When DC Comics announced Before Watchmen, they did more than draw the ire of many a long-serving fanboy. They also added fuel to a decades-old feud with Watchmen writer and great bearded comic book wizard Alan Moore. Moore's already declared the project "evil", but he's not done yet, and he wants you to know he's happy that you're pissed, too.
In an interview with Fast Company that allowed him to further elaborate on his rage against the DC machine, Moore said that he doesn't even have any fond memories of the original Watchmen these days. The contract for the project was "creator-hostile," the period that he worked on the book is a "toxic cloud of memories," and he doesn't even have a copy of the book in his Northampton home.
But Moore's own profound dislike of DC Comics and their treatment of his creations is no secret. What's new to Moore is the outrage of his fans and fellow creators, outrage which he seems to be enjoying.
"I don't think it's going to work. From what I hear, there's a certain degree of comic creators' hostility and negative feedback posting on entertainment sites. Some people are writing petitions. I would have never have asked any of the readers to do that, but I'm genuinely grateful," Moore said. "It's not a kind of reaction I can ever remember from a readership before. I would have thought, from a DC perspective, that's it's a lose-lose perspective, unless they did something better or as good as Watchmen. But realistically, that's not going to happen, otherwise it would have happened before."
And Moore's not just complaining about his rights as a creator. He also happens to think that prequelizing a story like Watchmen just destroys everything the source material was about in the first place.
"It seems a bit desperate to go after a book famous for its artistic integrity," he said. "It's a finite series. Watchmen was said to actually provide an alternative to the superhero story as an endless soap opera. To turn that into just another superhero comic that goes on forever demonstrates exactly why I feel the way I do about the comics industry. It's mostly about franchises. Comic shops these days barely sell comics. It's mostly spinoffs and toys."
Despite all the outcry, Before Watchmen is still happening, and DC's not going to stop sticking up for it. Co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee packed some of the biggest names in comics into this project, and after the successful launch of the New 52 last fall, they're hoping this is yet another gamble that will yield a big payoff.
"One of the key characteristics of the comic book medium is that it is not brought to life by just one voice," said Lee. "These universes are developed and evolved by multiple creative voices, over multiple generations. The influx of new stories is essential to keeping the universes relevant, current, and alive. Watchmen is a cornerstone of both DC Comics' publishing history and its future. As a publisher, we'd be remiss not to expand upon and explore these characters and their stories. We're committed to being an industry leader, which means making bold creative moves."
But just as DC won't stop plugging the project, Moore won't stop decrying it. He even said he's considering some kind of legal action to stop Before Watchmen, in an effort to preserve the "dignity and integrity" of his work. And even if he doesn't take DC to court, we'll still have lots of wonderful new Alan Moore quips about the lack of originality in entertainment these days.
Quips like this one:
"Now you've got theme park rides as the source material of movies. The only things left are breakfast cereal mascots. In our lifetime, we will see Johnny Depp playing Captain Crunch."