"DC plans Prequels to Watchmen Series"
I'm serious: check the New York Times.
That wasn't a headline I expected in my newsfeed this morning, but it also isn't a surprise. In summary DC Comics are getting new writers to write prequels to the classic comic Watchmen. Alan Moore, the original writer and character creator isn't involved. As the original comics tells two stories, many years apart it would be easy for prequels to spoil it for new readers, but rather than focus on that, I found the Alan Moore Quote at the bottom of the article interesting.
Moore states it is a blow to comics as a serious artform: “As far as I know,” he said, “there weren’t that many prequels or sequels to ‘Moby-Dick.’ ” NYTimes, 1st Feb 2012,
This I disagree with. I inherited a collection of books from a closing bookstore. Among them are Rebecca's Tale, Pemberley, and Scarlett.
Rebecca, Pride and Prejudice, and Gone with the Wind are still unique. The existence of spin-offs is nothig new in the field of novels.
Regarding Moby Dick itself? A google search threw up five authors currently trying to write sequels. Wiki? Adaptations galore, and all but a couple are now obscure.
Given the above examples, and being old enough to remember when some of these came out (to great derision and comments of "Who does she think she is?" in at least one case) the greatest effect is always on the publisher and writer creating the sequels. The original? That stands alone. With all the original works, the authors above captured lightning in a bottle, the perfect combination of the times, attitudes, writing, and topic. Trying to do that again, within the constraints of an existing mythos? Unlikely.
So are sequels, prequels and spin-offs damaging to comics as a serious artform? I'd have to say no more than they were for novels.
This doesn't mean I'll buy the Watchmen prequels, anymore than I bought the ones above. Some things are better left stand-alone.