Don’t Make It Happen: Sign The Petition Against A ‘Watchmen’ Prequel
By Hunter Camp
Friday, December 30th, 2011 at 12:00 pm
Okay, so there are a lot of rumors circulating across the Internet that concerns a work that many a comic book reader holds dearly in their hearts. And that comic book work is Watchmen. Now, are they Spielberg-ing by replacing The Comedian’s gun with a walkie-talkie? No. But the rumor is that we’ll be seeing a Watchmen prequel comic from DC Comics sooner rather than later. But, there is a petition for that.
The rumor has been circulating for quite some time now, and the leading source of that information has been from Bleeding Cool. You see, Bleeding Cool likes to stir the proverbial pot of information on the comics Internet and until recently there’s been no confirmation from any source that this series was going to happen. Now, when I say “until recently,” I mean that there has now been some unofficial confirmation from the DC Comics legal department. On Christmas day, Bleeding Cool ran a story about the concept art by J.G. Jones and Andy and Joe Kubert from the Watchmen prequel that featured The Comedian and Nite Owl [BC has removed the artwork in question at both links at the request DC legal]. But at the time of publishing there were many different things that these pieces of art could be. These pieces of art could easily have been fan commissions or just simply the artists’ recreation of two iconic characters from one of the most highly praised comics of all time. But seemingly inadvertently, DC has confirmed the real intent for these pieces of art. If these pieces were not legitimate, DC would have turned a blind eye to the work in question. And of course, since Bleeding Cool is Bleeding Cool they posted the letter, which I’ve posted here below, pretty much verifies everything:
It has come to our attention that you have impermissibly and without authorization posted assets containing unpublished intellectual property owned by DC Entertainment. We do not need to belabor the unlawful nature of this action (which could not have taken place without the breach of a confidentiality obligation), and demand that those assets be immediately taken down and no further postings of this nature transpire. This demand is made without limitation of DC Entertainment’s rights or remedies, all of which are expressly reserved.
Very truly yours,
AMY E. GENKINS
Senior Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs
Now even though Bleeding Cool refers to these as “cover art,” we still don’t know the intent of the images. But as stated previously, it does confirm DC’s ownership of the images.
Now the Internet, being the Internet — more specifically, Alan David Doane — has taken it upon themselves to make a petition, because you know, those always work. Right now, the petition only has 125 of the 1,000 requested signers. Here’s Doane’s argument:
Writer Alan Moore co-created Watchmen and signed a contract with DC Comics that under normal industry practices of the time would have seen control of the work revert to Moore and artist Dave Gibbons after the work had gone out of print for a period of time, as was the case with every DC graphic novel created under a similar contract up until Watchmen. Because of the unprecedented quality and success of Watchmen, DC has never allowed the work to go out of print, and therefore has retained legal control of Watchmen for decades longer than anyone at the time could have imagined they would have. We recognize that DC has the legal right to act as they have, but believe that their ongoing stewardship of Watchmen has been ethically dubious at best, and morally reprehensible at worst.
We, the undersigned recognize the rights of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons as co-creators of Watchmen, and we strongly object to DC’s continued marketing of this property against the intent of the original contract and the wishes of one of its creators. Further, we abhor DC’s frequent attempts to knowingly act in opposition to Moore’s wishes, and their attempts to profit off of Watchmen merchandise without paying royalties to the work’s creators.
Until such a time as DC Comics can make things right with Moore and reach an accord in which he approves of and endorses further Watchmen sequels, we ask DC to act ethically and in the spirit and intent of the original contract and cease any plans to create derivative works without the permission and approval of the creators, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. We further ask that all writers and artists refuse to work on any derivative works related to Watchmen until DC, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons are all in agreement on the creation of new Watchmen properties.
And that’s just fine. People should totally have the right to express how irritated they are with a decision that a company is making. I wholeheartedly support that, but in absolutely no way am I surprised that this petition only has the amount that it does. And the reason for that is simply that as much as people don’t want to read a Watchmen prequel comic, they totally want a Watchmen prequel project. Or at least something along those lines. There have been numerous comics that have been bastardized by corporations, and screwing over creators is a time-honored tradition in the comic book industry. You think Jack Kirby’s family doesn’t want the rights to The Fantastic Four? You’re kidding yourself. Not to mention the whole Superman debacle. And as much as what the terms of the contract seemed to imply at the time of conception, the fact is that DC has never broken agreement. It’s unfortunate, yes, but they have every legal right to publish new material. It’s happened before, and I guarantee you that since this is apparently real, it’s not going anywhere. If they’ve started the process, it’s going to happen. That may seem a little bit cynical, but let’s be honest with each other.
But if you agree with Doane go ahead and sign the petition. I wholeheartedly agree with its sentiment. I don’t want to see Watchmen with Lucasvision. There’s not even the slightest chance, even with the greatest of writers, that the Watchmen prequels could be worth reading. So, I’m even going to be signing this, but instead of, or in addition to, signing the petition, we should all be signing a pledge that says that will not buy the finished product. Because, honestly, as nice as it is for us to tell DC Comics that we don’t want to see a Watchmen prequel comic, it won’t matter until it sells horribly and they cancel the series. So, do that, too.