Tuesday, 23 December 2008

[106] Watching the Watchmen, by Dave Gibbons et al

Posting might get predictably sporadic over the next few days, but let's see how it goes. Might end up with some quick-takes and filler posts. Bah, humbug!


I've started dipping into the goodies I got for my birthday, and today I read through Dave Gibbons' luscious coffee-table book Watching the Watchmen.

Watching the Watchmen is both a behind-the-scenes overview of the conception, execution and distribution of Watchmen, one of the most critically lauded graphic novels ever released, and a trawling through of Gibbons' commendably extensive archive of Watchmen material. It is amazing to see what material Gibbons had saved; initial sketches are reproduced, as well as other rough notes, early character designs, correspondence, alternate covers and the entire 12-issue series in thumbnail form.

The book is narrated through slabs of text from Gibbons reminiscing about the whole process of releasing Watchmen. His evocation of mid-80s Britain, and the opportunities offered to comics writers in those days, is inspiring and nostalgic. This was a time when the still-visible 'British Invasion' of American comics started. At this point, Gibbons and others were relatively humble 2000AD writers or artists (Moore, Gaiman, Morrison, Bolland, O' Neill, Dillon to name a few). However, he also communicates well the slog necessary to create a comic, in the days before digital colouring, and internet-based communication.

As insightful as these bits of writing are, they mostly seek to describe and contextualise the wealth of visual content present in the volume. Even though I wouldn't go as far to say that Watching the Watchmen is essential, it is a beautiful, surprising book nonetheless. It is a testament to the original novel and the immense thought and effort that Alan Moore and Gibbons put into it. The pages are heavy-quality and the reproductions are detailed. Gibbons and designers Chip Kidd (who also edited the Bat-Manga! book) and Mike Essl have crafted a wonderful, sturdy collection that is a feast for the eyes. If you're a fan of Watchmen, or of comic craft in general, give it a glance.


Read more about Watching the Watchmen at Amazon.co.uk here.
Check out a feature on the book, with more excerpt pages, at The Guardian.
Check out a feature on the book, with a preview video, at /Film.

1 comment:

Bob Andelman said...

You might enjoy this Mr. Media podcast interview with Dave Gibbons, co-creator and artist of Watchmen, as he discusses the Warner Bros./Fox dispute, being on the set during production, and what he thinks of the trailer and the rough cut he saw of Watchmen. He also talks about the possibility of working with Frank Miller and the message he took to Alan Moore from Will Eisner. Here's the link!