A Frank Quitely page featuring a host of Marvel’s Silver Age super-people, from the UKCAC94 booklet.
Comixtime: Gives Me FEELINGS Special Edition
Basically, Moore is in the right here. I don’t know how anyone can say otherwise, unless they straight out say “screw Alan Moore, I want more Rorschach beating up criminals”. That would at least be honest.
American superhero comics is a medium based on taking others’ ideas and running with them. And there have been many instances of creators not getting the credit they deserve; see Siegel and Shuster and Jack Kirby. So why is this different? Well, it isn’t - which is precisely why it’s so depressing. Why are the rights of creators still in such a shitty state? The 2011 Kirby lawsuit judgement has gone down as a breaking point for a number of people. It’s confirmation that these companies that have made millions off other people’s ideas can’t make even a token acknowledgement of that fact.
And while Superman and Batman in their original incarnations were meant as serial stories - you have the set-up (super-strong alien or wealthy vigilante) to apply to any new plot - Watchmen was ALWAYS intended to be a single self-contained story. From the first to the final image, there’s not a single panel that needs to be added to explain or clarify anything. DC’s intellectual bankruptcy to the extent that they need a 6-month sales bump off a 26-year-old limited series is … depressing. And I find the insistence of the creators that they’ve in fact found things that must be added to the story specious at best, and insulting at worst.
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, meanwhile, created Watchmen under the impression that the rights would be returned them eventually. Within a year after it was concluded, in fact. That’s not my opinion. That’s a fact. It’s public knowledge. Due to the nature of the deal that had been agreed upon by Moore, Gibbons and DC Comics, it was widely discussed. It was a genuine victory for creators’ rights.
But then the book was kept in print forever, and the rights to Watchmen never reverted back to Moore and Gibbons.
And people wonder why Alan Moore felt betrayed.
A company having the legal right to exploit someone’s work does not translate to a moral right. It doesn’t translate to the certainty (or even the possibility) of good art. I enjoy Darwyn Cooke and Brian Azzarello’s work, but I wouldn’t put them on par with Moore. And this is before you get into the company-man bullshit-shovelling and passive-aggressive denigration of the guy who actually created the work that this brains trust is going to play around with.
There is a curious phenomenon at work here; creators who feel a need to attack Alan Moore, even though he’s never addressed them himself. The team behind Watchmen 2: The Legend Of Nixon’s Gold may be perfectly at ease with profiting off Moore’s characters and story, but there’s something odd with the way the interviews contain a pre-emptive lashing out.
I don’t begrudge anyone buying or enjoying the Watchmen prequel comics. I’d much rather not have to worry about the moral consequences of my tastes in my entertainment. But Marvel could have acknowledged the debt they owe to Kirby within his lifetime, and compensated him accordingly. They could have admitted to his family that they made a mistake, and awarded them something by way of recompense. DC could have done the same for Siegel and Shuster, and they could have left Watchmen alone as a stand-alone work and reliable bestseller.
Instead, we’re seeing the worst aspects of modern comics culture. And it’s the fact that they work towards the corporate-led status quo that makes stuff like this possible. If you have fans that side with corporations over creators, and creators working for these corporations that will throw their predecessors under the bus for a chance to play with the toys, the whole thing will play out just as before, right down to Visionary Director(tm) Zak Snyder bringing Watchmen Babies to the big screen, and Rorschach action figures all the way down…
…And I don’t want any part of it.
As with the debate about female creators being under-represented in Big Two comics, it basically comes down to this: the people making great art/comics right now are so good that no one in their right mind would want them to knuckle under to the dictates of DC/Marvel editorial.