Watch Out

     Who watches The Watchmen?
     Lawyers, of course.
     I know this because I’m an almost-lifelong comic book fan and when I spotted a lawsuit by DC Comics in Federal Court in Los Angeles last week, I had to read it.
     It turned out to be very mysterious.
     I loved it.
     First off, DC was suing “John Does, 1-10 inclusive.”
     The comic book company was going after guys with secret identities!
     How cool is that?
     And what were these masked bandits doing? (OK, there was nothing in the lawsuit about masks, but, come on, we are talking about people with secret identities here.)
     According to the suit, they had somehow gotten into a password-protected computer in Burbank and taken three images of characters whom we’ve seen before.
     They’re characters from an upcoming series called “Before Watchmen” that apparently gives us stories about characters that were in the classic Alan Moore “Watchmen” series first published 25 years ago.
     They’re not new characters.
     In fact, DC has images of the three characters – Comedian, Silk Spectre, and Nite-Owl – on its own website(put there weeks before the lawsuit was filed.)
     But the complaint says the defendants, whoever they are, have reproduced and distributed unauthorized copies of the three images. It doesn’t say where and it doesn’t say anyone made any money off them.
     It does say that since they were stolen prior to the release of the “Before Watchmen” series, “their conduct has been particularly damaging to DC Comics.”
     Heaven knows, no publisher wants unnecessary advance promotion.
     Maybe someone should tell DC’s lawyers about DC’s website.
     
     A GRUMPY AUTHOR This is particularly interesting to a fanboy like me because “Before Watchmen” has already been controversial – at least among people like me. Go ahead and do an Internet search – you know you want to.
     See? People are talking about this. The original “Watchmen” was a classic mini-series and Moore, the writer, thinks this new bunch of comics is going to spoil it.
     If you’re not familiar with Alan Moore, he’s a British writer who creates brilliant characters and stories and then complains bitterly about the movies and merchandising based on them.
     Apparently people liking his stuff really annoys him.
     And, what’s worse, he doesn’t hire lawyers to sue over his unhappiness. All he does is grumble publicly.
     Clearly, there’s something wrong with him.
     Or maybe those masked computer thieves came over from England …
     
     MORE WATCHING Another question: Who watches the watchdogs?
     Believe it or not, this was the headline on a press release issued last week:
     “New IRS Filings Show ConsumerWatchdog.org Raked in Nearly $3 Million in Lawyer Fees in 2010, Reports ConsumerWatchdogWatch.com.”
     Yes, there really is a ConsumerWatchdogWatch.com.
     Do you get the feeling we’re all being watched?
     
     ENTERTAINMENT TIP By the way, I have a suggestion for those of you who, like me, are almost always disappointed with film versions of books: Don’t read the books.
     You’ll like the movies a whole lot better.
     If you must read books, don’t go see the film versions. You don’t need more disappointment in your life.
     And if you’ve written a book, get as much money as you can for the screen rights and then refuse to watch the movie.
     You want to be able to enjoy your money.

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