…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.
We need comics. We don’t need the comic mainstream – certainly not as much as it needs us. And we wouldn’t even be having this argument about Watchmen if that book wasn’t part of that industry. It couldn’t have existed without it, it wouldn’t have been relevant without it, and most of us wouldn’t have even had the chance to read it without it.
We don’t have to give a shit about Watchmen, or Before Watchmen. We choose to.
We don’t have to fight about issues that we really have no skin in. We choose to.
We should really grow out of it.
Last Friday I wrote a really long post over at my site about Before Watchmen. It was probably too long, fence-sitting and unstructured to get as much widespread attention as some of the more aggressive pieces out there, but I still feel everything in it.
This is the tiniest part of it - a sentiment that I feel is pretty important - you can read the whole thing here.
I’ve just read the whole thing, and it is most definitely worth reading.
…it’s funny how Alan Moore was “perfectly happy,” his words not mine, with the deal on Watchmen until it became the most successful graphic novel of all time. Something which neither he nor DC could have anticipated. He and they both foresaw a time when the book would be out of print for over a year, that didn’t happen because it has been the most successful graphic novel of all time. In his own words he and Dave Gibbons were paid “a substantial amount of money” for the rights, were completely aware of the terms under which those rights would revert to them, and were, again, in Mr Moore’s own words, “perfectly happy” with that.
DC didn’t pull a fast one. DC didn’t con them. DC didn’t hide from them the terms of the contract they were signing. DC haven’t kept the book in print at a financial loss to themselves out of spite, it has consistently made them money.
What should DC have done? Should they, on discovering that they had, in fact, acquired the rights to the most successful graphic novel of all time, ripped up the contract and handed the rights over to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons? What kind of business sense would that make?
I honestly don’t get this…I don’t understand how a deal that everyone involved with and Alan Moore specifically was “perfectly happy” with is now a “dirty deal”…purely because the project ended up being the most successful graphic novel of all time. Something which no-one involved…not Moore, not Gibbons and certainly not DC could have foreseen at the time.
It’s funny how people are happy to bang on about “creators rights” and how Alan Moore was supposedly ripped off by DC over Watchmen…
…but nobody cares about the complete lack of credit, or financial compensation, that the creators of the characters that everyone in Watchmen was based on has received.
Watchmen was originally conceived as a series that would utilise the old Charlton heroes that DC had recently acquired the rights to.
The Comedian = Peacemaker (created by Joe Gill and Pat Boyette)
Doctor Manhattan = Captain Atom (created by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko)
Nite Owl = Blue Beetle/Ted Kord (created by Steve Ditko)
Ozymandias = Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt (created by Pete Morisi)
Rorschach = The Question, and also Mr A (created by Steve Ditko)
Silk Spectre = Nightshade (created by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko)
Obviously, I was being a little facetious earlier in saying that none of the above creators have received any financial compensation as a result of the success of Watchmen. As much as the series was originally conceived as a vehicle for these characters, by the time it saw print it’s fair to say that the characters in Watchmen were merely inspired by these characters…were based upon them…or, perhaps, were an homage to them. I guess, part of the point that I’m trying to make here is that these characters did not solely spring from the mind of Mr Moore, genius that he undoubtedly is. That, perhaps, the very notion of the “ownership” of these characters…these concepts…these ideas…is a little muddier…a little less cut and dried…than people might assume. Also, I find it amusing that so many of these characters were created by Steve Ditko…the incredibly hard done by co-creator of Spider-Man, something that Stan Lee continues to be very reluctant to give him any credit for. It amuses me because people are extremely quick to dismiss Dave Gibbons’ opinions where Watchmen is concerned, and certainly when it comes to any prequels or sequels to the original…and yet he, surely, deserves just as much credit for its brilliance as Moore does.
Ultimately, Moore and Gibbons originally agreed to write and illustrate Watchmen according to the terms of a contract that was standard within DC at the time. With hindsight, due to the immense success of the book, DC have ended up doing far better out of that contract than any of the creators of the work. It should be mentioned that, no doubt, there have been many occasions where the creators in question ended up getting the better end of the deal out of this same contract. Alan Moore, naturally, feels a little hard done by as a result of this. This, and a host of other bad experiences, have led him to choose not to work with DC Comics ever again, as is his prerogative, and I completely defend his right to do that. He can work with or not work with whoever he likes (I’d love to have that luxury…but, hey, he has that…because he was the guy who wrote Watchmen…hmm…maybe he got something out of writing the book after all? But I digress…). DC have done nothing here but abide by the terms of the contract. They could have had no idea at the time that it was signed that the book would be the vast success that it has been. That it would be the best selling graphic novel of all time and remain in print constantly since its first publication. Unless, of course, the people at DC at the time were wizards…but I suspect there was only one wizard involved in the creation of Watchmen.
So, DC are left owning the most successful property in Western super hero comics. The original creator of which refuses to ever do any more work for them. That is his right. And, according to the contract, they rightfully own it. They’re a business, a business that exists in an industry that is currently fighting for its very survival. Are we really going to begrudge them attempting to exploit that property to earn them some much needed revenue?
If there are to be more Watchmen comics, and, to be honest, I highly doubt that there will be, they may well be shit…they might be amazingly good. One thing you don’t have to do is read them. Equally, one thing they also won’t do is change a single thing about the original work. It will still be a masterpiece. It will still be the best selling graphic novel of all time.
So, that’s my thoughts on Watchmen and all the nonsense about possible prequel mini-series.
As a good friend of mine is wont to say - peace, love and dolphin friendly tuna!