Slightly after Before Watchmen.

§ June 11th, 2012 § Filed under retailing, watchmen § 10 Comments

So, when we were last talking about Before Watchmen, I posted a poll asking what some of you folks were planning to regarding the series…avoid it, try it out, steal it, whatever. Thus far, three-fifths of the respondents indicated that they would not buy it.

Now, that poll may not be entirely balanced…an online fandom interested enough in the matter to 1) read comic blogs and 2) vote in an online poll may be a little more aware of the situation and thus more inclined to skew negatively. But even those in-store customers of mine who don’t pay any attention to comics news outside of whatever happens to be in Comic Shop News that week (I assure you, such customers exist) are voting the way comic readers usually vote: with their wallets.

Now that I’ve had a few days of sales to see how things go, I can report that Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1 has sold…okay. Not flying off the shelves in a Superman #75-esque frenzy of consumer demand, but moving along at a steady pace. From previous experience, I’m relatively certain once Minutemen #2 comes out, or even when the next series or two start up, we’ll get further requests for the initial releases. However, like I’d said before, we’ll see how it goes in the long run, if we’ll get consumer resistance once the series and issues start piling on.

I’ve only had a handful of customers at the shop bring up Alan Moore’s disdain for this project, and it was about 50/50 whether those particular folks picked up the book or not. And there are other reasons outside of creators’ rights issues why some customers may not be picking up the book: didn’t like the movie, didn’t care for the original comic, it’s been just plain too long since the original to care about prequels, still burnt out on Watchmen after the media saturation surrounding the film, or simply aren’t interested in a Watchmen comic not by Moore and Gibbons. But, like I said, it’s not like it’s not selling…it seems to be selling fine. It’s not a monster smash like Avengers Vs. X-Men, but I would have been surprised if it were.

I’m almost tempted to put up another poll, “Of those of you who said you wouldn’t buy Before Watchmen, how many of you bought it anyway” because c’mon, I know somebody did. And this is interesting: I usually get my share of Google referrals to my site from people looking to mooch uploaded scans of current comics, generally a few a day. But in the last week or so, I have been bombarded with searches from people looking for scans of Before Watchmen. Apparently, the demand is there to read it, just not pay for it.

Like the presumably-pseudonymous Interstate Shogun said in the comments, I’m also surprised it took DC this long to do more Watchmen comics. A few years back I swore up and down that if DC was going to do it, they’d do it when the movie came out just so they’d have more product to sell during the peak of interest in the property (aside from the misguided After Watchmen promotion, which tried to get Watchmen fans to sample similar books, such as…um, Identity Crisis and Batman: Hush). I wonder how Before Watchmen would have sold had it come out then? (I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a brand new one-shot comic adaptation of the film, distilling the movie, itself a paring/dumbing down of the original material, down to 64 pages or so.)

Now, about Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1 itself…it wasn’t bad. Darwyn Cooke’s art is, as always, beautiful. The story is…well, if you wanted more action from the Golden Age characters in Watchmen, here you go. It all looks relatively surface-level, expanding on material already covered in necessary depth in the original book. Not terribly deep in the metacommentary department, as most of the points made about the genre are, again, repeated from the original, aside from the very opening pages of the comic, a seeming reaction to trying to tell this story under these particular circumstances. Alan Moore as the “guy [who] throws a wrench in the gears,” taking “away your understanding of the world you live in” — the superhero comics genre — and the folks who “search for the things that brought [them] happiness in the past” — the way superhero comics were before everyone thought imitating Watchmen was the way to go. And of course there’s Mason’s (Cooke’s) own reaction to trying to duplicate Moore and Gibbon’s style from the original.

…And this has been “Mike Overanalyzes A Dumb Ol’ Comic Book at Stupid O’Clock in the Morning.” Thanks for putting up with these rambling thoughts on the topic, folks, and I’ll see you again in a day or two.

10 Responses to “Slightly after Before Watchmen.”

  • DeBT says:

    Probably the closest we ever got to a “dumbed-down” comic adaption of Watchmen was the legendary distilled and condensed MS Paint version.

    And if that’s not enough, there’s these SomethingAwful retexted comics:

  • Supposedly Paul Levitz kept any Watchmen stuff from coming out in deference to Moore. Since he left as Publisher, this has been in the works. That’s why there wasn’t any new stuff when the movie came out.

  • Mike Nielsen says:

    Another reason you poll might be skewed is guys like me that don’t by ANY new comics anymore, content to buy back issues and trades of anything that sounds good.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    I took the poll, and in the comments I said I like anything by Cooke and/or Amanda Conner. Having read MINUTEMEN#1, I’ll likely just wait for the eventual trade. Once a few more of these are out, I’d be curious as to how many readers will buy the trades over any #2s.

    Also, even though my LCS cuts me some slack, they did mention that signing up for the books on my pull list allowed it to have its 25% discount. (I’m a local writer, hence the discount, as I don’t buy many books. Same with artists.) No complaints, either, if I put the book back on the shelf.

  • Tom Wu says:

    I was all angry about Before Watchmen and blogged about it and stuff, but now it’s here the reality has hit me, and the reality is that it’s a bunch of comics that will be kind of alright that nobody really cares about. Minutemen will undoubtedly be the best one, and so far it seems like a shadow of Cooke’s best work. Guess I should have saved myself the worry.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “which tried to get Watchmen fans to sample similar books, such as…um, Identity Crisis and Batman: Hush). ”

    pft! DC has no CLUE about marketing, do they? I’d have tried their GOlden Age series or the Soviet Superman story. those at least had some STYLISTIC similarities.

  • J.W.Rollins says:

    Still not interested in this project, not even in the Darwin Cooke one. BTW, when does his new Parker book come (officially approved by the creator of that character)?

  • Mikester says:

    J.W. – Supposed to be out the week of July 11th.

  • J.W.Rollins says:

    Thank you, Mike!

  • Interstate Shogun says:

    It’s just another strip mining/commodifying of the past. There are damned few parts of my comic reading that have been untouched by this.
    Does Gaiman have a deal with DC to not produce any more Morpheus stories? I am REALLY surprised that there hasn’t been a reappearance, in a mutated, rebooted form, of Morpheus in the DCU, but then again, I’m not much into DC books these days.
    But on the bright side, I got another nod from the Mikester! Woot!