It was recently announced that a follow-up to Watchmen, one of the most acclaimed comic books of all time, was finally going into production. The idea of a Watchmen sequel/prequel/tie-in causes the nerd-o-sphere to go a little ballistic, as Watchmen is a sort of urtext for legions of nerds, and nerds get really protective of their beloved properties. (Witness the rage constantly unleashed in George Lucas’ general direction in response to the various changes that he’s made to the Star Wars movies over the years.)
Catecinem finds this nerd-rage phenomena lacking:
Fans do not own a particular comic property. They may be responsible for whether or not it is a commercial success, but what Moore promotes is the idea that the perception of what the artistic object — in this case, Watchmen — is trumps its actual place in reality. Those suggesting that the original Watchmen would be “raped” by prequels, sequels, or what-have-you are provably false; what they mean to say is that their feelings of what the work means to them would be exposed as a mere, fallible construction. The fact that Moore falls into this trap just as easily as the average Internet nerd isn’t surprising. Even though the graphic novelization is one of the most revered (and constantly in-print) books out there, and even though it is exactly what he and Gibbons created, the book as-it-exists is inseparable, for him, from the legal and personality clashes he had with the company at the time he created it. More than that, he is clearly insecure about the strength of the work to stand on its own. Even though it is one of the few graphic novels consistently to land on contemporary “top 100” lists of 20th century literature, he is so protective of his perception of Watchmen that he won’t even acknowledge his role in its creation when separate adaptations are made, preferring instead to have his name removed from the credits of any film adaptation of his work. Apparently, he thinks that a bad movie adaptation irreparably damages his actual work, and would rather dissociate himself from the work entirely — the better to protect his cherished, idiosyncratic conception of what it is — than just say, “Yeah, I wrote the original and I stand by it.”
Why am I bothering to excoriate Moore and others? Because I perceive a tendency in our culture to prioritize the subjective experience over and above objective facts. These are the morons who say things like “everything is subjective.” Not everything is subjective. A comic book is still going to have all the particular properties that made it that comic book and not another one, even if two people get different things out of it. A movie made from that comic is not literally going to alter the original comic book. And just because you utterly adore a certain version of a story does not mean that another version is inherently bad simply for not being the version you already adore. A distressing number of people fail to understand these fundamental differences.