Let’s say Viking Press fucked Thomas Pynchon out of the rights to “Gravity’s Rainbow.” Then, after twenty five years of elaborate bullshit and scummy and scammy attempts to trick him into working for them again they come to the conclusion that no, he’s pissed and no he work work for them again. So then they hire… let’s say Stephen King to write “Before Gravity’s Rainbow”.
Straight up, that’s exactly what’s happened, if you replace Viking Press with DC Comics, Thomas Pynchon with Alan Moore and “Gravity’s Rainbow” with “Watchmen”. Oh, and replace Stephen King with that little whore JMS.
I’ve been turning it over in my mind ever since it was announced. I as pissed to begin with. I wondered if I would grow less angry as time went on. Nope. Didn’t happen. If anything, I’ve gotten more enraged.
No. I will not be buying “Before Watchmen”—in fact, I will not be buying anything from DC Comics for a good long time. This isn’t a boycott, strictly, I just can’t morally justify giving these idiots money, especially when there’s publishers which are not terrible out there (like say… Dark Horse. They’ve done nothing but make good business and art decisions for the last few years).
The thing that made “Watchmen” unique among other comic books is that it was created as a piece of literature. It’s art. The vast majority of comics are conceived as disposable entertainment. Maybe a half dozen books put out by Marvel and DC combined have any literary pretensions at all, and that’s probably an overstatement by an order of magnitude. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, except that most of them are written for dumb, homophobic, misogynistic sperg lords, but even in these late, dark days of the Second Shit Age a few flecks of corn have floated to the surface.
But basically my objection to the majority of DC’s outputs that reading them makes me feel stupid. I don’t mean that they’re above my reading level—god forbid. There are infants who are too smart for the majority of DC Comics’ publications.
With these books DC Comics is straight up saying “We think our readership is composed entirely of idiots”.Yeah, you’ve got “Animal Man” and um er ah… “Wonder Woman” is sometimes good, I guess. Action Comics—almost forgot that one, and I shouldn’t. The last issue featured a parallel universe Superman stolen by a money-crazed corporation and becoming an insane monster. Oh, and I was really looking forward to China Mieville’s “Dial H for Hero”, but here’s the thing.
I feel like a dickhead giving them money.
With “Before Watchmen” it feels like they’re saying “Hey comic book creators and readers—FUCK YOU! You’re stupid enough to buy this shit!”
It’s fair enough that DC Comics views the content they own as something to be mined mercilessly. They own it. They can do what they want with it (though to be fair, DC Comics stole “Watchmen” from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and if they lawyered up this wouldn’t have happened). But they don’t understand where the popularity of these works stem from.
With “Watchmen” it’s popularity comes from the inherent quality of the work and the fact that it’s finite—complete in one volume. Vanishingly few comics can say that.
As far as creators go—DC did at least try to throw their “A” talent at this. No Grant Morrison—that’s probably because he has too much self respect to throw some lipstick on Rorschach and call it a day. I think Darwyn Cooke is pretty badly overrated, but at least he’s better than James Robinson. Azarello will swing for the fences, but he’s so far back in the batting box that even if he connects (unlikely) the ball won’t go much past the infield. JMS…he’s the only one of the creators that I haven’t lost respect for… because I never had any to begin with. As far as the artists are concerned, they’re all good. Better than Dave Gibbons, though his art was perfectly suited to “Watchmen”.
This is all just another pathetic marketing gimmick, just like the New 52. Comic books can be so much more. I’m sick of this bullshit.
I want to believe in comics as a medium and an artform. So DC Comics—I’m dropping all my books from you. No more Animal Man. No more Action Comics.
And I beg you all, gentle readers—you don’t have to go so far. Just don’t give them money for “Before Watchmen”.
And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to reward companies that get it—companies that can balance art and commodity. So buy a bunch of stuff from Dark Horse. And if you want to see what the New 52 should have been (dusting off lame old characters and making them good) you should hunt down the Awesome Relaunch books. Just look for the Rob Liefeld covers—I know, I know. But he doesn’t actually have anything to do with the interior content and the good covers have probably already been bought up.