There have been frequent sightings of the fabled “WATCHMEN sequel” over the years, but no photographic evidence, if you will. Now, Bleeding Cool claims to have a solid source that a series of four prequels are under way, and Andy Kubert is slated to draw at least one of them. Also believed to be involved: J. Michael Straczynski, JG Jones, and original WATCHMEN collaborators John Higgins and Dave Gibbons. Darwyn Cooke is said to be masterminding the whole thing.
Although unverified, Cooke and Kubert have been hinting at working on Top Secret projects for a while. WATCHMEN II supposedly got the nod after Paul Levitz left DC — he had personally blocked it for nearly 20 years, kind of like that dude guarding the one true Chalice in INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. But like that dude, Levitz couldn’t hold on forever. With him gone, the story goes, Dan DiDio hopped all over it. But a lot of people at DC also thought the idea was blasphemy, and it kind of petered out — or at least leaks about it to Bleeding Cool did.
Alan Moore confirmed the story in an interview with Wired:
“They offered me the rights to Watchmen back, if I would agree to some dopey prequels and sequels,” the influential comics legend told Wired.com. …“So
I just told them that if they said that 10 years ago, when I asked them for that, then yeah it might have worked,” he said. “But these days I don’t want Watchmen back. Certainly, I don’t want it back under those kinds of terms.”
Although getting Moore on board would obviously have been a coup — and about as likely as getting Jack Kirby to endorse the next Captain America movie with the one extenuating circumstance being that Alan Moore is still alive — contracts being contracts, it isn’t necessary to continuing with the project. The whole thing led to some hurt feelings with Dave Gibbons over his becoming a middle man for the project:
Yeah, sometime in June. I received a phone call from Dave Gibbons in which I probably did sound a little bit unfriendly on the phone, because it was very clear that he wasn’t phoning up to thank me for the WATCHMEN film money and I figured that he was probably phoning up to talk to me about something else to do with WATCHMEN. I was busy at the time, I told him to call me back on the Monday. Sure enough, he said, “Alan, got a few minutes? I just want to talk to you about WATCHMEN.” So I said, “As long as it was a few minutes only, Dave, and if that is the end to it.” He then went forward — I didn’t let him get very far — but he said, and I knew, that he had always been opposed to the prequels and sequels of WATCHMEN and had always had the assurances of people like Paul Levitz at DC that that would never be done. But of course, those people aren’t there anymore and it was a different regime, and I had heard that the new Head of DC had announced that she really wanted to pursue some of DC’s key properties, by which I assume she probably meant WATCHMEN. I think she may have even mentioned it, I don’t know. So I said to Dave that yes, I had heard about this and he was saying that he knew the thing that I always wanted was the rights to WATCHMEN back. This was said with the kind of understanding that if they gave me back the rights to WATCHMEN, then I would in return sign over the rights to secondary properties such as, oh I don’t know, Rorschach comic books, sequels, prequels, all of these things…
As I read these new rumors, while a Top Secret Project can remain behind closed door for a while, once a project actually goes into production, more people know about it, so the veracity of these rumors (and the timeline of its creators going into seclusion) would suggest that they might actually be released in 2012.
All speculation, of course.
Which leads you to ask: Why? Why is any prequel to the greatest—and best selling—superhero graphic novel of all time — a book that has found its way into being an actual literary classic as well — even necessary? Given the large revenues that such a huge project would bring in, it would seem that the cash grab alone would justify it in these low margin times.
And let’s face it, there have always been tick birds riding on the backs of great literary sensations. “The Wind Done Gone” anyone? Unauthorized sequels of everything from The Catcher in the Rye to Moby Dick have been written. And of course, those were just literary masterpieces — WATCHMEN is a corporate franchise with opportunities for toys, video games, posters and underwear. And who wouldn’t want to read “The Early Rapes of the Comedian”?
“I think, without wishing to sound like a deposed dictator or a mob boss, that I’d like to take the Fifth and at this point say I reserve my position and say I have no comment to make. […] It’s not something that I’d personally like to see happen. I sense you’re drawing me a little off the position of not commenting on it, so I think I’ll kind of leave it like that. What I would say is, intrinsic to the whole idea of Watchmen is that they existed in a world that was the way it was because of their existence. And I think to transplant them into another world actually removes a huge part of what is the essence of Watchmen.”
What changed his mind — if his participation is true? If the rumored creators are actually the ones doing the prequels, it’s a good lineup of principled creators. The idea is kinda stupid and doomed to unfavorable comparisons with the original — just like all those literary sequels mentioned above — but the profits would bring a lot of money into a cash-starved industry. So…we get it.
Personally we’d rather read that Alan Moore novel he’s been working on. Get on it, Alan!
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.