Thursday, June 7, 2012

Before Watchmen

Back in 1986, I was an avid comic collector; I'd begun in earnest about three years prior, and I picked up quite a variety (hey, they were affordable back then). 

I remember when Watchmen first came out. I may have read about it in Amazing Heroes, but I don't recall being blitzed with tremendous hype about the book. I'd become a fan of Alan Moore from Saga of the Swamp Thing (ah, those pre-Vertigo days...) and made a point to pick up the limited series.

I can't remember fully how I reacted back then; I could see that Alan was doing something wild and different that comic books hadn't seen before. I was impressed with the thought and craft that went into the books, although some of the underlining themes about super-hero psychoses did bother me a bit (hey, I collected the wholesome adventures of Superman by Cary Bates and Curt Swan, ok?).

The current 'furor' over Before Watchmen, DC's latest attempt to boost dismal sales, is a bit perplexing. I'm not aware of all of the facts, but it appears to me that DC owns the characters, and can do whatever they please. All of the sudden hand-ringing over creator-rights seems a bit hollow; I doubt Alan's arm was twisted to produce the work, and I'm sure he enjoys Royalty payments from the endless reprints. 

I've avoided the teeth-gnashing at Comic Book forums. DC has managed to assemble a  solid roster of talent to create Before Watchmen titles, despite the controversy surrounding the project; that being said, I haven't picked up Minutemen, nor am I really interested to do so. It's not because I feel the original limited series is being tarnished by this crude cash grab, it's just that I feel the original work stands on its own, and a prequel is completely unnecessary.

Maybe new fans will pick up the books and discover Watchmen for the first time. I kind of doubt it, the project seems to be an attempt to attack the wallets of old-timers like myself who remember 1986 fondly.

Good luck, DC. I do hope the company remembers (before it's too late) that well-written and beautifully drawn comic books by passionate creators can indeed sell, without the need for such disappointing and creatively bankrupt gimmicks. 


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