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mygif

I just read Watchmen for the first time. And people complain that BENDIS writes too much dialogue?

Seriously, I could’ve cut out about half the panels and 2/3rds of the words and told the same story….only it would’ve actually been a decent read.

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mygif

I also skimmed Watchmen pretty hard but found League to actually be entirely accessible and, for Moore, almost breezily written. (LEG: Black Dossier, now, that’s some Mooretastic plot-densifying madness. I think the end was saying that Alan Moore himself is both 1. Merlin reincarnate, and 2. Spider Jerusalem? Seriously I don’t even know.)

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mygif

Are people even allowed to write about comics if they haven’t read Watchmen?

In all seriousness, one of the reasons why I love the work of Alan Moore isn’t just that he is able to bring the genious, but he is also a master of the simple things – engaging characters, comic moments, cool plot beats, shocking twists and above all a sense of fun. It strikes me that the comics you’ve tried aren’t the best at displaying that side of him (especially something as dense as Promethea). I would highly recommend Top 10, his superheroes as cops in a city full of superheroes series, which mixes humour, romance, mystery and pathos, but is always fun. (Whilst it still packs in many pop culture references, they are pretty much all in the background of the art, and an added bonus rather than necessary to appreciate the work.)

Another point: one thing that many people don’t realise, having not actually heard him speak, is that pretty much everything he says is done with both self-awareness and a slight tongue-in-cheek flavour. I’d guess that you aren’t taking the scum comment in the way it was intended.

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Lister Sage said on July 24th, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Somethings aren’t everyones cup of tea. I think it’s crazy that English professors are still masterbating about some failed actor from the 1600’s. You’d think that in 400 years we’d come up with a better writer. I hated The Great Gatsby when I had to read it in high school and I’d sooner punch myself in the nuts then to read it again. Granted Catcher in the Rye I am interested in, though that’s mainly because I want to know what the fuss is about. The only book I can truely say was good that I had to read for a class was Fahrenheit 451, though the teacher and I had similar tastes and it wasn’t an English class so we didn’t disect it to pieces. But Watchmen was a great story as far as I’m concerned and I didn’t even pick up on everything until I was almost finished with the book and I’m still sure that I missed stuff. Sometime before the movie comes out I’ll read it again.

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mygif

Yeah, what Joe said, not all of his stuff is so dense. Whatever Happened to the Man of Tommorrow and the Killing Joke for two. Even League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has a fair amount of action if you don’t try to figure out who everybody is in the story, all of their backstories add things, but not knowing them doesn’t take away.

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mygif

MGK, I doth protest. Well, not protest, but I must explain to you the sheer awesomeness that is Watchmen. It is in many ways, his most accessible work, in that the only requirement for understanding the book is a basic knowledge of American history. There are popular culture references hidden within the story, but they are not an essential element to enjoying Watchmen.

The characters are inherently human and Moore goes to great lengths to examine the relationship between ‘supermen as gods’ and ‘supermen as men’ and the conclusion is unfortunately, nihilistic. But, at its core, Watchmen is a murder mystery. And murder mysteries are usually fun and engage the audience/reader more than many other genres. Who dunnit? is a fairly interesting question and even terrible works like, oh I dunno, Snake Eyes with Nicolas Cage become engaging largely because you get so caught up in trying to prove your own intelligence (AHA! I know who the culprit is) that you end up engrossed in the story.

IGN in all its stupidity put the climax and twist ending of Watchmen on one of its Top 10 lists (villainous acts) and in doing so, proved to the world that they missed the point entirely. Watchmen isn’t about superheroes or supervillains(well, it is, but not really). It is about the ugly side of human nature, that we are judgmental and impatient and corruptible and sometimes overcome by our own sanity, and Moore essentially asks the question: “Is humanity incapable of understanding our own limitations?” Which I think is one of the most important questions anyone has ever asked. I can’t really go further into detail without spoiling the book, but Moore does a fantastic job weaving all the characters together into a convoluted tapestry that like a Magic Eye poster, only can be truly seen at the right angle and in the right frame of mind.

Anyways, I’d give it a shot, because the pace picks up in the middle, there are some absolutely heartbreaking moments, and the twist ending is worth the price of admission.

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mygif

Weirdly, I’ve read and enjoyed V, but also loved the movie and the changes made to bring it to the screen (though having V actually announce his lurv for Evie went a bit far, IMHO). That’s because movies and graphic novels are two different media, so changes need to be made. That simple. I’ve read the Hayter script, which is awesome, and manages to put in everything I wanted without doing much I didn’t; I know they’re working from a combo of both that and Alec Tseng’s, which is less awesome, but I’m still willing to give it the old college try. So…hope you do, too! Hope it pays off.

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mygif

i skipped the black freighter parts. i’ve planned to go back and read the book, freighter included to see if i would enjoy it more. i expected to be blow away, but, the only recent read that’s done that is y: the last man.

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leapetra said on July 24th, 2008 at 5:00 pm

It took me a month to finish it. I skipped over the historical comic that was presented along side the Watchmen story. (I also skipped over the Quartermain story in League, too.) It is a real hard story to get through, but the plot makes you want to read more. My husband wants to read it, before the movie comes out. I told him to start now.
I know they are going to have to cut a lot out, but that’s because there is so much in there. If you wanted to stay as truthful as you could be you would have to make it several movies.
I want to see it, because some of the photos I have seen of the actors, look like the characters in the comic. At least they respected the work enough to cast actors for the roles and not attach big name stars to it, just to draw people in.

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mygif

I wish I could criticize you, but I found Watchmen a veritable BITCH to get through.

It’s way, way too dense and verbose for it’s own good. Moore is far more interested in the idea and history of his alternate world than he is in actually telling a great story.

Far and away though, the biggest problem is those god awful pace killing subplots like the pirate comic strip tripe that I eventually learned to just skip through.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a damn fine read. Like Morrison’s current run on Batman though, it’s nigh impenetrable and not necessarily well told.

Which is why I’m looking forward to the movie; terrible Smashing Pumpkins songs aside.

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mygif

Watchman is the sort of story you can really really enjoy in a chapter-by-chapter setting assuming you don’t feel obligated to get through the whole thing. Or you can just read the damn cliffsnotes, get to the meat, and declare “That’s an amazing chain of events”.

But I admit, its not very digestible. Going cover to cover on Watchmen is like going cover to cover on Heart of Darkness. It’s so damn dense, you really do need to take it in tiny chunks before you can really appreciate how good it is.

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mygif

My experience has been that with the exception of Watchmen, and to a lesser extent The Killing Joke, everything Alan Moore has attached his name to has been insufferably retarded. The V for Vendetta movie, for example, I thoroughly enjoyed, because it made sense and wasn’t predicated on England being untouched after a global nuclear war, and V killing people with his fingers, and various other insanities. The book of it was fuckin’ unreadable.

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mygif

MGK,

I don’t think you’re wrong in the least. I have read through Watchman more than once, and I do confess that overall, I do enjoy it. I find the little “autobiography”/mini-novel in the middle of it to be terrible for the pacing, but there are very clever bits to it as well, such as the ‘comic-within-the-comic’. I would also add that Alan Moore’s comic book storytelling does not stand alone, he has had the good fortune to be teamed with, what I think, were the proper artists to bring those stories to life. Alan Moore is certainly a luminary, but a genius? Meh. I just don’t think so. I don’t find his work consistent enough, and genius in comics changes yearly. Neil Gaiman on the other hand? I’ve not read a book or comic of his that I have not enjoyed, and that includes his children’s books. But I digress…

Watchman is among the first of the ‘Real World’ comics. The idea that in the really real world, these costume kooks would be, well, not altogether right in the head. It also takes a look at how one really super-powered individual would change the world, and how the rest of the costumed lot might affect the culture of the world. There’s a lot more to say, but really, it is perhaps Moore’s best work, along with V for Vendetta, which is arguably more dense. I am unimpressed with LXG, I enjoy it, I get it, and its fun, but there’s better. The Tom Strong stuff is great, great fun, but there he is drawing on Pulp tropes and doing a great job of it, and again, he has a fine artist with him. It’s his swing at Doc Savage, if you will, there may even be a wonder dog, or at least a wonder ape and a robot. There is a lack of senseless density in those books, that some of his current works lack. Yes, one’s command of language and history can be very impressive, but filler is filler, no matter how high the IQ required to get through it, and filler is weak storytelling. I mean, throwing up a wall so ‘only those that get it’ will persevere is not the sign of a master storyteller; novels are not comics either. Lost Girls is Moore’s personal wish fulfillment expensively packaged. The artwork is lavish, but you have to like the style, and I do not. Also, porn for porn’s sake does not impress me, nor make a great story.

But I blather now, and likely in some part due to Moore’s recent spate of interviews. I don’t much care for the fellow, and I am increasingly surprised that he retains any friends in the industry that made him all his money. I guess my problem with Alan Moore is that he pretends to be beyond comics. Sorry, in the end, you’ve written a comic book, and while I certainly believe a graphic novel can be Art, beyond that narrow community, Alan Moore is not a big name. Just as beyond the Fine Art community, Jackson Pollack was just spraying paint on a canvas making — nothing worth buying for millions as far as I can see.

V for Vendetta was a good film. It held to the main theme of the book, and pulled some items in almost word for word, like the letter while Evey was in ‘prison’. It is NOT the book, however, and that should be remembered. The strength of a comic book based film is not in the source material, but in the decisions made to present that material as exceptionally as possible. Otherwise, you’d have X-Men in yellow leotards and an actual goblin in purple fighting Spider-man. The film is a separate entity, and should always be seen as such. The source material should be respected, included where ever possible, but it should not be binding — they made excellent choices for Iron Man, the new Incedible Hulk is very good, and the Batman Begins franchise is easily the best of the lot. I say you need to watch Watchmen, MGK, because at the very least, you’ll be missing an amazing looking film. Even if it isn’t the book, word for word. Lord of the Rings wasn’t either, and those turned out alright. :)

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karellan said on July 24th, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Watchmen is hard for comics fans to read because it barely even falls into that artistic category. It has much, much more in common with postmodern literary fiction than it does any other comic. Calling Watchmen a comic is like calling some of Jackson Pollock’s work “a painting,” or maybe like calling Tron a cartoon. Just because a lot of the same tools are used to create it doesn’t mean it falls into the same category.

Not that this makes Watchmen inherently BETTER, mind you. It’s simply difficult to classify, especially if you think you know what a comic is ahead of time.

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mygif

Am I the only that noticed this is one of MGK’s guest bloggers, and not the man himself?
Just checkin’.

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Sofa King said on July 24th, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Yes! I mean…No! Maybe!

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I love just about anything by Alan Moore. (If you’re willing to give Moore another shot and want something accessible, I recommend Top Ten.) On the other hand, I never have been able to see why people think Grant Morrison is such a big deal. Different strokes. . .

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In terms of “a hit”, my local comics shop sold 17 copies of the Watchmen tpb this Wednesday. The owner said he had never seen measurable direct splashover sales from any movie before, let alone a trailer.

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@Reagen: probably not, but it seems a few people missed it.

So hi again guys! Will Entrekin here! I wrote this one! Sorry for the confusion!

Anyway:

@supergrp: yeah, that’s pretty much how I felt about it.

@dan: ha! Yeah, he is a bit Merlin-esque.

@JoeMcD: I know, right? Thanks for that pointer, though; I do keep hoping to find something by Moore that I’ll like, and given that he’s been in comics for, like, three decades, it shouldn’t be that difficult, I’d think. So I’ll check those out. And you’re probably right that the “scum” thing was tongue-in-cheek, but I also think he was at least a little serious about it, in that perhaps he looked at that first chapter as a bit of a gate-keeper; people who could get through it could read the rest of the book, and people who couldn’t… well, it wasn’t meant for them, anyway. (that was what I got from it, anyhow).

@Lister: yeah, I get that. One thing I think to remember is that Shakespeare is better viewed on stage, but you’re totally right–we haven’t come up with better in 400 years? But hey: I’m trying!

@Scott: sorry, this was Will, not MGK. And I worry about the twist, because I think I know it. Still, I won’t rule out revisiting it.

@Gemma: Oh, boyhow, I totally agree, about different media. Boy do I.

@bfnh: and I wonder if part of the dilemma is in the hope of being blown away. Because everyone talks about it so much, it’s so great, but you open it and it’s difficult to read on its own. It’s almost like part of reading it is constantly gauging whether it lives up to the rubric of genius everyone else has set for it.

@Steven: “far more interested in the idea and history of his alternate universe” is exactly what I generally think of most of Moore’s stuff–he’s just so infatuated with how clever he is that it gets in the way of the story he’s trying to tell.

@TA: I had thought about mentioning that in the post, because it’s like the Alan Moore law of direct proportion to awesome–the more Moore goes out of his way to get his name removed from a project, the better it turns out. All I needed to read was that he complained about the “eggy in a basket” and flew into a “blind rage” over a typo on the back cover of the V re-issue hardback, and I was like, really?

@BC and Karellan: I think it’s awesome you both referenced Jackson Pollack and the idea of classification. I mean, the odd thing is that I don’t think I can really be called a “comics fan”; I literally can’t remember the last time I picked one up, thought it may have been the end of Preacher. Then again, even though I studied lit as an undergrad and writing as a grad, the idea of “post-modern literary fiction” strikes fear into my mortal heart. Because the thing about it is a point that BC brings up; it might reach farther and attempt to do more, but Watchmen is still a comic book, just like Jackson Pollack’s work is still painting.

@Bill: I’ll do that. Thanks.

@Kevin: Now that is awesome. I’m utterly fascinated by marketing and advertising, and that, right there, is pretty much insane (in an awesome sort of way).

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mygif

It’s my favorite thing ever, but yeah, best if you limit the number of chapters you read each day.

Will, I’m debating whether that’d be better termed as inverse proportion. Measuring a negative, it’s a tough call (though I suppose Moore not commenting would be immeasurable, so you probably have the right idea).

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William O'Brien said on July 24th, 2008 at 6:30 pm

If you can find it, the DC Universe stories of Alan Moore tpb is well worth checking out and fairly accessible. It has the two famous Superman stories and Killing Joke, but also a lot of other great stuff, including the Green Lantern Corps stories that heavily inspired pretty much everything happening in those books over the past couple of years.

Top Ten is quite possibly the most fun comic ever. Do a Google Image Search for Galactapuss and tell me that is not the single greatest comic page of all time.

Captain Britain is also a very fun read.

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mygif

A trick for reading Moore (and most other dense works, come to think of it) is to skip the boring parts, at least on first read. Because his work is really very rich, you’ll probably want to revisit it once you get it- which is easier if you don’t feel like you need to get through every aspect of the history of the Minutemen, or the pirate sequences. Read for the A-plot, which is fairly straightforward and easy to get through (and likely all that the movie is going to really go into), and I suspect you’ll find yourself pleased with what you’ve read. Once you understand the payoff, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to take another look at it. Skipping the boring parts is crucial to enjoying yourself as a reader, I think.

–d

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mygif

Hey Will,

I just wanted to second Joe’s post that “Top 10” (or it’s really fun mini-series spin-off “SMAX”) are “popcorn Moore” works (“Tom Strong” too for that matter, although I’m not as big a fan of it as the former). You pretty much picked the heaviest ABC title in “Promethia.”

And Dan’s tip for just reading the “A” plot initially is gold. A lot of the text/black freighter pieces add nice depth and flavour to the story but really aren’t “first reading required”. I know on denser works once I start having to “back read” to remind myself what happened in previous parts to follow disjointed storylines, I’m often doomed to set something down and not pick it up again.

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mygif

I’ll second the idea of reading Watchmen slowly. I did it a chapter a night – any more would have been too much for me to take in, I think.

I’ll also support the idea of using Moore’s DC superhero stories as a good introduction to his work in general. It’s been collected into a trade, called DC Universe in North America and Across The Universe in Europe. Well worth picking up. “Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?” and “The Killing Joke” get a lot of praise (and rightly so – “The Killing Joke” remains my favourite Bats story, and Brian Bolland’s art is AWESOME), but I think “For The Man Who Has Everything” (another Supes story, with Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman in supporting roles) is unfairly overlooked. Absolutely wonderful storytelling. The Green Lantern stuff was great to read just on his own, but if you are following how Johns is mining it into the current epic stuff he’s writing, it adds another layer of awesome.

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mygif

I read Watchmen for the first time when I was 13 or so. I had read Dark Knight Returns and thought it awesome, so I was cruising through the major leagues. I thought it was okay.

I reread it a few years later and thought it was brilliant. Haven’t read it in full a third time, but I keep going back to it, paging through to my favorite bits and being swept in again.

Dr. Manhattan’s “thermodynamic miracles” speech to Laurie at the end of #9 is the most crushingly beautiful passage in all of literature.

And yet, as someone who majored in English, I still hate Shakespeare, the Great Gatsby, and Catcher in the Rye, so what do I know?

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mygif

(but despite my Watchmen love, I don’t think I’ve ever made it through the text piece on birds. Oh well.)

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Hey Will,
I totally agree. I’ve tried a few times to get into Watchmen and I just haven’t been able to get through it. I know Allen Moore is the best thing since sliced bread for comics- I get it. But I rank him along with Frank Miller and to a lesser degree Grant Morrison: I wholeheartedly respect what they’ve done for comics as a medium, but I don’t always like it. In fact, more often than not, I don’t like it at all.

Allen Moore: Comes off as a bit of an elitist asshole a lot of the time. I’m sure he’s just a swell guy in person, but in interviews and such he just comes off as a bit of a prick. I respect and even like Killing Joke (though I have to admit I actually like the recent Batman Confidential origin of the Joker better) and some of his other Superman stories, etc. But honestly, as a storyteller/writer myself, I just don’t like his style. I don’t particularly like Shakespeare either. :-p

Frank Miller: Batman Year One, Man Without Fear, Born Again- all genius. For those alone Frank Miller has my undying respect. Not a huge fan of DKR though I respect it much in the way I respect Killing Joke. A lot of Miller’s other stuff, over the years, has gotten progressively batshit crazy. It’s like he went from smoking weed to increasingly harder stuff as he writes. (Yes, I get ASB&R is meant to be DKR’s Batman as a young man and it’s satirical, but still it’s retarded. It’s brilliantly retarded, which makes it worth reading alone due to the sheer entertainment value, but retarded none-the-less.)

Speaking of which: Grant Morrison. Morrison seems to be a divider among fans. Not too many people are in the middle on him. It seems you either like him or hate him. I gotta admit, I don’t like him- especially what he’s been doing with Batman recently (Ninja manbats? Really? A son named Damian who’s the grandson of the “demon’s head”? How original…). I get the basic ideas behind his stories, and even like them, but the way they’re carried out drives me insane. (Did we really need a fuggin 7 page deal on the Japanese super team or whatever in Final Crisis? From what Morrison said they don’t even play much of a role at all in the story, he just wanted to stick them in there.) I think Morrison actually just started with the hard shit and just keeps doing more of it as he goes because his latest stuff just gives me a freaking headache. Morrison strikes me as Allen Moore’s heir apparent in a lot of ways, though he seems to be a bit more accessible to fans/the media.

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mygif

I think Moore’s kind of like the James Joyce of comics, but with the readership and praise Shakespeare gets.

I own Watchmen, but I bought because we were in Chapters and it was there and my brother needed to get me something for Christmas and we wouldn’t have any other chance to go shopping so I told him to get me it. It’s something I did because I thought, you know, it was something I just had to have. Like, a requirement, you know? If you read comics, you need Watchmen on your bookshelf.

Moore’s work, even his stuff on Supreme, never struck me as fun. I guess I should take a glance at Top 10 or Tom Strong, but when Moore’s name goes on something I don’t really feel like I’m on an exciting adventure to funland.

Well, with exception of “For the Man Who Has Everything” though I only saw the JLU version.

Moore being tongue in cheek is hard to grasp if you aren’t really a hardcore Mooreite. He’s already on record as saying he won’t “watch the fucking thing” about the Watchmen movie, and everything he said about the V for Vendetta movie was rather unfair. I could get it if he was unhappy about the quality of League of Extraordinary Gentleman, but there’s people who’ve been done worse by the film industry. Take Tank Girl, for example. Or the Phantom, or the Shadow (I like both of those, though, but they’re not exactly good cinema).

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SpaceSquid said on July 24th, 2008 at 8:17 pm

I’ve always thought that the objections to Moore stem from a very similar place to the objections to Kubrick. Both of them are clearly very talented, and have a great deal to offer, but to my mind both are almost completely without emotion. You can see them try to *impart* emotion, and you can sort of get it, in the sense that you can read a badly-written love letter addressed to someone other than you and sort of get what the writer was trying to do, without really connecting; but that’s all. You kind of get *why* it should work, but you don’t really feel it. Watchmen, V For Vendetta, Promethea, Tom Strong (maybe not quite so much Top Ten); they all read like the work of someone who never really *felt* a given emotion but is smart enough to *just about* logically infer what that emotion must be like.

I really like Moore. I really like Kubrick too. But neither of them feel like anything more than an intellectual exercise cunningly disguised as human experience.

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mygif

I hope you’ll read it soon and that you’ll like it (but not fall in love with it). Not just for the reason that the film might ruin it a bit for those who haven’t read it, but also because I think the older you get the less you see the appeal. I thought the trailer had this one telling bit — the Smashing Pumpkins soundtrack. That it’s either more self-aware in the MO of its adaptation/translation or that it unintentionally serves as a revealing bit of how adolescent it all really is (most specially, how so much of the appreciation of it).

It’s good. And it deserves the highest praises, and to be amongst the top lists of comics. But the reasons for the fandom’s appeal to it is so unexamined, and so utterly pathetic * (immediatly recognizable by the effect it had on superhero fiction) — I mean, it becomes no surprise when you see that there are readers who think Rorsharch is Teh Cool Character (and why Batman and his world basically became that character for years to come) or whatever other embarassing form of ‘missing the fucking point’.

* Possibly including here Zack Snyder as well. “It’s not a PG-13 movie, it’s a R-rated film. Like, ‘Wow, did I just saw a woman getting raped by one of the main characters here?’, so that spirit I want to maintain.”

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Oh, and I forgot to mention I knew this wasn’t MGK on first reading.

(Yes, I get ASB&R is meant to be DKR’s Batman as a young man and it’s satirical, but still it’s retarded. It’s brilliantly retarded, which makes it worth reading alone due to the sheer entertainment value, but retarded none-the-less.)

I think, really, that’s the thing that separates Moore from other authors: if you don’t like what he brings to the table, it ends there. You can tear apart stuff like ASBAR, or pick apart Chuck Austen and laugh when it falls apart, or you can be offended by Ennis’s uncouth excesses . . . but if you don’t like Moore . . . that’s it.

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@SpaceSquid: My God, you are so right. That’s exactly how I feel about Moore (not so much Kubrick, since I’ve only ever seen Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket, and I guess I thought there was some emotion in the latter or the subject material covered up the lack of it).

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SpaceSquid said on July 24th, 2008 at 8:44 pm

@ Andrew. Full Metal Jacket is about as emotional as Kubrick gets (with the possible exception of Dr Strangelove which I have yet to give the attention it deserves). And yes, I think it partially piggy-backs the emotions war stirs up as a concept, rather than inspiring them as a work of art.

God, I sound so pretentious. Like I say, I really enjoy reading Moore, but the only feeling he ever stirs in me is envy at his skill.

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>>>>>Full Metal Jacket is about as emotional as Kubrick gets

No, that would be Paths of Glory, me thinks.

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Or 2001, if one’s a poo-poo head who thinks those last moments are too emotional in its awe.

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SpaceSquid said on July 24th, 2008 at 8:50 pm

Fair enough. I haven’t yet seen it (and had forgotten it when I last posted), so I happily concede the point.

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@Kyle: you may be right. I think I initially wrote “inverse” and then changed it. I suck at math, so I haven’t a clue.

@Dan: ah, but see, I tend to be of the Elmore Leonard school of “leaving all the boring bits out.” It’s the writer’s job to sift and exclude, not the reader’s job to parse and skim.

@Brad: allrighty, I’ll check out Top 10.

@Bill: oh, don’t take me as idolizing those works, or anything. I was just using them as examples.

@SpaceSquid: dude, I think the comparison of Moore to Kubrick is brilliant. One of the pleasures I had while at USC was meeting Jim Harris, who worked with Kubrick on a couple of early movies (including Lolita), and I got much the same impression from him: that Kubrick was a great guy and an amazing person but pretty much completely cerebral. That when he sought emotion, he did so by analyzing the desired result and intellectually achieving it.

@Andrew: “an exciting adventure to funland” seems to be pretty much the antithesis of everything Alan Moore has ever written. And yeah, I totally get the reason you own it; it’s much the same reason I do. Just like every lit major probably needs to own a Norton’s.

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SpaceSquid said on July 24th, 2008 at 8:53 pm

“Or 2001, if one’s a poo-poo head who thinks those last moments are too emotional in its awe.”

I’m not. 2001 is terrible, in the main. HAL’s death is one of my favourite moments of cinema *ever*. Every other damn thing in it makes me want to vomit out my own lungs with hate.

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>>>I haven’t yet seen it

Oh but do see it. Wasn’t saying it to show Kubrick knowledge (which I have none), but because it’s a beautiful film. Imagine all the brainy Kubrick with a boy’s heart when it comes to how war operates.

And you get to see Kirk Douglas ass-chin through 2 hours all the way into the last scene — where we meet Kubrick’s wife, Christine (where he met her, and stayed married to her until his ending years).

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I almost owned two norton’s, but I managed to borrow someone else’s for the English 20x or 30x that needed it, and only ended up buying one.

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Well, I can’t personally fathom not finding Moore’s stuff fun. A lot of it is incredibly fun, particularly the first volume of League, Top Ten, Swamp Thing, and big chunks of Supreme and Tom Strong. And I really loved “Tomorrow Stories”, the red-headed stepchild of ABC that no one ever acknowledges, just because it was so laden down with cool ideas and great art. Heck, even the first half of Promethea had me on the edge of my seat. (The second half, starting with the journey into the Qabbalah afterlife, is one of the few things Moore’s done that I would qualify as a genuine failure, but man, that beginning is AWESOME. How can you not get chills at “OK, boys, let’s finish this.”) It’s not like any of that stuff (except Promethea) is meant to be deep and meaningful artwork. It’s just pulpy fun that has a lot of sideroads and ornamental widgets, like playing spot-the-literary-character in LoEG (which is part of the fun!) or riffing on the pre-Crisis DC Universe in Supreme.

Of course this makes it denser, but…well, I really like dense comic books. The thing about Moore, and Morrison for that matter (and Gaiman in the early part of his career, though he’s abandoned this lately) is that you can pick up an issue knowing you’re going to get a full meal with lots of rereadability. In an age when comics cost 3 bucks a pop, aren’t comics that take longer to read and work on many levels kind of a good thing?

Also, I don’t know what interviews people are reading, but I’ve always found Moore utterly charming and cool in interviews. The tendency among fanboys to lambaste him for speaking ill of the movies made of his comics strikes me as very petty and unpleasant, especially since none of them rise above mediocrity (and yes, I include V For Vendetta in that). Moore took a stand when he could easily have become a millionaire just by shutting his mouth. He has an opinion about what others do with his work without his consent. For this he’s derided as a crank, and I think it’s wrong.

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Oh, I sympathize entirely. I’ve never been able to quite finish Kiekegaard’s Fear and Trembling

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10FootBongz said on July 25th, 2008 at 12:24 am

If you are looking for a straight up, accessible Moore story, I would second (or third) the recommendation for the two part “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” story that came out in the 80’s (it was apparently the ‘final’ Superman story before the John Byrne revamp). I have never been a Superman fan, and I would say that the Moore story is not quite as good as All Star Superman, but that has a lot more to do with Quitely’s art and the scope of the story than anything else. As far as his superhero work is concerned, the Killing Joke is pretty good as well, but I’d recommend this two issue Superman story over it based purely on the fact that it is a fun comic lacking in cynicism, which is not a descriptive that I would be able to apply to a lot of his other work. Or any of his work that I have read, with the exception of Promethea.
As for Watchmen, I had trouble getting through it the first time around, but then, I was reading all of the extra text that came at the end of each issue. I found that I liked the story a lot better (the first time around, I guess like many others here) when I cut out all of ‘world-building’ text pieces. On rereading the book, I felt that some of those text pieces added to the overall story, but I guess that I had trouble relating them to the pictured story when I was still reading the book for the first time. Still, it’s the little things, the parts that you would likely skip if you were cutting out the essentials of the story, that give it the stature that it has. The Black Freighter story has a slowly suffocating progression to it that mirrors the tone of the book as the story pushes closer to its climax. Yeah, some of the text pieces are boring, but the best ones (like the interview with the Silk Spectre’s mother, or the paper on Dr. Manhattan) flesh out the story in a way that most comics don’t.
If none of that is good enough, this is a book that featured a completely symmetrical chapter (I think that it is called ‘Fearful Symmetry’, the Rorshach issue). The first page layout mirrors that of the last page, the second matches the second last and so on until the middle two pages. It’s not just the symmetry of the page layouts though, the story mostly matches up the same way. Lot’s of writers come up with great stories, but when I read about this aspect on ye ole internets, then verified it by reading the the story again, well, let me say that I think that this is a great book. And that’s coming from someone who occasionally reads stories without pictures.
So, for the movie, I’m sure that I will see it, but the most that I hope for is that they get at least one of the key scenes right. I felt the same way about V for Vendetta, and I thought that it got exactly one key scene from the book exactly right (the Evey awakening/liberation).
On the other hand, if I had seen the movie without ever having read the book, I probably would have thought that it was a good movie.

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“Moore took a stand when he could easily have become a millionaire just by shutting his mouth. He has an opinion about what others do with his work without his consent. For this he’s derided as a crank, and I think it’s wrong.”

Few things here:
1. He signed the rights to his stuff away when he signed the contract for the work. I’m not saying it doesn’t suck, I’m just pointing that out.
2. He’s derided as a crank because he IS a crank. He complains about adaptations of his work without having seen any of them, because, in his opinion, his work is above adaptation in any other medium. It’s not like he tried to help and got shat on, as far as I know. He just refuses to have anything to do with it at all. That’s his perogative, of course. However, if you aren’t a part of the solution you’re part of the problem. People working on these movies (V and Watchmen for sure) have openly invited him to have input and make it a faithful adaptation, and he’s staunchly refused. IMO if you dont care enough to try and make it the best it can be, then don’t bitch about it- especially if you havent even bothered to see the final product yourself.
This is all my 2 cents of course, and as harsh as I may come off, I’m not saying he didn’t get a raw deal in many respects.

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That’s one thing Miller has over Moore: Miller did get shat on by Hollywood when he was doing the whole Robocop thing, but he didn’t let that stop him from getting involved when Rodriguez was doing Sin City. Now, I guess for better or worse, Miller’s out there and getting involved in stuff and contributing.

Mignola’s in on Hellboy.

And really, Moore just doesn’t know how good he has it. In spite of the ‘mediocrity’ of the film adaptations . . . well, I’ll give you LXG, but the JLU episode of “For the Man Who Has Everything” and V for Vendetta were excellent (by the way, did you read the things he says about the films? They’re extremely petty, and made worse when you consider the points Randy B. raises).

But then, I can’t help but think of Tank Girl. Or The Phantom. Or The Shadow. Properties that were infinitely more poorly treated.

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“But then, I can’t help but think of Tank Girl. Or The Phantom. Or The Shadow. Properties that were infinitely more poorly treated.”

Very true, but The Phantom and The Shadow were around long before Moore. They used to be radio drama serials in the ’40s.

“but the JLU episode of “For the Man Who Has Everything” and V for Vendetta were excellent”

Agreed. Especially about the JLU. Then again just about everything they did was awesome.

“by the way, did you read the things he says about the films? They’re extremely petty, and made worse when you consider the points Randy B. raises”

Exactly, which is why I bothered to respond in the first place. This latest interview he did a lot of the comments were just him being a stuck up jerk as he was commenting about stuff (and harshly) about people and things he’d never seen. Specifically, Zach Snyder and 300. If you liked 300 or not (I did), Snyder did an excellent job at adapting the material to be as faithful to the comic as possible- which was the point of it being mentioned to Moore since Snyder is doing Watchmen.

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@Prankster: I pointed to one interview, and there are others pretty readily available online. I don’t really deride him as a crank, but I have read he complained about “eggy in a basket” and got royally pissed because of a couple of printing errors. If I wanted to deride him as a crank, I might point out that he claims to be a magician who worships an ancient snake god hoax, but I don’t.

@Quietus: hahaha!

@Randy: yeah, I’m pretty much in agreement with the points you’re making. Especially his Entertainment Weekly interview. When asked about Snyder’s being a nice guy, he said:

“He may very well be, but the thing is that he’s also the person who made 300. I’ve not seen any recent comic book films, but I didn’t particularly like the book 300. I had a lot of problems with it, and everything I heard or saw about the film tended to increase [those problems] rather than reduce them: [that] it was racist, it was homophobic, and above all it was sublimely stupid. I know that that’s not what people going in to see a film like 300 are thinking about but…I wasn’t impressed with that..”

So he seems to be basing the idea that Snyder’s 300 sucked on the fact that he didn’t particularly like the book.

then that:

“There are things that we did with Watchmen that could only work in a comic, and were indeed designed to show off things that other media can’t.”

And while I agree fully with that last sentiment, it’s only half of it; there are things Snyder will do in the movie what could only work in a movie, and will indeed be designed to show off things other media, including comics, can’t. A movie is not a book is not a comic book, and I’d rather an adaptation be faithful to the spirit than to the text. This is, for me, why the first two Harry Potter movies failed but Cuaron’s seemed to finally capture the spirit and magic permeating the story.

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I wasn’t really talking about you, Will. (But c’mon–Moore himself is quite open about how ridiculous the puppet snake is. The ridiculousness is part of the point.)

And he HAS seen “LXG” and “From Hell”, and read the script to V For Vendetta, so he’s not commenting in a vacuum here. The “Eggy in a basket” thing was one detail he was riffing on particularly–it’s not like that’s the only problem he had with the film. And I personally found V to be highly mediocre. Taking out the anarchist aspect creates serious problems–if he’s fighting to restore democracy, why would he blow up parliament?

I find that most of the complaints about Moore’s recent behaviour seem to come from a place of “Why won’t he help them make the movies good?” It’s obviously because he doesn’t feel comics need movies to “justify” them, and dislikes the huge corporate behemoths that make them, which strikes me as a valid viewpoint. I respect the hell out of the guy for cutting himself out of the process entirely, frankly; when you turn down multi-million dollar checks (and let’s be clear here, Moore was offered scads of money and turned it down, he wasn’t shut out) I think you’ve earned the right to complain as much as you want about the process. I fail to see how Frank Miller is somehow noble because he kept involving himself in the process–he just clearly likes movies more, and wants to be involved in making them. Moore isn’t, and doesn’t. Neither option is better than the other. However, I’d like to point out that most non-comic authors have a say in whether or not their books get adapted (and who does the adapting). Moore doesn’t, based on contracts he signed when he was young. Again, that seems like a reasonable thing to be bitter about.

Oh, and Will? Part of the reason I’m dreading Snyder’s adaptation is that it looks like an empty copy of the comic, a montage of visuals with no soul of its own. I HAVE seen 300, and frankly I don’t think Snyder added anything except translating it to the silver screen. But 300 is a very cinematic comic; Watchmen isn’t. I’d also like to point out that Moore had a good word for the David Hayter/Paul Greengrass script which made significant changes–as he points out in that interview, adaptations are kind of pointless unless you’re finding a new spin on the material. Snyder’s promises of literal faithfulness actually have me worried for that reason…I mean, there was a perfect opportunity to move it to the present day and involve the war on terror, but Snyder skipped that, and frankly it seems like he just wanted to avoid controversy. I hope the movie proves me wrong, but Snyder also remade one of the best horror movies of all time, and deliberately stripped out the subtext, so I’m not holding my breath.

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And by the way, Andrew? Miller was approached numerous times about adapting Sin City, but BECAUSE HE OWNS THE RIGHTS, he was able to say “no” until Rodriguez came along and convinced him that he was the right guy for the job. Moore has no such freedom when it comes to Watchmen, Vendetta, and LXG, which is why he’s so upset. For some people, a dump truck full of money isn’t enough to take them out of the creative process. It’s a matter of principle.

If Moore wrote a comic that he owned entirely, and someone came to him and convinced him he’d be the right guy to direct, I’m sure he’d be OK with it. That’s not what happened with his other movies. He was basically told, “This guy’s directing a movie of your comic, and by the way, would you like to take a meeting with him?”

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@Will. “Because that’s his big thing isn’t it? That he’s such a genius? That he’s so smart, and he crams his writing so densely with references to literature and popular culture, that his work is above the understanding of most mere mortals?”

“A European says: “I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with me?” An American says: “I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with him?”

Terry Pratchett seems to sum things up.

Just because something is intelligent and you don’t “get it” doesn’t mean that it’s bad. Sorry man, but there it is.

Otherwise what Prankster said, about everything.

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This is the most alarming post I have read all day long! How dare you!

(j/k)

I do relate to your admission of being a late bloomer on appreciating fine literature – I have had similar blind spots in the past – and I trust that with your inevitable progression of maturity and taste you will come to appreciate the brilliance of Alan Moore, which stands tall on its own without the sanction of fanboys or movie adaptations.

I’ve read Watchmen at least 3 times, but Moore has other modes of writing, and it’s a bummer to be too hung up on how he’s supposed to be a genius at the cost of enjoying a good story. So, other Moore works that aren’t typically trotted out as examples of his “genius” should be considered for the sheer pleasure of good comics: Tom Strong and The Spirit (the first issue, based on Eisner’s character, you must read this!) are my picks.

I’d add Supreme except for the Liefeld art.

Also, you are spot on about Midtown Comics

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I don’t know enough to jump into the discussion of adaptations and story rights and creator personality and whatever, but I would like to say that I agree with the others above about digesting Watchmen a little bit at a time.

I read it about two-to-three pages at a time and eventually sloughed my way through it.

Here’ the thing, though: the last third of the book, I didn’t have to slough through it. Everything starts coming together so beautifully and intricately that it became a full reversal of enjoyment. I went from forcing myself to read it to not being able to put it down.

Maybe that’s too much to ask of the reader, but I recommend you give it another chance.

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@itbox
“Just because something is intelligent and you don’t “get it” doesn’t mean that it’s bad. Sorry man, but there it is. ”
Who said anything about “bad”? No one here said anything about “bad”. It’s simply a matter of taste and not being able to get through the thing. I can hardly get through Shakespeare or anything by Dickens. That doesn’t make them “bad” it just makes them a little more highbrow (or whatever adjective you want to place there) than I care to read with my free time for entertainment purposes, and that’s kind of how Moore’s work is for me as I’m sure it is for the rest of us with similar views on the subject in this thread. Plus, I feel the need to point out, just because it’s “intelligent” (or seems so) doesn’t mean it’s good either.

@Prankster: Well, you just can’t please everyone. You take a popular piece of work and make changes to “advance it” or give it a ” new spin” for the medium and the fanboys, original creators, etc. freak. You try to make a faithful adaptation you get criticized for not taking a “new spin” on the material. Perhaps sometimes the point of adapting the material is to bring it a living representation of the work, more accessible to the masses. Not everyone is going to sit down and read the novel, graphic novel, whatever and in rare cases the movie adaptations end up being arguably more entertaining than the stories they’re based on. LOTR- I LOVE the books and have undying respect for Tolkien, but if given the choice between watching the extended edition of the movies or reading the books I’d rather watch the movies. Why? Because it takes the essence of the story and presents it in an entertaining way and cuts out all the extra stuff that I could care less about. (The singing, for instance.) Harry Potter- good god is this a prime example. Rowlings is a (marginally) decent writer, but she’s become the most over hyped author I’ve ever seen. A good third of each of her books are fluff that really doesn’t need to be there at all. Sure it’s interesting and sometimes fun character moments but it also drags the books out a good 100 pages or more longer than they really need to be. The movies were far more enjoyable an experience for me. I get the feeling that Watchman will be the same- faithful to the point of getting the larger essence of the graphic novel, the same feel, but cutting out some of the stuff that really isn’t needed to tell the basic story. For people who want more depth they can, and probably will, pick up the graphic novel.

As for Moore himself: it’s not that he doesn’t have valid reasons for being upset, it’s just the way he presents himself when he’s talking about the problems that he has with them that helps him to come off as a self-important “crank”. Plus the additional comments, like the ones he made about Snyder, doesn’t help. He doesn’t know the guy, he’s never seen the film, but he’s blasting the guy’s work anyway (Racist? Really?). The point is he screwed up and signed the rights away (he was young, he got a sucky deal, and I really do feel for him, but he still made the decision to sign the contract), the company that owns the property can do whatever they want with it. But on the flip side they did offer to let him have some say in how things went when they didn’t have to do that at all. He chose to not be involved. He has his principles & I respect that, but it seems to me they’ve done what they could to at least make the best of the situation for him and he’s turned them down, repeatedly.

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@itbox: “Just because something is intelligent and you don’t ‘get’ it doesn’t meant that it’s bad.”

Well, yes, I know. I never claimed it was. And, in fact, I noted the moment I ‘got’ Shakespeare to bear out your point re: Europeans v. Americans; when I ‘got’ Shakespeare, it was like a discovery. And I continue to hope I’ll make a similar discovery re: Moore. I continue to come up short, but I continue to hope it may, one day, come.

@essrog: love the handle, and yes, Midtown ftw!

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Keep in mind, people, that a big part of Moore’s ire at Hollywood stems from the lawsuit filed by Larry Cohen and Martin Poll, in which they claimed that DC had gotten some corporate shill to take their unproduced screenplay, ‘Cast of Characters’, turn it into a comic book, and then adapt that comic back into a movie so that it wouldn’t look so much like plagarism. Fox settled the suit instead of taking it to court, meaning that Moore never got a chance to respond to those allegations. It’s something that would darken your opinion of Hollywood too, I think. :)

And personally…no, sorry. I can’t even comprehend a mindset that wouldn’t immediately find ‘Watchmen’ a compelling, gripping read. I devoured the whole thing within hours, text pieces and all, it’s magnificent (and I’m sorry, but it’s not “crammed with references to literature and popular culture”–if you can’t figure out who Nixon and Kennedy are supposed to be, you really don’t have any business reading books for grown-ups :) )…honestly, if you can’t get into ‘Watchmen’, I pity you. (Unless the reason is that you’re blind, in which case you don’t want my pity, dammit! :) )

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@John: I’d wager DC saved a lot of money just handing Cohen and Poll some money rather than letting it go to court, and Moore should, I think, on some level at least, understand that. I mean, how much do Hollywood entertainment lawyers earn on the basis of retainment alone, never mind the cadre a studio would use to argue a case like that?

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Wow theres a lot of posts, one of which might have written what I am about to say.
(i wouldn’t know cause I couldn’t get through all them comments and skimmed instead)

but here’s my suggestion for being able to stay engrossed in watchmen, and reading the whole thing.
(if you did this I apologize)

Be sure to read all the notes in the back (with the possible exception of some of the pirate stories, but in theend you’ll want to read the pirate stories if you skip)

I got bored when I was a kid reading watchmen, and I couldnt wait for the next issue to come out, so I started reading the “Under the Hood””excerpts” and it really feeds you back into caring about the story. It adds so much depth and interest. (if any of you haven’t) give that a try.

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Randy, it’s a little more extensive than “he signed the rights away, he should have known better.” When he signed the contract, he was supposed to get all those rights after Watchmen had been out of print for a while. Back in ’86, comics inevitably went out of print after a few years, if not sooner, so assuming that he would get the rights back before too long was hardly naive of him. DC then proceeded to keep Watchmen in print forever–which is their right, of course, and I don’t think they were trying to screw him, as it’s been a consistent seller, but there’s no way Moore could have reasonably known that that was going to happen. There are also supposedly some issues about Watchmen merchandise that DC jerked him around about, but that’s not the point. The point is that all this is precisely what LED to Moore souring on the process of corporate publishing and legal rights. He was OK with people adapting his work for a while, then he had several bad experiences and decided he didn’t want it anymore, especially since, as noted, he had no say in deciding what would get adapted.

And Moore has said pretty clearly he thinks adaptations should make changes. But it’s reductive to say “Oh, you can’t win, you can’t please everyone.” It’s not about changes, it’s about STUPID changes. Moore says, and I agree with him, that a lot of adaptations are pointless–they seem to be born out of the idea that movies somehow validate other media, that we haven’t REALLY seen Watchmen until we’ve seen a movie version of it. Since Moore wrote the comic as an attempt to really analyze the comics form and show off some of the cool stuff you could do with it that you can’t do in other media, it’s not surprising that he doesn’t see the point of a movie adaptation. (In fact, the very assumption that “paring something down to tell the story” is going to improve it is a very “movie” way of thinking. Movies need to be fairly tight and focused; books and comics can ramble, just as LOTR and Watchmen do. That’s one of the differences between the two media–it’s not something that makes one “better” than the other. If you don’t like the extraneous stuff, fine, but some of us do, and that’s one of the things that I feel makes print a better medium for world-building.)

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Prankster, let me be clear on a few things:
First, I know it was more than “he signed the rights away, he should have known better.” I was simply trying to make the point that while he got a raw deal there were still people on the other side that was trying to make the best of the situation for him when they really didn’t have to. I’m not saying he’s wrong for feeling the way he does. Hell, I’d probably feel the same way. I do, however, disagree with the way he tends to handle his public relations, which is what this whole part of the discussion is really about. He has a right to feel how he feels about the situation, his work, adaptations, whatever, but making comments like he has about some of these film makers, etc. who have been going out of their way to show respect to him and his work- especially without any first hand experience with the people or films he’s criticizing- is just a really crappy thing to do. IMO, they’re simply fans trying to express a story that they love into their own medium- I know for a fact that that is how Snyder is approaching it. He’s said it himself.

“(In fact, the very assumption that “paring something down to tell the story” is going to improve it is a very “movie” way of thinking. Movies need to be fairly tight and focused; books and comics can ramble, just as LOTR and Watchmen do. That’s one of the differences between the two media–it’s not something that makes one “better” than the other. If you don’t like the extraneous stuff, fine, but some of us do, and that’s one of the things that I feel makes print a better medium for world-building.)”

You’ll get no argument from me that print is a better medium for world building. I’m a writer, so to think otherwise would require me to turn in my membership card. However, likewise, the assumption that “padding something up to tell the story” is going to improve it is a very literary way of thinking. (I’m kidding.)
You’re simply talking about another side of the same coin, so to speak. Not everyone has the same tastes that you, or I, or Mr. Moore has. Some people just simply cannot get into novels, graphic or otherwise, like LOTR, Watchmen, Dune, etc. Some people are more visual. Hell, some people just don’t have the time. But if the story is really something special, something that can touch people, then it doesn’t matter what medium it’s translated to. LOTR, I think, is a very good example of this. Nothing can touch Tolkien’s books. I think they’re something that everyone should read at least once. However, I think the movies, overall, did an excellent job of translating the essence of the story to the big screen. How many millions of people who might not have ever read the books have seen the movies and gotten to experience, at least to some extent, the greatness of Tolkien’s creation? And how many of those people went and picked up the books afterward because they were so taken in by the story the movies presented? It doesn’t have to be an either/or kind of thing. Yes, I’m a writer, but I’m also a huge movie buff. I’m interested in all forms of storytelling and I think they all bring something different to the table and are a means to reach people. So in that way most adaptations are most certainly not “pointless” they’re just a different way to present the story to people. It’s the QUALITY of the adaptation/presentation that’s the issue. Sure, there are some things that just have a hard time being translated to another medium and Watchmen could very well be one of those things. But from what I can tell those working on the film are doing their best to bring the best adaptation possible of the work. Dave Gibbons has given it his blessing, which I think is a good sign.

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I think the point is that it doesn’t matter how respectful Snyder is being in interviews and whatnot; he’s still doing something Moore doesn’t approve of or agree with. Basically, he’s a guy who started developing a movie adaptation of Watchmen in a corporate environment, with Moore having no say in it whatsoever. It doesn’t even matter if the movie turns out to be great. The thing Moore is chapped about, I think, is that he’s not being given the same basic right that most print writers get, to have someone approach him about a film adaptation and allow him to say “yea” or “nay”. Instead, a corporation is making that decision for him, which is what he opposes on principle. He’s under no obligation to react to that positively, no matter how nice a guy Snyder is. Moore feels strongly about his work, and Snyder is part of the corporate process that’s taken it away from him. If he really respected Moore, he wouldn’t be involved in the process at all.

And I’m sorry, but the “think about how many people the movie will win over!” argument doesn’t cut a lot of ice with me, and I doubt it does with Moore, either. (It probably doesn’t help that I’m not a huge fan of LOTR in either form.) Sure, sometimes it’s cool to get a movie adaptation, but arguing like it’s necessary for people who don’t read? That’s a bit lame. People who can’t be bothered to pick up a book once in a while really ought not to be pandered to. It reminds me of this Onion article: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/31389 . I would argue, and I think this is Moore’s point as well, that a movie adaptation needs to have a reason to exist in and of itself. Whereas adaptations of his books seem to be made so far so that people can avoid the comics, and so that big corporations can make a lot of money. Understandably, he doesn’t see that as artistically valid.

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@Prankster, re: LOTR–me neither, though saying I’m not a huge fan of them would be like saying, well, Moore isn’t a big fan of adaptations, in fact.

I don’t have anything really to add to this part, except this: “that a movie adaptation needs to have a reason to exist in and of itself.”

Does any art possess such a reason?

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Well, yes? Most artists have a reason for what they’re doing, even if it’s “to make money” (which is a bad reason, but still a reason). That’s also the reason most adaptations are made. But here’s the issue: we’re not talking about an original work of art, we’re talking about doing something to an existing work. Something that the original author is against.

I’m personally not against an adaptation of Watchmen, but people are treating it as inevitable, like it HAS to happen. For a while there Paul Greengrass and David Hayter were working on a version that sounded quite good, and that I believe even Moore had some good words for. But then they were booted out, and the project seems to have gone on autopilot. Snyder said he came on board because he knew they were going to make it anyway, so he figured it would be better if it were him who made it. That’s…not inspiring. I would prefer the movie was being put into production because someone had a really great vision, not corporate inertia.

By the way, if you read that Moore interview at EW it’s pretty obvious people are exaggerating his positions in re: adaptations. All he says is that he’s had relentlessly bad experiences with adaptations and doesn’t think Hollywood generally gets it right (and then immediately admits that he’s generalizing). WHAT A JERK!!!

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Will said:

“@John: I’d wager DC saved a lot of money just handing Cohen and Poll some money rather than letting it go to court, and Moore should, I think, on some level at least, understand that. I mean, how much do Hollywood entertainment lawyers earn on the basis of retainment alone, never mind the cadre a studio would use to argue a case like that?”

*boggle* Try fitting that phrase into your own mouth, about yourself. “Oh, no, I think it’s totally cool that a couple of strangers get to accuse me of plagarism and of being a corporate shill for DC, a company I’ve refused to even let sign my paychecks because they’ve screwed me over so many times, and I don’t get to refute those charges in a court of law. I mean, after all, you saved yourself some real money by doing so, right?”

Yeah, I think that 99.99999% of the populace would have a two-word, one-finger response to that. :)

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@John: yeah, good counterpoint. I was just thinking that everyone knows Moore didn’t plagiarize, and everyone would, I think, figure that DC had settled for the reason I noted. There are always such people that come out of the woodwork for such issues (the woman who sued the Wachowski’s over The Matrix and White Wolf v. Sony spring immediately to mind), for pretty much every movie ever.

That said, you’re right on that.

@Prankster: good call on all parts.

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@Prankster: You do make valid points. However:

“And I’m sorry, but the “think about how many people the movie will win over!” argument doesn’t cut a lot of ice with me, and I doubt it does with Moore, either. (It probably doesn’t help that I’m not a huge fan of LOTR in either form.) Sure, sometimes it’s cool to get a movie adaptation, but arguing like it’s necessary for people who don’t read? That’s a bit lame.”
I wasn’t arguing it was “necessary”, I was giving an example of what “point” there was to making a movie adaptation of a work in response to your general comments on the subject, not Watchmen specifically. That said, wouldn’t “sharing the story visually with a wider audience” be a valid reason? Or perhaps wanting to bring the story to life in a different medium? Those seem to be pretty valid reasons for adaptations to me, especially if you’re a film maker. Again, not speaking of Watchmen specifically.

“People who can’t be bothered to pick up a book once in a while really ought not to be pandered to.”

Yeah, well not everyone reads graphic novels or sci-fi/fantasy when they do bother to “pick up a book”. For some people their only exposure to those genres are through other mediums, specifically film adaptations; and there are times when that exposure inspires them to give those genres a look the next time they’re so inclined to pick a book up and read in their often not-so-abundant spare time. That’s not pandering, it’s knowing your audience and exposing them to something potentially new. And yes, it’s a good reason why comics, sci-fi, and fantasy have seen a surge in popularity and even further legitimacy as literature, etc. the past decade or so. Yes, they always were literature, but now they’ve gained a wider audience and a greater respect, which is in no way a negative thing for any involved; and I’d even argue it’s one of the reasons that most creators today have the ability to say “yea” or “nay” when it comes to adaptations of their work where Mr. Moore, unfortunately, didn’t.

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Also, Prankster I tried to check out your site and Firefox stopped me, saying it was a potential “attack site”.
“Attack sites try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others, or damage your system.

Some attack sites intentionally distribute harmful software, but many are compromised without the knowledge or permission of their owners.”

Just thought I’d give you a heads up about that.

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mygif

you disgust me sir

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Yeah, it’s a WebComicsNation site, and that seems to be having problems right now. Bad timing, I apologize.

Bringing something to a wider audience *can* be a noble thing to do, but a lot depends on the context. I was quite excited about V For Vendetta, because those were ideas I was excited about seeing on the screen (what’s more, I thought that there was actually room for improvement.) But the end result watered-down and oversimplified Moore’s ideas to a disappointing degree. The movie ended up being nothing more than a lecture on why Fascism is bad, which, thanks, I already knew that. And that was a movie made by the Wachowskis, who are smart guys with a certain amount of creative freedom–if they can’t get Moore right, what chance does freakin’ Zack Snyder have?

As I’ve said, I’m not opposed to a Watchmen movie…but it has to be made by the right people. There’s no point in doing it unless you’re going to do it right. And yet, there seem to be fans out there who are so determined to see Watchmen on screen that, if Moore thinks it’s a bad idea, they’ll attack him. But as Moore has said–and this is obvious from reading the book–the comic was intended very specifically to be a comic, to do things that only the comic medium can. As a result, I don’t see the point in making a movie to “bring it to a wider audience” when what that wider audience will be getting will be either something quite different, or else something that’s literally faithful but that probably doesn’t work as a movie (I’m betting on the second). There has to be more to the filmmaker’s motives than just “we had to get it on screen!”–they must have something to bring to it. Greengrass and Hayter sounded like they were going to tie it in with the post-9/11 world, which is a VERY valid reason to make the movie, IMHO…but Snyder dropped that out of literal faithfulness, and I still don’t understand why.

As for bringing attention to the medium of comics, I think it’s great that Hollywood is giving them a boost, but that works in a broad sense–once a few good comic adaptations hit the screen, people start to pay attention to the medium as a whole. They don’t literally need every comic or graphic novel brought to the screen. And indeed, as soon as someone decides to go looking for graphic novels, “Watchmen” is probably one of the first ones they’re going to pick up, so a movie adaptation isn’t strictly necessary to draw attention to it. And again–it’s not like we *need* people to read it. Like any book, there has to be some interest on the part of the reader. I would really hate it if we got a mainstream Watchmen backlash because we’re all sick of having it crammed down our throats.

There was a comics retailer who blogs…might have been Mike Sterling at Progressive Ruin…who mentioned that a movie adaptation tended to increase sales for a while…but after the movie had faded from the public eye, the sales of the comic tended to drop off to far below their original sales level. So you can argue that, in the long run, movie adaptations can hurt comics.

Frankly it comes off like a lot of fans really don’t actually like the medium of comics, and were just putting up with them until their favourite characters and stories could make the jump to film. That’s disappointing to me; in many ways, I find comics to be a far more interesting medium with a lot more potential than movies.

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I finished reading this week It was alright although I just read the comic and not the letters and stuff at the end of the chapter I like the character development for all the main character and rorschach and the comedian are my favorite. and personally I didn’t like V for Vendetta the movie because it was so generic in the sense the I read too many books about totalitarianisms for me to give a damn about another one.

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Prankster:
Having not read Watchmen all the way through I can’t comment about it specifically, though I’d be willing to bet your take on it is the more probable one. I’m willing to give Snyder the benefit of the doubt because I enjoyed 300 and Watchmen looks visually interesting. Watchmen is also on my list to read next so my opinion on the movie could drastically change afterward.

In regards to comics in general post-movie adaptations, I’m not so sure it was the adaptation that hurt them in the long run so much as the way the comics were handled. The way I see it the movies give the comic an opportunity to pick up a wider audience, but it’s up to the creators to hold onto that audience. Looking at Spider-Man and Iron Man specifically, their runs recently, around the times of the movie releases, honestly haven’t been all that stellar. Spider-Man, in it’s various incarnations, has been hit or miss story-wise for years and complete crap post OMD/BND. The only consistently good Spidey-title, IMO, has been Ultimate Spider-Man. I directed the people I knew who were interested in checking out the comics after the movies came out to that title and most have stuck with it since. I couldn’t blame them for not being interested in the mainstream titles, since I lost interest and stopped following myself.

As for Iron Man, his main post-CW run has been pretty bad. I can’t really comment on Hulk since I don’t follow that title. Batman, as well, could be pretty off-putting to any new readers, with Morrison at the helm the past couple of years and doing his RIP storyline at the moment. (Though Detective has still been pretty consistently decent). So really I think there’s a lot of factors that contribute to that initial surge then drop in sales after a movie adaptation. I don’t think it’s so much fans not liking the medium so much as fans not liking what’s being done with the medium at the time, and if new readers aren’t directed to more “entry level friendly” stuff first then I could see how it could be pretty hard to get into and stay into reading the mainstream comic titles for those characters.

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I’m actually thinking mostly of non-superhero stories: Sin City, 300, V For Vendetta, From Hell, and so on. Particularly self-contained ones. In every case, the books were better than the movies; you can make an argument for the movie of Sin City as being equal to the comic, but otherwise, bleh. And yet I suspect a lot of people feel they can skip the comic because they’ve seen the movie.

And yeah, much of the coolness of Watchmen comes from its use of the comic medium. Translating it onto the screen as faithfully as possible is not going to produce a particularly good movie, IMHO. It’ll be one that some people will be able to transpose their love for the comic onto, but that’s not the same thing. And I suspect that there are a lot of details that Snyder simply won’t “get”…I mean, I don’t think he even captured the subtleties of a Frank Miller comic for God’s sake. His chances of “getting” Watchmen seem pretty low.

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“I’m actually thinking mostly of non-superhero stories: Sin City, 300, V For Vendetta, From Hell, and so on. Particularly self-contained ones.”

Ah, in that case I can definitely see your point. I know personally I tend to think that way as well. I’ll intend to read the graphic novels, etc. after seeing the movie but once I see the movie the priority of reading the source material usually drops in favor for other new stuff. That doesn’t happen often because I usually end up picking up the books and reading them first before the movie hits (as I will for Watchmen) but for stuff like 300, V and so on, where I had little interest in reading them even before the movie, I still have yet to read over the books themselves.

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Lunchebox said on July 30th, 2008 at 1:08 am

I love Watchmen, it is a really great book.

Mostly, I read it again and again to pick up things I didn’t notice the first time. Mainly background stuff, or little hints I didn’t pick up on before.

It’s wonderful, it’s like Waking up each morning and the tooth fairy left you 20 bucks for no real reason.

But I get what you’re saying, Moore’s writing is very dense. Not everyone is going to like/appreciate it.

I can’t tell you WHY I like his writing so much, honestly, I just do.

I have this problem with John Byrne, though.

I love Hellboy, but I have trouble reading Seed of Destruction because Mignola had Byrne do the dialogue.

It’s, frankly, kinda boring. I don’t know how many times I scream (in my head) “GET TO THE POINT, GOD” when I read something Byrne writes.

supergp: “I just read Watchmen for the first time. And people complain that BENDIS writes too much dialogue?”

Honestly, a lot of Bendis’ dialogue is superfluous, in my opinion.

Phone rings. Man picks up.
“Hey!”
“Hi.”
“It’s me.”
“Who?”
“You know…”
“I don’t.”
“Don’t even joke!”
“Really! I don’t! Who is this?”
“You know! It’s ME. Sandy.”
“Oh… Who?”
“Sandy.”
“Uh…”
“Sandy from accounting.”
“Er…”
“I wore the Vampirella costume at the halloween party?”
“Oh, right, yeah, I remember.”
“Oh NOW you remember!”
“I said I was sorry!”
“I’m sure you are.”
“I really am!”
“Whatever!”
“How’re you Sandy?”
“I’m good good.”
“… Uh Good.”
“… Yeah.”
“So… Why are you calling?”
“Oh I was checking to see if you got the memo about the Thanksgiving party.”
“You mean the memo from Tuesday?”
“Yeah, that’s the one.”
“Yeah, I got it.”
“Okay, that’s all I wanted to know. See you Monday.”
“Okay, bye.”

Where as, while somewhat roundabout, I think Moore’s dialogue tends to be more… Relative to what’s going on in the story.

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Sir, I am horrified.
Watchmen is my favourite comic, (controversial I know) although Alan Moore’s stuff is a little annoying in the “wow look how crazy this shit is hey?” department. Although the first LOEG is very good.
However I found Watchmen entirely accessible and awesome the whole way through.
I… I’m just not sure I can lurk for comic-scans in good taste anymore.

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