(This blog post shamelessly repurposed from some musings yesterday on Facebook.)
Honestly, I don't see the fuss over DC's Watchmen prequels.
Alan Moore signed a work-for-hire contract, so DC are free to do with the property as they see fit. Now, I think it is fair comment to note a certain amount of barrel-scraping creatively (given that DC has already managed to spin a major crossover event out of a six-page Green Lantern story Moore wrote nearly 30 years ago).
I say the following as someone who has boundless admiration for his work and deep personal affection for the man himself, having met him a couple of times (albeit many years ago), but…
I find Moore's stance on copyright perplexing and bordering on the hypocritical. Just once, instead of slagging off, say, 2000AD, I'd like him to say that he appreciates the fact that Steve MacManus gave him a platform from which he went on to become arguably the most successful comic writer in the world, instead of winding up in prison due to being "the world's most inept drug dealer."
(I should point out that this last is actually Alan's own description of a part of his pre-comic-writing life.)
It's true that he and Dave Gibbons would have got the rights to Watchmen back if DC had let it go out of print, but does anyone seriously think that DC would have kept on printing the book if it wasn't selling? I suspect that once every six months a royalty cheque drops through Alan's letterbox that would make the rest of us very happy indeed…
(I also can't help but wonder what Moore's position on the rights to Watchmen would be if Dick Giordano had OKed it when it still used the Charlton characters that were in the original proposal…)
I can see how some of the ABC stuff and the like might make Alan very, very suspicious of the motives of mainstream comic publishers, I can see how the LXG movie lawsuit has left him very wary of the entertainment industry in general, but I don't believe anyone ever forced him to sign a contract at gunpoint, or that any of those contracts were materially worse than anyone else in the industry was getting at the time.
At the same time, though, I don't quite understand how Moore squares his own position on creators' rights with his seeming belief that he can plunder the literary back-catalogue with impunity; or that contracts he signed somehow shouldn't now apply to the work he created under them.
Frankly, it baffles me and I wish Alan would just shut the hell up about it, since this one frustrating, illogical position he insists on banging on about is starting to colour my opinion of a man whose writing genuinely changed my life.
However, I have to undermine my own rant with the following caveat:
Alan Moore doesn't go to conventions; doesn't have an internet connection; doesn't even have an e-mail address. I genuinely believe that Alan has not the least idea (and probably cares even less) how famous he actually still is in the comics industry.
I don't believe for one second that he spends his days in some fever of seething resentment at the iniquities heaped upon him by the comic industry. Rather, I suspect he potters about Northampton opposing the closure of local libraries and gently removing small rodents that have taken to nesting in his beard and gives not the most passing of thought to the state of the comic industry…
Until, of course, Rich Johnston (or whoever) phones him up and presses the "guaranteed to elicit a number of pithy quotes from Alan Moore" button, after which they sit back to enjoy the sounds of gnashing teeth from the serried ranks of comic geekdom and to watch the hit counter on their website spin round so fast it becomes a blur.
It bears repeating that Alan Moore does not have an internet connection. For Alan's opinion to make it onto the internet, someone has to have actively sought it from him. Now, it's perfectly fair and natural for comics news sites to seek his opinion, but it's also important to remember that the man himself is not publishing vitriolic screeds on his blog or issuing the comic book equivalent of fatwahs via Twitter.
In fact, I suspect if Alan really knew how famous he still was in the comics industry that he would bellow at us (in that splendid accent of his): "IT WAS TWENTY-FOIVE YEARS AGOW! MOVE ON!"