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I hate to say I told you so — but I did — about two months ago. Now it seems the trailer for the coming film has caused the epidemic of Watchmen fever to spread — and spread fast.

Released in front of The Dark Knight, the trailer showcases characters and a handful of iconic moments from the seminal comic series that raised a lot of questions for the uninitiated — questions that it seems they want answered.

Fueling the fire was Watchmen’s monopoly on the past month’s Comic Con where WB previewed exclusive movie footage, a panel with director Zack Snyder and all of the lead actors, new movie merchandise from props to action figures, and some pretty cool giveaway posters. If that wasn’t enough, the week leading up to Comic Con, Entertainment Weekly featured the cast of Watchmen on the cover.

In a recent interview with Newsarama , DC Comics President Paul Levitz explained:

If you separate yourself from the “tribal” reaction of, “I know who this big blue guy is; I know what the shifting Rorschach mask is.” But if you see it from a distance, and you don’t know it, your reaction is going to be more along the lines of “Who the hell is that?” and “What’s going on here?” The richness of the visual imagination in that very short trailer is so deep and so surprising… One of our guys said it best, I think – “We couldn’t have cut a better commercial for the graphic novel if we’d tried.” I think that’s a very fair statement.

Interestingly, the trailer is having a noticeable effect on sales of the graphic novel as well. We reported on the increased sales a few weeks ago, but now DC has apparently printed 900,000 copies of the trade since the trailer debuted with The Dark Knight. In total DC will have printed more than a million copies of Watchmen in 2008.

As far as we can tell from our conversations with the book industry people, there has never been a trailer that did this …it’s an exciting roller coaster. I have no idea how many copies we may sell when this is all said and done. I have hopes, but we’re already achieving some of what our hopes were before, so we just keep lifting the goal numbers.

Levitz stated that many comics retailers like to use Watchmen as one of their “key gateway drugs,” pushing the book on graphics novel virgins in hopes that they get hooked on the medium.

…if 50% of them fall for it and come back a month later and says, “More please...”? We’ve just increased the audience for graphic novels in this country by a very meaningful percentage. And we’re not done. Where else are they going to go from there?

When asked If all of this buzz persists, would it cause DC to reach out to disenfranchised Watchmen writer Alan Moore, Levitz explained:

I have the greatest respect for Alan and his work. We’d love to work with him again some day, in any fashion, if he chose to.

With all of this hype translating to dollars, does this mean fans will have to endure the milking of their beloved comic series until they’ve drained as much money as they can from the title and — dare I say it — even produce a dreaded Watchmen 2? Levitz promises that it wouldn't be the case:

There’s always a morning that somebody wants to do something that doesn’t fit, but the organization as a whole usually comes to a set of pretty sensible answers… but when you get someone like Zack Snyder driving Watchmen… what he does and what comes out be of the essence of the property, and the things that he is working on as side projects to it are things that add to it and are things of great creativity that relate back to the original work.

Let face it, DC had 20 years to milk Watchmen for all it was worth and they have shown great restraint and respect for the comic series so far. Fans have always feared Rorschach and Comedian spin off titles for years but it never happened. Let’s hope they continue to remember where to draw the line.

8.14.08 Source: Newsarama.com

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