In the wake of the announcement of 'Before Watchmen', the whole topic of Alan Moore and DC is weighing on my mind. (Not tremendously, or anything. I won't suggest that when they showed the Avengers trailer just before half-time during a very exciting Super Bowl, I sat there lost in ennui because Alan Moore doesn't have the rights to 'Watchmen'. But I've been thinking about it a bit.)
And mainly what I've been thinking about is the 'Watchmen' contract. Per Alan Moore's deal with DC, the rights to 'Watchmen' revert to Moore and Gibbons within 1 year of the original story going out of print. Everyone knows that this is a big part of why DC continues to promote a 25 year-old property so aggressively; they need to keep selling it to keep the rights in their hands. And everyone agrees that this is a travesty, a perversion of the spirit of the original contract. But at that point, everyone just sort of sighs and throws up their hands in despair.
Why don't we force the book out of print?
I mean, I don't think it would be easy. But I think that a concerted grassroots campaign to get local comics stores to stop stocking 'Watchmen' so long as it's being published by DC, with the understanding that Moore and Gibbons would be able to reprint the book once they're the rights-holders, could really put a lot of financial pressure on DC if they made the decision to try to continue reprinting the series just to keep the rights. There would still be a few high-profile national chains, like Barnes and Noble, who probably couldn't be persuaded through grassroots effort, but if the whole thing went nationwide, they might cave in just for the PR value. And while DC might go to some extraordinary lengths to claim the book is still "in print" ("We're giving away promotional copies to this charity! Still in print!") ...they're as vulnerable to bad press as the next person. If sales actually suffered, they might have to give in.
Of course, this is easy for me to say--I already have a copy of 'Watchmen'. But I'm guessing that most comics fans do too. I'm game if you are...