MTV Geek clipped the thoughts of number of Before Watchmen creators for their opinions on the Alan Moore controversy concerning DC's decision to publish a Watchmen prequel series of series.
"I am sorry that Alan is disappointed in the project being done. I think Alan has developed a mindset over the years…that is really his own mindset, and there's no real resemblance to the truth."
It is worth pointing out that certain contemporaries of Len Wein, who worked in DC editorial at the time, make a similar charge to Len Wein, and his recollection of events then as well. And yes, is not DC's fault that the book continues to sell. It is DC's fault that they chose not to renegotiate the Watchmen contract when the market changed and shifted, supporting the existence of constantly-in-print collections. DC lost Alan Moore as a creator as a result, but they did then change their attitude towards other creators. And the creators of Before Watchmen are direct beneficiaries of Alan Moore's stance.
"It's not a great situation but it is what it is, and we're all trying to soldier on."
These creators did accept the gig though. Indeed, Adam Hughes was pulled off All Star Wonder Woman to work on it. A number of creators didn't choose to work on the comic, and turned it down. It is not an inevitable force of nature. As for judging it before its completed, the quality of the work isn't at issue here. For some, no matter what the qualities of the work, couldn't the creators have made similar work of high quality using their own character, or characters over whom there is less controversy?
J. Michael Straczynski:
"On the one hand, I mostly understand what he's saying about the characters; but this is a guy who, in his own recent work of late, used Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, Peter Pan…and many other characters from the public domain, many of whom, the creators, would not like to see their characters in those ways."
The key word there is "public domain". I have no doubt that Alan Moore would have no objection to any use of his characters if they were in the public domain. Joe states that legally the characters belong to DC. But that was not the original intent from Moore, Gibbons or DC, it's what circumstances led to. And it was DC's choice to continue that situation. If JMS discovered that through some legal loophole, Top Cow owned all the characters in Midnight Nation and were preparing Before Midnight Nation, against his wishes, I feel his position might be different. He is one of the few people who has consistently gone to bat on this matter however, rather than hiding in wishy washy platitudes.
"I have no personal beef with Alan, he's a great creator, and a very sweet guy…but I think this is one of those tough situations where you have to make the decision of what's best for the company, what's best for these characters… it's what we do, it's part of the DNA of modern comic books"
The characters are not real. But they are part of what is considered one of the greatest graphic novels – indeed, one of the greatest novels – of all time. Is there anything better for those characters than that? And would it not be better for the company to create brand new IPs from these creators, to exploit as they see fit?
Lee's comment about comics always building on previous works, even if as Alan Moore states, he feels they were stolen from him, will no doubt fuel Alan's current work on a piece painting the origins of American comics in the actions of organised crime – and reflecting upon how matter are carried out today.
Warner Bros have still not confirmed any plans to create a prequel to the closest film equivalant of Watchmen, Citizen Kane, nor that it will star Shia LaBoef. Though they do have all the rights, unequivocably, so it's only a matter of time before we get Before Citizen Kane. After all, it's what's best for the characters…