Sunday, May 08, 2011

Alan Moore, retcon thyself

I know this is old news, but it's a non-Superman post idea for once, and that's worthwhile, I think. Not too terribly long ago, Alan Moore (whose work I generally enjoy) said this:
At the end of the day, if they haven’t got any properties that are valuable enough, but they have got these ‘top-flight industry creators’ that are ready to produce these prequels and sequels to Watchmen, well this is probably a radical idea, but could they not get one of the ‘top-flight industry creators’ to come up with an idea of their own? Why are DC Comics trying to exploit a comic book that I wrote 25 years ago if they have got anything? Sure they ought to have had an equivalent idea since?
And I have to think that the sentiment is kind of rich for someone whose most high-profile work of the last several years has been illustrated fanfic. Don't get me wrong, I like what I've read of "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," and I'd even like to read "Lost Girls" at some point. But it's a little pot-and-kettle to excoriate DC for "produc[ing] prequels and sequels" to work you "wrote 25 years ago" when you make your current living on mashup sequels to Dracula (1897) and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) and slash fiction about The Wizard of Oz (1900) and Peter Pan (1904). What's the relevant difference? That DC is plundering stuff Moore did as work-for-hire while he's working with the public domain?

I think DC--and moreover, Hollywood--has generally been pretty crappy to Alan Moore. I think Moore has made a mistake in being just as crappy to the comics industry as a whole of late. Especially when his aired grievances reek of hypocrisy.


Will Staples said...

Not to mention the fact that Watchmen was basically a (very good) Charlton Action Heroes AU-fuc.

Anonymous said...

For whatever reason, DC feels like they have to keep trying to enlist Moore in their various exploitations of Watchmen...and he doesn't approve of it, and he says so when asked. No matter how broad your definition of fan-fic (and I think this one's pretty darn broad), you have to wonder what Siegel or Shuster or Finger or Kirby or Ditko might say about the same way their work is relentlessly recycled, if the companies that exploit their creations for some reason felt compelled to keep coming back for their approval every time. And that's not even to mention the dozens or hundreds of lesser-known artists who contributed to all that Big Two IP, who might (for all we know) occasionally feel like it'd be nice to be asked.

Hypocrite or not, I think Moore's got a point, and he isn't lying to make it. The party line is "but if it was done by someone who was a really huge talent, it'd be fine, right?" I don't see anything strange about saying back to that "well if you've got such amazingly talented people, why don't you take a chance on one of them instead of only asking them to shine up my old achievements?" I can't imagine that elite writers and artists are dying to do Watchmen sequels anyway, can you? So if it's just about money, and any money's just money, then why not make something newer and shinier than Watchmen?

I'm late to this post, and definitely don't mean offence (you know I love ya, Tom!), but I just wanted to say that I don't think it's pot-and-kettle at all. Moore's a comics writer, DC's a huge company that comics writers work for: the comparison's pretty strained. And in this case, I've got to say I really do think it makes a difference if something's in the public domain -- if it's in the public domain then it's there for anybody and everybody, that's the whole point.

Isn't it?