Alan Moore And DC Comics – Then And Now

The recent Adi Tantimedh interview with Alan Moore has caused… well quite considerable amounts of comment, criticism, agreement and parody. But was Moore’s reaction to suggestions of Watchmen 2 really so unexpected? After all, it was the reason he left DC Comics in the first place, back in the late eighties.

Often attributed to the Watchmen promotional/non-promotional buttons, the fuss over DC’s compliance with suggested changes to the ratings system in comics or the lack of DC’s willingness to renegotiate terms with Alan post-Watchmen success, and while all these were clearly factors, Moore did set it down in an interview in The Comics Journal conducted by Gary Groth. Here is the relevant paragraph.

I suppose if there was a final, tiny straw that broke the camel’s back, it was when people at DC at one point very subtlely made the suggestion that. . . We were talking about the future of the Watchmen characters. We had been assured that we would be the only people writing them, that they wouldn’t be handed to other creators just to make a fast buck out of a spin-off series. There was a point where a highly placed person at DC did make a not terribly subtle – I think it was intended to be subtle but it wasn’t – insinuation that they would not give our characters to other writers to exploit as long as we had a working relationship with DC. It’s perhaps just me, Gary, but that was a threat and I really, really, really don’t respond well to being threatened. I couldn’t tolerate anyone threatening me on the street; I couldn’t tolerate anyone threatening me in any other situation in my life. I can’t tolerate anyone threatening me about my art and my career and stuff that’s as important to me as that. That was the emotional breaking point. At that point there was no longer any possibility of me working for DC in any way, shape, or form.

SOund familiar? Now compare and contrast to the Bleeding Cool interview...

he said, and I knew, that he had always been opposed to the prequels and sequels of WATCHMEN and had always had the assurances of people like Paul Levitz at DC that that would never be done. But of course, those people aren’t there anymore and it was a different regime…

he was saying that he knew the thing that I always wanted was the rights to WATCHMEN back. This was said with the kind of understanding that if they gave me back the rights to WATCHMEN, then I would in return sign over the rights to secondary properties such as, oh I don’t know, Rorschach comic books, sequels, prequels, all of these things…

I didn’t want them throwing me back the spent and exhausted carcass of my work and certainly not under terms that would apparently allow them to go on producing witless sequels and prequels ad infinitum…

when I said I didn’t want the rights back, Dave Gibbons quickly switched to Plan B, which is apparently that they would make me a very large offer, I got the sense that they were talking, what, a couple of million, something like that, to sign over all of my rights to WATCHMEN…

WATCHMEN as a property from their point of view is reaching the end of its natural life… yet the possible spin-off properties are probably of considerable value to them, where you’d think the least of it is comic books anymore. We’re talking about movies, we’re talking about all of these different media platforms that the property could be exploited upon…

When Dave Gibbons phoned me up, he assured me that these prequels and sequels would be handled by ‘the industry’s top-flight talents’…

Not like I’m screaming swipe file, but plus ca change

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