By Leroy Douresseaux
May 31, 2005 - 20:39
Welcome to Mr. Charlie Opens the Door #51:
According to former (maybe) gossip columnist and neo-journalist, Rich Johnston (of Comic Book Resources) Alan Moore is done with DC Comics. He’s taking the next installment of his popular series of miniseries, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the third), to publisher Top Shelf Productions in the USA and Knockabout in the U.K. The reason for this is a number of complaints Alan has had with DC going back to the late 1980’s. At one point, Moore swore never to work for or be published by DC Comics again. That changed when DC Comics bought Wildstorm Productions, then part Image Comics and the publisher with whom Alan had just formed a relationship, from Wildstorm founder and original Image partner, Jim Lee.
Lee and Scott Dunbier, then a kind of editor-in-chief at the studio, reportedly went to England to convince Moore to maintain his relationship with Wildstorm; they even formed some kind of “firewall” so that Moore would only have to deal with Wildstorm and not DC directly, which was, of course, a load of crap. Go to Newsarama or Comic Book Resources and read the various articles and threads for more details on Moore “leaving” DC, but what it comes down to was that in spite of his public declaration, Moore had returned to DC’s teat when DC bought Wildstorm.
There were numerous publishers to whom he could have gone, but how many could give him the market exposure and financial rewards that DC could. Ain’t nuthin’ wrong with getting’ paid! He has bills and a family, and bills and families mean breadwinners make sacrifices; sometimes the strong public stance goes down in the face of financial need. They put up with things they don’t like in order to keep a steady paycheck coming.
The boss at DC, Paul Levitz, the man DC Comics parent corporation, AOL/Time Warner, chose to run the comics company, makes the big calls. Often Levitz’s decisions are not in favor or in the best interest of the sacred artist, but in spite of the times he tortures the poor beasts, he manages to pay these creators quite well. In the end, he makes decisions based upon what he thinks is best for the company. The idea of Jim Lee and Scott Dunbier making guarantees about things that were ultimately not in their control is hilarious, but people do it all the time in relation to their jobs. The fact that Alan Moore bought the idea that Lee and Dunbier could isolate him from their bosses (and in a sense Moore’s bosses and publisher) only proves that even (alleged) genius is crazy most of the time and dumb some of the time. No matter what Lee and Dunbier “allowed” Moore to do or promised him, they’re “only” the employees. The final decision in publishing matters would be up to the publisher, the big boss of any and all DC imprints and studios, Paul Levitz.
If Moore really wanted independence and non-interference more than the secure paycheck from DC, he should have taken the ABC line (the line of books he’d signed on with Wildstorm to publish) to one of the numerous publishers who would have given him artistic freedom, whatever that means. In fact, Gary Groth and Kim Thompson of Fantagraphics Books would have gladly published Moore. Wasn’t Moore at one time planning something with the Seattle-based publisher entitled “Alan Moore’s Comics and Stories?” Truth is Moore will be back with DC in less than five years… because they pay, and they pay quite well, and they can give him the exposure and attention other publishers can’t. To go to a smaller publisher means risk; true artists, rebels, and visionaries take risks.