In the unauthorised sequel to Watchmen, Doomsday Clock #3 by Gary Frank and Geoff Johns, the stand-up comedian and friend/colleague of Alan Moore, Stewart Lee appeared as a stand-up comedian in Gotham, being bottled off-stage.
It was seen by some as a personal slight.
But on the Panel Borders podcast and radio show, Stewart Lee talked about that appearance in Doomsday Clock, in a discussion about his love of comics, that gave the appearance a different context.
He says, about comics and Alan Moore:
“I’ve been doing stand-up 30 years. I’d never be able to be as good in comics as I am at this, ‘cause I’d have come to it too late. You look at someone like Alan (Moore), he writes comics which are, at the same time… He sort of does – much better than me – partly what I do with stand-up, he writes comics that while they are fulfilling the needs of being a comic, they also interrogate the form, the mythology and the audience expectations. I’d never be able to get to that level now, I’ve left it too late.”
About Doomsday Clock:
“I’m glad you asked me about this, I’d like to clear something up. Gary Frank… About ten years ago, my friend Ben Moor, who’s a playwright and a performance artist and loves comics, I met him as a student and he often tells me what’s good. He told me: “You’re in a Hulk comic!”, I went: “you’re joking”, he goes: “you’re in the background of… there’s a fight between the Hulk and Doc Savage, and there’s a poster for your stand-up show in the background.” I went out to get it, and they’re all sold out, and Ben said: “I’ve got two, you can have one”. And I had it, and it’s really great – that’s a really amazing thing to me, I was really pleased.
Anyway, back to the podcast.
I found Gary Frank online and I bought the actual artwork off him and I’m sort of in correspondence with him – he’s a comedy fan as it turns out. Then about nine months ago he said: “I’ve got to draw a comedian being bottled off in Gotham City. Is it alright if it’s you?”, and I went: “Yeah, that’s be funny. That’d be great”. Then it comes out and it’s in that Doomsday Clock thing, which obviously, as I’m friends with Alan, I can’t even read it. I can’t even look at any of these things – you feel like you’ve betrayed him.
Then this thing started on the internet saying it was a deliberate attempt to annoy him, because they (DC) would have known that I knew. Actually, I don’t think Gary put two and two together at all. But I looked at that bit – it was really funny, I liked it. I liked that I was going down really badly, even in a fictional world…
I was very embarrassed it caused this minor comics world fuss, because I just thought it was… I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was funny. To be honest, even if he’d said to me: “It’s for Doomsday Clock”, which he didn’t, I wouldn’t have even known what that was, because I don’t want to spoil the hermetically sealed perfection of Watchmen. I don’t want to see it in any other form. I don’t want to see a film. I don’t want it to be diluted. Just leave it.
It’s worth listening to the interview as a whole (which follows a great chat with Josie Long also on comics, and being controversial in the pages of Alan Moore’s Dodgem Logic) — he talks about what happened to that Hulk comic when he met Jonathan Ross, and about how to help support the radio station the interview was broadcast on.