WATCHMEN Co-Creator Alan Moore Reveals The Harsh Words He Had For The Showrunner Of HBO's TV Series

WATCHMEN Co-Creator Alan Moore Reveals The Harsh Words He Had For The Showrunner Of HBO's TV Series

The co-creator of the Watchmen graphic novel, Alan Moore, has revealed the blunt words he had for the showrunner of HBO's 2019 Watchmen TV series.

By DanielKlissmman - Oct 19, 2022 09:10 AM EST
Filed Under: Watchmen
Source: GQ

HBO's Watchmen was released in 2019 to critical acclaim. The series, created by Damon Lindelof and starring Regina King, presented a different take on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' graphic novel. Watchmen took place decades after the comics, and focused on a world still affected by Ozymandias' disastrous squid attack.

Watchmen co-creator Alan Moore is notable for his aversion to his comics being adapted for film and television, the most notable of which include The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta, and the 2009 Watchmen film. Now, during an interview with GQ (one of the few interviews he's given in years), Moore has revealed the tough words he had for Damon Lindelof after the showrunner reached out to him about making HBO's Watchmen

Though Moore didn't identify Lindelof by name, he referred to him as "the showrunner of the Watchmen television adaptation." According to the writer, he was not impressed with the letter he received from Lindelof: 

"There was an incident—probably a concluding incident, for me. I received a bulky parcel, [...] 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. 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"?'"

Moore then recounted replying to Lindelof, telling him that he did not want to be contacted by Warner Bros. or its employees: 

"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.'"


Moore also discussed seeing Watchmen had won an award (seemingly referring to the Emmy it won for Outstanding Limited Series). According to the writer, the win made him feel that audiences had misunderstood his work:

"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. 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."

Also during the interview, Moore used Rorschach as an example of the misinterpretation of his writing. According to him, the brooding vigilante was always meant to be a parody. However, some readers took him for a righteous hero. Such perception carried over into Zack Snyder's Watchmen, and though the character (played by Jackie Earle Haley) was shown to be morally ambiguous, he was overall depicted as a relatively heroic figure. 

While Moore was not pleased with Lindelof's message, his letter likely came as a result of the showrunner's respect for him. During the 2019 Television Critics Association press tour (via Entertainment Weekly), Lindelof said he struggled with the fact that Moore had opted to keep his name off the HBO adaptation: 

"I don't think that I’ve made peace with it. Alan Moore is a genius, in my opinion, the greatest writer in the comic medium and maybe the greatest writer of all 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."

Ultimately, it's clear that Lindelof was passionate about Watchmen, and just intended to put his own spin on the property. His efforts paid off, since HBO's Watchmen went on to be one of the most well-regarded live-action comic book adaptations of the last decade. 

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Spoken - 10/19/2022, 9:06 AM
Sometimes it is very hard to understand writers. There was never an instance that I assumed these characters he created were parodies of other superheroes (maybe the case could be said about Ozymandias being a parody or Nite Owl) but I always thought the writing and stories to be very...mature.

I read Watchmen in 8th grade (2006-2008) and it never occurred to me the man was writing a comedy.

I just don't understand Moore and quite frankly just think of his long crusade to shit on comics and fans is his twisted take on revenge for feeling that comics shit on him.

I mean............I GUESS!
nibs - 10/19/2022, 9:11 AM
@HWestRE420 - don't be hard on yourself for not getting it in the eighth grade. a lot of people don't understand his work as adults!
Spoken - 10/19/2022, 9:14 AM
@nibs - I mean I thought I got it even today, I haven't read it in awhile but yeah.

Didn't watch the show though since it has very little to do with the book, just acts as a wannabe sequel.
ObserverIO - 10/19/2022, 9:16 AM
@HWestRE420 - Parody is not always comedy.
Origame - 10/19/2022, 9:17 AM
@HWestRE420 - it's not parody, it's satire. That may sound pretty much the same, but there's a nuance to it.

Parody exists purely in a comedic realm. Satire only needs to criticize the original.

For example, Dr Manhattan is a satire of the all powerful superhero like superman or Thor. Having power so much greater than anyone around you, as the writing of Dr Manhattan dictates, would make you further from being human on a psychological scale as opposed to closer like it would with superman. It doesn't need to be a comedy to get that point across.
Spoken - 10/19/2022, 9:22 AM
@Origame - Hmmmm interesting, cause you see I didn't think of it that way with Doctor Manhattan or the other characters either.

I mean now that you explained it, I guess you can say I do see the satire nature, like with The Comedian I feel could be a satire of maybe....Captain America where as Cap is the all American boy scout, The Comedian is the total opposite I feel, but then again I think thats where maybe the way I saw it diverges.

I do feel it is a very gritty superhero world, full of a lot of mature themes, obviously the satire/parody stuff just went over my head lol. It makes sense thought the way you point it out.
Spoken - 10/19/2022, 9:22 AM
@ObserverIO - That's true.
ObserverIO - 10/19/2022, 9:23 AM
@Origame - You can parody something without being either funny or critical. Sometimes it can be celebratory of the subject.

Look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or any of the anthropomorphic "Funny Animal" comics of the '70s and '80s.
Or today's Jurassic League.

There are other examples that I can't think of right now. I'm currently watching Stranger Things, which is full of '80s movie parody but it's more celebratory rather than funny or critical or even post-modern like Watchmen.
Spoken - 10/19/2022, 9:27 AM
@ObserverIO - Yeah but Stranger Things is more....period piece than it is parody, or like you say more celebratory. I don't get any parody vibes from that even with the literal term or humor side. To me it's just telling a story, set in the 1980s.
ObserverIO - 10/19/2022, 9:38 AM
@HWestRE420 - It is, yeah, but it also has a lot of homages I guess, to '80s movies like Aliens and Red Dawn or to D&D and such, which can be seen as parody.

Maybe I'm clutching at straws because I was trying to think of an example and Stranger Things was right in front of me. I didn't look very far, lol, too much effort.
Goldboink - 10/19/2022, 3:25 PM
@HWestRE420 -
You have to go back to 1986 but of course Watchmen was a parody of superheroes. A dark parody for sure but all exagerated versions of existing superhero archetypes. Around the same time The Tick was also parodying comics but in a much goofier way.
Goldboink - 10/19/2022, 3:28 PM
@HWestRE420 -

Captain America is the ideal and The Comedian is the reality. Rorschach is the vigilante. Night Owl is Batman. They all explore what happens if you take those concepts to unhealthy extremes.

The book was definitely written for adults though and some of that may have gone unnoticed by a younger audience.
EgoEgor - 10/19/2022, 11:58 PM
@HWestRE420 - I'd say it's more of a deconstruction on superheroes more than a parody. It puts them in the real world. In the real world they'd be a psychopathic losers, Superman wouldn't care about humanity because he's a god and can't relate to them, they'd dress up for sexual kinks, they'd be weapons of the government, they'd blur the line between what's good and what's evil, etc.

At least, that's how I see it.
tmp3 - 10/19/2022, 9:08 AM
lindelof comes across as insanely dorky in that letter, but there also hasn’t been a cb adaptation as good as watchmen since it came out
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