Alan Moore stands up for stealing other people's characters that are not Alan Moore's
Proving that a free-for-all, web-based interview can be a success so long as the subject is willing to discuss anything and is also Alan Moore, Alan Moore participated in a prolonged video Q&A over the weekend as a fundraiser for Cleveland’s proposed Harvey Pekar statue, offering answers to a variety of questions from the remote bunker secreted—in a mind-bending achievement of quantum physics—deep inside Alan Moore’s beard. You can watch the whole two and a half hours here if you have the time or inclination, but io9 picked out some of the most salient points—including thoughts on his supposed feud with Grant Morrison (which Moore denies) and perhaps most importantly, the announcement of the forthcoming League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen spin-off Nemo: Heart Of Ice, a 48-page one-shot he’s working on with artist Kevin O’Neill. That book—which finds the work of Jules Verne and H.P. Lovecraft colliding in 1920s Antarctica—is due before the end of the year, to be preceded by June’s other League project, Century: 2009, both continuing Moore’s imaginative appropriation of other people’s creations.
And naturally, that provided an opportunity for Moore to address some of the controversy surrounding DC’s upcoming Watchmen prequel—particularly the sentiments of artist J. Michael Straczynski that Moore has lost the “moral high ground” to criticize his adapting of Moore’s characters, considering Moore has long done the same thing. Moore’s response, basically: He’s not adapting—he’s stealing—and from dead men, so it’s okay.
In literature, I would say that it's different. I would say, and it might be splitting hairs, but I'm not adapting these characters. I'm not doing an adaptation of Dracula or King Solomon's Mines. What I am doing is stealing them. There is a difference between doing an adaptation, which is evil, and actually stealing the characters, which, as long as everybody's dead or you don't mention the names, is perfectly alright by me. I'm not trying to be glib here, I genuinely do feel that in literature you've got a tradition that goes back to Jason And The Argonauts of combining literary characters [...] It's just irresistible to do these fictional mash-ups. They've been going on for hundreds of years and I feel I'm a part of a proud literary tradition in doing that. With taking comic characters that have been created by cheated old men, I feel that that is different [...] And that's my take on the subject.
Anyway, so according to Moore’s code, the Watchmen prequels are inherently “evil” because they attempt to adapt the same characters and storylines he laid out, rather than just straight up stealing them and making them do something unrelated. (Perhaps if DC wanted to avoid rankling Moore, so long as he insists on being alive, the Watchmen prequels should have just reimagined Dr. Manhattan et al. as a garage band touring the country and solving mysteries.) As always, your appreciation of Moore’s internal logic will likely come down to which wins out over your protective loyalty to his work, versus your belief that Alan Moore is sort of a windbag.