Wednesday, 22 November 2017


Given the recent news that DC COMICS are releasing a 12-part follow-up to WATCHMEN, it's perhaps not surprising that certain corners of the comics world are pompously pontificating about the 'injustice' heaped upon ALAN MOORE and DAVE GIBBONS.  Apparently, they were promised that copyright would revert to them if the collected book edition of their original series ever went out of print - but it never has.  Presumably that'll be because it still makes a profit, so how could any intelligent person really expect to be handed back the rights to something that was still earning money for its publishers?  The only way it'll ever go out of print is if/when it's been milked dry, something even Simple Simon could've told you.  I don't know what Alan Moore's response is to the current situation, but here's a post I wrote back in 2012, around the time of the movie, and I think the points it makes are still pertinent today.


I've only met ALAN MOORE twice.  The first time was in 1984 at a comic mart in the MOIR HALL in Glasgow's MITCHELL LIBRARY, and the second was in 1985 in the 2000 A.D. offices in KING'S REACH TOWER in London.  On that first occasion STEVE MacMANUS gave me my break into the comics industry and, afterwards, the 2000 A.D. teamAlan MooreBERNIE JAYE, various other comics people and myself, invaded the CENTRAL HOTEL for a chat and a little light libation.

On the second occasion, Mr. Moore brought his daughter up to the twentieth floor of KRT to meet THARG The MIGHTY.  In both instances, the writer was polite, affable and soft-spoken - seemed like a perfectly nice guy in fact.  I very much doubt he'd remember meeting me - or, in fact, even know who I am.  No surprise - there are many millions who qualify in the latter category so you'll understand when I say that it's not something I'll lose any sleep over.

I only mention this so that you don't think I've any cause to hold a grudge against the man.  He wasn't rude to me, he didn't laugh at my accent, nor did he do or say anything to which I could take exception.  As I said - a perfectly nice guy.  When it comes to his writing, I've quite liked some of it and either not liked or been indifferent to what I've seen of the rest. I'm of the opinion that when Mr. Moore works within 'Comic Code' guidelines, he turns out a nice little tale or two; however, when he's given the freedom to indulge himself, I find that I have little interest in what he has to say.  He can certainly write, but that doesn't mean that everything he writes (I'm talking subject, not prose) is worth reading.  (A charge that can no doubt be levelled at myself when it comes to this blog.)

Which brings me to the point of this post.  I recently watched Mr. Moore's HARDtalk interview, in which, affable as ever, he came across as - it pains me to say it - a bit of a tit.  A charmingeccentric tit, true - but still a tit.  (I say that in the full knowledge that if ever someone stuck a camera in my face and asked me a few questions, I'd more than likely make a tit of myself too.)  Surely he must have friends - good friends - whose opinion he trusts - who can be relied upon to stop him making a public spectacle of himself whenever a microphone is waved in front of his heavily-bearded gob?  You know, the sort of friends who'll watch 'his' movies for him and then tell him how bad they are, to spare him the ordeal of doing the groundwork when it comes to forming an opinion for himself.

Have none of those friends got the spuds to tell him that he's severely damaged his credibility as a 'principled' individual by claiming, on air, that he accepted dosh for movie options on his works only because he believed they would never be produced? Prepared to take money for nothing in other words, and seemingly without a shred of embarrassment about publicly admitting it.  (One would think he'd have realised that, after the first movie was made, the chances of the others similarly seeing fruition were distinct possibilities.)

And what about his self-indulgent whinging about DC COMICS using his WATCHMEN characters in new stories?  It may have escaped his notice, but he's made a fairly good living from doing exactly the same thing for years, with the likes of SUPERMANSWAMP THINGMARVELMANCAPTAIN BRITAIN, and a whole host of other heroes he didn't create.  There's absolutely no difference between him writing tales for these characters and other writers crafting new stories for his creations.  In fact, as the Watchmen heroes were thinly-disguised reworkings of former CHARLTON properties, he can't even lay a firm claim to them to begin with.  And don't get me started on what he's done to the iconic literary creations of famous, long-dead authors who'd doubtless be incensed by what he's done with them.

As I said, Alan Moore appears to be a likeable-enough bloke. (Although, by all accounts, that LOST GIRLS stuff is decidedly dodgy.  Isn't it a crime to possess or make such pictures of minors?  I'm surprised that him and his missus haven't had their collars felt by the local constabulary yet.)  I'm sure you'd all hate to see 'Affable Al' opening his mouth and putting his foot in it yet again as much as I would, so - if you're a pal of his, do him a favour.  Next time you hear he's about to make a pronouncement on some subject or other - tell him to stick a sock in it.  Or better yet, stick one in for him.  You know it's for his own good.

(And in case any nasty spells are going to be coming my way, I should warn any angry wizards who may be reading that I'm protected by the Mystic Mirror of Moogamoto - it reflects spells and curses right back at where they came from.  So there!)


(Update:  Incidentally, it occurs to me that whether or not AM and DG were 'screwed' by DC is not the main issue here.  That's almost irrelevant because, presumably, even if the creators had no problem with DC owning the rights, they'd still object to prequels and sequels on the grounds that, in their minds, Watchmen was conceived as a 'stand alone' series and therefore requires no further embellishment or comment.  However, this is surely an unrealistic expectation, given the very nature of comicbooks.  New creators always come along and add something to an established 'universe', and if someone has what they think is a good idea for existing characters, it will be the readers who ultimately decide whether the published result (if it sees the light of day) is worthy or not.

Some people argue that the Watchmen characters are no mere copies of CHARLTON heroes, but rather an 'homage', which elevates them beyond the accusation of simple imitation.  There's a little bit of 'sleight-of-mind' in this approach though, because they weren't 'invented' out of a desire to pay tribute, but as a matter of expediency when DC resisted Moore's original idea of using the originals in his proposed idea for a story.  They're simply nothing more than 'stand-ins' therefore, not crafted from 'new cloth', but from cut-up, rearranged, and stitched-together pieces of old material.  So it's all right for Moore to use other people's characters (which is essentially what he did here), but not for others to do the same thing?

"O wad some pow'r the giftie gie us..."

Having said that, I won't be buying Doomsday Clock.  Another reboot of the DCU?  I could live with the first one back in the mid-'80s, but DC have done it so many times now that I've not only lost count, but also lost interest.  They just never seem to learn.       


-3- said...

Well, i can kind of understand what he means about the new stories with the characters. It's why i have no interest in reading them. The Watchmen was constructed as a self-contained, self-refencing, circular structure that was designed to complete itself. Adding to the structure actually diminishes the whole.

That said - yeah. Kind of a tit.
But i'll give him being a principled tit, giving up the money with the credit.

(Where'd you get that picture of me for the top, though? Oh - wait. Didn't see how much was still on top.)

Rip Jagger said...

Very interesting. I pretty much agree with what you say about the blind spot some creators have when they decry the injustice of not being given proper credit (or remuneration) for the characters they created for say DC or Marvel when they themselves appeared to gleefully write new adventures for characters created long before they were ever born. I don't want to overstate it, get what you can from publishers who are now making a mint on the imaginations of real talents, but don't mope about it so much. Comics has traditionally been a field in which creators got screwed, paid like piece work employees in what historically were akin if not actual sweatshops --their imaginations be damned. Alan Moore as you point out especially made his bones bringing fresh perspectives to vintage characters he never created, only revised, sometimes masterfully. The Watchmen are a DC product, and while Moore and Gibbons did it with gusto, the characters would not exist without the previous contributions of Steve Ditko, Joe Gill, Pat Boyette, Jim Aparo, and Pete Morisi among others. 'Nuff said!

Rip Off

Kid said...

And Swamp Thing was constructed as a scientist who'd been transformed by a bio-restorative formula into a shambling, muck-encrusted mockery of a man. Then along came Alan Moore who changed him into a Plant-Thing, with an echo of the human consciousness of a man who had died. (A bit like my 'Die to Live' post.) It's the way of such things that new creators very often add to the creations and intent of others. If not, Superman would still only be able to leap an eighth of a mile, etc. It seems that it's only Mr. Moore who considers his work sacrosanct.


And you've said what you said so masterfully, RJ, that there's not much I can add, except to say that I agree with you. I very much doubt that Stevenson, Carroll, etc., would be happy with what Mr. Moore did to their creations, so why he thinks he's entitled to complain when he thinks the same thing is being/has been done to his work (and believe that it shouldn't be) is a bit of a mystery.

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