Robot 6

We’ve come so far: On Before Watchmen and creators rights

“Alan Moore has earned his frustration, his suspicions and his occasional flashes of anger. He should be listened to and learned from, not dismissed and certainly never mocked.” — Tom Spurgeon

When the comic book industry first coalesced in the late 1930s, it adopted a business model that, to put it lightly, did not put an emphasis on ethical behavior. These were publishing companies run by greedy, exploitive people who had questionable connections to gangsters or had been indicted for mail fraud. They cared little about the quality of their product, the well-being of their workers–sorry, freelancers–or seeing that anyone who contributed to their success was fairly and duly compensated.

Here we are, roughly 80 years later, and everything has changed. Whoops, I’m sorry. I mean nothing has changed. It’s still an ugly, cutthroat industry where publishers are all too happy to grab as many rights as they can to artists’ hard-won work whenever said artists are willing to take those sucker bets. It’s an industry dominated by cynical publishing ventures and easy cash grabs rather than an interest in creating long range, sustainable business models. Perhaps the worst thing about our current era is that those who have legitimate reason to complain about their mistreatment are the ones most frequently shouted down by a certain cross-section of their fans, a mercenary bunch who seem to care more for ensuring that they never, ever lose the chance to get more of the same in a timely fashion than if the people producing that same are treated with a certain amount of decency and respect.

Of course, it wasn’t supposed to be that way. The comics boom of the 1980s that gave rise to the indie, b&w movement also gave rise to a vigorous interest in creators rights. People like Alan Moore, Dave Sim, Steve Bissette, Scott McCloud, Neal Adams and Frank Miller saw what had happened to industry veterans like Jack Kirby and Steve Gerber, and were justifiably outraged. They spoke out against these perceived injustices and continually pushed for better compensation and to have a greater stake in the comics they produced, whether on their own or with a major publisher. The creator-owned works we see from companies like Dark Horse and Vertigo, the royalties that current artists and writers receive on work-for-hire projects — that’s all a direct result of these efforts.

Watchmen was supposed to be a part of that movement. As Moore states in a 2005 interview with Heidi MacDonald, the idea was that by creating characters out of whole cloth rather than relying on the Charlton bunch, Moore and Gibbons would be given the rights to Watchmen (and also V for Vendetta, which Moore handed over to DC in order to finish the project) one year after they went out of print, which they expected to happen as soon as the series was completed. To my knowledge, DC has never disputed Moore’s description of events.

Of course, we know how that turned out. Watchmen caught the rising winds of the burgeoning graphic novel movement and ended up never going out of print. Moore and Gibbons found themselves to be victims of their own success as the book continued to rise in popularity and acclaim, and readers found they preferred reading it in collected trade form to hunting down back issues. It was, as Eric Stephenson, notes, a “dirty deal,” and if it was a turn of events DC didn’t necessarily expect, well, it’s not like they’ve done much to create a more equitable situation in the years since.

You see, whether or not Before Watchmen dilutes the charm of the original comic is irrelevant — creators are just as capable of destroying the goodwill their initial work establishes as easily as corporations are. And the fact that Moore has frequently drawn upon classic literary material in works like Lost Girls and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is also irrelevant (although let me make an aside here to say that there’s a big difference between building a pastiche using familiar characters and motifs to create something new and original, and rehashing familiar material to make a quick and cynical cash grab). The basic issue here is one of fairness, of creators rights and how this industry operates. It’s about how a work that should have been a shining example of how much had changed in the comics world instead became an example of how everything has stayed the same.

Now, I am a full-time reporter for a daily newspaper. Everything I write for that newspaper is work-for-hire, including the comics column I did for them for a few years. I was not compensated, for example, when an interview I did with Alan Moore was reprinted in the book Alan Moore: Conversations, nor did I expect to receive any compensation, financial or otherwise. On the other hand, I get a weekly salary for my efforts. I get sick days and vacation. I get health care and a 401k plan. I get treated like a valued employee. Moore doesn’t get and never has received any of those things. Yes, his work has been financially successful enough to make some of those compensations moot, but there are very few creators working in this industry that can make similar claims.

If we care at all about the comics industry, if we care about comics as an art form, if we want it to be taken seriously, if we want to see talented people produce quality material, then we need to start caring about the way those people are treated in this industry. We need to start valuing creators rights over our own greedy need for more third-rate pulp. We need to stop making shameless, defensive rationalizations and questioning people’s motives when the basic motive underlying those outbursts is “me wanty.” We need to stop acting like petulant, entitled children. And we need to speak out when creators whose work we claim to value and enjoy are given short shrift in the name of the Almighty dollar.

News From Our Partners

Comments

190 Comments

Damn straight! Listening to fanbabies justify their desire for this lousy fanfic Watchmen project by trashing Alan Moore for any reason they can make up is nothing short of nauseating. Honestly, the whole spectacle is so sickening, I don’t know if I’ll ever want to buy another comic again from any of the creators involved. How can they sleep? Thanks for writing this, Chris.

Nope, still can’t feel bad for Moore.

Nope, still won’t not purchase quality stories simply for ethical reasons or moral high-grounds.

I support creator rights. It is my understanding that Moore’s rights are limited by the contract he entered into. Furthermore, Moore is a Brit and as such enjoys publicly provided healthcare. Healthcare is a huge deal if you are an American creator.

@Steven S – agree wholeheartedly. I am a huge Azzarello fan – but I am doubting whether I’ll buy anything else of his ever, even 100 Bullets back issues

And for Cooke to start off by criticizing Watchmen (“It was too bleak”) – shows a colossal ignorance, and a disdain for the very work he will be profiting by

Thank you, Chris, for being one of a few sane voices in this crowd. It sickens me that DC’s antics in the past year have shown us that they care little about the fans & creators and more about the almighty dollar. And don’t think Marvel is innocent in all of this. If there is ever going to be change in the comic industry, it has to happen now.

Moore made his comment last year about how the comics industry sucks –> “I don’t think that the contemporary industry actually has a ‘top-flight’ of talent. I don’t think it’s even got a middle-flight or a bottom-flight of talent.” Just a kick in the throat to a number of really great creators doing really good work these days (including some of those assigned to this project). Kind of sounds like you agree with Moore with your comment about “third rate pulp.”

Obviously what DC and he agreed to has turned out poorly for Alan Moore – but he did agree to it, believing it would be in his best interest. It turns out he chose poorly.

Absolutely 100% agree.

It’s unbelievable how many people are attempting to distort and twist facts to justify what’s happening. And that includes the creators taking part. Shame on them. I’m sure they’re being treated well by DC and have nice contracts.

This is not a question of whether there should be more Watchmen material. It’s a question of creator rights and corporations bullying a single creator for having the audacity to give them their consistently best selling comic of the last 20 years and asking to be treated with a modicum of respect and fairness.

The fact that what happened to Kirby, Siegel and Shuster can STILL happen today? It’s shameful.

Bryant — Not necessarily. I think there are a lot of talented people working at and for the Big Two, but there’s precious little I’d hold up as exemplary. The dross seems to overwhelm the good stuff, even after applying Sturgeon’s Law. Let’s just say that I don’t hold out much hope for these prequels to be anything more than “Eh” at best.

It did indeed turn out that Moore chose poorly, but neither he nor DC could have foreseen that at the time. And Moore’s making a bad decision doesn’t make what happened to him (and would happen to him later with the ABC books) any less wrong.

This hasn’t just soured me on the creators involved. It has poisoned the well completely for me. I used to think of the Vertigo stuff as existing on the other side of a sort of firewall separating it from the corporate properties. But that firewall no longer exists for me. There are a couple upcoming Vertigo projects I no longer plan to buy. If I want to support creator owned work I’ll do it elsewhere.

Appreciate this, Chris; I see far too many people making false-equivalence arguments involving Moore’s work with public-domain characters, or just flatly dismissing the nature and intent of his contract.

That said, it’s not entirely fair to say “Nothing has changed” — Moore may not have gotten everything he wanted, deserved, or thought that DC had agreed to give him, but he got (and still gets) royalties and that’s a pretty big deal.

And I’m sure there are people at DC who believe that they’ve done everything they can to do right by Moore while still fulfulling their obligations to their bosses and employers, and he’s responded by spitting in their faces.

On the whole, I tend to side with Moore on the contract issue and believe that the rights should have reverted to him and Gibbons, as agreed. But I can’t quite draw a black-and-white, right-and-wrong view on the situation.

And if I did, I’m worried I might end up as just a red splotch on the snow.

George Bush (not that one)

February 3, 2012 at 9:45 am

Capitalism is FUN!

“Moore made his comment last year about how the comics industry sucks –> “I don’t think that the contemporary industry actually has a ‘top-flight’ of talent. I don’t think it’s even got a middle-flight or a bottom-flight of talent.” Just a kick in the throat to a number of really great creators doing really good work these days (including some of those assigned to this project). ”

That’s one way of reading it. It’s particularly effective when taken out of context. He later goes on to say…

“I mean, surely [there is] a much easier solution than all of this clandestine stuff? Just simply get some of your top-flight talent to put out a book that the wider public outside of the comics field find as interesting or as appealing as the stuff that I wrote 25 years ago. It shouldn’t be too big an ask, should it? I wouldn’t have thought so. And it would solve an awful lot of problems. They must have one creator, surely, in the entire American industry that could do equivalent work to something I did 25 years ago. It would be insulting to think that there weren’t. That’s just my suggestion for a way that DC could remove themselves from this thorny impasse, but we shall see.”

So there he says it would be “insulting to think” there wasn’t someone capable of producing work as good as Watchmen which directly contradicts your inference.

Darwyn Cooke’s comments are far from an indictment of Watchmen. His sole point is to articulate for his tastes Watchmen was too bleak, a point that I was (and still am) in absolute agreement with. That is Cooke’s complete right. When I read Watchmen for the first time, I was a die-hard fan of Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson’s Astro City because of the myriad genres and emotions I could uncover in the storylines (the joy of Astra learning how to play hopscotch and the danger of her running away from home; the giddy excitement of the Junkman; the outsider quality of Leo Looney, for starters). For me personally, Watchmen never could measure up. Watchmen does not crack my personal top ten favorites of Alan Moore’s work, beginning with The Killing Joke and “For The Man Who Has Everything” in Superman Annual 11. I recognize Watchmen’s importance; so does Darwyn Cooke. That is why he turned down the idea until he had a story that he felt was worthy and one that he wanted to tell.

What Bryant said. Not to diminish what I believe your overall point is regarding how people are/historically have been treated in the industry, but using this example doesn’t really make your point. Alan Moore’s entering into this contract can hardly be compared to the work-for-hire arrangements in the past that worked out so poorly for writers and artists, not is it truly a “sucker’s bet” just because it didn’t work out exactly as Mr. Moore hoped.

A few years ago I had an opportunity to jump to another company in my profession. I was talked out of it by the higher-ups at the company I currently work for, full of promises about growth in the near future (both in terms of position and income). At the time the market I was in was booming; shortly afterwards it more or less busted with the rest of the economy and is still struggling, with the promised growth nevercoming to fruition. Turns out I made the wrong decision by not leaving, but it doesn’t mean my company tried to screw me over. Shit happens. Kind of difficult to feel sorry for Alan Moore because instead of receiving the rights back he instead earned (and continues to earn) a substantial amount of cash, regardless of whether or not he wants to accept it.

“To my knowledge, DC has never disputed Moore’s description of events.” Ha! Right? And yet still the sociopaths/sci-fi hacks contort themselves this way and that to justify their incipient junk-comics/paycheques.

Thad:

“On the whole, I tend to side with Moore on the contract issue and believe that the rights should have reverted to him and Gibbons, as agreed. But I can’t quite draw a black-and-white, right-and-wrong view on the situation.”

The agreement was the rights revert back to Moore once the book was out of print for a year. That never happened, to the surprise of both sides, no doubt. So no one has broken the agreement. Yes, DC could have been nice and given them the rights back anyway in order to maintain a cordial relationship with Mr. Moore, but decided to not give up a consistent source of profit instead, which is what almost any corporation would choose in any field of business. The creators involved continue to profit off the work as well, and comparing this to the plights of Bill Finger, Siegel/Shuster, Kirby, et al is flawed at best.

Those of you, like Joesph, who do not have a penchant for logical reasoning, should stay out of debates

An analogy does not have to be an exact, 100% specific down to each atom, equivalent.

The industry was robbing creator’s in imaginative and crafty ways before, and they still are. Whether it be the proliferation of the trade paperback market – which nobody foresaw, and which the publishers took advantage of by not altering contracts when the industry altered. Or whether it be, as Mark Waid said yesterday, the emergence of digital, which will give publishers a way of sneaking out of contracts by keeping things “published” just by putting them up on digital at little to no cost

And @Scott – if you don’t see the inherent creative contradiction in Cooke taking on a project while simultaneously criticizing the source material, then I can’t help you. For one, it’s a declaration that Cooke will try to warp the Watchmen world that he touches by somehow trying to make it suit his ideas of what is “optimistic”

@Preacher Cain – but the clear implication is that they aren’t putting anything on a level with Watchman – or even approaching it. It is, or course, insulting to suggest that there is nobody at DC (or presumably Marvel) capable of doing anything approaching the Greatness of Watchman (which is, admittedly setting the bar pretty high). If you tie that back to the first quote, it appears that Moore doesn’t think there are even second or third rate creators in the industry (presumably he believes himself to be the first rate standard).

Let’s be honest, the odds that Moore spends much time reading the Comic Industries current output are pretty low. So it’s not like he would know if other creators are doing good work. But it’s still seems like a blanket condemnation rather that an attempt to encourage comics creators to do more original work.

You can express disapproval of the Watchmen prequels by signing a petition:

http://www.change.org/petitions/dc-comics-end-plans-for-sequels-to-watchmen

and while your at it, please consider asking Marvel to give credit and royalties to Jack Kirby:

http://www.change.org/petitions/marvel-entertainment-give-credit-and-royalties-to-jack-kirby-and-his-family

For those who off-handedly dismiss the ethical and artistic elements of the case (some of whom no doubt still luxuriate in crapping on Kirby and/or Gerber), Dante has a special circle reserved for you, if you believe in that sort of thing. The one waiting for the freelancers taking part in the prequels would be a level or two further down…

I wish that I had the interview in front of me, or could recall exactly when and where it was published, but I distinctly remember Moore pitching the new characters after DC learned what it was that he planned to do with the newly acquired Charlton properties (to their horror and disbelief). Had they acquiesced, Moore & Gibbons would no doubt have had to sign some form of work-made-for-hire clause or at any rate release any and all rights to the actual characters if not the entire story. If, if, if…

Big business does not recognize personal and creator rights, a sad truth over 80 years old.

Moore and Gibbons are still active creators in this industry and as such, they should have the first right to create and/or consult on any new Watchmen material.

I can understand DC’s desire to produce new Watchmen material because they are a big business and Watchmen is a highly marketable property.

But their inability or lack of interest in getting the original creators back onboard for this project dilutes it right from the get-go.

It’s a lose-lose proposition all the way around.

Okay “yumph!!”, since you’re so brilliant, please enlighten me and explain how Alan Moore’s situation with Watchment is an example of a publisher ripping off a creator in a crafty and intelligent way.

Let’s say Watchmen tanked upon its release and went out of print shortly thereafter. Then, after the rights had reverted back to the creators, the TPB market took off, Alan Moore self published the series in TPB form and it became the success it is today. Should Alan Moore then send the rights back to DC? Would that be an example of Alan Moore being exceptionally “crafty and intelligent” in his contract negotiations, or would that simply be an example of market conditions and an agreed upon contract working out in his favor?

Again, not saying corporations don’t take advantage of creators, just saying I don’t see it in this particular case.

“@Preacher Cain – but the clear implication is that they aren’t putting anything on a level with Watchman – or even approaching it. It is, or course, insulting to suggest that there is nobody at DC (or presumably Marvel) capable of doing anything approaching the Greatness of Watchman (which is, admittedly setting the bar pretty high). If you tie that back to the first quote, it appears that Moore doesn’t think there are even second or third rate creators in the industry (presumably he believes himself to be the first rate standard).

Let’s be honest, the odds that Moore spends much time reading the Comic Industries current output are pretty low. So it’s not like he would know if other creators are doing good work. But it’s still seems like a blanket condemnation rather that an attempt to encourage comics creators to do more original work.”

@Mark J. Hayman: the way I read those points was Moore saying that it’s the INDUSTRY – those at DC and Marvel (he mentioned Marvelman in the previous sentence so they can be included) – who don’t believe the people they have working for them are talented enough to produce a work equivalent to Watchmen. They think it was a fluke, a one-off. Moore’s point – and it’s one he’s made elsewhere – is that if creators are given the freedom and comfort (contractual/financial comfort) necessary, then they would be producing better work. It’s a condemnation of the INDUSTRY (specifically DC/Marvel); not any individual creators.

The first quote has been taken out of context by a lot of people and used as a stick to bash Alan Moore with. Taken within context of the whole interview, I think it reads very differently to your interpretation. If nothing else, there’s a lot more ambiguity in there than haters are willing to acknowledge.

I think Moore does keep more up-to-date with certain comics than he lets on. Isn’t there a pull-quote from Moore on some indie creators’ works? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him praise Craig Thompson and others.

One last point: No-one has done anything in superhero comics for the last 20 years that’s been as successful and long-lasting as Watchmen. That’s a fact and Moore has every right to state it, whether it’s self-congratulatory or not (and Moore doesn’t strike me as that kind of egotist). My view is that Moore wasn’t blaming this on a lack of talent but on a lack of initiative and ambition from the executives in charge. This view/interpretation is backed up by 1) that later quote and 2) every other interview he’s ever given where he repeats the same criticisms, always directed at those in charge, not the people working for them.

New announcement – DC is going to do Romeo and Juliet Part 2. They’re going to ret-con both of their deaths at the end of part 1, because that was “too bleak” – and don’t scoff, because they are going to put top industry talent on the book

Wow, that Newsarama piece is vile.

Who cares if Moore keeps up with current comics. I keep up with them, and nearly all of them suck. And I’ve wasted plenty of money buying the sucky things – thereby financially contributing to the problem

Besides, that whole conversation is a side-track. Again, people choose to attack Moore instead of engaging the problem of DC cash-grabbing

To compare Moore’s to the plights of Siegel, Shuster, and Kirby insults their struggle. Siegel and Shuster never go the kind of deal Moore and Gibbons got for Watchmen. Imagine if it went the other way? What if Watchmen had a year of non-publishing and the rights reverted to Moore and Gibbons? Would Moore sign-off on “Before Watchmen”? I’m not so sure he would’ve responded like this, “Hey, it didn’t go the way we all thought, so sure, go ahead and publish those prequels with my blessing. No, of course I don’t need payment for it.”
DC’s not predatory in this case, they’re simply abiding by the agreement Moore signed-off on years ago.

@Joseph – you’d be better served actually trying to explain why DC has been fair to Moore – rather than making up weird what if scenarios

Or are you going to revert to the moronic “corporations will be corporations” argument. Yeah, slaveowners were slaveowners in the 1700’s – didn’t make it right

Christian Otholm

February 3, 2012 at 10:47 am

Arguments that DC are just doing what a business does are so far from the discussion that they are bordering on useless.

Some businesses also exploit third world workers, commit corporate espionage, conduct legal forms of slavery and now I’m not even talking about the mafia or any other business that are based on a foundation of criminal activity. If we include businesses that are overtly criminal, we can add trafficking, murder and drug trade.

Money as a prime motivator doesn’t exempted you from ethics or critique. It just means that other people have to force you to act in according with basic human decency.

OK — to the author, Tom Spurgeon, and all of those posters who have supported his points of view:

I’ll take the bait.

Moore says: “As far as I know, there weren’t that many prequels or sequels to MOBY DICK.”

Yet, he wrote a purposely pornographic, artistic tale of an older, pre-WWI Dorothy, Alice, and Wendy in LOST GIRLS? Just to see if he and his wife could elevate that medium to “art.”

What does it matter if those 3 characters (or 2 of the 3, since the Orphanage still gets PETER PAN royalties) are public domain or not?

He WROTE about, employed, and otherwise used characters he did not create (fill in the blank for which one) for his own artistic / stylistic / and authorial purposes. And those books were sold, which means he made money.

How is that different from these artists and authors creating stories about his and Dave Gibbons’s pastiches?

Is it because Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons are alive and the authors Moore uses for LEAGUE and LOST GIRLS are dead? How is that a false comparison?

People are screaming at me that those (and characters in LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN) are public domain, and that it’s a false equivalency.

Explain it to me. I am reading / listening with an open mind. Does his and Gibbons’s contract not favor the artists? Of course not. But how and why is this latest Internet rhubarb so inflammatory?

How? I am not attacking Moore, DC, Gibbons, the authors, or any of you. But telling me that Moore writing about Dorothy isn’t the same as Azzarello writing about Rorschach doesn’t make sense to me.

How is it a false equivalency?

Is Moore not saying the he can write Dorothy, Wendy, Alice, and other literary characters however he wishes and however he pleases. But then saying, please don’t touch “mine?”

@ yumph

I think you mean dc is going to do before romeo and juliet, where we see how the two familys went to war with one another. And don’t scoff, because they are putting there top talent on it.

And a side note who the hell doesn’t cash grab. This is one of those things at I’m sure dc knows everyone that sees this know it a cash grab, so the least they can do is put top talent on it. I was never abig fan of watchmen, I can think of much better work from alan more then it. But ill pick these up on the talent working on this alone.

Allen — What I’m saying is that Moore’s Moby Dick comment, as well as the issue of his other work that relies on other literary creations is a red herring. The question is not “Does Alan Moore have the right to complain because he made LoEG and Lost Girls.” That’s immaterial. The question is “Does Alan Moore have a legitimate complaint regarding Watchmen” and I’m saying yes, he does. He was promised the rights to the work and DC (in a perfect legal manner) reneged on that promise. I’m saying that’s wrong and I’m saying it points to the continual pattern of abuse heaped on artists and writers in the industry since it began.

So.. Moore freely enters into a contract with DC that gives them the rights to Watchmen as long as it remains in print and.. DC is evil because it has in fact remained in print? There are some creators and writers in the world that would be THRILLED that thier works were still selling 20+ years later.. but Moore was abused because i tturned out popular.. and yeah Before Watchmen is a CLEAR cash grab by DC since they’ve done this countless times before and they put just whomever was available on the title.. they obviously do not care if any of it is GOOD! Which is why ya know they handed it to nobodies on it.. right? That is sarcasm fyi.

As for the calibur of comics today being less than Watchmen.. well yeah if all you are reading is the slew of Xtitles, avengers, and waiting with baited breath for avengers vs xmen, butif you are reading any of the off the wall DC titles, Vertigo titles like Unwritten and American Vampire or indy stuff like Chew or Irrdeemable. I think you would see works that in a lot of ways surpass Watchmen. It is just there is more amazong work going on right now so it is much harder to see compared to the 80’s

“Again, people choose to attack Moore instead of engaging the problem of DC cash-grabbing”

Agreed. However the past few days has seen DCs marketing boys feeding this idea that Moore is contemptuous of others (a charge that is so incredibly off the mark I’m genuinely shocked people buy it), that the entirety of Watchmen owes everything it is to Charlton characters (nonsense and a distortion of well-documented facts), and comparing what they’re doing here to what Moore did with Lost Girls (which you’d have to be pretty dumb to not be able to see the difference, frankly). All of these points were alluded to in DC’s initial press release and emphasised by some of the creators taking part in the project.

Attempting to discredit/dismiss Alan Moore’s contribution to not just the medium but to the financial success of DC over the last 25 years is just fucking rude and disgusting behaviour. If you’re going to milk the property, so be it. But there’s no need to be so unbelievably catty about it.

Twice in the press release, it was claimed that Didio was making a “bold and innovative move” (JMS) and that this is something new (Azzarello). THAT’S the problem with the industry in a nutshell. How anyone can claim doing a prequel to their most successful comic ever is bold, innovative or new is laughable.

Again, the issue here isn’t even whether there SHOULD be prequels or sequels (and anyone who thinks that Before Watchmen is where it will end are kidding themselves); the issue is that a creator who created some of the best and most successul works in the medium is being screwed over and dismissed. Again.

Yumph, there was a contract agreed to by two parties. Alan Moore is not an idiot, nor was his situation at the time in any way comparable to the situations of creators in the 60s or earlier. Both parties continue to abide by the terms of the contract. As you said, no one saw the TPB market developing as it has, and I doubt anyone saw this project having the long term success it has had. Nevertheless, that’s the way it turned out, and both sides have benefited although not in quite the way Mr. Moore would have preferred. So again, instead of deflecting, since you are so smart and I apparently do not have a “penchant for logical reasoning” – explain how this is an example of a corporation ripping off a creator in a crafty and intelligent way. Or are you one of the morons who believe individuals should have the right to alter terms of legal contracts whenever it suits them?

For gods shake Dc offerd him the right back to watchmen if he worked on the prequels, that in fact alan moore wanted to do back when watchmen came out, hell he even signed of on a rpg game about the damn book just after watchmen came out. But that wasn’t a cash grab was it.

I see your point, Chris. But the comparisons between what he wants to see happen (~I don’t want money; I want BEFORE WATCHMEN not to happen~) and what he DID to someone else’s creations (they are dead, so they can’t object) are not “immaterial” to me.

Thanks for responding. I wish you the best.

Preacher Cain:

“Comparing what they’re doing here to what Moore did with Lost Girls (which you’d have to be pretty dumb to not be able to see the difference, frankly).”

I have read many works of literature from the Western canon. I have also read WATCHMEN and LOST GIRLS. I don’t see the difference in Moore using Dorothy Gale and Darwyn Cooke using MINUTEMEN.

I could scream, jump up and down, and wish that this wasn’t happening. Or that DC would have allowed WATCHMEN to cease publication.

Moore is an amazing writer and talent. But I don’t agree that he should have the ability to do whatever he wants with someone else’s characters, but then turns around and says, “no, not mine not mine not mine.” The public domain authors are dead. If Moore was dead (I am not wishing for that), would THAT change the argument for any of you?

“So.. Moore freely enters into a contract with DC that gives them the rights to Watchmen as long as it remains in print and.. DC is evil because it has in fact remained in print? There are some creators and writers in the world that would be THRILLED that thier works were still selling 20+ years later..”

@janarrah Yes, the conditions under which the contract was made changed. Here’s the thing though. Moore, Gibbons, Higgins and others produced Watchmen – the company’s most successful and long-lasting, creatively acclaimed work that essentially created a whole new market for them (trades and bringing in a huge number of new readers). Would it have been out of the question for DC – accepting that they wanted to keep it in print and knowing that the initial understanding which had been reached was no longer tenable – to perhaps, maybe, try to come to some sort of mutual agreement? Perhaps, I don’t know, a percentage of the sales of the comic? To treat these guys with some respect and yes, gratitude.

If they’d done this, we might be living in a world where a Watchmen sequel was being written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons. We might have an industry that proves treating your successes positively and your best and most profitable creators with respect is rewarding to everyone. We’ve have better comics, happier creators and a more buoyant and successful industry.

Instead, they essentially told all those guys to go fuck themselves.

I do agree that DC could have treated Moore and Gibbons better . . . or that Marvel and DC could have treated ALL of the creators (from the 1930s to now) much better, more inclusively, and had better relationships with the talent.

“I have read many works of literature from the Western canon. I have also read WATCHMEN and LOST GIRLS. I don’t see the difference in Moore using Dorothy Gale and Darwyn Cooke using MINUTEMEN. ”

One is taking a literary figure, placing them in a completely new context and building a completely different world and story around them. The other is doing a prequel with literary figures in the same world and essentially adding to/distorting the original story.

Or as the writer of the article so smartly put it: “the fact that Moore has frequently drawn upon classic literary material in works like Lost Girls and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is also irrelevant (although let me make an aside here to say that there’s a big difference between building a pastiche using familiar characters and motifs to create something new and original, and rehashing familiar material to make a quick and cynical cash grab). “

@Joseph – contracts do get altered. Actors now get DVD money. The game changed and so did the contacts. The comics biz is still draconian compared to other creative industries – and brainless apologists like you aren’t helping matters

“I do agree that DC could have treated Moore and Gibbons better . . . or that Marvel and DC could have treated ALL of the creators (from the 1930s to now) much better, more inclusively, and had better relationships with the talent.”

People can argue over semantics and interpretations and everything else but I think EVERYONE can agree to this, can’t they? Does anyone have a problem with the above statement?

If so, what’s a good way of achieving this?

Here’s my suggestion: don’t ever defend Marvel or DC when they screw over their creators. Don’t support them financially. Don’t support and therefore endorse this behaviour that we ALL agree is wrong at the very least and absolutely abhorrent at the worst.

Don’t buy Before Watchmen. How about that?

“One is taking a literary figure, placing them in a completely new context and building a completely different world and story around them.”

True. But Moore still uses Dorothy Gale (or _____) while JMS will use, say, Dr. Manhattan. The results (financial, quality, or otherwise) may vastly differ, but the act is the same. An author using something that is not his or her own to produce a work . . .

I doubt these comics will be very good, but I won’t know that til I have read them.

How do we know, sight unseen, that BEFORE WATCHMEN won’t do what your quote suggests Moore does with his post ABC work? Also, I read the article very carefully. Quoting it back to me doesn’t answer my questions that I’ve asked.

I realize, too, that what I care about relative to this story isn’t what the article’s author and many of the commentators are as interested in debating. Thanks for reading.

“Don’t buy Before Watchmen. How about that?”

I wish you luck, Preacher Cain. I also wish more people would take your stance regarding current Marvel offerings and the entirety of the new DC-52.

Best wishes.

Yumph – the union contracts for actors/screenwriters were expired, and renewed with new terms. It was not a renegotiation. If you think the movie/tv business treats creatives as a whole any better or worse than those in the comic book business you are delusional, especially since they are essentially the same corporations. I am not apologizing or making excuses for DC, just saying I do not believe this situation should be used as an example of how creators are mistreated. Just saying it’s ridiculous to compare this situation to one where a creator gave up rights to an artistic creation because he had no other real options, and subsequently was forced to live in near-poverty while the corporation profited handsomely.

“He was promised the rights to the work and DC (in a perfect legal manner) reneged on that promise.”

You state this as there is no personal bias in the interview he did with The Beat. Mark Waid recently towards the fact that he worked for DC at the time and that things are a lot more complicated then people are letting on.

I think it’s very hard to make any substantial argument on either side without seeing the actual contract that was signed or having been a fly on the wall during the negotiations. While the hyperbole on both sides gets inflamed everyday, I think it’s important to note that most of the “facts” of hat happened between DC and Moore are hearsay, mostly coming from the lips of Alan Moore and likely all it will come from as DC seems to have a pretty staunch history keeping their mouths shut in matters like these.

Could an argument in fact be made that Moore/Gibbons assumed that after a year they would regain rights back to the book regardless where as DC assumed if the work was popular they would keep it in print? I think that misunderstanding could have very likely been made within the two parties involved. Communication between Moore and DC has always seemed to be a major sticking point in their relationship.

People claiming either side deserves all the shame or blame aren’t really being entirely fair to the situation as it happened. Was DC predatory? Perhaps. But their also a corporation who’s bottom line is making money. That’s the capitalist society we live in. However, talk to any musician over the years and you’ll see similar tales of rights woes. The fact of the matter is Alan Moore signed this contract and chose not to include a clause that would ensure rights would revert back to him after a year regardless of conditions. Would DC have refused to release the book then? Quite possibly. As is their right as a publisher. Very few companies, especially ones owned by Warner Brothers, are going to risk entering into that kind of publishing agreement without being able to reap some reward (as shown through their Vertigo deals; right of first refusal for movie/tv production; etc.)

People can make this a black and white issue all they want…it’s not. It just isn’t.

“True. But Moore still uses Dorothy Gale (or _____) while JMS will use, say, Dr. Manhattan. The results (financial, quality, or otherwise) may vastly differ, but the act is the same. An author using something that is not his or her own to produce a work . . . ”

Fair enough Allen. In my view there is a big difference. JMS is using Dr. Manhattan in the exact same context that he was originally used and essentially providing a direct prequel story or ‘joining up the dots’ type story. Moore used a literary figure, provided a wholly different context in order to tell a completely new story. I think we’re arguing over semantics however; I see your point though I do disagree with it :)

“How do we know, sight unseen, that BEFORE WATCHMEN won’t do what your quote suggests Moore does with his post ABC work? Also, I read the article very carefully. Quoting it back to me doesn’t answer my questions that I’ve asked.”

I quoted the article because I felt Chris put it more succinctly than I could. JMS has already given some details about his Manhattan arc and it essentially sounds like a ‘joining-up-the-dots’ type of prequel.

My point is that the quality of the prequel isn’t ultimately what should be the focus here. It’s DCs treatment of one of their most successful creators over the last 25 years and, let’s not forget, his fellow collaborators (I don’t accept that Gibbon’s clearly reluctant “blessing” makes it ok either). The press release they put out isn’t just them announcing their next Event; it’s an attempt to justify their behaviour. That’s what bothers me. That they think it’s ok.

This is made all the worse because I love Darwyn Cooke’s work. This IS a guy capable of creating great work. He doesn’t need to be following in someone else’s footsteps.

lol – so you just admitted that the contracts were changed in the case of Hollywood – thanks for admitting I was right Joseph

At the end of the day, you can argue semantics and fine points and this and that – but it boils down to this. When slavery was taking place, you can bet there were guys angry enough about freedom rhetoric to write letters to their newspapers, explaining the merits and the necessity of the system in place. When unions were forming in meat packing plants, you can bet that bosses and other apologists drummed up any tidbit of a rationalization for why things were in place and working. You’re that guy Joe – you’re the angry guy writing the letter to the newspaper – defending a shit system. Live with it – the rest is just details

Allen — I don’t want to get too bogged down in this, but I think it’s worth pointing out that the Dorothy Gale in Lost Girls is not the same character as the Dorothy Gale in Wizard of Oz. They are really different characters.

So, wait, let me get this right.

It’s a horrible travesty to make a prequel to Moore’s work that he has been given offers to buy back on other terms many times in the past, but nobody cares when OMAC, a work of Jack Kirby’s, a man terribly wronged by copyrights, came out recently. Nobody seems to care whenever new comics featuring Thor, the X-Men, or Captain America come out. Nobody minds Superman either.

So, why exactly is Moore’s work so special and precious? Or is the point here supposed to be that we should never read comics produced due to completely legal but “not nice” acquisition of copyrights?

If it is, I just have to laugh at you.

“People claiming either side deserves all the shame or blame aren’t really being entirely fair to the situation as it happened. Was DC predatory? Perhaps. But their also a corporation who’s bottom line is making money. That’s the capitalist society we live in.”

Fine. But as I said above: wouldn’t it have been in both parties’ interests to come to a mutual understanding. Would it have been THAT hard for DC to agree to cut all the creators involved in on a percentage of their substantial – not to mention consistent – profits over the years? Thereby retaining the talents and expertise of those who gave them such a profitable endeavour.

You talk about this being an example of capitalism and to just accept that that’s the way it goes. I don’t agree with either of those points. Any company who knows about building a sustaninable model of business knows to keep your best and most proficient employees happy so they can continue to make you piles of cash.

Comics must be one of the only industries that actively punishes the people responsible for making them tonnes of money. That is not an example of good capitalism, if you ask me.

The contracts expired, and were renegotiated. The Unions complied with the terms of the contract they signed. Has the contract Alan Moore signed with DC expired? Does it even have an expiration date? Regardless I’m not angry about it, just think DC did nothing wrong in this case (legally or morally) and feel that painting Alan Moore as some kind of victim in this case is an insult, especially in an industry that has plenty more deserving of attention.

You seem like an unpleasant person, not half as clever as you seem to think you are, and continue to fail to make any valid points, instead resorting to emotional hysteria in your ridiculous comparisons to slavery. I’m bored with you.

Joseph – keep making apologies and excuses for things that are not right. The world needs people like you, otherwise support for these things would fall off a cliff and they would be unable to exists

These nerds will stop at nothing to avoid feeling the faintest whiff of culpability in the dirty trade that they enjoy.

Just admit: “I like things that have been created through nefarious methods” and be done with it. This lying and bending backwards and contorting is embarrassing and asinine.

“These nerds will stop at nothing to avoid feeling the faintest whiff of culpability in the dirty trade that they enjoy.

Just admit: “I like things that have been created through nefarious methods” and be done with it. This lying and bending backwards and contorting is embarrassing and asinine.”

Agreed. They also then have no business giving out about how predictable, boring and just plain bad modern superhero comics are because all the best talent have been pushed out by daring to be asked to be treated with respect and fairness, like any decent employee of any company should be treated.

You reap what you sow.

aw man this comments section got too disgusting for me to be able to say HEAR HEAR and have it be construed as a response to the article. but um, HEAR HEAR. great piece.

“Would it have been THAT hard for DC to agree to cut all the creators involved in on a percentage of their substantial – not to mention consistent – profits over the years?”

It’s well documented that DC has cut both Gibbons and Moore in on the profits for this project above and beyond the royalties on just the GN but also in relation to licensing beyond the GNs and has cut other creators into the profits of other projects they can attribute them to as far as other media is concerned. DC would be more then happy to have Moor write these prequels and pay him well to do so. I guarantee you they would. Moore is the one who now refuses to work with DC (and as I understand it most other comic publishers) not the other way around.

As I understand it, the argument was never over royalties or payments over these works but the actual ownership of the works themselves.

As far as I know, even through all this, DC has continued to pay Alan Moore royalties for the work he has done for them. To my knowledge, he has chosen to forward all these payments to his collaborators in many cases.

Corporations are corporations and exists to enhance their bottom line. They have been that since the force company incorporated itself. You can’t fault a corporation for doing what it has been established to do. You, as an individual, have a choice to not work with that corporation. From the Siegel/Shuster controversy alone, it’s not like this company, as do many comic companies, have a policy of being pro-artists and anti-themselves. I find it ludicrous for people to demean them for doing exactly what they had done for years and years before. The difference is here is they had, what appears to be, a legal and binding contract. with the creators. If the creators where naive enough to sign the contract, well it might be harsh to hear but, tough.

(Not to mention the fact that Alan Moore continued to work for DC a second time whether considering it directly or secondarily…one would think at the very least his morality becomes ambiguous at the very least in the second Wildstorm/ABC instance. Fool me once shame on you…fool me twice shame on me…etc…)

“They also then have no business giving out about how predictable, boring and just plain bad modern superhero comics are because all the best talent have been pushed out by daring to be asked to be treated with respect and fairness, like any decent employee of any company should be treated.”

This sounds familiar. So the good talent, the first rate talent, like Moore – have been pushed out of the industry to make room for people who write predictable boring and just plain bad modern superhero comics. Presumably that says something about those who choose to write for the big 2 currently.

Thanks Matt!

“This sounds familiar. So the good talent, the first rate talent, like Moore – have been pushed out of the industry to make room for people who write predictable boring and just plain bad modern superhero comics. Presumably that says something about those who choose to write for the big 2 currently.”

You’ve misunderstood me. The few superhero comics I read personally, I enjoy.

But reading boards and general internet chatter from the diehards, they complain a lot about ‘event fatigue’ and give out about the predictability of modern superhero comics. I, for one, don’t really care about renumbering, events or any of that guff. But the people who buy a lot of these books do. They talk about it enough anyway.

And the people who buy all the Watchmen stuff will – if it doesn’t match up to expectations – be the first to decry how it doesn’t work and is indicative of the industry as a whole blah blah blah.

Once again: you reap what you sow.

Oh and by the way, my comment you quoted was speculative. As in “if you tolerate this, then your quality comic book creators that you know and love today will be next”

Chris, this is a fantastic piece. Totally on the mark — congrats!

On the other hand, the comment from KG early in the comments section is so fucking depressing. It sums up the childish, cynical, short-sighted, ignorant, greedy and entitled attitude that way too many comics fans have these days. It’s why I’m re-orienting my comics attention and dollars to creator-owned material.

Kind of difficult to feel sorry for Alan Moore because instead of receiving the rights back he instead earned (and continues to earn) a substantial amount of cash, regardless of whether or not he wants to accept it.

Except that money isn’t everything, and Alan Moore has shown again and again — directing his portion of the cash from the V for Vendetta and Watchmen movies to his collaborators, for example — that money is not the big thing for him. He wants control of his work.

And no matter how much everyone in fandom wished he’d just take the cash and be quiet, Moore is one of the guys who created Watchmen, so if he doesn’t want these prequels to happen, creators working on them are being pretty rotten, no matter what DC’s legal rights are.

Excellent summation of the whole problem, Chris. “Greedy need for more third-rate pulp” really covers it all. It’s a pity to see both the readers and the people doing these new comics aiming so low.

Wow. Signing an online petition! Such a powerful show of dedication to a cause. Whats next a tweet or a facebook like? Evil corporations must be cowering…

Childhood cancer is a tragedy. Before Watchmen is an item for sale. People, please get some priorities.

Maybe you should go spread the message about that instead of constantly posting your snark-filled comments then, Michael.

Im torn by this, since i buy most of the creators work who are working on the prequels and alan moore. Moore is my favorite writer and its a damn shame whats happening to his work–watchmen, abc books.

el_caifan

Dear Robot6,

I appreciate the relative freedom of the commenting policy but I have to wonder: why is off-topic posting permitted? Nobody was talking about childhood cancer. Michael brought it up as a false equivalency for his nonargument.

So many of Michael’s kind do this.

Dear ladies and gentlemen. The REAL tragedy is the crimes against language, if you ask me. And the REALEST tragedy is what I would have done to Michael if he tried to pull that cynical and contemptuous misdirection on me in a face to face conversation.

I don’t understand the continued patience for liars, cowards and thieves like Michael.

It’s definitely unfair to apply qui tacet consentit to DC–they never comment on anything. And it’s difficult to get into anyone’s head–and, maybe, Moore is one of the most difficult among all comics creators. There’s a big challenge facing Comics Criticism: there’s a lot of stuff going on inside that never gets seen. There’s stuff critics don’t know; and the most damaging to all the analyses is when critics don’t even know what they don’t know. Sure, they can see the smoke…and it’s good to ring the alarm bells. But they never see the actual fire. So much reality gets injected into these things. And without fully understanding the nuance, how strongly can you hold an opinion? The most relevant, accurate, and truly informative comment on the current situation was Mark Waid’s–and he delivered it just to bust JMS’s balls. I don’t want to say that all comics criticism is imperfect and therefore invalid. It can certainly do a better job, but it does a good and necessary job. If you want to support the creator: great! If you support the publisher: that’s an opinion too! But so many of the articles are a shallow and kneejerk reaction that talks in absolute terms but doesn’t track down even the already-available information, let alone try to uncover some of that nuance that’s missing from the discussion.

Almost always, both parties contribute to a misunderstanding. I happen to think the publisher should always be the one to swallow their pride and give a little more to the creator. Concerning Alan Moore: him having a good relationship with DC throughout the years would be far more valuable than all the Watchman rights claimed by the publisher. Maybe things would be different if there was a time machine… but if there WAS a time machine, I suppose there are more important things to undo in all of human history.

Thank you very much for writing this article. Thank you very, very, very much.

What got me was Azzarello calling Watchmen a “franchise”. As of that would justify everything. What a twit.

I don’t agree with the beatification of Saint Alan. It looks like Watchmen is the comics gospel and many people defend Saint Alan with a holy wrath. I don’t see this rage against comics and movies like Captain America, Thor, Superman, Batman etc when the big corporations earn enormous amounts of money. If a campaign against these properties were successful, CBR, Newsarama, robot6 etc would earn less money and many people would lose their job.

But Saint Alan is the Messiah who deserves a better treatment than Kirby, Finger, Ditko, Shuster, Siegel etc. By the way, Saint Alan made a lot of money in royalties with Watchmen while Kirby heirs don’t receive the royalties for their father’s creations.

There are many complaints against those who don’t agree Saint Alan was a naive victim and DC was a evil corporation. Many people criticize Darwin Cooke because he’s not part of the majority that worship the gospel Watchmen (by the way, it is a very good graphic novel but not so good as the followers of Saint Alan think). And they forget that initially Cooke refused to write the prequels but months after he had a good idea, all the story in his mind, and thought that it deserved to be told. And I think it’s very difficult to creators like Cooke to give up a good idea. Therefore more respect with Cooke, his previous work is great.

Earth-2 Chad

“Except that money isn’t everything, and Alan Moore has shown again and again — directing his portion of the cash from the V for Vendetta and Watchmen movies to his collaborators, for example — that money is not the big thing for him. He wants control of his work.

And no matter how much everyone in fandom wished he’d just take the cash and be quiet, Moore is one of the guys who created Watchmen, so if he doesn’t want these prequels to happen, creators working on them are being pretty rotten, no matter what DC’s legal rights are.”

If this was the case he could of chosen to independently publish it or even tell his story in a different medium. There may not have been as many independent companies back then but it was not impossible to do so. He choose the bigger pay cheque a company that would also employ a superior artist in Gibbons that he would not of got at a smaller self published company and a larger audience to share his story. Art for thousands of years has been about compromise between the artist and the benefactor.

People keep misconstruing the “as long as it’s in print” contract clause as a bet that went wrong for Alan Moore and right for DC. It wasn’t a conditional (if it goes out of print) but a statement of fact (when it goes out of print). This is the nut of everyone’s misunderstanding of the spirit of the agreement.

The idea wasn’t, “Hey let’s have a gentlemen’s wager, shall we? We’ll only give it back to you if sales are miserable and we don’t want it anymore. Sound good?”

It was, “In exchange for all our up front investment can we exploit the book for a year after we’re done with it? Many thanks we appreciate it.”

I’m not saying that the misunderstanding means anyone should go back and renegotiate (I can’t say that because I wasn’t there and wasn’t privy to the details), but it’s possible to do so, it’s commonplace to do so, and it’s a valid moral argument if you choose to make it. Contracts are renegotiated all the time — I’ve only negotiated publishing contracts for five years or so and I’ve renegotiated a small handful for various reasons: economy tanks, retailers change, the list goes on. Sometimes you just don’t want to hold your valued business partner to something that will cause him or her harm. Conversely if the rights had reverted and Moore kept the books in print and made a mint, DC coud have come back to him and said “Hey could you do your old buddy publisher a solid and let us publish the books for you? And maybe let us produce the movie? Can we renegotiate a little?” And if their relationship was solid and friendly all may have seen the sense in that and kept it going. Nobody WANTS to see a partnership as successful as Moore’s and DC’s fall apart.

I think you’re letting Moore off the hook a bit too easily here. Everything he objects to about Beyond Watchmen would definitely be voiced by the creators of the childrens characters whom he turned into sex abuse victims in Lost Girls. But Barrie, Baum and Dodgson are dead, so we don’t hear them complaining, which they definitely would be. The Oz books were easily as popular as the Harry Potter series at the time of publication — can you imagine what J K Rowling would say if Moore wanted to make a “pastiche” featuring Harry, Hermione and Ron in a similar story?

Yes, how terrible that Watchmen has remained in print, so that more people can read it. Honestly?

I understand that the rights were not returned, but surely the creators have been getting royalties all this time. It’s not such a dirty deal.

DC did not violate any part of their deal with Moore. What, exactly, are you bitching about?

Great article man. For everyone that disagrees with it I have this video for you to watch (though like the kgb agent in the video says, you won’t be able to understand what he’s saying anyway) (also remember this is for methodology not the exact example) good luck! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuQmaupl5Gk

Bicycle-Repairman

February 5, 2012 at 11:19 am

“As I understand it, the argument was never over royalties or payments over these works but the actual ownership of the works themselves.”

Moore complained about late and missing royalty payments as well.

“(Not to mention the fact that Alan Moore continued to work for DC a second time whether considering it directly or secondarily…one would think at the very least his morality becomes ambiguous at the very least in the second Wildstorm/ABC instance. Fool me once shame on you…fool me twice shame on me…etc…)”

Moore agreed to create the ABC titles for WildStorm when WildStorm was still part of Image. WildStorm was later sold to DC without Moore’s knowledge. Moore continued to write the ABC titles after the sale to fulfill his contract with WildStorm and provide the work he promised to his collaborators, but he didn’t want to deal with DC directly. Moore complained of interference from DC while working on the ABC titles, particularly in regard to “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”.

I’m reminded of MARVEL’s usage of the character ELEKTRA.
Created by Frank Miller. Killed off for the second time in ELEKTRA LIVES AGAIN, but brought back to life by D.G. Chichester in DAREDEVIL.

Now, I can’t remember if Frank Miller owned the character, or if it was the property of Marvel. I do remember Frank Miller commenting on Marvel bringing back Elektra. FM wasn’t pleased about it.

Are DC and other publishing companies cutthroat? Damn straight they are. They have a legal obligation to their shareholders to maximize profit.
Knowing this and seeing the examples of Kirby, et al., Moore still decided to deal with these people, as they had the capital to help produce and the network to promote and distribute his work. People like Sim, Eastman, and Laird went their own way, shouldered more risk and received more reward when that risk paid off. That’s typically how business works.
Moore probably should have had a (better) lawyer or a publishing agent handling more of the business end for him- it’s clearly something he doesn’t care for. The rise of the graphic novel coinciding with Watchmen’s popularity was a bad bounce- it happens.
The general reaction by much of the internet seems to be emotional. That’s fine and good- people can not buy these books and maybe donate that money to something like the Hero Initiative. I think it’s important to remember that when deals/publishing decisions are made (in the 80s or today), that the people involved weren’t making them from an emotionally reactive core. It’s business, not personal. It’s an industry that uses art to move product, not patronage for the greatest artistic minds of the day. Maybe Moore’s experience can serve as a reminder for future creative people.

“Gosh, you’re right. How will we ever make the Fortune 500 list of the most moral companies? Oh wait, they don’t have that”-Veronica Palmer, “Better Off Ted”

“Yes, I know it’s hard to accept that giant companies don’t care about people. I know how hard it was for me when I first realized it… when I was 8.”-Veronica Palmer, “Better Off Ted”

Let’s just have DC to agree to kneel over and kiss Moore’s awesome ass for being such an amazing contributor to the comics medium and our lord and savior. DC should just put out a press release saying they’d be nothing without Moore and would like to build a church in his honor.

Are the Moore fans happy now?

To the poster who commented about Watchmen not being a franchise: when Watchmen was being released, along with it came buttons, a watch, other memorabilia, roleplaying games, etc. Oh – and then a movie. And more toys. And more merchandise. Before Watchmen is just one in a long line of ways that Watchmen has been expanded on over the decades. Even Maus has a part II.

Well, I feel all I can say would be this:

1) I have a job at someplace treating me well, as that is why I work there, with putting in effort;

2) the reason why creative works would be good is because their creators make it so, where no publishers will ever be creators, but merely investors or enablers.
If either of the Big Two would base themselves (or their financial plans) on generally being to put themselves or their properties before creative talents, than they would be standing in the way of how books would or could be made well.

That’s not ethics, that’s just common sense in my view.

And honestly, I feel little interest for any non-Moore/non-Gibbons Watchmen-add-ons, especially if they wouldn’t be excited for it.

the line that makes sense in this is .. “victims of their own success” .. (even though Gibbons doesn’t seem to feel like a victim .. I’m sure he does well from both the movie and any further use of the characters) ..

anyhow, Robert Kirkman doesn’t have to worry about DC or MARVEL .. they have to worry about him .. same for Erik Larsen .. Todd MacFarlane .. or anyone who publishes through IMAGE comics ..

and hey .. IMAGE publishes a lot of great books .. as do other publishers who publish creator owned properties ..

Alan Moore can publish through any of them .. sure, they weren’t in existence when WATCHMEN was created .. but they are now ..

This is amazing. The OP was talking about the majority of people posting in this thread. According to this thread, Image should be the biggest company in the industry, and Vertigo and ICON should have long since overtaken DC/Marvel in terms of popularity and revenue. But that’s not the case, because YOU DON”T SUPPORT INDIE COMICS. You handcuff the industry to Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, etc. and then you complain when something like this happens. You could give your dollars to independent works, like Morning Glories, Chew, Fatale, Superior, and many many others. And that is just the genre stuff. Walking Dead is a massively successful tv show(not a fan personally), but it still can’t crack the top ten sales in comics! Look at Game of Thrones conversely, successful show=increased book sales, and the books were bestsellers to begin with.

No corporate conspiracy, no nefarious Bond villain at Time Warner HQ twirling his mustache and petting his hairless cat. It’s you, it’s always been you, the aging, suburban fanbase strangling the life out of the industry and forcing creators to walk in the well trodden footsteps of others and work with characters taken out of their time and out of the hands that originally created them. And when they do do something different, like Ultimate Spider Man and the 52 reboot, you try to burn the internet down. So you deserve Before Watchmen, Watch Apes, Watchmen meet Scooby Doo, and whatever else DC can come up with. It will still sell better than any of the independent works the creators involved with produce. And that is the real crime. Hypocrites.

so much ignorance on the Internet

Amen.

No job treats you well when you’re working for someone or something. Whether or not you agree or not Capitalism (and what we have now Neo-Liberal Capitalism) is based on one simple idea the exploitation of labor for profit. Do yourselves a favor and read some de Certeau and learn about workers work and realize what sheep you really are. It’d make for much better comments than just a bunch of idiots repeating what society, corporations, laws and discourse pound into your heads. It’s sad. And it’s also why were so easily herded around blindly believing in “ideals” that only exist to subjugate us. And whether or not this is an important aspect of that fight (intellectual property, literature) is meaningless.

Also Ken just for fun, did you even read what Gibbons wrote? It sounds like a hostage victim telling someone they’re alright and happy and unhurt. Jesus, read between the lines…LEARN something that you aren’t made to!

Bicycle-Repairman

February 5, 2012 at 1:05 pm

“IMAGE publishes a lot of great books .. as do other publishers who publish creator owned properties ..

Alan Moore can publish through any of them .. sure, they weren’t in existence when WATCHMEN was created .. but they are now ..”

Moore has published creator-owned work through Top Shelf, Knockabout and Avatar.

I’m probably going to pick most of these up, just because I’d pick up just about anything by most of the writers/artists involved, just as I’d pick up anything Alan Moore does.

This might be too far into analogy territory, and contract law and ethics is not a specialization of mine, but imagine there’s a contract with a publisher that says that the rights of the work revert back to the creators when the publisher dies. The publisher is a sickly old man, and the creators assume, just like every other contract made with sickly old men, that he’d be dead within a few years and they’d get the rights back. The sickly old man goes on to live another 30 years. Who was wronged and why, exactly?

Going back to reality, I’m sure everyone expected the book to go out of print within a year or so. DC (which was not the current DC, because I don’t think anyone in a position of power then is in one now – not sure if that matters to anyone) saw the potential to keep making money by keeping in print. It’s not like they didn’t continue to pay the creators for the work when it was used, and they did indeed give Moore and Gibbons a first crack at anything new – they were offered more Watchmen work and refused it (well, most of it). If I were DC, I’d look at the fact that keeping Watchmen kept Moore from working for me again and making more Watchman-level material, and I’d have offered a new contract more in line with the spirit of the old one, rather than the legal facts of the matter, and, I’d like to assume, would have been able to put out a lot more work by Alan Moore on characters I owned and on characters he’d create and own. Just looking at the list of stuff he had ideas for with DC makes me think it would’ve been worth it, but I’m not looking at projections and how much I have to make to continue paying benefits for staff and such, and how risky it is to assume the same creators would make something just as profitable – I’m saying that as a comic fan. So DC probably would be in ruins, unfortunately, if not because of this decision but because it’d make me want to “do the right thing” by other creators and believe in them, and historically this means I’d lose more money than I’d make, unfortunately.

Now that’s just rambling, but hopefully it’s not incoherent… I should probably have an actual point I’m trying to make, but heck, this is a comment, not an article.

Wow, this was a really entertaining read, thanks.

Oh, and the article at the beginning was good too.

I think what has been done to Moore, and those before is pretty unethical, but that seems the general sentiment. But… it is getting harder and harder to sympathize with a man whose arrogance swells in leaps and bounds. Yes, he is a fantastic writer, but honestly, the crap he is churning out with America’s Best, is freaking middle of the road weak material.

And still he has the audacity to say there are no real “top-shelf” writers in the industry. He is not the end all be all. Attacking the industry and his fellow writers in the trenches is not really the best approach here, yes some are sellout, but more are being victimized just like him.

But… that is a personal gripe. That being said, those who do essentially all the work should reap more of the benefits. In any case, the big two has never really been a machine of sympathy, just a cash churning steam roller. On the flip side though, without the name brand of DC, I don’t really imagine Moore would be quite the household name he has become.

This is a very polarizing event in the comic industry, and I really do not intend to pick up the new books. But, after reaching the top of the creative world, Moore has become too comfortable biting the hand that fed him, and pissing upon those who are still struggling to get where he is. All in all… I have a strong desire to support the rallying cry to strike down this injustice, but I do it begrudgingly for this self righteous old curmudgeon.

@Uncertain

What does Moore’s temperament have to do with DC’s duplicitous business practices?

Answer: Not a fucking thing

I’ll download the new books, DC wont see any of my money for these prequels.

My hard earned cash will be spent on INVINCIBLE, SAVAGE DRAGON, WALKING DEAD, MORNING GLORIES, HELLBOY and other amazing creator owned titles.

I am pretty sure I did not condone DC’s treatment of Moore or any of there actions at any point.

Tearing down all the other poor bastards who are struggling in a similar situation however, is a childishly lashing out at the wrong people though.

Once again, I support the cause, not the source of the outcry though.

Yeah, you’re missing the point @Uncertain

Bringing in irrelevant crap, like you have done, and like I have seen done in every thread since this story broke – distracts from the relevant details of this situation

I don’t care about your personal diastase for Moore’s disposition. It has nothing to do with the matter at hand

Pardon my intrusion gentlemen but I think tht carp logo got lost in the crowd along the way.Since when does DC aspire their image after business cards??

The inherent flaw in this piece is that it seems to presume that a concern and support for “creators rights” and the continued existence of and support of material produced under work-for-hire rules are somehow contradictory or mutually exclusive. They aren’t. They’re just different parts of the system. If a creator wants to won his work and all rights to it, then he or she should make sure those rights are granted before signing any contract to produce said work. And in the current publishing environment, there are a number of outlets for producing work under such conditions. Of course, the downside to that for most creators is that such outlets limit the size of the audience for the work and thus limit its long-term commercial potential. Conversely, if a creator willing signs onto a work-for-hire situation in which a corporate entity has legal ownership of what he or she creates, then they don’t get to cry “foul!” if, 10 or 20 years later the property that they willingly signed over lock, stock, and barrel to “the man” turns out to be a lucrative cash cow. Can’t have it both ways.

the funny thing is – anyone paying attention to DC announcing their new logo – which was done back in mid January – would have seen that one of the logos was a Watchmen design. So they should have know that this prequel crap, or something like it, was coming

Here is the original article:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=36502

Can someone answer something for me – with facts, not speculation or supposition.

The characters in Watchmen were originally meant to be the Charlton characters, but DC didn’t want that characters used like that so Moore changed the characters but kept them based on the Charlton characters. So, while they were new characters, there existence was based on existing, DC-owned characters. Had Moore taken the project to Marvel or any other publisher “as is” and had it published, would DC have been able so sue over the fact that the Watchmen characters are versions (potentially “rip-offs”) of the Charlton characters (as happened with Superman and Shazam, for example)?

Without the Charlton characters, would Watchmen exist in its current form? Or would it be a different book that might be more/less/as successful as it currently is?

I think the title of this piece should be “We HAD come so far.”

Author of the article is entitled to his opinion as is Moore (and each of us). Only issue I have with the article is the assumption that these books are “third rate pulp” without having read any of them. Personal peeve, but I try to wait until I have actually read a work (or seen a film etc) before forming an opinion on whether or not it’s any good…

I won’t say that Alan Moore isn’t brilliant. He brilliantly stood on Steve Ditko’s shoulders while “creating” Watchmen. He has brilliantly stood on the shoulders of Baum, Stevenson, Stoker, Siegel, Shuster, Wein and so many others. That is the nature of comic books. He is a great writer and a great many other things. Including a wizard if you listen to him, but “PreacherCain”, when you claim that he is not an egotist then you show no knowledge of Alan Moore and invalidate your arguments on this matter.

I would’ve been the last person to sign off on this project if I worked for DC, but they are well within their rights to do it. We all are well within our rights to buy it or ignore it. Alan Moore is well within his rights to bitch about it. Shaky ground or not. You want to send a message? Don’t buy the book. That is the only thing a corporation will ever understand. Not petitions, not letters of complaint. If they invest this much money (and judging by the talent involved it’s a LOT of money) and it bombs, that’s what they will notice.

It’s a business. No matter how much we all love the characters and stories, it will always be about the dollars and nothing else. Deal with it.

Alan Moore didn’t just simply change a few names when he created Watchmen. The reason DC didn’t want it the way it was because they were too far removed from the Charlton characters and left many of them in a position they couldn’t be used.

Thank you Chris for righting this and bringing some much needed focus on this.

Things have changed since the early 1990’s so much for the worse. Not only have sale dropped but we’ve seen an erosion in rights that echoes what is going on in every industry as they make it harder on creators to get a leg up into the industry.

When I first got into the film industry I received a very bad deal, but was urged to sign because it was a ‘career making’ deal. Later another writer said it was more a rite of passage. You had to be screwed over at least once before you could be accepted.

The deal Alan and Dave received at DC was a good one for the time. Negotiated by Dick Giordano as reasonable. Then Watchmen became the huge hit. It led the way for graphic novel sales not only in comic stores but pushed its way onto shelves in bookstores. DC tried hard to emulate its success, but initially failed with everything but Dark Knight and later Sandman. Alan’s point is that the deal was made in good faith and understanding that he would get his rights back. I think DC would have if they’d had more replacements for it to publish. They’re not about to get permission from Warner’s to give something away for nothing, especially their jewel in the crown.

I don’t blame Didio, Lee or Johns for this as I am sure it came down from on high. From people who probably were upset that Alan wouldn’t go out and support their movie. Those people have long memories and don’t forget. Let’s see how Johns contract gets renegotiated this year after the failure of Green Lantern.

I’m surprised no one has asked where Neil Gaimen is in this. Why didn’t he tackle one of these or maybe he’s waiting on the sidelines to do After Watchmen? Neil got his first work with DC after a recommendation from Alan to Karen. Surely Neil wouldn’t do anything to upset Alan.

To be honest I have seen comments from fans and creators alike trying to justify their particular stand on the subject. I was going to name names but it wouldn’t be fair to those that weren’t.

The truth is there is no longer a code of conduct in the media any more other than “Show me the money!” Creators involved in this are well within theirs rights to do so. They’re probably going to be well compensated for it. But I will laugh in their faces if they ever talk about “creators rights” or if they get shit on from up on high.

Yes, by the way, I have written a comic or two. Got well paid as was work for hire. Would love to do something of my own one day, but have to consider if it is worth all the heartache, backstabbing and loss of $$$$ to do it.

Hey, why not just encourage people to buy current Alan Moore Titles?

Also, THEY OFFERED HIM THE RIGHTS BACK. New management tried to make good on their deal. but if Alan Moore is taking a stance that cannot be negotiated with, it doesn’t make sense to not use the resources DC has as its disposal, particularly when they cant GIVE IT AWAY.

When Alan Moore took characters from children’s books (one of which still in copyright to the author’s estate) and used them….not a pastiche created from the originals, but the actual copyright owned property of another creator…and used those characters to tell a story of underage hardcore sex, he gave away any rights he has to bitch about DC ever using characters that THEY STILL OWN, based on characters THEY ALSO OWN in any further work.

When he continues to use OTHER PEOPLE’S CREATIONS in LXG every year, again, often violating copyright laws to do so, he is giving away his rights to bitch about Before Watchmen or anything else DC decides to ever do with their property.

I don’t care if he is upset by this. I don’t care if some Moore fanboy is upset by this. it is simply a fact. Alan Moore uses OTHER PEOPLE’S CREATIONS in his work TO THIS VERY DAY, and has made a living of it for four decades. When he stops doing that, when he decides that Lost Girls and LXG should join 1963 and never see print again, because of “the rights of their ACTUAL creators”, then he can have the moral high ground in this debate. Till that day, he and his fans can shove this debate up his pointy little wizard’s cap.

It’s ironic that Dave Gibbons never acts like a victim of DC, Marvel or every other company he has every worked for. Dave has worked for DC on an ongoing title as recently as a couple years ago, when he wrote and occasionally drew Green Lantern Corps.

(Moore seems to think he should get creator rights to the GLC too, based on his comments about Blackest Night. One short story based on an oath written 2 decades before his work and he demands that we re-write history so that we can admit that Saint Alan coined the term “Blackest Night”.)

Do any of you Moore apologists ever think than maybe Alan Moore is just a dick that burns bridges at every supposed insult. The lousy frak gets a check from royalty checks from the sale of the Watchmen to this day because people still want to read his work. How about some g.d. gratitude for those people still willing to pay their hard-earned money to read his work?

I can’t stand any comic that JMS has ever written but I’m actually considering buying his work on B4WM just to honk of the Moore groupies.

Yeah, you’re a confused dude “Michael”

But by all means, keep spouting your opinion on the Internet

Actually Moore first conceived of his story to be used with the Archie/Red Circle characters. Then when he learned that DC had acquired the Charlton characters, he assumed they’d want to produce stories with those and he retooled his project.
Therefore Moore had produced his story on spec and rightfully feels the story belongs to him.

Can someone please name some original Alan Moore creations, and why they aren’t being upheld as the be all and end all of comics? Please?

New Frontier is better than Watchmen.

davidgrantlloyd

February 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm

A magnificent article!! Very well said.

So very sad … and so very true.

Bicycle-Repairman

February 5, 2012 at 5:28 pm

“Also, THEY OFFERED HIM THE RIGHTS BACK. New management tried to make good on their deal. but if Alan Moore is taking a stance that cannot be negotiated with, it doesn’t make sense to not use the resources DC has as its disposal, particularly when they cant GIVE IT AWAY.”

Moore is angry with DC/Time Warner for other reasons besides the rights to “Watchmen”. Moore’s grievances include:

-Late payment of royalties.
-Failure to pay royalties from some “Watchmen” merchandise.
-Failure to publicly retract or apologize for statements made by producer Joel Silver that Moore approved of the film adaptation of “V for Vendetta”.
-After refusing to work for DC again, Moore agreed to write the America’s Best Comics titles for WildStorm. WildStorm was then sold to DC without Moore’s knowledge.
-The pulping of the initial print run of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” Vol. 1 #5 because it contained a vintage ad for a “Marvel Douche”.
-The delay of the release of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier” outside of the United States.
-DC not releasing “The Black Dossier” with a vinyl record like Moore originally planned. DC said the record would be included in the Absolute Edition of “The Black Dossier”. After a long delay, The Absolute Edition was eventually released without the record or a bonus book of scripts and sketches, but it was sold at a higher price than the Absolute Editions of Volumes One and Two of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”.

Moore feels that he’s been wronged by DC too many times. He doesn’t trust the company and he doesn’t want anything to do with them.

Have zero desire to read “Before Watchman” … not because Alan Moore’s text/characters are sacred, but because I doubt said stories will enhance my appreciation of “Watchmen” as a series or as characters.

Just as I have zero desire to read “Lost Girls” as I doubt Moore’s interpretation of Alice or Dorothy or Wendy will enhance my appreciation of Barrie’s or Baum’s or Carroll’s.

The latter is every bit as much an affront to the creators and characters as the former.

In theory, I support Moore’s position on creator’s rights, but it is highly hypocritical in this situation.

“Moore feels that he’s been wronged by DC too many times. He doesn’t trust the company and he doesn’t want anything to do with them.”

He can feel how he wants, the fact though, is that they offered him precisely what he says he wanted in this instance and he refuses to negotiate? What should this company do? sit on an untapped resource in a struggling environment? this can and will bring people into stores, far more than any original creations, and the fact that the same people bemoaning this are giving it so much press is ridiculous. DOn’t like it or respect it? Dont Review It. Don’t Acknowledge it as anything other than cash grab fanfiction.

I don’t whether these come out either way, but posting Op Ed articles truly is playing right into their hands.

I personally would like to see more articles about things the authors do like as opposed to things they hate.

Also Alan Moore’s attitude in general is annoying.

Akwasi

Close your mouth. Learn the facts. Then – well, just keep your mouth closed, since you like to talk about topics that you don’t understand

Everyone is talking like Moore got screwed of tons of money. He was offered compensation mightily and refused, and Gibbons it has made Gibbons phenomenally rich.

If Moore had the rights to the characters, it would have been shelved and WB helped make Watchmen even bigger.

What about the fans? I’m sure this just might outsell the DC52 Justice League.

This is fascinating. The case can be made that after Watchmen, DC created Vertigo to open a new innovative realm of creator owned stuff. They gave Neil Gaimen ‘The Sandman’, and what Neil did is no different than what Moore did. So WHO OWNS SANDMAN? WHO OWNS MIRACLEMAN?

oh, MIRACLEMAN! That’s what happens when emotional individuals get involved. It sits in a vault. Miracleman is BY FAR Alan Moore’s best work besides Watchmen. I GUARANTEE that if DC owned Miracleman, the ego’s of Todd McFarlane or eccentricities of INDIVIDUALS rich enough that they don’t have to settle but sit on it, and who makes money – no one, and who gets to read it????

NO ONE.

“(although let me make an aside here to say that there’s a big difference between building a pastiche using familiar characters and motifs to create something new and original, and rehashing familiar material to make a quick and cynical cash grab”

Oh, so when Moore does it, because you enjoyed it, it’s okay, but when DC does, because you think it’s going to suck (hasn’t even come out yet, but you’re already calling it shit instead of giving the A-list talent the benefit of the doubt), it isn’t? Lost Girls is porn that uses famous literary characters. And not very good porn at that.

Alan and Dave knew what they were getting themselves into when they signed those agreements. Dave is acting like an adult, while Alan continues to be the baby he’s always been. He built a name for himself using other people’s creations (and Watchmen got most of it’s inspiration during the phase of the project when the characters were still the Charlton ones instead of just being based on them), but god-forbid anyone else do it with ones that are only technically his. DC gave him tons of opportunities to be a part of this, to come back, hell to even have the rights to the book if he’d just do one more story with them. His response? Spit venom at them in print at every chance he gets. Plus, despite this, DC refused to do any spin-offs with what is arguably THE defining story of the medium for over 25 years. And when DC does decide to finally do what is within their rights to do, and Moore starts calling out the talent involved, many of whom are on this project both because they’re huge fans of Alan’s , and to do the best they can to add something siginifacant to the story and do Alan’s work justice. I don’t care how much you hate a publisher, you NEVER insult a fellow pro who hasn’t attacked you first. It’s the height of unprofesionalism.

You talk about creators rights, but Alan had a chance to get the rights back, for him and Dave. All DC wanted was a little more material from the two guys who, honestly, are the best suited for the role. Alan’s also pretty full of himself, claiming DC is NEEDS to make money off his ideas. Yeah, I’m pretty sure Grant Morrison is the better of the British Invasion writers, and I can’t wait for the “Watchmen Done Right” issue of Multiversity, which I’m confidant is coming sometime in the next year. Moore can get stuffed; he’s had this coming.

yumph!!-

You clearly have nothing productive to say on this issue and nothing to add to any of the conversations going on. Rather than insulting the people who have shared their opinions, why don’t you, well, as you said, keep your mouth closed.

Yumph!!

Really? I don’t think I’ve insulted anyone here, but because I have an opinion you don’t agree with, the response is “Shut Up! So There!”

For someone who advocates so strongly for creative rights, you certainly have a problem with people expressing themselves.

“Zach”

And what did you just add to the conversation??? Yeah – nothing

I’m tired of correcting Akwasi and others like him – because the corrections have already been said over and over again. Moore was made an offer ONLY if he would do sequels and prequels. So no, DC did not offer to give Watchmen back to Moore – they dangled a carrot with stipulations. That is essentially blackmail. This is a known fact that has been said and repeated over and over. Yet, you and others refuse to listen, and continue to assert that Moore turned down DC’s offer to give him Watchmen rights back.

But this isn’t new information – this is something that has been explained OVER and OVER again in that last few days. So I assume you’ll ignore this post just as you’ve ignored all the other times it has been stated

yumph!!

RE: Blackmail, I think you said it best earlier: “Close your mouth. Learn the facts. Then – well, just keep your mouth closed, since you like to talk about topics that you don’t understand”

lol – yeah you are officially a troll Zach

“DC did not offer to give Watchmen back to Moore – they dangled a carrot with stipulations. That is essentially blackmail. This is a known fact that has been said and repeated over and over. Yet, you and others refuse to listen, and continue to assert that Moore turned down DC’s offer to give him Watchmen rights back. ”

There were definitely strings attached to DC’s offer, which as the legal owners of watchmen, they had every right to make. But How did Alan Moore Respond? From his interview with wired:

“So I just told them that if they said that 10 years ago, when I asked them for that, then yeah it might have worked,” he said. “But these days I don’t want Watchmen back. Certainly, I don’t want it back under those [prequel and sequel] terms.”

Not only does he not want watchmen back with strings attached, HE DIDN’T WANT IT BACK PERIOD. SHort of taking Watchmen out of print, burning every copy, and erasing the memories of the millions of people who read the novel or saw the movie, there was no corrective action that could be taken.

And, no that’s not how blackmail works.

” the crime of threatening to reveal embarrassing, disgraceful or damaging facts (or rumors) about a person to the public, family, spouse or associates unless paid off to not carry out the threat. It is one form of extortion (which may include other threats such as physical harm or damage to property).”

bribery maybe though

“Therefore Moore had produced his story on spec and rightfully feels the story belongs to him.”

Leocomix,

Whatever he feels, he has no legal ownership rights to the work. If what you say about is true, then Moore has even less ground to stand on, because not only was the story based on pre-existing characters, it was based on pre-existing characters that he used on spec without the actual copyright owners approval. If you produce a story on spec using properties owned by someone else than, as a matter of trademark and copyright law, that story belongs to whoever owns the actual rights to the characters. In Moore’s case, either way– Archie/Red Circle or Charlton–he wrote the story using characters and concepts created by someone else as a foundation, the very thing he’s been self-righteously railing against ever since.

How things have changed.

Alan Moore used his popularity to speak out for creators the same way Neal Adams did. Many creators benefited from his actions. These days we just hear crickets. Because the reality is you aren’t going to make big money going independent as the sales aren’t there. Yes there is Robert Kirkman, but who else? Image has dozens of books by creators where the costs just break even. No one talks how Image can make $10 thousand dollars off a series and the creator gets nothing. Better to go the Ed Brubaker route and have three books at Marvel and do one at Image after you’ve made a name for yourself. Yet Marvel is looking at Image for new talent. So do a book for free at Image in the hopes of being picked up by Marvel and DC? Man it sucks being in comics if you’re a creator.

“Image has dozens of books by creators where the costs just break even. No one talks how Image can make $10 thousand dollars off a series and the creator gets nothing. “

Well, if someone wants to talk about that then shouldn’t they also talk about the fact that Image fronts the cost of production and promotion of their creator-owned books out of their own coffers and, as a result needs to recoup those costs before the book can generate any profit for anyone, publisher or creator?

The basis for your argument seems to be that a do-it-yourself independent contractor has a much smaller chance of earning a big paycheck than someone who works for a deep-pocketed corporation. Well, that ain’t exactly a newsflash. And, in other non-news, anyone who goes into comics for the express purpose of “mak(ing) big money” is sorely misguided and doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons.

@Joe

I’ve been trumpeting that for quite a while. Especially when Marvel launched their Icon imprint, and people were saying that it was Marvel’s Vertigo

Marvel only puts proven, tried and true creators on Icon (Bendis, Millar, JMS). They do not go out and find talent. They let Jason Aaron break in with The Other Side and Scalped – then they scoop him up

As you said, the small doors that folks like Neal Adams and Alan Moore helped open – are still being pressed closed by the big 2 – and the existing comic publishing paradigm

Kaloram – you’re missing the big picture. Comics needs creativity. Comics needs creators who can produce memorable, outstanding books like Watchmen. As it stands, the only real chance of people doing this is to toil for pennies and forego earning a decent living at the craft that they love

The corporatism that you’re defending squeezes out creativity. If you like reading bland comics so that big publishers can earn profits then I suppose you can keep on defending the status quo

Kalorama

“fronts” almost sounds like they put money out first, right? Usually printers are paid anywhere from 30 to 90 days after delivery. Diamond pays publisher 30 days after delivery. Image collects money pays printer, takes $2500. Pays creator balance after 60 days. And “promotion”? Hahahahaha! Good one. Creators do all their own PR.

I wasn’t really trying to beat on Image, it’s just sad that they’re the only game in town. If the market was better I’d want to do some comics myself.

Point is, creator rights haven’t really improved any the last twenty years. Doesn’t look like that’s going to change soon either judging from all the hate being directed to Alan Moore here. Neither companies or fans want them to have rights. Chain them to their tables and churn out more Spiderman and Wolverine. Right?

Alan Moore signed a contract in good faith. To try and invalidate it now would be, essentially, to treat him like a child who can’t be trusted to make his own decisions. That is not, to my mind, creator rights. Nor is the right to bury a story you wrote in a hole where nobody can ever see it again.

Wait wait wait

Market is king, when image, IDW, Dynamite, Avatar, Dark Horse can create comics as compelling as Batman, sups, Xmen, Spiderman, Green Lantern, Daredevil, then talk to me.

lots of 12 year olds out there that arent reading Chew or Crossed, haha.

don’t blame the superhero fans, blame thes publishers, editors, and creators that cant put a dent in DC and Marvel

Image esp, which churns out junk month after month.

Moore has no legal, ethical, or moral right to prevent the use of these characters. and comic readers should not be appalled that DC is making new stories with this property.

Cthuhlu is used over and over, Shakespeare, the A-Team, was Mr T pissed at the movie?

I wish people would stop writing about cynicism in a way that make it and greed sound like the same thing.

BRAVO, Chris, for standing up for the truth!

Some of the people indulging in this debate would get a lot more respect for their views if they actually knew the difference between “your” and “you’re”. As soon as I see that mistake, your argument becomes null and void, because you’re obviously a moron.

I’m a consumer of comics, not a creator. While I appreciate the points made in the article, the bottom line for me is the bottom line: Comics are too expensive today, so I buy fewer of them than I did in years past. If the writer’s suggestions come to pass, comics will become even MORE expensive, and I will buy none of them (not as a protest, but as an economic reality). Comics are terrible value for money as it is. Anything that makes that worse is bad for comics.

How can you people say Moore knew what he was getting into when he signed the deal? I guess in edition to writing great comics, Moore should be able to see the future also. The deal was that Moore would get the rights to his creation one year after they went out of print. Then lightning was caught in a bottle.

What Moore does with LOEG and Lost girls is take characters that are in public domain and create new stories with them. What DC has done is taken an example of extreme luck and happenstance to hold Moore’s creation hostage and milk it for every dollar they can.

It’s already been explained in comments above but, DC didn’t just offer Moore the rights back. They offered him a deal they knew he couldn’t accept and then threw their arms up and exclaimed “Alan Moore is impossible to work with”. DC’s dealings with Moore have been underhanded to say the least.

I just hope that if any of you commenters create anything as long lasting as Watchmen you are omnipotent enough to not lose your rights because of a situation that no one could foresee.

Stop sticking up for these giant corporations that have done nothing but run the industry into the ground. A few months ago everyone was cheering because a few of the DC relaunch titles sold over 200,000. Are you kidding me? In the 90’s Spider-Man 1 sold 3 million. The first X-Men sold over 7 million. That was not a good thing. They spawned ten years of mostly garbage that non comic fans were buying in droves in hopes to resell at a profit. The speculator boom almost destroyed the industry.

Watchmen and Dark Knight ushered in a new era of comics that peaked in the early 90’s. The industry needs to be striving to create new classics. Not rehashing old. I haven’t bought a new comic in over a year. I’ve been buying cheap back issues and reading them. I haven’t regretted my decision one bit. Why pay for new shit rehashing 25 year old material when I can just buy 25 year old material with better stories for a third of the price?

The industry is dying right before our eyes and Before Watchmen is not going to help it. It doesn’t matter wether these books end up good or bad. Cash grabs like these always end up in a net loss of readers. For every temporary new reader DC or Marvel grab with their gimmicks, they lose 2 or 3 life long customers. The long term sales numbers bare this out. As readers keep leaving in droves, the big 2 will continue to push out gimmicky comics like Before Watchmen and compound the problem.

The industry needs to be embracing creative geniuses like Moore, not fucking them over. New franchises can be created and thrive. Look at The Walking Dead. Moore’s right when he says that it’s an insult to think that nobody in the industry can do something that he did 25 years ago. They just don’t want to try.

DC is not being capitalistic, they are being lazy.

I know right, let’s just not publish anything written or drawn by someone other than the people who originally created it. Wouldn’t it be so awesome to have the whole industry tank? Alan Moore dosen’t own Watchmen, DC does, they can do what they want with it. I think everyone needs to quit telling creators what they should or shouldn’t do or how to do it. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, but don’t try to dictate what others can read. It’s a bad habit that comic fans have gotten into, bashing everything, and we are the reason the industry is not thriving.

Joe Shuster,

Nice bit of semantics tap dancing, but to no avail. The point stands as is. Image makes all of the up front financial investment required to get the book to press with no guarantee of future profit. As a result, they recoup what they can from sales before the creator get their cut. (As far as PR goes . . . creators pay their own freight for personal appearances and the like, but do they actually pay for print ads in other Image comics pumping their books? That’s the kind of promotion I was talking about.) The short term payback accrues to them because they’re the ones spending the money. The long-term benefit (at least potentially) accrues to the creator because they own all future rights to the property. Contrary to the implication in your post, it’s not some kind of pernicious scam designed to screw the creators. It’s a way for them to get their comics to market branded by a major publisher. The simple reality is that there’s no guarantee of success or profit from any comic book so the fact that some of the creators never see much if any profit is hardly indication of ill-intent on Image’s part. It’s just a reality of the market.

yumph!!

Spare me your naive, jingoistic broadsides. Nothing in your little rant has anything to do with what I actually said.

@ robert

Why should DC give up something for nothing? All they wanted were a few stories from the guy best suited to the task, the guy who “created” the original characters. A few ie not an endless series. And he could have full rights to them again – and what do you think he would then be doing when he got the rights back? Obviously tell more stories with them. All DC wanted was a piece of the action for having kept Watchmen safe from 90s x-treme sequels.

And as has already been pointed out – most of those characters from LOEG and Lost Girls are still either held by their publisher, or the family of the writer who created them. Many of the are in fact not public domain. But he uses them anyway w/o permission or payment. He’s a hypocrite w/o a leg to stand on. I think JMS vocalized pretty well why people should just ignore Moore and accept the work for what it is. Everyone’s calling it a cash grab, but the first issue hasn’t even dropped yet. For Christ sake, at least put a little more faith in the creative teams (tested creators who have produce quality work in the past) than Moore has. The fact that he attacks fellow creators is a sign of unprofessional ism that just makes me like him even less. Jason Aaron talked about this in his blog, and it’s something I wished more people would talk about. Moore attacks people who are not just fans, but people INSPIRED by his work to join comics, all because they’d rather work for one of the big 2 and use their toys (which ARE better, that’s why they have all the money). That’s their right. You NEVER attack a fellow pro in the industry just because you don’t like their choice of employer. If they’ve never wronged you, why are you pissed at them too?

And let’s be honest – the big 2 produce quality material more than they do crap. People are having a hard time admitting it, but for the most part, the New 52 books are good. Just look at Scott Snyder’s Batman – it is going on to become a story that can be mentioned in the same breath as DKR, Year One, and even Killing Joke. And it’s not like it’s the only book worth reading. Also, Marvel has stepped up it’s game with ASM under Slott, and the X-Books (especially Jason Aaron’s WatXM, which so far has been even more enjoyable than Morrison’s run). Most of these books aren’t going to win an Eisner, but people need to get over the fact that not every comic can be some artsy-fartsy bullshit.

The fact that these creators have used existing corporate properties many of us fondly remember from past stories, to tell NEW stories that are just as engaging (if not more so) is a giant hole in the argument that we NEED guys like Moore to “save” the medium. We already do, and they’re not a bunch of crybabies. They’re even more talented guys like Jason Aaron, Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder, etc. and they’re working for the companies they want to work for because they honestly love the characters and want to tell stories with them, even if they were doing it for free. NOT because they only love the medium that much instead of the characters, and just have no other way of getting their ideas published, so they HAVE to use existing properties.

Moore can blow my balls, I’ll take Morrison over him anyday.

I haven’t slogged through all the comments, so forgive any repeating . . .

The issue is that comics is still a rather backward way of publishing when compared to other publishing ventures. A writer can sign a contract with a publisher without giving up any of his rights to the creations. Yes, perhaps there will be clauses of keeping the book in print and staying with the publishing house, but the publishing house generally doesn’t say, “we own the rights to the characters in your book as long as we’re publishing it, and we can make sequels, prequels, re-visions of the characters without your approval.”

Imagine the publisher of, say, The Shining or The Poisonwood Bible saying “we want a sequel and we’re going to do it because we can, with or without you.” It just wouldn’t happen because that’s not how that publishing world works. That comics can still get away with that kind of contract is part of the problem with comics and does not encourage creativity but encourages rehashing everything that has come before.

Also, there is a material difference between LoEG and Lost Girls and Before Watchmen: Copyright expires at a certain point (last I knew, it was 75 years after the death of the creator, but it changes so that may not be the current rule). The creators are no longer able to benefit from any iteration of their creation and so new works can be created by fresh voices without damage to the originators. (Sometimes to Pulitzer Prize winning effect, as in Geraldine Brooks’ March.) This is a much different ethical situation than using a living author’s creations, or so it seems to me.

Yes, Moore signed a contract that gives DC legal rights to do what it is doing, but the fact that such a contract still exists in comics is part of the problem with comics. I think that’s the point that is being missed by many people.

Hasanidea,

“You’re” right.
“We” are the reason the industry is not thriving.
“We” have stopped falling for gimmicks.
“We” have stopped paying for comics “we” don’t like.
“We” don’t want to pay 4 bucks for one part of a 6 part story.
“We” get upset when the industry does underhanded shit.
“We” don’t like when companies promise one thing and deliver another.
“We” grew tired of company wide events with dozens of tie ins every month.
“We” should just shut our months and hand over our money regardless of quality or price.
“You” can buy and read what ever you want
It’s “your” money
But
The industry is already tanking
and
It’s nobody’s fault but “their own”
The only bad habit “I” have is wanting to be satisfied with my purchases.

It’s easier to keep an old customer than it is to create a new one.

Watchmen is the most overrated comic ever.

Robutt everything you said about the industry was negative and that is exactly my point. You state your opinions like their law. If you don’t like what your reading find something else.

Hasanidea

I have. That’s my point. I’m not alone. Hence, the industry not thriving.

“…most of those characters from LOEG and Lost Girls are still either held by their publisher, or the family of the writer who created them”

Really?
Which ones?
In the case of Peter Pan, the copyright of the story expired, even in England.
A special “exception” voted in 1988 by English government covers performances of the play itself in the United Kingdom (but nowhere else in the world) as long as the hospital that receives the royalties remains in operation.
But the text (and characters) are now PD in both England and America.

@ Neil,

It’s already been pointed out – Moore used characters in those stories that were still owned by other publishers or the family of the original writer, and all w/o permission. He’d been working in the industry for a while when he wrote Watchmen, the deal he got was better than most other guys got. It’s not like he got blindsided – the industry was notorious at that point when it came to creators rights. Shuster and Siegel had been rescued from the streets by that point, in fact I think it was after the court decision that Shuster and Siegel deserved to have their names in every comic using Superman, and a slice of the money.

Is it unfair that creators don’t have the same rights in comics that they do in other publishing mediums? Yes, but DC tried to cut as fair a deal that they could while appeasing the higher ups, multiple times, and Moore spat in their face. And nowdays most comic writers don’t give two shits about writing new characters, they want the keys to the Big 2’s Porsches’ and Ferraris’ – characters like the X-Men, Spider-man, Batman and Superman, because they have a genuine fondness for the characters. I’m sure if you asked Dan Slott if he’d rather do a creator-owned story instead of Spidey, he’d laugh in your face. Most aspiring comic writers and artists want to work with the characters and properties they grew up reading.

Look at Joe Mad – he’s had every opportunity to do his own creator-owned Battle Chasers (and it would sell, there are thousands of Mad! fans still complaining about him not finishing the series), but he’d rather work with videogames which are his bigger passion. Marvel lured him back to comics, first with Jeph Loeb, and then to Avenging Spider-man. Darksiders, his game series, is about to drop a huge sequel that, if it does well, will solidify Vigil Games as a major player in the market. And what is he doing, even though he could retire comfortably at this point? He’s drawing comics. He’s not doing battle chasers, or any other creator owned property. At his point he’s only drawing because he feels like drawing, and guess what he wants to draw? SPIDER-MAN! Don’t blame the big 2 for having really popular characters and actually doing something with them. It’s well withing their rights to do so.

Moore had every opportunity to have watchmen back by just telling a few more stories with them (something he’d planned on doing once he got the rights back), just while they would be published under DC. He’s said he would have liked to do a Minutemen series. Now he’s just pissed because Darwyn Cooke is beating him to the punch. He could have written them and gotten the credit for it, but now other people are and that pisses him off. Serves you right for turning down the deal of the century – you’d own the rights to Watchmen, and DC would be paying you a ton of cash to do what you’d already planned on doing once you got the rights back – tell more stories with COMPLETE creator freedom. What, were you holding out for a car and two supermodels? They couldn’t have made the deal even sweeter if they promised to have Dan Didio lick your boots clean.

Its pretty shitty how some people on this message board just instantly dismiss and insult anyone who expresses an opinion different to their own. No one but Moore, Gibbons and the head guys at DC at the time no the full story. All anyone else can do is speculate and then draw their own conclusions on the matter.

An yes I’ve just noticed I said no when I meant know.

Actually, the proposed deal from several years ago is well-documented and well known among comic fans

Kalorama:

It’s the reverse actually. And I guess the understanding difficulty you and others express may be related to generations of people equating comics with franchise characters.
Moore is foremost a storyteller. Even changing the Charlton characters, he created a new work that is now more famous by far than the supposed model. DC doesn’t care using the characters they bought from Charlton to tell these stories and would rather release six comics with characters Moore created. This proves that Moore’s creation isn’t a pale copy of the Charlton characters but a better creation. On the other hand DC has no intention to do what Moore did, i.e. create a story and then fit it with whatever characters they already have or create new ones for that matter. No, they are going to use his characters, so as to ride on his hard built reputation, with people expecting to find something as well-written as what he did.

I need citations. Who owns the copyright to any of the LoEG or Lost Girls characters?

Doesn’t matter. The “Moore used Captain Nemo, etc” is a red herring argument

Leocomix,

Sorry, but that’s a bunch of nonsense that doesn’t even begin to address what I was talking about. I was talking about legal ownership rights. You’re talking about . . . really, aside from blowing more smoke up Moore’s backside, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

“Yes, Moore signed a contract that gives DC legal rights to do what it is doing, but the fact that such a contract still exists in comics is part of the problem with comics. I think that’s the point that is being missed by many people.”

No, what’s being missed by many people is that the existence of comics produced under such agreements is the main reason that the comics industry still exists in any form. Comics is a business. Businesses exist for the purpose of earning profit. I know it pains some people to hear this, but it’s true. This notion that if Marvel and DC went away that independent creator owned comics would rise from the ashes like a phoenix and cover the world is pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. Without the revenue generated by sales of Marvel and DC, most LCS in the U.S. would have gone out of business years (if not decades) ago. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a market or desire for other things. Of course there is. But those other things aren’t likely to sell enough, on the whole, to sustain the entire comic book industry.

People act like Marvel and DC have put a hit out on the very concept of creator owned comics, as if they’re willfully strangling any creativity outside their walls. Well, last I checked, creator owned comics are all over the place: in LCS, bookstores, and on the Internet. Anyone who wants to find some is more than welcome to, and there’s a wide array of choices. They’re out there. (Have Oni, Dark Horse, SLG, et al gone out of business and I hadn’t heard?) Any argument to the contrary is utter crap.Now, is anyone likely to get rich publishing comics by unknown creators featuring unknown characters? Nope. But guess what? (A) That’s not Marvel or DC’s fault; that’s marketplace demand at work (B) Getting rich has jack-all to do with true “creativity.” Anyone who says that they really, really want to make comics and have some great ideas but aren’t making comics because there’s no money in probably doesn’t have a truly creative bone in his or her body.

Bicycle-Repairman

February 6, 2012 at 11:55 am

“I need citations. Who owns the copyright to any of the LoEG or Lost Girls characters?”

Most of the characters in “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” or “Lost Girls” are in public domain. Some of the characters in LoEG strongly resemble characters that are still protected by copyright, including Fu Manchu and James Bond, but Moore doesn’t refer to them by their full names. LoEG could also be considered a parody.

“let’s just not publish anything written or drawn by someone other than the people who originally created it. Wouldn’t it be so awesome to have the whole industry tank? ”

So American comics creators are nothing more than unoriginal hacks coasting on the blind brand loyalty of an incurious audience? I know that I sure find that a compelling advertisement for its creative vibrancy and continued survival!

Interrogative: Are the people in here that are condoning publishers raping creators just a vocal minority – or are there really that many stupid people out there?

And aside from creative bankruptcy, it truly is a very special kind of moral bankruptcy to say that corporations are free to do whatever they can but the rest of us need to just shut up. Our only option is to buy it or not. Everything reduced down to commerce. We can’t speak out if we find something to be immoral because we’re just being negative. We can’t use our leverage as consumers to effect change because it’s not our place. Just take the swill that is served to you or don’t. But never think you have the right to say anything other than, “Than you, sirs! May I have another?”

With all the recent creative shifts at DC, moving all their writers and artists around like deckchairs on the Titanic, it’s clear that The New52 is starting to show signs of faltering. Before Watchmen is a distraction for this, and also a sure sign that DC Comics are well and truly, bankrupt of ideas. Marvel are no better, all we’re getting from them: Avengers vs. X-Men. Both companies are in a constant unending loop, churning out the same spew. Instead of fighting amongst ourselves, we need to stop and ask the question: Do any of them have a future?

Bicycle-Repairman

February 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm

“Getting rich has jack-all to do with true ‘creativity.’ Anyone who says that they really, really want to make comics and have some great ideas but aren’t making comics because there’s no money in probably doesn’t have a truly creative bone in his or her body.”

It isn’t about getting rich. It’s about being able to make a decent living. Creating quality comics is incredibly time consuming. It takes years of practice to hone one’s skills to a professional level. Being a comics artist often means working long hours for little or no pay. Some are willing to sacrifice because their desire to create comics is so great, but you can’t blame people for choosing other occupations that require less work and offer better pay, benefits and job security.

“Do any of them have a future?”

I think the movies and cartoon shows will keep interest alive in the corporate stuff.

Personally, most of what I find most interesting in comics right now is happening outside of the world of Marvel and DC so I’m a poor choice for prognosticator. Watching this stuff unfold mostly confirms that while I may feel heavily engaged by Comics, the comics industry, or at least this part of it, is not one I wish to be involved with. I’ve seen others express similar sentiments but I don’t think that is a majority view.

@ yumph

What are you babbling about? What creators are getting raped?

If the corporate industry is so harsh for creators, why don’t they start a publishing company and reap all the rewards of their efforts? They can all go work for Mark Miller, who is creating his own little empire.

And I just feel so bad for Shuster, Seigel, and Kirby, esp. their talentless offspring…….

Were Moore and Gibson paid a page rate?

Actually, while speaking out is good I fear I’ve veered a little too far into sanctimony here. Sorry for that.

It’s strange to me that given my understanding of the original arrangement, the only reason Moore didn’t get the rights back was because of how good a job he did as an author. The work was far more successful than anyone expected. And yet so many of the rationalizations for this thing are built around devaluing the role of the creator and pretending that Watchmen is just a set of properties that sprang up independently . People are writing here about how low original ideas sell and so DC and Marvel HAVE to keep churning out corporate characters. And yet Watchmen is a creative success story right there. It’s like people are trying to use Watchmen to justify its exact opposite. Instead of, “look what we can have if we were willing to set up an equitable system” we see “we have to do things business as usual because there just isn’t any other way! Creators aren’t just going to come up with a hit! And screw them for doing so if they do! Because that’s just the way it has to be!”

JKU

All I see is people trying to censor someone’s creativity. Azzarello has a Comedian story to tell, so what. Let him tell it. Moore had an Allen Quatermain story to tell, again so what. I’m all about people creating new works, but let’s be real it’s comics. It’s long form storytelling that allows for creators to tell any story they want with a character they have access too. It’s not a big moral debate in this case. I guaranty Moore cashes the huge check he gets from this and as well he should. People are starting to sound a swastika away from book burning when it comes to comics. Maybe they need a new hobby since they hate them and the industry do much.

duuuuuuuuuuuuuuh

February 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm

@yumph!!

Stop it! You’re biting my whole routine!

I’m supposed to be the authoritative source on ‘Before Watchmen’ diplomacy and etiquette! I know what’s right and who’s wrong (virtually everybody beside me)!!

When you go around typing that people should (curiously) shut their mouths, you make my comments I posted in Robot 6’s Straczynski ‘Before Watchmen’ thread from Thursday, February 2nd seem too ordinary. My inflammatory comments should be the only comments of such kind made on the subject!!!

Wait a second … we’re pretty much the same person, aren’t we?

@JKU
The feeling that you have of not wishing to be a part of the comics industry may not be a majority view, but is I think, sadly, a growing one with fans. Look at what’s happening: the never ending summer events, the endless crossovers, reboot after reboot after reboot. No new stories, no new characters, and it appears, no one listening.

RegularSyzedMike

February 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I think the bigger point here is that DC deciding to make a Watchmen prequel shows their concern for making money “at all costs” far outweighs their commitment to art and quality storytelling. What Moore signed and whether or not anyone expected Watchmen to be such a success is irrelevant.

The fact that the massive amounts of money they made off of the long run of the original Watchmen and resulting movie and tie-in products wasn’t enough for DC is the actual issue here. That they are working to squeeze more money out of a story they acquired through questionable means surely doesn’t help the matter.

And lastly, the fact that all the interviews and press releases by DC and the new team working on this property are filled with apologetics and sideways justifications for the project’s existence shows they are fully aware of what they are doing and are doing it anyway.

“far outweighs their commitment to art and quality storytelling.”

WHat if Before Watchmen, even one of the miniseries, is good?

RegularSyzedMike

February 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm

@Akwasi: Then the creators of that story would have been able to make something 20x better if it was an original idea. Although I suppose it’s possible for fan fiction to be legitimately good in rare cases…

Also, if this whole “BW” thing was to have been triggered by that theoretical “good story” then this whole thing would probably have been a non-issue and the people shilling for DC on this project would have something to point to other than how fun it will be to re-hash an already complete classic.

Bicycle-Repairman

February 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm

“WHat if Before Watchmen, even one of the miniseries, is good?”

“Watchmen” is a tough act to follow. The original is a complete story and any sequels or prequels are unnecessary. I’m sure considering the talent of the artists involved that “Before Watchmen” will have some good-looking drawings, but the writers are in a bind. Moore already told all we need to know about the characters and we know what will eventually happen to them. If the writers come up with any shocking revelations that contradict the original story it won’t be well-received. Whatever the writers do will compared to the high standards set by Moore. I’m worried that “Before Watchmen” will end up being a loose collection of pointless action sequences and references to the original.

I am very much against rape. if any of the higher-ups in DC have raped creators, I would hope those creators would go to the police and report it. Rape is not cool.

That comment was directed at Yumph, BTW.

I agree completely with this article, except for the part in Tom Spurgeon’s quote where Alan Moore should not be mocked. In all fairness, nothing should be above mockery.

That said, what he said about Alan Moore is right and this is indeed an issue of creator’s rights. And I’m not buying Before Watchmen but neither am I going to condemn the people who do. I feel that the creators are just as much to blame, giving so much of their work to Marvel and DC and other companies. So many of them work freelance. Why don’t they start a union? Why don’t they ask for healthcare and other things? Its as much in their power to change the industry as it is in the power of the buying public.

The excuse that “If I’m not drawing Spider-man they’ll just hire someone else” doesn’t really work. The issue isn’t who’s drawing Spider-man the issue is, “Do you want the guy that comes after you to benefit from a salary and healthcare or to be exploited like you were?”

Its ridiculous to think that this industry works the way it does, but it does because the creators of this content along with the people who purchase it are for the most part happy with that dynamic. Not everyone is capable of creating a Hellboy or Invincible and I respect that some creators are happy to work for Marvel or DC for the rest of their lives, what I don’t agree is that the conditions they’re willing to suffer for that privilege. Its downright ridiculous but it isn’t something that won’t change unless more creators stop acting like they should be paying Marvel for the privilege of drawing Hulk when in fact it should be the other way around.

This industry feeds off on this fanboy mentality which is another reason its dying a slow death. Geeky fanboys become writers and they take the place of good writers on the books or competent artists. That I think is what the statement Alan Moore made about the lack of a top tier talent is what he meant. We’re so used to Jim Lee’s and Geoff Johns and Joe Quesadas and stuff we can’t begin to envision people who would write these characters seriously. Though we do sometimes get glimpses of this when prose writers delve into comics or even some of those Hollywood types so many people cry out and complain are destroying our precious comics.

We need outside talent, and more equitable rights for creators. But the creators themselves need to start wanting them and not acting like freelance is the only way to work in comics. These things are produced monthly, there isn’t a reason they shouldn’t expect to get compensated like people who work in advertising or doing newspaper comics.

HEART: leave it alone. Watchmen was a wonderful story, a wondrous revelatory change to how comics were told, and a historic moment. Iconic in our lives. But, hang on, I’d love to know more about the characters …
HEAD: for a money-making product, a retell, a prequel, or an alternative version, if contractually allowable and financially viable, is a commercial must. To not do so would be stupid
HEART: ok then, I will buy it and hope it’s a worthy homage, yet edgy and outside tradition as the original was
but I’m still not comfortable ….

“So basically they’re not ours, but if DC is working with the characters in our interests then they 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.”

Alan Moore interview in Comics Journal July 87. Sounds like he was fine with DC keeping the characters then…

Also everyone who is against this project keeps blabbing on about this contract between Moore and DC like they know everything about it and how it was evil and manipulative and all that… Has anyone actually seen the contract though? To the best of my knowledge everything the public knows about it is whatever Alan has said about it, and clearly he is biased.

One more thing, Moore and Gibbons were more than happy to cash the royalty cheques DC gave them for the first few years. Neither of them complained then and Gibbons doesn’t really complain now. It’s too bad Moore decided to change his mind after the fact because all it has really done is hurt the fans who will never get to read what probably could’ve been some more great Superman and Batman stories.

I will probably be burned at the stake for this but I never really liked Watchmen. I liked V For Vendetta but I didn’t quite digest Watchmen the same way. That said I think everyone is reserved their opinion and should not be called idiots for voicing them. That said, I don’t plan on reading this new Watchmen stuff, but I still support the makes involved. I don’t really care.

Everyone just needs to shut up about Alan Moore. No one here knows anything more than what they’ve read online and in the news so none of you can speak like you were there. Alan Moore bitches about this kind of crap all the time. If Dave Gibbons doesn’t give a shit about the “tragic loss” of his rights to Watchmen, neither do I.

What fucking pisses me off, though, is all the people insulting the creators involved with these prequels. They’re being judged like fucking Vietnam war criminals or something. Someone said they were going to boycott Azzarello. I mean, really?
Why? For what?!
For doing their jobs and standing up for themselves?! They’re probably fulfilling their ultimate dream jobs, too. Anyone would jump at a chance to write a companion piece to Watchmen (I would sell my left testicle to write that Minutemen mini). And these guys aren’t just Anyone. Every single creator is an elite in the industry and they all care passionately about their work, with the same level of reverence for the Watchmen we all share. I mean, what makes the comic-book medium so unique and special if not the infinite number of artists and writers who can affirm their love for the same character, or the same concept, or the same property by continuing it, adding to it, changing it, making it their own. Giving us an endless supply of stories of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Swamp Thing, Spider-man, Thor, Spawn, Witchblade, the Rocketeer, Conan, Red Sonja, the fucking Hulk, hell even literary characters like Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, James Bond and Zorro. As well as countless others. By those means a whole world is created for us on paper, a little mini universe that we can stop by and escape from our own lives every month. They’re amorphous and eternal, like myths; and just like myths they are meant for everyone, they speak to the subconscious, of universal truths whose sermon is not reserved for the authority of a single, gumpy, old man.
Imagine if George Lucas thought the way Alan Moore did (yes, yes, in many ways Lucas is worse, but that’s not the point). Imagine Star Wars without its expanded universe. That would suck wouldn’t it? No SWTOR, no Clone Wars t.v. series, no Legacy comics, no Boba Fett novels, no apparel, like collectibles, action figures, clothes, NO SLAVE LEIA OUTFITS FOR THE GIRLFRIENDS. It would be a terrible world and anyways, most of that stuff is better than the source material anyway.
All of these Before Watchmen creators are going to do a fantastic job with their characters. Each one seems perfect tailored for their projects. DC nailed each project assignment right on the head. Come on people!
Amanda Connor drawing the Silk Spectre!
Jae Lee drawing Ozymandias!
Brian Azzarella and Lee Bermejo working together on Rorschach!! You can’t tell me that doesn’t sound fucking badass as shit. Dare I say, some of these minis might be better than the Sacred Superhero Tome itself (Watchmen)…
Come on people! Lighten up; these are going to be awesome…

um the poeple who are making the arguement that the watchmen is supposed to be a finite story and so nothing else should be published is stupid because Moore said it himself that the world was going to continue on in the minutemen prequel (which he has full drafts somewhere stored away). the plan was nixed after the falling out. Alan Moore fully intended to carry on the watchmen universe FYI

Great article. Those things needed to be said.

I’ll admit the creative teams involved in the project make the titles mighty tempting, but I’m still undecided as to what I’ll do when they’re released.

Leave a Comment

 


Browse the Robot 6 Archives