JMSNews Community Site

Go Back   JMSNews Forums > Discussion > Comics

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rating: Thread Rating: 11 votes, 2.91 average. Display Modes
  #16  
Old 03-14-2012, 01:29 PM
Jan's Avatar
Jan Jan is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 11,168
For those who may not be following in real time, there was a long interview with Alan Moore that came out yesterday where he made some comments about the folks writing the "Before Watchmen" books. JMS thought little of those comments and said so which, of course, began one of those long threads, though somewhat more civilized than last time. At the end, JMS posted this which I thought would interest folks:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fans of J. Michael Straczynski
Several responses to comments above.

I have no problem with people disagreeing with anything I say. But that doesnÆt give someone the right to come on here and be abusive and insulting to me or anyone else. So yeah, you pull that shit, you get banned. I love the hypocrisy of ôI came in here and said shitty things about you and you wonÆt let me keep on doing it as much as I want so you suck.ö When you are on someoneÆs page you are a guest in that personÆs house. Feel free to argue strenuously but save the insults for elsewhere.

Regarding someone else doing B5...I addressed this previously, and at some length. The quick recap: if Warners asked me to do another B5, and I refused, no matter how much they offered to pay me, no matter that they wouldÆve given me complete creative freedom, and they waited 25 years for me to change my mind, then finally went on without me...theyÆre right to do so. DC wouldÆve loved to have Alan do more Watchmen for them, and said so. They even offered him the ownership of the characters if heÆd do so. If heÆd wanted to do it, they wouldÆve cut him a check so massive it wouldÆve dimmed the lights at DC for a week. He chose not to do so. ThatÆs his choice, thatÆs not someone doing it to him.

I should point out that the discussion turns into this endlessly-repeating cycle. It starts with: Alan created these characters, he owns them, DC canÆt do them. Then itÆs pointed out that DC does own them. Then it becomes that the legalities donÆt matter, Alan is the creator and he should have the right to control whatÆs done by and with his characters. Then you point out that Alan has profited mightily by using characters created by other writers, in ways the creators wouldnÆt want, and they come back with well, theyÆre public domain, itÆs legal for him to use them. They argue that Watchmen is a complete work, so his characters shouldnÆt be used, and you point out that the characters heÆs using from books by other writers were also complete, finished works, but somehow thatÆs different. So you point out that itÆs just as legal for DC to use the characters as it is for Alan to use the ones he uses...and they go back to the creator wouldnÆt want them used that way...round and round and round. And then today you get AlanÆs explanation that heÆs not borrowing these characters, which is bad, heÆs stealing them, which is good. Which is specious, spurious and a distinction without a difference. It would certainly not matter one whit to the writers who originally created those characters.

ôBut what they would think doesnÆt matter because he can legally use them.ö

And further and further down the rabbit hole we go....

To the comment by Tom that Alan's observations about the Before Watchmen writers are just sarcasm...sorry, thatÆs the typical explanation for abusive troll behavior that IÆve seen online for decades. ItÆs the ôI was just being funnyö defense when there was nothing funny in the statement whatsoever. ItÆs not sarcasm, itÆs mean-spirited trollish behavior and I would expect better of Alan.

Finally, also to TomÆs comment above regarding contracts...even though your questions have been on the discourteous side, IÆm going to give you the benefit of a courteous and very lengthy explanation.
People tend to conflate art and business when they are two very different things, and if youÆre going to survive as any kind of artist you have to be as much of a businessman as you are a writer, artist, director, or performer. Part of that business knowledge is the realization that as you go on, and grow in your craft, you can make incrementally better deals over time. Because corporations are not there to be your friend. They are there to make deals that are as beneficial to them, and non-helpful to you, as they can get away with. This is every company, from movie studios to book publishers to insurance brokers.

Example: on one of my first book contracts, I caught several things that were not only not in my interest, they were contrary to nearly every standard publishing deal out there. I called them on it, and they faxed out a new boiler-plate with the other terms within minutes. They already had it in hand. They knew the terms were not what they should be, but if I didnÆt catch them...too bad. I did, and they had the next version literally right there, ready go to.

When I made the deal for Babylon 5 with Warner Bros., it was my first-ever TV series deal. And I got hosed. I knew I was getting hosed when I signed it because I made an effort to read the damned thing, but I also knew that as my first such deal, I didnÆt have the leverage to get anything better. So you man up, accept the terms and move on, knowing that the next one will be a bit better.

And it was. The next deal was incrementally better. The next series deal, better still. I just signed a development deal on a new series that is the best IÆve had.

Let me illuminate to you what that means.

If you applied my current contract to B5, I would now be sitting on over one hundred million dollars.

But under the terms of my first contract on B5, I have never received a penny in profit. Never have, never will.

Given that amount of money, in theory I have several orders of magnitude more reason than Alan to be pissed off at Warners. But I knew what I was getting into, and accepted it as part of the process. I donÆt sit here and yell at Warners about it (though I donÆt mind good-naturedly tweaking them about it), and IÆve worked with them since then on both TV and film projects, because I know that each time I can get incrementally better conditions. Because EVERY writer and every artist goes through this process. Your contract for your fourth big novel is better than your first. Your first sale of a piece of art is less than for your sixtieth. ItÆs. The. Process.

You accept the necessity of crummy contracts early in your career and for the next little bit because thatÆs the nature of the business. You have to be a grown-up about it.

Alan has said he didnÆt read his Watchmen contract. DidnÆt get a proper attorney. He did not, in short, do what any artist/businessman should do when a contract shows up. (Not that it probably wouldÆve made much difference, because I suspect [but clearly do not know for certain] that it was the best contract he couldÆve gotten at that point in his career. Maybe he couldÆve improved it, maybe not, again I donÆt know and donÆt pretend to.)

Point is, if youÆre not going to take an interest in the terms of your deal, then thatÆs not a matter of being screwed by DC. ThatÆs a self-inflicted wound.

Look, let me step back just a moment from this discussion for a personal aside. IÆm a writer, in the same profession as Alan. I have always been a fan of his work, and an advocate of his artistry. I hate having to be on this side of the discussion. I hate it a lot. If I had the resources, IÆd give him twenty million dollars a year and tell him to just go off and write whatever he wants, knowing it would be amazing. But for as much of a genius as he is û and he is a massive genius û to be a genius is not always to be right. I cannot say that he is wrong on an emotional basis because he is entitled to feel what he feels; nobody outside can get a vote on what any of us feel.

But as much as I really hate saying it...when it comes to how heÆs handled some of the Watchmen stuff, heÆs wrong. I wish to hell he wasnÆt. But he is.

And thatÆs a goddamn shame...because the man is one of the best writers this business has ever seen.
Jan
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 03-14-2012, 02:22 PM
David Panzer's Avatar
David Panzer David Panzer is offline
Bending rules since 1978
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Memphis
Posts: 984
I did like this part of the interview:

Quote:
KA: In Watchmen, the past that's unspoken in the characters' lives is meant to be just that--hinted at and unstated. That's part of the story. You're not supposed to know everything that happened before.

AM: You're told all that you need to know, and that's as much as exists.
__________________
RIP Coach Larry Finch
Thank you Memphis Grizzlies for a great season.
Play like your fake girlfriend died today - new Notre Dame motivational sign
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 03-19-2012, 10:42 AM
Doom Shepherd's Avatar
Doom Shepherd Doom Shepherd is offline
Confirmed User
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Canonsburg, PA
Posts: 248
Quote:
Originally Posted by WillieStealAndHow View Post
I did like this part of the interview:
That reminds me of Delenn's little statement about Minbari communication, and why she reads Universe Today's "Eye on Minbar" section.

Sometimes, being told "what [you] need to know... and no more" ain't so hot.
__________________
"It's hard being an evil genius when everybody else is so stupid." -- Quantum Crook, Casey and Andy Webcomic
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 03-19-2012, 03:52 PM
David Panzer's Avatar
David Panzer David Panzer is offline
Bending rules since 1978
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Memphis
Posts: 984
I liked her quote as well. However, when a 12 issue series spends half of that telling the past of the characters, what else is there to uncover?
__________________
RIP Coach Larry Finch
Thank you Memphis Grizzlies for a great season.
Play like your fake girlfriend died today - new Notre Dame motivational sign
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 03-20-2012, 04:14 AM
Jan's Avatar
Jan Jan is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 11,168
Some good interviews about the subject from over the WonderCon weekend:

http://comics.ign.com/articles/122/1220758p1.html

http://comicbook.com/blog/2012/03/17...fore-watchmen/

http://geek-news.mtv.com/2012/03/17/...-and-len-wein/

http://www.aintitcool.com/node/54290

I'm sure there are others focusing on other writers & artists, too.

JMS talks about it a little in the video of his panel at WonderCon at about the 35 minute mark:

http://www.aintitcool.com/node/54290
(and right after is the question I asked and the story it prompted )

Jan
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 03-21-2012, 12:25 PM
Doom Shepherd's Avatar
Doom Shepherd Doom Shepherd is offline
Confirmed User
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Canonsburg, PA
Posts: 248
Quote:
Originally Posted by WillieStealAndHow View Post
I liked her quote as well. However, when a 12 issue series spends half of that telling the past of the characters, what else is there to uncover?
The rest of the story. Certainly, you CAN tell a life's backstory in six issues, but rarely can you tell the whole life's story.

Reading different topics around here, I kind of see that JMS and AM have both said similar things of their respective universes: someone posted recently that "JMS has said that it was the story he wanted to tell, and that it has been told."

Which is much like what Alan said.

Except in JMS's case, despite the fact that that story has been told, he can still manage to find more stories in the same universe. I'm pretty sure that if he was so inclined, he could tell the story of the Dilgar War, and afterwards, and give us "early-life" stories of our favorite characters, and still have them be interesting despite all the B5 backstory that's already happened.
__________________
"It's hard being an evil genius when everybody else is so stupid." -- Quantum Crook, Casey and Andy Webcomic
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 03-21-2012, 08:34 PM
David Panzer's Avatar
David Panzer David Panzer is offline
Bending rules since 1978
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Memphis
Posts: 984
What rest of the story? The characters were essentially McGuffins. The entire point of the series was "Does the world need superheroes?".
__________________
RIP Coach Larry Finch
Thank you Memphis Grizzlies for a great season.
Play like your fake girlfriend died today - new Notre Dame motivational sign
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 03-22-2012, 05:46 AM
Joe Nazzaro Joe Nazzaro is offline
Confirmed User
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 866
I think that's a bit of an oversimplification. Using that rationale, you could probably declare most characters to be McGuffins to the larger story. In my opinion, the big conceit of Watchmen was tweaking a bunch of moribund Charlton characters and giving them a slightly different spin. In fact, if you look at a few of the deluxe editions that feature early artwork for the series, some of Dave Gibbons' sketches still feature the original Charlton character names. In a way, it's the same conceit that went into Marvel's Squadrom Supreme, which ironically became JMS's Supreme Power book.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 03-22-2012, 08:50 AM
David Panzer's Avatar
David Panzer David Panzer is offline
Bending rules since 1978
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Memphis
Posts: 984
But when the characters in Watchmen symbolize various superhero archetypes while the concept of the superhero is deconstructed, I would think McGuffin is apt.
__________________
RIP Coach Larry Finch
Thank you Memphis Grizzlies for a great season.
Play like your fake girlfriend died today - new Notre Dame motivational sign
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 03-23-2012, 12:24 PM
lotjx lotjx is offline
Confirmed User
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 178
Will, is pretty dead on. The 12 issue story covers a lot and I do mean a lot of the characters' past. What is not said is not needed to be said or is not important enough to be said. We might get to the point where I could imagine an issue of Nite Owl cooking. Nothing else, just cooking for himself, probably beans. Dr. Manhattan talking a walk too. I just don't see the need for any of this.

This is a money grab, pure and simple. Anyone saying otherwise is fooling themselves. Yet, this is what comic companies do, they try to make money. You can't blame them for being what they are, but lets not sugarcoat this either.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 03-23-2012, 12:54 PM
Jan's Avatar
Jan Jan is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 11,168
Okay, I keep seeing this bit about what's 'needed' or that the new stuff is 'unnecessary' and I've got to say that I just don't get it at all. Since when is *any* story 'necessary'?? What difference does that make as long as it's a good story?

B5 certainly didn't 'need' any of the movies. None of the trilogies were 'necessary' at all. Did they enhance the show and the universe and the characters? Most of the fans I know agree that they do (even if they can't all agree on which did what ).

As for:
Quote:
This is a money grab, pure and simple. Anyone saying otherwise is fooling themselves. Yet, this is what comic companies do, they try to make money. You can't blame them for being what they are, but lets not sugarcoat this either.
Is there some reason why anybody thinks that a corporation is going to do something that won't make them money? And is that supposed to be a wrong thing? There's nothing to sugarcoat, it's simply business. The question is, will they give good value for the money? From what I've seen so far, DC and the writers intend to do just that and to treat the source material with the respect it deserves.

Jan
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 03-23-2012, 02:36 PM
Joe Nazzaro Joe Nazzaro is offline
Confirmed User
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 866
Again, I'm sure this doesn't need to be said, but nobody is forcing anybody to read these books. If you're happy with Watchmen as a complete, self-contained story, just don't buy the prequel books and no harm done. That being said, bearing in mind the name on this forum, it seems reasonably safe to assume that a fair number of people are going to sample at least two of those books...
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 03-24-2012, 07:48 AM
David Panzer's Avatar
David Panzer David Panzer is offline
Bending rules since 1978
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Memphis
Posts: 984
I'm not saying they're not 'needed' or 'unnecessary'. I'm just asking 'why' since the original series spent 6 entire issues telling of the characters past, plus there was additional pages at the end that added more backstory. That has gone unanswered from those involved.
__________________
RIP Coach Larry Finch
Thank you Memphis Grizzlies for a great season.
Play like your fake girlfriend died today - new Notre Dame motivational sign
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 03-24-2012, 08:38 AM
Jan's Avatar
Jan Jan is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 11,168
Obviously they thought there was more. Did you watch the video of the JMS spotlight panel at WonderCon? He does talk some about his approach and it may have something to say to your question.

Jan
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 03-24-2012, 09:55 AM
David Panzer's Avatar
David Panzer David Panzer is offline
Bending rules since 1978
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Memphis
Posts: 984
I looked at the section where he discusses it, but that didn't really answer it. In the end, if the series does well, so be it. If not, so be it. There's just nothing there that screams 'I have to read this'
__________________
RIP Coach Larry Finch
Thank you Memphis Grizzlies for a great season.
Play like your fake girlfriend died today - new Notre Dame motivational sign
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 08:55 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.