What’s Wrong With You? I Have No Problem with BEFORE WATCHMEN

I want you to imagine that you’re sitting on the Board of Directors for DC Comics. I have no idea if they actually have their own board, but play along. They want and need to replicate the immense success from the launch of the New 52, and keep their momentum going, and show the parent company that even though their revenues are sort of miniscule in comparison to other divisions of Time Warner, they’re still valuable. Someone looks at the sales for the last 10 years, and notices that this Watchmen book keeps selling well and consistently year after year.

“Why don’t we do more of that? Do we have the rights?”

Well, yes of course they have the rights. When they signed a deal with the creators, the deal stated that the rights will revert back to the creators when the book goes out of print. At the time, it wasn’t a big deal, but the book kept selling, so they kept reprinting it. Rights never reverted back to the creators, because it didn’t happen.

“So we’re in the clear on this. Will it upset the creators?”

One of them, Dave Gibbons is all for it. He’s a team player. He’s got other stuff going on, but the more that book sells, the more money he makes, rights or no. Its funded his career. The other guy, Alan Moore, arguably the greatest writer in comics history, has burned all his bridges with DC Comics years ago. DC have no impetus to keep him happy, because he’s already unhappy.

Then they go ahead, knowing full well that people will explode when they hear the news. They combat that with the best tool they have. They put the very best creators they can find on the books, and the talent simply can’t be argued with. The only thing to do now is create the best books they can, and wait for them to hit.

It could go badly, but that line wide relaunch got a lot of similar reactions too, and look how that turned out. Huge success. For a time.

If you were in that position, your job on the line, and all the contracts on your side, what would you do? Was someone in that boardroom going to stand up and say, “Guys, this is wrong. It’s a beloved piece of literature, and if we mess with it, people will think less of us.”

If he did, he got laughed at. Hard.

Watchmen is one of the finest pieces of adult comic book literature ever produced. It will remain so. Every time I read it, I find something new to be impressed with and learn from. It’s also over 25 years old, and it has made the creators very famous, and quite possibly very wealthy.

Alan Moore

No one has ever described, or thought of, Alan Moore as a naive babe in the woods. He was presented with a deal, and he signed that deal. He reaped a whole lot more reward than most have from comics, and he did so building his story upon blocks that were put there by others. After signing that deal, and many others, he decided he’d had enough of mainstream comics, and jumped ship, as was his right, and I celebrate it. He also has never equaled the quality of creative output since he struck out on his own. His best stuff (which he regularly decries) does not belong to him. That’s not a great thing, but it’s also important to remember that he exists on a timeline of evolving stances on creator’s rights and work-for-hire practices. The deal Moore got was better than the deal almost anyone before him got.

More, the people who gave him that deal were the same people who finally gave Jack Kirby a backend deal on the projects he created for DC Comics. They went so far as to use Kirby’s New Gods characters in the Super Powers action figures and cartoons, bringing in more money for the guy who never got a break from Marvel Comics. This was a couple of years before the Watchmen deal was signed.

Was it a bad deal? Maybe. Rumor says the creators get something around 2% of the profits on Watchmen. But at the time, there was no precedent. Moore and Gibbons would get the rights back after DC stopped using the characters or printing the book for a year. It never happened. It broke one way no one expected, and as happens, the house won. They’ve been back to Moore over the years to work things out, but Moore doesn’t want to work with them. It’s not because he’s a crazy lunatic. He’s not. He’s proud. He’s got a code, and he won’t play their games. Fair enough. Moore was not the easiest person to work with, and he thought the same about DC Comics. But he signed the deal. He didn’t predict the trade market of the future, and lost out on that front, because it’s never gone out of print. Someone had to learn that lesson, and in this instance, the creators learned it, just as Siegel & Shuster, and Simon & Kirby learned their lessons.

But they’re going to make more books. They have that right. Morality and what’s right doesn’t come into it.

Before the Watchmen movie came out, I thought it would be the worst thing ever. I didn’t want it to happen. Then it did, and I saw the movie, mostly forgot about it, and moved on. The Watchmen book is still on my shelf, and it’s still brilliant, and it sold a whole lot more copies as a result. It is an untouchable piece of literature and its reputation and place in history will remain untouched. No goofy sequels or prequels will leave a scratch on its surface. They will succeed or fail on their own merits. The creators involved are not bad guys. They’re people working in comics trying to make their way. They’re not stealing anything. If they are, then so is everyone who’s ever worked on a Jack Kirby creation, or a story with Superman. If you’re going to throw those stones, you’ve got a lot of targets, and your hypocrisy will eventually bite you in the ass.

If the solution is anger at the system, and to only buy creator owned comics, great. There are many wonderful comics that could use your attention. But you might also be missing out on the work of some of the most talented people working in the medium. It’s a principled stand that some will make, but it feels pointless. There aren’t many comic book readers left. In most cases, it’s best to read the best stories, and let the people behind the desks sort the rest out.

Like the New 52 relaunch, this is going to drive people into comic stores. Comics in general need to seize this chance again, and put their best foot forward. If these books succeed, people might come back. Retailers will have a chance to sell them more product. If creators want to beat Before Watchmen, they had better get working on churning out incredible product to blow people’s minds away. That’s the best weapon after all. Beat them. Then everyone wins.

Comments

  1. GKFinns GKFinns says:

    I’ve been trying to argue for the Before Watchmen comics since the announcement – stating the amazing creative teams, the fact that a series of prequels won’t change or mess with the incredible ending of Watchmen itself, and that from a business perspective it just makes sense. But I’ve never been able to articulate it well enough to really get my point across.

    Kudos to you sir, for putting it so eloquently.

  2. Gerry Lopez Gerry Lopez says:

    YES!

  3. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    nice article, i mentioned to someone about his other book V for vndetta, why isnt love to that book as much as watchmen, V is comletely original, watchmen is basd on someone elses ideas?

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      All stories have influences and inspirations. Some are more obvious than others.

    • PraxJarvin PraxJarvin says:

      V for Vendetta was – on some level – originally intended to be a Marvel book using the character of Citizen V. Citizen V was a disused, fairly obscure Golden Age-era Marvel Superhero who was from England. (The title would then explain what the V in Citizen V stood for.).

      I don’t think it ever got beyond a conceptual phase and then he took the idea and went in a different direction what with his mad-on for Marvel.

      So it’s not “completely original.”

  4. markish markish says:

    I kind of want to marry Josh…

  5. bobby2889 says:

    I was initially against it until I couldn’t think of a valid reason why. Now i just hope its great.

    DC are getting really smart lately. Which was definitely needed. Call it gimmicks if you like but its savvier than Marvel’s string of ‘gimmicks’ as of late. Pull your socks up folks.

  6. MaxPower MaxPower says:

    There will be 700 comments on this post by the end of the day. I’m almost afraid of it. Anyway, Josh this was fantastic and I wholeheartedly agree. Really well thought out! Please continue with the “What’s Wrong with You!” posts for as long as you are able.

  7. lifesend lifesend says:

    That may be the only picture I’ve seen of Alan Moore smiling. It’s very…odd.

  8. pyynk pyynk says:

    Thank you. I have no problem with anyone who honestly has no interest in the books, that’s totally their right and choice. But with the creative teams involved, they’re ultimately losing out.

  9. burleson33 says:

    Couldn’t say it any better. Great article.

  10. Sometimes comic fans are “too close” to the material and forget that this is also a business. Every single smart business on this planet looks at their products and reacts to consumer buying habits. Comics are struggling right now…they need to take any opportunity they can.

    Moore also provides an incredibly important lesson to every creator…don’t even sign a deal that gives someone else the option to keep the rights to your work if it becomes successful.

    Another great installment in the “whats wrong with you” series. Keep it up mr. Josh.

  11. Grayghost Grayghost says:

    I completely agree with this article. My friend and I have been having this exact argument. Now I have a source to show him how I truly feel.

  12. *Typical boneheaded, un-educated, fan boy response*

    Its happening. Get on board, or let it sail by.

    No one is putting a gun to your head and telling you buy and love these books.

    You hit the nail on the head, Josh.

    I can still watch Friday the 13th and enjoy it, and not think about the Michael Bay produced crap.

    As for the “Star Wars ruined prequels for me’ debate I’ve heard so much about, that is bullshit. You can’t really change a book that has been in print for how long now? It is not like Lucas is directing Before Watchmen, and he is going to make the Pregnant lady shoot the comedian first.

    I agree with this post. I believe in Josh Flanagan. Flanagan for D.A.

  13. itsbecca itsbecca says:

    I totally agree with your point of view josh, but I disagree with this bit:

    “Guys, this is wrong. It’s a beloved piece of literature, and if we mess with it, people will think less of us.”

    The hypothetical guy who gets laughed out of the board meeting? Of course, I’m running on fumes of pure speculation, but I would bet cash money on the fact that that point was seriously discussed. It’s probably been seriously discussed for years. I imagine that’s part of the reason this was not attempted earlier. It’s a real factor in the equation… it’s business ethics basically. I don’t see anyway around discussing that question.

    Now some people clearly believe the question was discussed and DC twisted the corners of their wax mustaches and let out a maniacal laugh as they walked away from Alan Moore to the train tracks with the sound of an approaching train whistle. Personally, I believe the question was discussed and it was determined that the timing, the creators and the ideas were right and the content would be served well. Maybe I give them too much credit, and of course, the business part was probably the leading part of the discussion (which I have no problem with), but that’s just what I think about the matter.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Of course it was discussed. I dramatized it. Ultimately, they’re in the clear, and they’re going to want to grow their business.

    • mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

      I’ve heard that this idea has been on the table for years now and it was just Paul Levitz who was stopping it from happening. Now that he’s gone, the project is moving forward. Maybe that was his voice in the board meeting?

    • itsbecca itsbecca says:

      Perhaps, and I would venture to say there might be some people at the company who aren’t a fan of the idea. Just not enough to try to stop it, or not high up enough to be able to have the Klout to stop it. While I agree it’s a good decision, I doubt the controversy is limited to fans.

    • itsbecca itsbecca says:

      that should be “who *still* aren’t a fan”.

  14. TomE TomE says:

    Great article, Josh. Also, I love that picture of Moore. He looks like he knows something we don’t… which he probably does.

  15. nastysnow nastysnow says:

    Its dc right ti do what they want with the wacthmen. Just like its my right not to buy it. Im not even a alan moore or watchmen fan. Ill be one of the few,who avoids this stunt or event or whatever it is . I wont complain about it at,all any more. My first gut reaction was to moan. But I forgot all about it the next day. Its just a comic I wont buy. Not a life changing decision.

  16. Wes Wes says:

    A great article as always, Josh. I can understand why DC is putting these books out. They want to make money. Pure and simple. I get that. But the fact is, this is just another example of the comics industry eating itself to try and stay alive. A year or so when Moore talked about the supposed lack of “top talent” in the comics industry, he was trying to challenge the industry and the creators to make work that is ON PAR with Watchmen, not just make MORE Watchmen! Moore’s right! If this industry is going to survive outside of just being intellectual property creative houses for Hollywood, then they need to embrace new ideas. Before Watchmen is not a new idea.

    I’m not saying that the books will be bad, I’m just saying that I want something new!

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      You are totally right, but as sales dictate these decisions, the majority of comic book buyers do NOT want something new. It’s frustrating, but what are you going to do. That being said, while these new books are more Watchmen, they are still new Cooke material, new Conner material, etc. And they may be great for those reasons. Would it be better of Cooke and Conner were crelating the next truly brilliant OGN instead? Of course, but that shouldn’t deter me from supporting a great book, prequel or not.

    • Wes Wes says:

      I disagree, Max. Although Cooke and Conner are great, that doesn’t mean that we have to support their work in corporate comics (which is what this is, let’s be honest with ourselves). If we do keep supporting these kinds of comics, then the industry is only going to keep shrinking. Then there won’t be ANY new work from Cooke or Conner!

      Maybe I’m just basing this on principle, but it’s one that I think is VERY valid!

    • rwpos rwpos says:

      I don’t think it’s our ” job” to support the industry as if comics were tsunami victims in need of aid. It’s our ” job” to find what entertains us and buy that. It’s the job (paid job, at that) of comic company executives, contracted and free lance creators, and independent comic producers to make stories/ comics that we WANT to buy, simply because we actually enjoy them. You can make purchasing decisions out of pity if you like, but that’s not why I buy comics. And I won’t avoid this series because Alan Moore doesn’t approve, any more than I’ll buy it because I think the creative teams seem like decent people. I’ll flip through the books, check out the previews or reviews, and buy the product that looks good. As for the fear that the whole industry might fail, well, I tend to agree that’s a real risk. But as much as I’d miss this format/ medium, truth is I can’t afford to finance the whole industry, so I don’t plan on wasting my family’s money on grand gestures of industry support for product I don’t enjoy.

    • Godzilla Godzilla says:

      I agrees with Wes on this one. Of course one should always just buy comics he/she likes. It’s the only way to actually show what we want more of and what not. But in a case like this (at least for me) I think it is important to show DC that what I not want is for them to pull just more marketing stunts like the New 52 or selling more “Watchmen”-labeled stuff.

      It is of course everyones personal decision but among other reasons I will not buy it to show that what I want is new stuff. I think when I buy comics that are only made based on marketing decisions (and lets be honest, that’s what this is) then I approve this kind of decision and make it even more difficult for new ideas to get published.

      Sure, you can make the argument that the numbers show that this is exactly what people want (more watchmen, more of the same old same old). But DC is not even trying to create something really new. This is an endless spiral. You buy the same old, DC thinks that this is what people want and instead of supporting new ideas they create the same old stuff.

      I think it’s complicated and everybody has to make their own choice (not saying there is really a right one) but I really like to see that people think about stuff like this.

  17. Swifty Swifty says:

    Nicely said, Josh. They way I look at it?

    If you don’t like the idea of Before Watchmen, don’t buy it.

  18. Fact if

  19. Fact of the matter is this. Hate it or love it, you are talking about it. Spreading the word. Discussion, for the 2nd time in a year, DC Comics. Hell, even a 3rd time including the logo change. It’s good business. Good marketing. Good money making. Which is what they need to do, like any business.

  20. mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

    I don’t really care either way on this issue. I may buy some of these comics, or i may not, depending on word of may. im undecided. That being said, i can completely understand why people would be upset. There’s been some excellent discussion online as to why this is a bad idea from a myriad of different perspectives. On the other hand, the industry is bleeding and the publishers need to find a way to stop the hemoraging. Selling more of something that is extremely popular is obviously a smart business decision. Personally though, I just wish they’d put more empahsis on creating the NEXT Watchmen, rather than creating MORE Watchmen.

  21. ClasikRok ClasikRok says:

    Excellent article Mr. Flannigan, and I couldn’t agree more.

    When I first heard the news I was shocked and appalled, The GREAT creative teams took most of that sting away.

    Like Josh said, “The Watchmen book is still on my shelf, and it’s still brilliant…No goofy sequels or prequels will leave a scratch on its surface.”

    Watchmen is the only book I own in the Absolute format, and will likely stay that way. It is a magnificent work of art, and nothing can be done to tarnish that.

    DC owns the characters, and they have the right to do whatever they want with them. I’m sure that the creators involved have enough respect for the original book that they won’t make a mockery of it, or anything along those lines. PLUS this is going to sell like GANGBUSTERS! I think people who don’t regularly read comics will be picking this up. The trade has sold pretty big numbers consistantly for nearly 30 years! The real biggest surprise is why they haven’t tried to do this before.

    I think the comics industry needs to stop worrying about what Fanboys like us think, and just do what they think is in the best interest of their company because let’s face it, we’re going to read this stuff anyway. It’s a bit like the bit from the Howard Stern “Private Parts” movie. The people who HATED Howard were more likely to listen, because they want to hear what he’s going to say next. The people who hate this idea are going to pick this up just so they can read it and say, “See I told you! This is SHIT and it was a bad idea.” Just so they can say they were proven right.

    My final point I’m going to state is, although Alan Moore is an INCREDIBLE writer and creative genius…he sure is an asshole! It’s one of those things where you sometimes have to separate the art from the artist. Do I think Mel Gibson is an Anti-Semitc Racist douchebag? Absolutely, but I still think “Braveheart” is an incredible movie, possibly one of the best films ever. Not to say that Alan Moore “deserves” this…but DC has tried many times to mend the distance between them and Moore, and Moore doesn’t want anything to do with them. Watchmen is a hot property and you can’t blame them for wanting to take advantage of what they have. DC has even stated that if Moore would write some Prequels or Sequels for them with the characters, they would give him the rights. But Moore has too much “integrity” to do that. And I absolutely understand that. But you certainly can’t fault DC for using a property that they own that they KNOW will make them money. And Moore can feel any way he wants about it, but it doesn’t make it right.

  22. Mincer Ray says:

    This post suffers from a common logical fallacy. It argues from an “is” to an “ought.” It is true that DC has the right to do this, that does not imply that they ought to do it. There legal rights do not trigger the normative imperative to act. As David Hume established 100s of years ago, an “ought” can never be implied from an “is.” For example, (without getting in the politics of this), Vulture Capital was the legal right to fire whomever they want (in certain states, within the law) does not logically translate into the fact that they ought to fire any one person. To establish that Before Watchmen is a good idea, one would have to go beyond the logical fallacy that DC simply has the right to do it, and hence they should. Josh normally has a more rigorous mind than is on display here.

    • adrianrigter adrianrigter says:

      Great property+great creative teams+ huge interest= they “ought” to do it. Hume be damned:)

    • Mincer Ray says:

      Maybe, but that wasn’t really argued in the piece itself. And the Catholics probably damned Hume already. ;)

    • Jus

    • ‘But they’re going to make more books. They have that right. Morality and what’s right doesn’t come into it.’

      He kind of said that in the article..

    • Mincer Ray says:

      By which he was saying that the logical fallacy that has been recognized as a logical fallacy since the 1700s is actually *not* a logical fallacy. I guess you can argue that an “is” does imply an “ought,” but you would be going against hundreds of years of thought concerning argumentative analysis.

    • Gerry Lopez Gerry Lopez says:

      You might be over thinking this a bit.

    • Mr. Flanagan is employing a logical argument in support of DC publishing further Watchmen comics. The whole article is him making the case for “ought” to. It is logical, as a struggling business in a struggling industry, for DC to publish further Watchmen comics. Mr. Flanagan didn’t just skip from “is” to “ought”…he made a reasoned case in between.

      And because morality doesn’t factor in, the only proper rebuttal is a logical argument AGAINST DC publishing further Watchmen comics.

      I’m still waiting for that one…

    • MisterJ says:

      @GregSmallwood: The Moore supporters don’t have a response for it, so they ignore it. They also tend to ignore the ethics of contract rights and the business imperative of making $.

  23. I’m not opposed to the idea of this new series, but I will admit a single fear. Josh mentioned how the prequels aren’t going to ruin the actual story of the original series that we know and love. But will it ruin some of the mystique that comes with not knowing all of the details of the characters? Like Wolverine for example, who, thanks to prequels, lost some of the exciting “I dont know who this guy is” feeling to it. Or in a non- comic way, like with the epilogue to Harry Potter 7: sure it doesnt change the story, but it does kind of kill the excitement that comes with the imagination of the reader.

    all that being said, I completely understand it from a business perspective, and if i was over at DC I would probably do the same thing.

    • Sockman Sockman says:

      Everyone was bitching that the “Wolverine and his secret past shtick” was old, redundant, and needed to end. Then it happened and of course it wasn’t good enough. People will not quit spending their money when stories let them down. That’s their fault. I personally liked Origin, all the Daniel Way work afterwards was not up to par so I stopped buying it. And I still love Wolverine. I’m sure everyone will still love Watchmen.

  24. MutantSentry MutantSentry says:

    The fact they are doing prequels works to their advantage. After all, Moore was working from the Carlton stuff anyway, and while he built the time line of this universe and the broad strokes of it (the big Events as it were) there is a lot of space there to tell stories which will fit nicely with the original work. The crime would be trying to tell what happens AFTER that goomba at the radical-left newspaper picks up Rorschach’s journal, that should remain up to the reader…

  25. flakbait flakbait says:

    But if we don’t make snarky complaints about it how will the internets know we’re cool?

  26. jasonhart jasonhart says:

    It’s a little shitty to label this as a “stunt” before seeing the quality of the work. You do realize, this is what every Marvel & DC creator is asked to do for a living – take licensed properties & (ideally) tell a great/lasting/personal/interesting story with them. Why is it assumed that no one (yes, even possibly the higher ups) involved has any personal stake in these projects?

    I get the anger. But I think it’s awefully knee-jerk & judgemental, & honestly the only ones entitled to it are Moore & Gibbons. And Gibbons seems okay with it all!

  27. Nerd_Raaage Nerd_Raaage says:

    My standard response to the hater is, ‘Don’t like it, don’t buy it.” It’s that simple. DC publishing these books in no way impacts your love of the original, other than in your mind.

    • I only acknowledge the Godfather parts 1 and 2. Part 3 does not exist in my mind ( even though i have seen it)

    • Mincer Ray says:

      And Habermas’ head explodes as, once again, the market-place colonizes all other forms of ethical reasoning. *Sigh*

    • MisterJ says:

      @Nerd Raaage-Another good response is to use the ‘BCS defense.’ In this defense, you tell them that their bitching is exactly what DC wants, extra space occupied in their mind by their product. College football has been using this, quite successfully, for a longer period than my parent’s lifespan.

      @wally-Just like the first movie and a half of the Star Wars (why would anyone want to know that the Force is powered by, essentially, bacteria), or the 2nd Die Hard movie (I do love how silly the 4th one is for some reason), or the third Robocop movie, and a great many others.

      @Mincer Ray-That’s because the primary motivator for all conscious entities is survival/growth. Expecting otherwise just runs counter to simplistic laws of nature and physics.

  28. kw says:

    This is actually one of the more well-reasoned responses of the pro-prequel debate I’ve seen (and lots of wacky bs is getting spewed from both sides of the fence), but it still makes me a little uncomfortable in parts.

    For one, there’s the “DC is a business and businesses have to make money” agument. This is true, obviously. But I cringe a little bit when human beings adopt this rationale as an absolute truth. Just because “morality and what’s right” doesn’t come into it for THEM doesn’t mean we have to roll with it. Rather than get into what an ethical slipper slope that thinking is, instead I’ll just say that there are other ways to make money that could perhaps be of greater benefit in the long term. At the end of the day, this is yet another “back to the well” move that’s not going to be sustainable financially or creatively. These prequel #1′s are going to sell like hotcakes but I wonder how cool that’s going to feel 6 months later.

    I agree that the talent is on point and it’s the only reason I’m even considering giving a couple of these a try. If we vote with our dollars, I’m still undecided as to whether I want to cast my ballot for “This is kinda lame” or “Keep hiring Darwyn Cooke forever”

    The legal aspects are tricky to say the least. It’s not a Jack Kirby situation, and at this point Moore might not even accept the rights back if DC offered them free of condition. But just as I am not a business, I am also not a lawyer, so it serves me no purpose to try to rationalize the situation as either.

    So coming into it as a fan/creator, I think my main problem with the piece is the “There aren’t many comic book readers left” argument… Even though I know what you *mean* (I think), it’s important to not confuse Direct Market, weekly comic shop customers with the entirety of “comic books”… I think when you pull the scope back a little bit, things aren’t necessarily as dire as they seem in the grand scheme of things. That’s a whole different issue, but from where I’m sitting this looks like another desperate move to chase the quick buck. To be fair though, some of the greatest comics of all time were published under the same mentality, and went on to transcend the realm of disposable entertainment. So these still have a chance to be good comics in their own right… I just can’t imagine a scenario where I’m not feeling a little sleazy while reading them.

    • Mincer Ray says:

      Yeah, besides my logical objections above, I would also echo that a reasoning based on the “market” is not one that takes seriously the ethical implications of things. The market is a tool to create wealth; it is not a ethical justification of behavior.

    • Pompster Pompster says:

      Well put sir.

      I’m with Leah Moore on this I just wish they’d put the money into creating something new then maybe we’d see the next “finest pieces of adult comic book literature ever produced”.

  29. DC knows the dirty little secret…fans like to bitch, but they will still buy it anyways.

  30. KrelPlat says:

    I don’t disagree with anything in the article, but at the same time I can’t help that this affair leaves me cold. But hey, more power to those that are excited.

  31. stuclach stuclach says:

    I was hoping this would be the topic of this week’s “What’s wrong with you?”

    “If he did, he got laughed at. Hard.” TRUTH.

    Well done.

  32. LucasEwalt says:

    I’m not planning on reading any of these series as of now. I might get a trade or two if I hear good things. But I have absolutely no problem with DC putting these books out – and I don’t really get the uproar or outrage from people who do. If you don’t want to read it, don’t read it. The new stories won’t affect the original. I’ve never seen any of the sequels to Silence of the Lambs, but the fact that I know they’re out there doesn’t change my opinion of the original film whatsoever.

  33. a.j.howard09 says:

    From what I’ve seen, both parties signed the contract with the expectation that the creative rights would eventually divest back to the creators. That’s not how it worked out, and clearly DC has every legal right to publish. However, I still think it’s reasonable to feel sympathy for Moore’s wishes and his wish to protect his creation. Contrary to Superman, Watchmen was always envisioned as a finite and self-contained work. Additions to such self-contained and unitary works have a much more profound effect than additions to solitary stories. For example, consider how the different varieties of annoyance generated by substandard Star Wars prequels or Godfather Part III opposed to a bad Star Trek movie or a weak season of most television shows. The difference is that the former is seen as having lessened the quality of the whole, while with the latter fans can almost be forgot, and hope for better next time. Moore’s use of established characters in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (and also in Watchmen) is not exactly analogous because Moore used those characters in an artificial construction of his own creation, where it seems that the Before Watchmen books will take place in the universe already established by Moore.

    That being said, I’ll probably buy several, if not all of these books. I hope that these new additions are judged on their own merits, and I’m sure they’ll be quality work. But these works will inevitably have some effect on the original. I defy anyone to say that the Star Wars prequels had no effect on the viewing experience of the original movies, or that the final episode of Lost had no effect on your interpretation of the previous seasons, or that Michael Jordan’s Wizards comeback had any effect on memories of the 1998 NBA Finals. It appears DC is showing tremendous respect for the integrity of Moore’s creation, putting a lot of talented people on the project. DC is certainly within their legal rights, and appears to have behaved ethically. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Moore can’t feel like his baby is getting stolen.

    • Mincer Ray says:

      ” Contrary to Superman, Watchmen was always envisioned as a finite and self-contained work. ” This is key. The story starts and ends in those 12 issues. I do not think it would destroy the Watchmen, but it would affect it. [LOST SPOILER]. It is, for example, hard to feel the same about the “monster”–for good and bad–after we know what it is. [END] The same is true of the Star Wars examples mentioned above. It does effect me and my memories of The Watchmen even if I do not read it because it changes the general ideas concerning a piece of art.

    • srh1son srh1son says:

      Well said first paragraph. As for the second, I don’t really fault anyone for wanting to buy it, but it doesn’t have any appeal to me. I have that self-contained story by Moore and Gibbons and it works on its own beautifully.

      The stance that because a corporation has a legal right to do something and that no sense of reverence or morality matters is a hell of a line to draw in the sand though…

      I get it though. Publishers will keep being publishers. Fans, happy and sad alike, will buy the product, even as returns for the industry continue to dwindle. And apparently, editorials like this will excuse it as just part of this crazy, dwindling business… Silly me, for thinking anything else I guess. Yes, let’s keep feeding the beast…

      The pity for Moore should really be reserved for that potential creator out there who could theoretically change the entire medium, and then see their work bastardized for decades as the cycle continues… Because that’s something to aspire to.

    • MisterJ says:

      Well, I completely disagree with a vast majority of your statement.

      First, it is completely UNreasonable to feel sympathy for someone who entered into a contract and subsequently had issues with the terms. I have just as little sympathy for Moore as I do for athletes who ‘outperform’ their contract and then attempt to withhold services.

      Second, given the industry/media that the work was created for (a serial business), thinking that it would remain untouched for eternity is, at best, shortsighted and, at worst, naive.

      Further, I am completely confused by how one can say that a bad addition to one series does hurt the series as a whole, and then, in the very next sentence say that a bad addition to one series does not the series as a whole. So, if A, then B, and if A then not B at the same time??? They are both series! A bad addition to the series hurts the series. And at the same time a bad addition to the series does not affect any other single aspect of the series.

      Also, it is completely analogous to compare Before Watchmen to LoEG and Lost Girls and use this as evidence of hypocrisy. In both cases various creator(s) ‘A’ created and wrote piece ‘x’ and then creator(s) ‘B’ came along and used the concepts/properties from piece ‘x’ for piece ‘y’ in a manner that creator(s) ‘A’ never intended. Changing the background setting is completely specious to the greater concept. This is evidenced by Moore himself using the same titles/names for the characters.

      As far as your attempts to ‘defy anyone,’ well…
      I still get misty during the attack on the first Deathstar. I still think that the duel sequences from Episode IV are kinda lame. I pay no attention to the silly ideas of becoming a superhero through magic bacteria or that my favorite childhood villain could be seen as a Christ analogue.
      For the life of me, I have never understood why people got up in arms over the end of Lost. I have always wondered what they thought they were watching to have such a visceral reaction.
      Lastly, and I say this as a born and raised Chicagolander, MJ coming back as a Wizard has never mattered to me in the slightest. I still remember getting it over on Magic’s Lakers in 91, the shrug in Portland in 92, the pass to Pax and the subsequent block by Grant. Then two years in the wilderness followed by a completely different and better team for 96, crushing the small market Jazz in 97, and knowing that it was ending and hoping for a capping championship in 98, which his airness delivered (albeit with an uncalled push)

      To say otherwise is analogous to saying that all my childhood Christmases were ruined when I found out that Santa was a concept and not a person. Just hogwash.

  34. Mincer Ray says:

    It would be nice to have a discussion like this at a higher level than “If you don’t want to read/buy it, don’t read/buy it.” That standard is a not standard and can be applied to anything. Why even have a discussion if it boils down to some bastardization of J.S. Mill with a little of the evil Ayn Rand thrown in? Maybe we could discuss whether something is a good idea itself, without checking our reason and empathy at the door in favor of some comics made of Reardon Steel.

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      I can understand your level of frustration that it appears you are interested in a discussion that no one else feels the need to address. Namely, is this an ethical pursuit on behalf of DC and on behalf of the creators involved as well. However, I’m unclear on what you feel the merits of this discussion are. And yes, I can recognize that the day we as a specifies cease to evaluate actions on ethical grounds will indeed be a sad day. But, for this particular issue, I question you as why it need be questioned from our perspective as the art consumers (consumers not in a financial aspect) because I would argue that each work of art be judged solely on its own in order to appreciate it properly. The intent of the artist can be argued to either be an important role in evaluation or completely unimportant as it is up to each individual to interpret the work,NAND perhaps that is also a discussion worth having. Maybe you are coming at this strictly from a business ethics standpoint, in which case I can admit I am not well versed. Is DC within their legal rights to publish Watchmen material? Yes. Is it ethical on a business level? Maybe not, but I think many of us are uninterested in this aspect because we play no role whatsoever in the business side of this issue aside from the one area where we can; the decision to either purchase it or not.

  35. JamesSeals JamesSeals says:

    I — as I am sure many of us here have — have gone back and forth on this issue.

    Ultimately, WATCHMEN is a narrative awash in shades of gray. It is, to a large extent, a morality play writ large on the use of power. Was Ozymandias right? Should we sacrifice millions to save billions? Or was Rorschach right? Does truth serve a higher purpose that our comforting lies? There are no rights and wrongs in that discussion to be had; merely differences of opinion.

    Ironically enough that is unwittingly being mirror here with BEFORE WATCHMEN. Life mirrors art just as art mirrors life. Just because we can do this thing, does it mean we must do this thing? I don’t know.

    For me, personally, I will respectfully dissent. I wish no ill will to anyone involved or anyone who decides to read these stories. Given the talent involved, I am sure they will live up to their own standard of craft.

    But it’s not for me.

    -J.

    • Mincer Ray says:

      nice

    • srh1son srh1son says:

      More tactful than me about it. I like it.

    • Jesse1125 Jesse1125 says:

      thank you. I’m not at all excited about these stories but I’ll keep an open mind

    • KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

      I get that “since we can, we should” is kind of shaky rationale, but what about the reverse “we shouldn’t, but we will”?

      A lot of great things have come from taking a risk and defying the conventional wisdom.

    • KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

      Now that I think about it though, publishing prequel stories for one of the best-selling AND most highly regarded books in all of comics is a strange thing to think of as a risk.

      But I don’t think you could ever accuse the relationship between the comic industry and fan community as being logical!

    • JamesSeals JamesSeals says:

      KenOchalek:

      I suppose the risk lies less in short term gains as it does to long term sustainability. That is, will these prequels water down the property and alienate readers? But Josh is completely right when he says that DC has taken one large risk already and needs another to shore up it’s publishing line. Who knows, perhaps comics need BEFORE WATCHMEN?

      I can’t speak to that. Now, I don’t hold WATCHMEN to be sacrosanct by any stretch of the imagination. It is a story well told and, having been told, stories belong to the audience more so than the orator. That is how stories endure and last. For instance, the Superman of today is a far cry from what was created in the Great Depression because, even though legally he belongs to DC Comics, he also belongs to all of us, to any child who beliefs a man can fly.

      I understand that and, perhaps, to another generation of comic readers WATCHMEN has the potential to do the same.

      For me, however, WATCHMEN is Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. It’s a 12 issue maxi-series. It is a magnum opus, complete and unto itself, that does not require further accompaniment. I suppose in that sense I am creating my own continuity, and I am happy with that.

      There are plenty of comics out there.

      -J.

  36. thehangman thehangman says:

    chill out fanboys.
    i loved watchmen.
    loved moore’s work on batman.
    hate his shitty attitude towards EVERYFUCKINGTHING,
    but i digress.

    this could be good.
    even great.
    the minutemen mini by darwyn cooke? MUST. OWN. NOW.

    dc isn’t evil.
    out of the big two, dc is probably the best to work with in terms of treatment, exposure, and credit.
    they wanted to work with moore.
    the stubborn jerk didn’t even want to talk about it.
    well then, mr moore, TOO FUCKING BAD.

    • nbcabaniss nbcabaniss says:

      “They wanted to work with Moore; the stubborn jerk didn’t want to talk about it.” Yeah, they offered him the rights back, but only in the event that he give his approval of these spinoffs/prequels, which he has made clear he doesn’t want. Yeah, what a jerk. How dare he thinks he should have a say in how his work is treated? He’s probably a rapist, too, cause he writes those icky sex books. And he has a beard, so yeah… total prick.

      Watchmen is about as close to perfect as it gets. The world was fully explored in those original 12 issues. Anything new will have nothing new to say about that world. DC is doing this solely to make money. Which yeah, they’re a business, it’s what they do, yadda yadda. But is that really the industry we want? One so creatively (and literally) bankrupt it needs to poop out a sequel to a series from thirty years ago? Should we, as readers, just throw up our hands and collectively shrug? That’s what we’ve been doing for decades now – and comics sales continue their downward spiral.

      In the words of Ian Malcolm: “You spent so much time asking if you could, you never considered if you should.” And look how that turned out…

    • JokersNuts JokersNuts says:

      I really love nbcabaniss’s comment, its exactly how i feel on the matter. i wish i could “like” it.

    • MisterJ says:

      @nbcabaniss-Anyone who thinks that any world is fully explored is lacking in imagination. There is always more to learn and explore. And passing judgment that Before Watchmen will have nothing new to say about that world makes me wonder how you got your hands on a time machine.

      The answer to your first question reminds me of the Churchill quote concerning democracy.

      And you answer your second question within itself. They need cash, this is a very reasonable manner to acquire said cash.

      To your third question, I would answer no. But I feel even more strongly that we shouldn’t rail against proposed ideas before they become actual product based on some infantile fear of ‘destroying memories.’

      As to the Malcom quote, it turned out that it allowed humans to repopulate both dead and dying species of humans and plants. And since Jurassic Park also included gene recombination tech, it probably also led to better organ harvesting. Which probably would save a huge number of lives.

    • Godzilla Godzilla says:

      I get nbcabaniss point. I think every work of art is in a way a statement of the author or artist. Moor said what he wanted to say with Watchmen. He created the “world” of Watchmen exactly the way he wanted to, nothing more nothing less. And he certainly had his reasons for not making more.

      If someone else (regardless of the quality) adds something to that it is simply not part of what Moore wanted Watchmen to be. Comics like Batman or Flash might be a different matter. They became kind of a group project over the decades and various people added chapters so that overall you can not say that Batman is exclusively the brainchild of Bob Kain. But Watchmen was simply finished, closed.

      “Before Watchmen” might be great and the artists are certainly good, but wouldn’t it be even better if they create something completely new that becomes their very own “statement”.

      For me, adding something to Watchmen feels like adding some chapters to Huckleberry Finn or painting some more landscape to add to the Mona Lisa. I just think it would be cooler if the artists use their talent to create their own Mona Lisa.

    • MisterShaw MisterShaw says:

      To answer Ian Malcolm’s challenge, if they’d stopped to think if they should, there’d be no dinosaurs. And that is unacceptable.

    • nbcabaniss nbcabaniss says:

      @MisterJ: There is a good chance that these new series will be entertaining, based on the fact that the creators involved usually do good work. But I don’t need a time machine to tell you that they won’t bring anything new to the table. Watchmen was a work of deconstruction – special in that it took place at that moment in the characters’ lives, when they are all old and retired. If you go back and tell about their lives before that, it becomes a pastiche. We already know what happens because we – as superhero fans – have already experienced those stories through the golden, silver, whatever age comics we’ve consumed over the years.

    • MisterJ says:

      @nbcabaniss: How do you know something that will happen in the future? You don’t any more than I know which team will win the SuperBowl tomorrow.

      And if we fans have experienced everything that these stories could possibly tell, then what is the point of buying comics?? It’s not like these comics cannot tell stories that can be found in other comics. It’s the same medium, as such, aren’t you describing all modern comics as pastiches? Or are you saying that these comics will be prohibited by some unknown means from doing anything new?

      I truly do not know if you mean that these comics will be limited or that all comics are limited.

  37. twiceborn twiceborn says:

    It’s probably better to have Before Watchmen than Before Neonomicon.

  38. Jesse1125 Jesse1125 says:

    I guess I’m in the minority, but after 7 different titles and 30 some odd issues are done,I’ll wait to see what the consensus opinion is.I couldn’t buy a monthly title without constantly comparing it to its predecesor, so I’ll just trade wait

  39. RonSwanson RonSwanson says:

    You’re right, Josh. Prequels to Casablanca and A Tale of Two Cites would be a great idea! Get on that, corporations of America!

  40. jonnyflash jonnyflash says:

    This would be so much better if the original creators were involved, like Frank Miller’s DK2. Uh, wait a second…

  41. JDC JDC says:

    You know what I just realised while reading this? Think about the creators attached to this and how much balls it took to step up to the plate. I don’t think I’d do it if I was in their position, and I don’t mean because it’s “blasphemy” but because it will take a heckuva lot of skill. Bravo to them, I say.

  42. Metamorphic Metamorphic says:

    Great write up, Josh.

    I also found this comment from Peter David interesting. It stands out among the other comments in the Newsarama article by virtue of not being quite as vehemently against the idea:

    Peter David (from newsarama interview)

    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.

    Different perspective. Never really thought of it as Moore’s work reaching an iconic status to rival that of Superman (for example). Interesting point of view.

    • srh1son srh1son says:

      I don’t think Lost Girls and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are meant to be the true backstory that Doyle, Welles, Verne, Stoker, Carroll, etc never got around to telling us.

      Superman and Swamp Thing are both characters in serial fiction.

      The reason the characters in Watchmen are pastiches of Charlton characters (Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach rather than Captain Atom and the Question) is that DC wanted to keep their purchases intact, and let Moore tell his one and done story, outside of the serial fiction that most comics are.

      Watchmen is a finite work, contained in those 12 issues. Except now it will be 40 plus issues with all sorts of voices speaking for those characters. But not Alan Moore.

    • a.j.howard09 says:

      Touched on this above, but Before Watchmen and Moore’s use of public domain characters in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen aren’t really similar . League of Extraordinary Gentlemen used other author’s ideas and characters to tell an original story in a unique universe. Before Watchmen is using Moore’s ideas to tell a new story that is intended to serve as a supplement to his original story. I’m sure Moore would have no problem with a book where the ghost of Captain Ahab teams up with Tom Sawyer to solve crimes in space. But he may have an issue with a book that seeks to explain how Ahab got started in whaling and what made him so obsessive.

    • Metamorphic Metamorphic says:

      srh1son; I agree that neither Lost Girls nor League are meant to be true backstory.

      However, there is merit to questioning whether or not the authors would have approved of Moore’s treatment of their creations. I’m sure Moore would not have an issue with teaming the ghost of Captain Ahab with Tom Sawyer to solve crimes in space. But would Mark Twain or Herman Melville feel the same?

      Is Before Watchmen more objectionable because this is part of the Watchmen universe proper… or because Moore is disproving of the idea.?

    • Metamorphic Metamorphic says:

      Whoops! Sorry folks! Responded to you both simultaneously… but only mentioned srh1son by name! Apologies!

    • thehangman thehangman says:

      fucking Peter David is boss.
      says it as it is.

  43. drdeeeznutz drdeeeznutz says:

    Bravo Joss- finally a whats wrong with you article that I agree with. Some of the comments I read from the iFanboy community on this topic were just ridiculous hateful venom being spit out by people that seem to be more brave online then in real life. Watchmen will always be my favorite next to The Dark Knight Returns and that will never change no matter how many prequel or sequels they make. I’m personally looking forward to this

  44. iroberts007 iroberts007 says:

    I am 100 % percent behind this. Im looking forward. I loved watchmen (granted i didnt read it untill like a decade ago.. but still). I do not however agree that this is true josh “It is an untouchable piece of literature and its reputation and place in history will remain untouched. No goofy sequels or prequels will leave a scratch on its surface. They will succeed or fail on their own merits.” I am reminded of one of your favorite things. I believe its called Star Wars. The fact of the matter is that every kind of person went to the 96/97 star wars rereleases .. and Star Wars was pretty much untouchable then. I dont remember anyone equating star wars = geeks (very often). Now thats all star wars is. Thank you prequels. The star wars prequels got me to dial down my expectation for just about everything entertainment related. Anyway i want to read these new watchmen comics, but if they are mediocre they will damage the legacy even if its just in a tiny way. You know like Star Trek voyager. One word about George Lucas (since i brought up star wars).. and hes been in the press lately talking about his fans. I lost respect for lucas the minute he started spouting antagonistic sarcastic comments in regards to “why boba fett is so popular” and how hes going to “make boba fett a female just to piss of the fans.. cause he just didnt get why boba fett was popular”. Well if your going to have an attitude about why some of your characters are popular then frankly i could care less about pouting over criticism about mediocre prequels. Normally id be on George’s side.. saying he tried.. but it seems to me hes got as much of an attitude as the “crazy” alan moore.

    • sitara119 sitara119 says:

      i dont think it can damage the legacy. no matter how terrible the prequels could be, i will always love watchmen. i’m really looking forward to these books like you, but we differ in our ideas of star wars.
      the prequels were fantastic and really opened up the universe that was in george’s head for years but couldnt properly express until technology allowed. and of all the people who hate the prequels, i’ve never heard anyone say that those movies made them hate the original trilogy.
      george lucas, like alan moore, is an artist. and like most artists, they are also crazy fucks with a much different view of the world and their respective places in it. but at least george owns his art. i think moore is really pissed off that he didnt hold on to the story about 5 or 6 years more. i mean, just imagine if Image comics was around when he decided to tell this story. i bet he wouldnt have a problem with more stories then. if he were receiving most of the money. i think the watchmen prequels and even the movie could be a constant reminder that he chose to sell his art, a piece of his soul, to the corporate machine that some label as money grubbing devils who are exploiting art in it’s truest form. something that he probably views as a huge failure on his part. this is his fault. he signed away his rights to it a long time ago to a comic book company who is known for making serials of good comics. what did he expect to happen?

      ps. how could anyone, even lucas himself, question the awesomeness of Boba Fett. that is true blasphemy.lol

    • iroberts007 iroberts007 says:

      Ill admit i liked episode 3 quite a bit.. and 2 was entertaining .. but 1 really wasnt quite right for me apart from the Darth Maul bit at the end. Jar Jar Binks is a real drag. Really the major problem that any prequel has is that we know how its going to end… especially when its involving some of the same generation of characters. There are no Luke I am your father moments and there are no Leia is your sister moments. Take those two things out of star wars and you have much less on your hands. I dont hate the prequels .. but i had too high of expectations. Im not concerned about watchmen though. As good as watchmen is.. its no Star Wars. I will read these new watchmen comics though.

    • sitara119 sitara119 says:

      those star wars moments were great, but i liked finding things out that filled in some of the blanks i and others had been thinking about for years.
      how did vader fall to the dark side and how was he put in the suit?
      who was obi wan’s master?
      where did boba fett come from?
      why couldnt yoda defeat the emperor?
      how did vader not know of his own children?
      on top of that darth maul, jango fett and general grievous are some of the coolest star wars characters ever.
      but i get your point. prequels, as evident on this page, are not for everyone.

  45. stevetwo stevetwo says:

    Okay, okay. I’ll reread Watchmen. I liked the story, liked the allegories, etc., but I’ve never been gaga over it. I respect those that feel that way, and with all this renewed interest, I’ll give it another read.

    Those that think Before Watchmen should read it before they’re quick to judge. Once they’ve read it, if they believe it ruins Watchmen, just do what I do. I look at the bad revisions and attempts at reclaiming hype on previously grand material, and tell myself that, seriously…

    Norman Osborn never actually slept with Gwen Stacy.
    Untold Tales of Spider-man? Those stories really happened.
    Spider-man Chapter One? Never happened.
    Han fired first.
    The sequel and prequel to Peter Pan and Gone with the Wind are merely “fan fiction.”

    Just take what you want out of it. No one’s holding a gun to your head.

    • drdeeeznutz drdeeeznutz says:

      That really is the best thing you can do. I pretend that the classic horror movie Halloween was never remade by Rob Zombie who turned into a pile of shit IMHO

    • @drdeeez, thanks for bringing up Halloween. It’s a great way to compare. John Carpenter’s original is a milestone in horror film, a game changer. But it had horrible sequels and a pointless remake (that had its own horrible sequel). But those other films do not effect the brilliance of the source material. You can still watch Halloween and appreciate it while completely forgetting everything that came after.

    • sitara119 sitara119 says:

      i thought rob zombie did a good job. i own and love his halloween movies. i didnt like the nightmare on elm st. remake. i thought that was horrible

  46. moodydoom moodydoom says:

    my question is: but is alan moore gonna read them?

    he’s moaned about not reading any new comics these days, but no matter how he feels, i think that even he will be intrigued enough to pick it up.

    As for me, i’ll give it a go, but it’s going to be very bitter-sweet. Rights ownership aside; no creator should have to suffer his work being published/altered without his blessing. I know we live in the ever-transforming ether of copyright laws, but this is not a fan remix or a piece of fan fiction, this is a company capitalizing on a property in a very typical way. The whole notion of creating a prequel years after the fact is absurd. I hate george lucas for ever allowing this idea into the collective conscious.

    Boardoom Execs 6,666,666,66 Creators: nil

  47. JokersNuts JokersNuts says:

    Is it a good buisness move? no doubt about it, but is this iFanboy or forbes? you can agree with DC all you want from a logical buisness perspective, but as a fan who cares about art and the integrity of great art, its a horrible cynical cash grab. is it dc’s right to publish new watchmen material? probably. is it a smart buisness move? sure. does that mean i, as a fan, have to like it? absolutely not.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      The original book was a cash grab too. It just turned out to be really good.

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      I’m not sure how it hurts the integrity of the original work though. It may hurt the integrity of a DC as a company, but Moore & Gibbons work remains the exact same piece of art it was before. Perhaps we can also question the integrity of the creators who took on this new project (personally I’m not, but I can understand if someone wants to). Everything about this can call into question the integrity of the people who made the decision to create this, but I simply fail to see how it in any way hurts the original 12 issue masterpiece.

    • JokersNuts JokersNuts says:

      how does it effect the original 12 issues? it dilutes them. the same way the the star wars prequels have diluted the star wars franchise. (not saying these new comics will be as awful as that, but its the same idea)

    • Gerry Lopez Gerry Lopez says:

      I’m not convinced on the dilutes the original argument, but even so, Star Wars is different because the original trilogy was actually altered, by the original creator. So that begs the question, would the resistance to the Watchmen prequels be the same if Moore was involved? Because if not, it completely negates the dilution argument.

    • MisterJ says:

      JokersNuts-Did the prequels dilute or reinvigorate the franchise? Measuring the impact in either terms of popularity or monetary income it reinvigorated and did not dilute them. Putting ones subjective views in front of objective facts while making broad statements is generally problematic.

  48. ActualButt ActualButt says:

    This is the first time I’ve been among those who are the subject of this feature, and I gotta say that I agree with almost everything that you say Josh. However, I really wish people would stop comparing Watchmen to other ongoing superhero comics like Spider-Man or Superman. The formats are so radically different that it’s really impossible to draw any similarities at all.

  49. Pompster Pompster says:

    Of course the introduction to the article does make me think the question being asked in the board room should have been (a long time ago):
    This guy’s making us a fortune what can we do to make sure he does it again?

    To which of course the answer would have started with:

    Let’s not argue the toss about merchandising vs promotion and let him have his fair share. After all he’s made us Swamp Thing, The Killing Joke… and they’ll sell for 25 years. Lets see if he can make us another 10, 20, 30 products. We’ll all be rolling in it. Then maybe in 30 years time we can churn out a prequel…

  50. I agree, I have no problem returning to Watchmen. Sure, I wouldn’t care if they left Watchmen alone either, but there are some great creators working on these prequels. I will not be for or against these prequels until I read them myself.

  51. Nicely put Josh! If we could have “Pick of the Month” for articles, this would be mine.

  52. LucasEwalt says:

    Does anyone know what Alan Moore actually wants that would make him happy/satisfied? Does he?

    • JokersNuts JokersNuts says:

      yeah, I think having the rights to his characters would make him both happy and satisfied.

    • Godzilla Godzilla says:

      I think he would like people to write their own comics or critically discussing existing ones.
      And I think he would like anyone to have the opportunity (and I mean a real opportunity) to publish their stuff and for people to read it instead of only having to consume what DC dictates.
      Sorry if this sounds very cynical. I’m not saying DC only produces bad comics, I’m just saying maybe the modern business made it to hard for people to just publish their stuff (even if it is really good).

      And I think he would like iFanboy, where people actually talk about such thinks and show that they care ;)

  53. icn1983 icn1983 says:

    I just hope it’s as good as “Superman: Grounded.”

  54. I really don’t think Moore is asking for rights to the characters or wants money out of the whole deal. Cause if he wanted that he would’ve sued or fought DC a long time ago for it. (So then we wouldn’t have the endless bitch parade he normally gives when someone adapts it) I think all this is is that he feels has always been entitled to a say on his works whether he owns it or not. I understand where he’s coming from because DC are raking in on something HE wrote. But again, this feels more like a man who wants to just want to see his ‘baby’ no touched and it is understandable.

    Not that I agree with him moaning all the time about stuff like this. Cause that got old pretty quickly.

    • i kinda agree that control is a big factor here. He wants to take his ball and go home, just because he didn’t win and everyone else wants to keep playing. That kinda feels like his style. LIke i said above, i think this contract issue, is another one of his great contributions to comics….showing creators what they should NEVER do.

      end of the day he signed the contract for whatever reason. I mean We (fans, and comics) are better off because the story is out there in the world.

    • Watchmen is probably his best work at the end of the day. But if I were him, I’d just be so damn happy that something I wrote ended up being considered one of the greatest pieces of fiction ever written. Maybe I wouldn’t be crazy to not get some residuals for the film adaptation (that Moore declined on) but still I wouldn’t go this crazy to make sure nothing ever happens to it.

  55. brianmaru brianmaru says:

    They have the right to make it, I have the right not to read it. I hope everyone likes it, I’d be surprised if it’s anything less than adequate.

    I just don’t have interest.

    I understand the Superman analogy, it just doesn’t sit with me as that is a character/universe that has been expanded upon and written by others since the beginning basically. Watchmen is so self-contained and is its own story. Just as I wouldn’t want to watch a Taxi Driver movie not associated with Schrader or Scorsese, read a Harry Potter book by someone other than Rowling or flip through anyone other than Robinson on Box Office Poison.

    This isn’t to say you or anyone else shouldn’t do so. I just choose not to.

    • I wouldn’t even want to read a Watchmen story by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons at this point. The creation has superseded the creators.

      It’s like added stuffed crust cheese to the frame around the Mona Lisa.

      Maybe Guernica is a better analogy.

  56. Won’t it be a beautiful day when you walk into a bookstore and see BEFORE WATCHMEN right next to WATCHMEN?

    It will be a big black and yellow striped ticker tape parade for shills and sellouts everywhere.

    One of WATCHMEN’s most potent weapons is its singularity and monolithic ability to look fucking awesome on any bookshelf.

    However you want to justify it to yourself, it’s a bunch of bullshit.

    • b_RAD b_RAD says:

      What’s bullishit is the idea that the Minutmen were fully explored.

    • Agent Spanky says:

      What’s BIGGER bullshit is the idea the Minutemen NEED to be fully explored. Watchmen wasn’t a franchise starter to usher in a crap load of toys, games, and other tie ins. It was a contained story; it had a begginning, middle and end.

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      @Agent Spanky: There actually was a planned toy line, role playing game, etc. And Alan Moore was involved in it all. There seems to be a widespread misconception of what WATCHMEN was and wasn’t.

    • b_RAD b_RAD says:

      None of these characters NEED to be explored to improve Watchmen but I always thought more good stories could come from the Minutemen. Every week the industry prints stories about characters that don’t NEED to be explored further and none of them are as good as Watchmen. Should we boycott those also? Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

      As for Watchmen toys, I may be wrong but I remember Alan Moore’s complaint was that he wasn’t getting a fair cut.

  57. serabird serabird says:

    I think you have a lot of good points, especially in the practicality arena. That said, I think the industry needs to focus not on making Watchmen Prequels but making the new Watchmen. Sequels ultimately hurt brands, because they ultimately cheapen the product.

    While Watchmen’s reputation will never be tarnished, the industry’s could be, and the industry has a more precarious reputation than the book ever will. While some people will come into stores, other people will say “Wow, all they can do are sequels to stuff they did in 87?”

    Yes. you can say that people will go into stores for this, but they also might just wait for it on amazon, and if they’re going into stores for JUST this that means that they’ve probably only read Watchmen. If Watchmen didn’t get them head-over-heels into comics it seems like a pipe-dream that the prequels will. What DC is banking on is a sales bump, not new readers. The most new readers they will get are the people who ONLY read Alan Moore but check out the prequel and decide “Okay, maybe I’ll read some Darwyn Cooke too.”

  58. edward says:

    Do you have no problem with j michael straczynski too, josh? He has a pretty terrible track record

  59. R.J. Ryan R.J. Ryan (@RJRHQ) says:

    I just want Mr. Moore to finish BIG NUMBERS. Someone pass along that message to him please.

  60. b_RAD b_RAD says:

    Something I’ve noticed in the various threads on this topic is how the issue of creators’ rights often gets morphed into a discussion of Alan’s rights, as though his wishes and actions should be a lauded template for all creators. But will the real Alan Moore please stand up? He was perfectly willing to accept money for additional work on the proposed tabletop game. Snippets of additional Watchmen back stories appeared in other places as well. One can easily make the argument that Watchmen is complete and cohesive as it exists but I’m not convinced Moore himself would’ve taken that stance if the rights had reverted to him during the go-go 90′s. I’ve never read a better comics writer than Alan Moore so maybe more Watchmen from him would’ve been as good as the original, maybe not. But now it’s 2012 and many are citing Alan’s wishes as a moral guide for how DC and all comics readers should act. Let’s be clear: what Alan Moore wishes is that companies like DC and Marvel didn’t exist and the root of that anger is about money, not the artistic merit of more Watchmen comics. His rights were not impinged, he signed a bad deal, but he tries to obscure that fact behind a barrage of what Comics Alliance perfectly described as “ludicrous and insulting” remarks. He divulged Dave Gibbons private phone conversations to the press in order to insinuate Gibbons was becoming a corporate stooge. He publicly questioned whether DC had second or even third rate talent. Sorry, that’s not “challenging the industry”, that’s called “being an asshole”. Alan Moore is not a victim, nor is he evil. Hell, if you closed your eyes and threw a rock you’d hit a comics creator saying something stupid (usually about another creator). My point is that the debate about creators rights is an important one and would be better served if it didn’t get mired in question’s about “What Would Alan Do?”.

  61. elasticviper says:

    Im kinda excited about this, but I’m kinda hoping it doesn’t do so well. Just thinking off the top of my head, but after Watchmen the only other series that still sells pretty good after all these years is the Sandman and if this does well I’m pretty sure they’ll set their sights on it and without Neil Gaiman.

    • Smutty Smutty says:

      There have already been loads of Sandman spin-offs without Gaiman, written by people like Ed Brubaker and Bill Willingham, and none of them have been terrible or gotten unfavourable feedback.

    • JesseCuster says:

      @ Smutty

      Because Gaiman created a universe… a compelling that one that calls for expansion. I dont’ get why some people don’t get this at all. Its the same concept w/ Sherlock Holmes and Conan the Barbarian. But not every piece of written word or recorded film requires expansion.

      Stephen King is a great example. The Stand, The Gunslinger… he created worlds where at some point in the middle of that work, you’re going to start contemplating this world he created. You want to know more… beyond the characters you are reading about.

      Then you’ve got The Shining. Or Christine. Has anyone ever read The Shining and thought “Gee, I sure would like to read a prequel about the ancient Indian burial ground!”. I doubt it.

  62. Agent Spanky says:

    Personally I’d rather be the guy who got laughed at hard and know I at least stood up and pointed out we were doing something kind of dirty and unethical. laugh if you want for having a sense of right and wrong, but I believe it was comics that taught me that was important in the first place.

    And the ‘DC’s against the wall what do you expect them to do?’ arguement, eff that noise, DC put themselves against the wall. There’s no single good reason to produce these books other than a cash in and I’m mortified to see creators I admire scrambling to justify their involvement. I won’t be buying these books.

  63. MaxPower MaxPower says:

    For what it’s worth, all this discussion has made me pull out my Absolute Watchmen and re-read it in all it’s glory. I’m just going to enjoy it for a while and take a break from this current controversy. I’d invite anyone else to do the same and enjoy your weekend.

  64. TomiH TomiH says:

    All I know is that I’m excited for several of these prequels.

  65. Love the article but it is absolutely based off a logical fallacy like the user said above.

    It so happens that the fallacy is embedded in real world business practices though, so it is easy to lose sight of that, especially when we place business integrity in the context of capitalism.

    As for a logical reason against doing so that does not rely on the emotional appeal, I saw the kernal of that in a response above as well.

    The ethos of a company can have long term impact on the success or failure of a company. Disregarding or harming a company’s ethos can lead to profit losses.

    The answer to why should we not do something could be because it will hurt us in the long run for a short term gain.

    That should pause any company that wants to survive.

  66. DenverDave DenverDave says:

    Great article Josh. I just wish I lived in a world where it wasn’t a board of dudes discussing money that decided what gets produced, because in a way that is your argument: it makes sense for the industry, it should be made. But, that is the way it is. I wish Alan Moore was king of the world and life was a socialist utopia.

  67. Joshua Joshua says:

    People that are on soap boxes against this Watchmen Origins remind me of those “morally superior” politicians who are always caught in public bathrooms with boys of “questionable” ages.

  68. OliverTwist OliverTwist says:

    I have to admit the passion for this material is inspiring, It really displays the impact of Watchmen on comics, These article forums are rarely this active with the fans input. It really legitimizes why there is a ifanboy.

  69. Gotta say, I really do hate the “We should do this thing because we need to save comics” mentality, in general.

  70. I find it misleading to analyze decades old contracts without also analyzing the context and culture they were drafted in.
    The words and language of the contract may appear to our modern eyes and context to appear clear cut, but at the time a creator may have reasonible belief that a phrase meant somrthing entirely different.

    ie: the words told to Moore may have been “you’ll get the rights to this work in a year” and due to the cultural expectations at that time, the words in the contract may have been drafted to enable that. (few precedents of comics being reprinted beyond that time) Both parties drafted the contract in good faith. However, once the popularity/money came into it DC had the option of honoring the concept of the contract or to use the language in the contract to benefit themselves (and I’m sure in DC’s minds at the time Moore as well)

    This has been Moore’s argument in many an old interview.

    The “get over it Alan you signed a bad contract” seems a rather simplistic breakdown of the situation…if the few bits of info released are to be believed

  71. Sockman Sockman says:

    I want to know why we didn’t see this with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ or Robert E Howard’s works. I also would like to know what all the opposed thought about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

    • JesseCuster says:

      I think Pride and Prejudice Zombies is amateurish at best.

      How hard is it to take a story already plotted out before you and insert zombies, then adjust key moments of the story in reaction to the zombies? I know it has a fan following… I understand it as a piece of POP ENTERTAINMENT. But culturally and literary-wise… a f’n chimp with a photcopier and a crayon could write Pride and Prejudice Zombies.

    • Sockman Sockman says:

      I assumed that’s what it was, just surprised to see Watchmen get more reaction.

  72. Mr.Enigma Mr.Enigma (@EJsingley) says:

    Well said Josh ! I am excited to read all of these books!

  73. ArgusTuft says:

    “… Was someone in that boardroom going to stand up and say, “Guys, this is wrong. It’s a beloved piece of literature, and if we mess with it, people will think less of us….”

    Josh-
    The point isn’t CAN the conpany publish Watchmen prequels – because the answer is “yes”. Regardless of the spirit of the agreement between Moore, Gibbons and DC (negotiated by them in good faith). They have a loophole that let’s them publish – and by God they’re going to publish.

    The point is: SHOULD they.

    If it was perfectly legal to fuck dogs from tomorrow morning – you still probably wouldn’t.

  74. filippod filippod (@filippodee) says:

    Hey, the prequels are just fulfilling the original vision! The Watchmen was supposed to be based on existing characters, with a lot of published stories under their belt. They changed that when they realized that the book would render such characters unusable in the continuing DC universe. So, in a greedy corporate move they created lookalike characters from scratch thus devoiding them of a solid foundation and the book suffered because of that. Now they are giving them the history they sorely lacked thus bringing The Watchmen significancy to new heights. OK, just joking. In a nutshell: I love the original book but I don’t think it’s sacred and ‘m all in for a Cooke Minutemen mini.

  75. DrCatclops says:

    Look. I don’t want none here artsee fartseeee bullshit. I just want them here superheroes punching people and maybe setting fire to serial killers. Characters and Storytelling are the most important things ever and not those there CREATORS! Pff! Creators. Art is a fart.

  76. DrCatclops says:

    Anyone have a copy of Squeeze I could borrow?

  77. Jdudley says:

    I UNDERSTAND why this is happening.
    It’s a shame however (on the level of a Casablanca remake or prequel–which I’m sure will happen at some point and will cause a major stir amongst cinephiles)
    Many of these prequel books are likely to be quite good though–even if I wish the creators involved were working on their own projects instead (or projects with the standard big two character who are already subject to reinterpretation).
    Slap to the face of artistic integrity? Yes.
    But does this devalue the greatness of Watchmen? No.
    Will I buy them? Very possible I’ll buy some or all of them–and feel a bit guilty, even if I like them.

  78. sitara119 sitara119 says:

    nice article josh. my favorite thus far

  79. j206 j206 says:

    If this whole thing turns out to be a crazy mega success, how soon til DC starts discussing integrating Watchmen into the new 52?

  80. mguy77 mguy77 says:

    Before Watchmen may work for some people but not others. If it is good, I will get the trade, if it isn’t well no lost money on my part.

    I got other comics to read, Fables Fairest & BKV’s Saga coming up, Brubaker’s Fatale, 11 other DC books, a few Marvel ones too.

    Good article Josh.

    Matthew

  81. Jason Wood Jason Wood says:

    DC doesn’t have its own board.

    I think Josh is right to characterize this as a sound business decision. But I don’t think that’s pertinent to a FANs perspective. One can be a fan and think this is a tragically bad idea while understanding that it’s also a logical business decision.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Carry it out. Without a healthy DC or Marvel Comics, the direct market would be in trouble, so keeping those companies doing well is better for comics in general.

      Or at least that’s one way to look at it.

      When it comes to “should” or “shouldn’t” with stories, that’s not my decision, or any fans, and it never will be. The fan decision is buy or don’t. As always, fans will ultimately vote with their dollars. There are all sorts of stories that, in retrospect, shouldn’t have been done. I read them constantly. The reason is irrelevant.

      If these stories shouldn’t be done because of creators’ rights, neither should a great deal of the comics people are already reading guilt free, like Superman or Captain America, or nearly anything Jack Kirby had a hand in.

    • Mincer Ray says:

      Josh, you again make a logical fallacy. You assume that because something *is* (DC has the rights), something *should be* (it should be published). In fact, your post kind of celebrates the fact that your violating a rule of argumentative logical.

  82. Griffin says:

    uncomfortable with the alan moore bashing. does anyone personally know him? i dont. he seems to be intelligent, creative, opinionated, funny, and caustic. in short, an artist. He has no legal recourse and is just expressing himself on a topic of which he has some knowledge. From a business point of view i would rate his career performance as excellent.

  83. JSAkid JSAkid says:

    I love it, great characters sitting on a shelf and like the article said, nothing done here will take away from the Watchmen anyone else already loves. I love the list of talent involved, Darwynn Cooke is a perfect fit for Minutemen it capture that olden days look and feel. I will be enjoying all of this. Love the book and the movie, (I explained some thoughts on the movie in the article w Jeffery Dean Morgan’s face on it)…..a friend of mine doesn’ generally like sci-fi/fantasy movies and he is a psychologist whose taste in almost every other movie or tv show we have in common. So you can imagine my surprise when he asked me if i’ve seen it and said he loved it, put a smile on my face that’s for sure. He like I thought it was a great psychological character study. I like to describe it as a psychological detective story with a grim poetic narrative.

  84. Mincer Ray says:

    Nothing against Josh’s well-written article, but I hoped to have a somewhat interesting discussion as to the ethica-aesthetic implications of DC’s actions. Some people rose to that level, but most did not. I guess I shouldn’t expect more from a my fellow comic readers who probably limit their thinking on these issues to reading Atlas Shrugged or some similar drivel. Anyway, I will likely buy these because I love Cooke.

  85. JesseCuster says:

    Oh, DC can absolutely do whatever they want to do. I have no problem with that.

    Dave Gibbons on board? Meh… have you played that pointless Watchmen video game they made? You do realize he was on board for that too, right?

    Hey, Scott Snyder could start writing a monthly Cabbage Patch Kids comic book… I love Snyder, but you think I’m going to buy a comic about Cabbage Patch Kids just because he wrote it? Thats incredibly asinine.

    I’m a Garth Ennis fanboy, and even I can list off some titles that I gave up on after the first issue or so because they sucked.

    Alan Moore didn’t give his blessing? Not involved? Ok… that doesn’t bug me either and I wish the people arguing that point would STFU already. I’m not dis-interested in Before Watchmen because of him.

    I go back to this: Some works are created in a way that makes the reader/viewer want to delve into the universe and see it fleshed out. Most sci-fi TV shows are like this. Stephen King’s Gunslinger series was like that… but not every single piece of fiction calls for expansion. The genius behind The Watchmen was the storytelling… it truly gave you all you needed to know. It was written in a way to focus you to the point. The characters that were there and they way they were developed was all there to come together and tell you that tale. I never found myself wanting to know more because it was that perfectly put together.

    Here’s something ironic: Some fanboy way up above tries to say that those of us who ‘get’ Watchmen and don’t see the point of expansion lack imagination… but what kind of person lacks so much imagination that you need to have someone create whole new works for you to read? You mean you can’t understand the motivations of Rorshach and the situations he’s been in and you need for someone else to draw the pretty pictures for you? Because Niteowl’s altruism didn’t present itself clearly enough for you, you have to have some generic super-hero tale showing him in what will most likely be any other typical hero story? Come on. Agree to disagree, but don’t insult me.

    I understand why there is a Before Watchmen. I understand why some of you will spend money on it. But many of you can’t figure out why I won’t and I refuse to be categorized in the same bucket as those Alan Moore whiners.

    And as far as great creators go… there’s still a ton of Darwyne Cooke I don’t have. Azarello too. I’ll spend money on that rather than waste it on this, thanks.

  86. Just stopping by to say I love Watchmen, and don’t give a flying fuck about these prequels. I mean sure it’s fun that Amanda Conner for example is drawing one, but this is the last time I’m even gonna comment on ‘em (and the first), I mean just no reason to care. Pointless tie-ins are made, and I move along.

  87. flapjaxx flapjaxx says:

    Yeah, I generally agree with this article.

    My only “problem” (if you want to call it that) isn’t with DC but rather with fans’ reactions to this. On the one hand you have fans who are up in arms for reasons that don’t even make coherent sense. On the other hand you have fans that seem to be accepting of ANYTHING as long as there’s hype behind it. I find both sets of fans equally disappointing.

    The Watchmen movie is a perfect example of why we shouldn’t even really care about these Watchmen prequels. People have pretty much forgotten about the movie. Fair enough. But when the movie first came out we had a ton of people (some of them at iFanboy) overhyping the crap out of the movie and saying that it was very good and worth doing. Yet now y’all have admittedly forgotten about it.

    So are we all just supposed to keep going through life aimlessly, not learning any lessons? The Watchmen movie wasn’t the worth thing ever, but it didn’t warrant the massive amounts of hype and double-think necessary to convince people that it was a worthy artistic endeavor. The Watchmen prequels will be the same. I can already see it. You guys will hype them up, say that they’re great comics… then six months later you’ll have forgotten about them.

    My issue isn’t with the moral or legal aspects of doing this. It’s with the amount of hype and brainpower that they leech. It would be better if all of us devoted more effort into comics that stood the test of time, rather than pretend that obvious gimmicks are very worthwhile and that anyone who doesn’t go along with them is a sourpuss.

    If you fell for the Watchmen movie, why would you fall for the prequels as well? Didn’t you learn anything? Don’t you feel that the effort you put into hyping up the movie was, ultimately, pointless wasted effort? If you enjoy many of these “Before Watchmen” creators, how can you not be disappointed that they’re doing this gimmicky, artistically lazy stuff rather than work on something more innovative and creative?

    I have no problem with “Before Watchmen”, but I have no “problem” with people wasting their money buying lottery tickets. That doesn’t mean either activity is a great thing.