Christian, you've broken my heart. Watchmen is "no more sophisticated than a good episode of the Twilight Zone or your typical Golden Age SciFi tale"? For shame! It's one of the most layered and complex pieces of political philosophy available today in any medium.
Watchmen was the first graphic novel I ever read, with credit due to Laissez-Faire Books. While not then (and still not, really) able to appreciate many of the subtleties of comics as a visual art form, I certainly knew a damn good story when I read one, and was bowled over by the complex interaction between art and literature for both reinforcement and contrast. The characters are more complex in their makeup and motivations than most novels, and the questions the series addresses are both timeless and simple in nature, while admitting no simple answers. While simultaneously providing compelling political commentary, it self-reflexively deconstructs the self-imposed limitations on the genre of comics itself.
While I have neither the time nor the ability to write a detailed valuation of Moore’s greatest work (I’ve since read most of what he’s written), I suggest people check out the following links:
a short review
slightly longer review
complete annotations to the series
In terms of your greater complaint, that somehow Watchmen has resulted in shrinking audiences for comics altogether, my experience, though anecdotal, is the opposite. Personally, of course, I have ended up spending way more money than I like to admit on various graphic novels and series since I stumbled on the genre (Sandman, Preacher, From Hell, Batman Year One, Batman Dark Knight, etc.). And I’ve encountered a number of scifi fans or political junkies who got into comics the same way – through crossover books like Watchmen. But since you offer no justification for your assertion other than feeling snubbed by Kevin Smith (and why would you give a crap what that puerile, self-indulgent narcissist thinks?), I don’t know whence comes your statement that someone’s opinion about arbitrarily imposed artistic distinction amongst comics has doomed the genre to fewer readers.
It may aggravate you that Watchmen achieves more acclaim than some of your personal, less popular favorites. But slamming it in a fit of fanboy pique is not the way to go. Give it the credit for what it is – a brilliant work of multimedia that has spoken to millions of readers from all walks of life.