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Dave Gibbons, In His Own Words

No, this is not the fan Q&A that we gathered questions from a while back — that is coming in the next couple of weeks. This is just something to whet your appetite until while we get that new interview ready.

The following excerpts are Dave Gibbon’s own words taken from transcripts of his panel on the last day of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Enjoy…

On his early days…
Growing up, my favorite American comics were those edited by Julius Schwartz — Green Lantern, The Flash, Justice League… my really favorite comics. And I went to a convention in Chicago and Julie walked up to me out of the blue and said [with an American accent], “So Dave, when are you going to draw some Superman?” And I said, “I’d like to, but who’s going to be writing it?” He said, “Who do you want to write it?” I said, "Um, Alan Moore?” He said “Yeah, fine, fix it up.” So, that was just amazing. What came out of that was the Superman story called “For The Man Who Has Everything” which is one of my most favorite things that I’ve ever worked on. Superman as the grounding superhero, Julie Schwartz as the editor and Alan Moore as the writer. It doesn’t get a lot better than that.

On getting the job to draw Watchmen
The original thing that DC wanted Alan [Moore] to do was a treatment of the Charlton heroes. But then, when they saw what Alan intended to do, then they thought maybe they wouldn’t let him destroy their latest toys that they acquired.

So we decided to change it to a whole new group of heroes, which was a really good thing because it gave us carte blanche to do whatever we liked, also not to be tied to any previous continuity. In fact, the way we actually ended up doing Watchmen was at the very same party at the Chicago Comic-Con where Julie [Schwartz] said “Do you want to draw some Superman?” I went up to Dick Giordano and said “This thing that Alan Moore’s doing with the Charlton heroes, I’d like to draw it.” And he said “Oh, all right, how does Alan feel about that?” I said “Would you like me to draw it?” and [Alan Moore] said “Oh, fine, it's yours.” So, that was a pretty good night of business [chuckles].

Dick was very supportive of Watchmen and really just let me and Alan do whatever we wanted. It was very hands-off as far as DC were concerned, and it was nice to get Joe [Orlando] in there as well, because Joe of course had been, before he was a senior editor of DC, was one of the leading artists for DC Comics back in the 50s. And he drew this kind of spoof page of a 50’s pirate comic, which was absolutely right, so that was good.

On being involved in the Watchmen Movie…
It is completely dreamlike. Actually, this morning, my wife and I went over to the Warner Bros. stand, where they’ve actually got the Owlship. I imagine, even if you’re a reader of the book to actually see that is an astonishing thing, that it’s there. It’s just this big, heavy machine. And then it’s… because I’m Dave Gibbons, they let [my wife and I] go inside it this morning. So we got to go inside it and it’s all kitted out inside and it’s just… that was in my head and it went onto the paper, then it’s been taken off the paper and filled… and now I’m inside it! It’s such a strange, kind of surreal thing.

I was very flattered just not only to see they’d kept all those set pieces from my artwork, but also that whole scenes in the first trailer are just as I composed them. When I saw that Owlship come out of the water with the buoy in the harbor that was rocking about, it was how I saw it in my head and it was kind of moving in my head all those years ago. It’s like that static image, given life. Quite amazing.

Also, I’d like to say that I love the look of it, because they kept John Higgins’ color palette. His particular secondary orange, purple, green color palette. It’s a completely surreal experience. Somebody asked me when I was signing earlier, he asked “Were you involved in the design of the movie?” I said “Yeah, but I did my bit twenty years ago.” But that’s what it feels like.

On the controversial costume updates…
With Watchmen in the 80s, we deconstructed comic books, so all the costumes and things in the book are comic book staples. The costumes are like classic superhero comics. The movie, in essence, is deconstructing superhero movies. The people who will see Watchmen have seen superhero movies. And so, things like the huge outcry on the Internet — and my God, is an important subject, and it should be addressed, is that Ozymandias’ costume had nipples on it! [laughter] You know, this was intentional, because it was saying “Wasn't that a silly look in that Batman and Robin movie?” So, I think the costumes had to be redesigned and I think they’ve been redesigned very sympathetically and I’m very, very happy with it.

I particularly love The Comedian and Rorschach because they are just as I saw them in my head and the actors that play them… I mean, all the actors are so close in their portrayals to what I imagined. And John [Higgins] — as you can imagine as well — had absolutely no problem with the artistic decisions that they made.

On the Watchmen “effect”...
One of the things I’m pleased about is I think the movie is going to get people to read the comic. And hopefully, if they read Watchmen, they will read other comic books and they’ll appreciate the range of things that is available in the comic book medium. And obviously, I wish the movie well but I’m really very pleased that it’s going to lead to more people reading comic books. I understand that even the trailer of the movie is going to make hundreds of thousands of people who’ve never read a comic book before to actually read Watchmen and all who haven’t read Watchmen before will read it.

On the Watchmen Motion Comic…
They gave me a copy of it and I took it away and I showed it to some of my friends in the industry and they said, “I dunno, it’s kind of interesting.” Then I showed it to, kind of, civilians and they went, “Wow! This is great! It’s a comic book that moves!” And I said, “This might be a good idea, then.”

I was put in touch with a company called Juice Films and spoke to them and I could see that they were really, very committed — just as I’m proud to say Zack Snyder and his crew are absolutely committed to doing this properly — when I went over to San Francisco and I met with them and they showed me what they were doing. Anyway, I agreed to be a consultant on it.

They very much got what Watchmen was all about, but I just can’t have kept my eye on the details, and giving them some feedback, which they seemed to have been grateful for. It’s so well-done and so smooth and so sharp and it’s so evocative of the Watchmen. It’s got an orchestral soundtrack specially composed and performed and it’s got a wonderful voice-over performance by a man who’s name I can't pronounce. His name’s Tom [struggles to pronounce his name, someone corrects him]. Stechschulte, yeah. It’s a really entertaining and interesting piece of work and hopefully, it’ll introduce a lot of people to the world of Watchmen… I couldn’t be more flattered. They’ve been really respectful to my artwork and I think it’s really good.

On his upcoming book, “Watching The Watchmen”…
Basically, it’s a book about how Alan [Moore] and I went about creating the Watchmen. It’s got those scripts that Alan did and his proposals and my notes and the sketches that I did and thumbnail drawings, and there’s a really good section by John Higgins, who is the colorist on Watchmen. Obviously, he was very close to the production of it and I found it fascinating to see his take of it from his involvement in the creative process and his view of what Alan and I were doing. I believe it’s on sale in October and does indeed make an ideal Christmas gift for the comic book aficionado! [laughter]

On Watchmen sequels…
Watchmen is a finite story, it was ever only conceived as that. There were some suggestions, about twenty years ago, that maybe there could be things like “Rorschach's Journal” or “The Comedian’s Vietnam War Diary,” which I think almost as soon as they were suggested, it was realized that probably wasn’t a good idea.

I do think it’s to DC’s credit that they have kept Watchmen off-limits. Alan and I did once talk about doing the Minutemen, which would be the Golden Age precursors of Watchmen, and the interesting thing there would be that the reader would know how it ended up. It would be to see how it ended up like that. It started as a bit of an interesting thing to do, but I think that is extremely unlikely now. Certainly, Alan and I have no plans to do anything further with Watchmen.

Whether Warner Bros. would consider the need for a sequel to the movie, I don’t know, and I’d have to comment on that as I see fit at the time.

9.2.08 Source: WatchmenComicMovie.com

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