Warren Ellis talking about Alan Moore
It’s not the job of the artist to give the audience what the audience wants. If the audience knew what they needed, then they wouldn’t be the audience. They would be the artists. It is the job of artists to give the audience what they need.
I find it tragic but quite pertinent to this piece that the loudest voice in our business – the one that carries the furthest and is taken most seriously by the mainstream media – is the one that offers nothing but contempt and denunciation, with barely a single good word to say about any of the many accomplished and individual writers currently working in mainstream comics, let alone the wealth of brilliant indie creators. Does he ever, for instance, use his high media profile to do anything other than steer potential readers away from modern comic books and their creators – while over-playing his own achievements and placing himself centre stage at every turn? How hard would it be to say something encouraging, positive, or hopeful about the generally improved standard of writing in all comic books these days? Or at least say nothing at all.
And if I may untangle the logic behind so much of his hectoring: Moore constantly reiterates the idea that all modern comics are copied from stuff he did in the ’80s – and they’re all rubbish!
Is he genuinely saying that his influence has been entirely malignant? If he actually believed that, I’d almost feel sorry for him. I see my own influence all over the place and I’m quite chuffed.
…the moral indignation regarding Before Watchmen is really starting to make me feel a little sick.
Because if any of these people actually felt that strongly about the issues involved they a) wouldn’t read any of Moore’s work because he’s pretty much guilty of all the things people take issue with before watchmen over himself; and b) wouldn’t read any mainstream books at all and would only read creator owned books and nothing else.
That leaves aside the whole point that this is in no way a black and white issue and the fact that people act like it is really winds me up.
I’ve never seen any compelling evidence as to point A)-everyone who brings this up also curiously fails to provide links every time-, and as to point B) Tom Spurgeon sums it up best:
In cases like More Watchmen, I think the companies involved are very much insulated from even an unlikely significant drop in profits and bad publicity. If profits are five percent less than what they should be at a comics company, everything we know about the last two decades indicates it’s much more likely more people will be fired and page rates reduced than policy changed. I think if you’re going to promote a response in terms of its bottom-line efficacy, you need to really grapple with what that is and why that is. Otherwise, if you don’t pull it off, your failure to do so becomes a tacit endorsement of the virtues that you’re trying to foil.
90% of what I buy and read these days is in fact creator-owned work; I do still pick up Daredevil and The Flash; I am aware of Gene Colan’s horrendous treatment at the hands of Marvel; I do not believe that cutting royalties from Mark Waid and his artistic collaborators will cause any practical change towards Marvel policy and so, instead, I choose to reward good work when I see it. I’m not going to read Before Watchmen because it’s scab-work, created at the behest of editorial and corporate entities who value profit over art. If I see a new argument for the legitimacy of Before Watchmen I will grapple with it, but every argument/fallacy that has been ginned up in order to apologize for DC’s outrageous behavior has been rebuked by parties more eloquent than myself.
This is important, this is not people just “looking for something to be upset about.” I personally want a comic book industry where creator’s rights are honored, and where luminaries like Alan Moore and Jack Kirby are treated with, if not reverence, at the very least respect from the people who have enjoyed the fruits of their labors for years and years and years. Before Watchmen is a step in the precise opposite direction, an indictment of a culture where the men and women who make these things are considered tertiary in importance to the “IP” and I, personally, will have no part of it.
I’m sorry if that “sickens” you.
Yeah, I’m sorry if I can’t provide links to conversations I’ve had with people who’ve actually worked with Moore and been shafted by him…I’m afraid I don’t post all of my conversations on the internet.
Really, I’m done with arguing about this. The idea that “owning all the rights to your creation” is the only morally justifiable business model in any creative industry is simply absurd. Sometimes it is entirely okay to do work for hire, get paid for that work and then, you know, actually be able to put food on your table and pay your rent each month. There’s nothing morally wrong, IMHO, with paying people to create IPs for you…that’s a job…that’s how paid employment works.
Also, your response to point b) utterly missed my point.
The Beat’s Before Watchmen post today is the best our medium can inspire, even if it’s better than our fandom on each side (and some of our industry peeps) deserves.
This is a great article, but do you know what the most horrifying thing in it is? It’s the suggestion that their might have been a recoloured Watchmen. And that Moore would have been okay with that. Recolouring Watchmen would be a travesty far beyond Before Watchmen, because Before Watchmen doesn’t alter a single page of the original - but a recoloured Watchmen would alter every single last page of the book.
It just shows how undervalued colouring is and how undervalued colourists are. John Higgins is a legend. Watchmen would not be Watchmen without Higgins’ colours. The Killing Joke is not The Killing Joke without his colours, it’s just a pale imitation of the original.
Frankly, I’m disgusted and appalled that such a thing as a recoloured Watchmen was ever considered.
Watchmen sprang out of a love of superheroes too, we wouldn’t have spent so much time on it if we didn’t love the whole thing in the first place. But something was lost in the translation and some people thought, ‘Ah, black leather, stubble and a bad attitude, that’s the future of superhero comics.’
And then, of course the attitude—and I probably shared in this when I first started working for American comics—the attitude now is that it’s just toys in the toy box, isn’t it? You get to play with your favorite toys from the DC or Marvel toy box. Yeah, I don’t want to do that anymore. Those toys were pried out of the fingers of dead men, and were pried from their families and their children. That’s just wrong.
Everybody in the industry knows it’s wrong and for some reason, nobody says anything about it.
In which Alan Moore a) conflates his opinion with what everybody thinks, and b) mistakenly claims that a quite commonly held opinion is something that’s never spoken about. When it actually is. All the time. Regularly.
Can we just accept that Alan Moore doesn’t work in mainstream comics any more, doesn’t want to work in main stream comics, and that his opinions on mainstream comics aren’t gospel and come laden with a whole load of his own, personal baggage? Please?