WRITE OR WRONG #70 - WATCHMEN 2 Should Happen

Write or Wrong: Define Yourself

I know I haven’t posted a new ”Write or Wrong” column since August, which marked the Five-Year Anniversary of this column… and I apologize for that. There’s been a lot of stuff goin’ in the Manning Manor, much of it good, and most of which I hope to reveal/discuss as the months of 2012 progress.

Back when I started this column it was weekly (remember those days?), but as I sit here now and look ahead into 2012 , my plan is to get a nice “monthly” groove on for this year. Regardless, I’m now sitting on 70 columns after five years… and that still puts me at a little more than one a month… and all things considered, I’m OK with that.

(And to be fair, I also co-wrote FIVE huge articles for Newsarama about the NIGHTMARE WORLD print trilogy, most of which are very “Write or Wrong”-ish and can be read HERE.

For those of you new to this column, though… WELCOME! “Write or Wrong” is a column primarily dedicated to talking to aspiring creators – especially writers – about creating comics, and this column is no exception to that rule… but we’re going to get so that by talking-about the much-rumored Watchmen 2 project that is seemingly on the horizon.

 

According to Rich Johnston of www.BleedingCool.com (a site I also contribute articles to on occasion), a sequel to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen is indeed happening in the form of a series of mini-series prequels by some of the industry’s top talents, potentially including J.G. Jones, the Kuberts, Amanda Conner and Darwyn Cooke.

While this is still only a “rumor” at best, it has been the topic of much discussion around the Internet and at this point is looking to be a pretty safe bet.

Of course Alan Moore – a creative genius who I hold in the highest regard – is not the least bit enthused about this project, and fandom at large – like Moore – seems to be pretty perturbed at DC Comics for having the “audacity” to do sequels (or prequels) to what is undeniably the most universally acclaimed modern superhero comic of all time.

And truth be told, when the news first broke I was one of those people, too.

After all, my respect for Alan Moore as a writer/creator is pretty much without equal (whenever anyone asks me about my favorite writer, I always preface it by saying “There’s Alan Moore… and then there’s everybody else, starting with…”) and, hey, if HE didn’t/doesn’t want anything else Watchmen-related to be out there, then, who was I to disagree? I mean, he co-created the property, right?

My hero-worship of Alan Moore aside, Watchmen is also the book that not only got me into comics, but also the book that taught me how to write and create comics, thanks to the old Graffiti slipcase edition of Watchmen that came with script samples and notes from Moore and Gibbons – extras that are now much more widely-available in the “Absolute Edition” of Watchmen, from what I understand.

Finally, from a creative standpoint, it just didn’t made sense to me to do prequels/sequels to Watchmen  since, as I saw it, one of the reasons Watchmen was so powerful was because it was indeed a “one-and-done” book… a complete, stand-alone story told in a world that’s just a little “sideways” to our own.

For these reasons, I, like many people, was against the idea of DC doing any other Watchmen-related projects.

The operative word there, though, is “was.”

Now that I’ve had a few months to really digest the concept, though… well, I’m OK with the idea.

Hell… truth be told, I’m more than OK with the idea.

The reality of the situation is that I’m all for it.

Yes, despite the fact that my hero/idol Alan Moore is against it.

Yes, despite the fact that Watchmen prequels are totally unnecessary.

Yes, despite the fact that they might suck.

Allow me to explain.

 

Anyone with a passing knowledge of comics news is most likely aware that Alan Moore is vehemently against the idea of DC Comics doing anything more with Watchmen, and initially, that was probably the number one reason why I was against the potential (yet now all-but-confirmed) project.

After all, I’m a loud and proud supporter of creator’s rights, and Moore has never been shy about publically lambasting how he has felt DC Comics has been screwing him out of getting the rights to Watchmen back by keeping it in print since its debut.

(According to the contract, as per details discussed by Moore, the rights to Watchmen would not defer back to Moore and Gibbons until the book was out of print for a certain amount of time… something that’s fairly standard in most comic contracts involving a creator who is bringing a new/original property/properties (read: stand-alone characters) to a major publisher. Well, since Watchmen became so popular that it never went out of print – and at this point most likely never will – DC will most likely maintain the rights to Watchmen forever, with Moore and Gibbons’ link to the project existing mainly as royalties on the books sold. While loud and very public protests from Moore have squashed some Watchmen-related merchandise in recent years, this was seemingly done more as a professional courtesy on the behalf of DC’s former regime than anything else, despite DC having what appears to be the legal right to utilize the Watchmen franchise however they see fit. More on THAT in a bit.)

As a creator I can certainly understand Moore’s frustration, especially given how, at the time Moore and Gibbons signed the contracts for Watchmen with DC, very few comics (if any?) were kept in print for any significantly extended period of time – let alone the 25 years and counting DC has kept Watchmen in circulation. Given the climate and practices of the comic book industry at the time, Moore was certainly justified in expecting that sooner or later the rights to the work would eventually revert back to him…

However

The fact of the matter is that they signed a contract in which DC would own the rights to the work upfront and could potentially own the rights forever… however unlikely that possibility seemed at the time. Moore (and Gibbons) took the gamble – not to mention the guaranteed paycheck – and in doing so just so happened to create a book that was so popular that it wouldn’t make financial sense for DC to let it go out of print… for them or for the now incensed Moore, truth be told.

(As I typed that I pictured an alternate reality where Moore, 25 years younger, is equally pissed at DC for letting the book go out of print… but I digress.)

You see, despite what some people might claim, I really don’t think DC set-out to screw Moore from the get-go. I mean, heck, he was a very talented young(er) writer and DC asked him to do work for them – an arrangement that would benefit both parties.

When Watchmen became a massive success – for all involved – the expectation that DC would then let the book go out of print, just to let Moore (and Gibbons) have the rights back so they could do whatever they wanted with the property (including potentially taking it to another publisher) rests somewhere between naïve and childish.

Once hero worship is taken out of the equation (something I and many, many other people have in regards to Moore), the fact that he became irate about the rights not reverting back to him after it became successful is really more akin to “sour grapes” than anything else… something that Moore himself has admitted to voluntarily chewing on more than one occasion over the years, citing his distain as valid on the grounds of principle at the very least.

And, hey, good for him to sticking to his principles, you know? And I mean that. Truly.

Again, though, principle aside, the cold hard facts are that that – due to the terms of the contract Moore (and presumably Gibbons) signed – Watchmen is a corporately-owned book filled with corporately-owned characters until DC chooses to let the book go out of print for an long enough period of time that they will then revert back to the creators.

Period.

“Alan Moore Speaks Watchmen 2 To Adi Tantimeth” on several occasions. It’s a fascinating read which I cannot recommend reading highly enough as a companion to this installment of “Write or Wrong.”

NEXT TIME: “Throwing Snowballs at Avalanches”: A discussion about promoting your creator-owned work amidst constant waves of well-financed hype of corporately-owned superhero comics and events.

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Dirk Manning is the writer/creator of The NIGHTMARE WORLD Trilogy (now in print!) and TALES OF MR. RHEE (now online!), both for Image Comics/Shadowline. He is also the writer/co-creator of the fantasy series FARSEEKER with artist Len O’Grady at www.ACT-I-VATE.com. He is also a longtime contributing columnist for Newsarama and a staunch advocate for comic creators everywhere. He lives on the Internet and can usually be found lurking around Facebook and Twitter on a fairly regular basis… when he’s not busy writing, of course.

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Did you know that NEWSARAMA now has a page solely dedicated to archiving the previous “Write or Wrong” columns and other Dirk Manning related articles? It’s true! You can check it out (and bookmark it) HERE: http://www.newsarama.com/topic/write-or-wrong

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