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Watching The Watchmen

by Dave Gibbons, Chip Kidd, Mike Essl
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Titan Books
  • Publishing date: 21/10/2008
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9781848560413
  • ISBN: 1848560419

Synopsis

Book Description
Enjoy the ultimate companion to a comics masterpiece, as award-winning artist Dave Gibbons gives his own account of the genesis of WATCHMEN in this dust-jacketed hardback volume, opening his vast personal archives to reveal never-published pages, original character designs, page thumbnails, sketches and much more, including posters, covers and rare portfolio art. Featuring the breathtaking design of Chip Kidd and Mike Essl, WATCHING THE WATCHMEN is both a major art book in its own right, and the definitive companion to the graphic novel that changed an industry.

Voted among Time magazine's 100 Best Novels from 1923 to the present, a perennial bestseller over the past twenty years and widely considered the greatest graphic novel of all time, WATCHMEN is a gripping, labyrinthine piece of comic art, which has earned an acclaimed place in modern literary history.

"I've had a great time, re-visiting the very beginnings of Watchmen and unearthing material I haven't set eyes on for many years. As a fan myself, this is the kind of stuff I eat up and I'm sure the many devotees of the graphic novel will do the same!" says Gibbons.

© DC Comics 2008. All Rights Reserved.

A Q&A with Dave Gibbons on the Making of Watchmen

Question: You were tasked with drawing new illustrations of key shots from the new Watchmen film. Was it a difficult challenge to re-imagine your work in this movie format?

Dave Gibbons: I don’t think that I actually did many key shots from the film. I had to actually imagine them rather than exactly recreate what was going to be in the movie. But as far as the drawings I did for the licensing purposes, accuracy was the real key so that they looked exactly like the movie. Whereas doing the graphic novel was creating stuff afresh and being very creative, this was more the case of interpreting something that already existed. So it was rather more a commercial art job than a creative thing.

Q: How many scenes from the original graphic novel did you redraw in the new "movie" format?

DG: I kind of did them piecemeal, these licensing drawings. I did do a section of storyboarding for Zack Snyder. There is a part of the movie that isn’t in the graphic novel and he wanted to see how I would have drawn it, if it had been in the graphic novel. So I redid the storyboards as three pages of comic on the nine-panel grid, also getting it coloured by John Higgins so it looked authentic. But I think there were probably only 3 or 4 scenes that I drew, which were from the movie.

Q: What was your working method for producing these new illustrations from the film? And how has it changed from when you originally illustrated Watchmen?

DG: When you’re producing things from existing material, you have to look at and assemble the references... you know, keep looking backwards and forwards to make sure what you’re drawing is accurate to what’s in the photos. I did have lots of photos from the movie and in some cases I had more or less the illustration I was going to do in photo form, which made it a lot easier. On others I had to construct it from various references: really just the usual illustrator’s job of drawing something to reference. And on the original illustrations of Watchmen, I was free to come up with exactly the angles and exactly the costumes and everything that I wanted to. When you’ve designed a costume and drawn it a few times, you actually internalize it and you find you can draw it without having to refer to reference at all. So in some ways it’s more creative and in some ways it’s easier!

Q: In Watchmen: The Art of the Film, there are concept designs by other artists of their visions of your iconic characters. What do you think of their versions and did you offer any guidance while they were working on these?

DG: It’s always really interesting to see versions of your characters drawn by other artists. You tend to see things in them that you hadn’t noticed before. So I really enjoyed looking at those. I certainly didn’t offer them any guidance. The purpose of getting those kinds of drawings done is to get a fresh perspective on what exists. I noticed actually that they really stuck more closely to my original designs than those, but I really enjoyed seeing them.

Q: Watchmen: Portraits is Clay Enos’s stunning black and white collection of photos of each character from the Watchmen movie. What was it like looking through this book at all the characters you had conceived years ago now being brought to life by actors?

DG: It’s rather interesting; you know if you look at the Watching the Watchmen book you can see these characters as fairly sketchy rough conceptual versions. Then when you look at Clay’s book you can actually see them right down to counting the number of pores on the skin on the end of their noses! It’s incredible high focus! It’s like zooming in through space and time to look at the surface of some moon of Saturn or something. I thoroughly enjoyed his book... it had a real artistic quality to it that was really so good. And of course to see these actors who so much are the embodiment of what I drew, that it’s a tremendous thrill to see them made flesh!

Q: Watchmen: The Film Companion features some stills from the animated version of The Black Freighter. What do you think of the look and design of this animated feature?

DG: It looks really interesting! Although I drew my version in the comic book in a kind of horror-comic style, these are very much in a savage manga style. I think they work really well... they’ve got the kind of manic intensity, which I think that work should have and I really can’t wait to see the whole feature. I’ve seen the trailer for it and that looks great and again they’ve used a lot of the compositions that I came up with but just translated them to this kind of very modern drawn animation.

Q: How much time did you spend on the set of Watchmen? Was it a surreal experience to see your work recreated like this?

DG: I was on the set of Watchmen for a couple of days and it really was surreal to walk through a door and then suddenly be in the presence of all these people in living breathing flesh! I was there for what you would call the Crimebusters meeting where they were all there in costume in the same room, which was incredible. They had obviously planned that so I would get to see everyone. It was surreal though quite a wonderful experience to see it come to life.


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  • Visually stunning companion piece to Watchmen
    From Amazon

    Without a doubt this is a visually stunning companion piece to Watchmen but the book is heavy on artwork, designs, notes etc and a light on text. Watchmen was the first true graphic novel so the artwork was/is just as important as the narration provided by Alan Moore. There is little point in me providing a summary of what you will find within "Watching the Watchmen" but it is important to note that Dave Gibbons wanted to provide a celebration of everything that was good about the creative process and avoid some of the more controversial aspects of the creation and subsequent history of Watchmen. With this remit in mind the book provides and satisfies. The narration is kept brief and interesting which I like. I am sure the text could have been padded out but that would have been the expense of seeing how Watchmen came to life visually. A number of reviewers have complained about the lack of text but this really is not an issue for the Watchmen purist. Anyone who loves the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons classic should have this on your bookshelf alongside your dog eared copy of Watchmen. Anyone who does not have a dog eared well read, well loved edition are in my opinion not true Watchmen fans and therefore you probably should avoid this book as you may feel like you have wasted your money.

  • A must have companion to the classic original comic book group of modern costumed mythical superheroes
    From Amazon

    Watching The Watchmen is a must have companion to the movie that came out in 2009 of March this year.Which is a continuation from the first original mythical superhero group that was the justice league of america that still continues today as the forerunner to the modern mythical superhero group the watchmen which of course is naturally a behind the scenes companion to the original classic comic in which is a historical account of the characters origins themselves which was at times tricky for artists and writers to decipher because they had to conjure up mythical stories of individuals being surprisingly edgy in there powerful feats of strength in going up against there enemies which in the end,is something that only a behind-the-scenes scrapbook can and did do, a complete artistic dissection of in it,s original characters designed models appearance which i can only have mild complaints about in this graphic novel comic book saga which didn,t put enough character development in it,s individuals personalitys which in the end is unfortunetly a slight shame for this scrapbook that only gets four and half stars from me not five and half stars because it's like i've already written down in this review they didn,t put any enough character, development into these individuals personality to make them less gritty or dark in nature which is something that it definitely doesn't need in it's characters personalitys.

  • Disappointed
    From Amazon

    Although this book had some of what I expected, (background about the creative process, little known or seen extra artwork,etc.), it mostly contained page after page of thumbnail rough drafts of page layouts. A much more detailed account of character development would have been much more interesting. I happen to know that characters don't instantly spring to life and that often times they are agonized over. Except for a few early concept drawings, there is very little about this in the book. A chapter on each character with early drawings, and a discussion of all the inspirations behind them would have been a much better use of page space. If I could chose again, I spend my money on something else.

  • A Great Mix of Old and New
    From Amazon

    I wasn't sure whether this companion book would interest and engage me - I've read Watchmen itself multiple times and have studied the artwork and corrollary works. I was thoroughly delighted when I cracked the covers. It contains artwork in various stages of drafting, some correspondence, full color panels, and easy to read descriptions of it all. It did contain some new information I enjoyed learning, and even where I knew something already, the draft artwork or new panels were enjoyable to look at. It's a big, beautiful book as well, and something I will be picking up and leafing through for a long time to come.

  • The comic-book equivalent of a Behind-the-scenes DVD special.
    From Amazon

    An interesting companion piece to one of the all-time great comics, Watching the Watchmen is the hardcover equivalent of a behind-the-scenes special on a movie's DVD. I don't mean that in a bad way - for those interested in the book, you get written thoughts on its genesis and development by artist Dave Gibbons, a plethora of concept art and preliminary sketches, and some neat little artifacts. Without much input from Alan Moore, though, and with Gibbons' writing ultimately being so sparse, the book can't help but be a little disappointing, but the look into the world that helped create the book more than makes up for it. I can't say that I'd recommend buying it unless you're an obsessive die-hard fan (myself, I borrowed it from a friend), but if you're interested in a glimpse into how Watchmen developed and was shaped from month to month, it's well worth at least paging through, if only to see the characters shape into their iconic final states.

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