Here in the world of what is laughably called “pop culture journalism,” we’re all used to a certain breathless acceptance in talent interviews. Staying competitive means getting exclusives and getting exclusives means playing ball. Tough questions are rarely asked, and confrontation is the greatest sin of all.
So when you read Watching Watchmen: A Classic Comic’s Classless Return at the Daily Beast, you have to either wince or gasp as things spin out of control.
Having no idea how this could happen, I ended up on the phone with Len Wein, who edited Watchmen, and as a writer helped create iconic superheroes Wolverine for Marvel and Swamp Thing for DC. Wein is writing two of the new Watchmen comics, including Ozymandias, which debuts tomorrow. I wouldn’t say he was yelling at me, but he was speaking with exclamation marks, which because he seems like a nice guy, I’d ascribe at least in part to occupational hazards.
“These are not shady business dealings!” he said. I had just told him that I thought an argument he was dismissing was really about shady business dealings.
They certainly strike the outside world as incredibly shady, I said.
“I’m sure Pam’s going to jump in here,” he said, “but I completely disagree with you!”
“And it’s not his place,” said Pam, “to talk about the business.”
The questioner is Tim Marchman, he of the brutal Big Two take down that was the talk of the town a month ago. The questionee is Len Wein, comics Hall of Famer and the commissioning editor of WATCHMEN, as well as author of a prequel and the back-up Pirate series. And the alarmed PR person is DC’s Pam Mullen. Not that we personally disagree with many of Marchman’s conclusions, but with the comics industry so used to a docile press, the scene represents a gory wildebeest takedown where the cheetah never slows down.
The WATCHMEN logo has never seemed so appropriate an illustration.
Somehow, we doubt Marchman will be getting too many exclusives from DC in the near future. OTOH, the Daily Beast does understand that actual journalism trumps canned baby food. So who knows who’s next to get caught along out on the
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.