The internet is still aflame today, with news regarding Before Watchmen. Whether you’re down with it or not (goddamn you supporters! I’m looking at you, Rendar!), Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson has some pretty interesting fucking words.
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 Watchmennever reverted back to Moore and Gibbons.
And people wonder why Alan Moore felt betrayed.
It was a dirty deal, and the fact that there are people who want to rationalize it by saying, “Well, Alan Moore wrote League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Lost Girls, and those books used other writers’s characters, so how is this any different?” just shows that truth is a sadly devalued currency. It’s different because Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons negotiated, in good faith, a deal that would have allowed them to retain the rights toWatchmen.
And yes, the characters in Watchmen were inspired by characters like Peacemaker, Thunderbolt and The Question. We know that, because Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons told us as much. Had they kept that inspiration quiet — would anyone anywhere have mistaken Watchmen for something published by Charlton Comics? Dr. Manhattan is no more the same character as Captain Atom as Captain Marvel is Superman or Blue Beetle is Spider-Man.
All in all, it’s a strange double standard, arbitrarily applied to an amazing writer who has done more than almost anyone else to draw serious attention to this medium. And it’s one that anyone who supports creator’s rights should find fairly troubling, if not outright maddening.
I’ll agree with our own resident scribe The Dude when he says that nothing about Before Watchmen should impinge on one’s love for the original. But the entire thing stinks.