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Alan Moore’s Watchmen Feud With DC Comics, Explained

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comic News Comment
Alan Moore’s Watchmen Feud With DC Comics, Explained

America’s Best Comics

Moore did return to DC Comics a decade later, albeit circuitously, as well as begrudgingly. Moore had been working regularly with Rob Liefeld’s Awesome Studios, but as the ’90s waned so too did Awesome’s fortunes. The writer struck a deal Wildstorm, then an imprint of Image Comics, to create a new universe of heroes to be illustrated by his Awesome artistic partners to ensure they continued to receive steady work. But Wildstorm owner Jim Lee sold his company to DC Comics in 1998, and with it the freshly-minted America’s Best Comics. CBR’s Brian Cronin recently explored this drama in more depth, including an explanation as to why DC owns Tom Strong but not League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

RELATED: Watchmen: Lindelof Praises Moore, Calls Series ‘Dangerous,’ ‘Timely’

While Moore was unhappy that his checks were ultimately being signed by DC, he gained assurances that he would receive no editorial interference from the publisher. But then DC pulped the entire first printing of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #5 because it contained a genuine early-20th-century advertisement for “Marvel Co.” douche, which then-DC Publisher Paul Levitz felt was too antagonistic toward the House of Ideas. A Tomorrow Stories tale critical of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was also spiked for fear of legal action.

This meddling in his domain led Moore to drop his support for Watchmen‘s 15th anniversary celebrations, and DC ultimately cancelled planned action figures, as well, despite having already shown prototypes at San Diego Comic-Con.

Moore concluded the America’s Best universe, to his satisfaction, with an apocalypse in 2005’s Promethea #32. DC has, however, continued to publish new stories with some of the characters, especially the Tom Strong family, who are due to appear in the forthcoming The Terrifics. Meanwhile, Moore took League to Top Shelf and UK publisher Knockabout Comics, where it remains.

At the Movies

The point of no return would come, though, thanks to a cascading series of misadventures seeing his work adapted to film. Moore was not creatively involved with 2001’s From Hell, based (loosely) on his and Eddie Campbell’s Jack the Ripper story, but remained generally ambivalent about the movie. 2003’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, though, caused Moore problems beyond the Sean Connery vehicle’s being an inexcusably poor representation of his book with Kevin O’Neil; a lawsuit against Warner Bros. compelled Moore to testify for ten hours that he didn’t create the graphic novel as a way for the studio to plagiarize the litigating writers. From then, he asked his name be removed from film versions of his work, including V for Vendetta and Watchmen, and his film royalties instead allocated to the artists who co-created the comics.

The breaking point with DC, though, came when V for Vendetta producer Joel Silver said in an interview leading up to the film that Moore was excited for the movie. Moore described this as “a flat lie” to the New York Times. The Times reported that Moore contacted his DC Comics editors to demand their parent company offer a full retraction of Silver’s remarks, which he felt made him look “duplicitous,” having already sworn off cooperating on films. Perhaps predictably, no retraction was forthcoming, and so ended Alan Moore’s career at DC Comics. Later, the relationship was further strained by what Moore saw as underhanded dealings regarding the Watchmen film and merchandise, and Dave Gibbons’ role as a go-between for the publisher.

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