Day: September 11, 2010

the comics industry is necrophilic

I don’t like Watchmen. I admire the care with which the book is put together, but I don’t really like it. I’m not going to get into why right now, but I just wanted to get that off my chest. Still, Alan Moore is obviously a talented writer and Watchmen was a great shot in the arm for the superhero comics industry. And yet, even though Alan Moore seems like the goose who layed the golden eggs, DC has abused him again and again.  There’s a really good interview with Alan Moore about the whole Watchmen debacle. Even if you think that some of Moore’s ideas seem paranoid, it’s still apparent that DC doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing and has no respect for its creators.

But I wanted to point out this quotation from the end of the interview. To provide some context, DC is interested in doing prequels and sequels of Watchmen and has tried to get Moore to sign off on it all by convincing him that it has “top-flight talent” ready to work on these projects. Then Moore makes this comment:

At the end of the day, if they haven’t got any properties that are valuable enough, but they have got these ‘top-flight industry creators’ that are ready to produce these prequels and sequels to WATCHMEN, well this is probably a radical idea, but could they not get one of the ‘top-flight industry creators’ to come up with an idea of their own?  Why are DC Comics trying to exploit a comic book that I wrote 25 years ago if they have got anything?  Sure they ought to have had an equivalent idea since?  I could ask about why Marvel Comics are churning out or planning to bring out my ancient MARVELMAN stories, which are even older, if they had a viable idea of their own in the quarter-century since I wrote those works.  I mean, surely that would be a much easier solution than all of this clandestine stuff?  Just simply get some of your top-flight talent to put out a book that the wider public outside of the comics field find as interesting or as appealing as the stuff that I wrote 25 years ago.  It shouldn’t be too big an ask, should it?  I wouldn’t have thought so.  And it would solve an awful lot of problems.  They must have one creator, surely, in the entire American industry that could do equivalent work to something I did 25 years ago.  It would be insulting to think that there weren’t.

The comment “why can’t they just come up with a new idea” is so perfect. I think Moore believes that the question reveals that there really isn’t any “top-flight talent” in the industry. All there are are hacks.

But really, what I think this reveals is a change that has been going on in media for quite a few years. The most obvious example is film. Look at how many movies in the past few years are remakes of older films, foreign films, or TV shows. The industry of media is no longer about creating ideas. It’s not a “dream factory” anymore (if it ever was). What the media industry wants are guaranteed money makers. And what most people like is the familiar. People want a Big Mac that tastes like a Big Mac. A Coke that tastes like a Coke. And, most people want the same thing in entertainment. And since the industry wants to make money, it caters to this desire. New ideas are not guaranteed sellers and, in fact, threaten the business model.

The idea that the industry of any medium is anti-art is nothing new. Money and art are not diametrically opposed, but often ways to make big money run counter to the desires to make real art. But what has become apparent to me is that the industry forces are actually killing the medium. To make an art form static and predictable is to make a corpse of it. The money making motivations of the industry are necrophilic. As in the case of Watchmen, the industry would rather fuck a twenty-five year-old work into the ground than put money into something genuinely new. The industry does not believe in birth, only rape.