Tuesday, March 13, 2012
That Weird Guy with a Beard
Alan Moore, you are a weird bastard and you whine like a little girl. But dammit, sometimes you have a point.
I think most comic book fans are well aware of who Alan Moore is. For those of you who aren’t in the same awesome circle as me, Alan Moore is a famous comic book writer/creator, who in addition to writing acclaimed stories for Swamp Thing and Superman, has done works that you may be more familiar with: Watchmen. V For Vendetta. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. From Hell. Highly divisive movie adaptations have been made for many of his works (like the ones I just mentioned), but you'd never know Alan Moore wrote them because he refuses to be associated with the movies. Take that as you will.
I’m writing about Moore today, because I have been following the story of DC Comics’ upcoming and ill-advised Before Watchmen prequel books. There’s going to be seven of them (with a Crimson Corsair back-up feature in each), all six issues in length with a price-tag of $3.99 per issue. The prequel “event” will actually contain more books than the original Watchmen book did. Famous creators such as J. Mchael Straczynski, Brian Azzarello, Len Wein and Darwyn Cooke are behind them. So, can you guess who else is not happy about these prequels other than me?
Why, Alan Moore of course!
Read these excerpts from an interview he did recently with Seraphemera.org about Before Watchmen, the use of public domain characters and more. Moore’s words will say much more about this than I possibly can:
“I have to say that if you are a reader that just wanted your favorite characters on tap forever, and never cared about the creators, then actually you’re probably not the kind of reader that I was looking for. I have a huge respect for my audience. On the occasions when I meet them, they seem, I like to think, to be intelligent and scrupulous people. If people do want to go out and buy these Watchmen prequels, they would be doing me an enormous favor if they would just stop buying my other books. When I think of my audience, I like to have good thoughts and think about how lucky I am to have one that is as intelligent as mine and as moral as mine. [...] The kind of readers who are prepared to turn a blind eye when the people who create their favorite reading material, their favorite characters, are marginalized or put to the wall — that’s not the kind of readers I want. So, even if it means a huge drop in sales upon my other work, I would prefer it that way. I mean, there’s no way I can police this, of course. But, I would hope that you wouldn’t want to buy a book knowing that its author actually had complete contempt for you. So, I’m hoping that will be enough.”
“If DC [Comics] want to soil themselves in public and kill the reputations of a number of otherwise possibly halfway-decent writers and artists, then I’m certainly not going to stop them. And I shall take my fun and my pleasure however it comes.”
Now, if you can’t understand why Moore would be upset about prequels being done to a book he wrote that was intended to be a standalone story, then there is no helping you. Those who say “Alan Moore is a hypocrite because he’s used characters he didn’t create for his own stories before so who is he to complain,” I say shut the fuck up and exit the room, for you are clearly trolling.
Before Watchmen stretches far beyond the argument of creator rights vs. corporate rights. Yes, Alan Moore does not own Watchmen or the characters created within. Yes, he doesn’t own Watchmen because of the work-for-hire contract he was working under when he was trying to start his career. And yes, that is not the real issue here.
Let me be clear: I have no sympathy for Alan Moore not owning Watchmen. The contract he signed was customary during that time, and Alan Moore is simply a victim of circumstance. I think Mr. Moore needs to move on. He says he has, but that doesn't stop him from bringing it up in nearly every interview he’s ever done, now does it?
However, Before Watchmen is nothing more than a money-grab. I honestly don’t see how anyone can see it for anything other than that. Not only is it a money-grab (that also won't pay Moore a dime), it’s a POORLY TIMED one. Wouldn’t the best time for these stupid prequels to come out have been 3 years ago when the Watchmen movie was fresh in people’s minds and Watchmen-fever was at an all-time high?
Just by reading those excerpts, even those of you who don’t follow the comic book industry can see that Alan Moore is a crotchety, bitter old man who more than likely has an ego to rival Donald Trump. But I can’t help but agree with the guy on this issue. Is the comic book industry in such a dire state that they have to resort to taking standalone stories and whoring them out on the streets ad nauseum?
There is so much wrong with the industry right now that I could write a series of blogs about it. I won’t go into all that here, but the one point I will go into is that Before Watchmen is a clear sign that the industry is in trouble. The industry is desperate to get people into the comic book stores or to (legally) download their products, and this is one of its responses to that.
Before Watchmen shows us, the audience, that the industry believes that we’ll buy ANYthing, so here’s some extra unnecessary shit for you to buy and store that you will most likely never read again. The industry is killing itself with this opinion. The dwindling readership proves that. Before Watchmen is supposed to help?
It’s going to cost you $170 (!!!) to read all of Before Watchmen. Bear in mind, these prequels have zero input from Alan Moore.
The Original Watchmen (yay, we have to get used to saying that now) will cost you:
$9.99 on the Kindle
$11.17 as a softcover (if you get it from Amazon.com)
So for less than $12, you can read the original masterpiece, as originally intended, by the original author.
Or, you can spend $170 on a bunch of crap that will only dilute the original work.
Do as I will do and ignore Before Watchmen completely. It will keep that weird old bastard happy, at least until he decides its time to write another Neonomicon book. God help us all when that happens.