This morning, the comic book industry reacted in extremes to the news that DC is revisiting its Watchmen universe, releasing six mini-series that serve as prequels to the long-revered — and previously untouched — Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons story.
Predictably Watchmen’s eccentric genius writer Alan Moore is displeased, noting that Moby Dick didn’t have prequels.
Newsarama emailed out for responses from various comics industry insiders. This one here from Peter David striking back at Moore is particularly clever:
When you’re talking about “creators,” I suspect you’re mostly talking about Alan Moore. David Gibbons’ judicious phrasing about the endeavor, I think, expresses a positive mindset in seeing the work as a tribute, an homage, especially when one considers that Watchmen began its creative life as an updating of the Charlton characters; if it had remained that, then Moore would have had nothing to say about ownership to begin with, “draconian” contracts or no.
I think Moore is on more slippery grounds, asserting that these prequels are DC’s simply depending upon 25 year old ideas of his, implying that it’s a sign of some sort of creative bankruptcy. Yes, Moore — whom I’ve never had the honor of meeting — is correct that there is no sequel to “Moby Dick.” But Moore’s position is odd considering he took characters created by Jules Verne and Bram Stoker and turned them into superheroes, and transformed beloved literary heroines into subjects of erotica. Does public domain automatically make one morally superior in recycling the iconic characters created by authors who are no longer around to voice their protests? Considering his Moby Dick comparison, apparently he doesn’t think so. Does the fact that it’s a corporation taking the initiative rather than a single individual automatically make the endeavor inferior? That’s a hard argument to make considering that a corporate entity desiring to utilize its properties led to “Watchmen” in the first place. The fact that Moore is so vehemently opposed to the other authors working upon his characters — characters that are pastiches of Charlton Comics creators — might tell you something about how L. Frank Baum would likely have reacted to Moore’s handling of Dorothy. And if that’s the case, people who stridently protest Watchmen prequels might want to reconsider the moral validity of their ire.
To me, DC’s announcement simply means that Alan Moore’s work has reached the iconic status of such characters as Superman and Swamp Thing, about both of whom Moore has graced us with some of the most compelling and memorable stories ever told. Let us hope that the storytelling bar that Moore has set in his own work on other people’s creations will be met — and perhaps even exceeded — by those who are now following his lead.
What could this be referring to: “transformed beloved literary heroines into subjects of erotica”? In Lost Girls Moore wrote and his future wife Melinda Gebbie illustrated a series of explicit updates of Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and Peter Pan. And now, having made pornographic versions of other writers’ creations he speaks up when his own work is reinterpreted?