Equally angered by the inner-workings of the comics industry, Moore's contempt isn't just for Hollywood: In 1989, Moore cut ties with DC Comics over a complicated dispute relating to the language of a reversion clause in his Watchmen contract, part of a long history of large comics publishers financially and legally exploiting the artists and writers who created their most popular titles. (Here's how Moore recounted the incident to The New York Times in 2006: "I said, 'Fair enough, you have managed to successfully swindle me, and so I will never work for you again.'") In 2012, DC Comics announced Before Watchmen, a prequel series to his original comic that would tell new stories about characters like Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, and Rorschach. New writers and new artists were hired to put their spin on the material. To put it mildly, Moore was not super psyched.
"It seems a bit desperate to go after a book famous for its artistic integrity," Moore told Fast Company in 2012. "It's a finite series. Watchmen was said to actually provide an alternative to the superhero story as an endless soap opera. To turn that into just another superhero comic that goes on forever demonstrates exactly why I feel the way I do about the comics industry. It's mostly about franchises. Comic shops these days barely sell comics. It's mostly spin-offs and toys."
One can imagine that Moore feels similarly about HBO's Watchmen, which has mostly received positive reviews before its premiere with many critics celebrating Lindelof's radical approach. It sounds like Lindelof, a writer with his own favorite themes and formal tics, simply used the source material as a jumping off point to tell an entirely new story The praise likely won't matter to Moore -- and why should it? As Lindelof said to Vulture, "If you want to support Alan Moore’s wishes, do not watch the show. That’s what he would want." His statement turns the act of streaming Watchmen into its own ethical conundrum, one that reasonable people will disagree and argue over. "Who watches the Watchmen?" is the oft-quoted question from the comic, scrawled as colorful graffiti on walls, but "Why watch Watchmen?" might be equally pressing.