Watchmen

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Postby Moderator » Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:21 am

Tom C wrote:I've been around for a while. I rarely post though.


Yes, and you've got a lot of catching up to do. So get busy, Mister.
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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Wed Oct 22, 2008 2:08 pm

So I keep seeing stories about how Alan Moore took back the rights to this property in the past, and how he has loudly announced that he will "never" watch the current movie in post-production.

Can anyone explain how Moore could have no control over who got the rights to his story and what they do with it? Of anyone, I would think he would have retained control of his creation.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby Moderator » Wed Oct 22, 2008 2:23 pm

I can't reconcile "take back" with "current film" -- particularly since two studios are litigating oveer the rights.

It's probable the film rights originate with DC Comics and not Moore, but again, how would he "take them back" if that were the case???
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Postby Moderator » Wed Oct 22, 2008 2:31 pm

Not that I want to endorse Wikipedia, the Watchmen entry indicates DC owned the rights from a complicated "reversion" clause that Moore claims swindled him out of the ownership.
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Postby Alan Coil » Thu Oct 23, 2008 11:25 am

Only I know the true story.

I wish. But.

From memory, I can tell you that the rights to Watchmen belong to DC as long as it stays in print. That's what the original contract says. DC, pleasantly surprised, has kept Watchmen in print ever since.

Moore either assumed that it would never stay in print, or that the contract meant only for the length of the first print run.

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Postby David Loftus » Thu Oct 23, 2008 11:35 am

Man.

And I thought comic creators getting screwed by publishers went out with Superman . . . or the Sixties, at least.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby Moderator » Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:00 pm

Oddly enough, I'm in my third or fourth read-through now. (Figured it wuld be a good idea to refresh the source material before the movie.)

My thought is that DC did not deliberately screw Moore, but took advantage of the clause once they discovered that the book had "legs".

The concept of the graphic novel was only in its infancy when Watchmen changed the game. Previous to this series, virtually all multi-issue story arcs -- both within larger books as well as stand-alones -- began and concluded, and were never collected into a single issue (the "novel" format).

With the expectation of only mild success, DC likely phrased the clause to revert the rights after what was expected to be an initial run and maybe a handful of collected books were sold.

Whoudda thought it would still be in print decades later? That isn't how the comics industry worked at the time.

The problem with breaking new ground is that the contracts probably depended on the ground staying in one piece.

Was he deliberately screwed from the outset? I doubt it. Did DC take advantage of a clause no one really bothered about beforehand? Yeah, probably.

Harlan's buddy Len Wein probably has an opinion about this, since he edited the original series. Anybody know if he ever wrote about it?
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Postby robochrist » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:02 pm

Back then, even the publishing game was still in its infancy.

If memory serves, comics artists and writers were still by-and-large being shafted by the big contracts.

This was even before Todd McFarlane started his own independent Image company. I THINK.

Also, when Watchmen was in its initial comics format I did little more than leaf thru a few issues (don't ask me why). Yet, I could see something new happening; and after only the first few issues I was hearing endearing feedback from early die hards.

Only in the graphic novel format did I dive into the piece. I couldn't put it down. I re-read more times than I could count. I kept revisiting key highlights (Rorschach in prison, the last chapter, Dr. Manhattan's consciousness shifting in time, etc). With such narrative richness I'm glad I picked it up as a novel. It allowed me to explore it in ways I don't think I COULD have in the regular comics series format.

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Postby Moderator » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:41 pm

I have to admit, it's occurred to me to go into my garage and haul the original edition out of the box and pop that sucker onto eBay.

Not sure what they're going for, but it ought to be a little more than I paid for it.
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Postby John E Williams » Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:39 am

A lot of interesting comments here.

David Loftus: "And I thought comic creators getting screwed by publishers went out with Superman . . . or the Sixties, at least."

The screwing of creators by publishers has been hale and hearty since the 30s, through the 60s, and all the way up to today, and doesn't show many signs of stopping any time soon.

Steve Barber: "The concept of the graphic novel was only in its infancy when Watchmen changed the game. Previous to this series, virtually all multi-issue story arcs -- both within larger books as well as stand-alones -- began and concluded, and were never collected into a single issue (the "novel" format)."

My main problem with this paragraph is mostly one of terminology. If one defines "graphic novel" as a comic executed and published as a standalone novel -- in my view, its technically correct definition -- then the "concept" of the format was most certainly not in any sort of "infancy" in 1985. Artists like Jack Jaxon, Gil Kane, Will Eisner and Jack Katz had experimented with and refined the graphic novel format long before WATCHMEN. And Marvel and DC had been reprinting comics in book form since at least the mid-70s, mostly chronological collections.

What we're talking about here I think is format (novel) versus packaging (trade paperback collection). What was in its infancy in 1985 was not graphic novels but the Direct Market, which could support not only specialized, slick-format comics like WATCHMEN (and DARK KNIGHT, and RONIN) , but also pricey book collections of same. Back then these books were seen as ancillary products to the soft pamphlet comics, whereas today they are the main deal. ("I'll wait for the trade" is a common refrain among modern comics readers.)

Like everyone else, I am unsure of Alan Moore's legal status re: WATCHMEN (and let's not forget the incredible work of Dave Gibbons on that series, which from the looks of the film appears to be suriving more intact than Moore's script). However, I do know that the series as conceived by Moore would have featured defunct MLJ/Mighty Comics characters like the Shield and the Fly, the copyrights to which had been secured by DC. It was Dick Giordano who suggested to Moore that he create original characters who could be killed off or altered safely, rather than copyrighted characters that DC might still make money from. So it's not as though Moore proceeded from a sense of creative ownership on the project in the first place -- like Frank Miller, he was fascinated with messing around in DC's toybox and I don't think it occurred to him in a million years that WATCHMEN would make a dime past its miniseries existence. He was, in other words, working quite contentedly for a time in the world of work-for-hire, until even he (David Loftus take note) was screwed over by DC.

robochrist: "If memory serves, comics artists and writers were still by-and-large being shafted by the big contracts.

This was even before Todd McFarlane started his own independent Image company. I THINK."

Image was started by McFarlane, Jim Lee, Jim Valentino, Erik Larsen, and a few other guys whose names escape me at the moment. They were all (except Valentino) popular Marvel comics artists who demanded more money and creative control over their work and when they didn't get it decided to go off and form their own company. Thus were the creative rights of artists secured -- that is, as long as the artists in question were McFarlane, Jim Lee, Jim Valentino, Erik Larsen, and a few other guys whose names escape me at the moment. In other words, they left Marvel to start their own Marvel, and while it made them rich and famous it certainly did little to further the cause of artistic freedom in general, and in fact in many cases allowed them to be big-contract shafter types themselves. Look no further for proof than Neil Gaiman's legendary lawsuit against McFarlane over Miracleman and a character Gaiman created for McFarlane's SPAWN comic.

This has been another edition of "John E's Know-It-All Corner".

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Postby John E Williams » Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:59 am

P.S. Sorry, but I forgot to address this part of Steve's post:

"Previous to this series, virtually all multi-issue story arcs -- both within larger books as well as stand-alones -- began and concluded, and were never collected into a single issue (the "novel" format)."

WATCHMEN wasn't a multi-issue story arc, it was a standalone miniseries. Otherwise, multi-issue story arcs usually lasted only a few issues, not a year's worth like WATCHMEN. It was a quaintly held belief back then that long, complicated continuity would turn away potential new readers, so depending on who was in charge story arcs were either very short or were non-existent.

Nowadays of course, mainstream superhero comics are nothing but long, complicated continuity, and there is no such thing anymore as potential new readers.

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Postby Alan Coil » Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:31 pm

Barber wrote:I have to admit, it's occurred to me to go into my garage and haul the original edition out of the box and pop that sucker onto eBay.

Not sure what they're going for, but it ought to be a little more than I paid for it.


Individual issues of Watchmen may go for $10 - $20 each, depending on condition.

The completely black colored hardcover edition with slipcase by Graffitti goes for around $200. I know for a fact that 3 of them went for that about a month ago--mine was one of them. I needed the money.

Even the first edition of the recent Absolute Edition is selling at a premium--even though newer printings are and will continue to be available.

Sell high, buy low. If you want to sell your copy(ies), do so soon. Then replace with the newest Absolute Edition or even cheaper the latest paperback edition (at $19.95).

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Postby Moderator » Mon Nov 17, 2008 2:47 pm

A great article abut the legal wrangling between Fox and Warner over who owns the production rights to the already-completed WATCHMEN film.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/movies/la-ca-watchmen16-2008nov16,0,5337353.story

It contains a phrase that turned my blood cold, however:

"They are not just fighting over 'Watchmen,' " entertainment attorney Mel Avanzado, who is not involved in the litigation, said of the duel between Fox and Warners. "They are also fighting over sequel rights. Whoever controls the franchise probably controls quite a bit."


Sequel?

Franchise?

:shock:
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Postby David Loftus » Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:05 pm

Barber wrote:Sequel?

Franchise?



On the one hand, it suggests they expect this one to be a big hit.

On the other. . . .
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby Ezra Lb. » Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:56 pm

Sequel?

Franchise?


Oh yeah you had to figure Abbot & Costello would show up at some point...

Peoples I still chuckle when I hear the words "Graphic Novel". This is a jumped up buzz word so adults won't feel stupid reading comic books. I heard someone the other day refer to "non-graphic" novels, you know...with words...

-sigh-
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
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