No, Alan Moore doesn't own Watchmen

Posted by CB Droege

Alan Moore is celebrated as a genius comics writer, but also widely seen as a curmudgeon of sorts.

Lately, he’s been showing poor colors in the comics community as an enemy of DC Comics, their upcoming Watchmen prequel books, his former co-creator Dave Gibbons, and even his own fans. 

He’s repeatedly told fans and reporters that he does not approve of DC’s decision to team up with Gibbons to create Before Watchmen, and that fans should boycott the new books in protest, and that fans who don’t boycott aren’t true fans, and that’s just the most repeated part of the message.

He seems to see the creation of the new books as a personal attack, rather than the simple business decision it most certainly is.

"I tend to take this latest development as a kind of eager confirmation that [DC is] still apparently dependent on ideas that I had 25 years ago," Moore said to The New York Times last month. "[No], I don't want money. What I want is for this not to happen. As far as I know, there weren't that many prequels or sequels to Moby Dick."

Now he’s given another interview, this time with Seraphemera.com, in which he clarifies his position again. I keep waiting for the interview where he finally starts to make some sense, and stops sounding like a petulant child. This one isn’t it.

A lot of it seems like the thing he really hates is the commercialization of the product. He doesn’t like that DC makes money. It’s not that he wants some of that money. He just thinks that no one should be making money from his art.

When asked about the iconic buttons DC sold after the original publication of Watchmen, "[Selling merchandise] is fine except if it makes a profit - which they had done," Moore said, "So, that seemed cheap to me. But, up until that point I'd trusted the company and thought that they were probably decent people who, as they said, were making a genuine effort to adapt to modern times and modern morality."

It’s almost like Moore doesn’t understand how the publishing business works, or even that it is a business.

When asked about his friendship with Dave Gibbons, he explained that it was a disagreement about moving forward with this project.

"I was then offered by an increasingly frantic-sounding Dave Gibbons an unspecified but really, really large sum of money to just give my blessing for them to do these sequels and prequels," he explained. "And that he had been offered something in the region of a quarter of a million dollars to oversee the project - that it would be handled by the top talent in the industry, to which I said some quite intemperate things... So yeah, I was angry and I said some things which I still stand behind. And, that was the end of it. And, that was the end of my friendship with Dave Gibbons."

Ha also attacks the creators of the new books, and refuses to even acknowledge that they are artists, seemingly because one cannot be an artist and make money at the same time, or perhaps he thinks that they are attacking him personally as well by taking on the project.

"I don't want to [call the people working on Before Watchmen]  ‘creators.’ I feel that the industry employees who are actually working upon this book - I had only heard of about three of them - but I'm certainly not interested in seeing any of their work. But, I'm unlikely to because I don't read comics anymore and they're never going to do anything outside of comics. I think it's a shame.

"I can see why the people concerned are involved, having either never created anything original themselves or they did, but it wasn't good enough to get DC out of their current hole. It strikes me that, yes, I can understand why they took on Before Watchmen. It will probably be the only opportunity they get in their careers to actually be attached to a project that anybody outside of comics has ever heard of."

Even the fans are not safe from his ire. "As for the readers, 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.”

Moore seems very resolute in his opinions about art and creativity, which is commendable, but he’s looking at the world of comic books from on high. He’s been removed from the industry for so long that he cannot see it anymore, he’s been told he’s a genius for so long that he can see nothing beyond creation for creation’s sake, and he’s wealthy enough to never have to actually concern himself with creating something that someone would purchase.

These creators he’s attacking don’t have those luxuries, and the job of the veteran creator, if any at all, is to nurture and advise the next generation. If Moore has chosen to get out of comics, to not even read them anymore, to, of all things, even refuse to look at the proposals for the new project he’s worried about, then he should also refrain from making comment. He’s trying to use his sway over the fans of the industry to run a personal vendetta. If anyone looks like a villain in this story, it’s Moore.