Saturday, July 25, 2009
Marvelman: What's the Worst That Could Happen? Wait, It Just Did -- Anyone interested in creator's rights, or even just good superhero comics, must have thrown up in their mouths a little bit, like I did, with the news that Marvel Comics has acquired the rights to Marvelman.
Marvelman, which was published in the States in the 1980s by Eclipse as Miracleman is one of, if not the, most compelling superhero stories ever created, by some of the most gifted creators in superhero history, including Alan Moore, Alan Davis, and John Totleben. Due to a monumental kerfuffle of rights issues and confusions, the series has been (ironically, if you've ever read it) in limbo seemingly forever, and I'm sure most "fans" will see this as the happy ending they've long waited for.
Marvel Comics has a long history of not doing right by creators, and of screwing up the creative properties they control. That's not a recipe for the happy ending we should all be rooting for, which would mean that the series comes back into print with the blessing and cooperation of Alan Moore and everyone else that worked on it. (I'm not discussing the pre-Moore era or the rights of creator Mick Anglo because I don't care about the former, and while I am glad Anglo is getting compensated, he's not the man who created the stories anyone involved cares about, most especially Marvel Comics.)
I'll be happy to be wrong if Marvel announces that Moore, Totleben and the rest are being fairly compensated for their landmark work, so much so that they are behind the revival effort 100% and the clouds part and the angels sing.
But that's very likely not going to happen. Chances are, based on observing Marvel and Moore for the past, oh, most of my life, that Marvel is doing this in part because it's a backdoor method of publishing some of Moore's best and most-loved work without actually having the ethics and decency required for Moore to be willing to partner with you in a mutually-beneficial publishing arrangement that serves well the needs of the publisher, the creators, the characters and the readers.
See also Marvel's previous reprints of Captain Britain; see also, over at DC, well, anything of Moore's, these days, from Watchmen to Swamp Thing to Absolute Promethea.
Alan Moore's publisher of choice for his comics work these days is Top Shelf. I point this out not because they advertise on this site (but hey, thanks, Chris and Brett!), but because it's a stone-cold motherfucking fact: Marvel and DC have both screwed, and screwed with, Alan Moore, many times in the past. DC much more so than Marvel, admittedly, but this may be the event that allows Marvel to catch up.
No, unless Alan Moore and the other creators involved in Marvelman's most vital and important stories are all on-board with this revival attempt, unless everyone involved is fairly compensated and given a proper say in how things go forward, then whatever Marvelman "product" issues forth from Marvel is no more valid or significant than Todd McFarlane's misbegotten Man of Miracles action figure, or Checker Publishing's hideously-reproduced Supreme collections. If you wonder why Alan Moore hates the comic book industry so much, man, you're just not paying attention. From the largest to the smallest, almost every publisher has tried to hook on to his coattails without earning the right, and this strikes me as just the latest attempt, even if it is the splashiest one in quite some time.
This is all a bunch of bullshit, people, and nothing short of a joint Alan Moore/Joe Quesada press conference in which they shake hands and Moore smiles a lot will change my mind.
Labels: corporate comics
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