Interview with Alan Moore

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AM (continued):  So, I'd distanced myself from DC considerably and hadn't really got anything to do with them.  But I was still, I think, tying up loose ends with some of the projects.  So, I was still talking occasionally to people at WildStorm.  I might've been finishing The Black Dossier or something like that.  Now, Steve Moore is my oldest friend and mentor, and the person who taught me how to write comics, even though he doesn't like being described in those terms, and is a brilliant writer in his own right and shouldn't just be remembered in relation to me.  He had not had any work in the couple of years that had elapsed since I'd said "Right, I'm just going to finish my work at WildStorm and that's it."  It was the same for all of the writers I was using on America's Best Comics.  When I wrapped up the ABC line, all of a sudden none of those writers were given any work, which I assumed was some sort of blacklisting.  It might not have been, but it was just kind of odd that all of a sudden the work dried up for everybody.  But, I got a phone call from Steve Moore, saying that he'd had a phone call from DC saying "Would you like to do the Watchmen computer game?  We haven't told Alan yet." 


Now, Steve had gotten a little bit of work at that time.  And, even if he hadn't, Steve is a loyal friend.  He is someone else who is way outside of the comics industry and doesn’t ever want to go back there.  Steve phoned me up and said what had happened, and said that he'd told them that, no, he didn't want the job, and he would never even consider doing anything where I was being kept in the dark about it. 


I should imagine that what DC was probably trying to do there was to offer Steve some work for which they presumed he'd be desperate, get him to accept it, and then present it to me as a fait accompli.  That way, I couldn't make any noise about it without depriving my oldest friend of money and employment in his hour of need.  Now, I thought that that was slimy--and also, although they weren't aware of this at the time, Steve Moore's brother had just been diagnosed with motor neuron disease, which is slow, and painful, and ultimately fatal.  Stephen Hawking has it, but he is, as well as the world's most famous sufferer, unique in that he's still alive. 


DC didn't know that, but I phoned up WildStorm and said, "Look, can you pass this on to DC please?  I understand what they were doing.  I understand that they wanted to present this new Watchmen computer game as a fait accompli.  They didn't know that Steve Moore's brother is terminally ill, so he's going to have to look after him until he dies.  And, over here at least, we regard something like a terminally ill loved one as more important than the machinations of people who publish Batman comics.  So, could you please tell them not to try their slimy little tricks with Steve again, because he's got a terminally ill brother and, for Christ's sake, just leave it out."  That was pretty much the content of the message.


Shortly after that, I had a conversation with Dave Gibbons, who was saying that, yes, there was a Watchmen film coming up.  We both understood that we had different feelings about the film.  But, that was perfectly amiable.  I don't demand that everybody see things the way I do.  Everybody's got the right to make up their own mind.  So, Dave came to me expressing concern.  He said, "Look, this film's coming up and the last thing that I want to happen is for there to be any trouble between us."


I said, "I really don't think that will happen, Dave."  I said, "I respect your position as wanting to see the film made, and I hope that you respect mine as not wanting to see the film made."  He agreed.  I said, "The only thing could cause any problems between us is, as you know, I am having my name taken off of the film, and am giving all of my money to the co-creators."  This has been my policy ever since the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film, which was when I decided that I didn't even want to be connected with a credit to anything Hollywood was popping out.  I said to Dave, "The only thing that ever would cause a problem in our relationship is if, when you get the money--that is, my share of the production money--I would ask that you just give me a quick phone call and say 'I've got the money, Alan.  Thanks a lot.'  Just thank me--or, write me a letter or something like that just saying thank-you.  Just the words 'thank you' will be more than adequate." 


I said that because Dave Lloyd never did.  Dave Lloyd took the money and then went around badmouthing me at these little comic conventions that he goes to--including on one occasion, apparently, sitting a table away from my daughter, Leah.  I presume it was that stage of the evening where he was, perhaps a bit relaxed and refreshed.  He was proclaiming in an over-loud voice about my many, many faults as a human being while Leah sat there.  She knew what he thought, so she just rolled her eyes and ignored him.  But, like I said, Dave Lloyd hadn't phoned up and thanked me.  So, I really didn't want anything more to do with him.  And, I explained this to Dave [Gibbons] and said "If you'd just ring up and say thank-you, that will be fine." 


Dave, being an amiable and jovial chap said, "Oh yeah, don't worry Alan.  I'll phone up and thank you from the deck of the yacht that I've bought with your money."  And I laughed, because it was a good joke.  I said as long as he phoned up and thanked me, it would be great.  So, things went on.  Dave hadn't called, but I assumed that was because he hadn't got the money yet. 


A few weeks before that point, I'd had a phone call from Steve Moore, who said that perhaps he wasn't blacklisted from DC, because he'd just had Warner Books phone him and up say that after he'd done such a brilliant job on the novelization of the V for Vendetta film--even fixing a plot hole in the original screenplay for them--that they'd like him to do the novelization of the Watchmen film.  They knew that Steve was the only person that I would be in favor of doing that.  He phoned me up and told me about this, and I said, "That's great," because this is the year that he was expecting to lose his brother.  And the work had dried up again, so he was really looking to have at least a little bit of money as a cushion when his brother finally departed.  I said, "Yes, go ahead with my blessing.  Write the novel and that will give you a few thousand quid that will actually serve as a bit of a breakwater when Chris finally dies." 

“Shortly after that, I had a conversation with Dave Gibbons... I said, "I am having my name taken off of the film, and am giving all of my money to the co-creators."  This has been my policy ever since

the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film

AM (continued):  Then, I got a message from Dave Gibbons.  He said there was a possibility of product coming out connected to the Watchmen film that he wanted to ask my permission for.  He said that he thought that he could extract the panels of the pirate comic narrative running through Watchmen.  He thought he could make them into a whole comic book that could then be licensed as Tales of the Black Freighter to go along with the film.  I thought that this sounded like a fairly stupid and unworkable idea, and couldn't really see the point.  It'd be like taking all of the counterparts out of Mozart and releasing it on its own.  But, I said, "Well, if it's something you want to do Dave, I'm just completely unbothered about it, as long as there is something making clear that I won't be participating in the project.  And, I wouldn't want any money for it.  And, just as long as my name isn't on it, then that'll be fine."


He said, "Oh, well that's good.  DC said you would be quietly compliant."


I said, "Why'd they say that?"


He said, "I don't know.  They just said you'd be quietly compliant." 


I said, "I'm more completely indifferent.  As long as my name's not on it, then do what you want." 


Dave said, "I don't think they were going to put our names on it anyway.  I think they were going to use the fictitious names of the artist and writer that are mentioned in Watchmen."


I said, "In that case, how will anyone know that I'm not participating in it?"  I just said, "Look, do it if you want Dave, but just put a little un-embarrassing, small print thing on the inside front cover of the thing saying that Alan Moore is not participating in this comic or anything to do with the film."  He said that that sounded okay.  But apparently, either he or DC had decided they didn't want to put out a piece of film merchandise that made it clear that I was definitely not participating in the film or any of its byproducts.  Shortly after that, I received a call from Steve Moore saying he'd just been told that Watchmen wasn't even going to have a novelization.  So, he wouldn't be getting the job.


At this point--call me paranoid, and I know that some people have done so--it struck me that was possibly what that odd turn-of-phrase "quietly compliant" was all about--that they expected me to be quietly compliant because I would have been thinking like them, and thinking "Oh, if I don't do what they say they'll take that job away from Steve."  That had never even occurred to me.  I didn't think that anyone could ever be that verminous.  But, once I had thought that was probably what had happened, I immediately spoke to the people at DC.  I told Karen Berger she could never call me again, and that I didn't want anything to do with anybody at DC Comics.  I was furiously angry and sickened at--at least what I'd perceived--had happened.  I though that was completely unforgivable and subhuman. 


Now, it was probably the week before I married Melinda [Gebbie] that this had all happened.  Now, I knew that Dave Gibbons would be coming along to the wedding.  While he was there, I very amiably took him to one side and explained what had happened and what my perception of the events was.  He denied that the people at DC would ever do something like that, but he couldn't explain what they had actually meant by the phrase "quietly compliant."  So, I said, "You've got your different feelings about it and I understand that, yes, you are a lot closer to these people.  But, this is my perception of what has happened."  And, I didn't believe he was in any way complicit.  I believe that he'd just been told to pass on a message without understanding it.  So, I said, "For the sake of our friendship, Dave, in the future, let's just not talk about Watchmen." 


This was on my wedding day.

“He (Dave Gibbons) said,

"...DC said you would be quietly compliant."

...call me paranoid, and I know that some people

have done so--it struck me that was possibly what that odd

turn-of-phrase "quietly compliant" was all about--that they

expected me to be quietly compliant...and thinking,

"Oh, if I don't do what they say they'll take that job

away from Steve (Moore)."”