It was never in question that when DC announced their Before Watchmen line of books that opinions would be coming quickly from all sides of the comic community. It wasn't a risky wager at all to bet that there would be excitement from some and anger from others. This was a no-brainer and I'm sure that everyone involved in this project knew what they were on board for, so there's no reason to talk about any shock value that this announcement created.But lines quickly formed (again, without shock) and many opinions went right where you could of predicted they would.
"How dare they tread on such hallowed ground!"
"Is nothing sacred?!"
"Those look awesome!"
"I'm definitely checking these out!"
The responses against the idea went straight for where I think we all knew they would. These opinions are nothing new and are easily found any place that gives any sort of comic book coverage at all. So, yeah...no surprises there. In following that same line of predicted logic: imagine my actual surprise in seeing a complete role-reversal as to where the real heat was coming from...
The people that were for it.
Since DC made their announcement, I have seen all sorts of Alan Moore bashing in quantities previously unseen. Not only has there been a forceful effort concentrated on calling bullshit on the man himself, but even every kind of dig you can think of to belittle the source material.
"Watchmen was a take on the Charlton characters!"
"Well I'm sure Baum and Carroll wouldn't have approved of what he did with their characters in Lost Girls!"
"Alan Moore is a fucking hypocrite!"
Then I guess you want to buy these books to what, spite him?!
Let me remind us all of one simple, undeniable fact: Alan Moore wrote Watchmen and we didn't.
If you'll indulge my line of thinking here, and you've read along this far, please let me just acknowledge a few other points that seem to be happily forgotten at the moment. For any of you that are of the age to have read Watchmen when it was originally released, I say "Have you really forgotten what those books did to the industry and the fans at large?" I'm not asking if you liked it or not, I'm asking you if you can honestly dispute the changes that Watchmen made in the industry. You don't have to agree why the bomb was dropped, but if you sincerely try to tell me that there's no crater at the point of impact...well then you kind of remove yourself from the discussion.
To the folks that read it years after it came out; I ask that you please keep the proper perspective towards it. There are many things that I'm sure could read like "What's the big deal?". I'm equally sure that you've read a million books with that adult tone and perspective since, right? Yeah, Watchmen helped set up a lot of those million things up. Do they seem like clichés? They are now, they weren't then.Watchmen is Alan Moore's accomplishment. Whether you think it's legitimately deserved is another topic, but he and Dave Gibbons shook the world. Because they did, and you didn't, is no reason to lash out with such vitriol. It makes me wonder if some of it stems from a need people are having to defend their feelings towards wanting the new books? Is there some kind of underlying guilt? I'm really curious how many people wrestled with the idea of feeling pressured to feel bad about it, but didn't? Were some worried about being judged by the friends who were standing on their soapboxes looking down at them? I've got to think that a similar thing happened to the creative teams that agreed to take on the job of these new books. It's human nature and no one wants to be judged, so let's not do that here either.If you don't want anything to do with Before Watchmen then don't. There's also no need for self-righteousness to come out of your decision, because it serves no purpose. Make your statement by not spending your money on it and sleep well at night.
If you're a creator that signed on to write or draw one of these books? Do the best job you can do and don't sweat the rest. Don't get defensive if someone tries to give you grief over it and please don't try to poke holes in Moore's behavior for the sake of justifying your involvement. I consider myself lucky to be able to call a couple of you my friends, so I realize that I'm on dicey ground here, but let's have a little tough love. You are well aware of what this project represents in the comic field and if you weren't ready to take the consequences of your decision then you never should have signed that contract. Having said that, I also say get all the satisfaction you'll ever need by making these books as amazing as you can. Let the work speak for itself, let the chips fall where they may, and sleep well at night.
Lastly, to the people that are getting some sort of self-empowerment over ripping Alan Moore's attitude apart: (with all due respect) Check Yourself. Any legal issues are between him, Dave Gibbons, and DC. These issues are none of our business except in the matter of any lessons that can be learned from them. Moore's behavior doesn't have to sit well with us in these regards. He dropped that bomb, he changed the industry, and his is the name on the book. Any feelings of well being or back stabbing are his to have and he earned the right. Don't agree? Well then you go write your book that changes everything and we'll pick up the discussion there. If you want to buy Before Watchmen because it looks cool to you then do it. Buy them, read them unapologetically, and see if you like them. Hell, you might even love them, who knows?! Before Watchmen may end up kicking all sorts of ass, but please have some understanding as to where the other faction is coming from. Buy some books, read some books, enjoy what you like, and sleep well at night.Alan Moore did an amazing thing with Watchmen. Don't let a press release cause us to rewrite history to belittle this amazing accomplishment.
All of the other stances on this argument, whether they be about ethics or legal obligations, are not the point I want to make. We have very few legends of the comic book world that are still with us right now. I'm talking about the men and women that have upended this medium that we all love and support. Alan Moore is one of those people, and if we start trying to rip his accomplishments to shreds then we're really jumping the proverbial shark. In an industry that is so reliant on heroes, I'm just not seeing a reason to kick one of our real life comic pioneers in the teeth. Let's not let the argument of the moment cloud our thoughts to where we start crucifying the creators that we owe so much to.
C'mon...say it with me. You know you want to...!
Fuck yeah, Alan Moore! Fuck yeah, Watchmen!