Ah, rainy Saturday morning, making my bones and connective tissue ache like a wistful glance in “The Notebook” …
So. Anything interesting happen recently? I wasn’t paying attention.
Oh, right. “Before Watchmen.” I thought I missed something.
So after boiling the entire kerfuffle down to core elements, my thoughts on it are pretty simple.
- I don’t particularly care to read more stories in the Watchmen universe, regardless of who is involved.
- That apathy is not derived from any particular allegiance or ideology; it’s a simple lack of interest.
- While the characters in Watchmen may have been derived from Charlton characters, they are clearly not those characters. Even if the Quantum Superman in Final Crisis looked a LOT like Dr. Manhattan.
- As the Gaiman / McFarlane legal brouhaha has shown us, derivative characters can be considered original creations.
- Alan Moore’s contract for “Watchmen” ensured the characters would be his after the work was out of print; the subsequent problems were the result of a phenomenal and entirely unprecedented success. Alan Moore created something so good that people kept buying it and DC kept printing collections, something that hadn’t happened before. Since the book never went out of print, Moore never had the rights revert to him.
- DC did nothing illegal, even if it seems remarkably unfair and incredibly shortsighted to piss off someone who gave DC what amounted to a license to print money.
- Claiming Alan Moore did the same thing that DC is doing with “Lost Girls” and “League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen” misses at least two key points.
- Moore was using works in the public domain, which exists at least in part to allow and, in fact, encourage the sort of transformative (i.e. inspired by but different than the source material) stories he was telling. Bill Willingham is doing much the same thing with “Fables.”
- The authors who created the characters Moore used owned the rights to their works and were compensated for it. Copyright exists to ensure that creators can profit from their ideas for a reasonable amount of time, then allow those ideas to be used by the public. Moore never received the rights to his creation.
A lot of excellent commentary about the issue has hit the Web lately. While this is by no means a comprehensive round-up, here are the pieces I found most compelling:
Eric Stephenson on contractual issues and creator rights
David Brothers on people cheering for “Before Watchmen” and mocking Alan Moore
CBR’s Chris Mautner on creators’ rights
And since both pieces appear to still be quite relevant …
Tom Spurgeon on creator’s rights
Adi Tantimedh interviews Alan Moore