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Alan Moore knows the score.
June 30, 2012 8:12 AM   Subscribe

In 2010, DC Comics offered Alan Moore the rights back to Watchmen. This is a factually accurate account of what happened. (SLYT)
posted by MegoSteve (46 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like it. I hope I don't have to wait for it to be doled out in two-minute pieces though!
posted by Doug Stewart at 8:16 AM on June 30, 2012


I sort of hope that was how the conversation went.

The whole idea of "Before Watchmen" is such as to leave any sensible person torn between utter contempt for the craven greed of those responsible and wincing embarrassment at their buffoonish point-missing stupidity.
posted by lucien_reeve at 8:28 AM on June 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


"No. Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise."

I have to admit, though my policy has been to ignore the Before Watchmen stuff on the shelves as if it didn't exist I am sort of tempted to flick through the Rorschach one just to see how bad it can get.
posted by Artw at 8:47 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the extended version some of the visuals go up to *two* seconds without cuts.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:48 AM on June 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


My main complaint with Before Watchmen is that, so far, it's just a bit dull and boring with moments where the character don't quite ring true and not the gigantic train wreck I was hoping for (though the Comedian was bad enough to give me hope that it still might come to pass).
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:49 AM on June 30, 2012


Well, let's face it, the actual comics were never the point. Brand extension, folks!
posted by Artw at 8:51 AM on June 30, 2012


Oh, and FWIW LoEG Century 2009 was out in the states this week, and was great stuff (I really didn't like the last one).

Spoilerish review, though the big spoiler has been splashed over headlines all over the place now. Well, second biggest spoiler.
posted by Artw at 8:53 AM on June 30, 2012


flick through the Rorschach one just to see how bad it can get.

I can't believe my pitch was turned down... 'Rorschach's managed, so far, to keep his two girlfriends LeToya and Mary-Sue hidden from each other, but now he's only got the time to make one of them a dress for the governor's ball! Hilarity ensues!'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:56 AM on June 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Alan Moore: Bizdev Lawyer Hunter
posted by Nelson at 9:43 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


We need a word for fanfic which is supported by the original publisher but not by the author. I mean, it's different from normal fanfic like "organized crime" is different from grabbing a grape as you pass them in the fresh fruits.
posted by tyllwin at 9:54 AM on June 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Brofic?
posted by Iosephus at 10:29 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was well shot, and more interesting than the Gaiman/Moore puppets:
http://blastr.com/2012/06/puppet-alan-moore-has-rea.php

Just.

Before Watchman is not awful, but, eh.....
posted by Mezentian at 10:30 AM on June 30, 2012


And for the folks who read 2009: Oodles of nerdy annotations
posted by Artw at 10:41 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thought some Moorites might find this interesting, a talk with Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie in conversation at Nottingham Contemporary. (It's 2 hours long though...)
posted by pmcp at 11:25 AM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have no idea what you guys are talking about, but how does Alan Moore have the moral high ground here? Did he not sell the rights in the first place? Or is that the joke.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:34 AM on June 30, 2012


He gave them the rights while it was in print. And then when it turned out to be popular they just never let it go out of print - something that was unexpected at the time.

And now they are making derivative works, signaling they never want to give it up.

(if they somehow fuck up and don't print it one year what happens? Does he suddenly own all that crap?)

Plus the whole thing about Beyond Watchmen being pointless and awful from a purely artistic point of view.
posted by Artw at 11:40 AM on June 30, 2012


I am sort of tempted to flick through the Rorschach one just to see how bad it can get

Then I'll peek at your description of it, but otherwise I'm hiding from Before Watchmen as deeply as I can. Rorschach's the only fanatic right-wing nutjob in fiction I've ever truly loved*, and I'm not giving DC a chance to mess with that, either by softening his unpleasantness or making him more strident.

However, I'm really looking forward to the analyses of the situation from the fanfiction scholarship view. "Who watches the watchmen, and who has the right to decide what they watch?"

* I know Moore would argue liking Rorschach is Missing The Point, but I think Moore underestimated (many) fans' appreciation for character complexity. (For those who agree with Rorschach 100%, let us just back away quietly.)
posted by nicebookrack at 11:42 AM on June 30, 2012


Having now read a bit about one of the spoilers at the heart of Century 2009, I really want to talk about it - but not to spoil the book for those who have not read it. Alan Moore is a serious thinker and a clever man, and I feel his ideas deserve respectful engagement even when I disagree with them.

What bothers me is that he seems to be attacking and blaming a particular author for the present bad state of culture. I feel this blame is misplaced.

In fact, I would go further and say that Moore's approach to his critique strikes me as fundamentally flawed. For me, the most depressing thing about contemporary culture is the prevalence of sequels and remakes. With movies, the problem is particularly obvious (SPIDERMAN? Already?). But it's there in books, too: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES is actually a thing. This is the cancer that is killing culture - and it is uncomfortably close to the injoke riddled, endlessly referential world of the LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN itself. Moore cannot subject contemporary culture to the critique it really needs, because he is producing another example (admittedly much cleverer) of exactly this dispiriting mirror-maze of depthless repetition.

On the other hand, the author that he seems to be implicitly blaming for the whole mess at least took her influences and fused them into something reasonably original and fruitful. Her work succeeds on its own terms, not because of the fun of spotting references to things other people created. I think that Moore is absolutely right that contemporary culture has problems, but they come from the postmodern acquiescence to neoliberalism, the rise of the "geek" audience and the relentless logic of marketing rather than one of the few mega writers in contemporary culture to display some integrity despite her success.
posted by lucien_reeve at 11:43 AM on June 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


(It's 2 hours long though...)

Time enough for Moore to finish a sentence.
posted by Peevish at 11:56 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


He gave them the rights while it was in print. And then when it turned out to be popular they just never let it go out of print - something that was unexpected at the time.

A neat-if-nasty play on DC's part, an opening volley of society & technological advances leapfrogging over outdated contract law. IIRC this now (has been? is?) a problem at different publishers for other authors, whose book-rights would traditionally return to the author once the published book fell out of print. But in the advent of ebooks / print-on-demand publishing, the publisher can say "The book's not out of print! Last year we sold fifty ebooks / ten POD paperback books / (or whatever)!" and so hang onto the book indefinitely, even though there are no longer any extant published copies waiting in a warehouse anywhere.
posted by nicebookrack at 11:56 AM on June 30, 2012


Time enough for Moore to finish a sentence

And many, many spliffs.
posted by howfar at 12:03 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nicebrookrack - it the contract was actually hailed as a great step forwards for creator rights at the time...
posted by Artw at 12:10 PM on June 30, 2012


What bothers me is that he seems to be attacking and blaming a particular author for the present bad state of culture. I feel this blame is misplaced.

TBH I don't think it's an attack on her anymore than Book 2 is an attack on Kenneth Grahame - he's just doing the same thing he's been doing with fictional characters in all his books.
posted by Artw at 12:43 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


All his LOEG books, that is.
posted by Artw at 12:44 PM on June 30, 2012


I still can't give him the high ground Artw, because I'm not really the kind of person to get pissed off at someone else for my own major fuck ups. What they do with the property seems besides the point.
posted by Brocktoon at 2:02 PM on June 30, 2012


I think some fictional characters he treats with more affection and respect than others.
posted by lucien_reeve at 2:48 PM on June 30, 2012


I've bought the first issues of both the Minutemen and the Silk Spectre miniseries, and seen excerpts from a couple of the other series (Comedian and Nite Owl), and they confirm what I'd been anticipating from this project: some of the art is good (Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner on the first two, respectively), but the stories either fill in superfluous details or err in their desire to try to "round out" the particular characters. (The exception to this, arguably, is Silk Spectre, who was probably the least well-rounded character of the original book; her biographical chapter seemed to focus as much on her relationship with the Comedian as it did on her personally.)

Nevertheless, most of the commenters on the major comics blogs still seem to be endlessly repeating the same old misconception: that 1) Moore is objecting to people using his characters, and that 2) that's hypocritical because he made his bones in comics by using other creators' characters, or mashups of characters, or pretty common character tropes, including, of course, the characters in Watchmen, who started out as characters in the short-lived Charlton Comics (and some of whom, particularly Blue Beetle, the Question, and Captain Atom, went on to have their own titles with varying degrees of success at DC, after Watchmen raised their profile).

This is, to put it plainly, bullshit. Moore has, to the best of my knowledge, not objected to the use of characters that he doesn't own. What he has objected to is the continuation or adaptation of stories that he considers to be complete and fine the way that they are, including Watchmen, some back-up stories that he wrote about three decades or so ago for Green Lantern that were dusted off and made the basis of some big mega-crossover "events" at DC a few years back, and the movie adaptations of just about every book of his that's been adapted for the movies so far. It did not extend to his run on Marvelman/Miracleman, which was continued by Neil Gaiman, or just about all of his characters from America's Best Comics, which he let his co-creators use after he stopped writing them following parent company WildStorm's acquisition by DC.

He's taken some pains to explain all of this in numerous interviews, and could be considered to be intemperate at times in how he put things (in one case, he said, in contrast to DC saying that they were putting "first-rate talent" on Before Watchmen, that there was no first-rate talent in comics any more, something that I don't think is true, at least in the case of Cooke and Conner). This sort of thing is seized on by fanboys who are butthurt because, as is typical of fanboys, want stories and artistic teams that they like to go on forever and ever, and don't like one of comics' most prominent and lauded creators telling them that sometimes that's a bad idea. Hence the "Moore won't let the other kids play with his toys, even though he's played with theirs" meme, and it's rolled over onto this last volume of LoEG, in which he's supposedly picked on poor little you-know-who.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:20 PM on June 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


There are creators who have gotten right and truly screwed by DC and Marvel. Alan Moore is not one of them.

Moore signed a contract that gave DC the rights to Watchmen so long as it was in print, never stopping to think that this gave DC an easy way to keep the rights for as long as they wanted them. DC then using that contract term to actually retain the rights isn't all that nice, perhaps, but it's hardly on the same level as DC's treatment of Siegel & Shuster, or Marvel's treatment of Kirby.
posted by Frayed Knot at 4:39 PM on June 30, 2012


He probably gives too many interviews explaining things, TBH, or at least too many to asshole "journalists" looking for link bait.

"do you still dislike DC?"
"Yurss"
"Ok! Headline! That's a wrap!"
posted by Artw at 4:39 PM on June 30, 2012


it's hardly on the same level as DC's treatment of Siegel & Shuster, or Marvel's treatment of Kirby.

Shit is shit. It doesn't matter if other shit is shittier.
posted by Artw at 4:45 PM on June 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Moore signed a contract that gave DC the rights to Watchmen so long as it was in print, never stopping to think that this gave DC an easy way to keep the rights for as long as they wanted them.

...which suggests that he should have had the incredible foresight to see something that has never happened before in the history of comics: a graphic novel that was perpetually in print. I get really tired of the line of reasoning that Alan Moore somehow deserved to be screwed over for a lack of business acumen. It's like rooting for Ebeneezer Scrooge. DC managed to find a contract loophole when it was obviously Moore's understanding that the rights would come back to him. That's 100% legal, but it doesn't mean DC's actions in the process aren't immoral.

What's really sad is that DC's shortsightedness in resolving this matter has denied them decades of profitable partnership with one of the most brilliant storytellers in comics. It cannot be understated how much money they've left on the table by alienating Alan Moore.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:27 PM on June 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've read one of the prequels and it was excellent. Nite Owl, IIRC.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:04 PM on June 30, 2012


I don't think anyone is saying that DC is rainbows and unicorns. My perspective is, why should I get aggro about him selling out, which is how it appears he wants me to be. But maybe I don't have the right perspective. I'm more of a Shirow manga man myself. And when was the last time he gave an interview? Shit, no one even knows what he looks like.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:20 PM on June 30, 2012


And when was the last time he gave an interview? Shit, no one even knows what he looks like.


When (and what), indeed.

posted by Halloween Jack at 7:56 PM on June 30, 2012


Oh, this might help explain how Moore didn't get the rights. You know comic trade paperbacks, collecting a run of comics? They simply didn't exist in 1986. As far as I can tell with a bit of research, "Watchmen" and "The Dark Knight Returns" were the first comics collected into trade paperbacks. There were graphic novels before it, like "Maus," that were created for the trade, but I can't find any collected trades before those two.

So, the expectation was for the single issues to fall out of print within a month or two, and then the copyright would fall back to Moore & Gibbons. It's just the unprecedented format of collected trade paperbacks that changed that.
posted by Pronoiac at 8:34 PM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm talking about Shirow, boss.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:51 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


We can dig it.
posted by hattifattener at 12:54 AM on July 1, 2012


Just ordered 2009 from amazon. I didn't like 1969 either. Parts were eerily similar to the rock concert in the Iluminatus books. The rock concert to immanentize the eschaton.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:00 AM on July 1, 2012


Pronoiac, there were two or three Love and Rockets collections in print before the Dark Knight and Watchmen TPBs came out in 1986. The original Donning/Starblaze Elfquest collections were issued in 1981-1983. There were also the six pre-"phonebook" Swords of Cerebus collections.

Titan Books was publishing trades in the UK in the early '80s as well (Judge Dredd, etc.); in fact their collection of Moore's National Lampoon-"inspired" D.R. And Quinch may have hit shelves before the Watchmen book did. So, certainly not common at the time, but hardly unheard-of.

(Marvel was publishing TPB collections back in the '70s too, but I think they gathered individual stories rather than sequential runs of full issues.)
posted by Lazlo at 1:19 AM on July 1, 2012


With the benefit of hindsight the Big Bad in Century could have hardly been anything else - one of the biggest cultural phenomena in our world at the time that also happened to be both British and magic. When I first read it I was thinking 'blimey, AM really doesn't like NAME RETRACTED FOR SPOILERS, does he?'. Now I don't think it's quite so personal and just fits in with his ideas that culture has become increasingly bland and a mash-up of the past which I have a lot of sympathy with (even though I like said cultural biggie). Of course the irony is that Moore is doing a mash-up of the past / other peoples ideas himself - but I'd say he's doing something different and more interesting here... there's a whole essay in that, which hopefully I'll get around to writing. Need to have a bit of a think and a re-read of the whole of LEOG first.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:05 AM on July 1, 2012


Just ordered 2009 from amazon. I didn't like 1969 either. Parts were eerily similar to the rock concert in the Iluminatus books. The rock concert to immanentize the eschaton.

I think that's very definatly the miller he was going for, and it's not like there isn't a ton of material in the rock/occult crossover of the late sixties, and it's stuff I'd usually lap up, but for whatever reason it just didn't work for me. I think maybe the story was a bit too anticlimactic to be any fun, and the Where's Waldo aspect just seemed a bit irritating, and often obscure and cryptic. That actually hurts the end a little: if you've not read supposedly hated authors work, like me, you'll have no idea who the guy in the park is.

Maybe I'll reread it and enjoy it more, but I actually disliked it to the point where liking 2009 as much as I did was a big suprise to me.
posted by Artw at 6:07 AM on July 1, 2012


There's also an immanentize-the-eschaton rock concert in George R.R. Martin's The Armageddon Rag, which is a sort of murder mystery/Eddie and the Cruisers/Putting the Band Back Together[TVTropes] book, with some elements of where-did-our-hippie-ideals-go a la Return of the Secaucus Seven or The Big Chill.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:13 AM on July 1, 2012


Watching 'Watchmen’: A Classic Comic’s Classless Return
posted by Artw at 2:50 PM on July 3, 2012


Meanwhile, in Glasgow...

Frank: But none of the projects have actually been the same. I mean what we're working on just now, Pax Americana, it's actually been the most labour intensive collaboration yet-

Grant: Yeah it's been difficult, like doing calculus. The idea was, I’m doing this series called Multiversity next year which is a bunch of superhero books in different parallel universes, and one of them's the Charlton characters. So one of the ideas I had was since the Watchmen were based on some of the Charlton characters, to do a book about the Charlton characters, we've kind of updated some of the storytelling techniques from Watchmen, because nobody's really done much with them. The kind of books that are out just now are tackling it in a very different way I thought, it would be really interesting to the challenge of those beautiful crystalline mirrored structures that exist in that world. So we kind of tried to find a new way to do it. Stuff like, where they had a nine panel structure, we've got this 8 panel grid and it's based on the musical harmonics and it's all to do with DC, and this ringing frequency.

posted by Artw at 4:28 PM on July 5, 2012


Neil Gaiman’s writing a prequel to Sandman in 2013
posted by homunculus at 12:16 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which is an odd way of framing it, since IIRC the existing body of Sandman work jumps around in time from the very dawn of all things to the end of time itself. But I assume this is whatever fight he was having immediately before his capture in Sandman #1.
posted by Artw at 1:16 PM on July 13, 2012


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