According to Wired’s Scott Thill, Alan Moore told DC Comics to go and screw themselves last week, after they offered him the rights to Watchmen back in exchange for gracing a bunch of planned spin-off books with his blessing or participation, or whatever his “agreement” would have meant in practice.
With long-time publisher Paul Levitz gone, it appears the new DC management of Dan DiDio and Jim Lee is entertaining the notion of mending fences with creators DC alienated over the decades. (Though certainly not trying very hard, if Moore’s description of their “offer” is correct.) Their latest batch of solicitations, which includes a couple of old Warren Ellis projects that didn’t go over well the first time around, among other things, confirms the impression.
Reached for comment by Thill, DC issued a joint response by DiDio and Lee:
“Watchmen is the most celebrated graphic novel of all time. Rest assured, DC Comics would only revisit these iconic characters if the creative vision of any proposed new stories matched the quality set by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons nearly 25 years ago, and our first discussion on any of this would naturally be with the creators themselves.”
Which means we can probably expect a wave of “dopey prequels and sequels” to Watchmen in 2011—without Alan Moore, but with the possible involvement of co-creator Dave Gibbons; I expect the same thing they’re doing with Ellis’s Red in October, basically, only with much more cash on the line.
Tom Spurgeon comments on the prospect:
“This doesn’t seem to me like out of the box publishing thinking; this seems to me like sad, typical all the way in the box corporate media thinking. I don’t want a prequel to Lawrence of Arabia, I don’t want to see a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird and I like Watchmen just the way it is as a singular expression of potent pop culture, thank you.
“I’m still waiting for something cool and unusual to be announced from the new DC regime.”
The obvious response would be that you don’t have to read it, of course. Personally, I can’t say I care a great deal about what DC (or Marvel) does or doesn’t publish. There’s more than enough material out there without them. I’ll probably end up ignoring whatever they come up with, like I do most of their books. Still, it’s hard to disagree with Spurgeon’s sentiment.
A sequel to Watchmen is the best thing you can come up with, DC? Really? Wow. You’re doomed.
And we won’t even miss you.
Chris Eckert at Funnybook Babylon crunches the numbers of Vertigo’s ongoing-periodical launches from 2000 through 2010 and debunks some rumors in the wake of the latest wave of Vertigo cancellations, which includes Air, Unknown Soldier and Greek Street.
Notably, Eckert points out that Vertigo has grown a lot more lenient over the years:
“If there has been any change in their behavior over the past several years, it seems as if it has been to let books sink lower than before, as five or six years ago, books selling over 10,000 were up for execution. […] [L]ooking at all of this, I have no idea why anyone would postulate these books are being canceled because of ‘undue attention from above’, beyond baseless rumor-mongering.”
It’s a refreshingly well-researched piece that covers all the available angles.
Beyond the question of the aforementioned cancellations, for what it’s worth, there’s no sign that Vertigo is in any kind of trouble right now. In fact, their periodical department is looking healthier than it has in ages: The $ 1.00 debut issues they’ve been using to introduce new launches actually seem to result in higher periodical and paperback sales in the direct market, and recent launches like The Unwritten, American Vampire, I, Zombie, Joe the Barbarian and Daytripper are turning out to be more successful again than some of their predecessors.
At the Guardian, British radio host and comics creator Jonathan Ross meets and talks to American comics innovator Jim Steranko, resulting in an interview that includes this exchange:
JR: I know you are health-conscious, which comes from your work in escapology and so on. What’s an average day for you now?
JS: I eat one meal a day. I believe everything you put in your body is toxic – I eat raw fruits and vegetables. A very small portion. I live on the side of a mountain and run up it with my dogs every night. I begin working after I have dinner at eight o’clock, and work till about nine in the morning. Then I turn in until about 11 o’clock.
JR: Two hours sleep? Conventional wisdom has it that you need sleep …
JS: I am proof the body can get by on two hours’ sleep.
JR: You know how mad that makes you sound?
JS: Yeah, I don’t give a damn.
There are legends about Steranko in German folklore, you know. My grandparents told me stories about him when I was a little boy.
At Graphic NYC, veteran comics maker Jim Shooter talks to Christopher Irving about his career. Among other topics, Shooter discusses his experiences with DC editor Mort Weisinger:
“So, when he was going over the material I had sent in earlier that week, he’d go over it panel by panel, word by word, page by page, he would start spewing ‘You idiot!’ He was just screaming at me about what a ‘retard, fucking moron I was, and how stupid I was every time he saw a spelling error or any kind of mistake. I was still doing rough sketches for every panel – I always did – and he also criticized my drawing: ‘What’s this guy holding? Is that supposed to be a gun? It looks like a carrot! You fucking moron!’ That’s a quote: that really happened.”
That supposedly happened when Shooter was fourteen, mind you.
Overall, there’s a great snapshot to be had of what things were like at Marvel and DC back in the day, including quite lively anecdotes involving industry figures like Stan Lee, Julius Schwartz, Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont and James Galton.
Sean T. Collins puts things in perspective, pointing to a set of Soundscan sales figures for various independent records.
Out now: CBGB: The Comic Book #1, the debut of a Boom! Studios anthology series dealing with a legendary New York bar and rock club. The first issue comes with two stories—one by Kieron Gillen (Phonogram) and Marc Ellerby (Love the Way You Love), the other by Sam Humphries (Fraggle Rock) and Rob G (The Couriers).
At Comic Book Resources, Gillen, who’s also a games and music journalist, talks about the similarities between his 14-pager in CBGB and Phonogram, writing to music, critics and masturbatory cock or cunt waving.
As with any anthology, there are bound to be hits and misses, but if Phonogram: The Singles Club or Gillen’s recent work on Marvel books like The Mystic Hands of Dr. Strange or Siege: Loki is any indication, the dramatic structure of one-shot stories plays to his strengths.
And if all else fails, there’s a cover by Jaime Hernandez.