In 1986 writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons debuted what would become the world best selling comic book: 'Watchmen.'
Unlike everything that had come before it, 'Watchmen' was a universe of characters unto itself; it handled themes and stories that were once considered too adult, too deep for the average comic book reader (then thought of simply as children) to comprehend, much less appreciate.
But 'Watchmen' did more than just buck the trend of dumbed-down comic book stories, it shattered the glass ceiling, creating a new genre of mature comic books, boosting popularity of graphic novels and giving those who had a desire to write comic books which did something other than promote super-strength, super-speed and invulnerability, a reason to rejoice.
In the wake of 'Watchmen' more genre busting comic books and graphic novels came along, each doing its own part to promote the art form of comic books rather than just the super heroes which composed most of their pages.
Neil Gaiman and the dozens of writers and artists who have since produced such stellar independent works as 'Moonshadow', 'Blood: A Tale', 'Stray Toasters' and countless other titles, owe their success in no small part to the trail blazed by Gibbons and Moore with 'Watchmen.'
So, this week, when DC comics announced that they were recruiting writers and artists to create a series of prequel comics based on the 'Watchmen' universe, there was a collective gasp from the comic book world. With just a few strokes of a pen an artist or writer can forever alter what we think we know about the characters Moore and Gibbons created.
Before the release of the 'Watchmen' movie, Moore made it quite clear he disapproved of the project, or any attempts to alter or re-envision the 'Watchmen' universe he and Gibbons created. Unfortunately, the rights belong to DC, and as such, they can do with 'Watchmen' as they please. For his part Gibbons said that he endorsed the new 'Watchmen' project DC has planned, and said he looks forward to seeing what they create.
For myself, as a fan of 'Watchmen' and a writer, I am opposed to any efforts to re-envision someone else's work. There is absolutely no way anyone can know what goes on in the mind of anyone else, especially a writer's mind. How do we know what Moore intended for his characters beyond what he has already written? This is all simply so much conjecture, and an obvious attempt to capture more revenue from what is a much revered work of art.