It's not news that Alan Moore is unhappy with DC's decision to prequelize his groundbreaking creation Watchmen. He's been harping against anything of the sort for quite some time now. But what about his own use of other people's characters in things like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Isn't that the same thing?
In an exclusive web chat intended as a fundraiser for a Harvey Pekar memorial statue project in Cleveland (the details of which you can read about here), Moore addressed the apparent double standard of his League work. Why is it OK for him to take characters from the works of H. Rider Haggard, Bram Stoker and Jules Verne to create new comics but not OK for DC to take characters from his work for their own comics projects? Well, it's simple, really: Moore is just a common thief, but what DC's doing is "evil."
"In literature, I would say that it's different. I would say, and it might be splitting hairs, but I'm not adapting these characters. I'm not doing an adaptation of Dracula or King Solomon's Mines. What I am doing is stealing them. There is a difference between doing an adaptation, which is evil, and actually stealing the characters, which, as long as everybody's dead or you don't mention the names, is perfectly alright by me. I'm not trying to be glib here, I genuinely do feel that in literature you've got a tradition that goes back to Jason and the Argonauts of combining literary characters [...]
"It's just irresistible to do these fictional mash-ups. They've been going on for hundreds of years and I feel I'm a part of a proud literary tradition in doing that. With taking comic characters that have been created by cheated old men, I feel that that is different [...] and that's my take on the subject."
We comics fans don't have any complaints about Moore's use of characters from Victorian literature to create a thoroughly awesome comics project, but of course many of us have strong objections to a Watchmen continuation without Moore's involvement or even his blessing. Still, it was a question worth asking, and the answer Moore gave—aside from the somewhat hyperbolic declaration that adaptations are "evil"—was actually pretty well thought out.
Regardless of Moore's opinion, DC is going ahead with Before Watchmen. As for Moore himself, he's just announced more League of Extraordinary Gentlemen work in the form of a Captain Nemo one-shot that will be Jules Verne meets H.P. Lovecraft. We'll hopefully see that story, titled Heart of Ice, by the end of the year, while the most recent League volume—Century 2009—will drop in June.
Check out the full video of Moore's web chat below: