Nerd Rage: Watchmen Prequels!! NOOOO!! JKLOL!

Posted: February 1, 2012 in Comics, Nerd Rage
Tags: , , ,

The Urban Dictionary defines NERD RAGE as a term used to describe extreme anger, offence, indignation, and other similar emotions by a nerd, geek or similar which can be triggered upon seeing a favorite film/show/comic book/etc degraded or insulted in some way.

The intrawebz are on fire today with ‘nerd rage’ as innumerable people spew vitriol and share their passionate thoughts on the multiple Watchmen prequel projects officially announced this morning by DC Comics.

Are there NO sacred cows? How can they spit in the faces of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons like this? How dare they?

The answers in order: There ARE none. Gibbons gave his blessing and Moore literally forfeited his right to care. And money, lots and lots of money.

For the uninformed, Watchmen was a 12 issue mini-series written by Alan Moore with art by Dave Gibbons. It was released in the mid-late 80’s and is considered by comic book historians and fans alike to be one of the seminal projects in the history of the industry and, quite possibly, the greatest ‘comic’ story ever told. To say it is held in high regard is an understatement.

After its initial release, it became one of the first collected editions DC ever put out and went on to become the best-selling ‘graphic novel’ of all time (graphic novel being a bit of a misnomer here because I’ve always considered a GN to be original material seeing print for the first time whereas this collection would be more appropriately considered a trade paperback or TPB.) It’s been in print ever since and even landed on TIME’s list of the 100 Greatest Novels. It’s a veritable golden goose for DC and a gateway drug for many looking to get a taste of what the medium can offer.

I’m not going to get into the question of the ownership of the property or the business ethics behind the issue. I do invite you to go online and review the history of the project. Wikipedia or any of a number of comic sites will fill in the fine details. Ultimately, wherever one’s opinion might fall regarding DC Comics’ contractual practices, the facts reflect that they have every legal right to publish these comics. They own the property because they have kept it in print for the past quarter century. Period. This is not in question.

Mr. Moore and the publisher, whose parent company is Time Warner, have at best a contentious relationship. In fact, Moore has for all intents and purposes retired from comics writing and pretty much seems to hold the majority of the industry to scorn. He forfeited all rights to the film adaptations of Constantine, V for Vendetta and Watchmen. Furthermore, he indicated in an interview that DC approached him and offered back to him the full rights to Watchmen if he would bless and work on (in some unstated capacity) prequel and sequel projects. He refused. He said he didn’t want them back.

Mr. Moore is a crazy, old coot. He’s a grumpy, old man. He’s become bitter and spiteful. If you’re a comics fan, don’t feel sorry for Alan Moore. He couldn’t care less about you.

C’mon, Alan! Just one smile? Please!? No? Meh.

He’s also a bit of a hypocrite. In the wake of this announcement, he’s grumbling quite a bit. He’s upset that someone would touch his creation. But here’s the rub. Watchmen famously began as an unsolicited pitch using the Charlton Comics characters DC had recently acquired. When it became obvious that Moore’s plans would require the death, crippling or spiritual destruction of a large number of these characters (characters HE did not create and that the publisher had just payed for,) the editors requested that the writer resubmit using his own creations. Characters like Nite Owl, Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach became clever analogs of the Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and The Question.

History reflects that Moore has made a career of taking over other people’s creations and altering them to suit his vision. Len Wein created Alec Holland & Swamp Thing. Moore made Holland an imprint of a personality on a plant elemental and wrote a brilliant run of The Saga of the Swamp Thing. Mick Anglo created Marvelman in the ‘50s. Moore picked up the character in the ‘80s, made the entirety of the 50’s run a virtual reality dream, and went on to tell one of the most ‘adult’ runs of a comic I’ve ever read (released in the U.S. by Eclipse Comics as Miracleman.)

And let us not look past the fact that his greatest success of the past 10-15 years is The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a superstar team-up of public domain characters created by long dead authors who could have no input on their use.

Don’t get me wrong. I pretty much love all that stuff. I bought Watchmen and Swamp Thing as they were coming out. I collected V for Vendetta. I bought The Killing Joke and the Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow? issues of Superman and Action Comics. I was a big fan. I still have all those original issues, too. Again, big fan.

You know who else I’m a fan of? Darwyn Cooke. Brian Azzarello. JM Straczynski. Adam Hughes. Joe & Andy Kubert. Amanda Conner. I think it’s wonderful that Len Wein is involved. In addition to the previously mentioned Swamp Thing connection, he served as an editor on the original series. These are not struggling writers or artists taking a project cause they need the money and every single one of them is probably realizing, today more than ever, that the whole of the industry will be looking to see what they do.

Make no mistake. DC is doing this to make money. Of course they are. That’s their business. And they will. Hand over fist. That’s irrelevant. They could have done this 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago. But the impression I get from the various interviews I’ve read today was that they finally landed on a group of creators who had the right ideas who they could trust with the responsibility of expanding on the SINGLE GREATEST COMIC BOOK STORY EVERY WRITTEN IN THE HISTORY OF THE ENTIRE WORLD AND CREATION AND STUFF. I’m willing to give those brave guys and gals a chance to make that money.

My opinion may not be popular but then again neither am I, nor do I want to be. Me? I’m gonna buy the first issues. And if I like those, I’ll buy the second. And if at any point I stop liking them, I’ll stop buying them. You’re welcome to do the same. Or not. I don’t care.

As a cranky, old editor once said to a mouth-breathing, fat ginger, “I leave it entirely in your hands.”

Oh yeah, if you’re one of those people who have no idea what the hell I’ve been talking about, might I suggest you check out the original series? It’s available at a reasonable price at any reputable comic book store and you can get it on Amazon as well. It is quite good. In fact, it’s excellent.

  1. Signal Watch says:

    From the online reaction, wanting to see these books does not appear to be a minority opinion. Frankly, the support for the project seems to dwarf any outrage.

    Its art versus commerce, and in 2012, that comics fans are in it for the commerce first comes as absolutely no sort of shock. After all, anyone between 40 and 25 got into comics in an era that inspired us to keep long boxes of comics believing, hoping and wishing that those comics are a commodity. We’ve been trained (and occasionally rewarded) to look for what comes next.

    Moore has absolutely stripped away any ability for those who don’t want to see Watchmen picked over for parts to defend their stance, and maybe that’s okay. But I don’t care about Alan Moore. I care about well planned management of major assets and the pattern of disappointment that comes from projects like Dark Knight Strikes Again and the cripplingly low expectations of comics fans when it comes to narrative and the near guarantee that the folks listed as writing these books aren’t capable of work at Moore’s level. In the end, it franchises and cheapens the original work, which does, in fact, dilute the brand.

    I’m not buying the books. Which seems as unpopular as saying you will buy the books. I’m not spending money to watch DC throw away the one foothold of artistic integrity they’d managed to get in the world outside of comics shops so they can demonstrate another spike in the 4th quarter.

    • bighersh says:

      I can certainly respect your stance and appreciate your considered response. I stopped ‘collecting’ years ago and just started picking up things I like. I contend that Vaughan’s ‘Y THE LAST MAN’ is the best thing that’s come out this millenium. I’m quickly losing interest in the DCnU. I gave up on Marvel years ago. I don’t expect much but I’ll hope for the best in the face of overwhelming empirical evidence that I will instead find anything but.

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