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Aaron McPherson On After Before Watchmen
posted July 31, 2013

I enjoyed your thoughtful reflections on the significance of the Before Watchmen event, and your attempt find both good and bad in it.

From what I can see, the overall result is good, in that creators seem more energized and determined than ever to avoid what happened to Alan Moore.

I spoke with [a comics professional] at a recent signing, and expressed my hope that [they] would return to [a licensed character] sometime. I'm sure [this person] gets that a lot; [this person] politely but firmly let me know that a return to work-for-hire was unlikely in the foreseeable future. When I see a well- regarded but by no means household name confidently rejecting the tried-and-true path through the Big Two, it makes me see that things really have changed. Creator-owned is now the default for a lot of creators, with work-for-hire something they do occasionally for money, just as their predecessors often did illustration work.

I think Before Watchman will ultimately be seen as the last hurrah for a business model that no longer exists; I can't think of another property with the status of Watchmen that could be exploited this way. Maybe DC did it for lack of alternatives.