The Great Wizard of Northampton, the author Alan Moore, recently spoke to The Telegraph to promote the upcoming paperback release of his (fantastic) short story collection, Illuminations. Despite Moore's reputation as a grump, the interview starts off on a positive note:
I'm having a very good time of [prose fiction. My publishers] respect my decisions and opinions. And I own my own work. It doesn't sound like a lot if you're used to traditional grown-up publishing, but it means an awful lot if you're used to the comic books industry. It does make me wish that I'd maybe gone into writing prose fiction back in the late Seventies.
Alan Moore saying … nice things an industry that profits off creative work? Stranger things have happened!
In reality, Moore has always been a delight. His famously curmudgeonly attitude was the result of a series of flagrant mistreatments and abuses from the mainstream comic book industry, mostly from DC. Moore's comic book work is the stuff of legends (though even in this interview, he notes that, "I didn't mean my experiments with comics to be immediately taken up as something that the whole industry should do"). As Moore's daughter so eloquently explained, the betrayals of the industry really soured him on the whole superhero scene; now, he mostly captures headlines when he trash-talks superhero movies that he's never seen, because he's understandably bitter towards the entire industry.
Moore's frustrations with the comic book industry reached a breaking point after the 1987 publication of Watchmen—supposedly the best-selling graphic novel of all time, which also inspired a mediocre movie adaptation, a fantastic TV sequel adaptation, and, eventually, a bunch of pointless but pretty prequel comic books. The characters in Watchmen were originally derived from several Charlton Comics characters, to which DC Comics had published the intellectual property rights. Moore and his collaborator Dave Gibbons used those Charlton characters are jumping off points for their own original creations, with the understanding that the rights to the Watchmen (not Charlton) characters would revert back to Moore and Gibbons after the book went out of print. At the time, this seemed like a reasonable agreement—because, at the time, graphic novel publications of periodical comic books weren't really a thing! But Watchmen changed all that. The book has never gone out of print.
Though Watchmen was the first such notable rift in the relationship between Moore and DC, it was hardly the last. The company has offered the occasional olive branch to Moore, including altered royalty payments, et cetera. To this day, DC still sends some money to Moore — whatever their lawyers determine to be fair compensation. But Moore doesn't care; he just wants them to honor the spirit of their original agreement. And the intellectual property rights to Watchmen are far too valuable for DC to ever give up.
So what does Moore do with the money they try to pay him off with? As he told The Telegraph:
I no longer wish [the money] to even be shared with them. I don't really feel, with the recent films, that they have stood by what I assumed were their original principles. So I asked for DC Comics to send all of the money from any future TV series or films to Black Lives Matter.
The whole god damn world has gaslit everyone into writing off Alan Moore as some crotchety old bastard. But he's the real deal, and always has been.
(Illuminations, the book Moore is promoting, includes a roughly 200-page novella titled "What We Can Know About Thunderman," which is sort of a Kafka-esque fever dream inspired by all the ways that he's been screwed by the comics industry.)
Alan Moore interview: 'I'm giving all my screen royalties to Black Lives Matter' [Jake Kerridge / The Telegraph]