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We call shenanigans! Anyway, caveats were entered, impressions gleaned. Writers were not allowed to actually discuss plot points but rather give overall thoughts and gestaltic reactions.
Valerie Gallaher writes for MTV re the Comedian:
There was quite a lot of that issue to peruse — and while I cannot discuss the exact subject matter surrounding the story, I can assure you that it will probably be quite the controversy. If “Comedian” keeps going down the narrative road I think it will travel, I suspect we will all have a lot to talk about regarding it in the months ahead.
Joey Esposito at IGN, notes that there is lots of continuity:
Rest assured, the Before Watchmen books that are particular standouts – my favorites were the aforementioned Minutemen, Comedian, and Ozymandias – find a new approach to these characters that fits firmly in Watchmen continuity without stepping on the toes of events we’ve previously witnessed or read about. You’ll find yourself surprised by the plots of some of these books, and even giddy at the well-placed easter eggs for things that have a payoff in the original classic.
Mancave’s Alex Zalben on Rorschach:
WHY YOU WANT IT: If you like to feel dirty, you will love this book. Artist Lee Bermejo is an insanely good visual storyteller – the script was separate in this book, and we understood everything that was going on. The opening page is Rorschach’s mask depicted in the clouds over New York City, and it only gets better from there. Plus, if there’s one character we want more from in Watchmen, it’s Rorschach. Poor guy needs a little love.
Alex Zalben has a fine write up on MoCCA’s ‘To Run A Comic Shop’ Panel , which included Tucker Stone of Bergen Street Comics, Gabe Fowler of Desert Island,Robert Conte of Manhattan Comics and Brooklyn Comics, Thor Parker of Midtown Comics and moderator (and former retaielrs) Alex Cox, currently of the CBLDF. As usual that’s a very smart, modern line-up of merchants, and sure enough there was some inetresting talk. For instance, some stores actually frown on cel phones when they are used to order comics online—using the brick and mortar store as a showroom of sorts:
Cox then started a discussion about how things have changed in retail over the years. “Stores, in a way, have become showrooms,” said Conti, talking about how customers will check prices on their phones before buying. “The customer has become my biggest competitor because of smartphones.” Fowler agreed with this point, asking that he politely asks people not to use the phones in their store. On the other hand, Stone said that, “Any customer who is going to come into our store to buy things purely on a price level is only going to be satisfied by the Internet.”
And then there’s….Before Watchmen.
Stone chimed in that Bergen won’t be buying Before Watchmen, except for customers who pulled it now. “We won’t have it on the wall,” said Stone. “It’s not useful for graphic novels, it’s not useful for small press… It’s only useful for the weekly stuff.”
ComiXology’s David Steinberger then asked Stone from the audience to clarify why Bergen isn’t selling Before Watchmen, to which Stone said, “We’re gonna lose money, we’ll probably lose customers… It was a decision that was made. When I heard that decision, I said that’s a bad idea… That’s an explanation that I’ll have to give over and over again. As time has gone on, as I’ve seen online response to that project… This is just gross, and we don’t want to be part of this one. We’ll participate with the grossness they did to Kirby on the Avengers books, but this one…”
That’sa pretty gutsy move by Bergen Street. We had tweeted this during the panel and got a vociferous response from pros and retaielr salike who felt that Bergen Street was being irresponsible and leaving money on the table.
Whether you think the original WATCHMEN is akin to Moby Dick — as Alan Mooreopined — or the Bible, as J. Michael Straczynski thought, it is definitely something — DC’s bestselling graphic novel of all time[*], a beloved classic taught in schools, one of Time’s Best 100 novels of the last 100 years, the book that defined grim and gritty. You name it. Like all great works, it’s multi-faceted.
So doing a “Scarlet” on it brings up every argument over whether comics are literature or licensing. You wouldn’t get much argument that Watchmen is literature and Moore is a literary figure. But there’s also the obsessive need of devotees to get MORE — there’s a reason why 12 volumes of the J.R.R. Tolkien’s jumbled, confused notes and scribblings were published as hardcover books. Once you enter a beloved fictional world you don’t want to leave — even if your hosts are yawning and looking longingly at their pajamas.
Complicating matters is an irony that gives the entire affair a level of meaning that Alan Moore himself could have scripted: although it’s being published strictly against its author’s wishes, BEFORE WATCHMEN is a work very much in the vein of the bulk of Alan Moore’s most acclaimed work—from Swamp Thing to Lost Girls, Moore has excelled at just that kind of literary reinvention. His most ambitious truly original work — Big Numbers — never got off the launchpad. Promethea and the rest of the ABC line remain as his originals, but still pastiches of existing tropes.
As you know, prequel writers Brian Azzarello, JMS, Darwyn Cooke and Len Wein have been doing a press tour this morning. Unsurprisingly, JMS has been the most talkative and most willing to give away the behind the scenes, such as an account of the super-secret summit where the writers hashed out the story — and decided that everyone had to do his own thing instead of a closely plotted “event.” Thank GOD for that! As he told CBR, JMS also came up with the thematic thread for the prequels:
In the course of that conversation, I mentioned my belief that there are five kinds of truth: the truth you tell to casual acquaintances, the truth you tell to you family and close friends, the truth you tell to only a very few people in your life, the truth you tell yourself and the truth you don’t admit, even to yourself. I was basically just blathering on, as I tend to do, but Dan seized on the last two of those truths as being the thematic core of the books. Darwyn did a whole discussion about this in one of his uploads, further formalizing this as the core of our story. In the end, the miniseries about the points and shadings between what we think we know about these characters, and the truth — what that says about them, and what it says about us.
In a medium where no character ever truly dies, and where even the grandest continuities can be rebooted every other decade, superhero comic fans were still surprised to wake up this morning to the news that DC Comics will publish prequels to one of its most sacrosanct properties: Alan Moore's Watchmen--and they will do so without the involvement of Mr. Moore.
Now, the latter bit of news is not much of a surprise. Alan Moore has famously distanced himself from Watchmen and superhero comics in general. What is surprising is this bold, wake-up-in-a-cold-sweat move on the part of DC. Given the reverence for the original work, a re-opening of the mythology will be met with the highest scrutiny, so DC smartly tapped some of the best writers and artists to lend weight and excellence to the project, including Darwyn Cooke, Brian Azzarello, Amanda Conner, Jae Lee, and Adam Hughes.
The Before Watchmen series will launch this summer in single issues, with a new issue every week. Full details and covers are below:
Before Watchmen includes:
RORSCHACH (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
Last week Buzzfeed, the hugely popular “viral” media site, went on a photo tour of DC’s offices, including a slideshow that we now can’t find that included shots of publicity VP David Hyde’s office. EDIT: It was on CNET, that’s why. Which was ironic, since early last week it was announced Hyde was leaving DC.
Well apparently, while on that tour someone held open the ultra-secret notebook of Watchmen art, which was handcuffed to Bob Wayne’s wrist at the retailer summit week before last. Here’s a bunch of concept art and stuff but not the “Rorschach’s face in the clouds” page other alluded to.
We’re not going to spotlight all the art except Amanda Conner and Lee Bermejo, Conner because she’s the one who’s sticking closest to the original, and Bermejo because he’s quietly become one of the best mainstream artists working in the last few years with his Joker and Batman: Noel graphic novels.
Our opinion: this all looks like nice stuff. Very nice. Nice enough to sell your soul?
How exactly are these “leaked” when someone stood there with the notebooks open? Is it like the moment in the adoption agency when the nice lady tells you she can’t legally tell you who your birth parents are and then leaves the room with the file open on her desk? Did Buzzfeed use their secret spy glasses to take the pictures? Did David Hyde hold the book open before packing up his things?
I wanted to finish up a few things on Before Watchmen and then, hopefully I’ll wrap this up. I finished Monday’s post while I was hopped up on Benadryl and that is not something I recommend for anyone. I was not able to articulate my name the main reason why Before Watchmen (BeWa) can be viewed as a depressing reality for the comics industry.
I’ll start with reprinting one of my comments on the previous thread:
The contract that Moore and Gibbons signed is actually pretty standard in publishing — the rights revert when it goes out of print. Pretty common.
Where it differs is in this: In the book publishing world, in general, when an author such as Alan Moore writes a worldwide smash that is quickly enshrined as a future classic….you try to keep that person working for you so you can make even more money off their future works.
DC, for reasons probably buried in their DNA from Jack Liebowitz, proceeded to alienate Moore by chintzing him on merchandise monies, and then subsequently alienating him by making him change The Cobweb stories and trashing an entire print run of LoeG.
Is Moore a high maintenance creator? Absolutely.
But you’ll note that the main reason Diane Nelson, DC’s current president, was given reign over the company is because she was so good at handling another very high maintenance creator, J.K. Rowling.
1. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen is an enormously successful comic book, on creative, critical, and commercial levels
2. Moore and Gibbons both signed a contract that gave DC the rights to Watchmen until the book went out of print for a year (I believe), at which point they’d receive the rights back
3. Watchmen was an unheralded success, and the book has yet to go out of print. As a result, Moore and Gibbons never got their rights back.
4. DC promised to share revenue from Watchmen-related merchandise, and then went ahead and produced merchandise and classified it as promotional and didn’t give M&G anything
5. These shenanigans, along with a coming ratings system that Moore disagreed with, led Moore to cut ties with DC entirely
6. DC brought Wildstorm, which came along with America’s Best Comics. Moore felt that leaving DC again would screw his artists over, so he stuck around
7. DC continued screwing with Moore over the years, from pulping his comics to either sabotaging (or botching to such an extent that it might as well be sabotage) the release of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier
8. Moore cut ties again, and has consistently refused DC’s money, overtures, and renegotiations.
9. Before Watchmen is a series of prequels to Watchmen, some thirty-five issues that will shed light on characters from
So, you see, I have some strange sort of orbital relationship to WATCHMEN. I feel pretty honored to be working it. I’m looking forward to drawing all these characters. Yes, DOCTOR MANHATTAN is an unusual choice to assign me to, but I’m assured that DC has a plan! Maybe they believe that, since I’m well-associated with drawing female anatomy, I’m qualified to handle blue penises. Wait… that doesn’t sound right…
Truly, this is Hughes’s chance to prove that “Comics objectify men too!”
Meanwhile, the JMS/Hughes team would be the first on everyone’s potentially deadline busting list. JMS says he’s written all the script however, and Hughes seems motivated.