Alan Moore has long had a famously fractious relationship with adaptations of his own work – including V For Vendetta, From Hell, and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – to the extent where it’s led him to disown his own characters. In a recent – and rare – interview with GQ, Moore spoke about the creators of the HBO TV series Watchmen still attempting to reach out to him, despite his wish to be left alone regarding his past work.
Of the superhero TV series, Moore says; “I would be the last person to want to sit through any adaptations of my work. From what I’ve heard of them, it would be enormously punishing. It would be torturous, and for no very good reason.”
“There was an incident—probably a concluding incident, for me. I received a bulky parcel, through Federal Express, that arrived here in my sedate little living room. It turned out to contain a powder blue barbecue apron with a hydrogen symbol on the front. And a frank letter from the showrunner of the Watchmen television adaptation, which I hadn’t heard was a thing at that point.”
Moore continues; “But the letter, I think it opened with, “Dear Mr. Moore, I am one of the bastards currently destroying Watchmen.” That wasn’t the best opener. It went on through a lot of, what seemed to me to be, neurotic rambling. “Can you at least tell us how to pronounce Ozymandias?” I got back with a very abrupt, and probably hostile, reply telling him that I’d thought that Warner Brothers were aware that they, nor any of their employees, shouldn’t contact me again for any reason.”
Moore reiterates his position on his work, which is that he does not want to be contacted regarding adaptations. “I explained that I had disowned the work in question, and partly that was because the film industry and the comics industry seemed to have created things that had nothing to do with my work, but which would be associated with it in the public mind. I said, ‘Look, this is embarrassing to me. I don’t want anything to do with you or your show. Please don’t bother me again.'”
The HBO Watchmen series made many changes to Moore’s comics, and interweaved real-life history, such as the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Moore says; “When I saw the television industry awards that the Watchmen television show had apparently won, I thought, “Oh, god, perhaps a large part of the public, this is what they think Watchmen was?” They think that it was a dark, gritty, dystopian superhero franchise that was something to do with white supremacism.”
Moore concludes; “Did they not understand Watchmen? Watchmen was nearly 40 years ago and was relatively simple in comparison with a lot of my later work. What are the chances that they broadly understood anything since? This tends to make me feel less than fond of those works. They mean a bit less in my heart.”
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