Interview with Alan Moore

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AM:  That is pretty much the only thing that they're remotely worried about that, yes, I will be commenting upon it. And of course, if they ever should make films out of these things with these dodgy copyright foundations then I shall be being very vocal during the course of them as well.


So, if DC want to soil themselves in public and kill the reputations of a number of otherwise possibly halfway-decent writers and artists, then I'm certainly not going to stop them.  And, I shall take my fun and my pleasure however it comes.


KA:  Like I said, I think I have different feelings about contemporary comics to some extent.  I still read Wolverine and that kind of thing.  I mean I agree, though, that nothing has ever topped Watchmen.  I mean Maus is great, but not as good, and the same for The Dark Knight Returns.  Those are the seminal works that have helped elevate the industry.


And, I agree that you could spend your lifetime reading the great works of English literature and never finish them all.  And yet, comics can name a few examples that are that good, and then a long list of things that are somewhere in the middle.  I'm not going to go into a list of the things I've enjoyed over the years.  I don't think I paint it with quite as broad of a brush as you do.  However, I would agree that the fact they're trying to make Watchmen a regular comic book like Spider-Man or Superman, which were meant to go on indefinitely as a super-hero soap opera.  Watchmen is a contained work.  It requires no prequels or sequels, and if anything, it becomes part of a larger inferior whole which is kind of what happened to any number of other comics--ones that the industry followed up, and what came out afterwards wasn't nearly as good as the series' pinnacle.


AM:  Given how important it has been to the rise of the comics industry in the public perceptions, I thought it would have been the one thing that they wouldn't mess with and didn't try to turn into something ordinary.  But, like I say, I really don't think they had any other options--like come up with an idea of your own, or encourage young talent to come up with radical new ideas.  In fact, it looks that way to me, with their insistence upon contract writers and artists.  At least until fairly recently, I believe that the heads of the companies were personally supervising all of the plot lines for all of the books.  So, there was no chance of anything radical happening.


KA:  Of course not.


AM:  For all of the good that Watchmen did the comics industry, I think for the people who have handled it, it has been an almost radioactive hot potato.  I think that his handling of Watchmen might have contributed to [former DC President] Paul Levitz's recent career changes.  This is not going to work out well.  But, there's no dissuading these people.  We just have to let nature run its course.

“At least until fairly recently, I believe that the heads of the companies were personally supervising all of the plot lines for all of the books.  So, there was no chance of anything radical happening.”

KA:  There are a lot of people who are pointing out that you object to other people using your characters, and yet so many of your works have been based upon other--


AM:  Other people's characters, right.  Yeah, I've heard that.  Now, what needs explaining is that you're talking about two or three different things, there.  With The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, you're talking about a literary phenomenon that has nothing to do with comics.  I can get to that in a moment.  But, in terms of comics, when I entered the comics industry, I was given characters that the company owned, which were on their last legs--ones which were so lame that they were practically on the verge of cancellation. 


Swamp Thing had been, I suppose, created by Len Wein (although in retrospect it really wasn't much more than a regurgitation of Hillman Comics' The Heap with a bit of Rod Serling purple prose wrapped around it).  When I took over that character at Len Wein's suggestion, I did my best to make it an original character that didn't owe a huge debt to previously existing swamp monsters.  And when I finished doing that book, yes, of course I understood that other people were going to take it over.  That went for characters that I had created, like John Constantine.  I understood that when I had finished with that character that it would just be absorbed into the general DC stockpile and I believe that I've expressed my admiration.  I think that Brian Azzarello's editor had heard that I quite liked the job that he did with Richard Corben on Hellblazer and he phoned up asking me for a quote.  I don't know if they ever used it, but I gave them a fulsome one.


This is because those were characters the company owned and I understood that.  And I understood that whether I had created the characters like John Constantine, or whether I'd simply recreated them beyond all recognition like Swamp Thing, that these would just go into the general comic company's stockpiles.  I've never objected to that.  I mean, I don't think it is necessarily the fairest thing, but I've not objected to that. 


The thing was, that wasn't what we were told Watchmen was.


We were told that Watchmen was going to be a title that we owned and that we would determine the destinies of.  If we didn't want there to be more than 12 issues, there wouldn't be more than 12 issues.  We thought we controlled and we owned these characters.  Now, there is a huge difference between the two of those things.


Do I continually tap on about people who kind of take characters that I've created or stuff like that?  If it was under those terms, no, I don't think I do.


On the issue of those Green Lantern stories that were done based upon an eight page story of mine from 20 years ago: the point I was trying to make there was just about the general uselessness.  I wasn't saying that they didn't have the right to do crappy Green Lantern stories based upon something that I wrote--of course they did!  I was just trying to point out that it did show a kind of barrenness in contemporary comics, and that these weren't new ideas that they were bringing to it.  They were just exploiting a little throwaway story that me and Kevin O'Neill had done all those years ago.  And, I was just saying that I didn't think that was a very healthy sign for the industry.  I wasn't saying they shouldn't do it.  It's kind of a demonstration that the industry is completely creatively bankrupt.  And, this is probably true of much of the entertainment industry.  You only have to look at the number of Hollywood films of TV series that are remakes of things that were probably much better when they were done in another country, or another language, or another decade.


It doesn't seem that there is anybody capable, these days, of coming up with truly original ideas.  That was the point I was making.  Yeah, sure, they're welcome to recycle my old ideas but they mustn't expect me not to comment upon how lame that makes them look.

“We were told that Watchmen was going to be a title that we owned and that we would determine the destinies of.

If we didn't want there to be more than 12 issues, there wouldn't be more than 12 issues.  We thought we controlled and we owned these characters.”