At this point even people who don’t exactly know who Alan Moore is are
aware that he doesn’t want anything to do with the movies made from his
comics. He is always very happy to talk about how much he hates the
adaptations of his works, and is also very happy to tell people that he
took his name off the V For Vendetta and Watchmen films and gave his
share of the money to the artists on those books. On some levels I get
where Alan Moore is coming from – I’ve seen both From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – but on the other hand I think he’s also coming from a place of major hypocrisy.

“I increasingly fear that nothing good can come of almost any
Moore recently told Entertainment Weekly while holding
forth on how little interest he has in the Watchmen movie (beyond
talking about how little interest he has in it, I suppose). That
statement is weird to me when taken in the context of the two latest
Alan Moore comics I’ve purchased: Lost Girls and The League of
Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier
. Has anyone told Alan Moore
that he’s essentially doing adaptations?

Well, technically what he’s doing is really fanfic – extending the
adventures of beloved characters – and slashfic – making beloved
characters have explicit sex – but let’s be kind and not lump him in
with the people drawing pictures of Lion-O fucking Snarf on Usenet.
Alan Moore is rather angry about the guy who directed 300 taking a
crack at his work, but does he think JM Barrie would have been okay
with Peter Pan cumming on Wendy’s stomach while her brothers look on
and jerk off? Does he think that L Frank Baum, were he asked, would
like the idea of Dorothy taking a facial from a soldier who was eating
her out? I’m quite certain that opium addiction was never one of H
Rider Haggard’s plans for Allan Quatermain.

It’s important to note that I think The League of Extraordinary
is quite wonderful and that Lost Girls is actually pretty
brilliant as both deconstruction and as a self-conscious work of
pornography. But it’s also important to note that both of these works,
arguably Moore’s most important of the last decade, are based on other
people’s characters and situations. While Moore isn’t exactly adapting
the works of these authors, he’s appropriating them for his own ends.

In the best of hands, that’s what an adaptation does. I get excited
when I see filmmakers putting their own stamp on material, in the way
that a good band can put their own stamp on a cover song. Moore seems
to be coming from the same place as the fanboys who bitch about
unfaithful adaptations, a place that has no room for the alchemy of
non-collaborative collaboration, where one creative person is sparked
by another creative person’s fire. My biggest worry about Watchmen has
been that it will be a live action reading of the comic book as opposed
to its own thing; the recent footage and trailer show that this
probably won’t be the case. I’m interested in seeing what the visual
artist in Zack Snyder makes from the art that Alan Moore and Dave
Gibbons created, which was itself building on the art of the creators
of the Charlton characters that DC Comics had recently purchased.

I’m setting aside the issue of quality, of course. There’s no arguing
that most Alan Moore adaptations have been horseshit (although I truly
like V For Vendetta and think that it takes original and does
interesting things with it in ways that mirror who the filmmakers are –
again, non-collaborative collaboration), and I understand why the run
of bad adaptations would leave a sour taste in Moore’s mouth. At the
same time the previous bad efforts have no bearing on future efforts by
different filmmakers; surely the Schumacher Batman films didn’t mean
Batman should be abandoned as a cinematic character. Beyond that,
quality is ephemeral and not an argument for the existence of art –
would Miracleman have been a terrible basic idea if it hadn’t been well

Does Moore think what he does with established characters is more fair
game because it’s done in the name of deconstruction? Looking at
Moore’s entire comic book history I’m struck by how much of his work is
building on the works of others, from Marvelman (known now as
Miracleman) to his Swamp Thing run to Watchmen to 1963 to America’s Top
Comics, many of which are Watchmen-esque reclothings of pulp and
superhero characters and archetypes. While not adaptations outright,
they’re the kind of non-collaborative collaborations that the best
adaptations strive to be; that a man who has made his career messing
with the creations of others should be so mad when others mess with his
creations is ironic at best, hypocritical at worst.