A new Alan Moore interview, a new round of controversy! This time it’s a 90-minute chat with Seraphemera Magazine that reveals Moore’s feelings on BEFORE WATCHMEN—he doesn’t like it—their creative teams—uncreative—and so on. He also addresses the “Moore Hypocrisy” with which fans love to cut him down to size: if touching the Watchmen is so bad, how come you can write LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN? Yeah, answer that, big boy!
Yeah, I know that people think I’ve been terribly mean to the poor little American comics industry. It’s so unfair when you think about it, isn’t it, that you’ve got a barely-educated fuck from the English midlands picking upon this huge multinational corporation. You know, I ought to be ashamed of myself.
With regard to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, what I’m doing with that is a kind of literary game that has been going on as long as books have been around.
I mean, it probably started with whoever came up with Jason and the Argonauts, who thought, “Hey wouldn’t it be great if we had a sort of Justice League of ancient Greece. And we got Hercules and Jason and all of these other characters and you know…”
More recently, you have authors like Edgar Allan Poe. He writes The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Jules Verne thinks it’s great, so he writes a sequel to it. H.P. Lovecraft–he likes the same story, so he writes his conclusion to it in At the Mountains of Madness.
I don’t think any of these people would have minded because they were all good writers who were all bringing something new to the mix. They weren’t exploiting the original works. Jules Verne called his novella, The Ice Sphinx or Le Sphinx Des Glaces. He didn’t call it The Return of Arthur Gordon Pym.
So, what we’re doing is taking these characters that are mostly in the public domain. If they’re not in the public domain, they are only referred to glancingly, as a bit of a cultural joke.
It’s a bit different to bringing out a comic called Rorschach.
I don’t mind people referencing my characters. It happens quite a bit. I don’t even mind, like I say, with characters like John Constantine–who I’ve got no interest in anymore. I expected him to be handled by other writers.
But there’s no real comparison. In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I am not adapting characters. I am flat out stealing them in what I think is an honorable way.
Moore also goes on about his WATCHMEN contract (they were supposed to get it back when it went out of print…HA!) , his falling out with Dave Gibbons…all stuff that has been hashed out before but here gets hashed out at length in a “Director’s Cut” version.
Predictably, fans have yowled and howled about Moore’s yowlings and howlings. But you know, thinking about all this for a bit, so WHAT if Moore wrote LOST GIRLS? That doesn’t mean that doing BEFORE WATCHMEN against his express consent is a GOOD thing. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s a false moral equivalency.
I think I have the same reaction when every one of these interviews comes up: Let Alan be Alan. It’s sad that he badmouths some talented current creators but…well BEFORE WATCHMEN is just Not a Good Idea. Yes, yes, we need it to save the comics industry.
But since this is the industry where rehashing the ideas of a singular talent is way more feasible than trying to get NEW ideas from singular talents like Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, and Brian Azzarello…well, you can see why some folks, like Alan Moore, are a bit ambivalent on saving THAT particular industry.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.