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Trouble with Comics

List of Disgraced Watchmen 2 Scabs Revealed

Comic Book Resources has obediently cooperated with Time-Warner corporate superhero comic book publisher DC Comics in revealing the long-ago leaked “news” that DC will publish comic book derivative of Watchmen, a comic book created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Here is the list of scab creators associated with this unethical publishing decision:

Brian Azzarello
Lee Bermejo
Darwyn Cooke
J.G. Jones
J. Michael Straczynski
Adam Hughes
Andy Kubert
Joe Kubert
Len Wein
Jae Lee
Amanda Conner

No comic book reader who believes in creator rights or ethical business practices will buy or read the comics being planned. Writer Alan Moore co-created Watchmen and signed a contract with DC Comics that under normal industry practices of the time would have seen control of the work revert to Moore and artist Dave Gibbons after the work had gone out of print for a period of time, as was the case with every DC graphic novel created under a similar contract up until Watchmen. Because of the unprecedented quality and success of Watchmen, DC has never allowed the work to go out of print, and therefore has retained legal control of Watchmen for decades longer than anyone at the time could have imagined they would have. I’ve said before that DC may have the legal right to create more Watchmen comics, but their ethically dubious stewardship of the property and repeated actions against the interests and wishes of Alan Moore make these comics nothing but the fruit of a poisoned tree.

I once again ask anyone who believes DC is in the wrong here to sign the petition asking the publisher not to create more Watchmen comics until such a time that DC reaches an accord with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and the two fully and freely endorse such work.

I’m disgusted by the long list of scab writers and artists above, who have willingly thrown in their lot against creator rights and in favour of unethical corporate thuggery. Any writer or artist who respects the rights of their colleagues throughout the industry would refuse to work on any derivative works related to Watchmen until DC, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons are all in agreement on the creation of new Watchmen properties. 

Alan David Doane 

On the DC Petition

As one of the signees of my buddy Alan David Doane’s petition asking DC Comics to come to an accord with the creators of Watchmen or, failing that, scuttle plans for Watchmen prequels/sequels/spinoffs, I wrestled with the rationale of it for a little bit. I’m probably as temperamental as Alan, but not so anti-corporate, and by and large I come down on the side of the law. And as it seems to be legal for DC to go forth with exploiting what appears to be their property, as rights never reverted back to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, I was basically okay with their legal right to do so, though not interested in the results.

But I have come to realize a couple things. First, laws obviously change. What was accepted practice fifty or thirty or even ten years ago can be disputed and reversed now. But more importantly, this is an ethical issue. Although Alan’s artwork below is over-the-top, the petition itself is evenhanded. No one is calling for Occupy DC or a boycott or anything like that. It basically just asks DC to do the right thing. Obviously, not everyone has the same ethics and values, and DC is made up of many people of differing ethics and values who have to balance them with the need to make money. To me, and I have to point out I had no involvement in the creation of this petition and am only stating my own desires for the outcome, it’s not so much about if or how DC reacts to it as that it hopefully starts some sort of dialogue, plants a seed in people’s minds about the importance of the artist and how one should always make the attempt to respect the author’s wishes. It’s not unheard of but rare in the world of film (2010, the shot-for-shot remake of Psycho) for filmmakers to try to follow another filmmaker’s visionary work, but comics publishers seem to have little regard for most creators, nor shame in endlessly regurgitating old ideas. As with the New 52, it’s pretty transparent that spinning off Watchmen with different creators is shortsighted and gimmicky and not likely to produce anything approaching the longevity and merit of the original work, but admittedly, that’s not really the point here. A kickass, mind-expanding Owlman story-for-the-ages, or a turd on the scale of The L.A.W., either result is still a kick in the teeth to Messrs. Moore & Gibbons and their singular work. 

I just think it’s worth starting the discussion, both intellectually and spiritually. What benefit to one’s soul is there in championing those who reap their rewards based on someone else’s hard work and mental agility, who exploit legal loopholes that hurt others? I’m no saint and make plenty of my own questionable choices, but I don’t take pride in them, nor am I going to rally to the defense of others who do these things at the expense of others. Yes, there are more important things in the world and Change.org is involved with those things, too, but that doesn’t make it unimportant. Do you want to stand up, even in this mild way, for the Artist, or just keep lining up for more and more of the same crap? Even at one’s most selfish, it’s just common sense that the company who does right by its people is going to produce better work, more often. 

—Christopher Allen