So, I finally got around to reading this article. At around eight pages, it is a doozy. It is also a bit of a frustrating read.
Moore makes some strong and very valid points about both the industry and the nature of Watchmen. There is no doubt to the long lasting impact of that story-both good and bad. I do not really disagree with his basic assessment that continuing the stories in Watchmen (or expanding the back story) misses the point. The series is pretty clearly meant to be one overall story, not part of an endless cycle of stories.
There is also something to be said about all the universe rebooting so stories can be retold “for the first time”. The Model needs work, not the Universes.
And while I think Moore was niave to believe Watchmen would be out of print within a year’s time, (The trade paperback was maybe not quite as common as it is now…but it was not an unknown commodity) it is clear that there was little intention of ever letting that cash cow go. DC’s actions are legal…but they are not ethical in this situation. I have wondered how different things would be if at some point, when a new higher up took over at DC, if they had simply made a mandate (and followed through) to transfer the rights over to Moore, and work out a deal to keep publishing trades. Sure, it would have likely resulted in smaller profits, but I think in general company good will, one cannot ignore what taking a higher road can do for your company.
Then Moore says stuff like this:
I don’t suspect in 50 or 100 years time (if anyone even remembers our era or its comic books) that this will have put the comics industry back in the spotlight. Unless it’s as good as Watchmen or at least in the same ballpark, then it will end up as a complete travesty. And, the chances of it being as good as Watchmen or in the same ballpark–well, if there was any chance of that, DC Comics would’ve presumably produced something that had those qualities over the last quarter of a century.
Well, I’m afraid I have to take a kind of hard line on that, Kurt. This is just purely me, but obviously in regard to any of the–what’s the word? I don’t want to use “creators.” I feel that the industry employees who are actually working upon this book–I had only heard of about three of them–but I’m certainly not interested in seeing any of their work. But, I’m unlikely to because I don’t read comics anymore and they’re never going to do anything outside of comics. I think it’s a shame. I can see why the people concerned are involved, having either never created anything original themselves or they did, but it wasn’t good enough to get DC out of their current hole.
It strikes me that, yes, I can understand why they took on Before Watchmen. It will probably be the only opportunity they get in their careers to actually be attached to a project that anybody outside of comics has ever heard of. So, I can see how that would be a great lure. I don’t think I would have done it, though, because to go down in history as the people who did the lame rewrites and prequels to Watchmen–well, that’s not for me. But, of course everybody has to make their own choices. So, no, obviously I won’t want anything to do with any of the people who are attached to this project at any point in the future, but that isn’t a huge loss.
Now mind you…Moore is entitled to his opinions. He has every right to express them. But the truth is, Moore seems to fluctuate between two minds. One, a thoughtful and reasoned approach of someone torn between putting the past behind him and some understandably bitter frustrations regarding the impact of these situation on his relationships and life.
The other is a bitterness fueled egotism that is…well… impressive in it’s scale and granduer. I confess, also, I am not really impressed by commentary supported by “I Don’t Read/Watch/Listen to ________.” Folks, when you decide to insert into the discussion of say, TV, that you, in fact don’t watch TV it just sounds condescending. It does not really add anything to the discussion other than to make you sound like an elitist. And so when Alan Moore states he does not read comics, yet feels comfortable dismissing pretty much every writer who came after him…it seems rather conceited. Mind you, i am not taking issue with his not reading comics. I suspect there are more than a few writers out there who do not read comics. I do not read that many myself. But you can hardly make sweeping generalizations about the lack of talent or quality books out there if you are not actually paying any attention to the industry and be taken seriously.
Also, Moore suggests it is mental illness to still have a love for super-heroes as an adult. I disagree. Why is it any different than adults having a love for old myths? Or books they can read over and over? Or favorite movies? It seems unnecessarily condescending to take after people for liking works simply because they have origins in disposable stories for kids. Comics have grown into an art form.
It is an interesting article, worth reading.