“Watchmen” writer Alan Moore has famously disavowed every adaptation that’s ever been done from his work and he had no desire to hear about the HBO adaptation of his award-winning comic…
Widely regarded as one of the greatest comic book writers of all time, Alan Moore has gone out of his way to distance himself from his past work, particularly when it comes to adaptations from his original material.
One of the latest versions came with the “Watchmen” limited television series on HBO, which essentially served as a direct sequel to the original graphic novel written by Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons
The series was a critical hit for HBO and went onto win a slew of Emmy awards including Best Limited Series as well as Regina King winning Best Actress in a Limited Series and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II taking home the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series.
Despite numerous accolades, Moore wanted absolutely nothing to do with the series and he made that point rather loudly after revealing that “Watchmen” showrunner Damon Lindelof had actually reached out to him with a letter when he was developing the series
“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,” Moore revealed when speaking to GQ in a rare interview. “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.
“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.”
Lindelof, who praised “Watchmen” as one of his favorite pieces of fiction long before he ever made his own adaptation for TV, seemed to get the message when he was promoting the show ahead of its debut in 2019.
At the time, Lindelof said that he had reached out to Moore just out of respect because in a perfect world, he would get the writer’s blessing on the adaptation but that’s far from what he got in response.
“Alan Moore is a genius, in my opinion, the greatest writer in the comic medium and maybe the greatest writer of all time,” Lindelof said at the time. “He’s made it very clear that he doesn’t want to have any association or affiliation with Watchmen ongoing and that we not use his name to get people to watch it, which I want to respect.”
While he never mentioned the exact response he got from Moore, which wasn’t revealed until his new interview, it appears the message was received by his reaction.
“I do feel like the spirit of Alan Moore is a punk rock spirit, a rebellious spirit, and that if you would tell Alan Moore, a teenage Moore in ’85 or ’86, ‘You’re not allowed to do this because Superman’s creator or Swamp Thing’s creator doesn’t want you to do it,’ he would say, ‘F— you, I’m doing it anyway.’” Lindelof said.
“So I’m channeling the spirit of Alan Moore to tell Alan Moore, ‘F— you, I’m doing it anyway.’”
For his part, Moore says he’s never seen any adaptation of his work — he has absolutely no interest in it — but he didn’t seem to think too highly of what Lindelof did with “Watchmen” after he heard a few details through word of mouth.
“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?” Moore said. “They think that it was a dark, gritty, dystopian superhero franchise that was something to do with white supremacism.
“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.”
Based on those statements it doesn’t appear Moore held the “Watchmen” adaptation in nearly as high regard as most critics and the audience. (We recapped the entire series and praised every episode for what its worth).
As the creator of the original material, Moore is obviously entitled to feel however he wants about adaptations being made from his work — especially considering he doesn’t have any say in the matter since he technically doesn’t own it any longer — and it doesn’t appear that he’ll ever take any time to check out “Watchmen” or anything else based upon his writing.