Jul 22, 2010

A Watchmen Sequel Is Coming...

...or at least I'm sure of it. More sure of it, actually, than I've ever been. And I would love to be wrong. So for the love of Eisner, I hope I'm wrong.

After the news that Alan Moore turned down the rights to Watchmen, Dan Didio responded, and not with the response I for one would like to hear.

"Realistically, we naturally never really comment about any deals – perspective or ones that we close otherwise," Dido said of Moore's statements. "But the one thing that we've been saying for a while is that 'Watchmen' is truly one of the premier projects out there, and if we were ever to proceed with [a sequel] the most logical place to start would be with Alan and Dave. For me, it's one of those things that's still one of the crown jewels in comics, and if you ever wanted to approach it, you'd have to do it in that manner – making sure the best talent available and possible was working on it."
Yep, that smells like something's going to be done to me. Offering the rights back to Moore (and really, what kind of deal is it when you say "We'll give you ownership if you do what we say with them" anyway?) is exactly what any businessman would do if they want to come up with a sequel. This way, when they come up with a sequel and it sucks, they can say, "Well, we tried to get Alan involved, but he wouldn't."

I am, for the record, not completely against the idea of a Watchmen spinoff. I honestly, honestly think that there's room in the market for a Tales of the Black Freighter series. As proved by this reconstruction of the Black Freighter comic-within-a-comic, it stands well on its own and isn't limited to being good because it parallels the main story.

And as late as 1988, Moore and Gibbons were thinking about a Minutemen prequel.

But they never thought about a sequel, because, damn it, the story's complete as it is!

And even if they do come out with a prequel, you would have to be so incredibly careful so as to introduce all the right details. If you even introduce the wrong detail or even, say, confirm that Hooded Justice was Rolf Muller, you are tainting the original story. And there are only two people who can come up with what "the right details" would be. Alan Moore is already out, and the only person - the only person - who should have the prerogative to create ancillary material is Dave Gibbons. If Gibbons is involved, I can respect the existence of any such follow-up project, and even then only grudgingly.

For those who say that comics have long relied on the continued use of existing characters, I want to say this: it is not the same thing. Watchmen was a complete story and had a definitive ending, while other comics were made to continue under other hands. If DC wanted to continue Moore properties, they should do it with the ABC books, which were conceived for that purpose. The whole point of Watchmen being the important volume that it was was that it was innovative and pioneering, and if you want to honor it, create something of your own. Unfortunately, "creating something of your own" is not really something the Didio regime is familiar with.

For those who say that Moore is a hypocrite because he refuses to play in his sandbox, but he'll gladly play with existing characters in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I want to say this: it is not the same thing. League is a playful project read by comic book readers - an audience of thousands, as opposed to the larger number that read classic literature. Most fans of classic literature aren't even aware of League. If anything, League helps classic literature because it makes other people aware of the books, adding to its already massive audience. And it's also good for the readers. Who benefits in a Watchmen spinoff? DC does, for money. But who else? Anyone reading it will have already read Watchmen. There's no exchange of readership here. This is fan service at its very lowest, and the worst part about it is that a lot of fans would hate it. It would sell, because we comic fans are stupid and buy crap that makes us curious, even if it's crap, but a lot of us would hate it - and a lot of us would hate it for no other reason than it exists.

Nevertheless, I think a sequel is coming. The timing of this is all too convenient. San Diego Comic-Con has already begun. In the next few days, I'm expecting a bomb to be dropped.

And I hope I'm wrong. I really, really hope I'm wrong.


Martin said...

you know,i may have said that they can't make a sequel. but i've thought about it, and...

they can't make a sequel if it's going to deal with another catastrophic phenomenon. the superheroes are done. nite owl and spectre're on the lam, rorschach's vaporized, manhattan's literally gone out of this world.

sure, they can come up with a new storyline, but i think the characters are tired. i know i was, after reading through watchmen. i don't think that, even if the world were to need them, they'd be doing any super heroe-ing of any sort. so any sequel they come up with is going to be forced because none of the characters would want to go back into the biz.

however, i would be somewhat interested in reading a watchmen epilogue series. that's the most viable method of stretching out the storyline i can think of without destroying what the source material was.

the problem with that, though, is that it's going to transform the series from a super hero comic to a slice-of-life comic the likes of gasoline alley or brenda starr.

fanboy420 said...

Any addition they attempt to make on an already complete opus would just be a f***ing footnote and a terrible example of how corporate greed has forced a dying company to take its biggest "product" and squeeze out any last bit of juice they can out of an already exhausted franchise.

I loved Watchmen, but I read it --I hate to admit-- at a juncture in time when superheroes had already gone post-identity crisis, so it didn't have as big an impact on me as if, say, I had read it the same time I read V for Vendetta (which was during the 80's), because I had already seen the ideas in a latter, inferior work. My point is, if they were to try to eke out any more Watchmen from Watchmen, it would be redundant and pointless, like say, milking DK2 out of Miller's tired old brain-udders. DC should seriously rethink their business strategy, because they sell IDEAS. Not super-heroes. Once an idea is out there, it can't be lost anymore.

No one even bothers to be excited at the prospect of Moore or Morrison or Miller or Gaiman or whoever the hell else having NEW MATERIAL that could push the boundaries of an industry that is now cluttered with 21st century click-of-the-mouse commercialism.

It's like what happened to Britney Spears, if you will pardon my analogy. She just got tired and wasn't inspired to be hotter than Madonna anymore, because the public loved seeing her too much. She wasn't free to reinvent herself anymore, or make new material.

My point is moot since DC will only listen to the sound of the cash register, but I'd still like to speak my piece, because I respect Alan Moore.

Innovation is dead in DC. Now they're just trying to relive the glory days in stead of making new ones.

fanboy420 said...

Sorry, I'd like to post an addendum. It's early morning and my thoughts might not have been expressed too clearly.

All I mean to say is: they should leave Watchmen untouched. It's beautiful the way it is. Move on DC, move on!

Duy Tano said...

Uwak: One of the beautiful things about Watchmen is that it showcases themes that are bigger than you. You don't see whether or not Adrian gets comeuppance, because you're not sure if he deserves comeuppance. You don't see what happens to Laurie and Dan - it's highly implied that she becomes more and more like her father - but quite frankly, it would be so lame to show it.

Waps: Yep, I pretty much agree completely. I mean, I'm enjoying Morrison's Batman and Robin run, but it's not a comic where I GREATLY NEED to read it. I just so happen to be a huge Dick Grayson fan, and I'm glad to see him get the spotlight. I think Batman and Robin, on its own, can be read and enjoyed, and I don't think that people necessarily need to innovate so much as to tell good stories. That having been said, if you want to honor Watchmen, you SHOULD innovate, because that's what it did! If you want to write about existing characters, it's not like there's a shortage!

While I'm a little surprised at your Britney Spears analogy, I think it's apt - DC and a good number of comics fans don't care about Alan Moore the writer - they care about Alan Moore the BRAND, the brand who did Watchmen and V for Vendetta, which is a DAMNED SHAME, considering that Alan Moore is the single most versatile writer Western comics has ever had. Hell, he might even be more versatile than Tezuka!

What I don't get is that if DC really wanted to make money off of Moore's name, how come they never marketed or advertised properly the ABC books? Top 10 is the most tried and true gateway comic I've ever come across, and everyone I've lent it to has loved it. But no one has heard of it outside of people like us who actively look for new things.

And unlike Watchmen, Top 10 was built to be a continuing thing, so continuing that wouldn't even be offensive to the source material.

Watchmen is already maximizing profit. It's still, over twenty years later, on top 50 GN and TPB lists. What about all the other existing properties that never really got the readership they deserve?

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