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Co-Creator Gives Watchmen Ringing Endorsement

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rossiter Drake*

gibbons1.jpg
Gibbons ruminates on the prospect of the long-rumored Watchmen movie at Comic-Con.

GIBBONS WATCHES HIS ART COME TO LIFE WITHOUT A WINCE
(Courtesy of San Francisco Examiner)

Even as rabid fans and Warner Bros. executives are at long last celebrating the arrival of the Watchmen movie, one of the men most responsible for the Hugo Award-winning tale of fallen superheroes living in an age of impending nuclear war – author Alan Moore – couldn’t care less.

Just ask his partner in creation, artist Dave Gibbons.

“Alan doesn’t want to talk to me or anyone else about Watchmen ever again,” Gibbons says gravely. “I am sad that he’s had such bad experiences with movies, and I wish he could share with me something I consider a good experience.

“Alan has been very dissatisfied with productions prior to this one and has decided he doesn’t want to play ball with Hollywood anymore. Most people would leave their name on it and take the money, but Alan is made of sterner stuff.” (Moore famously refuses a paycheck or even nominal credit for adaptations of his stories.)

While cinematic takes on Moore’s intensely dark visions have ranged from the misguided (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) to the transcendently entertaining (V for Vendetta), his most hotly contested property has languished as little more than a Hollywood rumor for more than 20 years while directors including Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronofsky and The Bourne Ultimatum’s Paul Greengrass came and went.



When Gilliam concluded that no feature-length film could do justice to the epic Watchmen fantasy, Moore and Gibbons (who also collaborated on the Superman story “For the Man Who Has Everything”) were inclined to agree. Neither held his breath as blockbuster producer Joel Silver tried repeatedly to revive the project, once suggesting Arnold Schwarzenegger as its star.

Gibbons, 59, recalls that episode with a laugh, observing that reinventing the brooding Watchmen as a simple action extravaganza would have been seriously misguided. But because his own experiences with Hollywood have been mostly positive, he remained open to the idea, with Moore’s blessing, when this latest incarnation, directed by 300’s Zack Snyder, began to take shape.

“As far as this new movie is concerned, the producers and director had no obligation to speak to me, and the fact that they have, and that they’ve listened so much, has been to the benefit of the final thing. I had a gut feeling they’d do right by Alan and I, and that’s proven to be the case.”

Gibbons admits he’s a bit tired of talking about Watchmen – after 23 years, you would be too – and has remained prolific in his career as an illustrator and the author of his own comics, including the Albion spin-off Thunderbolt Jaxon. But having recently produced Watching the Watchmen, a behind-the-scenes book about the novel’s creation featuring rarely seen sketches and character prototypes, and because of his enthusiasm for Snyder’s film, he’s not about to declare a Moore-style moratorium on the subject quite yet.

He doesn’t consider the Watchmen movie a definitive validation of the book or his role in creating it – but he is satisfied that it captures, however improbably, the bold spirit of the original work.

“Neither Alan nor I ever felt that the ultimate fulfillment of Watchmen was that it be turned into a movie,” he says. “It is a comic book or graphic novel, whatever you want to call it, and that’s a very respectable medium in its own right. If Watchmen had stood only as that, we would have been perfectly happy.

“But they made a movie, and it’s amazing, a rich, dense lump of cinema that requires more than one viewing. You’ll want to see it again to really experience it. So how could I be unhappy with that?”

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