Alan Moore once described DC Comics’ repeated attempts to publish his work after he walked away from the company as that of a “‘a really weird, rich stalker girlfriend”.
Which makes Dan DiDio’s description of the project in The Guardian today as a rather apt one, saying;
I hope he looks at them with an open mind and a chance to understand this is a love letter to what he created, and more importantly that the strength of his work is allowing other people to grow and tell other stories which will hopefully inspire other creators along the way. In the way he was inspired by the creators when he was younger, we’re hoping these ideas and these books are inspiring new people, so that we continue to grow the comics business as a whole
In the interview, Dan DiDio also states “even our own internal staff were having problems with it”. From conversations I’ve had, there’s probably less of the past tense involved, although they fear for their jobs if they are found expressing such opinion to me.
Dan DiDio does “we’re not going to shy away from the controversy on this – as a matter of fact we’re embracing it because we have belief in the strength of the product and stand behind it.” He will be appearing at Kapow this weekend, which is where he may meet some of this controversy head one. DiDio is a consummate handler of crowds, it should be quite the event.
DiDio describes the individual comics, giving a glimpse into the plots and structure more than we have read before;
the Silk Spectre comic is a coming-of-age story about a girl in the late 60s who rebels against her mother, the Comedian’s back story will take a look at “turbulent times in the government”, Nite Owl’s is “almost a father and son-style story as one man hands the mantle of Nite Owl to the other” and Dr Manhattan’s a time-shifting journey through history. Rorschach’s story, predictably, is “extremely violent”.
The Ozymandias prequel “is basically the string that ties it all together, from his story of how he first formulates his idea of how to save the world to the moment when he decides to execute that plan”, and the Minutemen miniseries will chronicle “the final days of the Minutemen and how that team really came apart”. The first book in the series, Minutemen #1, is out on 6 June, with a new issue to follow each week.
He also talks about the motivation for the project;
When you have a product like Watchmen that is as worldwide known as it is, and the fact there are millions of copies in print, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t go out and say, ‘is there other ways we can grow new material from this?’ We went out and reached the original creators and they had passed, but we still believed this was the right choice to make. And in doing so we went out with the strongest creators possible, so while you may question the decision you can’t question the quality of the product and the quality of the people behind the product.”
Which does make the decision not to publish Sandman Zero say, to be written by Neil Gaiman say, in return for a better Sandman deal for Neil, an odd one.
DiDio does also respond to Moore’s accusation that DC are “completely shameless” for this project, saying;
“Honestly I can understand why he might feel the way he does because this is a personal project to him. He has such a long and illustrious career and he’s been able to stand behind the body of work he’s created. But quite honestly the idea of something shameless is a little silly, primarily because I let the material speak for itself and the quality of the material speak for itself.”
We also get a little back and forth over Moore’s claims that DC is doing nothing but build on twenty-five year old ideas of his, DiDio saying “Realistically some of Alan’s strongest works at DC outside of Watchmen were built off of characters like Swamp Thing which was created by Len Wein, Superman, Batman, so many of our great characters he’s worked on and they helped build his career.”
The Guardian reports Moore’s response to this point; “I understood that whether I had created the characters like John Constantine, or whether I’d simply recreated them beyond all recognition like Swamp Thing, that these would just go into the general comic company’s stockpiles. I’ve never objected to that. I mean, I don’t think it is necessarily the fairest thing, but I’ve not objected to that, The thing was, that wasn’t what we were told Watchmen was. We were told that Watchmen was going to be a title that we owned and that we would determine the destinies of.”
And that’s the difference. DC says Watchmen was work-for-hire at the beginning. But at the beginning, the creators said they rejected a work for hire agreement and got one that was described as creator-owned, as aspect that was widely reported at the time. Until the creators realised that suddenly this was no longer the case…
It should be an interesting weekend!