originally published August, 2000
With DC’s announcement at San Diego and WizardWorld Chicago that it would be producing a 15th anniversary Watchmen
hardcover, loaded with additional information and original script by Alan Moore, as well as a first assortment of four Watchmen action figures, it struck some fans that perhaps, the great divide between Moore and DC may be growing a little smaller. Adding to the feeling that something between Moore and DC might be worked out was the promotional video featuring Moore and Watchmen
co-creator Dave Gibbons discussing and apparently giving their blessing to the upcoming hardcover. Most recently, given the recent axe-burying by DC and Rick Veitch, a Moore-DC reconciliation seemed even more of a possibility to fans.
When contacted by Newsarama to see if the upcoming Watchmen products, as well as the success and upcoming expansion of his America’s Best Comics
line at Wildstorm meant that he and DC were moving towards some sort of reconciliation of their differences, Moore’s answer was an unequivocal no.
“Regarding the Watchmen products, any renewed relationship with DC is not anything that people should be placing any hope in at all,” Moore told Newsarama. “I can tell you that right now, I’m having nothing to do with the Watchmen project – I completely disown it. I’m not at all interested if there are any more toys or anything at all comes out, and I shall not be cooperating with the project in any way.
“The kind of constant interference by Paul Levitz in the ABC line in general for no very good reason that I can see has soured me on any relationship with DC. I’m going to carry on the ABC books as long as I can, but I’m not interested in anything more with DC. As far as I’m concerned, the 15th anniversary of Watchmen is purely a 15th Anniversary of when DC managed to take the Watchmen property from me and Dave [Gibbons]. As such, it’s something I’m not particularly keen to celebrate.
“There’s just been a lot of stuff recently where I’ve bee trying to cooperate with DC and be friendly, but this has not been reciprocated. As far as I’m concerned my relationship with DC is, if anything, worse than it’s been in the previous ten years. I’m carrying on with the ABC line as long as I can. To talk of any renewed relationship at this point would be very far from the truth.”
Much of the belief that Moore and DC were burying the hatchet came when DC showed a videotape of Moore and Gibbons discussing Watchmen
and Moore talking about the ABC line. The tape, according to DC, will be available for retailers to use in their stores to drum up interest in the Watchmen
15th anniversary hardcover. The book will most likely cost in the neighborhood of $100.
At San Diego, DC Executive Editor Mike Carlin said he saw the hardcover and the action figures as taking “baby steps” toward an improved relationship with Moore, and added that DC would love to work with him again, and he hoped that someday it might happen, “just so long as we don’t screw up.”
As with everything, there are two sides to the videotape, and ultimately, Moore is not happy with his participation in the project. “They kind of got me to do a video for the San Diego convention which, it turns out, was under false pretenses,” Moore explains. “There were certain issues regarding the ABC books which I was waiting to be resolved, and where I though I’d made it clear that the way in which they were resolved would have a direct bearing upon how I felt towards DC or towards anything DC proposed. A decision was delayed until after I’d done the video and all the rest of it, which, is about what I’d expect. If that has given a false impression to readers that I was back with DC, I apologize, but I was laboring under a false impression at the time.”
The current disagreement between Moore and DC involves the long-delayed Tomorrow Stories
#8, which, according to Moore, contains a story that is in the public domain, and involves characters who are dead. “We did the story in good faith and it is completely non-actionable,” Moore says. “It was a true story. All the people in it are dead, but apparently Paul Levitz felt it was too risky to print it. I went through DC’s legal department, and the DC lawyers seem to be very sane, practical people. As a creator, I’ve heard for a long time what ‘lawyers’ are like, but actually speaking to Lillian Laserson, she was practical, sane, responsible, professional and logical. We went through it for an hour, taking about this six-page story, and the reference book that I’d taken most of the story from, how it’s all in the public domain and is all over the Internet, and it’s been in two or three magazines and a book. This is stuff that there’s no possible threat of litigation, which I think Lillian pretty much agreed with, and then Paul Levitz apparently said, even so, he didn’t want it to go out, which I think was the case all along. I think Lillian was a bit perplexed as to why an hour of her and my time had been wasted going through the legal ramifications of this thing when they were never very important in the first place.”
Moore's annoyance and anger at what he sees as DC interference in the ABC line are rooted in the fact that (according to an interview with Newsarama on September 7th, 1998, the day after the DC/Wildstorm purchase was announced) he was never supposed to have any kind of contact with DC over America's Best Comics. Even Moore’s paychecks were supposed to come through a dummy corporation called ‘Firewall,’ set up exclusively for the purpose of making sure Moore would never ‘do business’ with DC, as he vowed when he parted ways with the company in the late ‘80s after a battle about Watchmen merchandising rights and proper payment.
In 1998, Wildstorm founder Jim Lee and editor Scott Dunbier flew to England to discuss the deal with Moore personally. As he understood it at the time, Moore said: "There will be no dealing between me and DC, which is fine by me. Obviously, I want to keep as far away from DC as possible, and given that this has come up, the situation that Jim is offering is the best way of doing that."
#8 is the second time he and DC publisher Paul Levitz have butted heads over the line, the first being the “oversight” which allowed a public domain advertisement for a feminine hygiene product with the brand name Marvel to appear in the back of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
#5. Once it was discovered, shipment of the issues was halted, and the issues with the ad pulped.
“This [decision on Tomorrow Stories
#8] has been delayed for months now, and it finally arrived Thursday [August 10] evening, long after I’d done the video, and after DC had publicized this entire great Watchmen
15 anniversary book. Legally, DC doesn’t need my approval to bring out the toys or anything like that. They own the book, and they have exercised that option in the past 15 years. So really, as far as I’m concerned, all this stuff is without my approval. I’m not at all interested in it, or in any way contributing to publicity for it, because it’s something for DC, not something for me.
“There will be some adjustments and repercussions around Tomorrow Stories
, but I’m not sure how that’s going to fall out just yet, and probably won’t for a few weeks. Regarding the ABC books, at the moment, I want to carry on with all of them for as long as that remains possible. I’m still very excited about all the work that I’m doing with ABC, but this kind of DC thing has always been a kind of pain in the ass, and kind of lately, has become even more of one.”