Friday, June 15, 2012

An Open Letter to Alan Moore

Dear Alan Moore,

I have been reading on the internet how you maybe upset over the whole Before Watchmen thing. I know you are upset about Watchmen because the contract you signed was standard fare and you never thought the product would be in publication forever. Now that you made a deal that happened to make you rich, you have been crying about how unfair it is to you. Of course I never noticed that you really cared about the fact that you were ripping off the work of the original Charlton characters that DC had purchased. Of course your first big hit which was Swamp Thing was your creation, oh no wait it wasn’t and I believe Len Wein and Berni Wrightson get credit for that. Of course that was derivative of other earlier work. Let’s move on to you doing work on LOEG which is I believe is your creator owned work, although someone else had the rights to market the movie I guess. LOEG is very original using famous characters throughout literacy history that are now in the public domain and making them work all together in a group. Again, originality I guess for the story, not so much characters. In fact I can’t think of one character that you personally created that were unique as to not be derivative.

I believe you have some strong ideas and write some terrific stories that turn conventions on there respective ear and see things in a different way then most of us. Tom Strong was damn fun and about as original as anything you have done. Derivative is not a bad thing, and stuff like Tom Strong, Top Ten and other books are great reads. I admire how strong of a writer you are and wish that you would write for Marvel or DC to give these stale pieces of junk a kick in the arse. It is just that I have no sympathy or sorrow that the Watchmen are not in your control. Blue Beetle, The Question, Captain Atom and the rest were never your creations in the first place.

In fact the whole creator argument is a little warped. I seldom see anyone stating that while Siegel, Shuster, Lee, Kirby, Ditko and all the rest did not get perhaps what we now perceived as their due for how much money their creations make for the big companies, but would Avengers have made it this far if it was not for the tons of writers and artist who have continued the series forever. Let’s face it we are not seeing characters like the Shadow, The Spider, Silver Star, Ms. Mystic, Iron Jaw and the rest on lunchboxes, underwear, video games, cartoons and the movies. The most popular characters have been known for years because writers and artists build from what came before.

Now I’m also tired of the cape and cowl set and have no great love for Marvel or DC as corporate giants and have been reading more and more off the wall stuff and creator owned material. Happily Walking Dead is showing that creator owned material can become as successful as many corporate owned properties. I love to see more and more creator owned material as it is often fresher and has the ability to allow change and growth. No big two company would have let Kirkman kill off Rick’s wife and baby and now Abraham. So let creators rule, but let the past be built on by other writers. Just remember that Bob Kane is known as Batman’s creator but many of the concepts that made the movies by Nolan so cool were done by others years and years later. So Bob Kane would not get to say all the money made on Batman is because of him, because it took a hell of a lot of people to make it something this special.

To end my letter to you Mr. Moore I just want to say, please be quiet about the bad breaks that made you so much money you can tell everyone to f**k off and die. Just go back and be the crazy guy who produces fantastic stories and I will look out for them to read. If you self publish or whatever I’m sure you will have good stories to tell and I respect your decision to never work for DC again, but from what I can see they did not rape you. If anything they took you out to a fine dining restaurant, shared a bottle of fine wine with you and then had consensual sex with you.

If my letter angers you please feel free to comment or e-mail me directly. Heck come by the house and we can have a few drinks and talk some more. Maybe you can bring the mushrooms.

A fan,



  1. Those are all very valid, original points, except for them being both a) regurgitated by every DC fanboy on the internet, and b) completely braindead.
    You seem not to understand in the slightest the concept of derivative character. Supreme is an absolutely shameless rip-off of Superman, yet Liefeld has never paid royalties to DC in his life, because, guess what, not even he is a derivative character. Moore used the obscure Charlton stinkers (don't pretend you ever read them before Watchmen brought them notoriety) as basis for the Watchmen characters, who were then developed into completely original characters, some without even so much as a passing resemblance to the originals (Doctor Manhattan, for an instance). Moore only ever thought of using the Charlton characters because he thought Watchmen needed an existing, small continuity to evoke familiarity to readers.
    The League and Lost Girls are pastiche, not that at this point I expect you to know what that means. They also use characters in the public domain from people who are long dead and about whose wishes you might be better off not speculating, seeing as many lived in times where slavery was still common practice and women had no rights.
    In closing, his run on Swamp Thing had the blessing of creator Len Wein, who personally sought him out to write the character. That is not the case of any of the corporate clowns churning out Before Watchmen pages.

  2. I have been reading comics for years and I did read the Charlton characters before Watchmen.

    I don't think Cooke, Connor and Azzarello are corporate clowns.

    Calling something pastiche basically agrees that it is derivative.

    We will probably agree to disagree and I will avoid trying to insult your intelligence as you tried to do mine.

  3. I'm not a fan of the anonymous comment. Not this particular person, just the concept, bespeaking as it does a certain cowardice in not standing in the light of day to make whatever assertions are being made.

    That being said, I'm not sure what the point is in this post. You want Moore to stop complaining but assert that he has the right to say what he wants. Well, he wants to complain, so why tell him to stop?

    I don't really care that Moore is complaining. DC is operating within its legal rights, and the contract Moore signed is far from the rapacious behavior of the early comics publishers (of which DC was one, of course).

    Really, the simple solution, if you don't want to hear Moore complain, is don't listen. It works for politicians you don't want to hear, too. I use it all the time. It's not like you're tied to a chair, a la A Clockwork Orange.

  4. Thomm - Sometimes it is fun to just stir the pot or you have a visceral reaction to something. Along the lines of your blog where you speak out when you disagree or have an opinion on something.

  5. anon 6:49 here, I apologize for the tone. It's just that your comments mirror a lot of the completely baseless accusations flying around the internet towards Moore, and it grates quite a bit. Seeing as you're game for rational discussion, I'll gladly tone down should you like to keep debating.

    The bit about pastiche was aimed at two specific examples people bring up, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Lost Girls. Which aren't even derivative characters, but the very same of their respective original works.

    But you also said, "In fact I can’t think of one character that you personally created that were unique as to not be derivative", which is what I was getting at with the Supreme comment. Derivative characters are the ones such as Superboy, Supergirl or Batmite. Even very obvious homages, like, say, the whole fake Golden Age characters Moore created for Supreme or Ellis for Planetary aren't derivative in any legal sense, much less the Watchmen characters, which are much more detached from their inspiration.

  6. Anon - good point on LOEG, which I read (I did not read Lost Girls). Your point is taken and on additional consideration you are correct. It does not change that the story is still building on what has come before, but my characterization lumping them all together was perhaps too broad.

    I was not using derivative in a legal sense, I mean DC won the lawsuit to shut down Captain Marvel, who I never felt was a true copy of Superman. I just mean that Moore is building on what came before and claiming some true ownership feels a little disingenuous.

    I guess my basic point is that I have read and listen to Moore bemoan when "his work" is not
    handled the way he would handle it. Bottom line, Moore does not legally own Watchmen and others building off his work is a time honored tradition.

  7. Matt Halteman6/15/2012 10:52 AM

    Thanks for the spoiler warning on Rick's wife dying in "Walking Dead". Oh, wait, there wasn't one. Don't assume everyone has read everything.

    Here I was, trying to make it through your poorly written, ill-informed and frequently grammatically incorrect post regarding one of comics' greatest writers, when all of a sudden I'm hit with the revelation of a major plot point regarding a book he does not write.

    Thank you, sir, for ruining the reading experience of "Walking Dead" for me. Now reading this post was an even bigger waste of time than it was going to be originally.

    Have a lovely day.

  8. Matt - Thank you for your hate mail.

  9. Matt Halteman6/15/2012 11:01 AM

    You've missed the point of my comment, of course. But that's not surprising, given this post.

  10. Matt - I did not, just your tone was so mean spirited - no sense in replying more then I did.

  11. Matt Halteman6/15/2012 11:34 AM

    Well, you pissed me off. What kind of tone did you expect? I'd really like to read "Walking Dead" and appreciate all of the plot twists and shocking events in the experience, rather than simply wondering when something that I know is going to happen will occur. Spoiling major plot points in a completely unrelated blog post with no hint of a spoiler warning is simply not cool.

    And I'm sorry if the truth hurts, but your post is badly written, contains numerous grammatical errors and shows a substantial lack of understanding regarding the subject at hand. Proofread and do more research if you want to dive into the deep end of the pool regarding creators' rights.

  12. Matt - You are entitled. BTW - It is a rant, we all do this unpaid sometimes it maybe good, usually I rely on Word to catch the issues. I understand having an unexpected spoiler could piss one off, but I never know how long since a book is released that it is now common knowledge or not.

    Regardles thanks for the feedback - and I do mean that - good or bad it is always good to hear from anyone reader.

  13. Matt says he wants to read The Walking Dead without knowing what’s coming yet hasn’t read this bit that was more than 4 years ago and has been discussed extensively in many places by now? I’d have given him some credit if he bitched about Abraham dying being in there, as that was just last issue (and I’m not sure he’s entirely dead yet, actually), but Lori? Christ, the show’s going to get to that point before Matt reads about it. Besides, the enjoyment of TWD is in Kirkman’s writing and the art. It’s just as good when I re-read it knowing what’s coming. Relying on gotchas for your entertainment bespeaks a poor appreciation of the work.

  14. Matt Halteman6/15/2012 12:22 PM

    Well, the fact that I'm not as timely a reader as some should not have to be a point against me. I am reading "The Walking Dead" in the Compendium format and I have not yet finished reading it.

    And if that particular plot point has been discussed elsewhere, I have not come across it. Probably because there has been a spoiler warning attached to such discussions that would have caused me to avoid it.

    And I never said that I rely solely on the shocks for my entertainment. But they are a fundamental part of the storytelling in "The Walking Dead" and it would be nice to experience them as they were intended.

    By the way, Thomm, thanks for making it even worse by pinpointing more closely when this event actually occurs. Is it so much to ask for people to give a moment's thought to their comments before submitting them?

    I don't understand why spoiler warnings are so difficult to post and I do not believe I am being unreasonable in asking for them.

    But opinions vary, of course. Have a nice day, everyone.

  15. It's like asking not to know how Gone with the Wind or The Wizard of Oz end. What you're asking is for us to have a conversation in which we say to you before every topic, "I'm going to be talking about x. Are you ready to hear about that?"

    Now, the Abraham reveal is a lot like talking about the end of a new movie as you're walking out and spoiling it for others waiting in line (Seinfeldian). But an event from that long ago? What, we're not allowed to have cultural touchstones? For people discussing comics, Lori's death is a big moment in a noteworthy comic. It comes up a lot.

    And for someone who's mad about all this, Matt comes back for more a lot.

  16. Matt Halteman6/15/2012 2:19 PM

    Thomm, I've come back to clarify the points that I've made. It's called a conversation and, to a certain extent, a debate.

    Our opinions differ and it's clear that neither of us is going to convince the other of what we believe is right.

    One final point: I started reading this expecting a post about Alan Moore. Had some of the events in Moore's works been spoiled, so be it. That would have been fair.

    However, had this been a post about "The Walking Dead", I would have avoided it altogether, as I do all stories on the internet regarding the series.

    The point about chances being able to be taken in creator-owned work could have been well-made without the need to reference specific events from a particular series. It simply comes down to having consideration for others.

  17. Only on the internet can one argue about a topic, only to have it devolve into arguing about how to argue. Darth is Luke's father, Rosebud was the sled, Maggie shot Mr. Burns, Less filling over tastes great. At some point there is a statute of limitations on when a plot point has progressed beyond the acceptable time limit for posting spoilers. Lori's death, like the events I have referred to above, have hit that limit. I'm sure Jim isn't trying to ruin a reading experience but I did have to check to make sure I hadn't hit an archived part of the blog when this came up.

  18. Matt Halteman6/15/2012 3:38 PM

    Obviously, I disagree, James. But I have made my points. It's Jim's blog and he can obviously feel free to conduct himself however he wishes.

    But I also have the prerogative to frequent other sites where my lack of staying current on reading comic books is not a detriment to my enjoyment of them and spoiler warnings are posted with more regularity.

  19. Matt,

    Jim first mentioned it over four years ago. I think a week or two after an issue hits the stands is a good "spoiler-alert" rule-of thumb.

    I feel bad that your reading experience was marred, but Jim wasn't out of line to mention it in passing.

    Oh and misspellings are a signature aspect for ALL of Jim's posts. I have a theory that he writes these things very fast and gets them out of his system and beyond failing to proof-read, it's amazing how well structured they are. He's a very quick wit in person too, so I think it's his secret super power. Me on the other hand, over-think and over analyze everything I write and proof read my stuff ad naueseum. The end result -- Jim produces more material AND reads more. Most of the time my brain just blows through the misspellings anyway. (Maybe he missed his calling and should have been an engineer -- we are notorious for not being able to spell.)

    Is there anything else you're currently reading that you want us to be sensitive to? It's so rare we get any feedback that we really do appreciate ANY! It's not just about us opining, but about sharing too.

    My suggestion to you is to take a break from the computer and get cracking on that Walking Dead book you're reading!

  20. Matthew - More like miswording, spelling here for hear and that ilk. Actual spelling should be fine with spell check, grammar and wrong words - not so much. As a former CPA we are also not reknowed for our spelling or grammar skills.

    Thanks for the kind words Matthew.

  21. I agree with Matthew! Half of the fun in reading Jim's posts are looking for missing words. It's like a reverse word find.

    Good comic commentary and word games are hard to find in the same post.

  22. Speaking as a teacher I can firmly attest that while Jim has an occasional error on the whole it is easy to read and understand his writing. I have seen so much worse... and let's face it, unless you have your own personal editor everyone makes grammar and spelling errors at times.

  23. Why all the reactionary defensiveness around Matt's desire to not learn plot twists and endings before reading them? I read a lot of classic novels (and a lot of comics!)...stories that have been around way, way longer than The Walking Dead...and I really like to not know the outcome of the story before reading it (in fact, I skip the intros in Penguin, Bantam, Signet, etc. printings because they almost always assume the reader is already intimately familiar with the story. I read them after I read the novel). I value that experience in a Turgenev novel and I don't find it at all unreasonable that someone desires something similar when reading a modern comic.

    I am signing this as anon...I don't have much of an internet presence and was just looking for some commentary on some old comics I was reading and found this site. It looks sort of interesting but, like so much online, the "discussion" degrades significantly in the comments.