Sunday, February 5, 2012

My take on the Watchmen Prequels

If you haven't heard about the Watchmen Prequels then you are probably not comic book fans. Congratulations, you are probably doing more to make sure there is a next generation than I kindly readers. However, let me get you up to speed. It goes like this... long ago a couple of fellows by the names of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons came up with a wonderful story called "The Watchmen." It was one of those rare moments in the comic industry where real art rang true. It was something of a game changer bringing a more adult story telling to the land of spandex. All was good in the universe. Oh, sometimes DC the company that owned the rights would hint that they would like to do more with the Watchmen, but generally they were shamed by glowering stare of Mr. Moore. If you haven't seen a picture of Mr. Moore he looks something like Moses after being told his wife has slept with the Arab league while being tazzed.

Still, even Moore cannot stop the need for money. So a movie was made, and people looked at the movie and most went "meh." So, the matter rested a few years. Now, though DC is in full changeover mode remaking their entire line. So, is it really a surprise that they would decide to do more with one of their most praised series? What is surprising is the sheer audicity of their plan. They are creating prequels to the original story in the plural. Not one book, not two, but an entire freeking flock of funny book prequels. Moore is not happy. Moore is in fact having more cows than Wisconsin. Moreover, friends and other artists and critics of the medium have added to the big Moore moo and they are having so many kittens over it that the SPCA should be advised because SOMEONE needs to be neutered here.

And my take on this? Well, as someone who pretends to be an artist I understand Moore being slightly upset that his baby is going to be given to other parents to raise as their own. However, in all honesty, I am not that sympathetic to his cause. There's two reasons for this. The first reason is simply that Moore knew who was getting into bed with all those years ago when he agreed to do "The Watchmen." DC did not suddenly morph into a soulless corporation that care not a bit about creator's right. Mr. Moore you want to talk about creator's rights talk about the fellas that made Superman and what hoops it took to be even acknowledged as such. At least DC recognized you while you were still alive. Being an intelligent man you had to know what you were signing when you were getting your check (however small) from DC. Now I know some folks might say, "Well that was the only game in town." Not quite true, "Elfquest," for example, shows that one can self publish successfully. If Moore was truly concerned only with art he could have gone that route. True, Moore wouldn't have made as big as a splash doing that, and that of course is the sticking point.

The other reason I'm not as sympathetic to Moore is simply that ethically his stance is suspect. His argument when boiled down is basically, "How dare they mess with MY art!" Now Moore is a wonderful artist to be true, but it wasn't ALL his art. See, what a lot of people don't realize is that the characters in the Watchmen are a reworking of characters from Charleston comics which DC had bought out but weren't quite sure how to use. Moore came up with the iea of tweaking them and creating around them a true end of the world story that no one would have to worry about the larger DC comics continuity. Now I mention this because in all the discussions I've read about the origin of the Watchmen nowhere do I read how concerned Moore was with the creator's right of say the character of The Question who became Rorschach. I'm sure Steve Ditka would have loved some creative input. The point is, obviously Moore wasn't concerned about using other people's creations so who is he to pitch a hissy when folks use "his" characters? Frankly, Moore move on.

Now how do I feel about the project itself? Well I wasn't clamoring for more Watchmen, but I see there is some good talent involved in some of the books. I think it is likely that there might very well be one of these prequels that is a decent read once shorn of its baggage. I doubt that lightning will strike twice and we'll have another artist success on par with the original "Watchmen," but in this day in age I'll take a decent read where I can get it.

That's just my view. Oh, and just to show things can always be worse, here's the saturday morning version of "The Watchmen." Enjoy!

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