Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Smiling faces sometimes lie

I haven't read them all by any means, but I can tell you right away that you won't find a more cogent response to the announcement of the Watchmen prequels than this one by Lance Parkin. That just about nails it.

Alan Moore's daughter Leah posted a reaction on Twitter that points out the real issue: DC Comics -- and Marvel, for that matter -- don't actually want new characters or properties. They literally wouldn't know how to promote or sell anything new anymore. New things are a real pain for a media corporation. Honestly, the very last thing they want is to publish a new original character created by Darwyn Cooke.

For that matter, the only reason either company has invested money in buying up other publishers' existing characters over the past couple of decades is to keep them away from some publisher who might be able to do something productive with them. Consider the strange tale of Marvelman for instance. There may have been a time when DC and Marvel were like EMI Records, almost accidentally enriching us all by recording acts like the Beatles and the Pink Floyd. Now DC and Marvel aren't even record companies with a roster of oldies and nostalgic tribute bands anymore; now they're companies in the business of selling Beatle wigs, who put out records only to create the illusion they're still a vital part of culture.

And yes, I've been trying to figure out how I can parlay this news into a lucrative volume of Hours Before Midnight: Twelve Essays Prior To Watchmen but so far I just can't see it working. Is there some potential I'm missing? I would do it in a heartbeat. Suggestions gladly accepted!

(I'm still on blogging sabbatical but felt a need to acknowledge today's announcement somehow for reasons that should be obvious. Makes a great Valentine's Day gift!)

1 comment:

  1. I don't think it's quite true that Marvel and DC don't want new properties.

    The problem is that for Marvel and DC, the real money is in licensing the characters for films. Marvel probably made more money out of the first Spiderman film that it did out of the entire run on printed comics. Spidey films after are gravy.

    So to a large extent, Marvel and DC use the printed books as test beds to develop characters that might *become* licensable. They are interested in future franchises that might become hit films.

    When you think in those terms, Marvel/DC's actions are understandable. Movies are extraordinarily expensive to produce, and those who do so have a strong preference for something that has proven it can sell because it already has. I'm not enthusiastic about Before the Watchmen, and I don't blame Alan Moore for being unhappy, but I understand why the folks doing it think it's a good idea.


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