he’s working on a novel that’s dear to his heart that will probably be amazing, one way or another. PLus, you know, he’s Alan Moore.

    Sam, as for Miracleman…well it’s funny how the Alan Moore thread winds back through so much of all these mysteries and secrets. Like Aslan said, there’s deep magic from the dawn of time, and then there’s deeper magic from before the dawn of time.

  221. r.j. paré says:

    @Cameron – yes I would expect, in such a hypothetical situation, that my employer would take into consideration my achievement for the company and grant me a raise or a bonus the next time out. They wouldn’t be obligated to, but many companies do determine advancement on merit. However, I’m not certain that even applies here. Moore is upset about the rights to The Watchmen – not about getting a bump in his going rate, for how well it did.

    @Christopher – is it really a creator owned book? I get the impression the clause that rights would revert to Moore & Gibbons should DC have no use for it… is a sort of consolation “throw away” kinda thing. It wouldn’t hurt them one bit and it looks like a nice gesture to a creator, if the book didn’t sell – hey he can have the rights and see if he can do something with it on his own. But the book has continued to make money… so I am baffled that people would expect DC to just hand it over.

  222. r.j. paré says:

    @Sam – you didn’t dig the movie? I thought it was a brilliant adaptation.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/39633223/RKYV-ONLINE-22

    A review I wrote back when the film was out [pages 54-55]. I felt it worked quite well as a deconstruction of the “comic book movie genre”. This follows naturally as the original comics were a harsh and deconstructive look at heroic comic books.

  223. Cameron Stewart says:

    @RJ – which is why I said I wasn’t talking about Moore or Watchmen, it was just a side tangent based on your “sports star complex” remark, which I found puzzling.

    (It’s often difficult for us – and I include you, as I assume that you are not a multimillionaire – to accept that movie stars and athletes, already making millions, would demand more, but then when their particular involvement is directly responsible for a bump in profits, they are entitled to fair compensation for that, no matter how huge that might be. That’s what my point was, unrelated to Moore/Watchmen other than you intimated that Moore and Friedrich had a “complex” that made them feel entitled.)

  224. Turkish says:

    This may be the best article every written by The Beat.

    Subtle digs at JMS aside, good job.

    Brian Wood–They’re not dumb comments. They’re matter-of-fact comments. Just because you don’t like them doesn’t make them dumb.

    Agree with Cameron Stewart about “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

    I’ve read Lost Girls. It was a while ago, but I don’t recall any character named “Wendy Darling.” There was a Wendy, though… with quite an interesting story to tell.

    Chris Hero–you ever been hungry enough to steal food? Granted, none of these folks are starving and probably didn’t “need” to take the job. People are allowed to make mistakes, and people are allowed to be forgiven. If it bugs you that much, tell them all how you feel. If I got the chance, I would too… and I would also tell them that I forgive them because they’ve really done nothing wrong except not give a crap about Alan Moore.

    Pro-Alan Moore.
    Anti-Before Watchmen.
    Pro-He signed the contract; end of story.
    Pro-He was swindled.
    Anti-Matrix Sequels
    Conflicted-Star Wars Prequels
    Anti-Mockingjay (Hunger Games Book 3)
    Anti-Corporate
    Pro-Creator

    the end.

  225. Cameron Stewart says:

    @RJ – also perplexed by the attitude (not just you, with many others) that Moore has an “ego” – it’s strange to me that every day for the last 25 years, he can be dubbed the Greatest Writer of Comics Ever, but then when he asserts himself the reaction is “well who the fuck do you think you are anyway?” Yes, people who are hailed as geniuses by almost everyone for a quarter of a century will probably have an ego. Go figure.

  226. Jason says:

    Great article.

    When a publisher loves an artist’s work so much that they just must own it and profit by it as much as possible, why is it that their next step is ensuring they’ll never get to work with that artist again?

    DC is not just chronically wrong or stupid on this matter, they are harming themselves as much as anyone by denying themselves future opportunities to work with Alan Moore, a writer they so admire they’re still trying to profit off of. He could be writing new stuff for them now, but they blew that. That is just dumb.

    If I was DC and Alan Moore told me the sky should be purple or he couldn’t work, I would get a truck full of purple paint and a tall ladder and start painting. And if he told me the next day to turn it yellow, I’d do that too.

    Because Alan Moore might be crazy but he’s not a dick. He has his own set of principles and he insists upon being treated in a way that he considers to be fair.

    In exchange, you get to work with him and in exchange the world gets to enjoy his work.

    Why is this confusing?

    I can’t believe any creator would participate in Before Watchmen, I certainly couldn’t be less interested or more repelled by the idea, and I hope it’s a failure for DC.

    I’m particularly disappointed in Geoff Johns and Jim Lee in this matter. I thought those guys were cool. Or at least knew how to respect their elders and their betters. I’m surprised by their bad behavior here and it is a disappointing surprise.

  227. Don Murphy says:

    Heidi
    Your piece is well reasoned and written and as always I enjoyed reading it. I especially enjoy as usual the comments where people who don’t know jack act like they do (no, DC did not intentionally scuttle Black Dossier, foolish Bird, the entire thing was a remains one huge copyright violation).

    I’ve said my piece about my former good friend Alan clearly elsewhere but I must speak up and make the damning point.

    When DC bought Wildstorm Levits got to see the ABC contracts. All the ABC titles (except for League) were to be OWNED by Wildstorm They were WORK FOR HIRE. Go check the indicia. All of them (except for League) are owned by DC Comics. He chose this deal for an extra $10 page rate. After listening to Alan’s bullshit pontifications for years, when given the choice to flat out own Jack Be Stupid or the Doc Savage ripoff or Promethea, in freaking 1999, ALAN MOORE CHOSE WORK FOR HIRE.

    Levitz of course could not believe this shit. Nor could most of us.

    The only reason he owns League and can move it around is because I did the movie deal off his comic proposal and therefore all rights were not available for him to sell out. But he turned on me eventually as he turns on everyone. His recent treatment of Karen Berger is just despicable subhuman behavior.

    So you must add that to your timeline and smoke it. I have to keep hearing from loony Rich Johnston (himself forbidden from attending Alan Moore appearances BY Alan Moore) defenses and excuses.

    So

    5.5 Moore, despite claiming he had been done wrong before with Work For Hire, made a huge deal with Wildstorm for a full universe of Work for Hire books.

    I am sorry, as far as I know JK Rowling, in between consuming her weight in hash and praying to snake gods, didn’t keep signing stupid contracts.

    Sorry, I just am sick of these discussions regarding somebody who knew what he was doing and can’t stfu decades later.

  228. Peter Sanderson says:

    Heidi, this is a superbly written piece! Exactly what should be said about the “Before Watchmen” situation. This sort of thing has been going on for too long. I remember when Frank Miller had a handshake agreement at Marvel that no one else would use Elektra. I fear that “Before Watchmen,” if it sells big, will set a bad precedent, and prequels and sequels to “V for Vendetta” may follow. And someday, someone will get the idea of doing the further adventures of Morpheus, without Neil Gaiman; just watch.

  229. @MichaelAronson I think Heidi’s mention of Spaceman makes sense for two reasons. 1) If Marvel and DC ever want to be able to get off the teat of BATMAN/AVENGERS they have to promote stuff that is not that. 2) Azzarello is one of their better and successful creators these days and has, despite plot points I strongly disagree with, managed to move Wonder Woman up the sales chart to levels unseen in years. They should have done more promotion just because it was Azz. To the point Heidi makes, “Hey publishers treat your good creators good.”

  230. die-yng says:

    Thank you very much for this piece, Heidi.
    With the “Alan Moore is crazy and unreasonable” fraction seemingly getting stronger each day and with so many creators not caring what they are doing or what’s being done to them, it’s great to hear the “other” side again.
    I’m trying hard, not tobe angry at the BW creators, as Amanda Conner and Adam hughes and some of the others are amon my favourite creators, but I really wouldn’t have believed that so many top list artists and writers would have no trouble working on it.

  231. r.j. paré says:

    @Cameron – my problem, in regards highly paid sports stars, is not that it’s difficult:

    “to accept that movie stars and athletes, already making millions, would demand more, but then when their particular involvement is directly responsible for a bump in profits, they are entitled to fair compensation for that, no matter how huge that might be.”

    My example was:

    “You see it in sports, all the time. An athlete signs a contract – has a surprisingly good year and then wants the team tear up that contract and give him a new one.”

    Not the same thing.

    Now, when a “sports star” for example uses a previous great performance as a negotiation point when it comes time to deal with their NEXT contract – that is perfectly valid. But asking for an existing contract to be nullified, because hey “I’m better than either of us realized.” – isn’t a valid negotiation position. And to despise a publisher for following a contract… well come on, there are so many valid reasons to dislike major publishers – I just don’t think following a contract should be one of them.

    Now, if they violate the terms of a contract – by all means have them pilloried..:)

  232. Thanks for this, Heidi — looks so worth reading thoughtfully, I saved it as a massive file I can read on tablet heading in to MoCCA this weekend.

    Maybe I’m just reflecting my personal situation on the world, here, but this is one of many industry/technology realities that make DIY, creator-owned and self-publishing efforts more exciting than any time I can remember since 1987.

  233. r.j. paré says:

    @Don Murphy – thanks for the revealing, insiders, pov. Btw, I am a huge fan of James Robinson as well, in my book, every single bit as talented as Mr. Moore – though not nearly recognized as such.

    @Peter Sanderson – is there any contractual reason for DC not to publish further adventures of Morpheus, one day? If not, I imagine many fans would love to read them.

    I think, as creators, the responsibility ultimately resides with us. Either we want the money from working for a major publisher like DC or we want the copyright from being independent – and this can and should be re-examined with each individual project. I’ve heard many creators WISH that DC & Marvel had been more like book publishers from the get-go – while that might be nice, in retrospect, it also might have meant the medium never really blossomed. Ask yourself, would comics in North America have been so popular for decades had their been no Superman or Captain America?

    The success of the medium was as much the result of large publishers producing “never-ending” tales of iconic heroes as it was the talents of the artists and writers who have worked on those books. IMO.

  234. Sam Thielman says:

    @r.j.: No, really actively hated it, although I enjoyed reading your take. I thought it didn’t have any reason to exist and didn’t enjoy any of the emotional gravity of the comics at all. It also really didn’t have any reason to be a movie, from my perspective; most of it was shot-for-panel recreation of a graphic novel that was using movie techniques in an interesting way. I’m glad people enjoyed it—I think it was Pauline Kael who said that you have to be sort of a jerk to criticize someone for liking something, or words to that effect.

    @Don: That would be a better point if it was a secret. Moore was mostly repurposing notes and concepts he’d tried at Awesome Comics before the backers left that company. The whole ABC Universe conceit was there so that Moore would have something commercially saleable he could negotiate against for LOEG, which he wanted complete control over. Everything else was just tossed off (and quite good, incidentally) so that he could concentrate on that book. “These are children I’ve sold to the gypsies,” I believe is how he put it in “The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore.” When has he complained about what DC has done with THOSE characters?

  235. With regards to Don Murphy’s “reveal” about the ABC contract: In George Khoury’s interview book with Moore, he explains that he signed the WFH deal with Wildstorm primarily to get the artists he was working with (who had all been left hanging out to dry by the collapse of Liefeld’s Awesome Comics) a higher page rate. He knew it was WFH and he was fine with it for that reason. Also important to note: I’ve never, ever seen Moore complain in any interview about the ABC characters being used after he left the company (similar to how he doesn’t seem to complain about John Constantine.) The Watchmen contract was clearly not a work-for-hire contract, and that is likely why DC has been so gingerly about it in the past, and why it raises Moore’s ire so much.

  236. I think the “Alan Moore is crazy and unreasonable” defense is largely irrelevant. DC can be wrong even if Moore is the biggest hypocrite alive. Those things are not mutually exclusive.

    Ditto the “Moore should’ve read his contract better” defense – it doesn’t become ok to screw someone over just because they give you the opportunity to do so. And given the unprecedented success of Watchmen, it’s doubtful anyone would have foreseen this result even if Moore had the contract picked through by a team of attorneys.

    Where the above IS relevant is when it comes to the argument that DC should renegotiate the original contract. Moore has no interest in renegotiating with DC, and DC cannot do it unilaterally – thus renegotiation is an impossibility. It’s not a question of DC “enforcing” the existing contract – the existing contract is the only document that defines DC’s and Moore/ Gibbons’ rights with respect to the property.

  237. Chris Hero says:

    @Turkish

    Have I ever been hungry enough to steal food? What an insulting question. Not that you care, but yes. I grew up in a family too poor to be able to afford food for my brother and me but too proud to go on food stamps. We ate one meal a day of generic cereal for a long stretch.

    And later on, as an adult, I was laid off from a job by a company that couldn’t afford to make payroll anymore and had a long stretch of unemployment where food became pretty hard to afford because I was too proud for food stamps, too.

    I would like to say some pretty nasty things to you, but I think you’re the sort of person just looking to get someone upset and then take shots at them.

  238. Chris Hero says:

    @Don Murphy

    Ever the epitome of class, he takes a swipe at JK Rowling at the end. Wow, this thread got ugly in a hurry.

    Anyway, the WFH ABC thing is nothing new. Moore has talked about it a lot.

    I’m more curious about the Karen Berger thing because it seems DC hasn’t been to kind to her, either. Then again, if she was trying to seek an audience with Moore in a capacity as a DC employee, I think he’d be in his rights to be cross with her.

    It kinda amazes me anyone can be treated so poorly by an industry for almost 30 years and then be expected to be happy about it.

  239. Here’s a thing I’ve been wondering about: Who has actually see the contract Moore & Gibbons signed for Watchmen? I’ve seen huge amounts of debate about its contents, but wonder if anybody is arguing from a position of actual experience, rather than conjecture?

    A wonderful article, Heidi. Thank you.

  240. r.j. paré says:

    @Sam – fair enough. I liked the comics as well, but for me ‘The Watchmen’ was never my ‘favourite’ comic series [I know, blasphemy, right?]. The comic’s ending always felt silly to me – which is why I enjoyed the movie so much as they came up with a different [but still thematically relevant] resolution.

    To me “The Watchmen” was an important work in the medium, don’t get me wrong… but was it better or more important to me [as a fan] than “The Dark Knight Returns” or “The Longbow Hunters” — not really those were amazing, groundbreaking tales in their own rights as well.

    This medium has many talented writers [Marv Wolfman & James Robinson are two of the best ever, IMO] — yet some wish to deify Alan Moore… hmm, I dig his stuff but not enough to start clamoring for DC to tear up their contract.

  241. blacaucasian says:

    “Who has actually see the contract Moore & Gibbons signed for Watchmen? I’ve seen huge amounts of debate about its contents, but wonder if anybody is arguing from a position of actual experience, rather than conjecture?”

    I keep asking this question. Although from some people’s responses, it would appear to them at least, that it doesn’t matter what the details the contract he signed said.

    This is my main problem with a lot of the strident defenders of Moore. Essentially, the argument seems to be, regardless of what contract he actually signed said, it doesn’t matter that he didn’t read it because…I guess I’m not sure what comes after that for a offense against DC.

    Are people saying: If he was told something and signed a contract that was different then what he was told, he was screwed and shouldn’t hold some responsibility? If he was fully aware of what he signed and was still “screwed” because in hindsight he didn’t like the terms of what he signed he shouldn’t hold some responsibility?

    Mind you, I don’t have a problem with the fact that I have a lack of sympathy for Moore and things have seemed to gotten much more fair and open minded in these threads as far as people having differing opinions.

    I just find it hard to believe that people can be this strident for Alan Moore without expecting him to hold some kind of personal responsibility for his own actions. There are a lot of opinions that seem to be 100% backing Moore unflinchingly and further those, like myself, who have some reservations in having sympathy for Moore are instantly dismissed as “DC apologists”

  242. r.j. paré says:

    Heck, as far as landmark 1980’s comics go I’d argue that TDKR & TLH ought to be recognized FAR more than they are – considering Miller and Grell wrote and drew these books themselves.

    But that’s another subject entirely…

  243. Dear God … how many words have been generated by this battle so far?!?

    Someone (I’ve lost track) said about my comments about the Matrix sequels cheapening the first movie for me:
    “@ Nate C. — I loved the Matrix Trilogy and the animated shorts included in the DVD! I didn’t think the story was cheapened in any way.”

    I understand that – my post was in response to someone who’d quoted writer James Cain as saying the original work isn’t affected by sequels – cheapened or whatever. Point being that the original work *can* be cheapened in such a way.

    Yes, it’s one person’s experience only, perhaps, but it shows that it can happen. And I suspect I’m not the only one who feels that way.

    (And, yes, the same is true for me with the Star Wars films, though I’m not sure if my lack of desire to re-watch the original films has more to do with disdain for the sequels [prequels, sigh], or just that I’ve somehow outgrown them. The films were, at one point, a major touchstone for my life and my creative “career.”)

  244. Don Murphy says:

    LOVE the comments, filled with the dumb opinions of those who flunked the reading comprehension section of their basic third grade exams.
    @allstarmatches- your point is that just because he didn’t read it you shouln’t screw him. But logic and in fact English dictates that of course unless you read it you have no argument. You can’t ignore a freaking contract and then say “oh geez I got screwed.” You didn’t, you agreed to whatever you signed not what you thought you signed.
    @Chris Hero- man I am sorry for your life- there was NO shot at JK Rowling at all in anything I wrote. Have your mommy read it to you again, slowly.
    @- bunch of other fools- NOPE- you do not get to have that argument. You are saying that Alan, after years of complaining of work for hire and now after MORE years of work for hire, did work for hire for ABC for some noble reason. NOT LOGICAL. It’s like saying he helped the Nazis but for noble reasons. It’s a stupid straw man argument.

  245. Jonathan Andrew Sheen said this:

    “If Moore were giving interviews talking about how DC screwed him, and how outrageous their legal fancy footwork like classifying tie-in merchandise as promotional to avoid paying him his fair share, I’d be right in his corner.”

    Oh, you mean like this one?
    http://www.fastcocreate.com/1679856/alan-moore-on-watchmen-s-toxic-cloud-and-creativity-v-big-business

    ‘Moore says some lawyers involved with another of his projects offered to review the Watchmen contract he’d signed nearly three decades earlier. “It was a nostalgic moment seeing it after all these years,” he says. “There was a clause that essentially said that, if in the future, there were any documents or contracts that I refused to sign, DC was entitled to appoint an attorney to sign them instead. [The lawyers] said it was the most creator-hostile contract they’d ever seen.’

    I would say that you’re speaking whereof you know not on this matter.

  246. The decrease in sense of import for Dark Knight Returns is actually quite relevant to the Watchmen situation, because that decrease seems to have come in the wake of the DKR follow-up, The Dark Knight Strikes Back, which has its own charm but is rightfully seen as a lesser work. It seems to have dragged down the rep of the original… which may well be the long-term impact of Before Watchmen on Watchmen.

  247. Synsidar says:

    Dear God … how many words have been generated by this battle so far?!?

    At least part of the problem is that aesthetic standards should be applied uniformly. WATCHMEN is about superheroes, and DC, rightly or wrongly, owns the rights to the material. Does that mean that WATCHMEN is directly comparable to Superman, Spider-Man, and other characters and can be handled the same way without any qualms? Or did the manner in which Moore and Gibbons conceived the work, its undeniable quality, and its standalone status all combine to give WATCHMEN a special status which stories about other characters lack?

    Practically everybody knows that Superman, etc. are more important as marketing tools, merchandise, and non-comics form of entertainment than they are as comics characters, but how does one resolve the conflict between that importance in non-publishing areas with their use in stories? Practically all the stories written about Superman, etc., as part of the never-ending serial are throwaway material if not outright junk. Standalone stories aren’t.

    If superheroes were conceived in the same way that Rowling’s Harry Potter was, it’s possible that some of them, at least, could be similarly successful. But as long as the dominant superheroes are corporate characters, and producing stories about them is more like working in a manufacturing plant than it is sitting at your PC and creating, there will be the conviction that creator-owned works are, or can be, art and the people involved with the corporate characters, consumers and producers alike, who claim that their products are art are either deluding themselves or lying.

    SRS

  248. @Don Murphy — thanks for the kind words but easy on the name calling. Let’s stay civil. I think it is of great note that AM has never, as pointed out, complained about losing ABC. So he might have done a dumb thing but he has not blamed anyone for it.

    @Pádraig — well as it happens, there’s a post over at the Journal’s Chris Roberson interview form someone called “Fly on DC’s Wall”, which I’ll quote here. COuld be a phony of course, so read with caution:

    I’ve read the Watchmen contract.

    Reversion does not occur when the comics go out of print. The reversion scenario begins when the property stops generating income. This includes ancillary income from licensing.

    If there has been no income for two consecutive years, Moore and Gibbons can apply for reversion. They have to send a jointly signed letter requesting it. DC can then do one of two things. One, they can send a transfer document for Moore and Gibbons to sign. Or two, they can pay Moore and Gibbons a $10,000USD fee to keep the property for another year. At the end of that year, Moore and Gibbons must send another letter requesting reversion. If DC has no further plans for the property, they will send Moore and Gibbons the transfer document. After they both sign it, the property is reverted to them.

    and later

    Also, it was not DC’s intention to dupe Moore and Gibbons with the reversion clause.

    Frank Miller’s contract for Ronin contained the same clause. DC was in the process of reverting Ronin to him in late 1986. They even sent him the transfer paperwork. After he received it, they asked him if he would be interested in doing a collected edition for bookstores. The initial numbers on The Dark Knight Returns collection were very good. Warner Books wanted to do more graphic novels right away. Miller agreed to let them do the new edition. He sent the contract back unsigned.

    I think the key here goes back to what we were walking about the mood in 1986. Alan Moore doesn’t go around complaining about Tundra (maybe he would if asked?) or 2000 AD. He goes around complaining about DC, because there are very specific things that he feels he has been misled about. And as the above stories show, for many years DC kept trying and trying to get him to say yes….and then would go around and do that awkward thing again.

    One more story: there is a tippity top indie creator whose books are constantly in print, and draws huge lines wherever he goes. For years, Vertigo was after him to do something for them, knowing how loyal and huge his audience was. Finally he gave in and submitted a concept….

    …and they rejected it.

    Sometimes you get the girl of your dreams and she isn’t as dreamy as you thought.

  249. Cameron Stewart says:

    @RJ – Ah ok, I see your point, didn’t notice the distinction at first. Thanks for clarifying.

    I still feel though that the “well he should have read the contract, he deserves what he got” argument is – while admittedly absolutely true in a legal sense – still a quite cold-hearted position to take, particularly when talking about someone who has done so much good for the medium. Obviously yes contracts are binding for a reason otherwise meaningless, etc, but I still feel like there’s a real lack of empathy, which is sad to me.

    C’est la vie.

  250. Jaroslav: The History of Middle Earth is material actually written by J. R. R. Tolkien. There has never been any authorized prose material in Tolkien’s created world except for his own writing (often heavily filtered through Chris Tolkien’s editorial reworking, but still based directly J. R. R.’s own words).

    As to the “Moore reuses other people’s characters all the time”–yes, Moore took Dorothy and Wendy and Alice and had them orgy for 250 pages. SO CAN ANYONE. That’s the nature of the public domain–the acknowledgment that after a certain amount of exposure, stories don’t belong to their authors any more. If Watchmen had moved into the public domain and Darwyn Cooke were making a Silk Spectre story for Dark Horse or for his own imprint, I think Moore’s indignation would be much lessened.

  251. Don Murphy says:

    @Heidi- Guy (Chris Hero) can’t read then calls me vulgar, he’s gonna get called an appropriate name, that’s the rules of the net, sorry.

    And it doesn’t matter if Alan complains or not about ABC. I mean here’s the conversation-

    Alan”Oh whine whine whine DC screwed me on Watchmen with work for hire language”

    Alan”Oh whine whine whine DC are such bastards they screwed me again with work for hire language”

    Sane Person- “I have an idea- don’t ever sign a work for hire contract again”

    Alan ” A Capital idea, Sane Person. There I just did that on From Hell. I am capable of making that happen. I own it. Indeed, it will turn out to be a bullshit scam but I now have ownership in Marvelman. This is great I love ownership. I am going to invent my whole universe.”

    Sane Person: “You are welcome.”

    Alan- “YAY- I just finished my new universe and signed a work for hire agreement with Jim Lee”

    Sane Person – slaps face like young Woody Allen in Annie Hall.

    It negates the entire argument, or at very least paints ALan as mentally challenged

    @ Cameron

    I sign contracts every day that are hundreds of pages long. These are vetted completely by lawyers. If I get screwed it’s my fault and I certainly don’t go whining in public about it.

    And if Heidi’s read the contract and that’s what it says, then there never was a real intention to let Watchmen revert. I mean, if it proved to be completely worthless then it sounds like they MIGHT have allowed it to revert. MIGHT.

  252. Chris Hero says:

    @Don Murphy

    I was reflecting on your earlier comment and I feel for your position. Moore was a friend of yours and did wrong by you. If I was in the same position, I’d probably want to speak up, too, and tell everyone this person they don’t know isn’t a saint. I’m going to let your personal attacks go because I understand this must be a personally involving, emotional issue for you. I really am sorry Moore hurt you so badly you feel strongly about setting the record straight. The people who could hurt me in such a way are dear friends, so their betrayal would really hurt me, too. I truly hope you and Moore are able to find some peace someday.

  253. What a charming fellow.

  254. Don Murphy says:

    @ Chris Hero- I don’t need your forgiveness, you started with the name calling. And if you don’t want to apologize for your Rowling lie, then the reading comprehension problem looms very large.

  255. Chris Hero says:

    I was thinking about the contract question raised above and putting my lawyer hat on for a second (a hat I rarely wear), two things occur to me.

    1) The contract between Moore/Gibbons and DC is private property of Moore/Gobbons and DC. It would be quite unusual for an outside party to read it.

    2) I believe it was Mark Waid who has both read the contract and was working for DC when it was made. He’s stressed time and time again the people who represented DC had the best intentions of giving a fair deal. It wasn’t until later someone saw some loopholes to exploit and then things went horribly wrong. (Apologies to Waid if it wasn’t him, but I’m 99% sure it was.)

    I firmly believe #2. Contracts are weird things. Just because two parties believe one thing one day doesn’t mean a few years down the line a third will get involved and see a new angle.

  256. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Don Murphy–“rules of the net”, not sure whether you get to dictate those, but as far as I’m concerned, the rule is “try not to be rude”.

    I haven’t made any comments on your posts (despite my being able to read quite well, thank you very much) b/c I assume you know what you’re talking about and I wasn’t there. I think it’s fair to say you don’t think highly of Moore and want to posit yourself somehow as the reasonable one here, but you’re tossing around names and acting like a fucking tool, saying folks don’t know how to read.

    I’m actually really interested in what you have to say, just wish you didn’t need to be so aggressive as you say it. Whatever, go ahead and call me a moron, whatever makes you happy.

  257. @Don Murphy –

    No, the rules of the net are, you post on someone’s message board, calling people names (it wasn’t just the poster you responded to, you also called bunch of folks “fools”), and you get asked to cut it out, and you don’t, then you get banned.

    Intelligent folks know how to make their points without lobbing childish insults.

    It’s not my board, but I’ll point it out that, clearly, you were warned.

  258. Chris Hero says:

    @Don Murphy

    Because it’s obviously really important to you, and because I feel bad you hurt so much, I’ll say this. Your JK Rowling sentence could have been a poorly worded shot at Moore and I’m sorry for reading it literally. I can apologize for maybe reading it too literally, but I can’t apologize for your wording and I realize you’re coming from a place of deep emotion, so I forgive your personal slights. I’m also very sad you thought me reading your joke too literally was me lying about you. I would never lie about someone and claim they were of poor character. I believe our characters reveal themselves.

    I’m pretty certain you’re going to insult me again because you’re coming from a place of such pain. I’m truly sorry you hurt this much.

  259. Don Murphy says:

    @Chris Hero- it was a perfectly worded shot at Moore, but at least your comprehension improves on a re-read. I don’t see a single person commenting otherwise. Maybe by the tenth read you will understand the subtlety of snake god worship and hashish

    @ Nate C- I always love the people who say “How can you make childish comments” when in fact the comments are in response to other commenters. But thanks for the warning I will remember to tremble.

    @Southworth- “Try not to be rude you fucking tool”= maybe you need to get some writing comprehension lessons.

    @Chris Hero agayne- assuming Heidi read the contract- a well spelled out clause in a contract is not a freaking loophole!

  260. Alan Moore Said No says:

    @sheen:

    You keep saying Moore did the same thing as the BW crew, as if repetition makes it true.

    Alan Moore, the co-creator of Watchmen, is raising his hand and saying, it’s against my wishes that BW is being made.

    I don’t recall a Charleton creator doing that in the 80’s. If you do, please post the cite.

    Top T-shirt of SDCC 2012: “Alan Moore Said No.”

  261. Jesse Post says:

    @Cameron: “Obviously yes contracts are binding for a reason otherwise meaningless, etc, but I still feel like there’s a real lack of empathy, which is sad to me.”

    Yes, this is exactly what I was getting at in my side conversation with blacaucasian above. Contrary to widespread belief, as binding as contracts may be, the parties involved do have the option to make different-than-expected decisions related to them out of empathy or three dozen other equally good reasons. Even big media companies.

    In my time on the big media side, I saw at least three major contractual breaches. One was flagrant and I pushed for punitive fees. Another was an accident and I asked for leniency. In both cases the senior VPs agreed. In the third case, I pushed for punitive fees and management actually DISAGREED, opting for the more human course of renegotiating the contract instead. We were still beholden to shareholders and acting in their long-term interests as well as ethical concerns.

    All of that to say, the option is there, the contracts are interpretable, no party is forced to choose one path or another. Both parties involved in a contract continuously revisit it, amend it, revise it, and sometimes trash it completely and start over. The choice, in this case, was there as well, and you don’t have to pretend it wasn’t just to feel better about siding with DC. You’re totally allowed to side with DC if you want without claiming they had no choice.

  262. Matthew Southworth says:

    Ehh, whatever, Murphy.

    It’d be a shame to let this thread get hijacked by that loudmouth; at this point it’s obviously about making noise instead of imparting info. Having his name in the credits of some fairly good (and some really bad) movies doesn’t mean it’s not trolling.

    So anyway, back to the matter at hand, pay no attention to that guy in the corner, sloshing his drink as he shouts at whoever comes near.

  263. Don Murphy says:

    @ AM SAID NO- It isn’t his to say no to. It would be like me screaming “NO DON’T REMAKE TOTAL RECALL IT WAS PERFECTLY OKAY.”

    Thank you Don for your opinion we disagree.

    Just because the Snake King speaks about something doesn’t mean everyone or anyone cares.

    Personally I hope for Dan and Geoff that BW is so Good that Warners does the movies. Then Alan can attack his friend Dave some more for not bowing when saying thank you and Gibbons can laugh in his hairy face right to the bank.

  264. Alan Moore Said No says:

    Don Murphy is the poster child of DC .
    He’s a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with this slimy industry.
    And people wonder why Moore refuses to negotiate with these people?

  265. Don Murphy says:

    @AM NO- what does that even mean? Can you actually explain what you just said?

  266. jaroslav hasek says:

    @Kevin J. Maroney: yes, absolutely the analogy does not match up perfectly. no sets of works of art will. not sure if you read both my posts in this thread but thats why i tried to explicitly say that the point is not that the analogy lines up perfectly.

    i brought it up as 1 of example of the nearly infinite possible examples of original masterworks getting addenda that do nothing to diminish the quality or reverence of the original. i personally dont think BeWa could possibly do anything to harm the original Watchmen series. i think if anything it will draw more attention to the original and hopefully expose more people to alan moore’s works.

    but i still understand people not wanting to see BeWa come out. i dont see how BeWa will artistically improve the Watchmen universe or the original story. its clearly being done for monetary gain. im just personally apathetic about it.

  267. Chris Hero says:

    @Jesse Post

    Wow, dude. You summed up the application of contracts better than pretty much anything I’ve ever read. And yes, in my experience, it’s pretty much been the same as yours. Contracts are, generally speaking, a pre-agreed upon set of rules, but not the only way to do business. If a business relationship is good enough, there can be some wiggle room. In my job as an engineer, I see a lot of that.

  268. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Jesse and Chris–yes, it all comes back to the “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” thing. Not specifically to BW, just in terms of relationships and treatment. Publishers need creators, and if they make it unhospitable just b/c they can do so legally, that’s not good for their business.

    Alienating Alan Moore twenty years ago was probably a mistake for DC–looking at it purely from the bottom line. Maybe he was a total pain in the ass; I don’t think so, but maybe. But certainly there would have been benefits to DC’s bottom line had Moore continued working with them.

  269. Chris Hero says:

    @Matthew

    I don’t think they alienated him 20 years ago. I think it was the ABC stuff where they interfered with his books despite him doing his best to go through their legal department that really alienated him. Maybe, I dunno. It just seems the more we discuss this the more it comes down to human weakness and somebody blinked and wasn’t polite and it’s been personal ever since, which is a shame.

  270. @Don Murphy

    “Sorry, I just am sick of these discussions regarding somebody who knew what he was doing and can’t stfu decades later.”

    Then, perhaps, you should stop getting into such discussions. I’ve seen you doing it for years, and cannot see them doing you any good. If you’ve seen the response here (and it’s what I recall of the response you’ve gotten elsewhere), you don’t seem to be winning anyone over, and if you’ve seen the reaction, you might recognize that you’ve been coming across poorly. Making up dialog for Moore so that you can use that against him doesn’t really speak to either the solidness of your position nor your strengths in presenting it. Posting sentences that only carry their meaning if someone is aware of your perception of Moore’s drug use, then castigating someone for misreading them, doesn’t move things forward. Perhaps you should try to find some calmness before you post; you do have experience that could make for informative posts if they weren’t so vitriolic. Or perhaps you should rechannel what you have to say into some big-screen allegory, making a comment that will be seen by millions rather than a few hundred here, and where vitriol would seem to be a plus. Or perhaps you should realize that your own key dealings with Moore are now a decade back, and let it go.

  271. @Chris

    Moore was fairly well alienated from DC before the ABC matters, having sworn off working for them (which lead to a firewall company being set up so that Moore would not be paid directly by DC for the ABC material); having taken over ABC, DC had a chance to rebuild bridges, and seemed to be taking steps toward that at first… but ultimately, the relationship crumbled.

  272. Sam Thielman says:

    Heidi, I know that last story, too, and it blows my mind a little bit and makes me furious every time I hear it retold, mostly because I want to read the project he submitted.

    RJ, totally sympathize with your affinity for those two books, especially Longbow Hunters. I’m personally about as deep in the tank as it is possible for one man to be for Moore’s Swamp Thing run and the Grant Morrison/Richard Case years on Doom Patrol. I think insofar as there is an objective standard for quality in writing, though, Watchmen has some distinct advantages over ALL of those works—your favorites and mine—that give it primacy. It’s got good female characters, for one thing; women with agency and as much depth as the men. It’s also got a very complex plot that resolves in a cohesive way, even if the ending is (and I agree with you on this) a little strained. It’s also a discrete unit—whether or not it’s based on the Charlton books, it’s not like you have to read old issues of The Question to know what’s going on.

  273. One other thing that should be a lesson here for folks working with large companies and contracts that will last years is that it is likely that the people who were involved in negotiating the contract will be gone by the time that certain situations come into play. It’s one thing if you can go to Paul Levitz or Dick Giordano and remind them of what was said when, but one has left his position and the other had left the earthly realm. This can apply not only to what was meant by the contract but even what was in the contract; day-to-day business often assumes that all contracts were standard, and that one little special clause that you negotiated prohibiting them from using your material in some specific way or paying you some extra amount is now just a few lines of ink in a drawer somewhere.

  274. Matthew Southworth says:

    I think it’s also worth noting that Don Murphy’s comments have a context. He made films of FROM HELL and LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN that most felt did a pretty poor job of representing their source material AND of being coherent, satisfying films in their own right.

    Moore claimed that the filmmakers could do whatever they wanted “as long as I could distance myself by not seeing them”, which I imagine is not the ringing endorsement the producer of said films might have wanted.

    In any case, I think it’s smart to read Murphy’s comments–however factual and informative they may be, and I think they’re interesting–through this lens.

  275. Chris Hero says:

    @Nat

    Good point on the firewall company and stuff. I totally forgot about all that. And very, very sage advice on the contract stuff with parties having left the discussion or the earthly realm.

    @Matthew

    I honestly think Mr. Murphy, despite his unfortunate mood, needs to be heard because he was a friend of Moore and seems to feel very betrayed by that friendship. I’m glad you think so, too.

    Contracts can be good and they can be bad, but they’re not set in stone and some flexibility must be allowed if people want to continue good relationships. That mindset has certainly brought me a lot of success in recent years.

  276. Jesse Post says:

    @ Chris Hero and Matthew — that’s exactly it: the contract is the beginning of the relationship and it lays out the ground rules, all of which can change with real amendments or by simply mutually agreeing not to worry about it, depending on the language in the clause.

    Honestly, if every publishing contract I ever negotiated was set in stone, every one of those business ventures would have failed. I’ve had to renegotiate terms when retailers went out of business, when new formats were invented, when new media tie-ins were announced, when sales slowed down, etc., etc., etc. I can’t speak for engineering or anything else, but I have to assume it’s the same.

  277. It seems ironic that an industry that churns out so many heroes has always chosen to behave so un-heroically towards the people who actually create them.

  278. Comic Book Reader says:

    Can someone help me out in remembering what the 5th movie is that’s based on Moore’s work (as Heidi alludes to in her article)?

    All I can think of are:
    – Watchmen
    – From Hell
    – V for Vendetta
    – LOEG

    Which one am I forgetting? What’s the fifth film?

  279. Constantine.

  280. Heidi: Thanks very much for the answer. I’ll go look at the interview with Chris Roberson. A few points:

    You said: “Alan Moore doesn’t go around complaining about Tundra (maybe he would if asked?) or 2000 AD. He goes around complaining about DC…” To be scrupulously fair to Alan, he generally doesn’t go around complaining about DC either, unless he’s specifically asked about it. What I mean is, he’s not ringing up journalists and saying, ‘And another thing about DC I hate…’ Usually what happen is someone asks him about something that they should really already know the answer to, and they get the answer he’s always given. I’ve interviewed Alan a number of times, and I’ve found that the best way to get a good interview out of him is to ask him about his *current* work, and things he cares about. But, if you ask him about DC, don’t be surprised when he gives the same answer he’s always given.

    Chris Hero said: “I believe it was Mark Waid who has both read the contract and was working for DC when it was made. He’s stressed time and time again the people who represented DC had the best intentions of giving a fair deal.” This is something I very much agree with. I am of the opinion that the *spirit* of the contract, from what I can make out, was that Moore & Gibbons would get the rights to their work back, and that everyone involved both wished this to happen and believed it *would* happen. In a way, the creators are not the only people who have been betrayed by BW, but also the industry people at DC in the mid-80s who really believed they were moving the comics business forward to a better place. But, in the end, money won, and we’re all the poorer for it.

    I understand that there is a contract that allows DC to do this, but it will never make it right in my eyes. Some of you make argue this, but that’s what *I* believe, and I cannot see that I’m likely to change my mind.

  281. ^– To Comic Book Reader:

    “Can someone help me out in remembering what the 5th movie is that’s based on Moore’s work (as Heidi alludes to in her article)?

    All I can think of are:
    – Watchmen
    – From Hell
    – V for Vendetta
    – LOEG

    Which one am I forgetting? What’s the fifth film?”

    I’m guessing “Constantine?”

  282. Don Murphy says:

    @Gertler- actually, it does seem to be winning people over. Whereas once maybe only 10% of people knew what a hypocritical ass the guy was before, now (thanks a lot to his Gibbons behavior) I would think well over 60% of commenters I have seen think he’s a clown. But thanks for your opinion I’ll be sure to treat it like it is worth.

    @ Southworth- maybe you should read he recent BBC interview where the interviewer establishes that he HASN’T seen the films and yet still criticizes. It was a jaw dropper. And maybe read my comments as somebody who has actually I don’t know, known Alan, unlike most people here.

  283. Pádraig: very good points. And I agree. Alan doesn’t sit around calling up people to complain. But when he does…oh man it is unforgettable!

    And as to the second point: yes. the contract was signed with a different idea in mind.

    The moral of the story? NEVER RELY ON A HANDSHAKE. Even if it’s your spouse or family. And ESPECIALLY if its a corporation.

    ALSO< Calvin Reid and have agreed thatthe ultimate headline for web traffic “Google and Apple go digital with Alan Moore for iPad.” Fried traffic gold.

  284. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Kevin J. Maroney:

    “I would say that you’re speaking whereof you know not on this matter.”

    Not at all. I stand with Moore in his criticism of a bad treatment and sleazy dealings from DC, including his lousy contract.

    It has to be said that, as I understand it, by his own admission, he signed that contract without reading, never mind without having a lawyer read it for him, which, if I did that in any field of endeavor you can name, would leave you saying that the results were on my own head, but, never mind that. I’m right with him on his complaint.

    I’m not with him on his sleazy attacks on creative artists re-interpreting characters which were his own re-interpretations of existing characters.

    Moore never gave a damn about the thoughts, feelings, or rights of the creators of the Charlton heroes; Thus, he’s in no position to demand that his feelings about the “Watchmen” characters — as distinctly opposed to his legal rights, if any, regarding them — be respected.

    And I’m stunned that so many comics creators are lining up here to defend a man who says “Violating other people’s ideas about characters they created is the height of sleaziness, unless _I_ do it.”

    That’s Moore’s position, and it sucks.

  285. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @”Alan Moore Said No”:

    You know what? We have no way of knowing how the original creators of the Charlton heroes, Joe Gill et al, felt about the re-tooling of their creations to create “Watchmen.” There was no Internet on which they could mount mass protests, and there’s no slightest reason to believe their characters were being made the basis of this groundbreaking new series before it hit the news-stands. There was no opportunity for someone to name himself “Joe Gill Says No,” because Joe Gill had no say.

    Your rebuttal is bootless.

  286. r. j. paré says:

    @Pádraig – “I understand that there is a contract that allows DC to do this, but it will never make it right in my eyes.”

    That’s the entirety of this debate. On one side are folks who think contracts don’t matter, on the other are folks who think they do.

    On the fringe’s between are a host of individuals who think this minor difference of opinion is worth calling each other names and ascribing any number of devious motivations to those who believe, other, than they do.

    Let me say this: To fans and creators alike, I don’t judge you as a person based on your perspective regarding Alan Moore’s contractual relationship with DC Comics vis-a-vis “The Watchmen”.

    I wouldn’t think it was necessary to state, but seeing as many have gotten heated in this discussion – what the hey, there ya go..:)

    In all honesty, I find the subject fascinating especially as it relates to the industry as a whole. I was in a comment thread with Erik Larsen on facebook the other day and we covered a lot of similar ground. Ultimately [if I recall his position correctly] he felt that the industry would have been BETTER served had comic publishers acting more like traditional book publishers from the get-go. That all stories should have ended as soon as the creator stopped making them…

    Now that really got me thinking – I respect Erik and many of the mainstream pros I have chatted with… But let me ask you all here:

    Do you believe the industry would have taken off and become part of the fabric of our pop-culture for decades, had major publishers not trademarked and owned the characters they published?

    Yes, I know it would have given creators more freedom and allowed them to won what they create… BUT would the industry even have survived?

    My – POV – for what its worth, is that a large part of what drove comic sales, during the boom years – were favourite characters – not favourite creators. This is not meant as an insult to the many talented professionals who worked in this field for generations – but rather an honest assessment of how KIDS bought comics. Yes as fans grew older they developed tastes for particular creators’ works but when the industry was at its height [# of books published & sold] the industry mostly catered to kids.

    When kids bought comics the they did so because they loved Captain America or Superman [not because they loved Jim Starlin or Curt Swan]. Characters, in mainstream superhero comics have always been more popular than creators.

    So to my mind – this idea of a utopian creator owned mainstream comics publishing industry – would NEVER have materialized. What kept kids attention for decades was giving them more tales of Batman and Fantastic Four and without those newstand sales – the medium would probably never have become a pop-culture phenomenon. As always, just IMO.

  287. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Don Murphy–I’m fairly sure the internet was built for guys just like you.

  288. @RJ Paré French comics and Japanese comics don’t work with a system of never-ending stories like the north-american market and that doensn’t prevent them of being thrieving markets.

  289. @ RJ:

    “That’s the entirety of this debate. On one side are folks who think contracts don’t matter, on the other are folks who think they do.”

    I wouldn’t say that … some people think contracts aren’t the ONLY things that matter is more like it.

    Some other good food for thought there in your post. I guess I’d have to ask if you are mostly talking about superhero comics, though … okay, and maybe some others, like funny animals, which were about the continuing characters. But there were lots of other kinds of comics that were successful that did not have continuing characters or storylines (thinking of the EC line, as one example). Those were pretty successful until the Wertham (etc.) events.

    Now, of course, that brings up another point: comics for kids vs comics for adults. EC comics were more aimed at adults, and they seem fine with finite stories and maybe following creators vs. characters. Kids, not as much … they want Superman or Mickey Mouse, etc., and they don’t much care who the writer and/or artist is.

    So then you have to ask: which was Watchmen?

  290. Steelbolt says:

    Way I see it, there’s only three ways to forever end this whole nightmare debate:

    -Watchmen must be taken out of print for good–BY FORCE.
    -DC and Marvel must settle with the families they’re currently engaged in legal wars with–BY FORCE.
    -The work-for-hire model must be deemed obsolete and replaced with Image’s model–BY FORCE.

    What I’m saying is, if this whole deal is ingrained in the DNA of DC or Marvel, then it’s time a DNA transplant was performed.

    Who here agrees????

  291. r. j. paré says:

    @Chaka Sidyn – YES.. those markets are different- but [and correct me if I am wrong] those markets grew out of the North American one – in other words, comics started here first.

    Which goes to that heart of my question about that utopian ideal many artists wish would replace [BY FORCE as Steelbolt says] the current North American market.

    Had DC & Marvel operated that way – would comics have ever taken off as they did?

    Think about it… without long running series that fans and collectors compulsively followed would comic books have EVER become a pop culture phenomenon.

    Now I’m not arguing against it ever changing… BUT I do think that there’s nothing wrong recognizing that part of why we LOVE comics is because properties like Superman & Wolverine were available for us month after month, year after year.

    And, tbh, I suspect there will always be a market for popular mainstream characters to fight the ‘never ending battle’ for truth & justice.

    I fall back on my original position that indie comics exist for indie creators to pursue creator owned projects and for mature readers to enjoy the medium in a manner different than the 4-colour serials of their youth.

  292. r. j. paré says:

    @Nate – I would say The Watchmen was aimed at a more mature audience and probably should have been published independently [which would have avoided all of this controversy in the first place]

    By publishing it through a property controlling entity like DC – this was bound to happen.

    Perhaps, the lesson is we leave tales of mainstream, all ages, comics for the big boys and alternative or mature reader material for indie or self-publishing.

  293. Steve Dowling says:

    In terms of the legacy of excellence that Watchmen leaves, I don’t think anyone is going to confuse BeWa with the original, particularly since it doesn’t have the participation of Gibbons or Moore. Twenty-five years have passed, more than enough time for Watchmen to be established as a classic. I don’t think these prequels will devalue the original work the way the Star Wars prequels make us wonder if George Lucas ever knew anything about writing, acting or directing. I’d guess 25 years in the future, BeWa will be remembered as something that helped more people discover Darwyn Cooke or Amanda Conner.

    Alan Moore signed a deal with a corporation and relied significantly on corporate good will. Did he think DC was going to let it sit on the shelf forever? Does Neil Gaiman really think DC will sit on Sandman forever?

    After 20-25 years, I think you can say that DC has kept its word as much as any corporation would.

  294. Alan Moore Said No says:

    @Dowling: “After 20-25 years, I think you can say that DC has kept its word as much as any corporation would.”

    Which is say, not at all.

  295. Jack LesCamela says:

    R.J., why would comics have failed to take off as a medium in the United States if (for example) Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster owned Superman instead of DC? It’s still the same character all the kids loved isn’t it?

    Edgar Rice Burroughs owned his creation Tarzan and that didn’t stop the Lord of the Apes from becoming the most popular fictional character in the entire world during the 20th century –licensed out to movies, radio, television, comic strips and comic books, Big Little Books, toys, and who knows what else. Only Sherlock Holmes had a comparative level of popularity and identification.

    BEYOND WATCHMEN will probably do very well for DC and the creators involved in the short term. In the long term I think it’s a poison chalice for the creators involved, for DC Comics, and for the comics industry in general.

    Alan Moore was right about at least one thing: DC should’ve moved on from work he did almost thirty years ago and done something new. In any event, as much as I love Darwyn Cooke and Brian Azzarello’s work –I still have zero interest in BEFORE WATCHMEN.

    What was striking about WATCHMEN back in 1987 was Alan Moore’s point of view and frankly, his genius. When I finished the book back then, I wasn’t the least interested in reading more adventures of Rorschach, but I was wild to read *anything* by Alan Moore.

    To each their own.

  296. Alan Moore Said No says:

    @sheen: “I’m not with him on his sleazy attacks on creative artists re-interpreting characters which were his own re-interpretations of existing characters.”

    The BW crew aren’t re-interpreting Watchmen.
    And none of the Charlton creators were promised ownership of the characters.

    What’s incredible is that all of BW crew owe a creative debt to Alan Moore, who revolutionized the art form. And they all know his feelings on the matter. Yet, as they stand on the shoulders of this artistic giant, they’re happy to kick him in the face.

    Shame on all of them. We should tell them to their faces as they work the Con circuit with the inevitable BW hype panel.

  297. r. j. paré says:

    I think that is the crux of it – those who feel Alan Moore is the single greatest creator in comics history – could care less what the contracts state or what Moore himself has done.

    It is a cult of personality kinda hero-worship thing.

    Me? I dig Alan’s stuff… but no more than i dig the work of some other amazing creators that have worked in the medium.

    The Watchmen was an amazing read and it was influential to the medium.

    Was it more influential than Denny O’Neil & Neal Adams run on GL/GA? That was certainly groundbreaking.

    Was it more artful than TDKR or TLH? They redefined characters and had tremendous impacts in how comic stories can be told [TDKR] and the direction or tone the industry would take for over a decade [TLH I regard, for good or ill, the birth of the grim and gritty 90’s].

    Alan Moore is a tremendously talented creator.. but it seems the folks that put him on an untouchable pedestal are the ones who believe DC is “screwing” him.

  298. r. j. paré says:

    Take James Robinson’s lengthy run on Starman. Wow. probably, IMO, the greatest monthly comic ever published. I would rate it above all the others I mentioned.

  299. @RJ Paré No. They didn’t. The French market doen’t operate in nothing that resembles the North American market, and never worked with an Assembly line of interchangeble authors servicing a propriety.

  300. r. j. paré says:

    @Chaka – I meant that they came to be AFTER the success of the american market – OR am I wrong, did they pre-date american comics [I was under the impression the artform began here].

  301. Um Alan didn’t use Charlton characters. He used his and Gibbon’s. They were inspired by Charlton characters yes, but there was enough differences in their personalities, visual appearance and other things to make them separate from the Charlton characters.

    Which is why there was a contract for them (which wasn’t work for hire).

  302. To late to get in the discussion of what was the first comic strip and have no idea of when the first comic book was published. Anyway Tintin apeared in 1929 Superman in 1938.

    Make of that what you want.

  303. r. j. paré says:

    Well, I stand corrected if I was mistaken in that regard. I had always thought that Famous Funnies was the first ever “comic book” – was unaware how long European comics had been around.

    Whichever came first, for decades the industry thrived in North America – due at least in part, to the popularity of major characters.

    But hey, should the industry adopt the business models they use overseas… than that’s cool too. I just know that for some fans – they’d miss reading Justice League each month.

  304. Don Murphy says:

    @rj- Yes James Robinson (another person I actually know and count as a friend) did a genius run on Starman. And one year after he finished DC was ready to set it up as a TV series to follow Smallville on the WB- and no one had the courtesy to contact James (who has written and sold million dollar scripts) and even freaking tell him much less include him. Now you don’t know this probably and why don’t you? Because James Robinson doesn’t OWN Starman and he knew the rules when he signed on- he reads contracts and plays well with others. He was bummed big time but he didn’t whine bitch and moan or disown Tony Harris.

    @ Jamie – BULLSHIT he did use the Charlton characters, DC just didn’t want to kill them all so he once removed them. And now that Heidi has listed clauses in the contract let me help you out I read contracts all the time- he signed a work for hire contract with a clause added that said “In the unlikely event yadda yadda you can then have it back.”

    The contract may be bullshit- sounds poorly drafted by me. But for example, the clause Alan whines about in the interview that give power of attorney to the company if you are unable to sign a contract- this is standard in any rights deal it is not subversive and doesn’t mean they can sign you into the Navy. It does indicate that this was a standard contract with some weak addendum.

    So a sane non- Snake God would get a lawyer who would say ” I don’t like your bullshit Form contract with cut and paste let’s start from scratch.

    But he didn’t. He took another toke and didn’t care much. He cares now because his best work is behind him. But now is not then and it’s too late.

  305. OtterySt.Catchpole says:

    There is totally a market for new ideas, and its called All ages comics. Like Flight, or Explorer or any of a dozen different books being published by companies like Oni, or Archaia that never ever seem to get any press at any of the big comic book news (CBR, Newsarama, Bleeding Cool) sites. If Marvel and DC went away tomorrow, comics wouldn’t die, just the superhero genre which I love. People really need to start looking to other companies and creators because those are the books that everyone who is new to comics will be reading … not the superhero books, at least not so long as Marvel and DC keep giving us the same tired, stale retreads (Crisis, AVX).

  306. Kate Willaert says:

    “BeWa makes me sad because what we really, really need in comics is NEW successful ideas. A new book by Darwyn Cooke, a new book by Brian Azzarello, a new book by Adam Hughes. Amanda Conner telling DC “Here is my new project I want you to publish,” should be cause for excitement and high fives.”

    Well said!

  307. @ Don Murphy. Once removing them makes them separate characters, which is why the contract was created. You are aware that Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias was based on Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt – a character that DC doesn’t own? It belongs to the Pete Morsi estate.

    As you should probably know, the visual aspect of the characters is a major part of their identity and unique elements like Rorschach’s mask or a bright blue no costume Doctor Manhattan makes the characters different enough to require a contract defining ownership of them. And of course there was all the other stuff that wasn’t part of the Charlton characters make up, Peacemaker wasn’t the Comedian in personality or history. I could go on and on down the line but anybody that’s read Watchmen and the Charlton characters knows there are major differences between them.

    BTW: Heidi listed what an anonymous person who says they read the contract remembers it saying. And they were interpreting it (we’ve no idea if the person has the legal training or not so he might not be interpreting the clauses 100% correctly). Unless *you* have read the actual contract I don’t think you can say for certain it was work for hire.

    And if it was a standard work for hire contract then why do people who were working for DC at the time remember DC promoting it as a new creator owned deal and sincerely believed that Alan and Dave would get ownership of the characters back down the line? This was the early/mid 80s when companies like Pacific, Eclipse, etc.. were offering creator ownership deals and were getting significant talent work for them instead of Marvel & DC. This contract was used by DC to say “hey we’re not the assholes who screwed Siegel and Shuster anymore, come back and work for us.”

  308. @ RJ –

    Thinking about it even more, I don’t think it must come down to a false dichotomy of creators vs. creations. By that I mean people OF COURSE follow the characters, and I think most creators would want their creations to outlive them (no, not all, but I think I could hardly imagine a better validation of my ideas than to have them take on a life of their own).

    At the same time, company full- or partial- ownership doesn’t have to mean that the creators have no say or participation in what happens. Clearly, at some points in time, DC even felt this way about Moore and Gibbons.

    As has been said before, I don’t think most here (or elsewhere) are arguing over DCs legal rights in this case … it’s something bigger.

  309. Don Murphy says:

    @ Jamie- Simple answer- with a real NON work for hire contract there is nothing to get BACK- you never give anything up. How can you keep missing such a simple point???

  310. Turkish says:

    Chris Hero
    04/26/2012 at 9:06 am

    @Turkish

    “Have I ever been hungry enough to steal food? What an insulting question. Not that you care, but yes. I grew up in a family too poor to be able to afford food for my brother and me but too proud to go on food stamps.”

    So did I. You thought you were the only one? It was just a question to give perspective as to why people do the things they do. Chill out.

    “And later on, as an adult, I was laid off from a job by a company that couldn’t afford to make payroll anymore and had a long stretch of unemployment where food became pretty hard to afford because I was too proud for food stamps, too.

    I would like to say some pretty nasty things to you, but I think you’re the sort of person just looking to get someone upset and then take shots at them.”

    Say what you want. It’s what the internet is for. I wasn’t looking to get anyone upset. I can’t control how you react to a simple supposedly hypothetical question…one of which I, too, am familiar with in reality.

    I was pointing out that you’re over-reacting, but that seems to be your thing so run with it. I don’t give a crap if you stop buying their work, but I figured I’d point out that it’s a silly decision even though I know it’s your decision to make. Obviously, it was wasted effort.

    Don Hollywood Murphy–“He cares now because his best work is behind him.”

    If so, it’s called From Hell…you may have heard of it. They made a really lame movie of it not even Johnny Depp could save.

    R.J.–“Do you believe the industry would have taken off and become part of the fabric of our pop-culture for decades, had major publishers not trademarked and owned the characters they published?”

    By “the industry”, do you mean comics or Marvel/DC superhero comics?

    Comics? Absolutely…more so, in fact. Maybe the average person would actually read comics instead of making fun of them and those that read them if they weren’t dominated by the stilted superhero genre.

    Marvel/DC? Absolutely NOT. Their entire business plan is built on squeezing the life out of IP that they own…and I’m not even saying a company like that shouldn’t exist. I think a company that owns its IP and pays people as work-for-hire and owns anything new that is created for them has a place in the world and the comics world specifically. They exist to perpetuate the brand, and people love brands. They should have to pay a fair price on a regular basis to the creators whose creativity is what keeps their business afloat, however. If Marvel Studios wrote a million dollar check to every single person credited with having actually created any of the characters in The Avengers movie, they’d still come out millions in the black. Do most people watching The Avengers give a crap that this is not done? Of course not. So the moral of the story is–look out for your own best interests because corporations only look out for theirs. There’s a place for it, but it shouldn’t be the standard.

    Whoever is pro-Alan Moore and is going to SDCC, send me $20 and you’ll get a V For Vendetta “V” mask and a white type on black t-shirt which says “Alan Moore Said NO!”, and we’ll all meet up the morning of the Before Watchmen or other DC panel and make sure we’re all first in line to get in…then when the first piece of art hits the screen, we’ll put the masks on and stand up in silent protest. Who’s with me?!

  311. @RJ Pare before saying things as “I stand correct” google a little: Famous Funnies #1 July 1934 (tintin apeared in 1929)
    If you want to justify the control of creations by corporations instead of creator because it’s was some historical need… go do some research how the comics-strips worked how that translated to comic-books when the they started publishing original content. And if you’re at it, also see if the authors of comics strips didn’t get even royalties…

    @Jamie
    “This contract was used by DC to say “hey we’re not the assholes who screwed Siegel and Shuster anymore, come back and work for us.””
    Moore and Gibbons weren’t screwed like Siegel and Shuster, had better contracts than Shuster and Siegel and the contract that they signed was a huge improvement that area for DC. Still it’s not perfect, and not the best contract possible.

    @Nate
    “… I think most creators would want their creations to outlive them (no, not all, but I think I could hardly imagine a better validation of my ideas than to have them take on a life of their own).
    No it’s not the best validation of your idea. A character can outlive it’s creator without having work done by other author being created during or after their live.

    Hergé died in 1983, There hasn’t been a new comic-book with Tintin for 30 years, without “taking a life of it’s own” the character has outlived the creator in books that are reprinted though out the world. No retcons, no relaunchs, no reboots. Just new prints of the works thar Hergé did. Not only the hero outlived the creator, like the work outlived the creator.

  312. r.j. paré wrote: “Now, when a ‘sports star’ for example uses a previous great performance as a negotiation point when it comes time to deal with their NEXT contract – that is perfectly valid. But asking for an existing contract to be nullified, because hey ‘I’m better than either of us realized.’ – isn’t a valid negotiation position. And to despise a publisher for following a contract… well come on, there are so many valid reasons to dislike major publishers – I just don’t think following a contract should be one of them.”

    Maybe not in sports (though I’d be willing to bet that successful players enjoy a number of perks that owners are not contractually obligated to supply), but it does happen in television. For example, the contracts for the cast of Modern Family are coming up for renewal and to sweeten impending negotiations (and before the contracts expired), the cast got “complimentary salary bumps.” Sometimes it’s good business strategy to not follow a contract and to try to keep your talent happy, especially when they’re delivering hit shows (or best-selling books). http://bit.ly/HeXbDy

  313. r. j. paré says:

    @Chaka – do you have difficulty understanding English? By saying “I stand corrected” in regards your claim that Euro comics pre-dated North American – I AM ACKNOWLEDGING YOU MAY BE RIGHT. Not furthering an argument. No need at that point to get SNIPPY and tell me to google it. I already conceded that you may have been correct and moved on as my point was that regardless of which came first, for decades the industry thrived in North America – due at least in part, to the popularity of major characters. [like Superman]

    I’ve never justified publishers owning characters instead of creators as a historical need… [putting words in my mouth] I was merely asking questions and observing that much of the popularity of comic books has been centered around mass marketed mainstream characters – and that in my opinion the medium may not have become as popular as it was at its height, if not for the obsessive youthful fans following those well known characters from Marvel & DC. I could be wrong – but I do know that when I was young I couldn’t get enough of them.

    @Tom Mason – hmmm I agree it does happen – but would a salary bump have made Alan happy?

  314. @Don Murphy. In comics, that you even have the option to one day, maybe, if the stars align and you jump through the obstacle course and the publisher agrees, get ownership of your creations back gets proclaimed a creator owned contract. Because it is a step up from working on Batman where the company clearly owns it.

    @Shaka. I did not say that Moore and Gibbons were screwed as badly as Siegel and Shuster, only to say that they used the Watchmen contract to promote themselves as more creator friendly.

    And it actually is in some respects. Moore and Gibbons still get royalties and got movie money, something the Superman creators never got.

  315. Marilyn Merlot says:

    Hey Don Murphy why was LXG so fucking awful

  316. “Hey Don Murphy why was LXG so fucking awful”

    It was in the contract.

  317. Synsidar says:

    Thinking about it even more, I don’t think it must come down to a false dichotomy of creators vs. creations. By that I mean people OF COURSE follow the characters, and I think most creators would want their creations to outlive them (no, not all, but I think I could hardly imagine a better validation of my ideas than to have them take on a life of their own).

    That’s a problematic statement. Writers of prose works can’t copyright the individual characters, for example. They copyright their stories.

    The focus on characters might help with marketing, but it also distorts, badly, how they’re handled in stories. Superman might be a wonderful character, in some respects, but it doesn’t follow that a story featuring Superman is automatically wonderful. Honoring comics creators for their individual characters—the major effects of that are to perpetuate or widen the conceptual and artistic gaps between standalone and serial stories, and prose and comics stories. How a character looks should have hardly any effect on the overall success of a story.

    The lead character a writer uses for a story might influence the basic idea for a story, but the character should never be more important than the idea for the story.

    SRS

  318. Alan Moore Said No says:

    “Hey Don Murphy why was LXG so fucking awful”

    “It was in the contract.”

    Sure explains Murphy’s hostility toward talented artists who can actually create good work.

  319. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Jamie Coville:

    Moore was all about using the Charlton characters until Dick Giordano decided that DC might have future use for them that would be compromised if the characters were put through the events Moore had envisioned for “Watchmen.”

    During the time he was envisioning the story as being about Captain Atom and the Blue Beetle and the Question, et al, I know of no-one who has said that Moore thought, for even a moment, about what Joe Gill or other Charlton creators felt about his putting the characters to new uses.

    The characters he Gibbons finally came up with were deliberate echoes of those characters. Again, the comparison that makes sense is Marvel’s “Squadron Supreme,” as echoes of DC’s “Justice League of America.”

    In a discussion on Tony Isabella’s message board a few years ago, noted authority on both comics and the law Bob Ingersoll stated that, in his legal opinion, the Squadron Supreme’s resemblance to the JLA was so close that DC should sue Marvel, and that if they did so, Marvel should and would lose.

    If you can make the case that Doctor Manhattan is more different from Captain Atom than Hyperion is from Superman, that Nite Owl’s debt to the Blue Beetle is smaller than Nighthawk’s debt to Batman, well, I’ll be interested in hearing about that. But I don’t think that case is there to be made.

    It’s pretty amazing to me that people who are saying that the fact that there’s a contract that legally permits “Before Watchmen” is an irrelevent technicality in the face of what they see as basic fairness, are holding up the molecule-thin changes Moore wrung in on the Charlton characters as a complete justification of his attitudes.

    No, there’s no moral superiority of Moore’s use of the Charlton characters, even under their gossamer disguises, over the “Before Watchmen” creators’ use of the “Watchmen” characters.

  320. Alan Moore Said No says:

    @Turkish:

    “Whoever is pro-Alan Moore and is going to SDCC, send me $20 and you’ll get a V For Vendetta “V” mask and a white type on black t-shirt which says “Alan Moore Said NO!”, and we’ll all meet up the morning of the Before Watchmen or other DC panel and make sure we’re all first in line to get in…then when the first piece of art hits the screen, we’ll put the masks on and stand up in silent protest. Who’s with me?!”

    I am. Where do we sign up? You making a blog?

    Also, we should find used masks so no tentacle of Warner sees a dime.

    We need to shame these tools.

  321. Alan Moore Said No says:

    @sheen:
    “You know what? We have no way of knowing how the original creators of the Charlton heroes, Joe Gill et al, felt about the re-tooling of their creations to create “Watchmen.””

    And we DO have a way of knowing how Alan Moore feels about BW. So I guess you oughta stop saying they are “exactly” equal in moral terms. Because they’re not.

    @ all corporate apologist tools:
    Better stick to the lawyerly interpretations of contracts you’ve never seen, and leave discussions of what’s right and wrong to actual human beings.

  322. Synsidar says:

    No, there’s no moral superiority of Moore’s use of the Charlton characters, even under their gossamer disguises, over the “Before Watchmen” creators’ use of the “Watchmen” characters.

    The basis for the WATCHMEN characters isn’t really significant. Characters in genre fiction novels tend to resemble each other, in minor and major respects, but the uses the writers put them to, and the details in their stories, separate them. Two mystery novelists might both choose to write about a private investigator based in Las Vegas, and refer to the same casinos and neighborhoods, but beyond those similarities, the stories will probably differ considerably.

    At Marvel, both Steve Englehart and Bendis used the Vision in stories, but the Vision could hardly be more different in them, because Englehart wrote him as a synthetic human male, and Bendis writes him as a robot.

    The basis for a character is trivial, compared to the overall success of the writer’s story.

    SRS

  323. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Alan Moore Said No:

    It’s exactly the same as Moore’s intentions, and the difference between it and Moore’s eventual execution of his intentions would need to be a million times greater to achieve the level of “Trivial.”

    Your position boils down to, “Alan Moore is more entitled to consideration than Joe Gill because he’s much more famous.”

    @Synsidar

    “The basis for the WATCHMEN characters isn’t really significant. Characters in genre fiction novels tend to resemble each other, in minor and major respects, but the uses the writers put them to, and the details in their stories, separate them.”

    That’s really a kind of non-sequitur that does more to support my argument than that of Moore’s supporters, who stand with him as he accuses the writers and artists of “Before Watchmen” of creative and moral bankruptcy.

    Moore is, alongside his perfectly valid complaints about DC’s treatment of him, given to tirades that it’s morally reprehensible and creatively dead to re-use “his” characters. Since he was re-using other people’s characters, first “as-is” and then in ludicrously thin disguises, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on here.

    I know it’s fun to hate big, evil DC, and I know that the company has wronged a lot of people — Look at Tony Isabella and Black Lightning — but just because the company has done plenty of sleazy stuff, that doesn’t mean that every complaint of everyone who hates them, even the brilliantly talented ones, is valid.

    It’s not about choosing sides. Moore is right about some things, and wrong about others. I don’t care who I’m standing beside, I care that I’m standing on the _right_ side, and the side that feels it’s okay to deride other talented creators for doing exactly what he himself did — and, make no mistake, it _is_ exactly what he did — is _not_ the right side.

  324. Alan Moore Said No says:

    @sheen: “Your position boils down to, “Alan Moore is more entitled to consideration than Joe Gill because he’s much more famous.””

    No it doesn’t. But responding to my actual position is a lot harder than just re-imagining my position into another of your ridiculous straw men.

    Re-read what I wrote and respond to that, if you can.

  325. Don Murphy says:

    @Turkish- turns out no one is with you. Kind of like your life. And Thank You for your insightful FROM HELL comments. But then, lacking testes, you won’t be protesting either now will you?

    @Merlot- hey I didn’t know the game wardens released you into the wild already. Poor Baby!

    @ Frisch- I don’t know let me know when you watch it what you think, jerk.

    @ AM Says No- I can only contemplate your moronic handle with laughter.

  326. Synsidar said:

    “That’s a problematic statement. Writers of prose works can’t copyright the individual characters, for example. They copyright their stories.

    The focus on characters might help with marketing, but it also distorts, badly, how they’re handled in stories. Superman might be a wonderful character, in some respects, but it doesn’t follow that a story featuring Superman is automatically wonderful. Honoring comics creators for their individual characters—the major effects of that are to perpetuate or widen the conceptual and artistic gaps between standalone and serial stories, and prose and comics stories. How a character looks should have hardly any effect on the overall success of a story.

    The lead character a writer uses for a story might influence the basic idea for a story, but the character should never be more important than the idea for the story.”

    I guess I’m not taking your point … I wasn’t saying the characters should be more important than the idea for the story.

    I’m also unclear on what you said about prose writers … for example, it seems to me that ERB was able to control who could write stories about Tarzan when he was alive. Is that not the case? Could Alexandra Whoever-it-was write that sequel to “Gone With the Wind” without the estate of Margaret Mitchell’s approval? It didn’t seem so.

    Anyhow, I’m not sure I’m saying you’re wrong about anything, or that I disagree, but I’m unclear on what you are trying to say.

  327. I said:

    “… I think most creators would want their creations to outlive them (no, not all, but I think I could hardly imagine a better validation of my ideas than to have them take on a life of their own).”

    Chaka said:

    “No it’s not the best validation of your idea. A character can outlive it’s creator without having work done by other author being created during or after their live.

    Hergé died in 1983, There hasn’t been a new comic-book with Tintin for 30 years, without “taking a life of it’s own” the character has outlived the creator in books that are reprinted though out the world. No retcons, no relaunchs, no reboots. Just new prints of the works thar Hergé did. Not only the hero outlived the creator, like the work outlived the creator.”

    I’m not really sure how that disagrees with what I said … yes, I guess you are saying that no one else worked on Tintin (though there were cartoons and the recent Spielberg movie), but my point was and is that the character took on a life of its own and outlived the creator … i.e. he “left something behind – his mark on this world.”

    As a writer and wannabe cartoonist myself, that seems like a great thing. Yeah, it might not be as great if others took on your character and mangled it, but look at it the other way – some others might even do great works with your character.

  328. Alan Moore Said No says:

    @sheen: “You know what? We have no way of knowing how the original creators of the Charlton heroes, Joe Gill et al, felt about the re-tooling of their creations to create “Watchmen.” There was no Internet…”

    Turns out we do, and there was. Gill lived until 2006. He was interviewed by Comic Book Artist in 2000 for their Charlton issue. No mention of Watchmen.
    Can’t wait to see how this fact doesn’t alter your opinion.

    @Murphy: “I can only contemplate your moronic handle with laughter.”

    Funny, that’s how I feel about all those unwatchable films of yours where you bastardize the work of real creators. What’s next? Strawberry Shortcake the Movie?

    Tell us. You’re the source material of the Tom Cruise whackjob in Tropic Thunder, aren’t you? Obnoxious, odious and arrogant, you denegrate the true talent because you’re threatened by them. And if the true talent can’t stand to be around you, you figure the fault must lie with them.

    DC should change their logo again to include your face in it. You couldn’t represent their worldview better if you tried.

  329. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Alan Moore Said No:

    So an interview 14 years after “Watchmen” came out, in which “Watchmen” wasn’t asked about, is, to you, equivalent to Alan Moore’s complaints made prior to “Before Watchmen” has even come out?

    You’ve got nothing. The point is that Moore didn’t give a damn what Gill thought. I myself said above that Gill may, for all we know, have _loved_ what Moore would do with his characters, disguised or not. But when there was time for Gill’s — or any of the other Charlton creators’ — to impact Moore’s actions, Alan Moore didn’t give a damn what any of them thought.

    So why should Darwyn Cooke or Joe Straczynski care what he thinks now?

  330. Sam Thielman asked, “When has [Moore] complained about what DC has done with [the ABC] characters?”

    The answer is, he hasn’t, that I’ve seen, and I read a lot of Moore interviews. He also has contrasted his disapproval of “Before Watchmen” with his total lack of upset about the continuing adventures of John Constantine and the existence of the Constantine movie.

    Ahah! Found the quote:

    http://www.geekrest.com/2012/03/alan-moore-expresses-dismay-at-before-watchmen-prequels/

    …when I finished doing [Swamp Thing], 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.

    Also, a general note: Please do not feed the trolls.

  331. Synsidar says:

    I’m also unclear on what you said about prose writers … for example, it seems to me that ERB was able to control who could write stories about Tarzan when he was alive.

    ERB owned the copyrights on his Tarzan stories, but nothing prevented writers from doing stories about other white men in the African jungles, or doing stories about heroic men named Tarzan, but with different supporting casts and histories. In all cases, the details in the stories and the purposes to which the stories are put separate them. After all, parodies are legal because, although although a parody can replicate the details of the source material, the parody’s purpose is “dramatically” different.

    Ripley’s sequel to Gone With the Wind was widely thought to be a failure. Note the controversy surrounding a Gone With the Wind takeoff, The Wind Done Gone, and an unapproved proposal for a GWtW sequel:

    In his letter to the court supporting Randall, Conroy, himself an Atlanta native, said he refused to write the authorized sequel after the Mitchell estate demanded he agree not to include homosexuality or mixed-race relationships. Conroy implied the Mitchell estate felt such themes would mar the mystique of Gone With the Wind.

    So, the estate apparently thought that including those two real-world elements would greatly alter the impact of the sequel, even with all the similarities. If superhero comics fans follow characters, it’s probably because writers try to replicate the impacts that previous stories with the characters had, or there are too few significant details in the stories to alter the impact that the lead characters have on a reader.

    SRS

  332. Synsidar says:

    That’s really a kind of non-sequitur that does more to support my argument than that of Moore’s supporters, who stand with him as he accuses the writers and artists of “Before Watchmen” of creative and moral bankruptcy.

    No, it doesn’t. Moore’s stories with the Swamp Thing, Batman, and other characters are famous because of his skills as a storyteller, not because of the characters he chose to use.

    If a novelist wrote a novel about a high-profile DC or Marvel character and wrote it for adults. created a complete history for him and included complex themes, the hero might be practically unrecognizable to comics fans, simply because the context of the story was hugely different. Creative bankruptcy occurs when someone tries to copy another writer, especially when he uses the same characters and tries for similar impacts.

    SRS

  333. r.j. paré says:

    @Alan Moore Said No –

    “@ all corporate apologist tools:
    Better stick to the lawyerly interpretations of contracts you’ve never seen, and leave discussions of what’s right and wrong to actual human beings.”

    And of course, we are back to juvenile name calling. {sigh}

    As I stated before –

    “On one side are folks who think contracts don’t matter, on the other are folks who think they do.

    On the fringe’s between are a host of individuals who think this minor difference of opinion is worth calling each other names and ascribing any number of devious motivations to those who believe, other, than they do.

    Let me say this: To fans and creators alike, I don’t judge you as a person based on your perspective regarding Alan Moore’s contractual relationship with DC Comics vis-a-vis “The Watchmen”.

    I wouldn’t think it was necessary to state, but seeing as many have gotten heated in this discussion – what the hey, there ya go..:)”

    Apparently, some folks believe it is OK to judge someone based on such an innocuous opinion. We’re not defending Hitler fer chrissakes! We just have differing opinion about The Watchmen – so get a grip.

  334. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Synsidar

    I said: “that does more to support my argument than that of Moore’s supporters, who stand with him as he accuses the writers and artists of “Before Watchmen” of creative and moral bankruptcy.”

    And you replied: “No, it doesn’t. Moore’s stories with the Swamp Thing, Batman, and other characters are famous because of his skills as a storyteller, not because of the characters he chose to use.”

    Which absolutely supports my argument. Moore worked with pre-existing characters, and did amazing artistic things with them. It can be done, and we know, because Moore did it. He did it with Batman and he did it with Swamp Thing and, indeed, he did it, albeit with a slouch hat and glasses on them, with the Charlton heroes in “Watchmen.”

    Now, if we want to come back and review the “Before Watchmen” books once they’ve come out, and find that the collection of amazing talents lined up to do those books all just turned in hackwork, that’s a different conversation.

    But the idea that creating “Watchmen”-based books is by definition hackwork because Alan Moore already created “Watchmen” is as stupid as it would be to say that “Watchmen,” “Batman,” and “Swamp Thing” were by definition hackwork because Moore was working with characters somebody else had created before him.

    Any arguments based on the quality of the “Before Watchmen” books are invalid until the books themselves are out there to be read and reviewed.

  335. Synsidar says:

    Which absolutely supports my argument. Moore worked with pre-existing characters, and did amazing artistic things with them. It can be done, and we know, because Moore did it.

    Have you forgotten that the stories in BeWa are prequels? That sharply limits what the writers can do with the characters. Moore’s stories are famous, in large part, because his interpretations of the characters were dramatically different from other writers’ takes.

    SRS

  336. r.j. paré says:

    @Jonathan – I agree man. I’ve said such from the get-go. Judge the books by the quality [or lack thereof] of their content and not some preconceived bias.

    No idea why that’s a controversial concept for some folks.

  337. @Jonathan Andrew Sheen:

    Would you admit that there is an artistic difference between writing new adventures for a character who has a decades-long history of being in one (or more) ongoing titles by a wide variety of creators, and writing new adventures for characters closely identified with a single, complete work by one set of creators?

    (It’s probably worth reminding people that Swamp Thing’s creator, Len Wein, specifically picked Moore to write Swamp Thing, based on Moore’s work in WARRIOR.)

  338. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    And, you know what? Here’s something else to consider:

    Among the cognosenti of comics, the prevailing view is that it’s creators that matter, not characters. If you like Joe Doake’s writing and Fred C. Dobb’s art on “The Astounding Apricot Man,” when Doakes and Dobbs leave the book and Charlie Waffles and Wilson Dessert take over, a mature, intelligent fan will follow Doakes and Dobbs, while immature, even childish fans will instead just read “Apricot Man” no matter who writes or draw it.

    In short, it’s the people, not the title.

    And yet, although executives, editors, CEOs, managers, and all level of personnel have come and gone, people are referring to DC as DC, as if the guys in charge now are the ones who were in charge in 1986, and they’re the ones who screwed Tony Isabella over “Black Lightning” and they’re the ones who screwed Siegel and Shuster.

    So, there, it’s not the people, it’s the title.

    I have no conclusion or argument based on this, I just find it interesting.

  339. r.j. paré wrote: “@Tom Mason – hmmm I agree it does happen – but would a salary bump have made Alan happy?”

    Probably not, but my point wasn’t about giving Alan more money – it’s just that companies do things to keep their top performers happy, regardless of contract. Imagine how many other books Alan could’ve created for DC if he liked the working environment.

  340. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Kevin J. Maroney:

    “Would you admit that there is an artistic difference between writing new adventures for a character who has a decades-long history of being in one (or more) ongoing titles by a wide variety of creators, and writing new adventures for characters closely identified with a single, complete work by one set of creators?”

    Sure, but it’s not decisive. Again, Hamlet, Laertes, Ophelie, King Claudius, the Tragedians and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were solely identified with William Shakespeare until Tom Stoppard wrote “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.” But that play remains a brilliant, undeniable work of art, worthy in its own right.

    Now, please bear in mind. It’s entirely possible that every single “Before Watchmen” book is going to be awful, derivative drivel, a waste of ink and paper that could be of more benefit to humanity if used to print users manuals for Osborne One home computers.

    But it’s also possible, and I suspect more likely, given the talents who are actually creating this project, that the new books are going to be good comics that will be worthy companions to “Watchmen,” using the fact that the books all live in the shadow of Moore and Gibbons’ classic work to give them great power and resonance.

  341. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Synsidar:

    “Have you forgotten that the stories in BeWa are prequels?”

    By no means! I’ve been _stressing_ that in my hopes that “Before Watchmen” will be awesome.

    Again and again, I cite Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead:” All of the events of that play take place against the audiences knowledge that, as the title tells us right up front, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.” We all know what happens in Hamlet. We all know that the broody Prince of Denmark is going to callously order the murders of his two old school friends who only came to try to help. We all know Fortinbras is going to arrive in the carnage of Elsinore wanting to tell Hamlet, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.”

    The shadow that casts over Stoppard’s play is the engine that gives it its power. The play would be a meaningless trifle if it didn’t take place in the shadow of their doom.

    Being a prequel can, and I suspect, given the talents involved, will, be used to give these new books great power and resonance.

    They may end up sucking, but that’s not a requirement of a known, dark future.

  342. “Judge the books by the quality [or lack thereof] of their content and not some preconceived bias.”

    Pretending there was no moral component to these books won’t make that moral component go away. Pretending there was no esthetical component that renders the very notion of doing more WATCHMEN a bit silly won’t make that esthetical component go away, either.

    And the fact remains that if Dan DiDio, Jim Lee, J. Michael Straczynski, Len Wein, Brian Azzarello, Darwyn Cooke, et al. each made the personal decision to bring these books into being remains, as well. We — and they — will just have to live with that, and the fact that there’s a variety of opinions to be had on it. There is no magical wand that can be waved to make these facts go away.

  343. MBunge says:

    “We — and they — will just have to live with that”

    But how? How can we ever live with ourselves? The pain…THE PAIN!!!!!!

    Mike

  344. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Marc-Oliver Frisch

    “Pretending there was no moral component to these books won’t make that moral component go away.”

    Likewise, pretending that there’s an absolute moral right on the part of a man who had no interest in the feelings of the creators of characters he was re-using to attack creators for re-using the same re-used characters doesn’t make his culpability and hypocracy go away.

    “Pretending there was no esthetical component that renders the very notion of doing more WATCHMEN a bit silly won’t make that esthetical component go away, either.”

    But analyzing that claim and, by examining valid analogies, finding it wanting and illogical _does_ obviate it.

    From a moral standpoint, I see very little that supports Moore’s position.

    From an esthetic standpoint, I see nothing at all that supports judging the artistic merits of works that don’t, yet, exist.

  345. ” pretending that there’s an absolute moral right on the part of a man who had no interest in the feelings of the creators of characters he was re-using to attack creators for re-using the same re-used characters doesn’t make his culpability and hypocracy go away.”

    Response the first, frivilous: I’m sure that the creator of Silk Spectre was greatly upset by Alan Moore’s ham-handed use of her in WATCHMEN. Now who was that creator, again?

    Response the second, more serious: You don’t have to believe that Moore has an absolute right to WATCHMEN to decide that, on balance, this is stepping on Alan Moore’s work and contributions.

    We can still be offended by poet laureate Nahum Tate rewring King Lear to give it a happy ending. Tate had every legal right to do what he did, but because Shakespeare borrowed the story of Edmund and Edward from his contemporary Philip Sydney, are we obligated to approve?

  346. r.j. paré says:

    @Marc-Oliver Frisch –

    “Pretending there was no moral component to these books won’t make that moral component go away.”

    That’s just it – I don’t agree there is a ‘moral’ component to question of whether to publish new stories of these characters. No pretending necessary for me. DC has the right to publish such material and the talent to conceivably make them worth reading. Your perceived ‘moral’ component must, I assume, derive from a disproportionate admiration for Alan Moore. I’ve noticed before – much of this seems to revolve around some individuals placing Alan head and shoulders above all other creators – and I simply don’t view him and his work in that manner. He is a talented writer – but there are many talented creators working in this medium who do not have the ‘cult following’ Mr. Moore does. I suspect this has to do with him cultivating an image as ‘the outsider, the rebel, the mad genius, the crazy-eyed, wild-haired artist who sticks it to the man’ LOL — but I imagine that is more PR than reality.

    “Pretending there was no esthetical component that renders the very notion of doing more WATCHMEN a bit silly won’t make that esthetical component go away, either.”

    What aesthetical component would that be, exactly? Are you implying that no other artists or writers could create interesting, entertaining and provocative stories using these characters? Because, there are a great many talented folks in this industry and I would suggest quite a few have the talent to do so.

  347. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Kevin J. Maroney:

    Go back and read my posts. Most of the Charlton characters reworked into “Watchmen” characters were created by Joe Gill. Rorschach, of course, was a reworking of characters created by Steve Ditko.

    No, Moore is in no moral position to rail against Daryn Cooke and Joe Straczynski’s alleged disregard for his feelings, when he showed no interest whatsoever in Ditko’s and Gill’s feelings.

    Are you really going to stand up for someone whose position is, “Re-using other people’s characters is sleazy unless _I_ do it!” ?

    You don’t get to use the Nahum Tate argument until the books are in print. Again: You’re making an esthetic judgment of works that don’t yet exist.

    (Note, I’m not saying that the “Before Watchmen” books will be the classic works of art Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” was, only that they _can_ be. You _are_ saying that by definition those books will be crap, and you’ve got nothing to support that.)

  348. >> with a real NON work for hire contract there is nothing to get BACK- you never give anything up. How can you keep missing such a simple point?>>

    Possibly because it’s nonsense.

    Work for hire contracts aren’t the only kinds of deals to have reversion clauses by any stretch of the imagination. Most if not all publishing contracts are about rights transfers, under which various rights are transferred (that’s called the “Grant of Rights” section) for a specified period (the “Term”), which may be a set time period or it may be a period defined by certain conditions.

    Reversion clauses set out the conditions under which the rights granted can revert back to the granting party. Stephen King owns CARRIE, but there’s a reversion clause in his Doubleday contract nonetheless, and there is indeed something to “get back” — the print rights, which Doubleday still holds, because the conditions of reversion haven’t been met yet. CARRIE was not work for hire.

    Dave Wenzel and I did THE WIZARD’S TALE for Eclipse, and the rights reverted to us on bankruptcy. We made a deal with Wildstorm, and they published the book. After a couple of print runs, sales slowed down, and we triggered the reversion clause. The book is currently available from IDW. Three contracts, reversion clauses in all of them, and the work was not work for hire.

    I currently have three creator-owned deals with DC; there are reversion clauses in all of them, but none of them are work for hire.

    Legally, in a work for hire deal, there’s no “reversion” clause, because there’s nothing to revert — you never owned the material in the first place, because the company that hired you is legally the author of the work. So you never had those rights and thus can’t get them “back.” You could certainly write a contract that’s WFH but at some point transfers or assigns the rights to the writer, but that wouldn’t legally be reversion, it’d be a rights transfer or assignment.

    But the idea that if it’s not work for hire there’s nothing to get back is just flat-out wrong. Even in the film industry — if I sell the film rights to something, and there’s a clause in the deal that says if they haven’t made the film within a specified period, I get the rights back, that was a deal that wasn’t work for hire (it’s a rights transfer), but there was something to get back.

    *

    >> Bob Ingersoll stated that, in his legal opinion, the Squadron Supreme’s resemblance to the JLA was so close that DC should sue Marvel, and that if they did so, Marvel should and would lose.>>

    As Bob surely noted, his legal opinion is not to be relied upon in this case, because Bob was not an IP attorney, he was a public defender. His legal experience is in a whole different area than trademark and copyright law. [I don’t say that to knock Bob, but because Bob generally adds that disclaimer when he’s discussing IP law.]

    As it happens, every now and then DC has complained that stories Marvel does with the Squadron are getting too close — and Marvel either stops using them for a while or steers them away again. [That’s why Mark Gruenwald’s mini-series changes them so much; that was one of the steering-away periods.]

    If DC ever sued, though, it wouldn’t be about the individual characters — Hyperion is clearly different enough from Superman to avoid that, and Nighthawk is clearly different from Batman. What they’d sue over would be the resemblance between the Squadron and the Justice League, as groups, because it’s in that form that the similarities add up.

    >> If you can make the case that Doctor Manhattan is more different from Captain Atom than Hyperion is from Superman, that Nite Owl’s debt to the Blue Beetle is smaller than Nighthawk’s debt to Batman, well, I’ll be interested in hearing about that. But I don’t think that case is there to be made.>>

    That’s not a case you’d need to make, because the individual characters aren’t close enough for legal action in either case. The case you’d need to make is that the Squadron are closer to the JLA than the Watchmen are to that well-known team-up group of Charlton heroes called…

    …wait, is there one?

    There was at least one attempt at it, but it was post-WATCHMEN, so that wouldn’t fly.

    But you wouldn’t need to make that case, either, because Bob Ingersoll’s expertise in other forms of law than intellectual property would not trump DC having written a contract that allows for reversion in the first place.

    kdb

  349. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Kurt Busiek:

    Look, there are two approaches to this:

    There’s the “Here’s what the law says and what the contracts say” approach. By that standard, Alan Moore’s clearly in the wrong.

    Then there’s the “Never mind the letter of the law and the contracts, there’s a simple matter of fairness and right and wrong” approach.

    By that approach, I stand by my comparison to the “Squadron Supreme”/”JLA” situation. Bob Ingersoll’s legal expertise is more than sufficient here, because we’re not talking about the letter of the law, we’re talking simple fairness.

    Remember when Michael Mukasey was named the new Attorney General of the United States? Everyone said he was one of the greatest legal minds of his generation. During his confirmation hearings, he was asked, point-blank, “Is waterboarding torture?” His answer was, essentially, that he couldn’t tell for sure. While this led to a lof of wrangling back or forth on the “is it or isn’t it” front, that missed the most important point: If it’s enough like torture that the greatest legal mind of his generation can’t tell whether it is or it isn’t, it’s just something America shouldn’t be doing. We don’t need the legal exactitudes to know what’s right and wrong here.

    All you have to do is read Mark Gruenwald’s “Squadron Supreme” to see that he was writing an alternate-universe JLA story. There was no doubt that Hyperion was Superman, Nighthawk was Batman, Doctor Spectrum was Green Lantern, etc. We all knew it. We all still know it.

    We accept that it’s a form of parody, of critical examination of the implications of the DC source material, and it’s really fair and legitimate, but those characters are indeed reworkings of DC’s characters.

    Well, anyone can see that the “Watchmen” characters are reworkings of the Charlton heroes. The notion that there’s great significance in using them in a group as opposed to individually is just silly in the context of talking about just plain fairness.

    From the “Never mind law and contracts, fair is fair” standpoint, we’ve got Moore who re-used characters created by others without a moment’s concern for their feelings claiming that it’s sleazy for the creators of the current books to re-use his characters, and that’s just hypocritical and wrong.

    Approaching from the law, or approaching from fairness, I see no way the arguments line up on Moore’s side of things.

  350. r.j. paré says:

    Many THX to Kurt Busiek for the putting the discussion squarely back into the realm of logic & reason, rather than vitriol.

    The thing I’ve always found odd is… You can find multiple interviews and con panels where Moore demonstrated he understood the contract. IMO – it isn’t the least bit fair to say DC screwed him and Gibbons as the only thing Moore did not perceive, at the time, was that the book would sell so well DC could keep it in print for so many years. Moore may be bitter about the deal in hindsight – but AT THE TIME – it seems he thought it was a good deal.

    I honestly see no reason to hate on DC over it.

  351. “That’s just it – I don’t agree there is a ‘moral’ component to question of whether to publish new stories of these characters.”

    You don’t have to, certainly.

    You can pretend whatever you want. I just disagree with the notion that this is in any way a helpful or sensible way of approaching this type of stuff.

    I think your opinion is ill-informed, logically lop-sided and toxic, not to mention repugnant. If the fact you’re making this claim at the bottom of a 300-comment thread discussing the very thing you claim doesn’t exist weren’t so hilarious and absurd to begin with, I’d say there was something borderline sociopathic to the idea of casting all moral considerations concerning actual, three-dimensional people aside just so you can read a bunch of stupid superhero comics without “pre-conceived notions.”

    It’s one thing to look at this and come to the conclusion that Alan Moore is wrong and DC is right. I mean, okay, whatever. But to look at this and come to the conclusion that there is no moral issue and we should all just worry about the comics? Wow, I think that’s probably the dumbest, creepiest thing I’ve seen said about this whole mess, and that says something.

  352. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Marc-Oliver Frisch:

    You’ve been called on your inaccurate use of “Pretend” and now you’re back at it again.

    Once can be overlooked as just thoughtless, but repeating it is a sleazy, trashy, unethical rhetorical trick.

    If you can’t make your point honestly, you have no point to make.

    You can pretend you’ve got moral high ground, but you haven’t.

  353. I said:

    “I’m also unclear on what you said about prose writers … for example, it seems to me that ERB was able to control who could write stories about Tarzan when he was alive.”

    @ Synsidar:

    “ERB owned the copyrights on his Tarzan stories, but nothing prevented writers from doing stories about other white men in the African jungles, or doing stories about heroic men named Tarzan, but with different supporting casts and histories. In all cases, the details in the stories and the purposes to which the stories are put separate them. After all, parodies are legal because, although although a parody can replicate the details of the source material, the parody’s purpose is “dramatically” different.

    Ripley’s sequel to Gone With the Wind was widely thought to be a failure.”

    I’m not sure I’m buying that. Yes, parody is covered, because there’s no chance for confusion (or there isn’t supposed to be … obviously, in some cases, like the famous Air Pirates one, the courts will disagree), but I really think you’re off on others being able to create, say, other stories with Tarzan-like characters even named Tarzan. Enough has to be different. If it is, you can get away with it. If not, well, depends on the courts, but you can get things like the DC lawsuit over Captain Marvel.

    Yes, I get that copyright and trademark are different, but you still have to be licensed to, say, make a movie of the Tarzan (or John Carter, for that matter) characters, etc.

    As for the sequel to GWTW being a failure, that’s immaterial to the argument.

  354. Sheen said:

    “No, Moore is in no moral position to rail against Daryn Cooke and Joe Straczynski’s alleged disregard for his feelings, when he showed no interest whatsoever in Ditko’s and Gill’s feelings.”

    Just out of curiosity, how do you know that this was Moore’s view about those creators and their characters? I understand you said you’ve known him … did he actually say this to you? Or are you ascribing a view to him that you don’t know is a fact?

    Yes, one might extrapolate his feelings from his pitch, but, for all we know, had the project been approved as the Charlton characters, he might have gone to one or more of those creators to seek their views. Not saying he would have, but we don’t really know, do we? Unless you have other evidence?

  355. r.j. paré says:

    @Marc-Oliver Frisch –

    Hurl all the insulting rhetoric towards me you like – my point remains the only ‘moral’ quandary in publishing these books is one you [and those who agree with you] perceive there to be. It is not an objective truth.

    If I agreed there were ‘moral’ reasons not to publish the books – I’d certainly be against publishing them. But, of course you’d rather insinuate I am amoral, I suppose.

    As I’ve stated before – casting aspersions on people’s character – over something as innocuous as a differing opinion on someone else’s copyrights status – is absurd.

    What’s next? Shall we debate bottled water? If you disagree with my opinion on the consumption of bottled water – shall you label me a degenerate? {shakes head}

  356. Jonathan Andrew Sheen:

    “Most of the Charlton characters reworked into ‘Watchmen’ characters were created by Joe Gill.”

    Yes, I’ve known that since about 1984 (when Watchmen was announced). But Dr. Manhattan wasn’t created by Joe Gill. Rorschach wasn’t created by Steve Ditko. Comedian wasn’t created by Pete Morisi. Silk Spectre wasn’t even based on a Charlton character.

    If Charlton ever spent any time and effort trumpeting their arrangement with Joe Gill on CAPTAIN ATOM as a bold step forward in creators’ rights, you might have grounds for anger against Charlton. DC *did* spend significant time and effort trumpeting the WATCHMEN contract as a bold step forward for creators. In actuality, it turns out they were, at the very least, tremendously misleading, if not an outright lie. It’s the violation of that decades-old promise–a promise to Moore and to everyone who worked for DC because of that claim–that fuels Moore’s own outrage.

    Again, Moore isn’t complaining about the reuse of work he did as work-for-hire, whether for DC, Awesome, or Wildstorm. He’s complaining about Watchmen because was assured, in 1986, that there would be no chance that DC would still be in total control of Watchmen a quarter-century later.

  357. >> Look, there are two approaches to this:>>

    You keep on declaring this sort of thing, as if you’re able to lay down the law and tell people what matters, like a pro-life advocate lecturing pro-choice people that they’re getting it wrong.

    As you may have noticed, this is not a convincing approach.

    >> Bob Ingersoll’s legal expertise is more than sufficient here, because we’re not talking about the letter of the law, we’re talking simple fairness.>>

    Then why are you invoking a lawyer and a legal opinion? If you’re not talking about the law, Bob’s just another reader.

    Bob will tell you, by the way, that his legal expertise is not sufficient. Particularly if you’re not making a legal argument.

    >> All you have to do is read Mark Gruenwald’s “Squadron Supreme” to see that he was writing an alternate-universe JLA story.>>

    I was there. Mark and I discussed the changes he was making to move them away from being so close to the DC characters, as requested by DC.

    I’ll happily agree that the Squadron started out as JLA parodies, and that they’ve had a checkered existence since, sometimes used as parody, sometimes as dramatic characters in their own right (at which time changes need to be made). But I don’t think citing Bob’s opinion of the Squadron is grounds for a conclusion that the Watchmen aren’t different enough to be new characters, because for one thing, DC clearly doesn’t agree with Bob, and for another, you could as easily say that Dr. Manhattan is more different from Captain Atom than Ka-Zar is from Tarzan. Or that Rorschach is more different from the Question than the Question is from Mr. A.

    >> From the “Never mind law and contracts, fair is fair” standpoint, we’ve got Moore who re-used characters created by others without a moment’s concern for their feelings claiming that it’s sleazy for the creators of the current books to re-use his characters, and that’s just hypocritical and wrong.>>

    This is also something you like to keep repeating, as if saying it over and over will somehow make it more convincing. I’ve seen sensible rebuttals to your claims that Moore did the same thing he’s objecting to, and you just ignore them.

    As such, I won’t bother repeating them, but I’ll note that ignoring them doesn’t make them vanish.

    >> Approaching from the law, or approaching from fairness, I see no way the arguments line up on Moore’s side of things.>>

    I don’t think you have to in order for other people to. They don’t operate from the same reductionist positions you do.

    Note that it’s entirely possible they’re operating from _different_ reductionist positions. But they don’t have to buy into yours. I don’t.

    As I’ve noted elsewhere, I have friends on all sides of this situation, and I can understand why they take the positions they do, and overall I think it’s a colossal mess, one that stresses how important it is to be careful in this sort of thing even when everyone involved has (or thinks they have) the best of intentions.

    But when someone tries to say that it’s really simple, and gets there by ignoring anything that makes it complex, they’re going to wind up with a simplistic answer.

    kdb

  358. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Nate C:

    No, I’ve never said I knew Moore. I have said again and again that I’ve never seen the least indication that Moore ever showed the least bit of interest in finding out how any of those creators felt. I’d be interested to learn that he did, and if so, that would change my opinion. But, as it stands, everything I’ve seen backs up that Moore had no interest in how the creators of characters he was making major changes to (or, once DC requested he not do that, characters he was reworking to make major changes to them) felt about his plans.

    As far as I’ve ever heard, he never asked. Show me I’m wrong about that, and I’ll happily retract it.

  359. “my point remains the only ‘moral’ quandary in publishing these books is one you [and those who agree with you] perceive there to be. It is not an objective truth.”

    Holy shit, I’ve just met the Determiner of Objective Truths. Can I make a wish?

  360. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Kevin J. Maroney:

    Go back and read my previous posts.

    As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, it’s not Moore’s fault “Watchmen” ended up with thinly-disguised reworks of Gill’s and Ditko’s characters. That was DC’s call.

    I don’t grant any validity to the argument that those very thin disguises make those reworked characters “original.”

    And, yes, Moore is calling the creative teams working on the “Before Watchmen” books creatively bankrupt just because they’re working with those characters, and yet he doesn’t seem to feel that working with thinly-disguised stand-ins for the Charlton heroes — disguised at all only through editorial fiat — was, by definition, creatively bankrupt.

    Moore can pick a position, but I won’t grant him both. His position that it’s only okay if _he_ does it invalidates his criticism of the new creative teams.

  361. Nate C:

    AIR PIRATES lost its case because it failed to take any steps to protect itself under the standards of parody: it didn’t change the characters’ names or appearances, it looked exactly like a Disney comic, and so forth. Even given that, there’s the possibility that its outrageousness would have enabled a good parody defense if Dan O’Neill had pursued one; instead, his case was largely “Disney no longer owns Mickey; everyone does.”

    Fawcett lost the Captain Marvel suit not because Captain Marvel was insufficiently different from Superman, but because National had direct testimony from a Fawcett writer (Manly Wade Wellman) that he was given a stack of Superman comics and told, “Write like these.”

    Copyright infringement is a very difficult subject, and a lot of the case law basically comes down to “we know violation when we see it”.

  362. >> Would Joe Gill have been all right with Ted Kord sleeping with Captain Atom’s girlfriend, Nightshade? >>

    And merely in the interests of getting the historical details right:

    Ted Kord was created by Steve Ditko, with Gary Friedrich dialoguing, to whatever extent that altered Ditko’s work.

    Nightshade was created by Gill & Ditko, but Silk Spectre was inspired by Phantom Lady and Black Canary, not Nightshade.

  363. Sheen said:

    “No, I’ve never said I knew Moore. I have said again and again that I’ve never seen the least indication that Moore ever showed the least bit of interest in finding out how any of those creators felt. I’d be interested to learn that he did, and if so, that would change my opinion. But, as it stands, everything I’ve seen backs up that Moore had no interest in how the creators of characters he was making major changes to (or, once DC requested he not do that, characters he was reworking to make major changes to them) felt about his plans.

    As far as I’ve ever heard, he never asked. Show me I’m wrong about that, and I’ll happily retract it.”

    Okay, about the first part, I guess I got you confused with Don Murphy.

    As to the rest, no, that’s not how this works. You make the accusation, you have to back it up. You don’t get to say with any substance “I accuse him of this … if it’s not true, you have to prove it!”

    You need to prove your accusation. As it is, you might be better off qualifying what you’ve accused him of by said “apparently” or some such. You do not KNOW his thought process, sir.

    Finally, I think the line that Watchmen are “thinly disguised Charlton characters” is wearing thin … you’re probably one of the only people who thinks that’s the case; as others have pointed out time and again, they were different enough for many things — hell, it was DC who wanted them to be different!

  364. Jonathan Allen Sheen:

    If you think the Watchmen characters are “thinly disguised” versions of the Charlton characters, I don’t have any particular respect for your aesthetic sense. No, seriously, none. One can recognize that the project that became Watchmen started out as the pitch for “Who Murdered the Peacemaker?”, but the differences between the characters in the pitch and the characters in the actual published comics are enormous (in many senses). Joe Gill and Steve Ditko created Captain Atom. They didn’t create Doctor Manhattan, any more than Homer created Superman when he wrote about the invulnerable warrior Achilles.

  365. @ Kevin M.

    “AIR PIRATES lost its case because it failed to take any steps to protect itself under the standards of parody: it didn’t change the characters’ names or appearances, it looked exactly like a Disney comic, and so forth. Even given that, there’s the possibility that its outrageousness would have enabled a good parody defense if Dan O’Neill had pursued one; instead, his case was largely “Disney no longer owns Mickey; everyone does.”

    Fawcett lost the Captain Marvel suit not because Captain Marvel was insufficiently different from Superman, but because National had direct testimony from a Fawcett writer (Manly Wade Wellman) that he was given a stack of Superman comics and told, “Write like these.”

    Copyright infringement is a very difficult subject, and a lot of the case law basically comes down to “we know violation when we see it”.”

    Yes, I don’t think there’s anything I really disagree with in there (I’d say Air Pirates was a bit more complex than that from having read the book on it), but I’m not sure how that rebuts my point!

    Do you have any insight on what was said about others writing Tarzan, etc., or about the stories being copyrighted but not the characters?

    If you feel what you said somehow addresses this, or if I missed some point you’d like me to know, please fill me in.

  366. Ed Brubaker says:

    Kurt, don’t waste your time.

  367. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Kurt Busiek:

    “You keep on declaring this sort of thing, as if you’re able to lay down the law and tell people what matters, like a pro-life advocate lecturing pro-choice people that they’re getting it wrong.”

    You can look back over the whole discussion, and the whole thing is going back and forth between those positions, depending on, in the case of the more principled arguers, which approach concerns them more, or, in the case of the more dishonest, which they think best supports their position as of a given moment.

    “Then why are you invoking a lawyer and a legal opinion? If you’re not talking about the law, Bob’s just another reader.”

    Yeah, read the paragraph on Mukasey and Waterboarding. Already covered.

    Likewise, no, you haven’t seen sensible rebuttals, which I’ve ignored. You’ve seen unsupportable rebuttals, which I’ve invalidated.

    You read “Squadron Supreme,” up to and including Gruenwald’s amazing miniseries, and you see JLA. In the Gruenwald book, you see a hardball examination that — and I’m not claiming plagiarism or copying here — strongly resembles the examination of the JLA in “Kingdom Come.”

    The point of the “Squadron Supreme” is to “JLA” as “Watchmen” is to “Charlton heroes” is not filing a lawsuit, it’s that the similarity of the characters indubitably demonstrates the one-for-one parity of the Watchmen characters to their models.

    Once we get to that strong one-to-one corellation between the “Watchmen” characters and the Charlton heroes, Moore’s criticism of the creators working on the “Before Watchmen” books as creatively bankrupt and unable to come up with ideas becomes starkly and distastefully hypocritical.

    You can play these sleight-of-wits games all you want, but that’s all entirely true, logical and consistent.

  368. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Kevin J Maroney and Nate C:

    Asking Sheen to back up his assertions/accusations is a futile effort. He’s been making the same statement for a week now, buttresses it with his Rosencrantz & Guildenstern argument, then fails to understand any rebuttal or reasonable assertion to the contrary.

    I don’t know if it’s that he CAN’T understand it or just WON’T, but no matter what you say, he’ll come back with “Moore defaced Charlton characters, so he’s a hypocrite” and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead did the same thing and enriched Hamlet, so that means it’s a good thing!”

    His guitar has one string, he has one song, and he’s gonna play it all night long.

  369. Following up my last comment, I find that (unsurprisingly) Moore himself said it better than I have:

    “So, we started to reshape the concept—using the Charlton characters as the jumping-off point, because those were the ones we submitted to Dick—and that’s what the plot involved. We started to mutate the characters, and I began to realize the changes allowed me so much more freedom. The only idea of Captain Atom as a nuclear super-hero—that had the shadow of the atom bomb hung around him—had been part of the original proposal, but with Dr. Manhattan, by making him kind of a quantum super-hero, it took it into a whole new dimension, it wasn’t just the shadow of the nuclear threat around him. The things that we could do with Dr. Manhattan’s consciousness and the way he saw time wouldn’t have been appropriate for Captain Atom. So, it was the best decision, though it just took me a while to realize that.”

  370. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Nate C.:

    My defense of my position that Moore didn’t care what the creators of the Charlton heroes thought is that there’s no evidence that he made any attempt to elicit their opinions.

    I stand by it. If I’m wrong I’ll happily admit it, but there’s nothing to suggest that I am.

  371. Nate C, re: copyright:

    I wasn’t contradicting you or rebutting you, just adding some illumination. Both AIR PIRATES and the Captain Marvel suit had smoking guns that made the cases winnable; in the absence of such, it’s very hard to win an infringement lawsuit.

  372. >> Do you have any insight on what was said about others writing Tarzan, etc., or about the stories being copyrighted but not the characters? >>

    Well, what was said about others writing Tarzan was confusingly said, and may not have been entirely accurate.

    But in general, if you want to write a jungle lord character, you can do that easily without it infringing on the Burroughs estate’s copyrights, because what copyright protects is the stories — the concrete expression in textual form. As such, you can’t swipe the Burroughs stories, but you can do jungle lords.

    You can even do jungle lords who are the orphaned sons of British nobility who died, leaving their baby to be raised by animals in a jungle, since that describes Ka-Zar and other jungle-lord characters.

    You can name a character “Tarzan” without infringing on copyright, because names aren’t protected by copyright, but by trademark. And for that matter, “Tarzan” is an actual name — I just did a search and discovered there are at least four people named John Tarzan in the US at present.

    But if you name a jungle lord Tarzan, you’ll probably get in trouble. And if you name a comic book or movie TARZAN, even if it’s about Bob Tarzan, aluminum-siding installer, you’ll definitely get in trouble, because that’s a trademark issue.

    Trademark and copyright protect different things in different ways. But they both come into play when you’re talking about the Edgar Rice Burroughs creation.

    kdb

  373. r.j. paré says:

    @Marc-Oliver Frisch – LOL – what are you – 12?

  374. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Kurt–the story of Bob’s being left in a Home Depot by his noble British parents has always brought a tear to my eye.

  375. >> Likewise, no, you haven’t seen sensible rebuttals, which I’ve ignored. You’ve seen unsupportable rebuttals, which I’ve invalidated.>>

    I disagree.

    >> You can play these sleight-of-wits games all you want, but that’s all entirely true, logical and consistent.>>

    I disagree there, too, but I’ll also note that if one starts from false postulates, logic and consistency will lead to false conclusions.

    This is why pro-life and pro-choice advocates find so little shared ground. They each think the other’s postulates are false.

    kdb

  376. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Southworth:

    I’ve repeatedly rebutted your arguments. You’ve acknowledged as much.
    I’ve been doing it since yesterday, not a week.

    I don’t say “Moore defaced the Charlton characters, so he’s a hypocrite.” I say “Moore re-used previous creators’ characters without showing any visible concern for their opinions, so he’s a hypocrite when he attacks the writers/artists re-using his.”

    When it’s been claimed that Moore didn’t re-use the Charlton characters, I’ve pointed out that that wasn’t by his own doing, that it was forced on him by DC, and when it’s claimed that the changes are so substantial as to make them wholly original characters, I’ve pointed out, both through comparing the situation to Marvel’s “Squadron Supreme,” and through common recognition by readers for the last 25 years, the changes were not sufficiently sunstantial to render them wholly original.

    I don’t say that “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” enriches “Hamlet” — I’m not sure it does, although “Hamlet” greatly enriches “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” which is relevent — nor that that automatically means that “Before Watchmen” will be a good thing. I do say that the existence of the Stoppard play disproves the claim that “Before Watchmen” is aesthetically doomed to be crap.

    “R&G” is a pretty crushing argument against judging the quality of “Before Watchmen” as a comic before it hits the stands. I’ve said repeatedly that it’s entirely possible that “Before Watchmen” will be a bunch of crappy, forgettable comics, but that, even in that worst-case scenario, it’s no skin of Moore’s nose.

    If you have to lie to make your point, you don’t have a point to make.

    Please don’t continue to lie about me.

    Please don’t continue to attribute motives to me. You don’t know me. You don’t know what motivates me.

  377. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Sheen–

    A) not lying about you, I’m making a judgment about your faulty argument that you make ad nauseum

    B) R & G is not a crushing argument about Watchmen in any way. I agree with the idea that the BW stuff could be good; I haven’t seen it, but I like a lot of the people involved and suspect their work will be excellent.

    C) I don’t know you, I only know how you behave right here (and I Googled you because I was so perplexed by that behavior and wondered who you were). I stand by my judgments of you based on your words, not by “attributing motives” to you.

    D) No matter how many times you say “Moore re-used previous creators’ characters without showing any visible concern for their opinions”, it doesn’t change the fact that THE WATCHMEN CHARACTERS ARE NOT THE CHARLTON CHARACTERS FOR GOD’S SAKE and that YOU are the one attributing motives…to Alan Moore. You don’t have any idea what he was thinking.

  378. Ed Brubaker says:

    So only non-hypocrites are allowed to have opinions? Awesome. Everyone in the entire world can just shut up forever now.

  379. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Southworth:

    Calling a day a week is a lie.

    Misrepresenting things I haven’t said as my statements and arguments is a lie.

    You can disagree with the argument, but it is what it is, and none of your rebuttals have stood up to examination.

    An argument that “Before Watchmen” will by definition suck because it’s derivative work collapses when you consider “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” because it is absolutely a derivative work, and clearly does not suck. Yeah, it’s a crushing argument, and you’re wrong if you think it isn’t.

    How I behave right here is making a cogent, consistent argument, and supporting it with valid examples. That this strikes you as bizarre or outragerous is telling.

    And, yes, by any sober analysis, and by Moore’s own words, the “Watchmen” characters are re-uses of the Charlton ones. You can say otherwise as long as you want, but even when Moore talks about mutating the characters, he talks about making sure to use elements that keep them recognizable. And, in the process of discussing that, he also discusses his desire to tell the story using those existent, recognizable characters, because of the added impact that would have on readers. So, yes, I know what he was thinking. He’s told us all what he was thinking, and in detail, and it’s all in there.

    What isn’t in there is Moore expressing the least bit of concern about Gill and Ditko’s feelings.

    Now, if you want to continue with “Yes, they are!” “No, they aren’t!” we can do that, waste of time though it is. But the record supports me.

  380. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Ed Brubaker:

    Hypocrites are absolutely allowed to have opinions. Their opinions on the subjects on which they’re hypocritical are, however, of limited value. Or shall we value Newt Gingrich’s opinions on marital fidelity?

  381. Anyone who has to keep saying that their argument is convincing is not making a convincing argument.

    If they were, they wouldn’t need to say that.

  382. r.j. paré says:

    @Ed Brubaker – “So only non-hypocrites are allowed to have opinions? Awesome. Everyone in the entire world can just shut up forever now.”

    LOL – Just awesome:)

    But then some of these folks wouldn’t have the opportunity dissect each other’s words and motives, while venting like apoplectic teenagers.

  383. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Kurt Busiek:

    So, only tell the truth once, and let lies be repeated unrebutted thereafter?

    If that’s your plan, I say go with it. Good luck with that, let us know how it works out for you.

  384. Jonathan Andrew Sheen — TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT!!!!!!!!

    FALSE MORAL EQUIVALENCY!

    Come on people.

    I am going to shut this thread down in a few hours so lets have closing arguments.

  385. >> So, only tell the truth once, and let lies be repeated unrebutted thereafter? >>

    Hmm.

    No, that’s not what I said. Maybe that’s why you’re having some trouble here.

    kdb

  386. >> I am going to shut this thread down in a few hours so lets have closing arguments.>>

    Macaroni salad is superior to potato salad. And to most but not all cole slaw.

    kdb

  387. Chris Duffy says:

    Just so someone says it:
    The Comedian and Peacemaker? Not very close. And just to confuse matters, Dr. Manhattan is a lot more Dr. Solar than Captain Atom, which strengthens the idea that they are stand-ins for types. I think Moore clearly was freed up when he was asked to NOT use the Charlton characters.

    I know this isn’t relevant to the current state of the thread, but I wasn’t sure if anyone thought it up.

  388. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Sheen–whatever. I think plenty of people can see exactly what I’m talking about, and if you think I’m calling you a liar, fine, go ahead with that.

    I just think your point is nonsense, and I think your method of argument is nonsense, and you’ve been going on for days (yes, days plural–since 4/25 according to the date stamp) saying the same damn thing over and over, adding nothing to further the point, contributing nothing to inform the conversation further.

    But if you can’t understand that, fine, whatever.

  389. >> I think Moore clearly was freed up when he was asked to NOT use the Charlton characters.>>

    And said so.

    kdb

  390. r.j. paré says:

    @Kurt Busiek – “Macaroni salad is superior to potato salad. And to most but not all cole slaw.”

    Nay sir… the delicious mixture of shredded cabbage mixed with mayo, that is grandma’s cole slaw, is a FAR superior picnic side-dish than the pedestrian macaroni & potato salads.

    I. Say. Good. Day.

  391. The author working on Before Watchmen have the same ethics than Alan Moore when working on Marvelman, Superman, Batman, Swamp Thing or any other author that has done work for hire on super-heroes owned or controled by a corporation that aquired the right to publish them in “moraly dubious” ways.

    The writers artists working on Before Watchmen aren’t doing nothing diferent from those working on the titles that Marvel/DC publish every week – colecting a paycheck for the people who control the IP.

  392. *from* the people that control the IP.

  393. You have not contradicted my argument, r.j. paré.

    If that _is_ your name.

    I clearly declare that some cole slaw is superior to macaroni salad. [And I will add that as a topping on hot dogs, good cole slaw is ambrosia.]

    So. _That_ for your reading comprehension, sir or madam.

    That!

    kdb

  394. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @The Beat:

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, but at issue is whether or not these are wrongs. It’s hard to see Moore’s argument that it’s wrong for Straczynski, Cooke, et al to do it to him when he shows no sign of having thought, or thinking now, that it would have been wrong when he was all geared up to do it to Gill and Ditko, even if you feel that his later retooling of the characters makes them wholly original.

    (I don’t, but that can be an honest disagreement.)

    It’s not about two wrongs making a right, it’s about sauce for the goose being sauce for the gander.

    The above is my opinion. Nothing that’s come along does anything to invalidate it. Every rebuttal I’ve seen has been bootless, and I’ve demonstrated the logic behind that repeatedly. (Apparently, having a consistent, logical argument and standing by it is ill-mannered. So is insisting on being honestly and accurately characterized. Who’d’ve thunk it?)

  395. r.j. paré says:

    @Kurt Busiek — “You have not contradicted my argument, r.j. paré.

    If that _is_ your name.

    I clearly declare that some cole slaw is superior to macaroni salad. [And I will add that as a topping on hot dogs, good cole slaw is ambrosia.]

    So. _That_ for your reading comprehension, sir or madam.

    That!

    kdb”

    You are right sir. Gosh-darn it, I know when I’m licked. I suppose I’ll just wallow in my own sauerkraut [which is a fine hot dog topping in its own right].

  396. Jonathan Andrew Sheen says:

    @Southworth: “Days” is accurate. “A week” was a lie.

    A consistent argument that was right the first time is still right the fifty-first time.

    Your insitence that, having spoken accurately and truly, one has an obligation to bring something new to the table every time someone repeats the assertion that down is up, hot is cold, or white is black is fatuous.

  397. Sheen:

    You are well over having anything new to say and not engaging with the discussion. Time for the weekend.

    *plonk*

    If anyone wishes to comment further on this thread, email me at comicsbeat @ gmail.com. I may selectively open it at a future date.