About two years ago, Warner Bros. announced that 300 director Zack Snyder would be adapting that gold standard of comics, Watchmen, into a feature film. The response was nothing short of orgiastic — from just about everyone except Watchmen’s own scribe, Alan Moore, who remains ambivalent about all the hoopla. The 54-year-old writer and co-creator of such seminal and erudite works as From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (both of which were adapted into eagerly anticipated movies that failed to match the quality of Moore’s source material) has a tangled history with the entertainment business. Even in a time when comics creators are more influential than ever (heck, The Spirit producers even gave comics great Frank Miller the helm), Moore simply wants to be left alone.
It’s no surprise that Moore has been accused of being comics’ Orson Welles — exceedingly talented, if profoundly prickly — and perhaps in certain incidents he’s earned that description. But when EW phoned him at his home in Northampton, England, we encountered a very different creature, one not unlike (if we can be so bold) his DC Comics character from 1983, Swamp Thing. Like the gentle giant who fought abominable invaders to save his wetland digs, the soft-spoken, somewhat reclusive Moore (himself an imposing figure, what with his curtain of hair and thicket of beard) battles Hollywood producers and mainstream comics publishers — fiscally minded forces he perceives as sullying his creative properties. In this wide-ranging conversation, Moore talks in depth about those struggles, as well as about the new Watchmen movie, his upcoming League of Extraordinary Gentlemen installment, his next novel, magic, his favorite TV shows, singing along to South Park, and whether he’ll ever shave his beard.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Don’t you have the slightest curiosity about what Watchmen director Zack Snyder is doing with your work?
ALAN MOORE: I would rather not know.
He’s supposed to be a very nice guy.
He may very well be, but the thing is that he’s also the person who made 300. I’ve not seen any recent comic book films, but I didn’t particularly like the book 300. I had a lot of problems with it, and everything I heard or saw about the film tended to increase [those problems] rather than reduce them: [that] it was racist, it was homophobic, and above all it was sublimely stupid. I know that that’s not what people going in to see a film like 300 are thinking about but…I wasn’t impressed with that…. I talked to [director] Terry Gilliam in the ’80s, and he asked me how I would make Watchmen into a film. I said, ”Well actually, Terry, if anybody asked me, I would have said, ‘I wouldn’t.”’ And I think that Terry [who aborted his attempted adaptation of the book] eventually came to agree with me. There are things that we did with Watchmen that could only work in a comic, and were indeed designed to show off things that other media can’t.
Do you think that any good can come of comics movies?
I increasingly fear that nothing good can come of almost any adaptation, and obviously that’s sweeping. There are a couple of adaptations that are perhaps as good or better than the original work. But the vast majority of them are pointless.
NEXT PAGE: Moore explains how toiling for the Sex Pistols’ manager was better than working in Hollywood