Comicbookinterviews presents an interview series focused on the Before Watchmen project announced by DC Comics. CBI spoke with David Doub, publisher of Dusk comics on his thoughts of the controversial announcement.
Visit Dusk Comics at: www.duskcomics.com
JMH: Are you a regular comic book reader?
DAVID: Yes. Even though I’m an indy creator, I still do read stuff from DC Comics, Dark Horse and other more mainstream books.
JMH: What were some of your thoughts when you heard of the announcement of the Watchmen prequels?
DAVID: Confusion. DC Comics was talking up hype about a new project that was going to be big, so of course I was interested. But then they revealed it was Watchman prequels and that was anti-climatic. I enjoyed Watchmen, but I never felt a need to read more. It ended fine and I enjoyed the story it told. So the prequel was a new product to me and DC didn’t try to sell that well. It felt like we were suppose to follow merely because the word Watchmen was used and it should summon forth readers like a spell or ritual. So I’m just annoyed they didn’t try to sell it to me. That is a publisher’s job, try to sell a comic to potential readers, not just assume people will read it.
JMH: How do you think fans will react?
DAVID: Obviously there has been a lot of talk about the pro and cons. In the end DC wins because either negative or positive, people are talking a lot about DC. Even people who say that Before Watchmen is a waste, and we should focus on making new hits instead of recycling old properties, they are still talking about Watchmen and DC Comics. It’s like how do you protest about protesting? Hell I’m doing it right now, but sometimes it’s hard to stay out of the conversation. The trick is to control the dialogue and make the message more about comics in general and less about this particular line of mini series.
JMH: Your thoughts on line-up of creators involved with the project?
DAVID: They’re good and solid creators. Their names aren’t enough to get me to buy the books though. And JMS really needs to stop commenting on the whole matter. I think he’s just stirring up more trouble than trying to calm things down. But then his writing is hit and miss with me. He either does really well or he doesn’t, he doesn’t seem to have a middle ground in quality. But that’s just my opinion as a reader and not a comment as a writer.
JMH: As a creator of intellectual properties, what are some of your concerns with the ownership or ethics of this project?
DAVID: I think in this case it’s fairly cut and dry. Alan Moore cut all ties and Dave Gibbons has had no issues with what DC has done. DC owns Watchmen and there are no other claims that says otherwise. This started as a work for hire and it continues as work for hire. Work for hire serves the publisher more than the creators, but these are seasoned creators so they know what they’re getting into. I think that the question is moot at this point and we should focus more on Creator-Owned properties. Not that Company-Owned properties are bad, just that most Company Comics are already deeply ingrained in the comic culture and doesn’t need more press.
JMH: What do you believe will be the response of fans of the original series?
DAVID: Some will like it, some will hate it on principal. At the end of the day it will be unable to stand on it’s own because of the history of the original, but then that is this project’s greatest strength and its weakness.
JMH: Will this be the “Must Have” series of the year? If so, why?
DAVID: Yes it will be because if Comic Fans are good at anything, its looking back to the past. Watchmen is one of the comic industry’s greatest victories, and we all know how people love to relive past glories. We’re afraid of the future, because it’s unknown and we’ll never know if we’ll ever be as good as we once were. But a fear of change, of the future, is a common trait for all people, it’s just a lot of comic fans have made it an art form of denial and stubbornness.
JMH: Is this an editorial direction that DC needed to expand, or is this a gimmick driven by sales?
DAVID: No one tries to make a bad or shallow book, it’s just sometimes intent doesn’t translate into execution. On the whole I think DC is trying to innovate comics as much as they can from their situation and perspective. Despite what people think of the end results, DC’s 52 is much more innovative and risky than say Marvel’s Avengers Vs. X-Men. A Company wide crossover is the best Marvel can come up with? Really?
And I understand at the end of the day both Marvel and DC’s hands are tied. They have to make good stories that are profitable because they are companies first and publishers second. So sadly when those two tally the score Profitability is going to be more important than Good. Because with profitability, they are at least given the chance to try again for good. It’s a struggle all publishers must wrestle with, creativity vs commercialism. Personally I lean more toward creativity so I have to work just that much harder to make my books commercial, but that’s a struggle I gladly take.
JMH: Which characters would you write/draw from the series if possible?
DAVID: Any they would hire me for. It would be work for hire, so I would enjoy the challenge of trying to improve on any of these most beloved characters. The appeal would be that challenge, not some fanboy crush on writing my favorite character. I’d almost think you would have to distance yourself from any emotional attachment to the characters to be able to write them properly.
JMH: Anything else you’d like to add about the topic that we haven’t talked about yet?
DAVID: I think I’m done talking about this topic. I think we should move on to more relevant topics. I know the whole print vs digital topic hasn’t been exhausted yet.
JMH: David, CBI appreciates your time. All the best.
DAVID: I hope instead of buying Before Watchmen people will try out a indy comic instead. I know that won’t happen, but I’m doing my part by suggesting it. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be my books.
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