Time Out Sydney

The Watchmen author explains why he disowns films based on his graphic novels

He's universally regarded the finest author of comics ever, but you'd never guess from the travesties Hollywood has made of his magnificent books such as From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The UK writer refuses to see these movies and even signs over the money for the film rights over to the comics' artists.

Expelled from high school in Northampton for selling LSD to his classmates, Moore stumbled into comics writing in the late 1970s. As well as being a highly acclaimed writer, he is a committed anarchist, a practising magician and snake god worshipper. With the long-awaited film of his masterpiece Watchmen about to hit cinemas - and generating considerable positive buzz - he explains why he won't be seeing it.

Alan, why is it that films made from your comics never seem to do them justice? Is it a lack of intelligence or courage on the part of filmmakers?
It's not, it's simply because they weren't ever designed to be films. This is what I've been trying to explain to these stupid bastards for the past 20 years. They were designed to exploit all the things that comic books can do and that no other medium can. I wanted to give comics a special place when I was writing things like Watchmen. I wanted to show off just what the possibilities of the comic book medium were. And films are completely different. This assumption that if something works in one medium it will work as well or better in another, I've got no idea where that comes from.

A lot of people admired the film of V for Vendetta though. Do you take any comfort in that?
No, none at all. I read the screenplay and it was nothing to do with the story that I wrote. I was talking about fascism and anarchy. Those words are mentioned nowhere in the film, which was reimagined in contemporary terms, shall we say. My story was hijacked into something that it was never meant to be discussing.

There was all that bad press when [producer] Joel Silver claimed you were happy about the V for Vendetta film.
If they had just kept my name off it and hadn't claimed that I was excited about it then I would simply have remained quiet about it. That put me through a year of ranting, ferocious, black anger.

You must be worried about the Watchmen film then.
The same things apply. I do not want my name on the film and I don't want to receive any money for it. And if there is any attempt to contravene those boundaries then it will be just as much of an unpleasant experience for me and Hollywood as the whole V for Vendetta charade was. If people are lying about me then I really don't have much choice. My reputation is of some importance to me. Speaking as a former high school drug dealer, reputation is everything.

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Updated on 5 May 2015.

By Nick Dent   |  

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