Alan Moore Asks Why Haven’t You Done Awesome Comics in the Past 25 Years

Watchmen Babies

Much has been made about Alan Moore’s recent interview with Bleeding Cool about his views on Watchmen sequels, prequels, and comics in general. It’s an excellent read and I encourage all you comic lovers to take a gander when you have a good free hour or two. Some comic fans think Moore comes off as a paranoid diva. Others think he’s completely justified. Regardless of what side you fall on (team Alan Moore is crazy vs. Team Alan Moore has mad integrity), I think everyone can agree that his last statements are pretty spot on:

At the end of the day, if they haven’t got any properties that are valuable enough, but they have got these ‘top-flight industry creators’ that are ready to produce these prequels and sequels to WATCHMEN, well this is probably a radical idea, but could they not get one of the ‘top-flight industry creators’ to come up with an idea of their own? Why are DC Comics trying to exploit a comic book that I wrote 25 years ago if they have got anything? Sure they ought to have had an equivalent idea since? I could ask about why Marvel Comics are churning out or planning to bring out my ancient MARVELMAN stories, which are even older, if they had a viable idea of their own in the quarter-century since I wrote those works. I mean, surely that would be a much easier solution than all of this clandestine stuff? Just simply get some of your top-flight talent to put out a book that the wider public outside of the comics field find as interesting or as appealing as the stuff that I wrote 25 years ago. It shouldn’t be too big an ask, should it? I wouldn’t have thought so. And it would solve an awful lot of problems. They must have one creator, surely, in the entire American industry that could do equivalent work to something I did 25 years ago. It would be insulting to think that there weren’t. That’s just my suggestion for a way that DC could remove themselves from this thorny impasse, but we shall see.

When I read that, I nearly stood up in my chair and cheered like a maniac. Damn right, the top talent at the big two aught to be producing ground breaking work, not rehashing and remixing characters that have been around for decades. I think it would be great to see big name creators turning out new original material while up-and-comers handle the legacy titles, the Spider-Mans, the Batmans, that sort of thing. It’s a pipe dream, of course, but it is kind of sad that the big names in comics right now are working on properties that were created before some of them were even born. Sure, there’s always the Image or indy route. And indy comics have been making quite a big splash lately (Walking Dead, Scott Pilgrim). But if the big two are attracting the big talents, I think they should be challenging them to push the bounds of comics, not play around in their decades old sandbox.

While I think it may be a little short sighted of Moore to state that no American comic has risen to the level of Watchmen in the past 25 years, I think he makes a great point about making new stuffs. We won’t be seeing anything new from Marvel or DC any time soon. I mean really new, not a new, updated, edgy version of sixy/seventy/bajillion old characters. For new stuffs, it’s up to the indy creators. The next big work that changes the face of American comics will come from outside the big two and I can’t wait to read it!

Source: Bleeding Cool

  • greg

    Wait, he expects them to find people in the industry who have original ideas and to promote them?

    Yeah, I think we can all agree that Team Alan Moore is Crazy wins.

  • Dan

    I don’t think he actually meant that there’s been nothing on the level of Watchmen in the 25 years since he wrote it. It came across as sarcastic, more suggesting that the way DC and Marvel act implies that THEY don’t believe there has been, or could be, anything at that level; hence why they’re looking to treat his creation as a legacy property instead of creating something new.

    I’m torn, because on one hand, he’s right, they should be looking to create new properties instead of recycling the old ones to death. On the other hand, he has to be crazy if he actually thinks the big two are in it for anything but the money these days, and risking money to try a new property is less comfortable for them than continuing to use what they know has worked.

  • SageShini

    Hey, Kurt Busiek’s doing original comics. I hear he’s talented–you should go read them.

    Robert Kirkman’s doing some amazing stuff over at Image ranging from superheroes to horror stories.

    Grant Morrison just released a pretty interesting story called Joe the Barbarian. I haven’t read it, but most people (including me) love his work. You should check it out.

    Brian Michael Bendis has an entire back catalogue of work from before he got big at Marvel, I bet that’s some quality stuff.

    Mark Waid over at Boom has consistently churned out new titles both for superheroes and just in the regular comics genre that are pretty huge.

    Greg Rucka left DC to start working on Queen and Country and his new detective book, Stumptown. I bet that’s pretty amazing since he’s a great writer.

    Gail Simone just started up her creator-owned Welcome to Tranquility series again. She’s a great writer and that book was quality, original stuff last time it came out.

    There. Seven of the biggest names in comics. Both superhero and non-superhero books.

    Say what you want about Grant, but when Kirkman pulled this same crap last year, he called it: Everyone that WANTS to do new, creator-owned, original stuff is DOING it.

    So to everyone that’s cheering Alan Moore on for this comic? Shut up and go buy some of this stuff, and put your money where your mouth is. If you’re wondering why DC and Marvel can’t be arsed to try this? It’s because you’re right–they ARE about money. And as long as they see titles like Tranqulity, Invincible, Irredeemable, Powers, and Stumptown, with A-List writers attached to them, selling beneath most of the Big Two’s most niche titles?

    They’re not going to throw money away on creating something new. Because when they give it to you, you don’t want to fucking buy it.

    Damn fanboys…there are WAY too many quality comics to roam the internet whining….*wanders off, mumbling angrily*

  • Jamie

    Those are indeed excellent books. But I guess what I’m looking for is the next thing that changes the way we think about the genre. Watchmen kicked off the trade paper back, er, trade for American comics and brought a realism that has kind of been taken to an extreme these days. It challenged the way we thought about comics.

    I think that’s what I’m looking forward to, something that shakes up the medium. Digital may be what I’m looking for, but I don’t think that’s quite it. I guess because I produce my own webcomic, I don’t see digital comics as quite a big deal.

  • Tyler

    Sometimes it isn’t even that new properties aren’t being created, it’s that they’re being fucked with by companies. A buddy of mine just pitched a pretty epic zombie comic to Darkhorse and their response to it was basically “that’s really cool, but we have some…notes.”

  • John Smith

    It’s easier to sell a legacy title to the guys in charge of the funding. I’m curious to see if it’s actually more profitable to do that. We could use hollywoods rehashing of everything it can find as an example.

  • SageShini

    @ Jamie: Alan Moore apologizes for Watchmen more than he graciously accepts how it changed the genre. Does that tell you anything?

    The last comic that changed the the way we looked at superhero comics? Was Infinite Crisis/Civil War. Whichever set us on this ridiculous path of yearly events.

    Now no one can do a big story without one-shots and tie-ins.

  • Taellosse

    @SageShini: are you nuts? The big 2 have been doing annual or semi-annual big event stories for WAY longer than those two storylines. The tradition began with the Secret Wars Marvel did back in ’84, and DC followed suit only a few months later with Crisis on Infinite Earths (a sort of precursor to the more recent Infinite Crisis). Granted, they maybe didn’t do them quite EVERY year at first (though Secret Wars II did come out only a year after the first one), and they’ve grown progressively more impossible to ignore (once upon a time, you’d get an occasional tie-in, but the normal events of a comic would continue largely unaffected by the big goings on–such is no longer so–the things reach into every corner of their respective settings and infect everything), but they’ve been a pretty regular thing for decades now.

    I’m not positive they were annual before this point, but I know they were by the time the Infinity Gauntlet was introduced in 1991, on the Marvel side. I didn’t collect DC, so I know less about that side, but pretty much throughout the 90s, when I was actively collecting floppies, Marvel did an annual “save the world with a massive gathering of superheroes”–thing. The Infinity Gauntlet was followed by the Infinity War, which was in turn followed by the Infinity Crusade (at which point they’d run out of things they could title with “Infinity” and had to look elsewhere). It was the Onslaught event in late ’96 that finally caused me to quit collecting, in fact, when they killed off the Avengers and Fantastic Four even while advertising in Wizard how they’d be resurrecting them a couple months later.

    I guess the point of all my rambling is to stress that the current state of things, where both houses of comics have a nearly unending train of world-shaking limited series is not a new development–it’s evolved into this gradually over the last two and a half decades. Which is not to say it’s a GOOD evolution–I think maybe it’s gone too far, myself. Hell, I know it has–it is one of the major reasons I gave up on comics and have never bought another floppy (I get the occasional trade from time to time, but that’s all)–that and the sheer cost of the habit.

  • Cortharis

    I guess Alan Moore just hasn’t come to terms with the idea that there’s a generation who is completely satisifed with getting more of the same all the time. New Ideas are risky, always have been and always will. They can pay off or just sink.

    I think one of the better ideas that any major comicbook publisher can do is follow what Heavy Metal and Range Murata’s ROBOT have done; take some short stories and connect them with artists and combine that into a monthly publication. It happens still in Japan and I don’t think their print publication is about to slow down any time soon.

    I think a large factor of variety is really going on in North American comics which is probably why I stopped following them so long ago. I understand you don’t get a lot of pages every month to get work done, and it’s been pointed out that story arcs are spread over a number issues, but there is still the oppertunity to do a lot of short works and generate ideas that way.

    It’s a chance someone needs to take and maybe get Alan Moore to say “Someone did it. Someone made a successor rival to my Watchmen.”

  • Kunoichi

    I think what Moore is saying is that yes, it’s wonderful about great indy comics, but he wants to see the big names do something like that, too. Indy comics don’t appeal to people who aren’t already into comics. In fact, their appeal *is* that they are different from the big-name comics (honestly, people, face it, indy isn’t *better*, there are just as many bad comics as good, they simply don’t survive as long).

    What Moore says is “Just simply get some of your top-flight talent to put out a book that the wider public outside of the comics field find as interesting”. That is what he is talking about.

    P.S. Jamie: you should have used “ought” not “aught”.

  • Wayne Zombie

    @SageShini: Busiek is great at producing quality content, but he can’t produce quantity due to health problems.


    I think we’re seeing the same reason why Hollywood churns out remakes of the same crap and (the collective) “We” keep seeing it and giving them money (c’mon, The Smurfs? That shit was lame when it first came out!). Marvel/DC is the same way, they don’t want to take a risk. They have these huge properties that they have absolute control over, so they can re-hash them as often as they like and they know people will buy them. Well, at least moderately non-discriminating people will buy them. It’s safe, let the indies who are lucky to sell 5% of what Marvel/DC does take risk with developing new concepts and characters.