Wednesday, February 01, 2012

WATCHMEN Prequels: A Knockbuster 25 Years In The Making

I want to clarify my stance on why I do not think the Watchmen books are going to make any sort of impact in the industry. I like a lot of the creative teams on these books but that is irrelevant to what DC is attempting to do with this project.

The Watchmen Prequels are not intended to be a natural follow-up to the original in the way that a creator like Scott Snyder follows up a creator like Grant Morrison with his own ideas and his own take on the character's mythology.

The Watchmen prequels are intended to be Knockbusters. In the movie business, a kockbuster is a film created with the apparent intention of piggy-backing on the publicity of a major film with a similar title or theme and are often made with a low budget. Often these films are created to be released direct-to-video at the same time as the mainstream film reaches theaters or video outlets.

This isn't about honoring the original work, or claiming it is taboo to touch it. There are some projects that actually benefit from a remake, Battlestar Galactica for example. There are even a few prequels that don't completely suck, although I can't think of any off hand. My opposition to these works is the stink of desperation for success that permeates even the preview ads for these new Watchmen books.

Imagine your mother and father were married for many years. Then your father left and your mother had to raise you alone. She did a good job, worked hard and raised you right. Now that you've grown up, she wants to get back out there and start dating again. This is what DC is trying to do here, get back out there and draw in the readers they have lost over the years. But seeing these books is like watching your mom struggle to fit into her old jeans or wearing a t-shirt that isn't as flattering as it was 25 years ago.

Even worse, I believe they are intentionally trying to intentionally deceive customers into buying the inferior, knock-off product. Now on the shelves next to Watchmen are going to be at least six other little trades and a pirate book. Like the Transmorphers movie they simply create new, similar product and hope for enough add-on or mistaken purchases to sustain the production cost. Nobody who made Transmorphers did it for the right reasons. Nobody, other than the catering company (if they could afford one) had any intention of making a groundbreaking piece of cinema history. Just because the same company that owns Watchmen is doing the Watchmen spin-off material doesn't make it any less cheesy.

Now people will say "this is meant to bring in new readers" but we both know that's a load of shit. It's an attempt to cash in on the publicity and success of Watchmen. If they wanted to bring in new readers, they could have just brought the Watchmen characters into the DCU, Batman VS Rorschach style. How does a Silk Spectre comic bring in new readers? Did someone read Watchmen and decide they wanted to know more about the trampy, messed-up women who bear the Silk Spectre alias? How long until Rorschach meets his long lost father? Or that a mystery for next month, dear readers?

You want to know when a comic publisher is releasing something simply for the money? They hide behind the classic line "It's an attempt to bring in new readers", which is the same thing as saying "our hardcore readers don't really want this, but it's not for them, it's for their imaginary friends". Another way to say it would be to say "we just want to take up more shelf space in the stores and retailers will certainly order it!"

Now some people actually like Knockbusters, in the 80's the Gremlins knock-off HOBGOBLINS did very well. David Hasselhoff starred in an Evil Dead rip-off and C. Thomas Howell has made quite a career on these types of movies, so I guess you can say even a knockbuster can attract pretty decent talent. But I've never watched one in my life.

I just don't have any interest in it. I don't rent, buy or even bootleg knockbuster movies. I don't like B-movies in general. That's not to say they are all bad, that you should not watch them or anything like that. They just aren't for me. I saw THOR, I liked THOR, I don't need to see way the B movie industry has to say on the same character or mythology. I don't need to see what the NEW 52 DC has to say on Watchmen.

This is why I am posting this on my blog, because I am not going to engage in debate about the new Watchmen books by DC. You can argue the artistic merits of Jaws 5 until you're red in the face, it's not going to change my mind.

We've crossed a line here as an industry. This isn't about respecting Alan Moore and tarnishing his work, it's about what we put out there for the world to see as comic creators. We're no longer giving them the song and dance show to get them to read our books; Watchmen prequels is us as an industry putting our faces down and our asses up for money. It changes the comic industry, destroying the burlesque show we were putting on and revealing to the world what a crack whore the industry really is. Why bother with new ideas and building an audience when you can simply offer to suck the audiences dick for money, right? I mean you've loved Watchmen for long time, you must want sucky-sucky, right comicboy? It's a desperate grab for cash and non-readers outside the audience will smell it a mile a way.

When this fails to create more than a short term rise in sales, what then? What does DC do next? When you've hit rock bottom and don't realize it, how much lower can you really go? The long anticipated Batman/Superman kiss?

For decades the comic industry has been losing readers, zombie-like, bite by bite, to other forms of entertainment. Now DC has decided the way to stop that is by cannibalizing themselves.
Maybe I am wrong, who knows. Maybe Snakes On A Train was a great film. I'll never know. Even Twilight knock-offs are making money and getting film options. (

Maybe I'm just a finicky old man who is looking for some meaning in the stories that I read, maybe my expectations are too high. Maybe I shouldn't expect better than an Adam Hughes/JMS book about the inappropriate relationship between a big blue naked guy and an underage teenager.


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