CBR: I think one of the biggest questions readers are going to have when they hear this news is simple "Why do this?" The original "Watchmen" (gosh it sounds strange to say it that way) is a work that many consider to be just about perfect as it is, and despite having a rich world behind it, the story itself doesn't leave a lot of mysteries begging to be solved. Why do you think this kind of prequel project is a worthwhile creative undertaking for you or for anyone?
JMS: The flip-side to that question, then, is "Why do anything based on something that was well done?" It's weirdly counter-intuitive: the characters are great
, the world is terrific, we created something amazing here, so, God -- let's never ever do that again. Run away!
A lot of folks feel that these characters shouldn't be touched by anyone other than Alan, and while that's absolutely understandable on an emotional level, it's deeply flawed on a logical level. Based on durability and recognition, one could make the argument that Superman
is the greatest comics character ever created. But neither Alan nor anyone else has ever suggested that no one other than Shuster and Siegel should ever be allowed to write Superman. Alan didn't pass on being brought on to write Swamp Thing, a seminal comics character created by Len Wein, and he did a terrific job. He didn't say "No, no, I can't, that's Len's character." Nor should he have. Of course, when the news hits there will be a lot of talk about what the original "Watchmen" creators make of all this with Alan Moore having largely washed his hands of the property and Dave Gibbons giving his blessing to the new project via DC's PR. Do either of their opinions impact how you'll approach your work?
Again: on an emotional level, I get it. But by the same token, Alan has spent most of the last decade writing some very, very good stories about characters created by other writers, including Alice (from Wonderland), Dorothy (from Oz), Wendy (from Peter Pan), as well as Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Jekyll and Hyde and Professor Moriarty. I think one loses a little of the moral high ground to say, "I can write characters created by Jules Verne, HG Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle and Frank Baum, but it's wrong for anyone else to write my characters."
The lack of his blessings has no more impact on the actual storytelling process than would be the case if we had his blessings. The story has to stand on its own. A crappy story wouldn't be helped by having his blessings, and a good one isn't made better for it. Would it be nice? Sure. I'd love it. Again, I have always been a massive fan of Alan's work. Back when I worked on "The New Twilight Zone," I tracked him down and, after pulling every string I could find, managed to get him on the phone to ask if he'd please consider writing an episode. (He said no.) Alan is the best of us. I've said repeatedly, online and at conventions, that on a scale from 1-10, Alan is a full-blown 10. I've not only said it, more importantly, I've always believed it.