I missed this Alan Moore interview in Wired when it first came out a couple of months ago, but if it's new to you too it's worth a look. It's super-curmudgeonly but very cogent, especially if you choose to pretend (as I do) that his ridiculous affectation about "magic" is all a very knowing put-on.
He also says some things that touch tangentially on everbody's favorite topic, the Complexity Wars. It's probably just a wee bit too simplistic to draw parallels between the relentlessly, reflexively misanthropic "grim-n-gritty" superhero comics that rode on the coattails of Watchmen and relentlessly, reflexively misanthropic "grim-n-girtty" high modernist works like, say, Die Soldaten... simplistic, but fun.
[Especially fun in light of the fact that the villain of Watchmen is a big fan of "avant-garde music in general. Cage, Stockhausen, Pendercki, Andrew Lang, Pierre Henry. Terry Riley is very good." I know, I know, Terry Riley? Maybe In C goes well with the multi-screen viewing?]
Anyway, here's Alan Moore:
What I was getting out of it was this unbridled world of the imagination, and the superhero was a perfect vehicle for that when I was much younger. But looking at the superhero today, it seems to me an awful lot like Watchmen without the irony, that with Watchmen we were talking very much about the potential abuses of this kind of masked vigilante justice and the kind of people that it would in all likelihood attract if these things were taking place in a more realistic world. But that was not meant approvingly.
At the time I thought that a book like Watchmen would perhaps unlock a lot of potential creativity, that perhaps other writers and artists in the industry would see it and would think, "This is great, this shows what comics can do. We can now take our own ideas and thanks to the success of Watchmen we'll have a better chance of editors giving us a shot at them." I was hoping naively for a great rash of individual comic books that were exploring different storytelling ideas and trying to break new ground.
That isn't really what happened. Instead it seemed that the existence of Watchmen had pretty much doomed the mainstream comic industry to about 20 years of very grim and often pretentious stories that seemed to be unable to get around the massive psychological stumbling block that Watchmen had turned out to be, although that had never been my intention with the work.
I think the amount of work we contribute to our enjoyment of any piece of art is a huge component of that enjoyment. I think that we like the pieces that engage us, that enter into a kind of dialog with us, whereas with film you sit there in your seat and it washes over you. It tells you everything, and you really don't need to do a great deal of thinking. There are some films that are very, very good and that can engage the viewer in their narrative, in its mysteries, in its kind of misdirections. You can sometimes get films where a lot of it is happening in your head. Those are probably good films, but they're not made very much anymore.
There seems to be an audience that demands everything be explained to them, that everything be easy. And I don't think that's doing us any good as a culture. The ease with which we can accomplish or conjure any possible imaginable scenario through CGI is almost directly proportionate to how uninterested we're becoming in all of this. I can remember Ray Harryhausen's animated skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts. I can remember Willis O'Brien's King Kong. I can remember being awed at the artistry that had made those things possible. Yes, I knew how it was done. But it looked so wonderful. These days I can see half a million Orcs coming over a hill and I am bored. I am not impressed at all. Because, frankly, I could have gotten someone, a passerby on the street, who could have gotten the same effect if you'd given them half a million dollars to do it. It removes artistry and imagination and places money in the driver's seat, and I think it's a pretty straight equation—that there is an inverse relationship between money and imagination.
If you haven't got any money, you're going to need lots and lots of imagination. Which is why you'll get brilliant movies by people working upon a shoestring, like the early John Waters movies. People are pushed into innovation by the restrictions of their budget.